18 April, 2020

The Orebys

A post about a little-known family of the fourteenth century, the Orbys or Orebys or Orrebys, who owned lands and manors in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Sir John Oreby married Isabel, sister and one of the three co-heirs of Robert Tateshale or Tatteshall; Isabel was either twenty-nine, thirty-eight or 'forty and more' in June 1306. [1] One-third of the sizeable Tatteshall inheritance thus passed to the Oreby family. John died shortly before 18 March 1329. [2] He and Isabel had a son, Philip Oreby, said to be the kinsman and co-heir of Robert Tateshale in October 1317. [3] Philip, however, died before John, sometime before 10 January 1327 when his widow Florence, daughter and heir of John de la Mare, was pardoned for marrying Nicholas Fraunceys without permission. Florence was aged thirty and more in August 1324. [4] Philip and Florence's heir was their son, John Oreby, whose marriage was granted to Geoffrey Scrope (chief justice of the King's Bench) on 3 February 1328. [5] This younger John was also heir to the elder John Oreby, his grandfather, and was a minor on 23 July 1330 when the custody of the older John's lands was given to Geoffrey Scrope. [6] John was still a minor on 15 July 1334 and 18 March 1336, and again on 6 May 1336 when he was named as a co-heir of Robert Tateshale and Geoffrey Scrope was mentioned as the custodian of his lands. [7] 

The proof of age of John Oreby or Orreby, 'kinsman and heir of Isabel, daughter [and sister] of Robert Tateshale', and son and heir of Philip Oreby and Florence de la Mare, was held on 19 February 1341. He was then twenty-two, and was born in West Witton, Yorkshire on Christmas Day 1318. [8] John received the lands of his recently-deceased mother Florence de la Mare, 'late the wife' of Nicholas Fraunceys, on 13 April 1344, and was knighted overseas sometime before 15 March 1340. By 23 April 1344, John had married a woman named Margaret. [9I haven't been able to find her identity, but given that John's marriage rights were granted to Sir Geoffrey Scrope, I assume she was a relative of his. Two of Geoffrey's daughters married into the Luttrell family and another daughter married into the Hotham family, and perhaps he had a fourth daughter who married John Oreby; or perhaps Margaret was his niece or a cousin's daughter.

John Oreby died on 17 or 20 January 1354 in his mid-thirties, leaving his widow Margaret. He had held the manor of Isleham ('Iselham') in Cambridgeshire from the earl of Arundel by service of, rather brilliantly, "sending to Heryngesmare a gammon of bacon fixed on a lance, for the use of the said earl, when he shall pass through the said place to war." This manor had come to him from his mother Florence, and her IPM of 1344 also states that she held Isleham "by service of sending to the said earl a gammon of bacon on a lance and a pair of gilt spurs, price 40d., at a certain place in Isleham called Heryngesmere, if the said earl shall come there in person and there is war in England, and not otherwise." John also held a fourth part of the Norfolk manor of Buckenham ('Bokenham'), including land at 'Dikhous' and pasture land at 'Hommedewe'.

John's heir was his and Margaret's daughter Joan Oreby, said in his inquisition post mortem of late March 1354 to be either three, four or five years old at the last feast of Whitsun, or 'three years and more' or 'five years and more'. [10] This would place her date of birth around 12 May in either 1348, 1349 or 1350, but Joan may in fact have been rather younger than her father's IPM suggests. She was given seisin of all her lands on 19 May 1365 after she proved her age, and as she was already married, she came of age at fourteen. This strongly implies that in fact she was born in May 1351, and therefore was only two years old when her father died in January 1354. [11] Unfortunately, her proof of age no longer exists.

Sometime before May 1365, Joan had married Henry, Lord Percy, who was thirty years her senior, born sometime in the early 1320s; his date of birth isn't known, but his father was born in 1301 or 1302, and Henry's eldest child Henry Percy, created first earl of Northumberland in 1377, was born in 1341. His second son was Thomas Percy, born c. 1343/44, who was made earl of Worcester in 1397. Henry the elder (b. early 1320s) had married Mary of Lancaster, sixth and youngest daughter of Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, in 1334, and she died in September 1362. Joan Oreby's marriage had been granted to Philippa of Hainault, Edward III's queen, on 14 April 1356, so perhaps she helped to arrange Joan's union with the widowed Lord Percy a few years later. [12]

Joan Oreby and Henry Percy had one child together, a daughter they named Mary, perhaps in honour of Henry's first, Lancastrian wife; if so, I think that's lovely. Mary Percy was born at Warkworth Castle, Northumberland on 12 March 1368, the feast of St Gregory. Her proof of age was taken in June 1382, and wrongly identifies her as daughter and heir of Sir John Oreby, who in fact was her grandfather and who had died in January 1354. [13] One of the jurors in 1382 was Adam Hikesman, "aged 38 years and more," whose testimony stated that "a fortnight before the birth a ruinous stable in which he was standing was blown down by a storm of wind, and a beam fell and broke his head almost to the brain. So a fortnight later he came to the leech at Werkworth to have his head cured, and saw the said Mary at the door of the church prepared to undergo the sacrament of baptism there."

