21 July, 2009

In Which I Fail To Discover Any New Information About Edward II's Illegitimate Son

The existence of Edward II's illegitimate son Adam has been known to historians since 1964, when Professor F. D. Blackley discovered references to the boy in Edward's wardrobe account of 1322: Adam accompanied his father on Edward's disastrous Scottish campaign that year. The lad was openly acknowledged as 'Adam, bastard son of the lord king' (Ade filio domini Regis bastardo) or simply as 'Adam, son of the king' (Ade filio Regis). The account records five payments to Adam, presumably in his mid-teens or thereabouts, old enough to go on military campaign but young enough to have his tutor with him. The payments totalled thirteen pounds and twenty-two pence, and were intended for Adam to purchase 'equipment and other necessaries' (armatura et alia necessaria). The money was paid out to him in five instalments between 6 June and 18 September 1322 by John Sturmy, steward of Edward's chamber, either to Adam himself or to his tutor (magister), Hugh Chastilloun. Adam is usually assumed to have died on the Scottish campaign, perhaps of the dysentery which ravaged the English army, as he never appears again in any known source.

[All this information comes from F. D. Blackley's article ‘Adam, the Bastard Son of Edward II’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 37 (1964), pp. 76-77.]

The identity of Adam's mother is unknown, though presumably Edward had a reasonably serious relationship with her, as I can't imagine that he would have acknowledged her child as his own unless he was certain that he was the father - which of course implies that he knew her well enough and for long enough to be sure that she wasn't having sex with anyone else. Given that 'Adam' is not a name from Edward's family, presumably the unknown mistress was the daughter or sister of a man called Adam, or a man called Adam was the boy's godfather. I haven't a clue as to who this man might be - Edward had several servants with this name, including Adam of Lichfield, his lion-tamer. (?!) As Adam was about in his mid-teens in 1322 and thus born around 1305 to 1308, he must have been conceived when Edward was in his early to mid-twenties.

As Adam The Mysterious Illegitimate Son Of Edward II annoyingly seems destined to remain completely obscure - I can't find any references to him anywhere else at all - I've been trying to trace his magister Hugh Chastilloun, in the hope that his whereabouts before 1322 might give me a clue as to where Adam was, or that I might indirectly learn something about Adam. Equally annoyingly, though, Chastilloun proved a hard man to trace. Such as they are, here are the results of my investigation.

Firstly I found a Hugh Chastillon who was lord of the manor of Leckhampstead in Buckinghamshire, who died sometime between 1316 and 1323 - though obviously he can't have been Adam's tutor if he died before 1322. Hugh was the son of Richard Chastillon, who died in 1279 when Hugh was already of full age, which means he can't have been born any later than 1258. The family is mentioned a couple of times on the Fine Roll of Edward I's reign, with the name spelt Castilun and Chastillun. (There are approximately 342 different ways of spelling the name Chastilloun, which didn't make my quest any easier.) The Hugh Chastillon in question was summoned to a meeting of the king's council in September 1297, served against the Scots in 1298, and was summoned to parliament as a knight of the shire for Buckinghamshire in 1300 and 1301. He had at least two sons: William, rector of Leckhampstead, and Richard, who succeeded his father as lord of the manor. Richard, name spelt Chasteloun and Chastiloun, went overseas with Hugh Despenser the Elder in March 1319, and accompanied Despenser on the Scottish campaign in 1322. Richard and his brother William the rector were accused in May 1327 of stealing the goods of Sir Richard Talbot in Oxfordshire - the man who married Elizabeth Comyn in secret in 1326. If this man was the correct Hugh Chastilloun, I can't find him in any context which might provide a link to Adam, and possibly he was too old anyway - and he's very hard to trace after the beginning of the 1300s.

Secondly, a man called Hugh Castellon was appointed keeper of the manor of Kirkby Malzeard near Ripon in Yorkshire in the autumn of 1323, which had been forfeited to Edward II by John Mowbray (executed March 1322). Edward stayed at Kirkby Malzeard from 18 to 20 September 1323, and appointed Castellon keeper on his last day there. Castellon was still alive in the early 1330s, when he was accused by Mowbray's son and heir of stealing his goods in Kirkby and elsewhere. He may be the same man who was one of the mainpernors of the Contrariant John Mauduit in 1322 as recorded on the Fine Roll, where the name is spelt 'Hugh Castellion'. If he was the man who was Adam's tutor, I can't find any references to him before the early 1320s, and I have no idea who he was or what happened to him after the early 1330s.

And here are a few other possibilities that might provide a clue to Hugh Chastilloun's real identity:

- there' s a French town near Bordeaux, nowadays called Castillon-la-Bataille (Castillon-sur-Dordogne until recently), which in the fourteenth century was within the territory controlled by the kings of England. Maybe the mysterious Hugh Chastilloun came from there; the lord of Castillon was high in Edward II's favour, and accompanied him on his return to England in February 1308 after marrying Isabella: Edward came ashore from his ship in a barge, "Hugh le Despenser [the Elder] and the lord of Castellione of Gascony being in his company."

