19 January, 2020

The House on the Strand and Sir Otto Bodrugan (1290-1331)

Probably my favourite novel of all time is Daphne du Maurier's The House on the Strand, which I must have read ten times. Our 1960s narrator, Dick, is staying at his friend Magnus's house in Cornwall, and on multiple occasions ingests a powerfully hallucinogenic drug which takes his mind back to the fourteenth century while his body remains in the twentieth. He wanders around the Cornish countryside following people many hundreds of years dead only he can see and who can't see him, and becomes obsessed with their lives, to the point where it starts to destroy his marriage and the drug starts to damage his body. The fourteenth-century sections are set at the end of Edward II's reign and beginning of Edward III's, and the last time Dick travels back in time in his mind, it's a few years later, just after the Black Death in 1348/49. The two King Edwards, Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer do not appear as characters, but are mentioned a few times in the narrative. Daphne du Maurier's descriptions of the Cornish landscape are simply brilliant, especially when she describes the differences between what it looked like 650 years previously and the modern 1960s landscape, e.g. Dick wakes from one of his trips to find that he's soaking wet, having waded through water that wasn't there in his fourteenth-century vision.

One of the fourteenth-century characters in the novel is Sir Otto Bodrugan, a real person, as are all of the fourteenth-century characters. (Du Maurier did a great deal of research, and at one point in House on the Strand a debt of £200 Otto owed to Sir John Carminowe is mentioned; that's recorded on the Close Roll on 3 February 1331.) Otto was the son and heir of Henry Bodrugan, his mother was Sybil Maundevill or Mandeville, and he was born at the manor of Bodrugan, Cornwall on 6 January 1290. He was baptised at the church of St Goran on the day after his birth, and his godmother was Joan Treviur, "who especially loved him." [1] Otto was the heir of his father Henry, who died shortly before 23 January 1309, and also of Henry's uncle William Bodrugan, who died shortly before 26 March 1308. Henry was said to be "aged thirty and more" at William's inquisition post mortem in April 1308, but he must have been a good bit older than thirty then, as his son Otto was born at the start of 1290. Otto's name was also often spelt Oto or Otho or even Otes in the fourteenth century.

Otto came into a few manors in Cornwall, and the Cornish jurors at his father's IPM in February 1309 knew exactly how old he was, stating correctly that he was "aged nineteen at the feast of the Epiphany last." Two "vacant plots in the place of a capital messuage" and a few acres of arable land and pasture in Luton, Bedfordshire which had belonged to Otto's late mother Sybil passed in 1309 to John Pouwers or Poer or Power, "aged twenty-three and more," Otto's older half-brother. [2] Sybil herself was the sister and heir of Sir Walter Mandeville, and was "aged twenty-four and more at the feast of St Michael last" in  early November 1288, putting her date of birth around 29 September 1264. [3] Sybil was married firstly to Peter Poer, and and she and her second husband 'Henry de Boderingeham' were granted the marriage rights of her own son John Poer on 2 February 1291, as a "[c]onfirmation of a bequest in the will of Eleanor [of Castile], the late queen". [4] I haven't been able to find the date of Sybil's death, but she had already passed away when her second husband Henry Bodrugan died in early 1309. As well as his descent from the Bodrugans and the Mandevilles, Otto Bodrugan was descended from the powerful Giffard family on his mother's side - two of Sybil's maternal Giffard uncles were archbishop of Canterbury and bishop of Worcester, and her aunt was abbess of Shaftesbury - and from the Pomeroy family on his father's. 

Below, part of the inquisition post mortem of Otto Bodrugan's father Henry in February 1309, showing the name Tywardraith or Tywardreath, which will be familiar to readers of The House on the Strand. 'Sir Henry de Campo Arnulphi' is the Latinised form of Henry Champernowne (or Chambernoun), also a character in the novel and Otto's brother-in-law.

Hugh Despenser the Elder sold Otto's marriage rights to Sir Henry Champernowne at an uncertain date before February 1311 [5], and Otto married Henry's sister Margaret while his own sister Joan married Henry himself. Otto Bodrugan and Margaret Champernowne had three sons, born in or before 1310, in 1311, and at an unknown date in the 1310s; see below.

Otto joined the Contrariant rebellion against Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger in 1321/22, and Edward II ordered the arrest of 'Otto de Botringham' on 7 December 1321. [6] (The unusual spellings of his and his father's last name that sometimes appear reveal that Chancery clerks in London didn't have a clue about Cornish names.) He fought against the royal army at the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322. [7] During the York parliament of May 1322, Edward II pardoned Otto on the latter's acknowledgement of a due fine of 1,000 marks (£666). His lands were restored to him in July 1322. [8] In March 1324, Otto received a safe-conduct to go on pilgrimage to Santiago. [9] It must have been a relief to Otto, as to so many others, when Edward and the Despensers fell from power in 1326, and on 3 December that year Isabella of France made Otto keeper of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, recently forfeited by Hugh Despenser the Younger. [10]

Sir Otto Bodrugan died shortly before 10 October 1331 at the age of forty-one, when the writ for his inquisition post mortem was issued, and it was held at the beginning of 1332. As is basically always the case, we don't know the cause of his death, though I imagine Otto didn't die in the dramatic way Daphne du Maurier describes it in House on the Strand. Otto's heir was his first son Henry, but sadly - as du Maurier mentions in the novel - Henry only outlived his father by three weeks, and did not know of his father's death. The reason why he was not informed is not explained in the inquisition, but perhaps Henry was seriously ill, and out of compassion his carers did not tell him Otto was dead, or perhaps he was so ill that he spent the last few weeks of his life unconscious. In late 1331/early 1332, Henry Bodrugan was "aged twenty-one and more," so he was already of age when Otto died, and was born in or before 1310, when his father was twenty or younger. Henry was married to a woman called Isabella, but they had no children. Otto's heir therefore was his second son William Bodrugan, born at 'Trevelouan' on 1 or 2 September 1311. Otto and Margaret also had a third son, named after his father, whose date of birth is not recorded, and Margaret outlived her husband and received her dower, as did her daughter-in-law Isabella, in March 1332. [11] 

None of Otto's three sons had any sons, and William left a daughter, Elizabeth, as his heir. Elizabeth married Sir Richard Sergeaux (d. 1393) also of the county of Cornwall, who married secondly Philippa Arundel (d. 1399), daughter of the earl of Arundel's disinherited son Edmund Arundel. Otto Bodrugan the younger, the third and youngest son of Otto, also left a daughter, Joan, as his heir.


1) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-17, no. 285.
2) CIPM 1307-17, nos. 10, 139; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-19, pp. 28, 35, 41.
3) CIPM 1272-91, no. 678; CFR 1272-1307, p. 258.
4) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1281-92, p. 420.
5) CPR 1307-13, p. 306.
6) CFR 1319-27, p. 85.
7) Vicary Gibbs, 'The Battle of Boroughbridge and the Boroughbridge Roll', Genealogist, new series, vol. 21 (1905), p. 224.
8) CFR 1319-27, p. 155; Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-23, p. 618; CPR 1321-24, pp. 183, 191.
9) CPR 1321-24, pp. 391, 399.
10) CFR 1319-27, p. 425; CCR 1323-27, p. 622.
11) CIPM 1327-36, nos. 385-86, 486; CFR 1327-37, pp. 277, 288; CCR 1330-33, pp. 444, 466.

