06 July, 2020

6 July 1332: Birth of Elizabeth de Burgh, Duchess of Clarence

Elizabeth de Burgh, duchess of Clarence and countess of Ulster, a daughter-in-law of Edward III and Queen Philippa, was born on 6 July 1332. Her mother was Maud of Lancaster (c. 1310/12-1377), third of the six daughters of Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester and one of the sisters of Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster. Via her mother, Elizabeth de Burgh was a great-granddaughter of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, and thus was a second cousin of Edward III. Elizabeth's father was William de Burgh, earl of Ulster (b. September 1312), whose mother Elizabeth de Clare (b. September 1295) was a granddaughter of Edward I and one of Edward II's nieces. Elizabeth de Burgh's grandmother was, therefore, a much older first cousin of Edward III, making Elizabeth the king's first cousin twice removed as well as his second cousin. As the daughter of Maud of Lancaster, Elizabeth had a large number of relatives among the higher English nobility: her first cousins included the great heiress Blanche, duchess of Lancaster, the Percy earls of Northumberland and Worcester, the earl of Arundel, the countesses of Kent and Hereford, and Lords Mowbray and Beaumont, and her younger half-sister was the countess of Oxford.

William's father, Elizabeth's grandfather John de Burgh, died in 1313 when William was a baby, and he succeeded his grandfather Richard de Burgh as earl of Ulster after Richard's death in July 1326. William de Burgh and Maud of Lancaster married sometime between 1 May and 16 November 1327 when William was fourteen or fifteen and Maud about the same age, perhaps a little older. William's marriage had been granted to Maud's father on 3 February 1327. [1] It's interesting to me that six of Henry, earl of Lancaster's seven children married (the exception was his second daughter Isabella, who became prioress of Amesbury Priory), and five of them became parents (his eldest daughter Blanche, Lady Wake had no children), and in all cases, there was a delay of a few years before they had children. Henry of Grosmont married Isabella Beaumont in 1330, and their first surviving child was born in April 1340, though another daughter is mentioned in 1338/39 who must have died young; Maud and William de Burgh's daughter was born five years after their wedding; Joan, the fourth daughter, married John Mowbray in 1328 and gave birth to her only son in 1340, though her two daughters were probably older; Eleanor the fifth daughter married John Beaumont in 1330 when they were both about twelve or thirteen, and had her only Beaumont son in late 1339; and Mary the youngest Lancaster child married Henry Percy in 1334 when they were also both about twelve or thirteen, and gave birth to her first child in 1341.

Elizabeth de Burgh was just eleven months old when her twenty-year-old father was murdered near Belfast on 6 June 1333, and she was his sole heir and, ultimately, also the sole heir of her grandmother Elizabeth de Clare, who lived until November 1360. As well the earldom of Ulster, she inherited the third of the earldom of Gloucester which passed to her grandmother Elizabeth after her brother Gilbert fell at Bannockburn in 1314. As for her mother, Maud of Lancaster remained a widow for ten years and married her second husband, the earl of Suffolk's younger brother Sir Ralph Ufford, in or before August 1343. Maud's only child from her second marriage, Maud Ufford, married Thomas de Vere, earl of Oxford and was the mother of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford (1362-92), Richard II's favourite. After she was widowed from Ralph Ufford in 1346, Maud of Lancaster became a canoness in Suffolk for the remaining thirty years of her life.

Elizabeth was named as William de Burgh's sole heir in his inquisition post mortem of August/September 1332. The Buckinghamshire jurors gave her exact date of birth, whereas all the other jurors, in England and Ireland, merely estimated that she was a year old, or a year and a half, or even (wrongly) two years old. This might, emphasis on the might, mean that she was born in Buckinghamshire or at least spent time there in infancy. [2] Several years ago, I found possible references to one and perhaps even two further daughters of William de Burgh and Maud of Lancaster. On 16 July 1338, there is a reference on the Patent Roll to 'Isabella, daughter and heir of William, late earl of Ulster'. It's entirely possible that this means Elizabeth, as Isabella was a variant form of the name Elizabeth and they were sometimes used interchangably, though by this stage they seem to have been considered separate names, and Elizabeth de Burgh was otherwise always called 'Elizabeth'. And on 6 April 1340, Edward III granted the marriage of 'Margaret, daughter and heir of William de Burgo, earl of Ulster' to his sister Eleanor of Woodstock and her husband Reynald for the use of their second son Eduard of Guelders (b. 1336). [3]

Assuming William and Maud did have other daughters, they must have died young, as Elizabeth was certainly William's sole heir. This means that if Maud did give birth to two more daughters, she must have been pregnant with twins when William was killed and the IPM jurors did not know of her pregnancy. Possibly, though, 'Isabella' simply meant Elizabeth, and 'Margaret' was a clerical error and also referred to Elizabeth - and for some reason she did not marry into the county of Guelders.

Elizabeth de Burgh was related to Edward III and his children via both her parents, but they were not *that* closely related, and Edward snapped up the great heiress for one of his and Queen Philippa's sons. Lionel of Antwerp was the royal couple's third son after Edward of Woodstock (b. June 1330) and William of Hatfield (b. January 1337), but was their second eldest surviving son, as William died shortly after his birth. Born on 29 November 1338, Lionel was nearly six and a half years Elizabeth's junior.

Elizabeth and Lionel of Antwerp married on 15 August 1342 in the Tower of London; the date is recorded in the Plea and Memoranda Rolls of the city. [4] Lionel was still only three years old to her ten on their wedding day. Their only child, named Philippa after her paternal grandmother and godmother Philippa of Hainault, queen of England, was born on 16 August 1355 thirty-seven weeks after Lionel's sixteenth birthday, and thirteen years almost exactly to the day after Elizabeth and Lionel's wedding. [5] Elizabeth was twenty-three when her daughter was born, but was to have no more children. She came into her grandmother's large inheritance when Elizabeth de Clare died at the age of sixty-five in late 1360, but only outlived her by three years, and died in Ireland in December 1363 when she was only thirty-one years old, just over a year after Edward III celebrated his fiftieth birthday by making his second son duke of Clarence (and his third son John of Gaunt duke of Lancaster). Lionel held all her lands for the rest of his life - he himself died in October 1368 a few weeks before his thirtieth birthday - by the custom called the 'courtesy of England', and they then passed to Elizabeth and Lionel's only child Philippa of Clarence, countess of March and Ulster, and then to her son Roger Mortimer, earl of March (1374-98).


1) Kenneth Fowler, The King's Lieutenant: Henry of Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster 1310-1361 (1969), p. 256 note 16; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, p. 8.
2) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-36, no. 537.
3) CPR 1338-40, pp. 115, 445.
4) Calendar of Plea and Memoranda Rolls of the City of London, vol. 1, p. 153.
5) CIPM 1365-69, no. 385.

14 June, 2020

Pride: The LGBTQ+ History Series

I'm delighted and honoured to have been invited to take part in the second season of 'Pride: The LGBTQ+ History Series', a documentary series by Canadian filmmakers Mark Kenneth Woods and Michael Yerxa. You can see the trailer of the second season on Youtube here (and the first season here). Information about each episode is here; you can see me in the fourth episode, 'Manchester', talking about Edward II for a few minutes.

In Canada, the series is available on Out TV (and see also here for more info; if you have Amazon Prime and are in the right geographical area, you might be able to access it). In New Zealand, it will be shown on TVNZ, beginning tomorrow, 15 June. For the rest of us, we'll just have to hope that it's broadcast somewhere where we can see it, soon! I think what Mark and Michael are doing is really important and I was thrilled to be a small part of it.

Couple of stills of me from the 'Manchester' episode:

30 May, 2020

"Living in Medieval England: The Turbulent Year of 1326"

My new book is out now in the UK! It's a detailed account of the year 1326, with a chapter devoted to each calendar month. I chose 1326 as it's such a dramatic year, when the queen of England invaded her husband's kingdom with an army, so there's quite a bit about what led up to the invasion, but it's far more focused on social history than my previous books are. I wanted to shine a light on the common people of England and how they lived and worked and died, how they dressed, what they earned, what their nicknames were, who they married, how much they paid for things. My main source for the book was Edward II's extant last chamber account, which covers the period from 24 May 1325 to 31 October 1326 and is full of the most delicious details about contemporary life (as well about Edward himself), and I also used chronicles, wills, the chancery rolls, petitions and other documents now in the National Archives, inquisitions post mortem, the London coroners' rolls and city letter-books, the London Assize of Nuisance, etc.

