05 May, 2009

John Daniel and Robert de Micheldever

John Daniel and Robert de Micheldever were executed with the earl of Arundel in Hereford on 17 November 1326, without a trial, a few weeks after Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella's invasion force landed in England. The chronicler Adam Murimuth says Arundel, Daniel and Micheldever were beheaded "at the direction of Lord Roger Mortimer, who hated them with a perfect hatred, and whose counsel the queen followed in all things." [1] Murimuth gives Micheldever's first name as Thomas, which baffled me, because I couldn't find a single piece of evidence to prove that a Thomas de Micheldever even existed in the 1320s, though I did find plenty of references to a Robert de Micheldever and wondered if Murimuth had made a mistake. When I checked the printed edition of Murimuth, I found that different manuscripts of the chronicle give Micheldever's name either as Thomas or Robert. Chronicler Geoffrey le Baker used Murimuth as a source in the 1350s, and evidently saw a manuscript which calls Micheldever 'Thomas' and used this name. [2] Murimuth's modern editor also calls Micheldever 'Thomas'.

Micheldever's name was in fact Robert, as proved by a petition presented to parliament in about 1327 by "Alice, who was the wife of Roberd de Mucheldevere...who was beheaded at Hereford without judgement and without being arraigned." I'm sure Alice knew her husband's correct name. The fact that a 'Thomas de Micheldever' did not even exist in 1326 hasn't prevented everyone who's ever written about the executions, including myself here on the blog, calling Micheldever 'Thomas' without checking his identity. Oops.

The earl of Arundel himself, aka Edmund Fitzalan, was a supporter of Edward II and remained loyal to the king after Mortimer and Isabella's invasion. He was captured in Shropshire by John Charlton, Edward's chamberlain until 1318, whose son was married to one of Mortimer's daughters, and taken to the queen and Mortimer at Hereford. Charlton and Arundel were on opposite sides of a long-running and bitter feud over an inheritance in Powys, and Arundel and his kinsman Roger Mortimer - they were first cousins once removed - also loathed each other for reasons I don't have space to go into here. Geoffrey le Baker in the 1350s called Daniel and Micheldever Arundel's clerks, which they weren't, and Alison Weir in her biography of Isabella calls them the earl's "henchmen," which they weren't either. As these two men never, ever, ever get more than a passing mention anywhere, and Micheldever has to suffer the indignity of being called by the wrong first name, I thought it was high time someone researched them to try to discover why Mortimer hated them enough to have them beheaded without trial. Here's what I've been able to find out about them.

John Daniel

John Daniel was a younger son of John Daniel the Elder, lord of the manor of Tideswell in the wapentake of High Peak, Derbyshire, and Cecily le Seculer of Herefordshire, who was born in about 1252 and was the heir of her brother Nicholas. John Daniel the Elder died shortly before 14 April 1286, leaving as his heir his eldest son Richard, who was born in Wexford, Ireland, on 25 April 1274 - so was ten years to the day older than Edward II - and who died shortly before 15 December 1321. John Daniel was probably born in the mid to late 1270s. He had another brother, called Nicholas; John and Nicholas lent Richard £200 in May 1307, a very large sum. Richard Daniel was one of the men knighted with the future Edward II, Roger Mortimer, Piers Gaveston, Hugh Despenser and the rest in May 1306, though I don't know if John Daniel himself was ever knighted. [3] The name was often spelt Danyel or Daynel.

Richard Daniel granted his brother John lands in Herefordshire, to wit, "a moiety of a virgate of land and a plot of meadow in Wynstanton, [held] of the king by service of 9d for all service, and 35s of yearly rent in Hamfraieston by service of 5s rendered to the king yearly at the hundred of Wormeslowe," and he also held "diverse other lands of other lords by various services." [4] In August 1310, Daniel acknowledged a debt of £7 12s to Richard and Cecilia de Bere, and the following month was pardoned for the death of one Margery le Wolfhunte of Wormhill, Derbyshire, at the request of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey. Daniel's brother Richard, Richard's wife Joan de Knyveton, and Joan's sister Katherine had previously been indicted of the death. [5] In about 1316, Daniel presented a petition to Edward II's council, stating "that he brought the King's protection before William de Berford and his companions at the octaves of Trinity in the King's eighth year, and the suit between him and John de Hothum and Agnes his wife remained without a day until lately, at Pentecost in the King's ninth year, when John and Agnes made a false claim in Chancery that he was not in the King's service." [6]

By April 1319, John Daniel had been appointed keeper of 200 acres of wasteland in the forest of High Peak. [7] He was twice appointed as a commissioner of array, in Herefordshire in August 1316 and Worcestershire in March 1322, to raise footmen to go against the Scots. [8] On 15 February 1322, Edward II appointed Daniel to make inquisition in Herefordshire into the goods, chattels, jewels, armour, vessels of silver and other goods belonging to four of the king's baronial enemies, including Roger Mortimer's uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk. One of the men appointed on the inquisition with Daniel was none other than Stephen Dunheved. [9]

