The Penurious Knyght

Like Robin Hood and Little John, there have been many attempts to link the "gentyll knight" mentioned in the ballad, "A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode" who had on his person "but even halfe a pounde", to a real person.
The knight is captured and given a meal at the Outlaws camp and then asked to pay for the meal.
He is described in the latter part of the "Gest" as "Sir Richard at the Lee" after giving Robin Hood and his followers refuge in his castle at "Uterysdale"1 or "Verysdale"3
The following are some pieces of evidence which have been used in an attempt to link this character.
1. Uterysdale has been identified by some as relating to the village of Lee in the Wyre valley-  Wyresdale [Lancashire]1 and references to Richard de Leghs [Leghe] in Lancashire one in the village of Woodhouses.5.
2. The knight's son had killed a knight of Lancashire, Joseph Hunter was not convinced that this knight is the same one mentioned later in the "Geste"
I had a sone, for soth Robyn,
That sholde have ben myn eyre,
When he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde juste full fayre;

He slewew a knyght of Lancasthyre,
And a squyre bolde;
For to save hym in his ryght
My goodes both sette and solde;3

3. Uterysdale identified as Yrewysdale [Ywerys] in the vale of Erewash-between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire2. According to Bellamy there were only four castles which fitted the description in the 1300's found in the "Gest" near Nottingham. Annesley Woodhouse castle was the only one which appeared to be within Sherwood at this time, closer to Mansfield than Nottingham.
4. Some have associated the ballad knight with a family living at Middleton, West Yorkshire.
5. Also with Sir Richard Foliot a knight of Nottinghamshire4.
6. A Richard Lee of the mid 1300's
7. Sir John de la Lee, a vicar, whose nephew was a steward in the king's household.

However a West Yorkshire solution has veracity because:
1. Uterysdale could be "Huddersfield-dale", [Huddersdale], usually pronounced without the "H".
2. Sir Richard of the Lee was Sir Richard de Thornhill who lived at Thornhill Lees near Huddersfield.
3. Sir Richard de Thornhill was a real knight who appears in the Court Rolls for Wakefield as a person who transgressed the laws of Lord Warrene's hunting forest of Sowerby in 1274.
He was the eldest son of Sir John de Thornhill [b. abt. 1180].  [Sir] Richard de Thornhill was born ca. 1228 at Thornhill and died 1287 at Fixby. He married first Margaret [Maud] de Bedall [Bedale- North of Ripon] and secondly about 1228, Matilda de Fixby [b. ca. 1240 Thornhill] The first marriage led to a large line of de Thornhills who intermarried with such luminous names as de Laci, de Eland and later Saviles.
4. A Richard of the Lee appears in the Court Rolls for Wakefield in 13171 as suing William Waterhouse. The Lee here according to Phillips and Keatman could be Kirklees.
5. The knight had to sell his goods to pay the abbott of St. Mary's in York 400 pounds which might indicate that there is a Yorkshire connection. Robin gives the payment to the knight who repays the abbott. Later Robin according to the ballad steals 800 pounds from the monks of St. Mary's. Robin according to the ballads had an uncle as a prior at York.
6. There is a place called Le Leghes in the graveship of Alverthorpe mentioned in the Wakefield Court Rolls for 13326. Leghe is a common name occuring in the W.C.R.'s.
7. After the archery contest at Nottingham in the "Geste" the band flee to Sir Richard at The Lee's castle which is interpreted as being at Thornhill, West Yorkshire.
8. The Greenwode or Greenwood is an area in Calderdale between Heptonstall and Widdop. It is also a  surname popular in the area Greenwood - first recorded in 1275 possibly from Wyomarus de Greenwod who established his home at what is now Greenwood Lee in 1154 AD. A William of Grenewode is mentioned as holding land and tenements called Leyrynge - or Learings - at Heptonstall in 1439. The name is laterr recorded as Grenewod and Grenewodde.
See Midgley-Greenwood Arms combined

Then there was a fayre castel,
A lytell within the wode,
Double dyched it was about,
And walled by the rode.

And there dwelled that gentyll knyght,
Syr Richard at the Lee, 
That Robyn had lent his good,
Under the grene wode tre.

In he toke good Robyn,
And all his company:
Welcome be thou, Robyn Hode,
Welcome art thou to me.

Shut the gates and drawe the bridge,
And let no man come in,
For I love no man in all this worlde,
Robyn, so moche as I do the.3

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1. Child, Francis, James. (Ed.) The English and Popular Scottish Ballads, New York, 1955.
2. Bellamy John. Robin Hood an Historical Enquiry, London, 1985.
3. A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode, 2nd edition.
4. Green, Barbara, The Outlaw Robin Hood, His Yorkshire Legend, limited pub.
5. Harris, P.V., The Truth about Robin Hood, Mansfield, 1973.
6. Walker, S.S., Wakefield Court Rolls 1331-1333, Leeds, 1983.

Copyright © Tim Midgley 2001, revised April 2003. 1