04 August, 2019

The Long Life of Margaret Hydon (c. 1278-1357)

A post about a woman whose existence I've only very recently discovered and who fascinates me! She lived so long that when she died, her heirs were her grandson who was almost forty years old, and her three great-granddaughters.

Margaret Hydon of Devon was born sometime before 23 April 1278 as the daughter and heir of Sir Richard Hydon, whose inquisition post mortem was held during Edward I's thirteenth regnal year from 20 November 1284 to 19 November 1285, and Isabella Fishacre. Margaret inherited lands, gardens and rents in various villages in Devon from her parents, and married Sir Josce or Joice or Joyce Dinham (or Dynham*) before 23 April 1292, when the couple are said to have held the Devon manors of 'Hydon and Clyst' from the recently-deceased Sir Hugh de Courtenay in Courtenay's IPM. Courtenay had sold Margaret Hydon's marriage rights to Josce's father Sir Oliver Dinham (c. 1234-99) on Monday, 12 April 1288 for £100. [1] As she and Josce were in possession of the late Richard Hydon's manors on 23 April 1292, Margaret must then have been of age, i.e. fourteen for a married woman, and therefore was born before 23 April 1278. Josce was the son and heir of Oliver Dinham, and was aged '24 and more' or '26 and more' at his father's IPM in March 1299, placing his date of birth around 1273/75. He inherited lands in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall from his father. [2]

* The name also sometimes appears as Dinan, Dinant or Dynaunt.

Margaret Hydon and Josce Dinham's first son John Dinham was born in Nutwell, Devon on 14 September 1295 when Josce was about twenty or twenty-two. [3] As Margaret must have been born in April 1278 at the latest, she was at least seventeen when she gave birth and was perhaps older. Her mother Isabella Fishacre was present at Nutwell when John was born, and a knight called John Vautort later recalled how, on the second day after John Dinham's birth, he saw the infant lying in his grandmother's lap. John Dinham was baptised by the chaplain of his paternal grandfather Oliver Dinham, who was then also still alive, and one of his godfathers was called Henry Daumfroun. He received a gold ring as a baptism gift from Sir Reginald Clifford. Margaret held a feast to celebrate her son's birth, and Sir Nicholas Kyrkham was one of those who received an invitation to attend, ten days after John was born. John Dinham's proof of age taken on 21 September 1316 also reveals that Margaret Hydon had a sister, name not provided, who married someone called Roger Novaunt; the sister and Roger sent a servant to Margaret with a present (also not specified) after John's birth. As the unnamed sister was not a co-heir to their parents' lands, and as she married a man of considerably lower rank than Margaret did, she was almost certainly an illegitimate daughter of Margaret's father.

Margaret gave birth to her second son Oliver Dinham perhaps in 1297/98, and both her sons had descendants; the Dinhams held Nutwell Court in Devon for centuries. She was widowed on 30 March 1301 when Sir Josce Dinham died in his twenties, having outlived his father Oliver by only two years. Josce died abroad; Edward I gave him, 'gone beyond seas', permission to appoint Margaret Hydon's maternal uncle Peter Fishacre as his attorney on 25 March 1301 just five days before Josce died, and on 26 December 1300 Josce had received letters of protection for 'going beyond seas'. The writ for his inquisition post mortem was not issued until 24 May 1301, implying that news of his death took a few weeks to reach England. [4] Josce's father Oliver, 'on account of his debility and his good service to Henry III and the present king [Edward I]', also appointed Peter Fishacre as his attorney on 5 April 1297, for life. Margaret 'late the wife of Joceus de Dynham' received her dower later in 1301. [5] She was to remain a widow for a good few years, though Edward I gave (or sold) the rights to her re-marriage to Robert Beauchamp on 20 July 1302 and then again to Warin Martyn on 28 July 1304. [6] On 2 August 1301, the king ordered Margaret to 'deliver the body of the heir of the said Joyce', i.e. her son John Dinham, to the executors of Edward's late cousin Edmund, earl of Cornwall (1249-1300), 'to be married'. Edmund's executors were also granted custody of two-thirds of Josce's lands; Margaret held the remaining third as dower. [7] John Dinham was not yet six years old.

Sometime before 24 January 1309 when she was in her early thirties or a little more, Margaret Hydon married her second husband Sir Gilbert Knovill(e) without the licence from the king - Edward II, by this time - that was necessary for tenants in chief and their widows. On that date, Edward ordered an official to seize Margaret's lands as she had married Gilbert without either his permission or the permission of Warin Martyn, who owned the rights to her marriage. [8] Gilbert Knovill was associated on a commission of oyer et terminer with Margaret's father-in-law Oliver Dinham in Devon on 8 May 1290, so she had probably known him for a long time, and he was active in the county where Margaret lived and where she held her own lands and much of her dower. He owned one manor in Devon, one in Somerset and one in Herefordshire. [9] Gilbert was much Margaret's senior; his son John Knovill from his first marriage was about forty years old in 1314 so was born around 1274 or so, and Gilbert was one of the men ordered on 14 July 1273 to travel overseas to meet Edward I, so was clearly an adult then. Gilbert's son was most probably older than Margaret or at least about the same age, so Gilbert himself must have been considerably older than she. Gilbert Knovill was very active on commissions of oyer et terminer and on military campaigns for decades, from the 1270s until June 1310 or a little later. His first wife Hawise was still alive on 22 November 1301. Margaret became a grandmother during her marriage to Gilbert: her son John Dinham's eldest child Joan was born in May or early June 1311 when John was still only fifteen. [10]