The Kindle version is available as of today in the UK, and is only £4.79! Bargain! Here's the link. Here is the hardback edition of Living in Medieval England on Amazon; it's also available via Book Depository and from the publisher's website. And if you haven't read my biography of Edward II's powerful chamberlain and 'favourite' Hugh Despenser the Younger yet, it's currently only £1.99 on Kindle. My Following in the Footsteps of Edward II, a guide to locations in Britain associated with Edward, is £4.99 on Kindle.

I'd really like to do a contest for one of you to win a free signed hardback copy of Living in Medieval England, but the lockdown in the UK is still on though has been eased quite a bit, and I'm not sure that I should be going to the post office and posting books just yet, unfortunately.

One of the 93 pages of Edward II's last chamber account, my main source for the book.

24 May, 2020

Philippa Arundel (d. 1399) And Her Children

In my last post, I looked at the three daughters of Sir Edmund Arundel (d. 1381/2), son of the earl of Arundel, and Sybil Montacute, daughter of the earl of Salisbury. Here's a post dedicated to Philippa Arundel, the best-known of their daughters.

Philippa was perhaps the second daughter of Edmund and Sybil, younger than Katherine and older than Elizabeth, though I'm not sure about that; she might have been the youngest. Given that she might have given birth as early as c. 1366/67, and almost certainly by 1370, she can hardly have been born later than the early 1350s. Her father Edmund was apparently born in 1326, and her mother Sybil perhaps in the early 1330s or thereabouts. Over the last few years and decades, there's been a lot of confusion about Philippa and her sisters, and a good few writers have followed the Complete Peerage in stating, erroneously, that the sisters (or at least one or two of them) were the daughters of Richard, earl of Arundel (d. 1376) and his first wife Isabella Despenser, rather than Richard and Isabella's granddaughters, as they in fact were. Philippa's parentage is, however, made perfectly clear by this entry on the Close Roll (CCR 1396-99, p. 72):

Philippa Arundel married Sir Richard Sergeaux or Cergeaux or Serjeaux, an important landowner, politician, keeper of the peace, justice, knight of the shire, and commissioner in Cornwall; his page on the History of Parliament site states that he held at least twenty-two manors in the county. I've seen Richard's date of birth estimated as c. 1340, which seems about right; he appeared on the Patent Roll from the early 1360s onwards with his father of the same name, and was called 'Richard Sergeaux the younger'. His father was called leisne, 'the elder', in 1361, so Richard the younger was of age and active by then. [1] Richard Sergeaux the younger was previously married to Elizabeth Bodrugan, granddaughter and co-heir of Sir Otto Bodrugan (1290-1331), the only child of Otto's second son William (b. 1311). He and Elizabeth had no children together, or at least, no surviving children. The dates of Elizabeth's death and Richard Sergeaux's subsequent second marriage to Philippa Arundel are uncertain. [2]

Philippa Arundel and Richard Sergeaux had one son and four daughters: Richard, Elizabeth, Philippa, Alice, and Joan. The birth order of their daughters is clear, though where their son fits into the order is not quite as clear, and the estimated ages and dates of birth for the eldest three of the five Sergeaux children are confusingly all over the place. They were widely spaced, with the eldest children born in the late 1360s or early 1370s, the fourth certainly born in 1384, and the fifth almost certainly born in or around 1392.

- Richard Sergeaux, the only son. His father's inquisition post mortem of November 1393 states that he was born around 21 December 1374, and also that he was 'nineteen and more'. According to another inquisition taken in 1398, however, Richard was twenty-six when his father died in September 1393 and would therefore have been born c. 1367, and this inquisition makes him, whether correctly or not, the oldest of the five Sergeaux siblings, with his sister Elizabeth two years younger and his sister Philippa four years younger. Other evidence, though, makes him younger than Elizabeth and perhaps younger than Philippa as well. Richard was named as his father's sole heir in 1393, but he outlived Sir Richard by less than three years and died on 23 or 24 June 1396. At yet another inquisition in July 1400, he was said to have died in his twentieth year, i.e. was still nineteen in June 1396, and to have died underage, i.e. under twenty-one. I haven't found any entries in the chancery rolls where Richard II took Richard Sergeaux's homage and allowed him livery of his lands, which would tend to confirm that he died before he reached his twenty-first birthday and was therefore born after 23/24 June 1375. [3] He doesn't seem to have been married, as I haven't seen any record of dower being assigned to his widow. Richard certainly left no children, and his four sisters became joint and equal heirs to the Sergeaux inheritance.

- Elizabeth Marny, the eldest daughter. According to various jurors at her mother Philippa Arundel's inquisition post mortem in January and July 1400, Elizabeth might have been as old as thirty-three then, which would place her date of birth in 1366/67, though other jurors estimated her age at thirty, or twenty-one, or twenty, in early 1400. She was also said to be twenty-four when her brother died in June 1396, placing her date of birth in 1372. Elizabeth cannot have been as young as twenty in January 1400, as she gave birth to her son Thomas Marny (or Marney) on 6 or 7 February 1393, and had a younger son John and a daughter Anne as well. [4] Thomas was the eldest grandchild of Philippa Arundel, great-grandson of Edmund Arundel and Sybil Montacute, great-great-grandson of Richard, earl of Arundel (d. 1376) and great-great-great-grandson of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare (d. 1337). Thomas's father was Elizabeth's husband Sir William Marny, landowner in Buckinghamshire and Essex, who died on 21 or 24 August 1414. 

The date of Elizabeth Sergeaux Marny's death is not recorded, to my knowledge, but in William Marny's inquisition post mortem taken in Cornwall and Oxfordshire in September/October 1414, he was said to have held a third of the Oxfordshire manor of Chipping Norton and a third of various Cornish manors "by the courtesy of England after the death of Elizabeth his wife", so she died sometime before August 1414. There's a great account of William's career here. His and Elizabeth's elder son Thomas Marny died on 22 March 1421 aged twenty-eight, and his daughter Margaret Marny was his heir; she was born posthumously on 14 August 1421. Some jurors at Thomas's inquisition post mortem did not realise that his widow (named Margaret, like their daughter) was pregnant, and hence named his brother John Marny as his heir. Little Margaret, however, died on 4 or 15 November 1421, so the Marny heir was her uncle John, after all. John Marny, second son of Elizabeth Sergeaux and grandson of Philippa Arundel, was born in Layer Marney, Essex on 14 August 1402, and his godmother was his aunt Philippa Sergeaux Passele. At John's proof of age in 1424, one of the jurors remembered his birth because he played football in Layer Marney that day and broke his shin when he fell, another remembered because a resident of the village hanged himself that day and he went to look at the hanging body (!), and another remembered because he and his wife attended Elizabeth's churching on 14 September 1402. [5]

- Philippa Passele (or Pasele or Passhelee or Pashley), later Swynbourne, second daughter. She was said to be twenty-two when her brother died in June 1396, eighteen in January 1400, twenty-eight in March 1400, and nineteen in July/September 1400, so might have been born any time between 1371/72 and 1381. Fabulous. Most inquisitions stated that she was somewhere between a year and three years younger than her sister Elizabeth, except for the Oxfordshire jurors of July 1400, who said that she was fourteen years younger than Elizabeth and that they were thirty-three and nineteen respectively. Philippa died on 13 July 1420, leaving her son John Passele as her heir; he was said to be twenty-two in her IPM of November 1420, so, if this estimate is accurate (which of course it might not be), he was born sometime between November 1397 and November 1398. Philippa married firstly Robert Passele and secondly William Swynbourne or Swinborne, and as well as her son John Passele, she had a daughter, Anne Passele. I haven't been able to find the date of Robert Passele's death, but Philippa was already married to her second husband William Swynbourne by 12 February 1407. William died on 22 May 1409, and as he had no children, his heir was his brother John, then aged about thirty. Philippa outlived her second husband by eleven years. [6]

- Alice Saint Aubyn, later de Vere, then Thorley, countess of Oxford, third daughter and fourth child, born in her father's manor of Colquite, Cornwall on 1 September 1384. We know her exact date and place of birth, because she proved her age in June 1400! Yay! Alice was said to be nine when her brother died in June 1396, though in fact she was eleven going on twelve, fourteen in January and March 1400 (actually fifteen), and fifteen in July/August 1400 (correctly). Alice Sergeaux married her first husband Guy Saint Aubyn between 20 September 1398 and 24 January 1400, when she was fourteen or fifteen. [7] He died childless sometime around 1405, and she subsequently married Richard de Vere, earl of Oxford, who was a year her junior, born on 15 August 1385. [8] Their eldest son John de Vere, earl of Oxford, was born at Hedingham Castle in Essex on 23 April 1408, and they had younger sons Robert and Richard as well. Alice was widowed on 15 February 1417, when Earl Richard died at the age of only thirty-one, and she married her third husband Sir Nicholas Thorley in or before October 1421. They wed without royal licence and Nicholas was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and were finally pardoned in December 1424. This would be the longest of her three marriages: Nicholas died on 5 May 1442, and Alice Sergeaux Saint Aubyn de Vere Thorley, dowager countess of Oxford, on 28 May 1452, in her mid-sixties. Her eldest son the earl of Oxford was beheaded ten years later. [9] 

- Joan Sergeaux, fourth daughter, fifth and youngest child, was probably born in 1392. She was therefore much younger than her siblings, young enough to be the child of her eldest sister Elizabeth (who gave birth in February 1393) and perhaps of Philippa as well. Joan was said to be four when her brother died in June 1396, seven in January 1400, and eight in March 1400. She died on 31 July 1400, and although Richard II had granted her marriage rights to her stepfather Sir John Cornwall in September 1398, John had not yet arranged her marriage. [10] After her death, the Sergeaux inheritance was shared out among Joan's three surviving older sisters. Had she lived into her teens, she, Elizabeth, Philippa and Alice would each have inherited a quarter of their late father's lands.

