Maud (or Matilda) de Chaworth was born on 2 February 1282, the only child of Patrick de Chaworth and Isabel Beauchamp. Isabel, who died in 1306, was the daughter of William, earl of Warwick, and sister of Guy, earl of Warwick, who kidnapped Piers Gaveston in 1312.
Patrick de Chaworth was Lord of Kidwelly, in Carmarthenshire, South Wales, and died on 7 July 1283, probably aged about thirty. As his only child, Maud inherited his lands - and she was also the heiress of her childless uncle, Pain (or Payn) de Chaworth, who had died in 1279.
Maud was a rich heiress, with lands in Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan, Hampshire and Wiltshire. On her father Patrick's death, she became a ward of Eleanor of Castile; after Queen Eleanor's death, King Edward I granted Maud's marriage to his brother Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, on 30 December 1292: "Grant to Edmund the king's brother of the marriage of Matilda daughter and heir of Patrick de Cadurcis [Chaworth], tenant in chief, to the use of Henry his son..."
Probably in 1286, when Maud was four, her mother Isabel Beauchamp married Hugh Despenser the Elder, and had two sons and four daughters by him. Maud was thus the elder half-sister of the notorious Hugh Despenser the Younger. She married Edmund of Lancaster's second son Henry by 2 March 1297, when an entry in the Patent Rolls records a "grant to Henry de Lancastre and Matilda his wife..."
Henry of Lancaster was not only the nephew of the King of England, he was also closely connected to the French royal family. His mother was Blanche of Artois, niece of Louis IX, and Queen of Navarre by her first marriage. Henry's half-sister Jeanne (or Juana) was Queen of Navarre in her own right, and married Philip IV of France. Henry was thus the uncle of Edward II's Queen Isabella and of three Kings of France, the younger brother of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and first cousin of Edward II. He was probably a little older than Maud - his date of birth is assumed to be 1280 or 1281. They were about fourteen and fifteen when they married.
Maud bore Henry of Lancaster seven children, one son and six daughters. Their dates of birth are not known, and it's also fairly difficult to work out their birth order [but I've had a stab at it - see below]. Maud's only son Henry (usually called 'of Grosmont' to distinguish him from his father) was one of the great men of the fourteenth century: soldier, diplomat, and a great friend of his cousin Edward III, who made him the first Duke of Lancaster in 1351. Duke Henry wrote a devotional tract, Le Livre de Seyntz Medicines (the Book of Holy Medicines) completed in 1354. It's also full of lovely little snippets of information about Henry himself, such as his habit of stretching out his legs in his stirrups at jousting tournaments so that women would admire his calves, and how, although highborn women smelled nicer, he preferred kissing the lowborn, as they were more responsive (ie, they didn't slap him when he kissed them!)
I don't have the space to write much about Henry here - it would take an entire blog post to cover just some of his life - but I definitely recommend that anyone reading this finds out more about this fascinating man. :) Fans of Anya Seton's Katherine, especially - Henry was, by his wife Isabella Beaumont, the father of Blanche of Lancaster, who married Edward III's son John of Gaunt in 1359. Henry was probably born about 1310 or 1312.
Kidwelly Castle and Ogmore Castle were part of Maud's inheritance, and she and Henry may have spent much time here, and carried out some re-building at Kidwelly (there's an interesting article about the castle here). Henry had also inherited the Three Castles in Monmouthshire, White Castle, Grosmont and Skenfrith, from his father Edmund. Their son Henry was presumably born at Grosmont, hence his name.
As usual with married women in the fourteenth century, Maud de Chaworth mostly disappears from the records. Her brother-in-law Thomas of Lancaster was the great enemy of Edward II, and Maud lived long enough to see the rise to power of her half-brother, the younger Despenser. How she felt about all this is unknown. What kind of relationship she had with Despenser, or with her husband, is unknown. Even the date of her death is unknown. She was still alive on 4 August 1320, when the Chancery Rolls records a letter "to the sheriff of Southampton. Order to prohibit the bailiffs of Henry de Lancastria and of Maud, his wife..." According to the Close Rolls, she was dead by 3 December 1322, and was buried at Mottisfont Priory in Hampshire - she and Henry were patrons of the priory. She was forty, or just under, at the time of her death.
