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Henry Algernon Percy
Seal of Henry Percy,
5th Earl of Northumberland, in 1515
Earl of Northumberland
Personal details
Born (1477-01-13)13 January 1477
Alnwick, Northumberland, England
Died 19 May 1527(1527-05-19) (aged 50)
Spouse(s) Catherine Spencer

Henry Algernon Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, KG (13 January 1477 – 19 May 1527) was an English noble who was a member of the courts of both Henry VII and Henry VIII.[1][2]


Henry Algernon Percy was well looked after and brought up at the court of Henry VII, while his sisters' marriages were the object of careful negotiation. He was made K.B. 21 November 1489, at the time when Prince Arthur was created Prince of Wales.[3][4]

On 28 April 1489 Henry Algernon Percy succeeded his father, Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, as 5th Earl of Northumberland.[4]

Northumberland attended Henry VII at the conclusion of the treaty of Etaples in 1492, and took a prominent part in the elaborate ceremony of 1494, when Prince Henry was created K.B.[5] In 1495 he was made a Knight of the Garter. In 1497 he served in the royal army against the Cornish rebels, and fought at the battle of Blackheath; on 14 May 1498 he received livery of his lands, and entered into the management of his various castles and estates.[6]

How important Northumberland's position was can be seen from The Northumberland Household Book, which was edited from the manuscript in possession of the Duke of Northumberland by Thomas Percy in 1770. It was begun in 1512. His income was about £2,300. a year, which probably does not include all that he received by way of gift. But on his various retinues of servants he spent no less than £1,500. a year, and as the margin had to meet all such expenses as his journeys to the court, and as he was extraordinarily magnificent in taste, he was soon in debt.[7]

In 1500 Northumberland was at the meeting of Henry and the Archduke Philip. In 1501 he was appointed constable of Knaresborough, steward of the Lordship of Knaresborough, and master forester in the forest there. On 1 April 1502 he was a commissioner of oyer and terminer for London; he was also constantly in the commission of the peace for various counties. Northumberland received the important appointment of warden of the east marches towards Scotland on 30 June 1503, and one of his first duties was to escort Margaret to Scotland on her way to join James IV of Scotland, and his splendid dress and numerous servants pleased the princess.[8]

Northumberland seems to have irritated Henry VII just before the king died. He had disposed of the wardship and marriage of Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir John Hastings. He was fined £10,000, an amount of money quite as difficult to raise; and it is extraordinary that he managed to pay half the money before Henry VIII came to the throne. The new king cancelled the remainder of the debt 21 March 1510. On 4 February 1512 he was a trier of petitions from Gascony and beyond the sea.[7]

Northumberland served in the war of 1513 as a grand captain, with a very large retinue. From Calais he went to the siege of Thérouanne and in the battle of the Spurs he commanded the "showrers and forridors", Northumberland men on light geldings. The next year he was a chief commissioner of array for various counties. As Thomas Wolsey rose, the great nobles had one by one to submit to his tyranny. Northumberland, on the advice of Will Hatty, was suspected of being too friendly with Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and so, on a charge of interfering with the king's prerogative about the wards, he was cast into the Fleet Prison in 1516. Possibly he was only put there so that Wolsey might have the credit of getting him out. He was examined in the Court of the Star Chamber, and soon set free.[7]

Northumberland was friendly with George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, and they arranged to go on a pilgrimage this year together. Shrewsbury had been anxious to marry his daughter to a son of Buckingham, but, having disputed about money matters, the parents broke off the match; it was now arranged, most unfortunately as it turned out, that the lady should marry Northumberland's son, the Lord Percy, in June 1517 Northumberland met Queen Margaret of Scotland at York to conduct her on her way home; he undertook the duty with reluctance, doubtless from want of money, and his wife was excused attendance. In 1518 he was one of those who held lands in Calais. Wolsey in 1519, in a letter to the king, expressed suspicions of his loyalty.[9] But he escaped the fate of the Duke of Buckingham, and went to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, where he was a judge of the lists.[7]