14 January, 2020

Eleanor de Bohun, Duchess of Gloucester, and Mary de Bohun, Countess of Derby

When Edward II's sister Elizabeth, countess of Holland, Hereford and Essex, died on 5 May 1316 at the age of thirty-three, she left seven surviving children from her second marriage to Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex (d. 1322). Elizabeth's fourth eldest surviving son, after John, born 1305, and Humphrey, born 1307, was William, a younger twin of Edward. Edward de Bohun drowned in Scotland in 1334 and left no children, and William was made first earl of Northampton by their first cousin Edward III in 1337. The de Bohun twins' year of birth is uncertain; they may have been born c. 1309 or c. 1312/13.

William de Bohun married Elizabeth, born c. 1310 as one of the four daughters, and ultimately the four Badlesmere co-heirs after their brother Giles's death in 1338, of Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere (executed 14 April 1322). Elizabeth was the widow of Edmund Mortimer, eldest son of Roger Mortimer (executed 29 November 1330), first earl of March. Edmund did not outlive his father very long: the writ for his inquisition post mortem was issued on 21 January 1332. [1] Elizabeth Badlesmere and Edmund Mortimer had a son, Roger Mortimer, born in Ludlow, Shropshire on 11 November 1328, later the second earl of March, and William de Bohun's stepson. [2]

Elizabeth Badlesmere and William de Bohun's son Humphrey was born in Rochford, Essex on 24 March 1342*, and they also had a daughter, Elizabeth (d. 1385), probably younger than her brother, who married Richard, earl of Arundel (c. 1347-97). Humphrey born in 1342 was heir to his father's earldom of Northampton, and was also heir to his unmarried and childless uncle Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex. William de Bohun died on 16 September 1360 and his older brother Humphrey on 15 October 1361, and the younger Humphrey proved his age on 8 April 1363 and came into the three earldoms. [3It's worth noting that Humphrey de Bohun born in 1342 was a younger half-brother of Roger Mortimer (b. 1328), second earl of March and uncle of Edmund (b. 1352), the third earl, and that he was exactly the same age as Blanche of Lancaster, duchess of Lancaster, born 25 March 1342.

* According to his proof of age, though an entry on the Fine Roll dated 6 May 1363 says "...since the Annunciation last, on which day he came of full age," and the Annunciation is 25 March. [4]

Humphrey de Bohun the younger married Joan, eldest child of Richard, earl of Arundel (c. 1313-76) and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster, before 27 October 1359, and Joan's brother the younger Richard married Humphrey's sister Elizabeth around the same time. [5] Humphrey was seventeen and Joan thirteen or fourteen when they married. They were to have two children, or at least, two children who survived infancy: Eleanor and Mary de Bohun, who shared their father's large inheritance between them. Eleanor de Bohun married Edward III's youngest son Thomas of Woodstock (b. 1355), duke of Gloucester and earl of Buckingham, and her sister Mary married Thomas's nephew Henry of Lancaster (b. 1367), later King Henry IV, son of Thomas of Woodstock's older brother John of Gaunt.

Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, Essex and Northampton, died on 16 January 1373, aged only thirty; his widow Joan outlived him by forty-six years. In his inquisition post mortem, his daughters and heirs Eleanor and Mary were said to be aged seven and more and four and more, or seven and three and more. [6] Unfortunately Eleanor and Mary's proofs of age, which would give us their exact dates of birth, no longer exist, though there are references to the proofs of age in the chancery rolls which make it apparent that they were both, like their father in 1342, born in the county of Essex.

There is, however, evidence that can narrow down Eleanor and Mary de Bohun's likely dates of birth. Eleanor was said to be "now of age", i.e. fourteen for a married woman, on 8 May 1380, and she and Thomas of Woodstock were given her share of her late father’s lands on 22 June 1380 after she proved that she had come of age. An inquisition taken in Essex on 9 April 1380 says that Eleanor was "aged 14 years on the feast of St Barnabas last", which if accurate would give her a date of birth around 11 June 1365, though in that case it is not clear why she and Thomas did not receive her lands until June 1380. [7] It seems most likely that Eleanor was born not too long before 8 May 1366.

The date of Eleanor de Bohun and Thomas of Woodstock's wedding is not recorded, but they were certainly married by 24 August 1376. [8] On 1 June in an unstated year, John of Gaunt ordered a large silver cup and matching ewer to be "delivered to our beloved sister the lady of Woodstock [la dame de Wodstok] on her wedding day." [9] That's certainly a reference to Eleanor de Bohun, and as Thomas of Woodstock did not receive a title until July 1377 on the day of his nephew Richard II's coronation, it made sense for Gaunt to refer to his new sister-in-law politely as 'the lady of Woodstock'. It's rather frustrating that Gaunt's letter on this matter does not give the year, though it might well date to 1374 rather than 1376, as it's recorded in his register in the middle of other letters and instructions dating to 1374. Thomas of Woodstock, born 7 January 1355, was rather more than eleven years older than his wife, so would have to wait a good while until she was old enough to consummate the marriage; it's entirely possible that Eleanor was only eight years old at the time of her wedding, and she certainly wasn't more than ten.

Eleanor’s younger sister and co-heir Mary de Bohun, who would marry John of Gaunt’s son Henry of Lancaster in early February 1381, was probably born not too long before 22 December 1370, as on 22 December 1384 she and Henry were given her share of her late father's lands as she had come of age. [10] The Essex inquisition of 9 April 1380 mentioned above states that Mary was then nine years old, which fits well with the likelihood that she was born in or a little before December 1370. Her father's IPM of early 1373 states, however, that she was then either three or four, whereas it seems more probable that she was actually only two years old when her father died, and that her sister Eleanor was six going on seven in January 1373, being approximately four years and eight months older than her sister. Mary was most probably only ten years old when she married Henry of Lancaster in February 1381 (born in April 1367, Henry himself was thirteen going on fourteen), and there are several references in her father-in-law John of Gaunt's register and in the chancery rolls to indicate that she would remain with her mother until she turned fourteen, and that Gaunt himself and his nephew Richard II gave Countess Joan money for Mary's maintenance.

Mary gave birth to her eldest child Henry of Monmouth, later King Henry V, in September 1386 when she was probably fifteen years and nine months old. As Ian Mortimer points out in his biography of Henry IV, a child born in April 1382 who has often been wrongly assigned to Mary and Henry was in fact Mary's nephew Humphrey of Buckingham, later called Humphrey of Gloucester after his father received the dukedom of Gloucester in 1385. [11] Humphrey was the eldest child of Eleanor de Bohun and Thomas of Woodstock, and was obviously named in honour of her late father. Eleanor had either recently turned sixteen or was shortly to turn sixteen when she gave birth to Humphrey. If I'm correct that Mary de Bohun was born not too long before 22 December 1370, it's physically impossible that she could have given birth to a child in April 1382; she would only have been ten years old when Humphrey was conceived in c. July 1381 and eleven when he was born. Bizarrely, one modern writer has given the non-existent child born to Mary and Henry in April 1382 the name 'Edward' and has stated that he only lived for four days. It's amazing how creative you can be when inventing details about non-existent children. The same writer has stated that Mary de Bohun turned fourteen on 15 February 1382, but no source is cited and I have no idea what it is, and if so, it's hard to explain why she and Henry were not given their lands until almost three years later in December 1384.