Maud is often described as 'Countess of Leicester' or 'Countess of Lancaster' but she wasn't; Henry was only created Earl of Leicester in 1324 and Earl of Lancaster in 1327, after her death. He played no role in the rebellion of 1321/22 that destroyed his brother, but was a significant figure in the deposition of Edward II and the events of 1326-1330. Henry never re-married, and died on 22 September 1345, in his mid sixties. He was buried at the College of the Annunciation of St Mary in the Newarke at Leicester, which he had founded in 1331; his funeral was attended by Edward III, Queen Philippa, and Queen Isabella. All but one of his seven children outlived him.
Daughters of Maud de Chaworth and Henry of Lancaster
Blanche of Lancaster, probably born about 1302 or a little later, the eldest daughter, and named after her father's mother Blanche of Artois. Before 9 October 1316, she married Thomas Wake, second Baron Wake of Liddell. He was born in 1297 or 1298, of a Lincolnshire family who also held extensive lands in the north of England, and was the first cousin of Roger Mortimer - their mothers were sisters. Edward II had intended Thomas to marry Piers Gaveston's daughter Joan, but evidently he wasn't keen to marry a girl so much younger (Joan was born in 1312) and who was the daughter of the King's dead favourite to boot, and married Blanche without royal permission. Edward II was furious, and fined Thomas 1000 marks, a huge sum. However, he came round and allowed Thomas to take possession of his lands before he was twenty-one, probably as a favour to Thomas's father-in-law Henry.
Thomas followed his father-in-law and supported his cousin Roger Mortimer and Isabella in 1326/27. However, he later turned against them, was forced to flee from England in 1330, and his lands were confiscated. Edward III later restored him to favour. He died on 31 May 1349, perhaps of plague.
Blanche and Thomas's marriage was childless, so Thomas's heir was his sister Margaret's daughter, Joan, the 'Fair Maid of Kent'. Blanche, about forty-five or forty-seven when Thomas died, lived as a widow for more than thirty years. She was one of the executors of her brother Henry's will (he died in 1361).
Blanche is most famous for her long-running, acrimonious, and occasionally violent feud with Thomas de Lisle, the Bishop of Ely, over a land dispute between their servants. Edward III took her side and confiscated the Bishop's estates, after de Lisle was accused of inciting the murder of one of Blanche's retainers and attempting to escape justice by fleeing abroad. (There's an article about de Lisle here, and Susanna Gregory's novel A Summer of Discontent covers some of the case).
The eldest child of Maud de Chaworth, Blanche outlived all her siblings and just about everyone else of her generation. She died shortly before 12 July 1380, in her mid to late seventies; born in the reign of Edward I, she survived into the reign of his great-great-grandson Richard II.
Isabel of Lancaster, Prioress of Amesbury, the Priory made popular by Edward II's grandmother Queen Eleanor of Provence and still hopelessly fashionable in the fourteenth century. Isabel is usually said to have been born in 1317 as one of the younger daughters of Maud and Henry; her Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry says she was the fourth daughter, but I'm not really convinced.
I'm tentatively placing her second in the list, born around 1305 or 1307, partly because the fact that she was named after her maternal grandmother suggests that she was the second daughter, and besides, she certainly can't have been born in 1317. In the spring of this year, she accompanied Edward II's sister Mary and niece Elizabeth de Clare on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, and it's doubtful that she was a baby or a toddler - it's far more likely that she was at least ten or twelve. Mary was a nun of Amesbury, and it's likely that Isabel was already living there by 1317.
Isabel became Prioress in 1343. Like Edward II's sister Mary, she seems to have had little vocation - she owned four hunting dogs, for example, gave and received expensive gifts, and had personal servants. And like Edward II's cousin Eleanor of Brittany, Abbess of Fontevrault (Eleanor was the daughter of Edward I's sister, Beatrice) she spent a great deal of time outside the cloister, on decidedly non-spiritual matters. Her father Henry had settled some property on her, which she administered herself. She used her family connections to secure privileges and concessions for the priory, and enjoyed a regular wine allowance from Edward III.
