28 November, 2007

The Conspiracy of the Earl of Kent, 1330 (2)

In this post, I'm looking at some of the men who were the earl of Kent's co-conspirators to free his half-brother Edward II from Corfe Castle.

On 31 March 1330, twelve days after Kent's execution, the following men were named as his adherents and ordered to be taken before Edward III (for which, read: Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer):

Fulk Fitz Waryn, John Pecche, Nicholas Pecche, Nicholas de Dauncy, John Caupeland, Thomas de Stauntone, Walter de Woxebrigge, Adam de Wedenhale, Thomas Craunk, Richard de la Chaumbre, Nicholas de Sandwyc, Roger de Audeleye, Henry Wygod, Wadyn Crok, John Harsik, Benedict de Braham, William de Mareny, Stephen Donhesd, Juan ap Griffyn, Robert de Wedenhale, Peter Bernard, John de Mosdene, Richard de Hull, Roger de Reyham, John del Ile, William Daumarle, Henry de Cauntebr[ege], John de Everwyk, John de Aspale, Giles de Spayne, John Gymyng, John de Toucestre, John Hauteyn, George de Percy, Friar Richard de Pontefract, Friar Richard Vavacour, Friar Henry Domeram, Friar Thomas de Bourne, William de Clif, Resus ap Griffin, and Richard de Wuselade, who stood charged with being adherents of Edmund de Wodestoke, late Earl of Kent, confessedly a rebel.

This is certainly not the entire list of known followers of Kent. Some of the other plotters (for want of a better word) were ordered to be arrested separately, such as William la Zouche of Mortimer, a cousin of Roger Mortimer, and Ingelram Berenger, a former Despenser adherent. The archbishop of York was put on trial for treason. The bishop of London and the abbot of Langdon were also involved, as well as a few others.

I've already written a post on two of the men, Rhys ap Gruffydd ("Resus ap Griffin") and Stephen Dunheved ("Donhesd"). Stephen had been involved in attempts to free Edward II as early as March 1327, three years earlier. Clearly, he was devoted to Edward, although I have no idea why. I haven't found any connections between them, except that Stephen's brother Thomas was Edward's confessor. Unfortunately, I have no idea what happened to Stephen after March 1330. It's incredible that he was still alive then, given that all the other known members of the gang that freed Edward from Berkeley Castle in June or July 1327 disappear from the records completely. Somehow, despite being the most wanted man in England, he had managed to hide himself for well over two and a half years.

I haven't been able to trace all the men on the list, but in this post, I'll take a look at some of them and give some information about them, in no particular order.

Ieuan ap Gruffydd ("Juan ap Griffyn")

I'm sure that 'Juan ap Griffyn' was how the English scribe who wrote the writ for the arrests mangled the Welsh name 'Ieuan ap Gruffydd'. (There were a couple of men of the era called John de Griffyn, but the English name 'John' would never have been written as 'Juan').

Ieuan was the illegitimate son of Sir Gruffydd Llwyd, or more correctly, Gruffydd ap Rhys ap Gruffydd ab Ednyfed. Gruffydd was a lord of North Wales, a staunch supporter of Edward II and enemy of Roger Mortimer; during Edward II's campaign against the Marcher lords in early 1322, Gruffydd invaded and despoiled the lands of Roger Mortimer, his uncle, and their ally the earl of Hereford. Gruffydd himself doesn't seem to have taken part in the plot of 1330. He died in 1335, so perhaps was too elderly or too ill to play an active role.

Ieuan was his illegitimate son, but as this made no legal difference in Wales, he was Gruffydd's heir. Ieuan is unfortunately rather obscure. He married a daughter of Sir Thomas Puleston - who I know nothing about, either - became Governor of the Channel Islands, and died in 1350. He had a son named after his father, Gruffydd ap Ieuan ('ap' means 'son of').

John Harsik (Harsek, Harsyk, etc)

John was a squire of Edward II's chamber. In November 1326, he was one of the men Edward sent to negotiate - unsuccessfully - with Isabella. The others were: Rhys ap Gruffydd, above; the abbot of Neath; Oliver de Bordeaux, another of Edward's squires; and Edward's young nephew Edward de Bohun.

John must have known Rhys ap Gruffydd very well, as Rhys was described as a "privy squire of the chamber". On 3 October 1325, John was given the following mysterious commission, with six other men: "...whom the king is sending to divers parts of the realm for business very near his heart, enjoined on them viva voce, and to arrest certain persons whose names have been supplied to them." In April 1323, he was granted the "manor of Moundeford, co. Norfolk, late of Warin de Insula, a rebel."

John was often associated with a knight named John Haward. A John Harsik was later sheriff of Norfolk, but I'm not sure if this was our John, or his son, or another relative.

Peter Bernard

Peter was an usher of Edward II's chamber, and presumably knew John Harsik and Rhys ap Gruffydd well. As a member of Edward's chamber, his 'boss' was Hugh Despenser the younger. Another man of the time called 'Peter Bernard de Pynsole' was a sergeant-at-arms of Edward II and Edward III.

Benedict de Braham

Either an adherent of Edward II or the younger Despenser: he was one of the men who held Despenser's Caerphilly Castle against the forces of Roger Mortimer and Isabella from November 1326 to March 1327. Two of the men with him was Giles of Spain, also to be arrested in March as a follower of Kent, and Roger atte Watre of the Dunheved gang. The man leading the siege against them, oddly enough, was William la Zouche, also a Kent adherent in March 1330. (Got to love all that political side-switching!)

Benedict appears in the entry beneath the one granting 'Moundeford' to John Harsik in 1323, ordered to arrest Richard de Holbrok, which may point to a connection between them. His fellow appointee in the arrest was Sir John Haward, associated with John Harsik.