Gilbert Knovill died sometime before 7 May 1313, when a grant of land by Henry de Whyteleye to Margaret Hydon calls her 'Margaret who was wife of Gilbert de Knouill, knight'. On 27 July 1313, Edward II ordered three men to investigate a theft in a Devon park belonging to 'Margaret late the wife of Gilbert de Knoville'. [11] For some reason, however, Edward did not order Gilbert's lands to be taken into his own hands, as always happened when a tenant in chief died, until 1 February 1314. Gilbert's son John Knovill, aged about forty, received permission to enter his late father's lands on 8 May 1314. [12] The Complete Peerage suggests that the date of 27 July 1313 when Margaret was called 'late the wife' of Gilbert was an error for 27 July 1314, but the author failed to spot the grant of land to her on 7 May 1313 which makes it clear that she was already a widow then. Edward II had pardoned her stepson John Knovill for marrying 'Alice late the wife of William Basset' without his permission on 17 January 1309; marrying without asking the king first obviously ran in the family. Like Margaret's first husband Josce Dinham, her stepson did not survive his father for very long: John Knovill was dead by 23 January 1317, leaving his three daughters Cecily (then aged eight; she later married Peter Achard), Eleanor (five; later married John Duyn) and Amy (two; later married Thomas Ercedekne) as his heirs. [13]

Margaret Hydon was given permission by Edward II to go on pilgrimage to the shrine of St Edmund in Pontigny, France, on 18 July 1322. She married her third and last husband, Sir Peter Ovedale or Uvedale, sometime before 24 September 1324 when Edward II pardoned her - again! - for marrying without his licence, and restored her and Peter's lands. [14] In stark contrast to Margaret's second husband Gilbert, who was much her senior, Peter was much her junior. He was the first son of Sir John Ovedale and Mary de Campania, and was born in Saxilby, Lincolnshire on 9 August 1290. With his aunt Isabel Briddeshale, his mother's younger sister, he was named as one of the two co-heirs of his maternal grandfather Peter de Campania ('of Champagne'), a landowner in Lincolnshire, in early 1296. Peter Ovedale, named after his maternal grandfather, who was also his godfather, was the heir of his father, Sir John Ovedale, and inherited four manors in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Surrey when John died in March 1322. [15]

John Ovedale's IPM of April 1322 states that Peter was then 'aged 26 and more', which would seem to place his date of birth in c. 1295/96, but actually he was thirty-one going on thirty-two at the time; his proof of age confirms his date of birth as 9 August 1290, 'the eve of St Laurence, 18 Edward I'. At any rate, Peter Ovedale was at least a dozen years younger than his new wife Margaret Hydon, and was only five years older than his stepson John Dinham. When they wed in 1324, Margaret had already been a grandmother for thirteen years. As Margaret came from and held lands in Devon, as had her two previous husbands, it's rather interesting to contemplate how she came to know Peter, whose lands lay in distant Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. She must have been past her mid-forties at the time of their wedding, so it seems highly unlikely that Peter Ovedale expected to have any children from his marriage; he had a younger brother, John Ovedale, so perhaps was happy enough for their family's manors to pass to him. Peter had huge problems with his stepmother Isabel, his father John Ovedale the elder's third wife: he petitioned Edward II in or soon after 1322, stating that when he went to Surrey after his father's death but before the inquisition post mortem was held, "Isabel came into the church of St Margaret in Southwark with 23 armed men and assaulted him there and wounded his men." [16]

Peter had joined the retinue of Hugh Despenser the Younger on 30 August 1316, and there was talk that he might marry Hugh's widowed sister Isabella, Lady Hastings, for which he would pay Hugh 400 marks. His name was spelt 'Pieres de Ouedale' in the indenture. [17] For whatever reason, this planned marriage never took place, and Peter waited a few years before marrying (unless he married another woman who died, sometime between 1316 and 1324, but there's no record of this that I know of). Peter went to Gascony on Edward II's service during the war of St-Sardos sometime between 3 August and 24 September 1324, so was overseas when the king pardoned him for marrying Margaret without royal permission. [18] Sir Peter Ovedale died sometime before 2 May 1336 in his mid-forties. [19] Unfortunately no inquisition post mortem exists for him, though presumably his heir was his younger brother John Ovedale. Even though Margaret was at least a dozen years older than Peter and probably more, she outlived him by more than two decades.

