24 January, 2020

The House on the Strand (2): Henry Champernoune and the Carminowes

I'm on a real House on the Strand kick at the moment, after my post the other day about Sir Otto Bodrugan. Here's one about Otto's brother-in-law Sir Henry Champernoune, and two other fourteenth-century characters in the novel, the brothers Sir Oliver and Sir John Carminowe.

A pic of my treasured hardback, first edition copy of The House on the Strand. I love the evocative cover image.

Henry Champernoune is, apart from the dashing and attractive Otto Bodrugan, the most likeable male fourteenth-century character in Daphne du Maurier's novel, being a thoroughly decent and kind person. In his lifetime, Henry's last name often appeared in its Latinised form, 'Campo Arnulphi', and was also spelt Champernon, Champernoun, Chambernon, Chaumbernoun, etc. He was the son and heir of William Champernoune, whose inquisition post mortem was held in March 1305. [1] Henry was then said to be either aged thirty and more, or thirty-three and more, placing his date of birth sometime in the early or mid-1270s. From his father he inherited the manor of 'Trevelowan', where his nephew Henry Bodrugan was born in September 1311, Tywardreath, and two manors and two hamlets in Devon, including Ilfracombe.

Henry Champernoune and Joan Bodrugan's son William, presumably named in honour of Henry's late father, was said to be either sixteen or eighteen in 1329, and was therefore born around 1311/13 and was the same age as his Bodrugan cousins Henry, William and Otto. They also had a daughter, Joan, who married Nicholas Bonevyle or Bonville before 3 February 1329. Nicholas issued a deed, witnessed by Sir Otto Bodrigan and Sir John Carminowe among others, which was dated at his father-in-law's manor of "Tywardraith, Friday after the Purification 3 Edward III," i.e. 3 February 1329. [2]

Henry often appears in the chancery rolls being given commissions of oyer et terminer in Cornwall, and was one of the most important men in the county. On 3 November 1324, Henry was one of two men appointed by Edward II "to survey all measures" of wine, ale and corn in Cornwall, on the grounds that some merchants used measures smaller than the standard, "to the great deception and manifest loss of the people." On 29 April 1325, however, he was declared to be too "sick" to execute his duties and was replaced. [3] Henry died shortly before 8 May 1329 in his mid or late fifties, leaving his sixteen or eighteen-year-old son William as his heir. [4An entry on the Close Roll of 1436, over a century after Henry's death, helpfully clarifies his lines of descent. His son William had daughters Katherine and Elizabeth. Katherine died without children, and Elizabeth had a daughter Margaret, who had a son John Herle. Henry Champernoune's daughter Joan and her husband Nicholas Bonville had a son William Bonville, who had a son John, who had a son William Bonville. [5] Edward III granted a "[l]icence for Joan late the wife of Henry de Campo Arnulphi to marry whomsoever she will of the king's allegiance" (an exceedingly common licence) on 24 October 1331, and she was still alive in May 1334. [6] I'm not sure if she ever did remarry, though.

Turning to the Carminowe brothers Oliver and John, they both also sometimes appear as commissioners of oyer et terminer in Cornwall in Edward II's reign, and in fourteenth-century documents their name was spelt Carmino, Carmenou, Carmenowe, Carminou, Carmynou, Carmynowe, Carmenho, Carmynewe, Karmino, Kaermino, Kaermynowe and approximately 259 other ways as well. In The House on the Strand, Sir Oliver Carminowe is married to his second wife Isolda Ferrers and has two young daughters with her (and several children from a previous marriage who are not mentioned but not seen), and his brother Sir John is married to Joan(na) Glyn but is having an affair with Henry Champernoune's wife Joan(na) Bodrugan, a supremely unpleasant character. There were in fact at least four and perhaps five Carminowe brothers, the sons of Roger Carminowe, who died shortly before 20 December 1308. Roger's eldest son and heir was Oliver, said somewhat vaguely to be aged thirty and more in Roger's IPM of January 1309, which, if it's in any way correct and not just the jurors' best guess, would place Oliver's date of birth around the late 1270s. [7

An entry on the Patent Roll in June 1320 makes it clear that Oliver had younger brothers John, Richard and the oddly-named Mivan, and a sister named, inevitably, Joan. [8] (There were just too many Joans and Johns in fourteenth-century England.) Additionally, a "Roger son of Roger Carmenou" became parson of St Stadian in the diocese of Exeter in 1309, so there, apparently, is another brother. [9] Roger Carminowe's widow Joan (agh!), the brothers' mother or stepmother, was still alive in 1320, and that year Oliver was married to his first wife, Elizabeth. None of the wives of the younger Carminowe brothers John, Richard and Mivan are mentioned, so they might not have married yet. It may also be that Oliver and Elizabeth had no children yet, as the entry talks of "the heirs of their bodies, and failing such issue...". (though maybe they did and the grant just referred to the possibility of their children dying before Oliver). Somewhat confusingly, another entry on the Patent Roll in 1321 states that Oliver was the brother and heir of Roger Carminowe, not son and heir, though that may be a clerical error. [10]

