“Than came a knyght ridinghe,
Full sone they gan hym mete.
All dreri was his semblaunce,
And lytell was his pryde;
His one fote in the styrop stode,
That othere wavyd beside.
His hode hanged in his iyn two;
He rode in symple aray,
A soriar man than he was one
Rode never in somer day”
-A Gest of Robyn Hode
When Sir Richard of Verysdale's son accidentally killed a knight from Lancaster in a joust the Sheriff of Nottingham arrested the Verysdale heir and sentenced him to death. He offered to release the lad if Richard paid an outrageous bail of four hundred pounds. A desperate Richard, who had little money despite his title and lands, took out a loan from the unscrupulous Abbot of St. Mary's Abby in York in order to post his son's bail. He was given only a few days to repay the loan or his lands would go to the Abbot, he knew he would be unable to repay it but he had no other recourse to save his son. Unbeknownst to the knight the Abbot and the Sheriff were plotting to to use this loan in order to confiscate his lands and divide them up between them. In Howard Pyle's Merry Adventures of Robin Hood the loan was from Prior Vincent of Emmet Priory who serves the same purpose and role as the Abbot of St. Mary's in the earlier version of the tale.
Guest of Robin Hood
Robin Hood hatched a plan to get money from a wealthy nobleman by essentially kidnapping them, serving them a feast and then requiring them to pay him for his services. When he sent his Merry Men to lie in wait at Saylis for such an individual they did not come across anyone within a reasonable period so Little John, Will Scarlet and Much the miller's son went to "Watlinge Strete" (presumably the Roman Watling Street though the location is that of the Roman Ermine Street) to look for a nobleman and found themselves Sir Richard. Not aware of his financial situation they took him with them to the banquet in Barnsdale Forest where the confused knight was treated to a fine feast.
When Robin asked Sir Richard to pay for his meal Richard informed him that he had no money with which to pay and was carrying no more than ten shillings in his trunk. In a test of the knight's honesty Robin said that if there truly were no more than ten shillings in the trunk he would not touch a cent, but if Richard was found to be lying and was carrying more Robin would take everything he had. Upon opening the trunk and finding it practically empty with exactly ten shillings Robin requested the knight's story and personally loaned him the money he needed to repay the abbot, telling him he that there was no need to feel rushed to pay him back and he could pay it back as he could.
Sheltering Robin and the Merry Men
In the version of the aftermath of the archery competition from the ballad A Gest of Robyn Hode and the television show The Adventures of Robin Hood Richard and the Lady of Verysdale sheltered Robin, Little John, Much, Gilbert with the White Hand and several other Merry Men in their castle at Lee while the Sheriff was searching for them.
Rescuing the Wrestler
When Sir Richard had recovered enough of his finances to repay Robin for his former generosity the knight and his wife gathered some gifts for his outlaw friends and the money he owed to them and he set out for the greenwood. Richard was delayed on his way when he came across a fair in Denby where he stopped for a short time to watch the wrestling matches and was asked to help officiate. A yeoman (David of Doncaster in in Howard Pyle's Merry Adventures of Robin Hood) entered the ring without announcing his name and while Richard thought the youth was familiar he could not place his face or name. When the youth handily defeated the local favorite William of the Scar, winning the fair's wrestling competition and prize, he earned the ire of the locals. As he wandered through the rest of the fair taking in the sights a mob gathered led by a Denby blacksmith that eventually cornered and attacked him by a tent where a dance was taking place. By the time Richard arrived with his men at arms and broke up the fight the yeoman was down, unarmed and bleeding from a head wound and only saved by Richard's intervention. After taking the youth aside and helping him patch himself up Richard asked after his name and then brought the Merry Man with him on his way to see Robin in the greenwood.
Revealing the King
In Howard Pyle's version of the tale when King Richard is disguised as a monk and acting as a "guest" among the Merry Men Sir Richard reveals his identity to the others when he comes to the forest to tell Robin Hood that the King is somewhere in the forest seeking the outlaw.
Appearances in Media
- 1883 The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
- 1912 Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band: Their Famous Exploits in Sherwood Forest by Louis Rhead
- 2014 Knight of the Cross (as Sir Richard-at-Lee) by Steven A. McKay
- The Adventures of Robin Hood
- 1955 "The Challenge" played by Ian Hunter
- 1955 "The Betrothal" played by Ian Hunter
- 1956 "The Byzantine Treasure" played by Ian Hunter
- 1956 "The Knight Who Came to Dinner" played by Ian Hunter
- 1956 "Blackmail" played by Ian Hunter
- 1956 "The Goldmaker" played by Ian Hunter
- 1958 "Castle in the Air" played by Ian Hunter
- Robin of Sherwood (as Sir Richard of Leaford)
- 1985 "The Prophecy" played by George Baker.
- 1986 "Herne's Son (Part 1)" played by George Baker.
- 1986 "Herne's Son (Part 2)" played by George Baker.
- 1986 "The Power of Albion" played by George Baker.
- BBC's Robin Hood John of York is clearly based on Sir Richard.