Philippa Arundel Sergeaux's first husband Sir Richard Sergeaux died on 30 September 1393, probably in London; he was certainly in London on 27 September, three days before his death. [11] She remained a widow for a few years, and sometime before 13 April 1398, probably not long before, married her second husband, Sir John Cornwall. [12] He was many years her junior, and might have been younger than her eldest children. Philippa's eldest grandchild Thomas Marny was already five years old when she married John, and given that she had borne her eldest child probably in the late 1360s or beginning of the 1370s (though her youngest child was only six in 1398), she might have passed beyond childbearing age when she married her second husband. Certainly she and John Cornwall had no children together. John Cornwall was himself of Cornish birth and was descended from Sir Richard Cornwall (d. 1296/97), illegitimate son of Richard, earl of Cornwall (d. 1272), younger son of King John and brother of Henry III.

John Cornwall became a household knight of Richard II in late 1396 or not long before, and accompanied Richard to Ireland in the summer of 1399, but switched his allegiance to Henry of Lancaster when Henry returned to England that year to claim his confiscated inheritance. [13John was also said to be 'sailing beyond seas' in July 1398 and February 1399, so it hardly seems likely that he and Philippa had much chance to spend time together during their brief marriage. [14]

Philippa Arundel Sergeaux Cornwall died on 13 September 1399, probably in her late forties or so. [15] Her inqusition post mortem was held in January and July 1400, and her heirs were her four daughters, her only son having already died in 1396, though her youngest child Joan Sergeaux only outlived her by a few months. Philippa's widower Sir John Cornwall made a brilliant second marriage in 1400 when he wed Elizabeth of Lancaster, dowager countess of Huntingdon, sister of King Henry IV and of Philippa, queen of Portugal, half-sister of Catalina, queen of Castile and Leon. Elizabeth (1363-1425) was the mother of John's two legitimate children, John and Constance Cornwall. Sir John Cornwall, made Baron Fanhope by Elizabeth's great-nephew Henry VI, finally died in late 1443, having fathered two illegitimate sons as well. He was one of the greatest and most renowned English warriors of the fifteenth century.


1) CPR 1361-4, pp. 65, 528.
2) See CFR 1391-9, pp. 105-6.
3) CIPM 1392-9, nos. 421-2, 1093; CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 35-6.
4) CIPM 1392-9, no. 1093; CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 31-8; CIPM 1413-18, nos. 190-94.
5) CIPM 1418-22, nos. 764-8; CIPM 1422-27, nos. 13, 257-8, 364.
6) CIPM 1392-9, no. 1093; CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 31-8; CIPM 1418-22, nos. 443-6; CIPM 1422-27, no. 416.
7) CFR 1391-9, p. 291; TNA SC 8/213/10650; CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 31-8, 312.
8) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 190-204.
9) CIPM 1413-18, nos. 633-54; CIPM 1422-27, no. 416; CIPM 1427-32, no. 310; CIPM 1437-42, nos. 536-7; CPR 1422-29, p. 422; Complete Peerage, vol. 10, p. 236.
10) CIPM 1392-9, no. 1093; CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 31-8; CFR 1391-9, p. 291.
11) CCR 1392-6, p. 231.
12) CFR 1391-9, p. 254.
13) CPR 1396-9, pp. 64, 91, 187, 516, 550, 559; CCR 1396-9, p. 268.
14) CCR 1396-9, pp. 321, 371.
15) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 31-8.

16 May, 2020

The Three Daughters of Edmund Arundel and Sybil Montacute

I've written before about Sir Edmund Arundel, grandson of Hugh Despenser the Younger, only child of Richard, earl of Arundel (c. 1313-76) and his first wife, Edward I's great-granddaughter Isabella Despenser (c. 1312-after 1356). Edmund was made illegitimate on the annulment of his parents' marriage in late 1344. His date of birth isn't recorded, but according to the pope he was eighteen in late 1344 and twenty in early 1347, and would therefore seem to have been born before the end of 1326 when his parents were only at the start of their teens. [1] It's possible that he had already been born when both of his grandfathers, Hugh Despenser and Edmund, earl of Arundel, were executed a week apart in November 1326. Edmund Arundel was the much older half-brother of Joan, countess of Hereford, Essex and Northampton (d. 1419), Richard, earl of Arundel (executed 1397), Alice, countess of Kent (d. 1416), John, marshal of England (drowned 1379), and Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1414).

At an unknown date, Edmund married Sybil Montacute, daughter of William Montacute, earl of Salisbury (1301-44) and Katherine Grandisson. Sybil's brother William, earl of Salisbury was born in June 1328, her sister Elizabeth married firstly Giles, Lord Badlesmere (1314-38), secondly Hugh, Lord Despenser (1308/9-49) and thirdly Sir Guy Bryan (d. 1390), and another sister, Philippa, married Roger Mortimer, second earl of March (1328-60). It seems highly likely that Edmund Arundel and Sybil Montacute married before he was made illegitimate in late 1344, because after the annulment he was no longer his father's heir and would not inherit the earldom of Arundel and his father's lands. The earl of Salisbury hardly seems likely to agree to one of his daughters marrying an illegitimate knight who would not inherit anything - though of course Salisbury was killed jousting in early 1344, and perhaps Sybil's marriage to Edmund was arranged after his death when he was no longer around to take care of her welfare. I haven't been able to find the date of Sybil Montacute's death, even though she was the sister of the earl of Salisbury and the countess of March and hence was pretty well-connected. Edmund Arundel was still active in February 1381, in his fifties, and appointed attorneys to act for him when he went to Gascony on a military expedition. He was dead by February 1382, when his two surviving daughters and his grandson from his other daughter were involved in a legal case (see here and here).

Whenever they married, Edmund and Sybil had three daughters, Katherine, Philippa, and Elizabeth Arundel. I assume that Katherine was named in honour of her maternal grandmother, Katherine Grandisson Montacute, countess of Salisbury; I assume Elizabeth was named in honour of her aunt, Lady Badlesmere and Despenser; and I assume Philippa was named either after her aunt the countess of March or after the queen, Philippa of Hainault. The three Arundel sisters were granddaughters of the earls of Salisbury and Arundel; their uncle was the long-lived earl of Salisbury who died in 1397 when he was close to seventy, and their other (half-)uncles included the earl of Arundel executed by Richard II in 1397 and the famous archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel. They were also first cousins of Edmund Mortimer, third earl of March (1352-81), and had numerous other important first cousins via their father's younger half-siblings. Although the three Arundel sisters married further down the social scale than their relatives because of their father's illegitimacy, one of Edmund and Sybil's granddaughters, Alice Sergeaux (1384-1452), became countess of Oxford by her second marriage and was the mother of John de Vere, earl of Oxford (1408-62).