There's an odd entry in the Patent Rolls of 12 February 1327 - when Benedict was still being besieged at Caerphilly! - accusing him and many others of assaulting a man in Suffolk, tying him to a tree and cutting off his right hand. (!!) Two things: 1) the town in Suffolk where this is meant to have taken place is 235 miles from Caerphilly, and 2) the man supposedly assaulted was none other than Richard de Holbrok, who was to be arrested in 1323 by...Benedict de Braham.

William de Maren(n)y


In November 1321, William was commissioned to levy 500 footmen in Essex and Hertfordshire for Edward II's campaign against the Marcher lords, who were led by Roger Mortimer. His fellow appointee was Thomas de la Haye of the Dunheved gang.

Roger Audley (de Audeleye)

Named as a clerk of Edward II on 16 March 1314.

John de Toucestre

John, another yeoman of Edward II, was appointed after Mortimer and Isabella's invasion on 10 October 1326 "to select all men at arms wherever he goes and to lead them to the king as he is instructed; with power to arrest the disobedient." His fellow appointee was Thomas de la Haye of the Dunheved gang. On 1 November 1312, Edward II appointed him custodian of the manor of Langley Marsh ("Langeleye Mareys") in Somerset, and on 19 March 1324, sent him "on his business to the March of Wales."

Thomas Staunton

A clerk, who accompanied Hugh Despenser the elder to France in 1320 (when Edward II had to pay homage to Philip V for his French lands). Thomas was named in Despenser's retinue with such well-known Despenser stalwarts as John Haudlo, Martin Fishacre and John Ratinden.

John Hauteyn

Named as a yeoman of Edward between 1310 and 1312. 6 July 1311: "complaint by John Hauteyn that when he came by the king's command to the king's castle of Norwich, William atte Park of Causton assaulted him."

John became a citizen of London in about 1322, and became the receiver of the king's custom of wool in London. He was serving as alderman in 1322. John was arrested in London in 1330, as a Kent adherent, and his lands seized, with two others on the list, Henry de Cantebrege and John de Everwyk. However, the sheriffs refused to "remove them out of the City inasmuch as they were free citizens."

George Percy

Named as - yet another - yeoman of Edward II as early as December 1309. In February 1311, he was trusted to "convey money from London to the king in Scotland." Roger atte Watre of the Dunheved gang, Edward II's sergeant, also took money to Edward in Scotland around the same time. By 1320, however, George seems to have moved to the earl of Kent's retinue and is often mentioned there.

George was ordered to be arrested on 28 February 1327, supposedly for stealing timber, at the same time as many members of the Dunheved gang faced fake warrants for their arrest. One of the men implicated with him, John de Tichbourn, was ordered to be arrested many times in February/March 1327, including: once with Ingelram Berenger, Despenser adherent until 1326 and another of Kent's co-conspirators in 1330, and once with Edmund Gascelyn of the Dunheved gang.

George was not only named in the writ of 31 March quoted at the beginning of this post - Nicholas de Langeford and Roger atte Assh were appointed to arrest him on 10 March 1330. This was three weeks earlier, so evidently they hadn't found him. His lands were in the king's hands by 23 June 1330.


I'll look at more of the men in the next post - quite a few more were former members of Edward's household. It was the same with the Dunheved gang, as I discovered when researching them.
More on Kent's plot and the vital role played by John Pecche, the constable of Corfe Castle next week. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be online too much over the next few days, as I have guests, so the next post won't be for a week or so.

9 comments:

Gabriele C. said...

That's quite a lot of people to free a dead man. :)

Kate Plantaganet said...

Gabriele, you took the words right out of my mouth! Great stuff.

Alianore said...

Haha, yes, who would have thought that a man two and a half years in his grave would have needed so many dozens of people to help him?! :)

Gabriele C. said...

Seriously, with so many men involved, there must have been rumours about Ed still being alive. They won't all have followed Kent because of his pretty blue eyes. :)

Carla said...

Devil's advocate here - is it possible that some of the people were arrested on fabricated evidence or none at all, as a convenient excuse to get rid of them, and some were never in the plot at all? Is that at all credible?

Gabriele C. said...

Hm, how much land did they possess? :)

Alianore said...

Carla: that's frequently a reasom given by people analysising the plot, at least regarding Kent - that he was a threat to Isabella and Mortimer, so was set up and made to believe Ed was still alive, so there was an excuse for executing him (for treason).

But most of these men here were pretty obscure. For me, it's interesting to see that many of them were men who must have known Ed II well, but I can't see that ushers or squires would have posed any threat to Isa and Mort, that the pair would have felt the need to fabricate evidence to get rid of them. For the higher-ranked men like Rhys ap Gruffydd and Fulk Fitz Warin - I suppose it's possible that they weren't involved, but Isa and Mort must have seen them as a threat, as their enemies.

Gabriele: none, most of them. :)

Gabriele C. said...

That is strange. One could imagine Mort and Isa cooked something up it it was worth the effort - like the Templar scandal her dad used to get the Templar riches. But landless almost-nobodies?

Can you figure out if torture has been used? So far it seems to me that the 'crimes' were clear, or the prisoners confessed, or both. If you compare that to the Templar processes where every made up evidence had to be confirmed by torture because none of them could confess what they hadn't done without some 'assistance', the Kent affair looks pretty different.

Alianore said...

Gabriele: unfortunately, I'm not sure if torture was used, though I tend to think not. I'm not even sure how these men were known to have taken part in the plot - whether they were implicated by others, confessed, or were caught red-handed, somehow!

Also, other men were involved who weren't ordered to be arrested - such as Simon de Swanland, who was to buy all the haute couture ;) for Ed, and I strongly suspect Hamo de Chigwell, a former mayor of London, was involved too. Apparently, Izzy and Mort didn't learn of their involvement.