The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
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In 1338 July 16, Willielmus Heyron (Sir William Heron) was granted, by Edward III, (In year 12 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Ford (Ford Castle, Northumberland)
Licence for William Heyron to crenellate the dwelling-place of his manor of Ford, co. Northumberland. By K. (CPR)

Willielmus Heyron ... mansum manerii ... Ford, Northumbr. (Turner and Parker)

mansum suum apud manerium suum de Ford ... Teste Edwardo duce Cornubiae et Cestriae filio nostro carissimo custode Angliae, apud Gippewicum xvj die Jul. per ispum Regem (?Bates)

Granted at Ipswich. Grant by King.


Refered to again 36 Edward III (sic). Quod Willms Heron in feodo tenet manerium suum de Forde in Northumb. kernellatum per nomen castri sui, &c. (Parker, 1859)
For William Heron, lord of the strong fortress of Ford, crenellation alone was not enough (for the expression of lordly status). In 1340 he received express licence to call it a castle and gaind extensive hunting rights nearby. Defence here was very necessary but status was no less important." (Coulson)

a building of the magnificence of Ford Castle would have stood as a reminder to William Heron’s neighbours of his family’s enduring social standing and wealth. Just in case any of them missed the point, some two years later, in April 1340, Heron obtained a unique royal charter; together with other adjuncts of lordship such as free warren, a market and fairs, the king granted that ‘of special grace, and for good service rendered by William Heron, king’s yeoman . he may hold his manor house of Ford, county Northumberland, which is enclosed with a high embattled wall, by the name of a castle (per nomen castri tenere possit). for the defence of those parts against the attacks of the Scots, the king’s enemies’. Ford is duly listed as a castle in the survey of 1415. Obviously, simply having Ford officially declared a castle did not actually render it any more defensible in practical terms, so this grant can only have been solicited for its prestige value. (King, 2007)

Original source is;

(In fact, the original source given is usually a transcription/translation of what are precious medieval documents not readily availably. It should be noted that these transcription/translations often date to the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries and that unwitting bias of transcribers may affect the translation. Care should also be taken to avoid giving modern meaning to the medieval use of certain stock words and terms. Licentia is best translated as 'freedom to' not 'permission'.)

Significant later sources are;

Sir William Heron (d. 1379)
William is called 'king's yeoman' in 1362, he had served on numerous commissions. He was significant but local magnate, most probably a knight. He was summonded to parliament by name in 1371 'but never afterwards. The Barony of Heron became therefore, at his decease, Extinct' (Burke p. 265) was Ambassador to France and Steward of the King's Household (Cleveland, 1889)

In 1337 William Heron settled the manor of Ford on himself and Isabel his wife, for their lives, with successive remainders to their sons Roger, William, John and Thomas in tail male; in 1340 a similar settlement named the sons as Roger, William, John and Walter (Feet of Fines Northumberland (Publications of the Newcastle upon Tyne Records Committee, vol. 11), nos 271, 277 (1932)).

Biographical source include;

More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.

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Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.