Lancaster (England)

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Lancaster, duchy of. The duchy of Lancaster originated in the desire of Henry III to provide for his youngest son Edmund Crouchback, after the failure of a scheme to make him king of Sicily. He was granted many of the estates of Simon de Montfort, killed at Evesham, and in 1267 was given all the royal estates in Lancashire, assuming the title of earl. Edmund's grandson, Henry of Grosmont, was created duke by Edward III in 1351, with considerable palatine powers, including the right to hold his own chancery with his own justices, and to appoint his own sheriff. Henry left a daughter who married John of Gaunt, Edward III's younger son. When John's son Henry seized the throne as Henry IV in 1399, the dukedom of Lancaster was merged with the crown. But a separate administration was maintained, possibly in case the new regime did not prosper, but more probably to give the king an independent source of income. The chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster has been used in recent centuries as a supernumerary post, often in the cabinet, for an elder statesman. Queen Victoria used the title countess of Lancaster when she wished to travel semi-privately on the continent.

J. A. Cannon

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Lancaster, Duchy of English estate first given by Henry III to his son Edmund in 1265. The revenues from the Duchy passed permanently to the monarchy in 1399, with the accession of the Lancastrian King Henry IV.

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