25 May, 2013

Piers Gaveston's Daughter And The Earl Of Ulster's Grandson

On 25 May 1317, Edward II arranged the future marriage of his great-niece Joan Gaveston, Piers' daughter, to  John Multon, grandson of the earl of Ulster and nephew of the queen of Scotland.  Also on this day: Happy wedding anniversary to John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, and Edward II's niece Joan of Bar, who married on 25 May 1306 when John was nineteen going on twenty and Joan ten or eleven.  Not that they'd like me to wish them a happy wedding anniversary, probably, as their marriage was a disaster and Surrey fathered at least nine children with other women.

When Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall, was executed on 19 June 1312, he left as his only legitimate child and heir his daughter Joan ('Johane' or 'Johanne' in contemporary spelling), then just five months old, whose mother was Edward II's niece Margaret de Clare.  On her father's death, little Joan became a ward of her great-uncle the king, and he sent her to be raised at Amesbury Priory with his niece Eleanor de Bohun, future countess of Ormond, allowing the two girls a hundred marks a year for their maintenance. [1]  Joan Gaveston and Eleanor de Bohun had plenty of relatives at Amesbury: Edward II's sister Mary, his niece Joan de Monthermer and cousin Isabella of Lancaster (daughter of Henry) were all nuns there, and it is likely that other royal women stayed there occasionally; Edward's niece Elizabeth de Clare spent a few months at Amesbury before the birth of her daughter Isabella Verdon in 1317, for instance.  Some people in recent years have interpreted Edward's placing of Piers Gaveston's daughter in a convent as 'dumping' her there, shoving the embarrassing daughter of the embarrassing late favourite out of the way.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and growing up at Amesbury, which had been fashionable among the royal family since Henry III's widow Eleanor of Provence spent the last years of her life there, was a privilege and honour, not a disgrace.

Edward II first attempted to arrange Joan Gaveston's marriage in or before 1316 when she was four, and offered her to his ward Thomas Wake, who was then eighteen or nineteen and whose family held lands in Cumberland and Lincolnshire (Wake's sister Margaret later married Edward's half-brother Edmund, earl of Kent, and was the grandmother of Richard II).  As the then sole heir of her mother Margaret and her share of the enormous de Clare inheritance, Joan was a very attractive proposition, far more so than she had been before her uncle the earl of Gloucester's death at Bannockburn in June 1314.  Edward II discovered, however, that Thomas Wake had married the earl of Lancaster's niece Blanche, eldest daughter of Henry and sister of the nun Isabella of Lancaster, above, and of the wonderful Henry of Grosmont, without his permission, and fined him a large sum, probably £1000, which he granted to "our very dear relative," Joan.  An entry on the Patent Roll and Foedera of 9 October 1316 records a "grant to the king's kinswoman, Joan, the daughter of Peter de Gavaston earl of Cornwall, of the forfeiture pertaining to the king for the marriage without licence of Thomas Wake, son and heir of John Wake, deceased tenant in chief, whose marriage the king granted to the said earl [of Cornwall] and to whom, after the death of the latter, he offered Joan in marriage."  [2]  Perhaps Wake gambled that Joan's mother Margaret de Clare would marry again, as indeed she did in April 1317, and have a son (she didn't), in which case Joan would inherit nothing.  Perhaps he also felt in the political climate of 1316 that allying himself with the wealthy and powerful Lancasters was a better proposition than with the erratic, wayward king, despite the fact that Blanche of Lancaster had a brother and thus was not an heiress.  As Wake had no means of raising such a large sum of money to pay the fine for marrying without Edward II's permission – as he was still under twenty-one, he hadn't yet come into his lands – he probably had to borrow the money from his father-in-law Henry, the brother of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, or Lancaster himself; a nice way for Edward to get money out of his enemy and give it to Piers Gaveston's daughter.

On 25 May 1317, Edward II arranged Joan Gaveston's future marriage [3] to John, son of Thomas Multon, lord of Egremont in Cumberland, and Eleanor de Burgh, one of the many daughters of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster and one of Edward's childhood companions.  John Multon, born in October 1308 and thus a little over three years Joan Gaveston's senior, was the earl of Ulster's eldest grandson; his aunts and uncles included Robert Bruce's wife Elizabeth, queen of Scotland, the countesses of Gloucester, Louth, Kildare and Desmond, and Elizabeth de Clare's first husband John de Burgh, who died before his father and whose son with Elizabeth, William Donn de Burgh, succeeded his grandfather as earl of Ulster.  The marriage of Joan Gaveston and John Multon would take place "as soon as the said children have reached a suitable age when they can be married" (si tost come les ditz enfauntz serrount venuz a age convenable qil peussent estre marietz).  The agreement calls them Johan einez filz et heir le dit monsieur Thomas et Johane la feile monsieur Piers de Gavaston iadis counte de Cornwayll, "John eldest son and heir of the said Sir Thomas and Joan daughter of Piers Gaveston, late earl of Cornwall".