Both Eleanor and Mary de Bohun lived tragically short lives. Mary died in June 1394, aged about twenty-three and a half, having borne six children in under eight years. Eleanor died in October 1399 aged thirty-three, just a month after losing her only son Humphrey of Gloucester. Their mother the dowager countess of Hereford outlived them both by many years and died in 1419, six years into the reign of her grandson Henry V. Mary de Bohun never became duchess of Hereford and Lancaster or queen of England as she died before her husband received those titles and before he took the throne in September 1399, and she was only countess of Derby. Henry buried her at the Newarke in Leicester, which was founded in 1330 by his great-grandfather Henry, earl of Lancaster, and extended by his grandfather Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster. Henry's stepmother Constanza of Castile and his brothers, sons of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster who died in infancy, were also buried in the Newarke.

Eleanor de Bohun lived through the tragedy of her husband Thomas of Woodstock's murder in September 1397, and wrote her will at Pleshy Castle in Essex on 9 August 1399. [12] To her son Humphrey she left a 'bed of black damask', a coat of mail, a psalter and several books in French. Seventeen-year-old Humphrey died on 2 September 1399, and Eleanor on 3 October 1399, but she did not update her will after his death; perhaps she was too ill or grief-stricken. In the end, only one of her children lived into adulthood and had children: Anne of Gloucester (1383-1438), countess of Stafford and Eu, ancestor of the dukes of Buckingham and numerous others. Eleanor's other three daughters died at the age of sixteen or younger.

1) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 293; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-36, no. 387.
2) CIPM 1347-52, no. 247.
3) CIPM 1352-60, no. 639; CIPM 1361-65, nos. 485, 543.
4) CFR 1356-68, pp. 258-59.
5) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1358-61, pp. 274, 304.
6) CIPM 1370-73, no.167.
7) CPR 1377-81, p. 502; Calendar of Close Rolls 1377-81, pp. 390-95; CCR 1381-85, pp. 511-16, 548; CIPM 1377-84, no. 201.
8) CPR 1374-77, p. 337.
9) John of Gaunt's Register 1371-75, no. 1431.
10) CCR 1381-85, pp. 511-16, 548.
11) Ian Mortimer, The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King (2007), pp. 370-71.
12) Testamenta Vetusta, vol. 1, pp. 146-49.

07 January, 2020

The Marriages of Elizabeth Stafford (d. 1375)

Sir Ralph Stafford, made first earl of Stafford in 1351 and ancestor of the Stafford dukes of Buckingham, was born at Amington near Tamworth, Staffordshire on 24 September 1301. [1] After losing his first wife Katherine Hastang or Hastings, with whom he had daughters Joan and Margaret, Ralph abducted Edward II's great-niece Margaret Audley from her parents' home in Thaxted, Essex shortly before 28 February 1336, and married her. After the death of her older half-sister Joan Gaveston in January 1325, Margaret was sole heir to her mother Margaret de Clare's third of the earldom of Gloucester, and was a considerable heiress. She was about twenty years Ralph Stafford's junior, born sometime in the early 1320s.

Ralph Stafford and Margaret Audley had two sons and four daughters, though none of their children's dates of birth can be ascertained; Margaret may only have been thirteen or so when Ralph abducted her, and may therefore have been too young to bear children for some years. Their first son Ralph the younger married Maud of Lancaster (b. April 1340), elder daughter and co-heir of Henry of Grosmont, then earl of Derby and later the first duke of Lancaster, in Leicester on 30 November 1344, and it was arranged that Henry would have custody of both children until they were old enough to live together as husband and wife. [2] Ralph, however, died as a child sometime before late November 1347, when the inquisition post mortem of his maternal grandfather Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, stated that he was already dead. [3] The Stafford/Audley heir therefore was Ralph and Margaret's younger son Hugh Stafford, later the second earl of Stafford, who was born sometime between 1342 and 1346. Ralph, first earl of Stafford, died on 31 August 1372 a few weeks before his seventy-first birthday, having outlived his much younger second wife by more than two decades. His only surviving son Hugh Stafford was said to be between twenty-six and thirty years old in Ralph's IPM of October 1372. [4]

One of Ralph Stafford and Margaret Audley's daughters was Elizabeth Stafford, presumably born sometime in the late 1330s or early 1340s. She was betrothed on 12 March 1347 to Fulk ('Fouk' or 'Fouke') Lestrange, son and heir of John, Lord Lestrange of Blackmere, Shropshire, who was born c. 2 February 1331. [5] John, Lord Lestrange died on 13 or 14 July 1349, and his eighteen-year-old son Fulk followed him to the grave on c. 30 August 1349; it seems highly likely that both men died of the Black Death. Elizabeth Stafford and Fulk Lestrange were already married by then, but as she was still only a child, they had no children, and Fulk's heir was his brother John, born "about Easter, 6 Edward III," i.e. c. 19 April 1332. [6]

Elizabeth had only been widowed for a few weeks when her second marriage was arranged - as her first marriage can never have been consummated, it's not as though she might have been pregnant - on 19 October 1349. On that date, Edward III issued a "[l]icence for John de Ferrers, son and heir of Robert de Ferrers, tenant in chief, and Elizabeth daughter of Ralph, baron of Stafford, to intermarry." [7] There were two branches of the Ferrers family: the Ferrers of Chartley (Staffordshire), who were descended from Robert Ferrers, earl of Derby (c. 1239-79), and the Ferrers of Groby (Leicestershire), who were descended from Earl Robert's younger brother William. John Ferrers was a Ferrers of Chartley, and was born in Southoe, Huntingdonshire a little after 10 August 1331. [8] He was thus a few years Elizabeth Stafford's senior, and a few months younger than her first husband Fulk. Elizabeth and John's son Robert Ferrers was probably born on 31 October 1359; Elizabeth's inquisition post mortem gives 31 October 1357, but as Robert proved his age and was allowed to enter his father's lands on 24 July 1381, 1357 seems too early, and 1359 more plausible. The IPM of Robert's father John says that Robert was "aged seven and more" in June 1367, which also supports a date of birth of 31 October 1359. [9] Elizabeth became an earl's daughter in 1351 when her father Ralph was made first earl of Stafford, and the title passed in 1372 to her brother Hugh, who was probably younger than she, though it's hard to say for sure.