Mary's father Henry Percy was about forty-seven when she was born, and was already a grandfather: Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, first son of Henry Percy born in 1341, was born in 1364. Mary Percy, therefore, was four years younger than her half-nephew. She was obviously more than young enough to be the daughter of her half-brothers Henry and Thomas Percy, who were both well over twenty years older than she, and her mother Joan Oreby was a decade younger than her stepson the future earl of Northumberland.

Henry, Lord Percy died on 18 May 1368, less than ten weeks after the birth of his daughter. On 29 July that year, Edward III gave the widowed Joan Percy née Oreby's marriage rights to Richard Stury. [14] Sadly, Joan Oreby died on 29 or 30 July 1369, and her mother Margaret, widow of Sir John Oreby, outlived her only by a few weeks and died on 28 August or 4 September 1369 (either 'the eve of the Decollation of St John last' or the Tuesday after it). [15] I wonder if they were victims of the third great outbreak of the Black Death that year? Joan was probably only eighteen years old when she passed away; what a shame, and poor Mary Percy lost both her parents and her grandmother when she was a year old. Her Oreby grandfather had died in 1354, and her Percy grandparents in 1352 and 1365. This breaks my heart a little bit. Looking on the bright side, though, Mary's will shows how close she was to her much older half-brother the first earl of Northumberland, and to other members of the Percy family. And although Mary was just a few weeks old when her father died, he cared enough about her to leave her a book, his 'green primer', which she mentioned in her will (meum primerium viride quod quondam fuit domini patris mei), and also in her will she mentioned the tomb of her grandmother Margaret Oreby in Boston, so although Mary lost all her close family when she was only a baby, obviously someone told her who they all were.

As the sole heir to the not insignificant Oreby estate in eight counties, Mary was in much demand as a wife. Edward III first gave custody of her lands and her marriage rights to Alan Buxhill on 12 December 1369, but Alan soon sold them on to the king's mistress Alice Perrers. Edward III confirmed this sale on 12 May 1370. [16] Alice used Mary Percy's marriage to benefit her illegitimate son by the king, John de Southeray, who was born in the early 1360s or thereabouts, and the two married on 7 January 1377. [17] Mary was not yet nine years old, John perhaps fourteen or so. John's father the king died less than six months later, which had an immediate and disastrous effect on the young man's fortunes.

 Mary rejected her husband, deeming him beneath her in birth and status, and with the support of her half-brother, now earl of Northumberland, managed to get her marriage annulled. I do see Mary's point, but can't help feeling sorry for John de Southeray as well; it wasn't his fault that he was born out of wedlock and that his mother Alice Perrers was notorious and unpopular. Mary married a second husband, John Ros or Roos, son and heir of Thomas, Lord Ros of Helmsley ('Hamelak', as it usually appears in fourteenth-century records) in Yorkshire. The date of their wedding isn't recorded, but took place before 22 June 1382. Via his mother Beatrice, John Ros was a grandson of Ralph Stafford, first earl of Stafford (1301-72) and the great heiress Margaret Audley, and was a descendant of Edward I. John was probably born on 10 August 1365 or thereabouts; he was "eighteen years of age at the feast of St Laurence last" on 8 July 1384, and was two and a half years older than Mary and also a teenager when they wed. His younger brother and heir Thomas Ros was said to be twenty-four in January 1394, so was born c. 1369/70. [18] Ivetta, the wife of Geoffrey Scrope (d. 1340), who was granted John Oreby's marriage rights in 1338, is believed to have been a member of the Ros family.

