Michael Joseph (also known as Michael An Gof ; An Gof is Cornish for blacksmith) and Thomas Flamank (a Bodmin landowner's son and London lawyer) led the Cornish Rebellion of 1497. The rebellion was over King Henry VII's levying of a tax to fund his Scottish War. The Cornish believed that this war was nothing to do with them, and under the leadership of Michael Joseph and Thomas Flamank, thousands march from Cornwall to London to air their grievances to the king.
Michael Joseph was born in the village of Saint Keverne on the Lizard, where he grew up to become the village blacksmith. Virtually nothing apart from that seems to be known about him. Indeed why St Keverne and why the local blacksmith ended up as being the ones that started the rebellion, are not clear. An Gof is Cornish for "blacksmith". Angove is still a common surname in Cornwall.
The unpopular tax was collected by Commissioners. The Commissioner appointed to collect the tax on on the Lizard was one Sir John Oby, Provost of Glasney College, Penryn. Although a the very poor were meant to be exempt from the tax, some collectors were severe, and Sir John Oby was particularly so. This zealousness by him may have been a reason that those in St. Keverne rose first.
A fuller description of their march and battle is given in the section on Thomas Flamank. They led an ill-armed army to march to London. Camped at Blackheath which was then outside London. They were armed only with with staves, pitchforks and homemade weapons. On June 17th 1497 they were surrounded by the King's army of ten thousand men. The Battle of Deptford Bridge was brief, 200 Cornishmen died.
An Gof fled to Greenwich after the battle, but was captured and sent to the Tower of London. Flamank and Joseph being executed at Tyburn 10 days later. They were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Their heads were displayed on pike-staffs on London Bridge.
An Gof is recorded as saying, on the way to his death, that he would have "a name perpetual, and a fame permanent and immortal". To this day, the 27th June is celebrated An Gof day, with annual events in Bodmin, St Keverne, and London
On its 500th anniversary, the Cornish uprising was marked by the unveiling of a statue, depicting An Gof and Flamank, at An Gof's home town of St. Keverne in Cornwall.
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