Sometime in 1469 two landholders in Lincolnshire fell out over a piece of land. The dispute grew bitter as both sides refused any offer of mediation and began seeking friends and supporters among their neighbours. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the original dispute, the spreading storm had important connotations.
Sir Thomas Burgh of Gainsborough was one party to the argument. He came from an ancient and wealthy Lincolnshire family, though one that had never risen to the nobility. He himself had served as MP for Gainsborough and Sheriff of Lincolnshire. Although the Burgh family was not openly loyal to either side during the earlier bout of fighting, Sir Thomas did find favour with Edward IV in the early 1460s. When Edward rode away from the Earl of Warwick’s Middleham Castle in 1469, he made straight for Gainsborough to seek support and protection from Burgh. Sir Thomas had called out his retainers and escorted the king south while both wondered if Warwick would launch a treacherous attack. Edward therefore owed Burgh a personal favour.
The other man involved in the dispute was Richard, Lord Welles. Socially and materially, Welles was a cut above Burgh. His estates were wide and wealthy, while he himself came from a family that had been ennobled seven generations earlier. He was well connected and popular. In 1461 he had been on the Lancastrian side at the First Battle of St Albans, but he had soon convinced the Yorkists that he had acted out of loyalty to King Henry. By 1463 he was pardoned and returned to his estates. Not only was Welles a wealthy baron, he had attracted to his cause his two brothers in law, Sir Thomas of Lande and Sir Thomas Dymmock. Both these men were wealthy, and Dymmock was the Royal Champion of England. This was a largely ceremonial role, but it did involve the holder in close contact with the monarch - so Edward was again involved.
The dispute was to end with a savage battle fought in Rutland near Empingham.
From "The Battle of Losecoat Field" by Rupert Matthews.
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