Mary and John Ros received her lands on 22 June 1382 after Mary proved her age and after John did homage. [19] They were to have no children. John died at the age of twenty-eight or almost in Paphos, Cyprus on 6 August 1393 while returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, leaving his brother Thomas (wrongly called 'William' in his inquisition post mortem) as his heir. [20] John's body was returned to England and buried at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. He had made a will on 24 January 1392 before his departure to Jerusalem, in which he requested burial at Rievaulx and he left bequests to his wife Mary, his mother Beatrice Stafford (d. 1415), his sister Elizabeth, Lady Clifford (d. 1424), and 'Lady Elizabeth Arondell my aunt, a nun of Haliwell' (I'm not sure who that is). John appointed his brother-in-law Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, as one of the four supervisors of the will, and the will reveals that he took four squires, four valets and an unspecified number of grooms with him on his pilgrimage. [21]

Mary Ros née Percy, Lady Ros and Oreby, died in York on 25 August 1394, aged just twenty-six. On 10 July 1394, called herself 'Maria, Domina de Roos et de Orrby', she had made a long will in Latin which reveals her huge affection for her natal family the Percys and for her husband's Ros family. [22] She referred to her 'dearest brother, the lord earl of Northumberland', and also left items to John Ros's mother Beatrice and sister Elizabeth Clifford and, as John had done, to their chamberlain William Dymmok. Interestingly, the will mentions 'a book in French of the duke of Lancaster', which must mean Henry of Grosmont's treatise Livre de Seyntz Medicines of 1354, and which Mary left to Isabella Percy, obviously a relative, though I'm not quite sure who she is. She requested burial next to John Ros at Rievaulx.

Mary, her mother Joan and her grandfather John Oreby had no siblings, therefore it was a matter of some difficulty for the jurors of her inquisition post mortem to work out her correct heir(s). Her heir by blood to some of her manors was her fourth cousin, John de la Mare, citizen of London, whose great-great-grandfather William de la Mare was the younger brother of Mary's great-great-grandfather John de la Mare. Her other heirs were Maud Cromwell, her fourth cousin once removed, and Constantine Clifton, her fifth cousin once removed, if I've worked that all out correctly; co-heirs of the Tateshale family. Blimey. Kudos to the Essex and Suffolk jurors for knowing Mary's family tree so well; the jurors of other counties all admitted that they had no idea who her heir(s) was/were. [23]


1) CIPM 1300-07, nos. 163, 391.
2) CIPM 1327-36, no. 255; CFR 1327-27, p. 122.
3) CCR 1313-18, p. 501.
4) CPR 1327-30, p. 347; CIPM 1317-27, no. 579.
5) CFR 1327-37, p. 78; CPR 1327-30, p. 234.
6) CPR 1327-30, p. 543; CFR 1327-37, p. 127.
7) CFR 1327-37, pp. 410, 476; CPR 1334-38, p. 256.
8) CIPM 1336-46, no. 338.
9) CFR 1337-47, p. 367; CPR 1338-40, pp. 440-41; CIPM 1336-46, no. 505; CPR 1343-45, p. 226.
10) CIPM 1352-60, no. 105; CIPM 1377-84, no. 571; CFR 1347-56, pp. 374, 393-94.
11) CCR 1364-68, pp. 107-8.
12) CPR 1354-58, p. 369.
13) CIPM 1377-84, no. 656.
14) CIPM 1365-69, no. 242; CPR 1367-70, p. 146.
15) CIPM 1365-69, nos. 402, 406; CIPM 1377-84, nos 571-75; CFR 1369-77, pp. 58-59.
16) CPR 1367-70, p. 437; CFR 1369-77, p. 48.
17) Laura Tompkins, 'Mary Percy and John de Southeray: Wardship, Marriage and Divorce in Fourteenth-Century England', Fourteenth Century England X, ed. Gwilym Dodd (2018), p. 141.
18) CIPM 1384-92, nos. 32-52; CIPM 1392-99, nos. 407-16.
19) CCR 1381-85, pp. 144-45.
20) CIPM 1392-99, nos. 407-16.
21) Early Lincoln Wills, ed. Alfred Gibbon, pp. 70-71.
22) Testamenta Eboracensia, vol. 1, ed. James Raine, pp. 201-2.
23) CIPM 1392-99, nos. 513-22.


sami parkkonen said...

Wonderful amount of knowledge!

I wonder was the knighting of 1340 somehow connected to the fact that Edward III declared himself as the king of France in Ghent 26th of January 1340? Perhaps. He usually knighted or rewarded men when there was some bigger occasion or feast.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Sami! That's a good idea. I do wish medieval records were more forthcoming, rather than just saying 'knighted overseas'. :P

sami parkkonen said...

What can you do? Some clerks were just lazy. When I was doing research for my novel of the Finnish cavalry men in the 30 years war Hakkapeliitat I found a small mention for three years they were occupying Silesia. "Ruthless maintenance warfare in Silesia." And that was all.

So I did some more digging and what I found was this: the Finnish hackapels, as they are sometimes called in English sources, laid waste the whole region. Half of the towns and cities and villages were wiped out and third of the total population killed in about three years. No wonder they were so feared and loathed in the Continent that even as late as 1800's in some areas of Germany children were told that if they did not behave the Swedish(= Finnish) riders would come and get them.