Petition to Cecily Neville, c.1465

In this petition to Cecily, Duchess of York, a woman named Joan Conway, who had been imprisoned by Cecily's brother, Lord Bergavenny, asks the duchess to help secure her release. It shows that at this time women could have influence in politics, especially through family ties.

Joan appeals to the duchess's influence as matriarch of the Yorkist royal family. In the way she words her petition, she follows convention - offering her case humbly and praising Cecily's benign and graceful qualities. It is not known why George Neville imprisoned Joan, nor if her appeal to Cecily was successful.

During his fourth term as mayor of London, Richard Whittington (c.1392-1423) had established the jail at Ludgate in 1419 to hold freemen of the city, debtors and 'reputable' persons, which helped ease the overcrowded, fetid and corrupt conditions in the ancient prison of Newgate.
Catalogue reference: SC 8/337/15918 (c.1465)


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