It's difficult to ascertain the Arundel sisters' dates of birth or their birth order, but it seems that all three became mothers in the 1360s. Elizabeth married firstly Sir Leonard Carew, who was born in Stoke Fleming, Devon on 23 April 1342 and died on 9 October 1369, and their son and heir Thomas Carew was either one or two years old in April 1370, therefore was born sometime at the end of the 1360s not long before his father's death. She married secondly Sir John Meriet of Somerset, who was born on 24 March 1346. [2] The eldest of Philippa Arundel's five Sergeaux children was perhaps born c. 1367, and by 1370 at the latest. [3] Katherine Arundel's son Robert Deincourt or Deyncourt or Dancourt or Daynecourt, named after his father, was seemingly born around 1362/64; he was said to be either twenty-six or twenty-eight years old in early 1391. The rights to Robert's marriage passed to John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, who gave them to his mistress Katherine Swynford to use for her daughter Blanche Swynford at the start of 1375 (though for some reason Robert and Blanche never married). [4]

Given that Philippa and Elizabeth became mothers around 1367/69, and that Philippa's eldest grandchild was born in February 1393, they can hardly have been born later than the early 1350s, and if her son's date of birth of c. 1362/64 as stated in 1391 is correct, Katherine was surely the eldest Arundel daughter and must have been born in the mid or late 1340s. Philippa Arundel is the best known of the three daughters, and I'll discuss her and her children, and her two marriages, in the next post.
Elizabeth Arundel was widowed when Leonard Carew or Carru or Carreu or Carrewe (eldest son and heir of John Carew, d. 1362) died on 9 October 1369 at the age of only twenty-seven, leaving their infant son Thomas as his heir. Thomas Carew lived until 1431 and left a son and heir, Nicholas, and the line continued; the Carews became earls of Totnes in the seventeenth century[5] Probably in 1373, Elizabeth married her second husband, Sir John Meriet of Somerset, born on 24 March 1346 as the son of John Meriet Senior and Eleanor Beauchamp, daughter of John Beauchamp of Hatch. John Meriet Junior died on 26 July 1391, and it was found that his heir was his daughter Elizabeth, who had turned four around 13 December 1390 and hence was born in December 1386, and despite her youth was already married to the oddly-named Urry Seymour. John had married secondly a woman named Maud, the widow of Ralph Seymour, who apparently was his daughter Elizabeth's mother, even though the little girl shared a name with her father's first wife. Elizabeth Arundel Carew Meriet was still alive in Michaelmas term 1385, and must have died before March 1386 when her widower John Meriet - with what seems like undue haste - conceived a daughter with his second wife Maud. [6

As for Katherine Arundel, I'm confused about the family she married into, the Deincourts, and how members of the family were related to whom. Sir John Deincourt, uncle of Katherine's son Robert Deincourt, worked in John of Gaunt's household for many years, and his son and heir Roger Deincourt was born in May 1377 in Gaunt's castle of Kenilworth. [7] The records of Richard II's reign are full of stuff like the following, and my brain just waves a white flag and gives up. I'm not even sure whom Robert Deincourt ended up marrying after he failed to marry Blanche Swynford as planned, and when he died.

Katherine Arundel Deincourt was already dead by February 1382 when her son Robert Deincourt and her sisters Philippa and Elizabeth were involved in a legal case (see above for links). Philippa Arundel Sergeaux Cornwall was the last living of the three daughters of Edmund Arundel and Sybil Montacute, and died on 13 September 1399; I'll write about her in the next post.


1) Calendar of Papal Letters 1342-62, p. 254.
2) B.W. Greenfield, 'Meriet of Meriet and of Hestercombe', part 2, Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Proceedings, vol. 28 (1882), pp. 99-215 (at pp. 154, 160-3); CIPM 1361-5, no. 613; CIPM 1365-9, nos. 269, 436.
3) CIPM 1392-9, nos. 421-3, 1093; CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 31-8.
4) CIPM 1384-92, nos. 847-50; John of Gaunt's Register 1371-75, nos. 181, 1607.
5) CIPM 1361-5, nos. 300, 613; CIPM 1365-9, no. 436; CIPM 1427-32, nos. 526-8.
6) CIPM 1365-9, no. 269; CIPM 1392-9, no. 98; Greenfield, 'Meriet of Meriet', pp. 154, 158, 160; Feet of Fines for Devon, CP 25/1/44/62, no. 17 and CP 25/1/44/64, no. 62.
7) CIPM 1399-1405, no. 313.

10 May, 2020

Hugh Mortimer (d. 1304) and William la Zouche (d. 1337), Brothers

Hugh Mortimer and William la Zouche were brothers, and were only rather distantly related to the much more famous Mortimers of Wigmore, who became earls of March; this branch of the Mortimer family came from Richard's Castle on the border of Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Hugh and William were born in the 1270s, and were the sons of Robert Mortimer and Joyce or Joice la Zouche. Hugh was named after their grandfather Hugh Mortimer, who died shortly before 28 November 1274 leaving his son Robert, aged '22 and more', as his heir to several manors in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire. [1] Robert Mortimer was therefore born around the early 1250s, and died on 7 April 1287. Robert and Joyce's elder son and heir Hugh was allowed to take possession of his inheritance on 10 December 1295 as he was now 'of full age', meaning that he was born before 10 December 1274, probably not too long before, around the time that his paternal grandfather and namesake died. During his minority, Edward I had granted Hugh's wardship to William Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. 1298). [2]

Hugh Mortimer married a woman named Maud, who is known to have been a relative of Eleanor of Castile, queen of England, and of Eleanor's son Edward of Caernarfon, though the precise connection remains elusive. According to the Complete Peerage (vol. 9, pp. 264-5), Maud was a niece of William Marshal, and Edward of Caernarfon's extant correspondence of 1304/5 shows that he referred to her as nostre chere cosine Dame Maud de Mortimer du Chastel Richard, 'our dear cousin Lady Maud Mortimer of Richard's Castle'.

Hugh and Maud had two daughters, who were Hugh's heirs, and heirs to the Richard's Castle branch of the Mortimer family: Joan Mortimer, born in Caerphilly Castle on 24 November 1291, and Margaret Mortimer, born c. 14 September 1295. Hugh, born not too long before 10 December 1274, was a young father, barely seventeen when Joan was born. One of Joan's godfathers was Henry le Waleys, 'the Welshman'. Margaret's proof of age is missing so her place and exact date of birth are not known, but a reference on the Close Roll shows that the proof of age was held on or just before 18 September 1309. As well as being the heirs to their Mortimer father and grandfather, the Mortimer sisters were heirs to their father's uncle William Mortimer of Hamme, who died shortly before 2 November 1308. [3They inherited lands in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Wales, Northamptonshire, Essex, Hampshire and Devon.

Joan Mortimer married Thomas Bykenore sometime between 1 October 1304 and 27 June 1305, and Margaret Mortimer married Geoffrey Cornwall before 15 February 1308. [4] Geoffrey was a son of Sir Richard Cornwall (d. 1296/97), himself an illegitimate son of Richard, earl of Cornwall (1209-72), younger son of King John, brother of Henry III, and uncle of Edward I. That makes Geoffrey Edward II's second cousin, and his brother Edmund was knighted with Edward in 1306. Their sister Joan Cornwall married Sir John Howard of Norfolk and was an ancestor of the Howard dukes of Norfolk.

The sisters' father Hugh Mortimer of Richard's Castle died on 20 July 1304, probably not yet thirty years old, and peculiarly, his wife Maud was accused of poisoning both him and a man named Hugh de Kyngesmede or Kyngeshemede. She was pardoned at the request of Edward I's second wife Marguerite of France on 16 September 1305, and Marguerite's twenty-year-old stepson Edward of Caernarfon, Maud's kinsman, also took an interest in the case and sent numerous letters on the matter. One of Edward's letters reveals that he knew his mother Queen Eleanor had arranged Hugh and Maud Mortimer's marriage (nostre treschere dame e mere la fit marier). [5] Eleanor of Castile died on 28 November 1290, so Hugh and Maud's marriage must have been arranged before then, and as their first child was born in November 1291, the latest date their wedding can have taken place was February 1291. Maud Mortimer, cleared of the charges of murder, died sometime before 15 February 1308. [6]

The second Mortimer son, William, lived a much longer life than his older brother, and made two brilliant marriages. In 1298, he fought for Edward I at the battle of Falkirk as 'Sir William Mortimer of Richard's Castle' (Dns Willelmus de Mortuo Mari de Castro Ricardi), but by the autumn of 1304 had adopted his mother Joyce's name and began calling himself 'la Zouche'. [7] He often appears on record as 'William la Zousche de Mortuo Mari'. William's date of birth is not known, but his brother Hugh was almost certainly born in 1274, and as William was already a knight by the time of the battle of Falkirk in 1298, he must have been born before 1280. William acquired the Leicestershire manor of Ashby de la Zouch from his kinsman Alan la Zouche (d. 1314) on 20 October 1304, apparently an important factor in his decision to change his name. [8]

In contrast to his elder brother, a teenage husband and father, William la Zouche remained unmarried until 1316, when he wed Alice Toeni, dowager countess of Warwick and heir of the Toeni family. William must have been in his late thirties by then, perhaps even forty. Edward II granted the couple a licence to marry on 26 October 1316 in exchange for a payment of 500 marks. [9] Alice had been married twice before. She was the widow of Sir Thomas Leybourne (d. 1307), with whom she had a daughter Juliana, Lady Hastings and countess of Huntingdon (1303/4-1367), and of Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. August 1315), with whom she had several children including Guy's heir Thomas, earl of Warwick (1314-69). Alice and Guy's son Thomas Beauchamp remained in her and William's custody until 20 July 1318, when Edward II gave Thomas's marriage rights to Roger Mortimer of Wigmore (later the first earl of March) and ordered Alice and William to "deliver to him the body of the said heir, in their keeping, to be married." [10] Thomas Beauchamp, who was only four years old then, later married Roger's daughter Katherine Mortimer.