Elizabeth Stafford Lestrange Ferrers was widowed again on 3 April 1367, when John Ferrers was killed at the battle of Najera in Spain, the only high-ranking Englishman who fell there. Almost eight years later, around 26 January 1375, she married her third husband Sir Reynold (or Reynald or Reginald) Cobham of Sterborough. On that date, Edward III's son John of Gaunt, Elizabeth's second cousin once removed, gave her wedding gifts of a gilded silver cup and matching ewer, and a gold tablet (John seems to have been very fond of Elizabeth, as he often sent her expensive wine and New Year gifts; he fought at the battle of Najera in 1367 with his eldest brother the prince of Wales and John Ferrers). [10] Reynold Cobham must have been a few years younger than Elizabeth: in November 1361 he was said to be aged "thirteen at Whitsun last", which puts his date of birth sometime around early June 1348. [11Reynold's father was Reynold Cobham the elder, born c. 1295 and thus over fifty when his son was born; his mother was Joan Berkeley (probably born late 1320s), daughter of Edward II's custodian in 1327, Thomas, Lord Berkeley, and a granddaughter of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March. Reynold, twenty-six years old when he married Elizabeth, sister of Hugh, earl of Stafford, had not been married before.

Sadly, Elizabeth did not have much time to enjoy her third marriage, as she died on 7 August 1375. [12It's impossible to know what killed her, but it certainly seems possible, given that she was still in her thirties, that she died during pregnancy or after childbirth. Her dower lands from her first marriage to Fulk Lestrange belonged by right to Fulk's great-niece Elizabeth Lestrange, who was said to be aged "one and three-quarters and five weeks" on 8 October 1375 (and who married Thomas Mowbray, b. 1367, earl of Nottingham and future duke of Norfolk, but died as a child in the early 1380s). Her dower lands from her second marriage to John Ferrers passed to her and John's son Robert, who married Margaret Despenser, youngest daughter of Edward, Lord Despenser (1336-75). The Ferrers line continued, and one of Elizabeth Stafford's descendants via her son Robert Ferrers and Margaret Despenser was Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth queen.

Reynold Cobham (b. 1348) was the grandson of Thomas, Lord Berkeley (d. 1361), Edward II's custodian of 1327. Edward's other custodian was Lord Berkeley's brother-in-law Sir John Maltravers. When Maltravers died in 1364, his heirs were his granddaughters Joan and Eleanor, whom I wrote about in the last post. Eleanor, born probably in 1344 or early 1345, was married to John Arundel, marshal of England and the second son of the earl of Arundel, and was widowed on c. 6 December 1379 when John Arundel drowned in the Irish Sea. John left as his heir his and Eleanor's eldest son John Arundel the younger (b. 30 November 1364), who sometime before 1 August 1380 married Elizabeth Despenser, elder sister of Margaret Despenser who married Robert Ferrers, above.

Reynold Cobham, widowed from Elizabeth Stafford since August 1375, married the widowed Eleanor Maltravers not too long before 10 August 1380 about eight months after John Arundel's death, when the couple were pardoned for marrying without the necessary royal licence. [13] A greater problem was that the couple had received no papal dispensation for consanguinity: they were second cousins, both great-grandchildren of Maurice (d. 1326) and Eva (d. 1314), Lord and Lady Berkeley. According to the page 'Cobham Family' in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, this caused great problems for their son when Henry IV seized his inheritance on the grounds that he was illegitimate, even though Eleanor and Reynold had separated for a while and then remarried in 1384 having acquired a papal dispensation.

In 1380, Reynold was thirty-two and had no children, and Eleanor was probably thirty-six and had five sons and two daughters from her first marriage, born between 1364 and the mid or late 1370s. She gave birth to Reynold's son and heir, inevitably also called Reynold Cobham, on c. 11 November 1381. She and Reynold also had a daughter whom they named Margaret, most confusingly, as one of Eleanor's two Arundel daughters was also called Margaret (Margaret Arundel married William, Lord Ros after 11 August 1394). [14] Reynold Cobham the elder died on 6 July 1403, aged fifty-five, and Eleanor Maltravers Arundel Cobham died on 10 January 1405, aged sixty. Her grandson, yet another John Arundel (b. 1385), son of her eldest son John Arundel (1364-90), was her heir; her son Reynold Cobham (b. 1381) was his father's heir, but not hers. [15

Eleanor's will still survives, and, calling herself Alianor Arundell, she requested burial with her first husband John Arundel (d. 1379) at Lewes Priory in Sussex. [16It's interesting to note that she still used her first husband's name a quarter of a century after his death, rather than calling herself Cobham. Perhaps that was simply a matter of prestige, as John Arundel's younger brother Thomas Arundel (d. 1414) was the present archbishop of Canterbury, and his nephew, also Thomas (d. 1415), was the earl of Arundel - a title which passed to Eleanor's Arundel descendants after Earl Thomas died without legitimate issue. Finally, let me point out that the famous Eleanor Cobham (b. early 1400s), who became duchess of Gloucester by marriage to Henry V's brother Humphrey and was imprisoned for witchcraft, was the granddaughter of Elizabeth Stafford's widower Reynold Cobham (1348-1403) from his second marriage to Eleanor Maltravers. 


1) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, no. 354.
2) Knighton's Chronicle, ed. G. H. Martin, vol. 2, p. 30; The National Archives DL 27/36.
3) CIPM 1347-52, no. 56; "...with remainder to Ralph, son of Ralph baron of Stafford, and Maud, daughter of Henry de Lancaster, earl of Derby, and the heirs of their bodies. The said Ralph son of Ralph is dead." Maud of Lancaster later married Queen Philippa's nephew Wilhelm of Bavaria.
4) CIPM 1370-73, no. 210.
5) Calendar of Close Rolls 1346-49, pp. 246-47; CIPM 1347-52, no. 223. Fulk was "aged 18 years at the feast of the Purification last" in August 1349.
6) CIPM 1347-52, nos. 223-24; CIPM 1352-60, no. 203.
7) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1348-50, p. 407.
8) CIPM 1352-60, no. 122: he was said to have been born "this side St Lawrence, 5 Edward III" at his proof of age on 26 October 1353.
9) CIPM 1365-69, no. 140; CIPM 1374-77, no. 105; CCR 1381-85, p. 4.
10) John of Gaunt's Register 1371-1375, no. 1659, "...livrez a la dame de Ferers le jour de son marriage de nostre doun".
11) CIPM 1361-65, no. 59.
12) CIPM 1374-77, no. 105.
13) CPR 1377-81, p. 538.
14) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 760-70. Margaret Arundel was an attendant of Richard II's first queen Anne of Bohemia, and on 11 August 1394 after Anne's death, Richard gave Margaret an annuity of forty marks "until she marries with the king's consent." CPR 1391-96, p. 518.
15) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 1115-22.
16) Cited in Evelyn H. Martyn, History of the Manor of Westhope (1909), p. 21, though the author wrongly identifies Eleanor as her mother-in-law Eleanor of Lancaster, countess of Arundel (d. 1372).

30 December, 2019

The Children of Richard, Earl of Arundel (d. 1376) and Eleanor of Lancaster (d. 1372)

A post about the five children of Richard (Fitzalan), earl of Arundel (c. 1313-76) and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster (c. 1316/18-72), fifth of the six daughters of Edward II's first cousin and Queen Isabella's uncle Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester (c. 1280-1345). Richard was married firstly in early 1321, when they were both young children, to Edward II's great-niece Isabella Despenser, eldest daughter of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare. He had their marriage annulled in 1344 a few weeks before he married Eleanor of Lancaster in early 1345, and their son Edmund Arundel was thereby made illegitimate. Eleanor had also been married before; she was the widow of John, Lord Beaumont, who was killed jousting in the spring of 1342, and was the mother of John's heir Henry Beaumont, born in late 1339 or the beginning of 1340.

