27 April, 2018

The Abduction of Margaret Multon by Ranulph Dacre, c. 1316

The following entry appears on the Patent Roll on 28 October 1317 (CPR 1317-21, p. 39):

"Pardon to Ranulph de Dacre for abducting by night Margaret, the daughter and heiress of Thomas de Multon of Gillesland [Gilsland], tenant in chief, a minor in the king's custody, from the castle of Warrewyk [Warwick]."

There were two branches of the Multon family: the Multons of Gilsland in Cumberland and the Multons of Egremont, also in Cumberland. Piers Gaveston's daughter and heir Joan (1312-25) was betrothed in 1317 to John Multon (b. 1308), son and heir of Thomas, Lord Multon of Egremont and a grandson of the earl of Ulster. Thomas, Lord Multon of Gilsland was born on or around 19 September 1281. [CIPM 1291-1300, no. 285; CCR 1296-1302, p. 560] He was one of the 266 men knighted with Edward of Caernarfon, prince of Wales, duke of Aquitaine, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu, on 22 May 1306, and married a daughter of Piers, Lord Mauley, who was granted his marriage on 21 August 1297. [CPR 1292-1301, p. 304] Sadly, his wife's name is not recorded. Thomas Multon died shortly before 14 January 1313 when the writ for his Inquisition Post Mortem was issued. [CIPM 1307-17, no. 452] According to the Complete Peerage, citing a record of the King's Bench, Thomas's daughter and heir Margaret Multon of Gilsland was born at Mulgrave Castle on 20 July 1300 when her father was still only eighteen, and was baptised four days later. Margaret was given livery of her lands on 30 October 1317 "as she has proved her age before the king," which was just two days after Ranulph Dacre was pardoned for abducting her. [CCR 1313-8, p. 504] Margaret Multon's birthplace, Mulgrave Castle, lay in Lythe near Whitby, Yorkshire, and belonged to her maternal grandfather Piers Mauley.

So there was Margaret, minding her own business in Warwick Castle, when along came Sir Ranulph or Randolf or Ralph Dacre. He was a few years Margaret Multon's senior, born around 1290 or 1294: he was said to be twenty-eight when his father William died in August 1318 and thirty when his mother Joan died in December 1324. [CIPM 1317-27, nos. 155, 574] (Yes, according to that evidence he only aged two years in six years! That's a useful trick!). According to the chronicle of Lanercost Priory, which is an extremely useful source for events in the north of England in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, when Thomas de Multon of Gilsland died his daughter and heir Margaret was already married to Robert son of Robert de Clifford, and they married near Appleby when Margaret was in her seventh year. [Chronicle of Lanercost, ed. Maxwell, p. 205] This is somewhat puzzling. I assume this means the Robert Clifford who was born in 1305 and later succeeded his elder brother Roger (b. 1299/1300, executed as a Contrariant in March 1322). Their father Robert, Lord Clifford was killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, and the Cliffords certainly were an influential family in Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire so it's not unlikely that they would have married into another influential northern family. The Lanercost chronicle goes on: "and in the life of the said Robert [de Clifford], Ralph de Dacre, son of William de Dacre, married the same Margaret, having a right to her through a contract concluded between Thomas de Multon, father of the said Margaret, and William de Dacre, before her former marriage." [Ibid.] The bit I really don't get is how Magaret Multon can have married Ranulph Dacre if she was already married to young Robert Clifford.

According to the Complete Peerage citing a King's Bench record, Ranulph Dacre and Margaret Multon were already married at Easter in Edward II's ninth regnal year, which was 11 April 1316. Warwick Castle, from where Dacre abducted Margaret, belonged to Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, who died on 12 August 1315. As his son and heir Thomas was then only eighteen months old, all Guy's lands and castles passed into the king's hands, which presumably was why Edward II accommodated Margaret Multon at Warwick Castle (as she was the heir of a deceased tenant in chief, by the rules of the era he was her legal guardian). When Dacre took Margaret from Warwick Castle, it was in the custody of the late earl of Warwick's executors. [CPR 1313-7, p. 664]

