Deposition of John de Rither, Esquire

John de Rither's testimony is interesting mainly for its equation of tournaments and actual battles, its description of how arms were used in the decorative arts, and the wide-ranging knightly career it summarizes.

JOHN DE RITHER, Esquire, aged sixty-six, armed since the time when the late King made his chivauche to Burenfos in Picardy, deposed that the arms Azure, a bend Or, belonged to the family of Scrope by inheritance; and that he never saw any man do honour to the said arms excepting of the name of Scrope.

He had heard from his ancestors, and from old knights and esquires, that Sir Henry, father of Sir Richard, was the King's Justice, and was of noble and gentle ancestry, who were always and immemorially deemed such in Yorkshire and Richmondshire; that Sir Richard and his ancestors had, as he had heard, used the arms in question at tournaments, particularly at that of Northampton in the time of King Edward the Second, where Sir Geoffrey Scrope was knighted, and bore his banner with those arms and a label Argent; and under him in those arms were knighted Sir John Hodom of the county of Cambridge, Sir John Tempest, brother of Sir Richard Tempest, and Sir Thomas Blount, cousin of the Earl of Warwick, tourneyed there under him; and Sir Geoffrey Scrope acquired great honour and fame for his conduct at the said tournament.

When the late noble King Edward began his wars with the King of France, and made an expedition to Burenfos in Picardy, the Deponent saw there Sir Geoffrey Scrope with his banner, and armed in these arms with a label Argent, and afterwards in the King's retinue at the siege of Tournay. Subsequently, at the siege of Vannes, he saw Sir Henry Scrope, son of Sir Geoffrey, armed in his father's arms, and Sir William Scrope, elder brother of Sir Richard, in the entire arms; and when the siege was raised, the King appointed the Earl of Northampton warden of Brittany, and repaired to the siege of Morlaix: at the battle of Morlaix, the said Sir William Scrope, so armed, was wounded, of which wound he afterwards died.

King Edward then returned to England, and afterwards went to Melrose in Scotland, and there was Sir Thomas Ughtred, and, as he believed, Sir William Scrope, brother of Sir Henry Scrope, under his banner. Afterwards he was at the battle of Scluse, and there was Sir Henry Scrope with his banner, in the company of the Earl of Northampton; and the said Sir William, brother of the said Sir Henry, was so armed in company of the said Earl.

The next expedition of the King, was that of Hogues, and then ensued the battle of Cressy. At that battle was Stephen Scrope, brother of Sir Henry, and Sir William Scrope, also brother of the said Sir Henry, so armed in the said arms with differences. The Prince was then captain of the vanguard, and had with him a great number of knights and noble archers of Cheshire, and the said Sir William and Stephen Scrope bore the said arms before the whole host, without challenge or a word being said on the subject.

From thence the King proceeded to the siege of Calais, where Sir Henry was with his banner openly and publicly, and Sir William Scrope and Stephen Scrope were there so armed by day and night.

At the time when Sir Ralph d'Ufford was Warden of Ireland, he had with him many knights and esquires, and noble archers of the county of Chester; and the said Sir Henry had there his banner and coat of arms of the same arms against the Irish.

Sir Henry Scrope with his banner, and Stephen Scrope armed in these arms, were also at the siege of Berwick.

And after the raising of that siege, the late Lord of Lancaster went into Brittany, and was Warden of Brittany, and besieged the city of Rennes; at which siege was Sir Geoffrey Scrope, eldest son of the said Sir Henry, the which Sir Geoffrey was armed in the same arms with a white label gobony Gules.

Afterwards the noble King made his expedition before Paris: Sir Henry was there with his banner, and the present Sir Richard Scrope was there also, armed in the entire arms, in the company of the Earl of Richmond; Sir Geoffrey Scrope being then armed in the same with a difference, in company of the late Lord of Lancaster.

After that expedition peace was made, when Sir Geoffrey Scrope went, with other knights, into Prussia, and there, in an affair at the siege of Wellon in Lithuania, he died in these arms, and was buried in the Cathedral of Konigsberg, where the said arms are painted in a glass window, which the Deponent himself caused to be set up, taking the blazon from the arms which the deceased had upon him.

Afterwards, when the Prince fought the battle of Najara, in Spain, Sir Richard was so armed in that battle.

And in the expedition of the Lord of Lancaster through France into Gascony, the said Sir Richard was so armed during the whole expedition, in company of the Lord of Lancaster, and previously at Balyngham Hill, and at the chivauche [cavalry expedition] in Caux in Normandy.

Rither added, that he never heard that Sir Robert Grosvenor or any of his ancestors had challenged the arms; nor had he ever heard of Sir Robert Grosvenor or of any of his ancestors; but the only challenge he ever heard of was by one Carminowe of Cornwall, who challenged the said Sir Richard when before Paris; and the late King, and the late Lord of Lancaster, agreed that the said Sir Richard should bear the arms entire, and that the said Carminowe should bear them also: of no other challenge had he ever heard.

[The arms of Rither, of Yorkshire, were, Azure, three crescents Or.]

The text is from The Controversy between Sir Richard Scrope and Sir Robert Grosvenor in the Court of Chivalry A.D. MCCCLXXXV-MCCCXC, ed. Sir N. Harris Nicholas. London. 1832. pp. 352-54 [paragraphing and occasional gloss added].