Thomas Multon promised the king that "he will not eloign from himself any lands that he now holds or that he shall inherit by reversion or otherwise, to the damage or disinheritance of his son," though presumably it wasn't John Multon's disinheritance that Edward cared about, but Joan Gaveston's.  The agreement between the king and Multon specified that Multon would "assign to the said Joan 400 marks yearly of land in suitable places to hold for the term of life in name of dower after John's death, if it should happen, which God forbid, that he die in his father's lifetime; and also the said Sir Thomas ought to find his son and Joan and their children honourable maintenance at such time as it shall please the king or the other friends of the said Joan [les autres amis la dite Johanne] that she shall stay with the said Sir Thomas."  Edward agreed to give Thomas Multon £1000 for Joan's dowry, in three instalments: 500 marks immediately, 500 at Midsummer and another 500 at Michaelmas.  Multon had to promise to pay the king the staggeringly, impossibly enormous sum of £10,000 if he defaulted on his son's marriage – proof of Edward's determination that the match he had arranged for Piers Gaveston's daughter should succeed where the first hadn't.  On 3 November 1317, Thomas Wake paid 1000 marks (666 pounds) in "part satisfaction" of the fine imposed on him the year before directly to Thomas Multon on Edward's behalf, as the sum Edward still owed to Multon for the marriage of John and Joan. [4]

Sadly, Joan Gaveston died "of illness" at Amesbury Priory on "the feast day of St Hilary 18 Edward II", i.e. 13 January 1325 [5], which may have been the day after her thirteenth birthday, before her marriage to John Multon took place and evidently before she had gone to live with the Multon family.  Any record of Edward II's reaction to the loss of his great-niece and his beloved Piers' only legitimate child, and whether he paid for a funeral and masses for Joan's soul (I assume he did), unfortunately do not survive.  Piers Gaveston also left an illegitimate daughter called Amie, of whose existence Edward II was presumably aware, though there is no record of any contact between the two of them.  Joan Gaveston's death left her younger half-sister Margaret Audley, daughter of Margaret de Clare and Hugh Audley, as sole heir to their mother's share of the vast de Clare inheritance, while her other half-sister Amie Gaveston became a damsel in the household of Philippa of Hainault, Edward III's queen, and was rewarded in 1332 for her good service to the queen with lands in Essex and the Berkshire manor of 'Woghfeld' which had once belonged to Roger Mortimer. [6]  For his part, John Multon, whose father Thomas died in 1322, died childless in 1334,  leaving his three sisters as his co-heirs.

The agreement between Edward II and Thomas Multon of 25 May 1317, from Foedera, in Latin, French then Latin again.

1) J.S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall 1307-1312: Politics and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II (Detroit, 1988), p. 101, citing The National Archives E 101/325/13, membrane 5.
2) Calendar of Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 468; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1313-1317, p. 553; Foedera 1307-1327, p. 299.
3) Foedera 1307-1327, p. 331; Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 468.
4) Patent Rolls 1317-21, p. 43.
5) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348, no. 1329, pp. 325-326.
6) Patent Rolls 1330-1334, pp. 244, 306, 414.


Anerje said...

I'm sure Edward gave a lot of thought to Piers' daughter's marriage plans - and not just because she was a wealthy heiress. How tragic that she died before she could marry and produce a family.

I know we don't know who the mother of his illegitimate daughter was, but as she became a damsel at the court of Edward III, might it be she had some noble blood? Or did Piers arrange for his daughter to be provided for by other memebers of his family? I guess we'll never know, but it's intriguing, isn't it?

Kathryn Warner said...

It's so sad that Joan died so young before she could marry John. What a shame.

I'm also intrigued by Amie and how she became a damsel in Queen Phillipa's household, especially when there's no known mention of her in any of Edward II's accounts (though there are lots of gaps in them, of course).

Sami Parkkonen said...

These family things make me dizzy. All these arranged marriages, cross family ties, who is whose cousin and relative and what. No wonder the royal family was sometimes not the most normal of families. As if king did not have his hands full of other stuff but he also arrainged marriages etc. Yes, I understand that they were part of the politics, but still.

Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik said...

Sami, I do agree with you :-) It's all quite complex. I'm wondering how many times will I read it again, before I understand who is who (except for the major characters of the story, of course :-)).

Kathryn Warner said...

:-) I understand how you both feel! I hope that reading some of my old posts helps to clear the confusion, hahaha... :) :)

Jerry Bennett said...

Hi Kathryn,

Another very interesting post. Are you sure Edward didn't have something against Joan, trying to get her betrothed to one Cumberland lord and then another, at a time when it must have been one of the most unsafe counties in England?

To be serious though, Joan could not have moved to Egremont any earlier, as Cumberland suffered badly in the great raid of 1322. One local history book even suggests that the castle might have been captured by Robert Bruce, and partly destroyed, although it is not definite on that point. (Do you know otherwise?).

For anyone unfamiliar with the area, Egremont is close to the West Cumberland coast, about 40 miles south west of Carlisle, and was one of the strongest castles in the county in 1317. It would have been quite a remote place, although nearby Workington was a port of some importance at the time. As far as I know, the Scots attacked it twice, in 1316 when they returned from a raid on Yorkshire (via Lancaster and the sands of Morecambe Bay to reach Cartmel and Furness Abbey) and again in 1322.

So Joan would not have been safe in Cumberland until after the treaty of Bishopthorpe in 1323, and if she died in early 1325, was she already ailing at that time?

Would Joan have had to live at Egremont, or did Thomas Multon have lands elsewhere in England? She would certainly have found the wilds of Cumberland very different from peaceful Amesbury.

One interesting piece of speculation - I wonder if John Multon was "recommended" in some way by Thomas Wake as a possible husband for Joan? The Cumberland connection seems a bit too co-incidental.

Many thanks again for a fascinating post.

Jerry Bennett

Kathryn Warner said...

Jerry, thanks so much for those fascinating and insightful comments! Much for me to ponder and consider ;-)