Alice Toeni and William la Zouche had two children: Alan la Zouche, William's heir, and Joyce, named after his mother. Alan was probably born not long before 15 November 1317, as Edward III allowed 'Alan la Zouche, son and heir of William la Zouche Mortimer' to enter his late father's lands on 15 November 1338, having taken his homage. He was said to be nineteen years old in his father's inquisition post mortem, held in March to May 1337, which fits well with a date of birth in c. November 1317, about a year after his parents' wedding. He died on 12 November 1346 in his late twenties. [11] Joyce la Zouche married John, Lord Botetourt (b. c. 1316/18) and had children; her brother Alan married a woman named Eleanor, whose identity is unknown, and with her had a son and heir, Hugh la Zouche, born on 29 September 1338 in Powick ('Poywyk'), Worcestershire. [12] Alan la Zouche might have named his son in honour of his father's older brother Hugh Mortimer (d. 1304); alternatively, it is possible that Hugh la Zouche's godfather was his father's stepbrother Hugh, Lord Despenser (1308/9-1349). For the Zouche-Despenser connection, see below.

Alice Toeni Leybourne Beauchamp la Zouche died before 8 January 1325, leaving her eldest son Thomas Beauchamp as her heir (her eldest child was Juliana Leybourne Hastings, heir to her father but not her mother). [13] Marrying the countess of Warwick had been quite a coup for William la Zouche given that he was a younger son and not an heir, and his second marriage was even better: Eleanor de Clare, Lady Despenser, born in October 1292 as the eldest niece of Edward II, lady of Glamorgan, and one of the richest women in the country. William abducted Eleanor from Hanley Castle in Worcestershire not long before 26 January 1329; see my post about it. By 1329, he must have been over fifty years old.

Around 1330, Eleanor bore William a son, William the younger, half-brother of Alan and Joyce la Zouche, and also half-brother of Eleanor's many Despenser children, the eldest of whom was born in 1308 or 1309. William la Zouche the younger is, considering that he was a great-grandson of King Edward I, remarkably obscure; at some point before February 1361, he became a monk at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset, and was still alive on 6 December 1390. His cousin Edward III granted the abbot of Glastonbury ten marks a year during William's lifetime, and his Despenser kin gave him an allowance of a hundreds shillings a year. [14] Rather curiously, William la Zouche the younger was a first cousin of Joan Mortimer Bykenore, who was born in 1291 and was about four decades older than he.

William la Zouche the father died on 28 February 1337, and Eleanor buried him in Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire, where her first husband Hugh Despenser the Younger and many of her Clare relatives and ancestors were also buried. She only outlived him by four months and died at the age of forty-four on 30 June 1337, and was also buried in Tewkesbury Abbey. William had made her an executor of his will, and as Eleanor buried him in her family's mausoleum, it would seem that they had made a success of their marriage, whether Eleanor had consented to it in January 1329 or not. William la Zouche's marriages to two women of much higher rank and much greater wealth than he would seem to imply that he was an attractive, appealing man.


1) CIPM 1272-91, no. 132.
2) CIPM 1272-91, nos. 640, 785; CCR 1288-96, pp. 72, 467.
3) CIPM 1300-07, no. 221; CIPM 1307-17, nos. 57, 66, 133; CCR 1307-13, pp. 97-8, 177-78.
4) CIPM 1300-07, no. 221; CIPM 1307-17, no. 57; CPR 1301-7, pp. 261, 265, 311, 321.
5) CPR 1301-7, pp. 378, 402, 486; Hilda Johnstone, Letters of Edward, Prince of Wales 1304-1305, pp. 34, 50-51, 58,, 75-6 etc. 
6) CIPM 1307-17, no. 57; CFR 1307-19, p. 14.
7) Complete Peerage, vol. 12B, p. 957.
8) Feet of Fines for Leicestershire, CP 25/1/285/25, no. 298; CFR 1307-19, p. 191; CCR 1313-18, pp. 59-61.
9) CFR 1307-19, p. 308.
10) CFR 1307-19, p. 369.
11) CCR 1337-9, p. 559; CIPM 1336-46, nos. 112, 662.
12) CIPM 1352-60, nos. 592, 644.
13) CFR 1319-27, pp. 324-5; CIPM 1317-27, no. 611.
14) CPR 1358-61, p. 538; CFR 1377-83, p. 46; CFR 1383-91, p. 346.

22 April, 2020

Hugh Despenser the Younger's Letters to the Sheriff of Glamorgan

Between September 1319 and c. September/October 1322, Hugh Despenser the Younger sent a number of long, detailed letters to Sir John Inge, sheriff of Hugh's lordship of Glamorgan. For more information, see also my book Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II: Downfall of a King's Favourite and my article ''We Might be Prepared to Harm You': an Investigation into Some of the Extortions of Hugh Despenser the Younger' in the second volume of the Journal of the Mortimer History Society, 2018.

Some of Hugh's letters are printed in English translation in Calendar of Ancient Correspondence Concerning Wales, ed. J. G. Edwards (1935); one is in W. H. Stevenson's article 'A Letter of the Younger Despenser on the Eve of the Barons' Rebellion, 21 March 1321', English Historical Review, 12 (1897), in the original Anglo-Norman; and three are in Cartae et Alia Munimenta quae ad Dominium de Glamorgancia Pertinent, vol. 3 (1910), also in the original Anglo-Norman. The original handwritten letters are mostly now in the National Archives in Kew. Anyone interested in Hugh's correspondence also needs to get hold of the book The War of Saint-Sardos: Gascon Correspondence and Diplomatic Documents, edited by Pierre Chaplais in 1954, which contains dozens of Hugh's letters, in Anglo-Norman.

The start of one of Hugh's letters to Inge, dated March 1321. Hugh always called himself 'Hugh le Despenser the son' ('le fuiz') in his correspondence.

Hugh's letters to John Inge reveal a lot about him as a person, including that he was highly articulate. They also reveal that he micromanaged his affairs in the lordship of Glamorgan, which came to him in November 1317 as part of the inheritance of his wife Eleanor de Clare from her late brother the earl of Gloucester, and that he took a deep interest in the lordship. One of the letters, dated 18 January 1321, contains Hugh's famous order to Inge that the sheriff should act so that "we may be rich and achieve our aims", "qe nous puissoms estre riches et ateindre a nostre entente". Referring to oneself as 'we' in letters was standard at the time and was not Hugh using the royal plural, though his opinion of himself and his position as Edward II's 'favourite' is pretty obvious from his numerous references to "the king and ourselves" and "it seems to the king and to us that...".

The letters tend to be impatient, hectoring and often threatening, and stand in stark contrast to the few surviving letters of Hugh's wife Eleanor, which paint her as someone courteous, patient, and considerate. In Hugh's last, or at least the last that I'm aware of, letter to John Inge, dated c. September or October 1322, Hugh wrote, seemingly casually in the middle of the letter, before moving onto something else:

"And know that we trust you more the more you advise us, but we are very worried about having some reason for which we might be prepared to harm you in some way, or for which we might lose the good will which we have for you."

We might be prepared to harm you. I laughed out loud when I first translated that bit, but poor John Inge! He falls over himself for years trying to comply with Hugh's endless orders, then he has to read that. On another occasion, Hugh told Inge that he was keeping a copy of his own letter to bring it up against the sheriff later if necessary, if Inge made any error regarding Hugh's instructions. This letter also contained the sarcastic line "it seems a great marvel to us that you so rarely send us news of our affairs" and the impatient line "we have so often sent you our letters on this matter that we are entirely weary of it."

The first extant letter Hugh Despenser the Younger sent to Sir John Inge dates to 22 September 1319 and was written during Edward II's unsuccessful siege of the port of Berwick. This letter was a long one, and was as detailed as most of Hugh's letters to Inge were. One of the most fascinating parts of the letter reveals that Hugh was engaged in a vendetta against Geoffrey Fromond, abbot of Glastonbury in Somerset. He told Inge to continue behaving towards the abbot as Hugh had previously ordered him to do (presumably in a letter which no longer exists), so that "the said abbot may be aware that we have the power to harm him." Heh. Hugh also told Inge to "harm and harass" a knight named Sir Roger Seyntmor (or Seymour) as much as he possibly could, on the grounds that Seyntmor had always been an enemy of Hugh. The lord of Glamorgan revealed his disdain for his Welsh tenants: he told John Inge to keep an eye on the woodland in his jurisdiction in case dangers occurred there, "bearing in mind how the people of those parts are often of frivolous resolve and reckless character." This disdain was further made apparent in a letter of 1321 when Hugh told Inge to take Welsh hostages "subtly" - how one was meant to take hostages "subtly" was not explained - and added that he did not wish any of the men to be given horses, and that they would have to travel to him on foot.