- the family name of the counts of St Pol in this era was Chatillon, also spelt Castellion or Chastilloun. The count of St Pol who died in 1307 was called Hugh de Chatillon, and his brother and successor Guy, who died in 1317, was married to Edward II's first cousin Marie of Brittany (daughter of Edward I's sister Beatrice).

- there are other French towns called Chatillon - Chatillon-sur-Indre, Chatillon-sur-Marne, Chatillon-sur-Loire, etc.

- and finally, Holt Castle in Denbighshire, Wales was sometimes called Castel Lleon in the fourteenth century, with Chastellyon or Chastellion as alternative spellings. Hugh Chastilloun might have come from one of these places, or none of them, might be one of the men I've named here, or someone else entirely.

So to sum up: have I certainly identified Hugh Chastilloun? Nope, not even close. Have I discovered any new information about Edward II's out-of-wedlock son? Nope, absolutely sod-all. Research is really frustrating sometimes.


Susan Higginbotham said...

Nice try, though!

Carla said...

Seconded - a nice try! And when assembling evidence a negative result is just as useful as a positive one, anyway. If you want to put Adam and Hugh de Chastilloun in your novel, you now know that very little is known for sure and you have a free hand.

Jules Frusher said...

Oh I can so sympathise - those tantalising little clues which in the end turn out to be either unproveable or complete red herrings!

But, even if the research has (this time) proved to be completely unfruitful - at least you know you've tried :-)

Ian M. said...

Excellent stuff, Alianore.
I attended a conference at Oxford two months ago to celebrate the career of a retiring scholar, and one of the papers was about an attempt to track down an elusive woman who may or may not have run a pharmaceutical practice in the early eighteenth century. It was brilliant - entertaining, educational (in that the researcher had to try EVERY avenue open to her) and very instructive as regards other medical and pharmaceutical practices of the time - but as for the subject of the enquiry it revealed absolutely nothing. Not a sausage. Research is very often valuable for its own sake - regardless of the intention at the outset. Keep up the good work!

Satima Flavell said...

Research is never wasted - we always learn something along the way. And it looks as if you really gave Adam and Hugh your very best shot!

Gabriele Campbell said...

Try that with Romans, lol.

But I agree, great work nevertheless.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, all! It was great fun to do all this research, of course, even if it hasn't led anywhere yet...and I haven't given up trying to trace the mysterious Mr C!

Kate Plantagenet said...

I agree totally with Satima. Research is never wasted. Yes it is frustrating, but this research may be a stepping stone to THE ANSWER.


Great stuff.

Anerje said...

Really enjoyed the article Alianore - so your research hasn't been wasted. I've often wondered why the boy was called Adam, and of course who was his mother. Once again, you've been very thorough in your research.

Anerje said...

Alianore - So until F. D. Blackley 'discovered' references to Adam in the wardrobe accounts, he was unknown to modern historians, yes? Once he had been 'discovered', were there any other references to Adam in earlier historical books or chronicles that any historian could track back through thanks to F. D. Blackley?

Anonymous said...

Could the mystery mother have been a Despenser? I'm sure I have come across an Adam Despenser somewhere.

Kathryn Warner said...

Yes, as far as I know, Blackley was the first person since the 14c to realise that Ed II had an illegit son. But no-one's yet found any other refs to Adam, so the 1322 wardrobe account is all we know about him. Agh! I've been looking for him, but without success, so decided to try Chastilloun instead.

Anon: yes, I think there was an Adam Despenser around at this time, but don't know how he was related to the famous Despensers. I tend to assume that Adam's mother was low-born, as if she'd come from a noble family and had become the king's mistress, I assume we'd know about it. But...I honestly don't know.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Margaret de Haudlo as wife of a Gilbert Chastelein. She was the step granddaughter of the Maud Burnell you mention in another post.

Rene' Thompson said...

Any chance one might get a hit off of christenings in the area? Adam tended to be an unusual name. And wouldn't Adam's mother receive some sort of large gift such as a home, especially for giving birth to an illegitimate first-born son?

Kathryn Warner said...

The problem is, there's no way of knowing where Adam was born, or when, even to the nearest year (sometime between 1305 and 1310 is the best estimate and even that isn't completely certain). The name wasn't really that unusual. And Edward's chamber accounts, which are the most illuminating source for gifts he gave, don't survive until the 1320s. There might be something in the chancery rolls if Adam's mother was rewarded with a house or land, but the reason for the land would never be stated outright, so it would be a case of looking through the rolls for a period of at least five years and speculating 'Woman X received land in Place X in 1306, or whatever, perhaps she was his mother'. But without corroborating evidence there's no way of proving it.