An entry on the Fine Roll in July 1416 lists Earl Richard's "issue by Eleanor, lawfully begotten" in what must be birth order: Joan, countess of Hereford; Richard the younger, earl of Arundel; Alice, countess of Kent; John, marshal of England; Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury. [1] If that is not their birth order, it would be an odd way in which to list Richard and Eleanor's children. Joan, countess of Hereford, was still alive in July 1416 and her younger sister Alice, countess of Kent, had died only months before, so it seems probable that the information was correct. Eleanor of Lancaster was probably already pregnant with her eldest Arundel child in July 1345, when she and Richard asked Pope Clement VI for "the legitimation of their offspring present and future". [2]

This pregnancy would seem highly likely to be Joan, named as Richard and Eleanor's eldest child in 1416, who married Edward I's great-grandson Humphrey de Bohun (1342-73), earl of Hereford, Essex and Northampton. Joan and Humphrey had two daughters, Eleanor, duchess of Gloucester and countess of Buckingham, and Mary, countess of Derby, who were joint heirs to the large de Bohun inheritance and to three earldoms; I'll look at the two women in a future post. Joan, countess of Hereford, Essex and Northampton, was a formidable and fascinating woman. She was widowed in early 1373 when she was probably only twenty-seven, never remarried, lived until April 1419 when she was well past seventy, and is probably most famous for having Richard II's half-brother John Holland, earl of Huntingdon, executed without a trial in early 1400 after he joined the Epiphany Rising against her son-in-law Henry IV. Joan was the last surviving child of the earl and countess of Arundel, the last surviving grandchild of Henry, earl of Lancaster (d. 1345) and Maud Chaworth (d. 1322), and the maternal grandmother of Henry V.

Until recently, I thought that the second child Richard (d. 1397), his father's namesake and heir, earl of Arundel and Surrey, first appeared on record on 1 March 1347. [3] Having re-read the relevant entry on the Patent Roll, that's actually not the case. On that date, Earl Richard the elder (d. 1376) granted his lands to his wife Eleanor of Lancaster to hold after his death (though in the end he outlived her by four years), and after her own death, the lands "shall remain to the heirs male of the earl begotten of the body of Eleanor or in default of such to Richard de Arundell the younger and the heirs male of his body, with reversion to the right heirs of the earl." This is repeated in the July 1416 entry on the Fine Roll cited above: "...with remainder to the heirs male of the said earl by Eleanor, daughter of Henry de Lancastre the elder [d. 1345], late earl of Lancaster, remainder in default of such heir male by Eleanor to Richard de Arundell the younger, and the heirs male of his body, and the remainder to the right heirs of the said then earl."

At first I assumed that 'Richard de Arundell the younger' must mean Richard, earl of Arundel, the one beheaded on the orders of Richard II in September 1397, the one who had a large family with Elizabeth de Bohun (d. 1385). But re-reading it, it seems clear that Earl Richard the elder (d. 1376) still had no sons with Eleanor of Lancaster on 1 March 1347, as it talks of the possible 'default' of his 'heirs male...begotten of the body of Eleanor'. At any rate, the earl of Arundel obviously deemed it important to ensure that his inheritance fell to his sons with Eleanor of Lancaster and not to the unfortunate and callously-treated Edmund Arundel, his cast-off son from his first marriage to Isabella Despenser, born c. 1326 when the couple were still only at the start of their teens. I don't know who  'Richard de Arundell the younger' actually is, and Richard, earl of Arundel the younger (d. 1397), eldest of Richard the elder's three sons with Eleanor of Lancaster, must have been born sometime after 1 March 1347. This Richard's second eldest daughter Elizabeth Mowbray (b. c. mid or late 1360s), countess of Nottingham and later duchess of Norfolk, gave birth to her first son and her father's eldest grandchild Thomas Mowbray in September 1385, and Earl Richard was a young grandfather, still only in his thirties. His only surviving son and heir Thomas, earl of Arundel (1381-1415) had no legitimate children, but several of his daughters left plenty of descendants. Richard was probably in his late forties, close to fifty years old, when he was beheaded in London in September 1397. His first wife Elizabeth de Bohun was the sister of his elder sister Joan's husband Humphrey de Bohun; his second wife Philippa Mortimer, daughter and sister of earls of March and a great-granddaughter of Edward III, was born in 1375 and was decades his junior.

Alice appears next in the list of Arundel/Lancaster children and was the third child and second daughter, and may have been born in 1348 or 1349. She was, therefore, likely to have been a bit older than her husband Thomas Holland, earl of Kent and Lord Wake, the eldest son and heir of Joan of Kent, later princess of Wales and mother of King Richard II. Thomas was said to be either nine or ten years old in the inquisition post mortem held after his father Thomas Holland the elder died at the end of 1360, and therefore was born in 1350 or 1351. [4] Alice had originally been betrothed to Edmund Mortimer, future earl of March (born in early 1352 and also somewhat her junior) on 6 November 1354, but this did not work out, and Edmund married Edward III's granddaughter Philippa of Clarence instead. [5] Alice's marriage to Thomas Holland had either already taken place or was shortly to take place on 10 April 1364. [6]

Alice and Thomas had two sons and five daughters who lived into adulthood. Both sons were married but left no legitimate children, though their second son Edmund, earl of Kent (1383-1408), had an illegitimate daughter named Alianore Holland with Edward III's granddaughter Constance, Lady Despenser, who had descendants. Four of their five daughters had children, and Alice and Thomas were and are the ancestors of pretty well everyone. They were the grandparents of, among many others, Joan Beaufort, queen-consort of Scotland, Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset, Edmund Mortimer, earl of March and Ulster (also the grandson of Alice's former betrothed Edmund Mortimer), Ralph Neville, earl of Westmorland, and Alice Montacute, countess of Salisbury. Thomas's will of 1397, written in English, talks movingly of the "love and trust that hath been between" himself and his wife. Alice outlived him by nineteen years and died in March 1416.

John Arundel, second son and fourth child, was betrothed to the heiress Eleanor Maltravers by 4 August 1357, when an entry on the Patent Roll talks of lands to be granted to "John son of the said earl [of Arundel], and Eleanor daughter of John son of the said John Mautravers and the heirs begotten by the said John [Arundel] of the body of the said Eleanor." Despite John's youth, he had been married to Eleanor by 9 February 1359. [7] In 1364 Eleanor was named as co-heir, with her elder sister Joan, to their grandfather John, Lord Maltravers, one of Edward II's custodians at Berkeley Castle in 1327 (John's only son John, Eleanor's father, died in 1349, and Eleanor's brother Henry, born c. 1 January 1348, died young). Eleanor was said to be nineteen in her grandfather's IPM of early 1364, and was therefore born around 1344/45, making her a few years older than her husband. [8]

John and Eleanor's first son, inevitably also named John Arundel, was, according to the elder John's inquisition post mortem in early 1380, born on 30 November 1364. [9] The elder John, therefore, must have been a very young father. Assuming he had to have been fourteen when he and Eleanor were allowed to consummate their marriage, and given that they must have consummated it by April/May 1364 at the latest as they had a child born at the end of November 1364, John can't have been born later than April/May 1350. Possibly he was a younger twin of his sister Alice, and was born in 1348/49? I'm only speculating, though. I suppose it's certainly possible that he became a father at fourteen. His wife Eleanor was probably twenty by late 1364 when she bore her first child.