I'll give Hugh one last word, and quote from a letter he sent in 1325. This one wasn't sent to John Inge, but to one of the men Hugh had sent to Gascony during the War of Saint-Sardos. Hugh stated "as a result of your good conduct, the king and ourselves might discuss continuing our good will towards you." No comment or interpretation required...

18 April, 2020

The Orebys

A post about a little-known family of the fourteenth century, the Orbys or Orebys or Orrebys, who owned lands and manors in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Sir John Oreby married Isabel, sister and one of the three co-heirs of Robert Tateshale or Tatteshall; Isabel was either twenty-nine, thirty-eight or 'forty and more' in June 1306. [1] One-third of the sizeable Tatteshall inheritance thus passed to the Oreby family. John died shortly before 18 March 1329. [2] He and Isabel had a son, Philip Oreby, said to be the kinsman and co-heir of Robert Tateshale in October 1317. [3] Philip, however, died before John, sometime before 10 January 1327 when his widow Florence, daughter and heir of John de la Mare, was pardoned for marrying Nicholas Fraunceys without permission. Florence was aged thirty and more in August 1324. [4] Philip and Florence's heir was their son, John Oreby, whose marriage was granted to Geoffrey Scrope (chief justice of the King's Bench) on 3 February 1328. [5] This younger John was also heir to the elder John Oreby, his grandfather, and was a minor on 23 July 1330 when the custody of the older John's lands was given to Geoffrey Scrope. [6] John was still a minor on 15 July 1334 and 18 March 1336, and again on 6 May 1336 when he was named as a co-heir of Robert Tateshale and Geoffrey Scrope was mentioned as the custodian of his lands. [7] 

The proof of age of John Oreby or Orreby, 'kinsman and heir of Isabel, daughter [and sister] of Robert Tateshale', and son and heir of Philip Oreby and Florence de la Mare, was held on 19 February 1341. He was then twenty-two, and was born in West Witton, Yorkshire on Christmas Day 1318. [8] John received the lands of his recently-deceased mother Florence de la Mare, 'late the wife' of Nicholas Fraunceys, on 13 April 1344, and was knighted overseas sometime before 15 March 1340. By 23 April 1344, John had married a woman named Margaret. [9I haven't been able to find her identity, but given that John's marriage rights were granted to Sir Geoffrey Scrope, I assume she was a relative of his. Two of Geoffrey's daughters married into the Luttrell family and another daughter married into the Hotham family, and perhaps he had a fourth daughter who married John Oreby; or perhaps Margaret was his niece or a cousin's daughter.

John Oreby died on 17 or 20 January 1354 in his mid-thirties, leaving his widow Margaret. He had held the manor of Isleham ('Iselham') in Cambridgeshire from the earl of Arundel by service of, rather brilliantly, "sending to Heryngesmare a gammon of bacon fixed on a lance, for the use of the said earl, when he shall pass through the said place to war." This manor had come to him from his mother Florence, and her IPM of 1344 also states that she held Isleham "by service of sending to the said earl a gammon of bacon on a lance and a pair of gilt spurs, price 40d., at a certain place in Isleham called Heryngesmere, if the said earl shall come there in person and there is war in England, and not otherwise." John also held a fourth part of the Norfolk manor of Buckenham ('Bokenham'), including land at 'Dikhous' and pasture land at 'Hommedewe'.

John's heir was his and Margaret's daughter Joan Oreby, said in his inquisition post mortem of late March 1354 to be either three, four or five years old at the last feast of Whitsun, or 'three years and more' or 'five years and more'. [10] This would place her date of birth around 12 May in either 1348, 1349 or 1350, but Joan may in fact have been rather younger than her father's IPM suggests. She was given seisin of all her lands on 19 May 1365 after she proved her age, and as she was already married, she came of age at fourteen. This strongly implies that in fact she was born in May 1351, and therefore was only two years old when her father died in January 1354. [11] Unfortunately, her proof of age no longer exists.

Sometime before May 1365, Joan had married Henry, Lord Percy, who was thirty years her senior, born sometime in the early 1320s; his date of birth isn't known, but his father was born in 1301 or 1302, and Henry's eldest child Henry Percy, created first earl of Northumberland in 1377, was born in 1341. His second son was Thomas Percy, born c. 1343/44, who was made earl of Worcester in 1397. Henry the elder (b. early 1320s) had married Mary of Lancaster, sixth and youngest daughter of Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, in 1334, and she died in September 1362. Joan Oreby's marriage had been granted to Philippa of Hainault, Edward III's queen, on 14 April 1356, so perhaps she helped to arrange Joan's union with the widowed Lord Percy a few years later. [12]

Joan Oreby and Henry Percy had one child together, a daughter they named Mary, perhaps in honour of Henry's first, Lancastrian wife; if so, I think that's lovely. Mary Percy was born at Warkworth Castle, Northumberland on 12 March 1368, the feast of St Gregory. Her proof of age was taken in June 1382, and wrongly identifies her as daughter and heir of Sir John Oreby, who in fact was her grandfather and who had died in January 1354. [13] One of the jurors in 1382 was Adam Hikesman, "aged 38 years and more," whose testimony stated that "a fortnight before the birth a ruinous stable in which he was standing was blown down by a storm of wind, and a beam fell and broke his head almost to the brain. So a fortnight later he came to the leech at Werkworth to have his head cured, and saw the said Mary at the door of the church prepared to undergo the sacrament of baptism there."

Mary's father Henry Percy was about forty-seven when she was born, and was already a grandfather: Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, first son of Henry Percy born in 1341, was born in 1364. Mary Percy, therefore, was four years younger than her half-nephew. She was obviously more than young enough to be the daughter of her half-brothers Henry and Thomas Percy, who were both well over twenty years older than she, and her mother Joan Oreby was a decade younger than her stepson the future earl of Northumberland.

Henry, Lord Percy died on 18 May 1368, less than ten weeks after the birth of his daughter. On 29 July that year, Edward III gave the widowed Joan Percy née Oreby's marriage rights to Richard Stury. [14] Sadly, Joan Oreby died on 29 or 30 July 1369, and her mother Margaret, widow of Sir John Oreby, outlived her only by a few weeks and died on 28 August or 4 September 1369 (either 'the eve of the Decollation of St John last' or the Tuesday after it). [15] I wonder if they were victims of the third great outbreak of the Black Death that year? Joan was probably only eighteen years old when she passed away; what a shame, and poor Mary Percy lost both her parents and her grandmother when she was a year old. Her Oreby grandfather had died in 1354, and her Percy grandparents in 1352 and 1365. This breaks my heart a little bit. Looking on the bright side, though, Mary's will shows how close she was to her much older half-brother the first earl of Northumberland, and to other members of the Percy family. And although Mary was just a few weeks old when her father died, he cared enough about her to leave her a book, his 'green primer', which she mentioned in her will (meum primerium viride quod quondam fuit domini patris mei), and also in her will she mentioned the tomb of her grandmother Margaret Oreby in Boston, so although Mary lost all her close family when she was only a baby, obviously someone told her who they all were.

As the sole heir to the not insignificant Oreby estate in eight counties, Mary was in much demand as a wife. Edward III first gave custody of her lands and her marriage rights to Alan Buxhill on 12 December 1369, but Alan soon sold them on to the king's mistress Alice Perrers. Edward III confirmed this sale on 12 May 1370. [16] Alice used Mary Percy's marriage to benefit her illegitimate son by the king, John de Southeray, who was born in the early 1360s or thereabouts, and the two married on 7 January 1377. [17] Mary was not yet nine years old, John perhaps fourteen or so. John's father the king died less than six months later, which had an immediate and disastrous effect on the young man's fortunes.