Evidently, Ranulph Dacre went to Warwick Castle at night and abducted Margaret, and presumably married her shortly afterwards; yet another abduction and forced marriage of a fourteenth-century noble heiress, along with Elizabeth de Burgh, her sister Eleanor Despenser, their niece Margaret Audley, and Alice de Lacy, countess of Lincoln. As with all the others, Margaret Dacre née Multon basically had no choice but to live with her abductor, now her husband, and to make the best of the situation. She gave birth to her first son William Dacre, named after his paternal grandfather, around 1319 (William was said to be twenty years old at Ranulph's IPM in June 1339), and had younger sons Ranulph (born in or before 1322), who was a parson, Hugh, who was the ultimate Dacre heir, Peter, and Thomas. William the eldest Dacre son inherited his parents' lands but died childless, whereupon they passed to the second son Ranulph and then to Hugh. As far as I can tell, Hugh was the youngest Dacre son but his older brothers Peter and Thomas died before he did, and it was Hugh who carried on the Dacre line; he died in 1383 when his son and heir William was twenty-six. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 229; CIPM 1361-5, nos. 60, 317; CIPM 1374-7, no. 119; CIPM 1377-84, nos. 971-3] Horribly, Hugh Dacre was suspected of murdering his elder brother Randolph the parson, whose heir he was, and sometime before 2 July 1376 was imprisoned in the Tower of London. [CCR 1374-7, p. 433] Margaret Dacre née Multon died on 10 December 1361 at the age of sixty-one, having outlived her abductor and husband by twenty-two years, her eldest son William Dacre by some months, and her younger sons Peter and Thomas as well.


sami parkkonen said...

This seems to have been an epidemic on these times. Quite strange and horrible.

Anonymous said...

It's particularly awful that they seem to get away without significant punishment as that hardly deters others from following suit.


Anonymous said...

Reading Ian Mortimer's Henry IV bio regarding his marriage to Mary Bohun (Chapter 2). Mortimer says according to Froissart, Thomas of Woodstock hoped to put Mary in a nunnery so that his own wife (Mary's sister) would get the whole of their joint inheritance, which he would then control. Do you happen to know if that's true or a bit of Froissart embroidery? And is that something that happened as frequently as abduction and forced marriage?


Kathryn Warner said...

Personally, I suspect that's a bit of Froissart embroidery. Thomas and Eleanor may well have hoped that Mary would take the veil, but they must have known that was wishful thinking. Henry and Mary's wedding took place at a manor belonging to Mary's mother Joan, who had helped to arrange the marriage, so I wouldn't consider it an abduction and forced marriage, no.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing that up.


Roger Hesketh said...

Abduction or rescue and elopement? On the balance of probabilities I think it is much more likely to be the latter.I also believe there could be a connection between this 'abduction' and that of Maud de Clare by John the Irishman. Whom I believe was not abducted with a view to forcible marriage but to reduce her capacity to protect the interests of her children following the death of Guy Beauchamp in August 1315.

Now we know with the benefit of hindsight that the purported marriage between the seven year old Margaret Multon and the two year old Robert Clifford did not take place in Appleby in 1307. If it had taken place it would have invalidated the subsequent marriages of both parties and bastardised their issue. It did not happen. What is interesting is that someone at the time wanted that to be the narrative. Someone had something to gain from that story being the accepted one. My best guess is that it was Margaret's Uncle Piers Mauley.

Margaret Multon was a good catch but I seriously doubt Robert Clifford senior would think she was sufficiently good a catch for him to wed his infant son to her in 1307. According to a paper read at Naworth Castle in 1879 by R.S. Ferguson entitled the 'Barony of Gilsland and it's owners to the 16th Century' the suggestion that Margaret should marry Robert Clifford did not come until just before her father's death in 1313. I suspect in reality it did not occur till much later as I doubt Clifford senior would have considered her a better match in 1313 than I suspect he would have done in 1307. Things changed after his death at Bannockburn.

Negotiations were at an advanced state before the death of Thomas Multon with William Dacre regarding his daughter's marriage. Margaret will have grown up with the expectation that Ralph Dacre was the man she was going to marry.

Roger Hesketh said...

According to Ferguson Margaret was taken to Warwick castle because the Clifford children were residing there under the guardianship of Guy Beauchamp Earl of Warwick. Margaret clearly cannot have been taken there before the death of Robert Clifford senior in 1314 and I suspect it was not until after the death of Beauchamp in 1315 that she was conducted there. According also to Ferguson she was taken to Warwick because the King had placed all the Clifford estates under the guardianship of Guy Beauchamp and the Heiress of Gilsland was considered the property of the Clifford estate.

I bet Margaret loved that. Heiress to a barony in her own right but being treated like a chattel. I have no real evidence to back this up but I suspect this was a plot put together by the uncles of the two parties concerned namely Piers Mauley and Bartholomew Badlesmere, uncle to the Cliffords. It was due to be a double wedding Margaret Cifford to Mauleys son Piers and Margaret to young Robert.

After the death of Guy Beauchamp the Clifford children were relatively unprotected and that is why I believe Maud de Clare was abducted by the Irishman in order to hold her incommunicado and prevent her initiating actions to protect them. John the Irishman I believe was acting under orders. From Badlesmere maybe? I know the Irishman was Ed's servant and Badlesmere was not yet steward of Ed's household but I do suspect a connection. Certainly Badlesmere was according to you one of the first people to be called to account for what had happened to Maud de Clare.

