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At formal events in Hungerford, rather than simply "The Queen", the traditional Loyal Toast is "The Queen, Duke of Lancaster". Why is this; what is the history behind it?

In brief:

- Hungerford was part of the huge Duchy of Lancaster estate.
- John of Gaunt was made 1st Duke of Lancaster in 1362.
- John of Gaunt is said to have given significant rights to the people of Hungerford, including the rights of fishing and markets.
- The "John of Gaunt" Charter between the Duchy and Hungerford was lost in 1573.
- In 1612 the Manor of Hungerford was granted by James I to two London men, and
- In 1617 the Manor passed to 14 feoffees.
- Despite this independence, Hungerford has remained loyal to the Duchy ever since.

- Following John of Gaunt's death in 1399, his son Henry Bolingbroke deposed Richard II to become King Henry IV; the Dukedom merged with the Crown.
- Since 1399, the Duchy of Lancaster has been held by each succeeding monarch.
- However, Henry IV declared that the Duchy of Lancaster estates should be held separately from other Crown Estates. This separation was confirmed in 1461 by
Edward IV and, much later, in 1760 under George III, when the Crown Estates were exchanged for the Civil List

- The monarch, regardless of gender, remains "Duke of Lancaster".

- In Hungerford (and throughout the Duchy), the Loyal Toast is "The Queen, Duke of Lancaster"

What is Hungerford's connection with the Duchy of Lancaster?

(For more on this, see Origins of the Town and Manor of Hungerford). When King William I invaded England in 1066, he rapidly established his authority over his new kingdom by distributing the various manors and lands between his many Norman relatives and close friends.

In 1108, Hungerford was in the ownership of a distant relative of king William I - Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan. The manor of Hungerford remained in his family for several generations.

Eventually, in 1232 it came into the hands of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and Simon de Montfort created a deer park on the east side of Hungerford, where now is Hungerford Park. Simon de Montfort was killed at the Battle of Evesham in 1265.

What is the Duchy of Lancaster?

When Simon de Montfort was defeated in 1265, King Henry III granted Simon's lands to his younger son, Edmund. In 1266 the estates of Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby, another of the protagonists in the Second Barons' War, were added. In 1267 the estate was formally granted as the "County, Honour and Castle of Lancaster". The House of Lancaster was established.

In 1351 King Edward III raised Lancashire into a county palatine. (A county palatine was an area ruled by an hereditary nobleman possessing special authority and autonomy from the rest of the kingdom. The nobleman swore allegiance to the king yet had the power to rule the county largely independently of the king.) The Duchy of Lancaster became one of the biggest landed estates in the country.

The First Duke of Lancaster of the first creation:

At the same time, 6 March 1351, Edward III made Henry of Grosmont the First Duke of Lancaster. Henry of Grosmont was the great-grandson of Henry III, and was already 4th Earl of Lancaster, 4th Earl of Leicester, 1st Earl of Derby, 1st Earl of Lincoln and Lord of Bowland.

Henry Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster married Isabel de Beaumont (a descendant of the de Beaumont family who had held Hungerford right back in 1108). Henry and Isabel had two daughters, Maud and Blanche, but importantly, no son. When Henry died in 1361, the Duke of Lancaster creation became extinct (with no son available to become a 2nd Duke of Lancaster). However, the vast Lancastrian estates did pass to his elder daughter, Maud.

Maud died childless the following year (10 April 1362), and the manor of Hungerford, along with the other Lancastrian estates, passed to her younger sister Blanche who became 6th Countess Lancaster).

Now, three years earlier, in 1359, Blanche had married (at Reading Abbey) John of Gaunt, the third (surviving) son of King Edward III.

The First Duke of Lancaster of the second creation:

Following the death of Henry Grosmont Duke of Lancaster in 1361, and of Maud in 1362, John of Gaunt (at the tender age of 22 years) became the owner of the massive inherited Lancastrian estates - which included Hungerford.

