21 June, 2018

The Marriage of Philip Despenser (d. 1313) and Margaret Goushill (d. 1349)

Philip Despenser was the younger of the two sons of Hugh Despenser the Elder, made earl of Winchester in May 1322 and executed on 27 October 1326, and Isabella Beauchamp (d. shortly before 30 May 1306), and was the younger brother of Hugh Despenser the Younger. Philip died in 1313 long before his brother's period of power as Edward II's chamberlain and 'favourite', and it's interesting to contemplate what kind of role he might have played in Hugh's regime if he'd still been alive.

None of the dates of birth of Hugh Despenser the Elder and Isabella née Beauchamp's six children are known, but Alina the eldest was probably born about 1287, and Hugh the Younger about 1288 or 1289. Philip Despenser the second son and almost certainly the fourth Despenser child overall (behind Alina, Lady Burnell, Hugh the Younger, and Isabella, Lady Hastings), first appears on record on 24 June 1294, when Hugh the Elder granted him two manors in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and all his goods in them, and he may well have been born not too long before that. [E 40/3185; E 42/63; Close Rolls 1346–9, pp. 40, 223-4] Hugh the Younger, heir to all the sizeable Despenser/Basset inheritance, made a splendid marriage in May 1306 when he wed Edward I's eldest granddaughter Eleanor de Clare in the presence of the king. As Philip Despenser would not himself inherit anything*, his father arranged a marriage for him with Margaret Goushill, an heiress of Lincolnshire. Her father Ralph Goushill was a first cousin of Ralph, Lord Camoys, a long-term Despenser adherent who married Hugh the Elder's youngest daughter Elizabeth as his second wife a few years later.

* Though Philip's maternal uncle Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, made him heir to some of his lands on 12 April and on 6 and 25 June 1306. This never came about as Warwick, then childless, married Alice Toeni some years later and had a son, Thomas, born in February 1314. [Patent Rolls 1301-7, pp. 427, 441, 447]

Philip Despenser and Margaret Goushill married sometime before 29 June 1308, probably not too long before, on which date Edward II (then in Bristol waving Piers Gaveston off to Ireland during his second exile) ordered her late father's lands to be given to them. [Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244–1326, p. 275: "Mandate, as Philip le Despenser, who married Margaret daughter and heiress of Ralph de Goushull..."] Possibly Philip had recently turned fourteen when he wed, and Margaret was almost exactly the same age: she was born on 11 or 12 May 1294 (she was aged "half a year at the feast of St Martin next" in October 1294 and "aged one year on Ascension Day 23 Edward I"). She was born in a place called Whitington or Whittington, though there are several towns of this name in England and which Whittington was meant is uncertain; presumably the one nearest the county of Lincolnshire, where her family held their lands. Philip Despenser's Inq. Post Mortem says that Margaret was "17 on the day of St James last" in September 1313, which would give her a date of birth of 25 July 1296, but as her father Ralph died shortly before 30 August 1294 that is clearly impossible. [CIPM 1291-1300, no. 209; CIPM 1307-17, no. 472; CIPM 1336-46, no. 692] Ralph Goushill himself was born around 6 November 1274, so was not even twenty years old when he died. [CIPM 1272-91, no. 607] His widow Hawise née FitzWarin, Philip Despenser's mother-in-law, outlived him by half a century, and did not die until 1344.

Philip and Margaret's only child Philip was born on 6 April 1313 somewhere in Lincolnshire, and shortly before 24 September in the same year, Philip Despenser died, also in Lincolnshire. [CIPM 1307-17, no. 472] Most probably he had, like his father-in-law Ralph Goushill, barely even reached twenty years old, and, also like his father-in-law, died mere months after the birth of his only child. The younger Philip, born in 1313, married a woman named Joan, and they had a son Philip born in Gedney, Lincolnshire on 18 October 1342. Philip born in 1313, grandson of Hugh Despenser the Elder and nephew of Hugh the Younger, who were both executed when he was thirteen, died in August 1349 at the age of thirty-six, a few weeks before his son turned seven. His mother Margaret née Goushill died just a few weeks before he did. She had married her second husband John Ros, younger brother of William, Lord Ros of Helmsley in Yorkshire, before 22 April 1314; they had no children, and when John died in 1337 his heir was his elder brother William. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 182] The Philip Despenser born in 1342 had a son born around 1365. Bet you'll never guess what his name was.


Anonymous said...

Great post, but ... during that time, wasn't there anyone who had any imagination when it came to names for children?


sami parkkonen said...

The names were certainly a problem for people at that time I bet :-)
- Did you meet Hugh?
- Which one?
- The older?
- The younger.
- Ok but which Hugh?

One thing: I wonder how the Black Death influenced the upper classes. It arrived to England in 1346/47 and devastated large areas. I always wondered what was the impact on different strata of the society. Was there difference or did it influence all and everyone with same kind of results?

Kathryn Warner said...

Different times, different customs...the fourteenth century didn't prize creativity in choosing names, but in honouring one's parents and other close relatives by naming one's children after them. By the standards of the medieval nobility it would have been bizarre to pluck a name at random for one's child (one of the very few examples I can think of is Edward II's sister Elizabeth calling her youngest son Aeneas, but only after she'd chosen the conventional Humphrey, John, Edward, William...).

The Black Death arrived in England in the summer of 1348. One of its victims was (probably) Hugh Despenser the Younger's eldest son Hugh. aka Huchon, lord of Glamorgan.