21 January, 2018

The Montacutes: William, William and William (and another William)

I wrote two posts a while ago about Edward II's friend Sir William Montacute of Somerset, who was one of the 266 young men knighted with Edward on 22 May 1306, and who was highly influential at court between 1315 and 1318. He was one of the three men, with Sir Roger Damory and Sir Hugh Audley, who were said by a chronicler to be "worse than Gaveston" and whom Edward II's cousin and enemy Thomas, earl of Lancaster, hated and feared. William Montacute was steward of Edward's household between 1316 and 1318, and was 'kicked upstairs' in 1318 when he was appointed steward of Gascony. He died there in the autumn of 1319, sometime before 6 November when news of his death reached England. (CFR 1319-27, 7)

William Montacute's date of birth is hard to determine, but was probably about the early 1280s, maybe late 1270s (I've seen it estimated as around 1265, but that's far too early). His father Simon was born around 1250 and died in September 1316, and his mother was Hawise St Amand. William became a father in or before 1299, and was old enough to act as his father's attorney in October 1302. (CPR 1301-7, p. 67) He married Elizabeth de Montfort, daughter of Sir Peter de Montfort of Beaudesert in Warwickshire - a man only distantly related to the much more famous Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester (d. 1265) - sometime after 20 June 1292. (CPR 1281-92, p. 496) William and Elizabeth had lots of children: four sons and seven daughters including two abbesses of Barking. Elizabeth Montfort outlived her husband by three and a half decades, and died in August 1354.

William and Elizabeth's eldest son John Montacute was born in 1299, and married Joan Verdon in Edward II's presence at Windsor Castle on 28 April 1317. Joan was a niece of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, later the first earl of March, and was the eldest of the four daughters and co-heirs of Theobald Verdon (d. 1316). Their marriage did not last long: John Montacute died aged eighteen in August 1317, and Edward II had him buried with great ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral. William and Elizabeth's second son William, probably born in 1301 (he was said to be seventeen or eighteen when his father died in 1319), was therefore his father's heir, and Edward III, his great friend, made William earl of Salisbury in 1337. The third son of William the elder and Elizabeth Montfort was Simon, who became bishop of Worcester and then of Ely, and their fourth and youngest was Edward, named after the king, who married Edward II's niece Alice of Norfolk (and, horribly, is alleged to have beaten her to death in 1352). Simon Montacute was old enough to have joined the Church and to act as his brother William's attorney in September 1329. (CPR 1327-30, 444) Edward Montacute certainly accompanied his father to southern France when William the elder was appointed steward of Gascony in 1318 - he was only a child at the time, or perhaps an adolescent - as there is a mention in one of Edward II's accounts of the boy's boat there, La Peronele. Presumably all the Montacute children went abroad with their father, and returned to England when he died in 1319. The younger William Montacute, born in 1301, spent Christmas 1324 with Edward II at Nottingham, played dice with the king and three of his chamber squires on Christmas Eve, and received a gift of forty marks from him.

At some point in or before 1327, the year of Edward II's deposition and reported death, the younger William Montacute married Katherine Grandison, daughter of the Savoyard baron William Grandison. I don't know how and by whom it was arranged, but they were married by 28 December 1327. (CPR 1327-30, 199) Actually they must have been married by September 1327, as their eldest son William was born on Sunday 19 June 1328, in Donyatt, Somerset. His father William the elder went to a 'grand feast' in Castle Cary 25 miles away on Tuesday 21 June, and told everyone there about his son and heir's birth. He also gave a 'black horse' to one John de Reyngny at his son's baptism so that he would "have the said birth more in remembrance." William born in 1328 proved that he had come of age, twenty-one, on 26 June 1349. (CIPM 1347-52, no. 244) That same year, his marriage to Edward II's niece Joan of Kent was annulled on the grounds that she had already been married to Sir Thomas Holland. (Joan much later became the mother of King Richard II from her third marriage.) William (b. 1328) instead married Elizabeth Mohun, who must have been a lot younger than he, and their only son William (agh!!!) was tragically killed jousting in August 1382, by his own father. William Montacute, earl of Salisbury, born 1301, was also killed jousting, in January 1344 when his son and heir was fifteen and a half.

William Montacute (b. 1301) and Katherine Grandison had a younger son John Montacute, who died in 1390. His son John the younger, born c. 1350, succeeded his uncle William Montacute (b. 1328) as earl of Salisbury when William died in June 1397 a couple of weeks before his sixty-ninth birthday. William (b. 1301) and Katherine Grandison also had at least three daughters. Elizabeth Montacute was probably the eldest, as she was named after her paternal grandmother Elizabeth Montfort (d. 1354), widow of the William Montacute who died in Gascony in 1319. In or before 1341 Elizabeth Montacute married Hugh 'Huchon' Despenser, eldest son and heir of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare, and the eldest great-grandchild of Edward I. Huchon was born in 1308 or 1309, so was many years his wife's senior (she must have been born around the late 1320s). William and Katherine Grandison's second daughter was probably Sybil, named after her maternal grandmother Sybil Tregoz, who married Huchon Despenser's nephew Edmund Fitzalan (b. 1326/27), grandson of the earl of Arundel executed by Roger Mortimer in 1326 and also grandson of Hugh Despenser the Younger. Another Montacute daughter was Philippa, who married Roger Mortimer's namesake grandson and heir the second earl of March (1328-1360) and was the mother of Edmund Mortimer, third earl of March (1352-81). Dinner table conversations in the Montacute family household in the 1340s must have been quite interesting.


Anonymous said...

My head is spinning!

At the risk of complicating things even further, William b. 1301 would have been 26 at the time of his marriage. I just wondered if he might have been married before as they seem very keen on marrying off teenagers.



Kathryn Warner said...

Mine too, Jo. :-D

26-ish does seem an advanced age for a man of William's rank and status to marry, so I wonder if he married Katherine a few years before, and they only started producing children in c. 1327/28 or so. I'm not sure. William was high in Edward II's favour in the 1320s, so it seems a little odd that the king wouldn't have found a marriage for him.

sami parkkonen said...

I assume this is one of the Montacutes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Montagu,_1st_Earl_of_Salisbury

I find it qquite interesting that he and Edward III visited Mainland disguised as merchants. Reads like something from a novel or a movie, or at least it would make a great scene.