John Daniel did have other connections to Roger Mortimer. On 6 March 1326, Edward ordered him, with the Despenser adherent John Inge, to inquire in Herefordshire "touching adherents of Roger de Mortuo Mari [Mortimer] and of other rebels who are in parts beyond the seas." [10] Daniel was also appointed the keeper of Mortimer's Herefordshire manor of Pembridge, and in late 1325/early 1326 Edward II wrote to Mortimer's mother Margaret ordering her to go to the convent of Elstow in Bedfordshire, and appointed Daniel steward of the castle and lands of her manor of Radnor. Edward obviously changed his mind about sending Margaret to a convent, however, as in March 1326 he told her to repair the houses within Radnor Castle, and in April wrote that Margaret would keep the income from her lands and that she should pay Daniel his fee out of the issues. [11] Daniel was ordered on 12 October 1326, with a few others including Thomas de la Haye of the Dunheved gang, John Inge, Robert de Micheldever and Malcolm Musard, to select men-at-arms and archers and lead them to the king - one of Edward II's last, desperate and unsuccessful attempts to repel the invasion. [12] Daniel was apparently still with the king on 14 October, at Chepstow, when he acknowledged a debt of eighteen shillings and four pence to Robert Baldock, captured with the king and Hugh Despenser a month later. [13]

That's the last mention I can find of John Daniel before his execution, or rather, his murder seeing as he had no trial, in Hereford on 17 November. [14] The escheator in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Welsh Marches was ordered on Christmas Day 1326 to "take into the king's hand the lands late of John Daynel, deceased, tenant in chief." [15] I can't find anything to suggest that Daniel was associated with the earl of Arundel, and how he came to be with Arundel in Shropshire to be captured by John Charlton, I don't know. He was pardoned for murder in 1310 at the request of the earl of Surrey, who was Arundel's brother-in-law, though this seems a pretty tenuous connection. Daniel was keeper of two Mortimer manors and on two inquisitions involving Mortimer and his uncle, and presumably he acted in some way, or Mortimer thought he had acted in some way, to arouse Mortimer's hostility.

Robert de Micheldever

Micheldever is a village in Hampshire between Winchester and Basingstoke, and stood on the main London-Winchester road in the Middle Ages. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the vagaries of fourteenth-century spelling to learn that 'Micheldever' was written in a variety of exciting ways, from Mychedevre to Muchuldovere. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to discover who Robert de Micheldever's parents were, or anything about his natal family; a Ralph de Mucheldever lent money to Walter le Butler and Walter Russell of Winchester in 1297, and he may be Micheldever's father or brother or uncle, but that's just speculation. [16] The first reference I've found to him is in 1304, when one Jordan de Larkestok granted him a messuage, land and rent in Laverstock, just outside Salisbury. [17] In May 1321, Henry and Edith Burre of Salisbury enfoeffed Micheldever of a messuage, sixty acres of land, four and a half acres of meadow and sixteen shillings of rent in Laverstock and Winterbourneford, and the bailiwick of the forestership of Clarendon Forest in Wiltshire. [18]

Micheldever was accused in April 1311 of breaking into Edward II's manor of Clarendon and stealing timber, stones, iron, lead and other goods. [19] Ironically, Edward appointed him keeper of the manor, park and forest of Clarendon in July 1325, replacing Walter Gascelyn, who was probably the brother of Edmund Gascelyn, one of the men who joined the Dunheveds and temporarily freed Edward from Berkeley in 1327. [20]

Robert de Micheldever was described as Edward's valettus in April 1322, when he and a clerk were sent to Yorkshire "to search and view all the charters, writings and muniments in the castle of Skipton in Cravene affecting Roger de Clifford and others, and to certify the king of the tenor thereof." [21] Clifford had been executed in York the month before. In early March 1324, Micheldever was the keeper of "certain forfeited lands" in Gloucestershire, and was ordered to hand over Berkeley Castle and all the lands of the imprisoned Lord Berkeley to John Frelond. [22] Micheldever and Robert Holden, controller of Edward II's wardrobe and one of the few men who remained with Edward at his capture, were appointed on 5 August 1322 as keepers of the lands of the recently-deceased Sir John Somery, a royal knight accused of being 'more than a king' in Staffordshire in 1311. Micheldever received a shilling a day in wages; Holden, two shillings. One of the manors was Dunchurch in Warwickshire, which Stephen Dunheved had demised to Somery before abjuring the realm for a felony. [23]