Also according to you Piers Mauley said Badlesmere had forced him to wed his son to Margaret Clifford. That was of course conveniently after Badlesmere had been executed along with young Roger Clifford and was unable to refute what Mauley had said. I do not believe that either. I think they were in it together for the financial benefit of each of them.

Young Randolph Dacre spoiled thing for them by rescuing Margaret. Margaret retained the Barony in her own name. Her husband was summoned to Parliament as Baron Dacre of Dacre in his own right. Her eldest son William did not even inherit Gilsland as she outlived him. In this she clearly had the example of her great grandmother Maud de Vaux to follow who held the same Barony in like manner. Dacre may not have been a Baron at the time he married Margaret but he was a man of substance and he inherited not just his fathers substantial landholding in Cumberland and Westmorland which included much of the old Barony of Kirkoswald but his mothers lands in South West Lancashire. It was a good marriage but no more than he could have expected and their two families had similar social standing.

Roger Hesketh said...

Ranulph served as Constable of Carlisle as his grandfather had and was appointed one of the English conservators of the truce with Robert Bruce in 1323 but was replaced in 1324 as he was in Aquitaine. In 1333 he was commander of the English forces at the Battle of Dornoch at which William Douglas the Knight of Liddesdale was captured.

I would like to say something in defence of Hugh Dacre if I may.He was the fourth son of Margaret and Ranulph. As a fourth son or even a third one you do not expect to be an heir to a barony but if misfortune should occur and elder brothers die you have to be prepared to step up to the plate and accept the responsibility that has been unfortunately thrust upon you. Now if that barony is on a border which even during peacetime is subject to attack by border reivers that responsibility becomes all the greater and the safety and welfare of your tenantry as well as that of your family is a very important consideration. Gilsland was ravaged by the Scots in 1333 perhaps as a reprisal to Ranulph Dacre sheltering Edward Balliol in Carlisle castle the previous year. So these risks were not just theoretical.

When Ranulph Dacre succeeded his brother William in 1359 initially all was well as his mother Margaret still held sway as Lady of Gilsland but when she died two years later it left a power vacuum. The third son Ranulph also then became Baron of Gilsland as well as Baron Dacre. The problem was he did not step up to the plate. He did not assume his responsibilities which are different if you are a Baron on either side of a disputed northern border than those if you are based in the home counties for instance. Ranulph Dacre became Rector of Prescot in SW Lancashire before he reached canonical age. His grandmother Joan Gernet held the nearby manor of Eccleston and presumably also owned the avowson of Prescot church. He was 15 at most and he did not relinquish the position of Rector until just before his death in 1375.

It was not his fault. He was just not raised to a martial life but by his actions continuing to ponce about being a churchman, whilst not relinquishing the barony to his brother, who was not shirking his responsibilities, he endangered peoples lives whilst starving those who were assuming that responsibility of funds. I can quite understand why Hugh with his cousin Nicholas Harrington stole his brothers cattle.

Whether or not he killed his brother or not I do not know. I have not been able to find any evidence he did. I did however manage to find who put up bail for him when he was banged up in the Tower. It was Sir James Pickering, Speaker of the house. I certainly believe he was capable of killing his brother. Killing priests ran in the family. Hugh was after all a 5th Gt. Grandson of Hugh de Morville one of the knights who slew Thomas Becket.

Roger Hesketh said...

Hugh fought in France and in Flanders. When Edward the third regained Hermitage castle from the Scots he gave the Custodian Elizabeth Maxwell the widow of William Douglas 'The Knight of Liddesdale' the opportunity to retain custody of it if she married an Englishman. She chose Hugh Dacre, who became commander of the garrison at the castle and later held it against besieging Scots.

Hugh married his eldest son William to Joan Douglas the natural daughter of one the Earls of Douglas. The records do not say which Earl and there were three Earls of Douglas during a brief time span. Other records say her name was Mary. Now the knight of Liddesdale had a daughter Mary who once stood hostage for him. I think it could possibly have been her instead whom William married given how strained Anglo Scottish relation were at that time.

Given the standards of the time I think Hugh did more good than harm. Certainly I think the Dacre tenantry would have thought so.

There is an interesting parallel to the younger Ralph Dacre's position. Nearly 400 years later in the same locality Prescot another 3rd son and priest had a similar dilemma. William Molyneau the 7th Viscount of Sefton was a Jesuit priest at Scholes just outside Prescot. He inherited as a 3rd son. Initially he gave control of his estates to his younger brother Thomas but when his brother died in 1756 he was ordered 'to cease parish duties and appear in his own rank',which he did. Perhaps it would have been better for Hugh Dacre's ongoing reputation if his brother had the foresight to do the same.

Just a little food for thought.