19 May, 2018

19 May 1326: The Wedding of Sir Robert Wateville and Margaret Martin

Today, 19 May 2018, is the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. On 19 May 1326, 692 years ago, Edward II attended the wedding of Sir Robert Wateville and Margaret Martin née Hastings, niece of Hugh Despenser the Younger, at Marlborough in Wiltshire.

Sir Robert Wateville of Orton, Huntingdonshire was a Contrariant of 1321/22 who took part in the Marcher lords' rebellion against the king and the younger Despenser and was captured fighting against the royal army at the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322. Edward II pardoned him on 31 October 1322 for adherence to Roger, Lord Clifford, who had been hanged in York on 23 March 1322, at the request of Hugh Despenser the Younger. The king had in fact already given permission on 8 August 1322 for Robert to go overseas with his retinue and horses "for certain of his affairs," so unofficially at least he had already been forgiven by then. [CPR 1321-4, p. 210; CCR 1318-23, p. 675] Robert had also been close to the executed Contrariant Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere, who until he switched sides in June 1321 had been Edward II's household steward and a close ally of Hugh Despenser the Younger (and was Roger, Lord Clifford's uncle-in-law): Robert was one of the godfathers of Bartholomew's son and heir Giles, born in October 1314. [CIPM 1327-36, no. 691] Robert Wateville went to Gascony on Edward II's service in 1324 during the War of St-Sardos, when the king went to war against his brother-in-law Charles IV of France, and exchanged many letters with Hugh Despenser the Younger over the next few months while he was there. He was accused of cowardice over his conduct in Gascony and Edward II ordered his arrest. Hugh spoke out on his behalf and Edward forgave him, and Hugh's pleas worked so well that the king showed Robert conspicuous favour throughout 1326: attending his wedding, giving him numerous large gifts of cash, playing cross and pile with him, playing an unspecified ball game with him at Saltwood Castle, and visiting him at his London house when he was ill and giving him yet more money for medicine, and so on. This generosity availed the king nothing when Robert Wateville joined the invasion force of the queen and the remnant of the Contrariant faction, his old allegiance, after they arrived in England in late September 1326.

Margaret Martin née Hastings was the only daughter of Hugh Despenser the Younger's second sister Isabella (c. 1290-1334) and her second husband John, Lord Hastings (1262-1313). Margaret was a much younger half-sister of John, Lord Hastings (1286-1325) and the aunt of John's son Laurence Hastings, later earl of Pembroke (1320-1348). Her date of birth is unknown, but her parents married in 1308 or 1309 (Isabella Despenser's first husband Gilbert de Clare, lord of Thomond died in November 1307), and she had brothers Thomas and Hugh Hastings who were probably older than she. Margaret lost her father in early 1313 when she was probably only a baby; her twice-widowed mother Isabella née Despenser married her third husband Ralph Monthermer, widower of Edward II's sister Joan of Acre, in 1318; and her maternal grandfather Hugh Despenser the Elder was made earl of Winchester in 1322. At an uncertain date, Margaret married her first husband, William, Lord Martin. He was much her senior, born around 1294, and was the heir of his father William, Lord Martin the elder when the latter died in 1324. [CIPM 1317-27, no. 563]

William Martin the younger died shortly before 4 April 1326, when the writ for his Inquisition Post Mortem was issued. He and Margaret née Hastings had no children from their probably rather brief marriage - it is likely that Margaret was too young for the marriage ever to have been consummated - so his heirs were his sister Eleanor Columbiers, aged either thirty and more or forty and more in 1326 (thanks, vague IPMs!) and his nephew James Audley, born in 1313 and the son of his deceased other sister Joan, dowager countess of Lincoln (d. 1322). [CIPM 1317-27, no. 710] Eleanor Columbiers née Martin had previously been married to William Hastings (1282-1311), eldest son of John, Lord Hastings (1262-1313) and the decades older half-brother of Margaret Martin née Hastings (William Hastings had no children and died before his father, so the Hastings heir was his younger brother John, b. 1286).