Edward ordered Micheldever on 12 October 1326 to "levy all fencible men, horse and foot" in Wiltshire, and that's the last reference I can find to him before his beheading on 17 November. I don't know how he came to be with the earl of Arundel in Shropshire. I haven't found any connection between Micheldever and Arundel, or between Micheldever and Roger Mortimer. And I have absolutely no idea what Micheldever was meant to have done to have caused Mortimer to hate him "with a perfect hatred." Possibly he was just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his only 'crimes' were to be loyal to the king and in the company of a man Mortimer detested. For Simon de Reading, executed with Despenser the Younger at Hereford a week after Micheldever and the others, a vague charge of 'insulting the queen' was trumped up - though he was also given no trial - but Micheldever and Daniel were never accused of anything, at least, nothing that survives in any source. Mortimer's "perfect hatred" sufficed to condemn them.

The lands "late of Robert de Mucheldevre, deceased, tenant in chief of Edward II" were taken into the king's hand on 12 February 1327. [24] Micheldever's widow Alice petitioned parliament in about 1327, saying that Micheldever was "beheaded at Hereford without judgement, and without being arraigned" (fust decole a Herford saunz jugement et saunz estre areigne), and that his lands were in the king's hands and in the keeping of John Maltravers (son en la main n're seign'r le Roy et en la garde Mons'r Johan Mautravers). Alice asked for her rightful dower, and that their son, who was only eight, might not be disinherited. The response was: "It will be declared by the great men of the land whether he was put to death as an enemy etc." (Soit declare p' les Grantz de la t're s'il fust mi a la mort come enemi &c.) [25]

Robert de Micheldever's son was called John, named "son and heir of Robert de Mucheldevere" in 1343, when three men acknowledged that they owed money to him. [26] John de Micheldever was to be imprisoned in Winchester Castle with William Taillefer in August 1339 for "making unlawful assemblies and confederacies to disturb the peace," was pardoned for outlawry in November 1341, and was convicted in 1343 of receiving goods stolen at sea and of being an accessory to piracy. [27] Hugh Despenser the Younger would have been proud of him.


1) Adae Murimuth Continuatio Chronicarum, ed. E. M. Thompson.
2) Galfridi le Baker de Swinbroke, Chronicon Angliae Temporibus Edwardi II et Edwardi III, ed. J. A. Giles.
3) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1272-1307; Calendar of Close Rolls 1272-1279; Close Rolls 1279-1288; Fine Rolls 1319-1327; Close Rolls 1318-1323; Close Rolls 1323-1327; The National Archives; C. Moor, Knights of Edward I; Alfred John Horwood, Year books of the reign of King Edward the First.
4) Close Rolls 1330-1333.
5) National Archives; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1292-1301; Pat Rolls 1301-1307; Pat Rolls 1307-1313.
6) National Archives.
7) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348; National Archives.
8) Fine Rolls 1307-1319; Pat Rolls 1321-1324.
9) Fine Rolls 1319-1327.
10) Pat Rolls 1324-1327.
11) Pat Rolls 1324-1327; Close Rolls 1323-1327.
12) Close Rolls 1323-1327; Pat Rolls 1324-1327; Fine Rolls 1319-1327.
13) Close Rolls 1323-1327.
14) Daniel's inquisition post mortem is held at the National Archives.
15) Fine Rolls 1319-1327; Fine Rolls 1327-1337.
16) National Archives.
17) National Archives.
18) Pat Rolls 1317-1321; National Archives.
19) Pat Rolls 1307-1313.
20) Fine Rolls 1319-1327; Close Rolls 1323-1327; Pat Rolls 1327-1330.
21) Pat Rolls 1321-1324.
22) Fine Rolls 1319-1327.
23) Fine Rolls 1319-1327; Close Rolls 1318-1323; Close Rolls 1323-1327; Pat Rolls 1321-1324; Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348.
24) Fine Rolls 1327-1337.
25) Rotuli Parliamentorum ut et Petitiones, et Placita in Parliamento Tempore Edwardi R. III; National Archives.
26) Close Rolls 1343-1346.
27) Pat Rolls 1338-1340; Pat Rolls 1340-1343; Reginald G. Marsden, Select Pleas of the Court of Admiralty.


Susan Higginbotham said...

Fascinating! Great to have all of this information here!

Jules Frusher said...

Excellentto look into the lives of two relatively unknown (and in one case, misnamed) men. It's always good to see these minor characters - who were living and breathing human beings after all, get more recognition than just a hasty mention on the page of some text book.

As for Daniels - you're probably right that he did something to anger Mort while he was 'looking after' his manors. Maybe he broke his X-Box!

Kate Plantagenet said...

Love the "hated with a perfect hatred". Wonderful words. Will read this post through again; so much detail!


Gabriele Campbell said...

Roger is coming across pretty much as an Evil Overlord here. I'm going to execute these guys because I can. Mwuahaha