Margaret's first son Sir John Dinham also married a woman called Margaret, whose identity is, as far as I'm aware, not entirely certain. Edward I gave John Dinham's marriage to Sir William Grandisson 'for the use of his eldest daughter' on 23 August 1301, though there's also a suggestion, from a doctoral thesis of 1998, that she came from the Botreaux or Boterels family. John Dinham, born in September 1295, was a very young father: his wife Margaret was purified on 7 July 1311 after giving birth to their eldest daughter Joan, meaning that Joan Dinham was born forty days (most probably, or possibly only thirty days) before that. [20] John Dinham therefore was a father at only fifteen years old, and Margaret Hydon became a grandmother in her early or mid-thirties. By the time she married Peter Ovedale in 1324, her eldest grandchild Joan Dinham was thirteen or almost. Margaret's son John and his wife later had sons John and Oliver as well before John died in 1332. In 1346, the younger Margaret, widow of John Dinham (1295-1332), sent a petition to the pope which talked of 'her legitimate sons, John de Dynham, knight, and Oliver de Dynham'. This would seem to imply that she had an illegitimate child or children as well, most unusually for a fourteenth-century noblewoman. [21] Margaret Hydon's grandson Sir John Dinham the younger, elder of John and the younger Margaret's two sons, born on 3 May 1319, was murdered by robbers on 7 January 1383.

As well as outliving three husbands, Margaret Hydon outlived both her sons John Dinham (1295-1332) and Oliver Dinham (c. 1297-1342), and died on 15 May 1357, aged at least seventy-nine and probably more. Her inquisition post mortem, calling her both 'Margaret Dynham' and 'Margaret Douvedale' (i.e. 'de Ovedale'), was held in Exeter on 8 June 1357, and her grandson John Dinham was said in it to be 'aged 30 years and more', though he was actually much closer to forty. He was heir to some of her lands; her great-granddaughters, Margaret aged nine, Ellen aged seven and Isabel aged six, children of her younger son Oliver's son Oliver (1325-51), were the others. [23] According to this site, Margaret was buried next to Peter Ovedale in St Mary's Church, Hemyock, Devon, in a chantry chapel they themselves had founded.


1) CIPM 1272-91, no. 590; CIPM 1291-1300, no. 31, p. 28; Cornwall Record Office, AR/37/5.
2) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 532.
3) CIPM 1317-27, no. 62.
4) CIPM 1300-07, no. 44; CFR 1272-1307, p. 441; Complete Peerage, vol. 4, p. 371; CPR 1292-1301, pp. 559, 581.
5) CPR 1292-1301, p. 246; CCR 1296-1302, pp. 457, 467, 502-3.
6) CPR 1301-7, pp. 46, 244; CPR 1307-13, p. 211.
7) CPR 1292-1301, p. 603.
8) CFR 1307-19, p. 36.
9) CPR 1281-92, p. 399; CIPM 1307-17, no. 434.
10) CPR 1272-81, p. 11; CPR 1292-1301, p. 582; CPR 1301-7, p. 3; CIPM 1327-36, no. 540.
11) Cornwall Record Office, AR/1/874 and 875; CPR 1313-17, p. 56.
12) CFR 1307-19, pp. 188, 197; CIPM 1307-17, no. 434.
13) CPR 1307-13, p. 150; CIPM 1317-27, no. 16; CIPM 1327-36, no. 260; CIPM 1352-60, no. 384.
14) CPR 1321-4, p. 181; CCR 1323-7, p. 223.
15) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 360; CIPM 1307-17, no. 421; CIPM 1317-27, no. 310.
16) The National Archives SC 8/331/15652.
17) Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, A.8019.
18) CCR 1323-7, pp. 223, 315; CPR 1324-7, pp. 17, 24.
19) Complete Peerage, vol 4, p. 372; vol. 12B, p. 199.
20) Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 132 (grant of John's marriage to Grandisson); CIPM 1327-36, no. 540: the proof of age of Andrew Braunche's proof of age mentions Joan Dinham's birth.
21) Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 114.
22) Cornwall Record Office, AR/37/11: a grant from Margaret the daughter-in-law to her son John Dinham, dated 'Wednesday Invention of the Cross, 14 Edward III', i.e. 3 May 1340, and stating that John is 'today of full age'.
23) CIPM 1352-60, no. 384.

1 comment:

sami parkkonen said...

Here is a story line for a great historical tv-series if there ever was one! You have kings and noblemen, love and romance, intrigue and plots, issues with the law and all kinds of stuff which could keep the audiences glued on for many episodes.

I just love these historical facts and specially when they show a woman surviving and actually doing fine in a world which was a dangerous one for every one. She survived all kinds of political upheavals and turmoil, she managed to deal with relatives and others and lived a very long life as wealthy woman. Just wonderful.

Her story also confirms that medieval women were not just tossed around like porcelain dolls and that women could not dictate their own life according to their wishes. I mean, getting married without the kings approval is not a tiny issue. It basically means that Margaret said: Right, I will marry this bloke here and pfft the king and his wishes. Not a thing to do unless you were willing to face the consequences. And she was.