The following historical insight into one of Sir John Forster’s descendants has been compiled by the wonderful Bamburgh Bones volunteer researcher Carol Griffith. Carol delights in scouring archives and ancient documents to gather information about Bamburgh and it’s impressive castle through the ages.
In accounts of the Forster family. Nicholas is often fleetingly referred to as the illegitimate son of Sir John, and father of Claudius, to whom James I granted the Castle in 1609. However, there is evidence to suggest that it was Nicholas who attracted the gratitude of James I as he travelled from Scotland to England, to claim his throne on the death of Tudor Queen Elizabeth I, which eventually led to the grant of Bamburgh Castle to Claudius.
In April 1603 James crossed the rickety old bridge over the Tweed at Berwick to claim his English Crown,
“James I, on entering England, was received by Mr. Nicholas Forster, high sherrife of Northumberland, who, besides his owne servants and followers, was accompanied by a number of gallant gentlemen of the shyre, who, riding before his Majestie, led the way to Witherington, where his Majestie intended to rest that night”
We know quite a lot about James’s first day in England escorted by Nicholas. James’ reaction to having to cross the old wooden Berwick Bridge, is recorded
“Is there ne’re a man in Berwick whae can boo stanes to make a brig ower the Tweed?”
The new bridge that we still use today was completed by 1624.
We know too that he detoured en route down the original Great North Road, in order to visit the aged and infirm earlier Captain of Berwick and the Holy Island, Sir William Reed, whose manor was found at Fenham
WW Tomlinson records that James I then rode to Widdrington, where he stayed as the guest of Sir Robert Carey, he who had ridden night and day to be the first to bring James the news of the death of Elizabeth.
“Long as the miles were, his majestie made short worke, and attained Witherington, where by the master of the place, Sir Robert Carey, and his right virtuous lady, he was received with all dutie and affection; the house being plentifully furnished for his entertainment. Besides for situation and pleasure it standes very delightful”.
So we have quite an insight to James I first day in England, during which Sir Nicholas obviously made a sufficient impact that his son later benefited.