 Mary rejected her husband, deeming him beneath her in birth and status, and with the support of her half-brother, now earl of Northumberland, managed to get her marriage annulled. I do see Mary's point, but can't help feeling sorry for John de Southeray as well; it wasn't his fault that he was born out of wedlock and that his mother Alice Perrers was notorious and unpopular. Mary married a second husband, John Ros or Roos, son and heir of Thomas, Lord Ros of Helmsley ('Hamelak', as it usually appears in fourteenth-century records) in Yorkshire. The date of their wedding isn't recorded, but took place before 22 June 1382. Via his mother Beatrice, John Ros was a grandson of Ralph Stafford, first earl of Stafford (1301-72) and the great heiress Margaret Audley, and was a descendant of Edward I. John was probably born on 10 August 1365 or thereabouts; he was "eighteen years of age at the feast of St Laurence last" on 8 July 1384, and was two and a half years older than Mary and also a teenager when they wed. His younger brother and heir Thomas Ros was said to be twenty-four in January 1394, so was born c. 1369/70. [18] Ivetta, the wife of Geoffrey Scrope (d. 1340), who was granted John Oreby's marriage rights in 1338, is believed to have been a member of the Ros family.

Mary and John Ros received her lands on 22 June 1382 after Mary proved her age and after John did homage. [19] They were to have no children. John died at the age of twenty-eight or almost in Paphos, Cyprus on 6 August 1393 while returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, leaving his brother Thomas (wrongly called 'William' in his inquisition post mortem) as his heir. [20] John's body was returned to England and buried at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. He had made a will on 24 January 1392 before his departure to Jerusalem, in which he requested burial at Rievaulx and he left bequests to his wife Mary, his mother Beatrice Stafford (d. 1415), his sister Elizabeth, Lady Clifford (d. 1424), and 'Lady Elizabeth Arondell my aunt, a nun of Haliwell' (I'm not sure who that is). John appointed his brother-in-law Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, as one of the four supervisors of the will, and the will reveals that he took four squires, four valets and an unspecified number of grooms with him on his pilgrimage. [21]

Mary Ros née Percy, Lady Ros and Oreby, died in York on 25 August 1394, aged just twenty-six. On 10 July 1394, called herself 'Maria, Domina de Roos et de Orrby', she had made a long will in Latin which reveals her huge affection for her natal family the Percys and for her husband's Ros family. [22] She referred to her 'dearest brother, the lord earl of Northumberland', and also left items to John Ros's mother Beatrice and sister Elizabeth Clifford and, as John had done, to their chamberlain William Dymmok. Interestingly, the will mentions 'a book in French of the duke of Lancaster', which must mean Henry of Grosmont's treatise Livre de Seyntz Medicines of 1354, and which Mary left to Isabella Percy, obviously a relative, though I'm not quite sure who she is. She requested burial next to John Ros at Rievaulx.

Mary, her mother Joan and her grandfather John Oreby had no siblings, therefore it was a matter of some difficulty for the jurors of her inquisition post mortem to work out her correct heir(s). Her heir by blood to some of her manors was her fourth cousin, John de la Mare, citizen of London, whose great-great-grandfather William de la Mare was the younger brother of Mary's great-great-grandfather John de la Mare. Her other heirs were Maud Cromwell, her fourth cousin once removed, and Constantine Clifton, her fifth cousin once removed, if I've worked that all out correctly; co-heirs of the Tateshale family. Blimey. Kudos to the Essex and Suffolk jurors for knowing Mary's family tree so well; the jurors of other counties all admitted that they had no idea who her heir(s) was/were. [23]


1) CIPM 1300-07, nos. 163, 391.
2) CIPM 1327-36, no. 255; CFR 1327-27, p. 122.
3) CCR 1313-18, p. 501.
4) CPR 1327-30, p. 347; CIPM 1317-27, no. 579.
5) CFR 1327-37, p. 78; CPR 1327-30, p. 234.
6) CPR 1327-30, p. 543; CFR 1327-37, p. 127.
7) CFR 1327-37, pp. 410, 476; CPR 1334-38, p. 256.
8) CIPM 1336-46, no. 338.
9) CFR 1337-47, p. 367; CPR 1338-40, pp. 440-41; CIPM 1336-46, no. 505; CPR 1343-45, p. 226.
10) CIPM 1352-60, no. 105; CIPM 1377-84, no. 571; CFR 1347-56, pp. 374, 393-94.
11) CCR 1364-68, pp. 107-8.
12) CPR 1354-58, p. 369.
13) CIPM 1377-84, no. 656.
14) CIPM 1365-69, no. 242; CPR 1367-70, p. 146.
15) CIPM 1365-69, nos. 402, 406; CIPM 1377-84, nos 571-75; CFR 1369-77, pp. 58-59.
16) CPR 1367-70, p. 437; CFR 1369-77, p. 48.
17) Laura Tompkins, 'Mary Percy and John de Southeray: Wardship, Marriage and Divorce in Fourteenth-Century England', Fourteenth Century England X, ed. Gwilym Dodd (2018), p. 141.
18) CIPM 1384-92, nos. 32-52; CIPM 1392-99, nos. 407-16.
19) CCR 1381-85, pp. 144-45.
20) CIPM 1392-99, nos. 407-16.
21) Early Lincoln Wills, ed. Alfred Gibbon, pp. 70-71.
22) Testamenta Eboracensia, vol. 1, ed. James Raine, pp. 201-2.
23) CIPM 1392-99, nos. 513-22.

09 April, 2020

More Proofs of Age

Following posts here, here, here, here and here, some more examples of my favourite thing ever: fourteenth-century proofs of age.

- John of Aylesbury, kinsman and heir of Philip of Aylesbury, was born in Weldon Basset, Northamptonshire on 6 May 1334. One of his godfathers was Sir Ralph Basset (d. 1341), lord of Weldon, who was asked by Richard Reve during John of Aylesbury's baptism why John was not named after him or after his other godfather Sir Warin Latimer. Ralph Basset became so angry at this entirely innocent-sounding question that he hit Richard Reve on the neck. At John's proof of age on Thursday in Whitsun week, 1355, Richard Reve, now aged fifty-six, recalled his assault at the hands of a nobleman. John Dyre, born c. 1305, was in the household of Sir Warin Latimer in 1334, and Warin had breakfast with Sir Ralph Basset of Weldon after the baptism. Once the two godfathers had eaten, Warin and his household set off for Braybrooke also in Northamptonshire, and, as John Dyre recalled at John of Aylesbury's proof of age in 1355, "there was a great tumult and assembly of people for a certain robber called William Ade, who was taken at the wood called ‘le Lound’ by Braybrok, and the said robber was killed there at that time." At the proof of age in 1355, Robert Botiller, then aged about fifty, remembered John of Aylesbury's year of birth because his (Robert's) uncle Robert Jacob "was digging in the quarry of Weldon and the earth fell on him, whereby he was overwhelmed." Guy Watervill, also aged about fifty in 1355, recalled John of Aylesbury's year of birth because around the time that John's mother was churched after giving birth to him, jousts were held in the village of Weldon.

- John, son and heir of John Burghersh, was born in Ewelme, Oxfordshire on 29 September 1343, and proved his age there on 14 November 1366 when he was twenty-three. John Beek, aged about sixty in 1366, stated at the proof of age that on the day of John Burghersh's birth in 1343, he went hunting with John Burghersh the father, and "at a certain leap he broke his leg and has ever since walked lame." "Eustace Roser, aged 50 years, William Wayte, aged 56 years, Philip Grenefeld, aged 53 years, Walter Fairman, aged 54 years, William Motte, aged 50 years, Richard Smyth, aged 56 years, and Henry Houstwey, aged 56 years, agree and say that on the day of the birth they started with other neighbours of the countryside for Santiago."

Interesting to see a few residents of an Oxfordshire village setting off on pilgrimage to northern Spain together in 1343!

- Thomas, son and heir of John Larcher, was born in Bolton, Yorkshire on 19 August 1345, and proved his age in Pocklington on 10 October 1366. Richard Veile, aged fifty-six in 1366, remembered Thomas Larcher's date of birth because in the same month "he had three sons born of his wife." Yowza, triplets! Unfortunately, Richard did not specify whether any of the three infants survived the birth. Ralph Mikelfeld, aged sixty in 1366, remembered the date because in the same month, he married his wife Eleanor (or rather, Alianore), and Adam Fenton, aged fifty-six in 1366, remembered because in the same month, William Cotum killed William Mikelfeld in Pocklington.

- Edmund Mortimer, third earl of March, was born in "Langoyt in the parish of Leeswen, which is in the march of Wales" on 1 February 1352, and was the son of Roger Mortimer (b. November 1328), second earl of March, and the earl of Salisbury's sister Philippa Montacute. He proved his age on 2 April 1373, which reveals that his godfathers were Sir Peter Grandison and Humphrey de Bohun, future earl of Hereford, Essex and Northampton, born on 24 March 1342 and not yet ten years old at the time, who was the younger half-brother of Edmund's father Roger Mortimer. Edmund's godmother was Elizabeth Badlesmere Mortimer de Bohun, countess of Northampton, who was the mother of Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, and hence was Edmund's paternal grandmother. Baldwin Brugge, aged sixty in 1373, recalled the date because "he was at Langoyt on that day and gave to the lady Philippa, the earl's mother, a gold ring having in it a stone called 'dyamand'," i.e. a diamond.