The chancery rolls don't give the identity of Oliver Carminowe's first wife, but the Visitation of the County of Cornwall and P. L. Hull's very useful 1976 article 'Thomas Chiverton's Book of Obits' in Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries identify her as Elizabeth Pomeroy, and state that Oliver's first son and heir was named Roger after his father. In July 1344 there's a reference on the Patent Roll to "John son of Oliver Carmynou, the elder", so Oliver and Elizabeth had another son whom they presumably named after Oliver's next eldest brother. [11] As well as their sons Roger and John, Oliver and Elizabeth had daughters Elizabeth, who married Sir John Arundell, and Maud, who married into the Trevarthian family. The Arundel(l)s were a well-known family of medieval Cornwall, not to be confused with the Fitzalan/Arundel family originally from the Welsh marches, who became earls of Arundel in the late thirteenth century. The Visitation also gives the name of the fourth (or fifth) Carminowe brother as Minan - actually Minanus, but that's the Latin form. 

Unfortunately, there's a lot of terrible and incorrect information about the Carminowe family floating around online. A few sites say that Oliver's first wife Elizabeth was the sister of John Holland, duke of Exeter, which is impossible; Holland wasn't even born until the 1350s, was made duke of Exeter in September 1397 and was executed in January 1400, and his sisters, also born in the 1350s, were Joan and Maud. His mother was Edward II's niece Joan of Kent, also the mother of King Richard II (b. 1367) by her last marriage to Edward of Woodstock, prince of Wales. Joan herself was only born in 1326/27, so the idea that she could have a daughter mentioned in the chancery rolls in 1320 who was old enough to marry a man born c. the late 1270s is beyond absurd.

I haven't been able to find any inquisitions post mortem for the Carminowes, except for Roger's in 1308/09, until much later in the fourteenth century, and they don't appear in the chancery rolls all that often either. I also can't locate any record of Sir Oliver Carminowe's death. One of the last references I can find to him dates to October 1340, when he was exempted from being put on assizes or juries and from being appointed sheriff, coroner, mayor or escheator, almost certainly because of his age, as he was probably over sixty by then. In January 1341, however, he appears as a tax-collector in Cornwall. [12] Oliver's younger brother Sir John Carminowe died sometime before 26 January 1332, leaving a son named Walter, then under twenty-one, as his heir. Edward III granted custody of Sir John's lands and Walter's marriage rights to his brother John of Eltham, earl of Cornwall, until Walter came of age, but two months later Earl John gave the lands, custody of Walter himself, and the rights to his marriage to Walter's mother Joan(na), John Carminowe's widow. [13] Walter had a son, Ralph, who married Henry Champernoune's granddaughter Katherine Champernoune.

Sir Oliver Carminowe's first son and heir Sir Roger Carminowe had a son Sir Thomas, who had a son Thomas (not given the title of Sir in his inquisition post mortem), who died in November 1388 leaving his daughter Joan Carminowe, said to be three years old at his IPM in March 1389, as his heir. Thomas also left his widow, named Katherine. Joan Carminowe died on 21 February 1396, unmarried and still a minor in the king's wardship, and her heirs were her kinsmen John Arundell, grandson of Oliver Carminowe's daughter Elizabeth, said to be aged twenty-eight (so born c. 1368), and John Trevarthian, said to be aged thirty-six (so born c. 1360), son of Oliver's daughter Maud. [14] An undated indenture still exists between John Arundell and John Trevarthian dividing "the inheritance of Carmynouwe" between themselves. [15] Oliver Carminowe's two daughters with his second wife Isolda Ferrers, Margaret and Joan, whom we meet as characters in The House on the Strand, also married and had descendants.


1) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1300-07, no. 312.
2) Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, A.8921.
3) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, pp. 314-15, 344.
4) CIPM 1327-36, no. 209.
5) Calendar of Close Rolls 1435-41, p. 19.
6) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1330-34, p. 191; CIPM 1327-36, no. 569.
7) CIPM 1307-17, no. 141; CFR 1307-19, pp. 34-35.
8) CPR 1317-21, p. 449.
9) CPR 1307-13, p. 119.
10) CPR 1317-21, p. 561.
11) CPR 1343-46, p. 401.
12) CPR 1340-43, pp. 44, 118.
13) CPR 1330-34, pp. 242, 261.
14) CIPM 1384-92, nos. 666-67; CIPM 1392-99, nos. 615-16.
15) CAD, A.10409.

1 comment:

sami parkkonen said...

Once again, a truly fantastic info. I wonder how many of these people died because of the plague? I know that it hit some regions pretty hard and others not so hard but the plague, Black Death, made several rounds during the Medieval times so we know there were many deaths even after the Great Mortalis of the outbreak.