As well as their eldest son John (b. 1364), who married Edward, Lord Despenser's daughter Elizabeth (d. 1408) in or before 1380, John Arundel and Eleanor Maltravers had four younger sons, William, Richard, Henry and Edward - the latter two are only known because they were named in their grandfather the earl of Arundel's will of 1375 and probably died young - and two daughters, Joan and Margaret. Sir John Arundel drowned in the Irish Sea in December 1379, possibly not yet thirty or only recently turned thirty, leaving his fifteen-year-old eldest son John as his heir. His widow Eleanor Maltravers married her second husband Sir Reynold or Reginald Cobham in 1380 and had more children with him. She died in 1404, and her grandson John Arundel (1385-1421), eldest son of her eldest son John Arundel (1364-90), was her heir. When Thomas, earl of Arundel died in 1415 leaving no legitimate children from his marriage to Beatriz of Portugal, and leaving no surviving brothers or nephews either, this branch of the family became earls of Arundel.

Incidentally, there's a new book about John Maltravers (d. 1364) by Caroleen McClure, published in 2019, which looks great.

Thomas Arundel was evidently the youngest child of Richard, earl of Arundel and Eleanor of Lancaster, and made an excellent career in the Church: he became bishop of Ely, then archbishop of York, then archbishop of Canterbury. His entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that he was twenty when he became bishop of Ely in August 1373, so he must have been born between September 1352 and August 1353. Thomas's career was a fascinating one, not least because he was banished by a vengeful Richard II in 1397 when his elder brother the earl was executed, and returned to England in 1399 with Henry of Lancaster, soon to become Henry IV. Archbishop Arundel died in 1414, outlived by his sisters Joan, dowager countess of Hereford and Alice, dowager countess of Kent.


1) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1413-22, pp. 166-67.
2) Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 99.
3) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1345-48, pp. 328-29.
4) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1352-60, no. 657.
5) Calendar of Close Rolls 1354-60, pp. 92-94 ("witnessing that the earl of la Marche has granted that Edmund his son and heir shall marry Alice daughter of the said earl of Arundel").
6) CPR 1361-64, p. 480.
7) CPR 1354-58, p. 595; Feet of Fines, P 25/1/288/47, no. 637, which talks of "John, son of Richard, earl of Arundel, and Eleanor, his wife."
8) CIPM 1347-52, no. 190: Henry Maltravers was "aged one of the feast at the Circumcision last" in April 1349. CIPM 1361-65, no. 592.
9) CIPM 1377-84, nos. 179-89, "aged 15 years at the feast of St Andrew last" in February 1380.l o

22 December, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

This blog has now been running for just over fourteen years, since 3 December 2005! It's yet another festive season, and here's a festive wish to you from me.

I have an article about Philippa of Hainault, Edward III's queen, in the new issue of BBC History Magazine (the January 2020 issue). I have my copy of it already, though I'm not sure if it's in the shops yet. If not, it surely will be soon.

Philippa of Hainault arrived in England at Christmas 1327, just days after the funeral of her father-in-law Edward II, whom she never met, in Gloucester on 20 December. She was most probably just thirteen years old; according to the chronicler Jean Froissart, she was 'almost fourteen' when she married Edward III on or around 25 January 1328, and if he was correct on this point, this would place Philippa's date of birth around February 1314. Contrary to popular modern belief - based on the statement by Froissart that she and her sisters were 'Margerite, Phelippe, Jehanne and Ysabiel' - Philippa was not the second daughter of her parents, but the third. Johanna of Hainault had married the future count of Jülich as far back as February 1324, was already a mother by late 1327, and was certainly older than Queen Philippa. Also contrary to popular modern belief, there is no reason to suppose that Philippa was born on 24 June 1314. Her eldest sister Margaretha, Holy Roman Empress, queen of Germany and Italy, and duchess of Bavaria, was born on (or close to) 24 June 1310, and her date of birth has often been assigned to her sister on no real evidence whatsoever.

The Hainault sisters' mother Jeanne de Valois, countess of Hainault and Holland, gave birth to her youngest child Jan sometime in late 1327 not long before Philippa moved to England, but he died soon after birth. Their brother Louis or Lodewijk (b. 1325) also died in or shortly before October 1327. (Some of Jeanne's grandchildren were older than or the same age as her own youngest children.) The end of 1327 was, therefore, a sad time for Countess Jeanne; she lost two of her sons, the two youngest of her nine or more children, and her third daughter Philippa moved permanently to England. Jeanne's household accounts show that a succession of ladies and 'young ladies' attended the Hainault court at Christmas 1327, 'to visit and console Madame'. And although Philippa of Hainault was to form a very happy and successful, and very long, marriage to Edward III, her situation in her new home was to be a very difficult one for the first few years, with her mother-in-law Isabella of France and Isabella's chief ally Roger Mortimer dominating the government. It would be most interesting to know what young Philippa was thinking when she arrived in her new country, almost exactly 692 years ago.

08 December, 2019

Thomas Romeyn (d. 1312/13) And His Daughter Rohese Burford (d. 1329)

Thomas Romeyn or Romayn was a wealthy pepperer, i.e. spice-trader, in London late in the reign of Edward I and early in the reign of Edward II. His last name is believed to indicate Italian birth or ancestry, i.e. 'Roman', and indeed many pepperers in London in the early fourteenth century were Italian or of Italian origin. Thomas was sheriff of London in 1290/91, mayor in 1309/10, and one of the city aldermen from 1294 until his death in or a little after late 1312. He made his will on 21 December 1312 and probably died soon afterwards, and certainly before 19 May 1313.

Sometime in or before the mid-1280s, Thomas Romeyn married Juliana Hauteyn, sister of Philip Hauteyn (d. 1304), also a pepperer from London. The couple had four daughters: Rohese (or Roesia or Rose), Margery, Alice, and Joan. Alice and Joan both became nuns at Holywell Priory in Shoreditch. Rohese Romeyn was born around 1286 and her sister Margery around 1290; they were said to be forty and thirty-six years old respectively in their mother Juliana's inquisition post mortem of June 1326. Rohese married John Burford, a pepperer originally from Southampton, and Margery married Robert Upton, sometime before 21 December 1312 when their father mentioned his two sons-in-law in his will. Margery Upton née Romeyn was widowed and married her second husband William Weston sometime before June 1326. Thomas Romeyn's will also mentions another member of the family, his daughters' aunt, 'Dame Cristina de Kent'. [1]

The spice trade made Thomas and Juliana Romeyn very well-off: they owned lands, tenements and houses in London, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Sussex. The Romeyns lived in the parish of St Mary Aldermary on Watling Street, one of the many London churches which would be badly damaged centuries later in the Great Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. Their eldest daughter Rohese and her husband John Burford lived for years on Soper Lane in London, possibly in a residence owned by Thomas Romeyn. John Burford died in or before October 1322, and Rohese did not remarry. [2] The couple had a son, James, born in about 1320 when Rohese was about thirty-four, and daughters Katherine and Joan. James Burford was knighted in the early 1340s. [3] Joan Burford must have been older than her brother James as she was already married by 1329 when James was only about nine years old; she married Thomas Betoyne, who, like her father John Burford and her maternal grandfather Thomas Romeyn, was a pepperer.