Later that year, on 13 November 1362, King Edward III (John of Gaunt's father) conferred the dukedom of Lancaster on John of Gaunt "and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten for ever". John of Gaunt was therefore the First Duke of Lancaster of the second creation. He was also "Earl of Lancaster, Richmond and Derby and High Steward of England". He was one of the richest and most powerful men in the country.

When his father Edward III died in 1377, the crown passed to his grandson, a 10-year old boy, who became King Richard II. During Richard II's reign (1377-1399), John of Gaunt virtually ran the country as Protector.

John of Gaunt's Charter for Hungerford:

(For more on this see The Case of the Missing Charter). Tradition has it that it was John of Gaunt who granted the rights of free fishing and the rights of the market and trade to the people of Hungerford, freeing them from paying taxes to the Duchy of Lancaster.

The problem is that we do not have a Charter confirming this liberty. The Duchy of Lancaster's copy was said to have been lost when the Savoy Palace was destroyed in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 (during the reign of Richard II). Hungerford's own copy was lost or stolen around 1573.

In Queen Elizabeth I's time, the Duchy of Lancaster was in dispute with the people of Hungerford. The Duchy wanted us to pay our taxes – but Hungerford said John of Gaunt had granted liberty. Queen Elizabeth I herself was involved as things came to a head.

Hungerford becomes separate to the Duchy of Lancaster:

However, after many years of dispute with the Duchy, in 1612 at a time when the then King James I was urgently seeking any money he could get his hands on, the Manor of Hungerford was sold by James I to two London men (for £285), John Eldred and William Whitmore. In May, 'in consideration of a certain sum of money', Eldred and Whitmore conveyed the Manor, complete with 'rents, pleas, perquisites of court of burgh, with fishery and fishing of all rivers and waters in the manor aforesaid' to four Hungerford men - John Lucas, Robert Field, Thomas Carpenter, and Ralph Mackerell.

Finally, on 16 June, 1617, the Manor of Hungerford was conveyed to Ralph Mackerell (Constable), and 13 other local men 'in trust for the inhabitants'. These 14 men thus became the first feoffees or trustees of the Town and Manor of Hungerford.

Hungerford was finally and legally independent of the Duchy of Lancaster. However, it continued to remember and support the Lancastrian cause, acknowledging its important historic connection with John of Gaunt.

So, this has explained the connection of Hungerford with John of Gaunt and the Duchy of Lancaster – and suggested why we might indeed toast "the Duke of Lancaster".

But why is the Loyal Toast "The Queen, Duke of Lancaster"?

After John of Gaunt's death: When John of Gaunt died on 4 February 1399, the Dukedom passed to his son, Henry of Bolingbroke, 1st Duke of Hereford. Later that same year, Henry, the new 2nd Duke of Lancaster, usurped the throne of England from his cousin Richard II, ascending the throne as King Henry IV. At this point the Dukedom had merged in the crown - Henry IV was both King and Duke of Lancaster.

The first act of King Henry IV was to declare that the Lancastrian inheritance be held separately from the other possessions of the Crown, and should descend to his male heirs.

This separation of identities was confirmed in 1461 by Edward IV when he incorporated the inheritance and the palatinate responsibilities under the title of the Duchy of Lancaster, and stipulated that it be held separate from other inheritances by him and his successors, Kings of England.

The Duchy of Lancaster and the monarch: The Duchy of Lancaster continued to pass to the reigning monarch right into the 18th century.

The establishment of the Civil List: In 1760 George III became king. All the Crown Estates were surrendered by the king in exchange for a regular annual allowance in the form of the Civil List. However, the historic separate identity of the Duchy of Lancaster preserved it in the hands of the king, and it has remained in the personal ownership of each reigning monarch since.

The Duchy of Lancaster is therefore primarily a landed inheritance belonging to the reigning sovereign. It is not the property of The Crown, but is instead the personal (inherited) property of the monarch - as it has been ever since 1399. The monarch is correctly styled "Duke of Lancaster", regardless of gender.

At gatherings of Lancastrians within the County Palatine and worldwide, including Hungerford, the loyal toast is: "The Queen, Duke of Lancaster"!

See also:

- Simon de Montfort

- John of Gaunt

- The Origins of the Town and Manor of Hungerford