- John, son and heir of William Mathewe, was born in 'Wynterborn Malruard', Dorset on 30 September 1361, and proved his age on 10 August 1384. "John Bromhull, aged 52 years, Robert Scot, aged 48 years, and John Stoke, aged 56 years, agree and say that towards nightfall on the said morrow of Michaelmas they met John Hobekyns, the child’s godfather, going towards the church, and asked him for news of the child’s mother, and he said that she had a son and that he was asked to be godfather, whereupon they went towards the house of the child’s father and met him, and he asked them to drink, and as they went towards his house the said Robert Scot fell on the highway and broke two of his right ribs. John Chipir, aged 64 years, John Coleman, aged 58 years, William Bridde, aged 54 years, and William Michel, aged 61 years, agree and say that on the morrow of the birth a tall tree called ‘Notebemtre’ growing on the highway there was blown down by a storm of wind on to a cottage of the said William Mathewe, so that the whole house was destroyed."

- Ivo Harleston, son of Margaret, daughter of Margaret, wife of Sir John de Wauton, was born in Cambridge on 11 April 1378, and was named after his godfather Ivo Zouch, chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Ivo's father was Roger Harleston, and Ivo proved his age on 27 January 1400 (and died in 1403). His cousin and co-heir Robert Pekenham was born in Dunton, Essex on 20 July 1378, and was the son of Margaret de Wauton's other daughter, Elizabeth. John Wattes, aged fifty-one in 1400, "heard on the Monday after Palm Sunday that Margaret was delivered of Ivo, and sent her a gallon of sweet wine...Thomas Caldecote, 59, and Thomas Skynnere, 70, were with Master Ivo Zouch, then chancellor of Cambridge University, in Trinity Hall, when Roger Harleston, the father, sent his servant John Dyne to ask Zouch to be godfather. John Broun, 48, ran in the afternoon to the house of Thomas Arwe, smith, to heat an iron rod with which the water in the font was heated for the baptism of Ivo in St. Clement’s church."

- Two sisters, the daughters and heirs of John Frechevyle and Beatrice Nettleworth, were Margaret Segrave and Isabel Ulkerthorp. Margaret was born on 12 May 1383 and Isabel on 20 January 1385, both in their grandfather William Nettleworth's manor of Nettleworth and both baptised in nearby Warsop, Nottinghamshire, and they jointly proved their age in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on 20 October 1403 when they were twenty and eighteen. Roger Somur, aged about sixty in 1403, remembered Margaret's birth because he "was in company with John their father at Pleasley Park, saw a sitting hare, shot it in the head with an arrow and sent it to Beatrice the mother of Margaret on the day of the birth; and on the day of Isabel’s birth William Netylworth, grandfather of Isabel, bought a black horse from him for 40s." Ralph Glapwell, aged forty-four in 1403, remembered because he "came to the house where Margaret was born on that day, and on the day that Isabel was born met a forester of Sherwood carrying on his shoulder a quantity of game, and he said that he was going to Beatrice who had borne Isabel on that day." William Chaumbur, forty-one, "was staying with the lady of Longford at Park Hall and bought a palfrey for her from a chaplain celebrating in the church of Warsop, and he was in the church and heard the parish chaplain baptising, and afterwards the chaplain told him that it was a daughter of John Frechevyle; and on the second occasion he heard Nicholas Goushyll, knight, saying at Chesterfield that Beatrice had given birth to Isabel and, John the father being dead, Margaret and Isabel were co-heirs." Ralph Cachehors, sixty, "on the first occasion was building a house at Woodthorpe when William de Netylworth, the grandfather, gave him a beam and told him of the birth; and he was at Nettleworth on the day of the baptism of Isabel and gave a hare to William the grandfather, who told him that his family had been increased because Beatrice his daughter had given birth to Isabel."

- Thomasia, one of the daughters and heirs of Sir Ralph Meynyll, was born in Derby on 6 January 1386, and proved her age on 19 February 1400. William Payne, aged forty-five in 1400, recalled the date because his wife Magote was one of the midwives at Thomasia's birth. Edmund Timley, aged fifty-five in 1400, remembered because he sold a grey horse to Ralph Meynyll on 6 January 1386, and Ralph told him that his wife (unnamed) had borne their daughter that day. Richard Hewstre, aged fifty in 1400, "rode to London to get various colours for his art on that day. Ralph asked him to buy various fowl for him, if they were for sale there, and told him that his wife had a daughter Thomasia on that day."

That last one is fascinating. In the middle of winter in 1386, a man rode all the way from Derby to London - about 130 miles - to buy 'various colours for his art'.

- John, brother and heir of Robert Derle, was born in Ashleyhay, Derbyshire on 7 February 1286, and proved his age on 18 August 1308. Sir Robert Dethek, aged about sixty in 1308, remembered the date because in January 1286 he and Henry Derle, father of Robert and John Derle, rode from Nottingham to Derle, and Henry "fell ill of the excessive cold" and died a fortnight later, shortly before his widow Alice gave birth to John. Simon Hopton, aged forty-eight in 1308, "says the same, and recollects it because Henry de Hopton his father was in company with the abovesaid Robert de Dethek and Henry de Derle on the journey from Nottingham to Derle."

- Edmund, son and heir of John Benstede, was born in 'Rosamunde' (?), Middlesex, on 2 July 1312, and proved his age on 15 July 1333. Roger Presthope, aged about fifty in 1333, knew the date because "in May of the said year he was injured in the head and right arm at the stone cross of Cherryngge [Charing Cross, London], by certain of his rivals, almost to death." Nicholas Beek, also aged about fifty in 1312, knew the date because "at the same time he was one of the household of Sir Louis of France and was sent into England to make provision against the coming of the said Sir Louis to Westminster, who was then coming to England and remaining there until the birth of the present king [Edward III], who was born on the feast of St. Brice the bishop then next coming [13 November 1312]."

The reference to 'Sir Louis of France' means Louis, count of Evreux (1276-1319), half-brother of Philip IV of France and the uncle of Edward II's queen Isabella, who was chosen as one of the infant Edward III's seven godfathers in November 1312. Louis arrived in England very early, months before Isabella gave birth, as his brother King Philip sent him to negotiate between Edward and the barons who had killed Piers Gaveston on 19 June 1312. I find it interesting to note that Nicholas Beek, a servant in Count Louis's household and presumably French (unless he was an Englishman who had settled in France) decided to stay in England and to make his home there, as he was still in England in 1333 when this proof of age took place.

- Henry, son and heir of Henry Whissh, was born in 'Brudenestret', Winchester, Hampshire, on 24 March 1334, and proved that he was now twenty-two years old in Southampton on 11 June 1356. John Url, aged forty in 1356, knew the date because he came to Winchester to work for the baker Robert Dymaund, and Robert's wife Agnes was Henry's godmother and told John Url about the boy's birth. John Marchaunt, aged fifty in 1356, married his wife Joan the year after Henry's birth, and "remembers the wedding well" (I should hope so!). The interestingly-named Valentine Hamond, aged thirty-five in 1356, "agrees and says that in the same year he submitted himself to be an apprentice of the art of a skinner." Richard Midhurst, aged forty in 1356, "agrees and says that in the same year he married a woman, Agnes by name, who was his wife for eighteen years and died four years ago." So here we see that Valentine became a skinner's apprentice at the age of thirteen (approximately) and that Richard married Agnes when he was about eighteen.

- Maud, daughter of John Stafford and the kinswoman and one of the heirs of Philip Somervill, was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire on 29 December 1340, and proved on 23 March 1356 that she was fifteen. Simon Wavere, aged fifty-six in 1356, knew the date because his wife Alice was buried in the churchyard in Banbury on the same day as Maud's baptism. John Lyndraper, aged sixty, stated that his sister Alice was hired as Maud's nurse, "altogether against his will" (he did not explain why).

- Katherine, wife of William Bermyngeham and one of the daughters and heirs of William atte Plaunke, was born in 'Berscote', Staffordshire on 6 January 1341, and proved on 3 July 1356 that she was fifteen. Thomas Morf, aged fifty-four in 1356, was in the household of Katherine's father William in 1341, and announced her birth to him. Philip Roo and William Emmesone ('Emma's son'), both about sixty, recalled Katherine's baptism because they saw her carried back from the church "to the manor of Berscote with singing and a great concourse of people praising God for her birth."

So there we have it, people rejoicing over the birth of a girl in 1341! Brilliant.