Juliana Romeyn née Hauteyn outlived her husband Thomas by a few years and died in May 1326; an inquisition post mortem for her was held the following month, because some of the many houses, tenements and lands the Romeyns owned were held of the king in chief. Rohese Burford née Romeyn was ill at the time of her mother's death in May 1326 and for some weeks afterwards, and it was said that "from weakness [she] cannot exert herself without danger." She had recovered enough by 16 June 1326 to do fealty to the king with her brother-in-law William Weston, her younger sister Margery's second husband, and they received Juliana's lands. [4

As the executor of her late husband John Burford's will, Rohese had to petition Edward II on several occasions asking for two loans of £142 John had made to the king to be repaid to her. [5] In or before January 1325, Rohese was able to lend a man the sum of 1,000 marks or £666. In modern terms, this is over a million pounds. A successful businesswoman in her own right, Rohese made a living from exporting wool as well as running her late husband's spice business. [6] She displayed yet another of her talents in 1316, when she made and embroidered a cope Edward II sent as a gift to the newly-elected pope, John XXII, and the king paid her 100 marks for it. [7]

Rohese Burford née Romeyn wrote her will on Friday, 31 March 1329, and died shortly before 12 April at the age of about forty-three, leaving her nine-year-old son James Burford as her heir. [8] In her will, Rohese bequeathed forty shillings for repairs to be carried out on London Bridge, and requested John Pulteney, then mayor of London, to act as the guardian of her two young unmarried children Katherine and James until they came of age. Rohese's younger sister Margery (b. c. 1290) had a daughter with her first husband Robert Upton, whom she named Juliana after her mother Juliana Romeyn née Hauteyn, and a son called Richard Weston from her second marriage, who was her heir. Rohese's son Sir James Burford married a woman named Katherine Strecche, and had a daughter and heir Margaret. According to a book written in the late nineteenth century, Rohese née Romeyn and John Burford had a third daughter named Margaret, who married John Pulteney, the mayor of London who was also James Burford's guardian in and after 1329. This would make James and Pulteney brothers-in-law, and may well be true, though there is no mention of a daughter named Margaret in Rohese's will.


1) Calendar of Wills Proved and Enrolled in the Court of Husting, London, vol. 1, p. 238; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, no. 696.
2) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1317-21, p. 533; CPR 1321-4, p. 207.
3) CIPM 1327-36, no. 229; Calendar of Close Rolls 1341-43, pp. 550-51; Calendar of Wills Proved and Enrolled, p. 352.
4) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 393; CCR 1323-27, pp. 582-85; CIPM 1317-27, no. 696.
5) The National Archives SC 8/178/8894, SC 8/158/7871 and 7872, SC 8/113/5604 and 5605.
6) CCR 1323-27, p. 336; TNA SC 8/178/8894.
7) Thomas Stapleton, 'A Brief Summary of the Wardrobe Accounts of the tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth years of King Edward the Second', Archaeologia, 26 (1836), p. 322.
8) Wills Proved, p. 352; CIPM 1327-36, no. 229.

17 November, 2019

Documentary about Edward II on Arte

Last year, I was interviewed in Cologne for a documentary about Edward II, which was shown on the Arte TV channel (a French-German collaboration) yesterday evening, 16 November. For anyone who reads German, there's more info about the programme hereThe documentary is now available on the Arte website, and also features Professors Seymour Phillips and Chris Given-Wilson. It can be seen until 13 February 2020, is fifty-three minutes long, and is mostly in German with English subtitles (with the British historians speaking English, of course). They gave me the last word, heh. Enjoy! :-)

10 November, 2019

10 November 1347: Death of Hugh Audley, Earl of Gloucester

Hugh Audley, made earl of Gloucester by his wife Margaret's first cousin Edward III in 1337, died on 10 November 1347. He was the only one of Edward II's male 'favourites' who survived Edward's reign, and lived long enough to become a respected elderly statesman, a million miles from the frivolous young knight who, with Roger Damory and William Montacute, dominated the middle years of Edward II's reign and who were collectively slammed as 'worse than [Piers] Gaveston' by a chronicler.

Hugh was the second son of Hugh Audley the elder of Stratton Audley in Oxfordshire, who acted as justice of North Wales for part of Edward II's reign and who was briefly steward of Edward's household in 1312. Hugh the younger had an older brother, James, who was their father's heir but is rather obscure and played little role in Edward II's reign. Hugh Audley the elder was also a second son; his elder brother was Nicholas Audley (d. 1299), whose sons Thomas (d. 1307) and Nicholas (d. 1316) I wrote about recently. Hugh Audley the elder married a woman named Isolde, the mother of his children, who was long believed to have been a member of the Mortimer family. Genealogist Douglas Richardson, however, made the excellent discovery in 2017 that Isolde was in fact the daughter of Sir Roger le Rous (d. 1294), sheriff of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. As well as their sons James and Hugh Audley, Hugh Audley the elder and Isolde le Rous had a daughter Alice, who married firstly Ralph, Lord Greystoke (1299-1323) and secondly Ralph Neville, lord of Raby. Alice Audley's grandson, also Ralph Neville, was made first earl of Westmorland in 1397. Isolde le Rous was married firstly to Walter Balun, who died in 1287, so can only have married Hugh Audley the elder in 1288 or later. Their second son Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, was probably born in the early 1290s or thereabouts.

Hugh the younger joined Edward II's household as a knight in late 1311, around the time that Piers Gaveston was sent into his third exile. On 28 April 1317, Hugh married Piers' widow Margaret de Clare, the king's niece. Their only child Margaret the younger, ultimately the elder Margaret's sole heir after her other daughter Joan Gaveston died in early 1325, was born at an uncertain date, probably in the early 1320s. When the elder Margaret died in April 1342, her daughter was said to be either 18 or 20 years old, and when Hugh died in late 1347, she was said to be either 24 or 26. Both Hugh and Margaret were imprisoned after the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322, so the latest their daughter can have been born was about nine months later, i.e. in late 1322.

Hugh Audley escaped from prison at Nottingham Castle sometime after 14 December 1325, though his wife Margaret, presumably with their little daughter in tow, was not released from Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire until 11 December 1326. Hugh's brother-in-law and greatest rival Hugh Despenser the Younger had been executed two and a half weeks before, and had Despenser and Edward II not fallen from power in late 1326, Hugh and Margaret would certainly have remained in captivity, perhaps for many more years. Hugh Audley was obviously in Queen Isabella's favour after her husband's downfall in and after late 1326, as she granted him numerous appointments and favours, though like many others, Hugh grew sick of the grasping, self-interested regime which had replaced another grasping, self-interested regime and joined the earl of Lancaster's rebellion against the dowager queen in late 1328. Things improved after Edward III's coup in October 1330, and the young king made Hugh earl of Gloucester, the title once held by his wife's de Clare family, in 1337.

