King Henry VIII
In his youth Henry VIII who was much slimmer and a good athlete, football player and champion archer and on one occasion he pretended to be Robin Hood about whom he was passionately interested. It was at this time that the Geste of Robin Hood was published and Henry’s first wife Catherine of Aragon may be the title character in the ballad “Robin Hood” and Queen Catherine. In the ballad, the queen invites Robin Hood to shoot for her in an archery tournament. A sequel ballad has Henry chasing Robin all over England.
In 1510, Henry VIII and 11 nobles sneaked into the queen Catherine chamber disguised as Robin Hood and his men. In 1516, the pair came across a Robin Hood pageant. They watched an archery competition and were wined and dined by the people playing the Merry Men.
Ralph Hastings was the governor of York Castle and the Sheriff of York at the time of the Peasants Revolt when Robin Hood was outlawed. The Hastings connection with Robin Hood began with their ancestors the Furnivals who were the Lords of Hallamshire where Robin Hood was born. Joan de Furnival married SIR THOMAS de NEVIL and their daughter married John Talbot the first earl of Shrewsbury. The lordship of Hallamshire remained with the TALBOT family for 200 years when George Talbot the 4th earl of Shrewsbury married Ann Hastings.
In 1225 Henry Hastings married Ada-de-Huntingdon and then in 1509 George Hastings married Anne Stafford who was the Countess of Huntingdon which resulted in George Hastings becoming the “pretended earl of Huntingdon” and shortly after Henry VIII created him the earl of Huntingdon and now his descendants christen their children “Robin Hood” as in the “Honourable Aubrey Craven Theophilus Robin Hood Hastings.”.
Shortly after this Robin Hood was elevated in literature to the Earldom of Huntingdon by Anthony Munday who collaborated with Shakespeare and others in two plays called “The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntington” and “The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington” written c. 1597/8 and now the current “Robin Hood” is William Edward Robin Hood Hastings-Bass who is the 17th Earl of Huntingdon (b. 1948).” The Reformation of King Henry VIII meant the closure of the monasteries and the end of the Friars who acted like ‘robinhoods’ and perhaps this explains the titles of Munday’s two plays about the downfall and death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon?
The Savile Family.
Either side of the Peasants Revolt in 1380 and 1383 the sheriff of Yorkshire was Sir John Savile. His grandson also called John married Elizabeth Paston (b. 1496). She was descended from King Edward III making her a relative of King Henry VIII (b. 1491) through John of Gaunt and the Beautforts while her sister Mary Paston married Ralph Neville a descendent of the Holland family who were the Earls of Huntingdon by a previous creation. John Holland was half-brother to Richard II, to whom he remained loyal the rest of his life, this was at the time of the Peasants Revolt and his mother Joan who was “The Fair Maid of Kent” later married Edward, the Black Prince.
John’s sister Margaret De Savile was the prioress of Kirkless where Robin Hood’s grave is situated and a later member of the Savile family, Nicholas Savile bought Kirklees Priory from King Henry VIII after the reformation. Then on 26 October 1565 Robert Pilkington and his wife, Alice Savile, conveyed the manor of Kirklees to John Armytage whose family remained in possession until the twentieth century.
There may be a family connection between Robin Hood and the Prioress through the Everingham family who married into the Wadsley family. Sir John Wadsley’s eldest daughter and co-heir Margery, married Henry Everingham of Stainborough Hall (Wentworth Castle) and the second daughter married Sir Adam Everingham of Birkin on the River Calder. Before this Sir Walter Savile (knight) married the daughter of Sir Adam Everingham (knight) and several generations later Margaret Savile the daughter of John Savile and Isobel Ellend became the Prioress of Kirklees Priory. The author of the rhymes writing fifty or so years after the pardon of Robin Hood would see this as a family connection between the Prioress and Robin Hood. There is a stained glass window to the Everingham family in Ecclesfield church which was the mother church to St. Nicholas at Bradfield where Loxley is situated.
Sir Walter Savile of Savile Hall, Dodworth married a daughter of Adam Everingham of Stainborough c. 1240 and the Everingham’s married into the Wadsley family. Dodworth and Stainborough are adjoining villages and only ten miles from the Calder Valley.
After the Reformation Nicholas Saville bought Kirklees Priory from King Henry VIII at the inflated price of £987-15s-7d. Both these men will have come into contact with Robin Hood when he was outlawed and their families appear proud to be associated with him.
The Armytage Family.
John Armytage became the Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1641AD and he married Margery Beaumont. An earlier member of the Beaumont family, Isabella de Beaumont the daughter of Robert de Meulan, 1st Earl of Leicester married Simon de St. Liz, (1121-1153) who was the Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton. He was descended from Waltheof the Earl of Huntingdon who was the Lord of the Manor of Hallam (Sheffield). Is this the origin of the Huntingdon connection?
The Duke of Norfolk
The Duke of Norfolk who is descended from King Edward I. was related to King Henry VIII daughter Queen Elizabeth and two of his wives Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard. He inherited the manors of Sheffield and Worksop and many more from the Lovetot, Furnival, and Talbot families including the magnificent Grouse Moors around Loxley. Among other honours, the Duke of Norfolk inherited the titles of Premier Duke and Earl of England, Knight of the Garter, and Marshal of England. The Dukes family have continued the tradition of hunting in South Yorkshire where Robin Hood is said to have poached the king’s deer thus continuing the tradition begun by Robin. An example of the fine hunting to be had around Loxley even as late as the twentieth century is when the Duke of Norfolk’s game association bagged 1,421.5 brace (2,843 birds) in a single day with just nine guns. Loxley is near the ancient Royal Forest of the Peak where medieval kings used Peveril Castle that was built and was home to the Sheriff of Nottingham when he was in Derbyshire.
Robin’s noble parentage is recorded in the Sloane manuscript, it was confirmed by Richard Grafton in 1562 and by John Leyland who was king Henry VIII's historian and tutor to Sir Francis Hastings who was George Hastings son. Ralph Hastings was the sheriff of Yorkshire at the time of the Peasants Revolt when Robin Hood was outlawed.
The siblings of Anne Stafford included the Duke of Buckingham; Earl of Wiltshire; and the Countess of Sussex. Her first cousins included (among others) Elizabeth of York, Mary of York, Cecily of York, Edward V of England, Margaret of York, 1st Duke of York, Anne of York, George Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford, Catherine of York and Bridget of York who would have had plenty to say if Robin Hood had been wrongly portrayed as a member of the nobility.