As William, Lord Martin died shortly before 4 April 1326, Margaret Martin née Hastings had only been a widow for a few weeks when she married her second husband Sir Robert Wateville on 19 May 1326. The haste implies that there was no possibility of Margaret bearing William Martin's posthumous child, further implying that her first marriage had never been consummated. She is unlikely to have been more than about sixteen in 1326 and was probably some years younger than that; her second brother and their mother's ultimate heir Hugh Hastings was born in 1310 or 1311, Thomas Hastings was older than Hugh (but died before their mother), and Margaret was probably the youngest of the three siblings, born around 1312 or so, not long before her father died in early 1313 or perhaps even afterwards. Robert Wateville must, like William Martin, have been a few years older than Margaret. One big problem with trying to illuminate the life and career of Sir Robert Wateville of Orton is that there were two men with the same name active in England in the 1320s, and it's very difficult to differentiate them. 'Robertus de Watervill' was knighted with Edward of Caernarfon on 22 May 1306, so if this means the man who married Margaret Martin in May 1326, he can't have have been born after 1290. A Robert Wateville was on Edward I's service in Scotland in June 1303 [Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 179], so if this is our man, it pushes his date of birth back into the 1280s.

Margaret's mother Isabella, dowager Lady Hastings, who had been widowed for the third time in April 1325 when Ralph Monthermer died, organised her daughter's wedding with the aid of some of her household staff. Edward II gave cash gifts to four of her servants who had worked hard to ensure that the day was a success: forty shillings each to Walter the butler, Master Walter the cook and Walter Baret the marshal, and twenty shillings to Robert le Porter, vadlet des mestres (a difficult job title to translate, but basically an official in a noble household). In addition, Edward gave twenty shillings to Lady Hastings' servant Will Muleward, "who was for some time with the king and made him laugh greatly."

The marriage of the fairly obscure knight Robert Wateville to such an exalted person as the young Margaret Martin, granddaughter of the earl of Winchester, niece of the king's nephew-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger, and daughter and sister of Lords Hastings, reveals how high Robert had risen in Hugh the Younger's favour. Hugh called Robert his "very dear friend and companion" and had told him in a letter of 1325 that he wished him to be married, and must have arranged Robert's match with his niece, with the consent of his sister Isabella Hastings. Hugh's wife Eleanor Despenser, Edward II's eldest niece, was almost certainly also present at the wedding. At Caversham on 22 May, three days after the wedding, Edward II lost eight shillings playing cross and pile (i.e. heads and tails) with Robert Wateville, and on 1 June went out into the park at Saltwood Castle with him, the steward of the royal household Sir Thomas Blount, and others to play a ball game. Presumably young Margaret accompanied her new husband, her uncle Hugh Despenser the Younger, and the king for at least part of this period. Margaret and Robert were given the dower from her marriage to William Martin on 8 June 1326, the same day as her uncle Hugh lent Robert 100 marks.

Sir Robert Wateville was in Bristol with Queen Isabella on 26 October 1326 a month after her invasion force arrived in England, when a list of her most important adherents appears on the Close Roll witnessing the appointment of Isabella and Edward II's son Edward of Windsor as custos regni. Robert must have witnessed the execution of his wife Margaret's grandfather Hugh Despenser the Elder, earl of Winchester, in the city the next day. I wonder how Margaret felt about that. Whether Robert Wateville saw the execution of his uncle-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger in Hereford on 24 November 1326, I don't know, but given how much Hugh had done for him in the previous few years, it would be pretty startling if he did.

Sir Robert Wateville and Margaret née Hastings had no children, and he died shortly before 6 May 1330. [CFR 1327-37, p. 175] His will of 6 February 1330 still exists: he mentions his chere compaigne or 'dear consort' Margaret, his brother Roger Wateville and his nephew William Orketote, and left his 'houses without Alegate' (i.e. Aldgate) in London to John Pulteney, mayor of London. [Calendar of Wills Proved and Enrolled in the Court of Husting, London, 1258-1358] There's a reference in Edward II's chamber account of 1325/26 to Robert's house without Aldgate on 21 July 1326 when he was ill there, and the king visited him and gave him a gift of forty marks. [SAL MS 122] Margaret outlived him by nearly thirty years and died on 7 July 1359. Her heir was John Hastings, born 1347, grandson of her much older half-brother John, Lord Hastings (1286-1325) and son and heir of her half-nephew Laurence Hastings, earl of Pembroke (1320-48), and the dower lands she had held from her first husband William Martin passed to William's nephew James Audley. [CIPM 1352-60, no. 494]

1 comment:

sami parkkonen said...

Tons of special information once again. I wonder if the people in medieval times stayed on track who was married to whom and what these marriages could possible mean every time?