A wealthy wool merchant in Kingston-upon-Hull, and Member of Parliament for that borough, William’s great grandfather was a self-styled Yeoman. Rich enough to be able to end to King Edward III he so advanced the fortunes of the family that he was created Earl of Suffolk. William’s father, Michael fell from grace and wealth through his association with King Richard II and when accused of treason fled to Paris where he died in 1389. His son, Michael was restored in blood but fell at the Battle of Harfleur and his eldest son at Agincourt in 1415. Thus William, the second son, became Earl of Suffolk aged 19. For the next 15 years he was continually involved in the 100 Years War in France. He was eventually captured by Jeanne d’Arc and the Duke d’Alençon at Jargeau and ransomed for £20,000. He then spent years helping the King seek peace in France, but in doing so acquired the enmity of the powerful Duke of Gloucester. Suffolk arranged the King’s marriage with Margaret of Anjou against Gloucester’s wishes. When Gloucester, the great benefactor of Oxford University, died, it was suspected that William was somehow to blame. From this great height, the fall was swift and bloody for his enemies now included the Duke of York. The Commons proffered charges and he was banished for 5 years. En route to France to serve his banishment he was intercepted and executed on board.