The same year, 1517, Northumberland had a grant of the honour of Holderness. He was present at Henry's meeting with the emperor in May 1522, and attested the ratification of the treaty made. He seems to have been offered, but not to have accepted, the wardenship of all the marches towards Scotland in 1523, and is said to have incurred the contempt of his tenants by his refusal. But he continued active while Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was in chief command. In 1523 he made an inroad into Scotland, and was falsely accused by Dacre of going to war with the crosskeys of York, a royal badge, on his banner; he cleared himself easily enough. In 1524 he was again on the border. In 1525 he had some trouble with the council of the north, of which he had been a member since 1522 ; but he cleared himself, and took part in the ceremony of the creation of Henry Fitzroy, Henry VIII's natural son, Earl of Nottingham. He died at Wressell on 19 May 1527, and was buried at Beverley, where he had built a splendid shrine.[7]

Northumberland was magnificent in his tastes, and being one of the richest magnates of his day,[3] kept a very large establishment, and was fond of building. Leland praised the devices for the library at Wressell, presumably arranged by him.[10] He encouraged the poet John Skelton, who wrote the elegy on his father.[11] A manuscript formerly in his possession forms British Museum Reg. Bib. 18 D ii. It consists of poems, chiefly by Lydgate.[12]


Northumberland was son of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, by Maud, daughter of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, of the second creation Alan Percy was his younger brother.

Northumberland married Catherine Spencer (d. 1542), daughter of Sir Robert Spencer and Eleanor Beaufort, Countess of Ormonde. By Catherine he had three sons and two daughters:[12]

  • Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland (1502–1537)
  • Thomas Percy (c. 1504 – 2 June 1537). He was executed as a participant in the Pilgrimage of Grace. He was father of both Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland and Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland. A daughter, Joan, married an Arthur Harris of Prittlewell, Essex and had issue.[13] Percy's wife, Eleanor Harbottle, had been previously married to Sir Richard Holland. Between 15 September 1562 and 27 January 1563 his step-daughter Mary Holland, who died before 16 November 1570, married Arthur Pole, without issue.[14]
  • Sir Ingelram Percy (c. 1506–1538). He was a participant in the Pilgrimage of Grace. He died imprisoned in the Tower of London.[citation needed] He had an illegitimate daughter, Isabel, who married Henry Tempest.[15]
  • Lady Margaret (c. 1508–1540), who married Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland.[16]
  • Maud, who may have married William, Lord Conyers (but there is no record of the marriage in the Conyers pedigree).[3]


  1. Archbold 1895.
  2. This article uses the Julian calendar with the start of the year as 1 January (see Old Style and New Style dates)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hoyle 2004.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Archbold 1895, p. 414.
  5. Archbold 1895, p. 414 cites Letters, ,&c., of Richard III and Henry VII, i. 390, &c.
  6. Archbold 1895, pp. 414,415.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Archbold 1895, p. 415.
  8. Archbold states that an account of this progress was written by Somerset herald and printed in Leland's Collectanea, vol. iv (Archbold 1895, p. 415).
  9. Archbold 1895, p. 415 cites Letters and Papers Henry VIII, III. i. 1, cf. 1266 and 1293.
  10. Archbold 1895, p. 415 cites cf. Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, III. ii. 3475, iv. ii. 3134, 3379.
  11. Archbold 1895, p. 416 cites Skelton, Works, ed. Dyce, i. 12, 36, ii. 91, 358.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Archbold 1895, p. 416.
  13. Sir Bernard Burke. A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland , Volume 2. Harrison, 1871. pg 1153.
  14. Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 16.
  15. Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 2, page 2386.
  16. Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 1064.


  • Hoyle, R. W. (2004). "Percy, Henry Algernon, fifth earl of Northumberland (1478–1527)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Digital object identifier:10.1093/ref:odnb/21936. 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Archbold, William Arthur Jobson (1895). "Percy, Henry Algernon (1478-1527)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 44. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 414-416.  Endnotes for the DNB article are:
    • De Fonhlanque's Annals of the House of Percy;
    • Introduction to Percy's edition of the Northumberland Household Book
    • Letters and Papers, Henry VIII
    • State Papers, Henry VIII, i. 146, iv. 45
    • Chron. of Calais (Camden Society)
    • Hall's Chronicle, ed. 1809, p. 498
    • Drake's Eboracum, App. xviii. &c.
    • Leland's Itinerary, i. 47, 54, vii. 50,51
    • Percy's Reliques, ed. Wheatley, i. 124;
    • Casley's Cat. of Royal MSS. p. 283
    • Doyle's Official Baronage, ii. 653
    • Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, ii. 304, &c.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Henry Percy
Earl of Northumberland
Succeeded by
Henry Percy

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