Prioress Isabel died sometime shortly before 3 February 1349, according to the Close Rolls. There's some more information on Amesbury Priory, and Isabel, here.
Joan of Lancaster, possibly the third daughter. She married, between 28 February and 4 June 1327, John, Lord Mowbray, who was born on 29 November 1310; Joan was probably about the same age. John's father, John, was horribly executed in York on 23 March 1322, and young John was imprisoned in the Tower of London with his mother, Alice de Braose, until late 1326 (Edward II showing a stunning lack of compassion towards a child, there.) A large part of his inheritance was granted to the younger Despenser - who was his future wife's uncle - but he was restored in 1327.
Joan and John Mowbray had two daughters, Blanche and Eleanor, and one son - called John, inevitably - who was born on 25 June 1340. John the son married Elizabeth Segrave, daughter and heir of Edward II's niece Margaret (daughter of his half-brother Thomas of Brotherton), who was born on 25 October 1338; their son Thomas, born 1366, became the first Duke of Norfolk in 1399.
Joan of Lancaster died, probably only in her early thirties, sometime before August 1344, the date when John Mowbray married his second wife Elizabeth de Vere, sister of the Earl of Oxford. John Mowbray died on 4 October 1361, a few months after his brother-in-law Henry of Grosmont. Joan was the only one of Henry of Lancaster's children who pre-deceased him.
Maud/Matilda of Lancaster, possibly the fourth daughter. Between 1 May and 16 November 1327, she married William Donn de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, who was born on 17 September 1312. William was the son of Edward II's niece, Elizabeth de Clare (born the day after her seventeenth birthday), succeeded his grandfather Richard as Earl in 1326, and was by far the greatest landowner in Ireland. Their only child, Elizabeth de Burgh, was born on 6 July 1332.
Exactly eleven months later, Earl William was murdered at 'Le Ford' (Belfast) near Carrickfergus, apparently by some of his own men. He was only twenty years and nine months old. Countess Maud fled to England with her baby daughter, who on 9 September 1342 was married to Edward III's second son, Lionel. Lionel was more than six years Elizabeth's junior, born November 1338, but through her came into a vast inheritance of not only the lands of the earldom of Ulster, but a third of the de Clare inheritance of Elizabeth's paternal grandmother, Elizabeth de Clare.
In 1337, Maud of Lancaster managed to ensure that the Justiciar of Ireland was forbidden to pardon her husband's killers. She fought for her dower rights in Ireland and exerted some influence there. In 1344 she returned to Ireland with her second husband Ralph Ufford, brother of Robert, Earl of Suffolk; they had married sometime before the summer of 1343, and Ralph was now Justiciar of Ireland.
Unfortunately, Ralph fell ill and died on 9 April 1346. Maud fled to England again, with her little daughter Maud, born sometime after November 1345. She may well be the only woman in history to flee Ireland not once but twice, with a baby daughter in tow each time. Evidently, she wasn't too popular in Ireland, and the Dublin annalist gleefully describes her departure as 'slipping away furtively', leaving behind many debts, 'after only a brief spell of playing the queen in the island of Ireland'.
Ralph Ufford was buried in the Augustinian monastery of Campsey Ash in Suffolk (the sarcastic Dublin annalist describes his body as ‘this treasure, scarcely to be reckoned among saintly relics’) and shortly afterwards Maud decided to take the veil there. Ironically, it seems that her vocation for the holy life was stronger than that of her sister, Isabel the prioress. In 1364, she became a Minoress or Poor Clare, claiming that this had been her wish since childhood.
Her elder daughter Elizabeth de Burgh, Duchess of Clarence and Countess of Ulster, died on 10 December 1363. Her younger daughter Maud Ufford married Thomas de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who died in 1371 (the brother of Elizabeth de Vere who married John Mowbray, above). Maud was the mother of Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford (1361-1392), Richard II's favourite, and lived until 25 January 1413.