Hugh lost his wife of almost exactly a quarter of a century when Margaret de Clare died in early April 1342, six years after their daughter and heir Margaret the younger was abducted by and forcibly married to Sir Ralph Stafford, later first earl of Stafford. The Staffords had two sons and four daughters, and after their first son the younger Ralph died sometime between November 1344 and November 1347, the Audley/Stafford heir was their second son Hugh Stafford, named after his maternal grandfather. Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, died on 10 November 1347 in his mid or late fifties. His grandson Hugh Stafford and granddaughters Elizabeth, Joan and Beatrice Stafford all had children, and although Hugh Audley only had one child, he has untold numbers of descendants.

25 October, 2019

Eleanor Despenser (née de Clare) and her Two Husbands

Edward II's eldest niece Eleanor Despenser née de Clare was widowed from her first husband Hugh Despenser the Younger on 24 November 1326 when she was thirty-four years old, after twenty and a half years of marriage. A week previously, Eleanor - closely associated with the greedy and despotic regime of her uncle and husband - had been imprisoned in the Tower of London, and was released by her much younger first cousin Edward III (or rather, by someone acting in the fifteen-year-old king's name) in February 1328. She was restored to the lands she held as her inheritance from her late brother Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1291-1314) later in 1328.

Sometime not too long before 26 January 1329, Eleanor was abducted from Hanley Castle in Worcestershire by her second husband William la Zouche, lord of Ashby in Leicestershire (now called Ashby de la Zouch). [1William had previously been married to the dowager countess of Warwick, Alice Beauchamp née Toeni (d. 1324), mother of his children Alan and Joyce, and was much Eleanor Despenser's senior, born probably in the 1270s or in 1280 at the latest. He was old enough to fight at the battle of Falkirk in 1298. William la Zouche was the son of Robert Mortimer of Richard's Castle in Herefordshire and Joyce la Zouche, and began using his mother's family name in the early 1300s; his elder brother Hugh Mortimer (d. 1304) was their parents' heir, and Hugh's two daughters and heirs were the same age as Eleanor Despenser. In contemporary records, William often appears as 'William la Zouche de Mortimer'. The Mortimers of Richard's Castle were only fairly distantly related to the much more famous Mortimers of Wigmore, earls of March. [2]

Eleanor Despenser married William la Zouche before 26 January 1329, when her abduction (or 'abduction') reached the ears of royal clerks, who recorded it on the Patent Roll. It is not at all clear whether she consented to the marriage or not. William had been appointed as the custodian of all her lands, including the great lordship of Glamorgan in South Wales, in May 1327 during Eleanor's imprisonment in the Tower of London. By marrying her, William became the outright owner of all her lands rather than merely their custodian, so it is hard to imagine there was much romance involved in his wish to marry her. [3He had been one of the men who captured her uncle Edward II and husband Hugh in South Wales on 16 November 1326, and led the siege of her teenaged eldest son Hugh or 'Huchon' inside Caerphilly Castle from late 1326 to 20 March 1327 with a view to handing the young man over to Queen Isabella to be executed. This all makes him sound like the husband from hell as far as Eleanor was concerned, but who knows, perhaps they had an understanding. William's previous marriage to a woman above him in rank, the dowager countess of Warwick, perhaps indicates that he was a man of some charm and appeal. Or perhaps he was ruthlessly determined to marry Eleanor the wealthy, fertile and partly royal widow and didn't much care what she thought of him and whether she consented or not. I honestly don't know.

Bizarrely, the young nobleman Sir John Grey of Rotherfield (Oxfordshire) also began claiming in early 1329 that he was Eleanor Despenser's husband, and royal clerks recorded the abduction of his supposed wife from Hanley Castle at the same time as they recorded the abduction of Hugh Despenser's widow Eleanor, without realising they were the same person.

Sir John Grey was eight years Eleanor's junior, born on 29 October 1300, and in January 1329 was a twenty-eight-year-old widower with a young son. [4Bad feeling persisted between John Grey and William la Zouche, and in October 1331 Grey accused Zouche of stealing his goods and six of his horses from Lechlade. Several months later, the two men quarrelled so badly that Grey came close to drawing his dagger on Zouche in Edward III's presence, whereupon he was arrested. [5] Why Grey claimed to be married to Eleanor is unclear; it may be that they had arranged to wed and that William la Zouche got in first, or perhaps they had been having an affair, or perhaps he was simply trying it on.

The bishop of Coventry and Lichfield finally settled the matter in mid-May 1333, declaring that William la Zouche was Eleanor Despenser's rightful husband. John Grey had complained to the bishop that William 'seized and ravished the said Eleanor, and detains her.' [6] By then, Eleanor had borne William a son, the youngest of her many children, named William after his father. The younger William la Zouche became a monk at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset, was acknowledged as 'uncle' by Eleanor's grandson Edward, Lord Despenser and was granted an annuity by his Despenser kin, and was still alive in 1390. As for Sir John Grey of Rotherfield, he did marry again and had another two sons, and in later years was steward of Edward III's household and one of the founding members of the Knights of the Garter, so in the end did not do too badly despite losing out on marriage to Eleanor Despenser. He died in 1359 at the age of fifty-nine.

William la Zouche died in February 1337 leaving his and Alice Toeni's son Alan, born in 1317, as his heir, and Eleanor buried him in Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire, the de Clare and Despenser mausoleum and where she had buried her first husband in late 1330 as well. William had made Eleanor one of the executors of his will, though as it turned out, she only outlived him by four months and died at the age of forty-four in June 1337. It may be that they had made something of a success of their marriage, despite its unpromising start and despite John Grey of Rotherfield's years-long attempt to marry Eleanor instead. William and Eleanor appeared together before an 'official of Canterbury' sometime before May 1333 and described themselves as husband and wife, so it seems that Eleanor was happy to be William's wife and wasn't complaining about it, or using the whole strange situation to attempt to have her marriage annulled.


1) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, p. 422.
2) Complete Peerage, vol. 12B, p. 957.
3) Calendar of Close Rolls 1327-30, pp. 81, 121.
4) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, no. 336.
5) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 298; CPR 1330-34, pp. 203, 292; CCR 1333-37, p. 110.
6) Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-41, p. 394.

15 October, 2019

Book Giveaway: Philippa of Hainault

Today is the official release date of my biography of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault (c. 1314-69), the first biography of her since 1910. It was really exciting to have the chance to tell her amazing story. I have TWO free signed hardback copies of the book to give away! As always, the competition is open to everyone, wherever you are in the world; all you need is a postal address. To enter the draw, do one of the following:

1) Email me at: edwardofcaernarfon(at)yahoo.com.
2) Leave a comment here, with your email address, please, so I can contact you if you're a winner.
3) Send me a private message on my Edward II page on Facebook, also with your email address.
4) If you're on my friends list on Facebook, or if we follow each other on Twitter, you're also very welcome to send me a message there.

The deadline is 31 October 2019, so you have more than two weeks to enter. On 1 November, I'll email the winners and ask you for your postal addresses so I can send you your copies. Good luck!