Maud of Lancaster died on 5 May 1377, a few weeks before her cousin Edward III, the second longest surviving of Maud de Chaworth's children. She was in her early or mid sixties.
Eleanor of Lancaster, probably the fifth daughter. I'm on safer ground here, given the date of Eleanor's wedding - she married John Beaumont between 1 September and 6 November 1330. He was born in 1317 or 1318, and I'd place Eleanor's birth at about the same time. John's father was Henry, Lord Beaumont, a kinsman of both Edward II and Queen Isabella, who adroitly changed sides several times between 1326 and 1330 and ended up on the winning side every time. John's mother was Alice Comyn, niece and heiress of the Earl of Buchan, and his sister Isabella married Eleanor's brother Henry of Grosmont (Lancaster), also in 1330.
Eleanor bore John (who succeeded his father as Lord Beaumont in 1340) a son, Henry, who married Margaret de Vere, yet another sister of Elizabeth and Thomas de Vere, Earl of Oxford mentioned above, and a daughter Joan, who I can't find much information about. John, Lord Beaumont was killed in a jousting tournament in Northampton on 14 April 1342.
Sometime later, Eleanor of Lancaster became the mistress of the Earl of Arundel, Richard 'Copped Hat' Fitzalan, who was married to her first cousin Isabel, daughter of Hugh Despenser the younger. Richard obtained a divorce from the obliging Pope, and married Eleanor on 5 February 1345, at Ditton church in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, in the presence of Edward III.
Eleanor and Richard had five children together, three sons and two daughters. Their eldest son Richard, Earl of Arundel was beheaded by Richard II on 21 September 1397, their second son John was Marshal of England, and their youngest son Thomas became Archbishop of York in 1388 and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1397. Their daughters Joan and Alice married the Earl of Hereford and the Earl of Kent respectively.
Eleanor of Lancaster died on 11 January 1372. Her son Henry Beaumont had already died, on 25 July 1369, and her son John drowned in 1379, but her other children, apart from the executed Richard, lived into the 1400s.
Richard died on 24 January 1376, and asked to be buried "near to the tomb of Eleanor de Lancaster, my wife; and I desire that my tomb be no higher than hers, that no men at arms, horses, hearse, or other pomp, be used at my funeral, but only five torches...as was about the corpse of my wife, be allowed."
The tomb of Eleanor and Richard still exists and can be seen at Chichester Cathedral. It inspired Philip Larkin's famous poem "An Arundel Tomb".
Mary of Lancaster, definitely the youngest daughter, born in the late 1310s or 1320. She married, on or shortly before 4 September 1334, Henry, Lord Percy, who was born in 1320 or 1321. Henry fought at the battle of Crecy in 1346, and served in Gascony between 1347 and 1349 under the command of his brother-in-law, Henry of Grosmont.
Henry Percy's mother was Idonea Clifford, whose brother Roger, Lord Clifford was executed in York on 23 March 1322, along with John, Lord Mowbray, above. (Clifford's Tower in York is named after him.) Henry's grandfather Robert, Lord Clifford was killed at Bannockburn in 1314. Henry's father was also named Henry, Lord Percy (1301-1352) and so was his grandfather (1273-1314).
So when Mary and Henry's elder son was born on 10 November 1341, there was really no choice about the name. However, this Henry Percy would be one of the most famous of all, becoming first Earl of Northumberland in 1377, dying in rebellion against Henry IV when he was well over sixty, and fathering Harry Hotspur.
There was a younger son of Mary and Henry: Thomas, first Earl of Worcester, born about 1343, who, like his father, served as a soldier in Gascony. He never married, oddly enough, though he lived to 1403, when he was beheaded after the battle of Shrewsbury. His nephew Harry Hotspur was killed during the battle.
Mary of Lancaster died on 1 September 1362, the year after her brother Henry, probably in her early forties. Her husband Henry Percy married again to Joan Orreby, had a daughter apparently named Mary after his first wife, and died on 18 May 1368.
Through their five children who had children, Maud de Chaworth and Henry of Lancaster are the ancestors of - well, just about everyone. Most British and European nobility and royalty, certainly. And countless millions of people alive today.