Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2003-04 > 1050659562

From: "Rosie Bevan" <>
Subject: Essex/Valognes/Fitz John
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 21:52:42 +1200

The Essex family details can be found in Complete Peerage, vol.10,
p.206; Sanders p.120, 139; DD p.449-451 and were further summarised on sgm
by Chris Phillips on 15 March 2001, as given below in quotation marks.

"Henry was the son of Robert of Essex by Gunnor Bigod (CP vol.10, p.206; on
Gunnor's family see
According to Round elsewhere ["Geoffrey de Mandeville", p.391], Robert was
the son of Sweyn, and Sweyn the son of Robert son of Wimarc, both Sweyn and
his father Robert having been sheriffs of Essex under William the

Henry de Essex was also Constable in 1152 the title of which came with the
barony of Haughley later called the honour of Perche [Sanders 120].

"1163 was the date when he [Henry of Essex] forfeited his estates when he
was defeated in single combat by Robert de Montfort, who had accused him of
treason. But J.H.Round [Essex Arch Soc. Trans. NS vol.3, pp.243-51]
suggested that he may have survived much longer, saying that that 'Jocelyn
de Brakelond professed to have seen him alive, at Reading, in later years'."

"Henry's wife was called Cicely [CP, citing Dugdale]. Miss Fry [Essex Arch
Soc Trans. vol.5, p.109] suggested she was the dau and heir of Robert son of
Bernard de Vere, but Round argued against this, and his conclusion was
accepted by CP, vol.10, Appendix J (p.112)."

"CP says that Henry had 3 sons (correcting the erroneous statement in the
first edition of CP that Agnes was his heir), citing Stow MS 935, no 97
[Monks Horton cartulary, British Library] and Dugdale's Monasticon vol.4,
p.82. Round, in the article mentioned above, names these sons as Henry,
Hugh, and Robert, a clerk. He says that Henry and Robert are mentioned in 2
charters of Henry of Essex confirming the foundation of Monks Horton (Add.
MS [British Library] 5516, fo.3). "

Further to the above, a charter to St Mary Clerkenwell, a nunnery
situated north west of the City of London, of the church of North Weald,
dated 21 March 1194, has Hugh, son of Henry of Essex, confirming a gift
by his mother Cecilia (unknown date), and his brother Henry (1186). Hugh's
charter, confirmed by Richard fitzNeale, bishop of London on the same day,
does not give any mention of a brother Robert. [W.O. Hassall, Cartulary of
St Mary Clerkenwell, (Camden Third Series; LXXI, 1949) nos. 27-30]. The
confirmation of Hugh would imply that Henry fitz Henry had died without
issue by 1194 and that Hugh had succeeded to the fee.

North Weald, and the five knight's fees associated with it, was held by the
Essex family in demesne of the Valognes barony. The holder of the Valognes
property after 1194 was Robert fitzWalter of Little Dunmow who held it in
right of his wife, Gunnor de Valognes. Their two daughters died without
issue and in 1235 the Valognes inheritance fell to the three daughters of
Gunnor's cousin, William de Valognes of Panmure [CRR, v.XV, no.1432]. An
error in DD p.450 has the entry for Henry de Essex, son of Henry of Essex
Cecily, holding five fees of Robert fitz Walter "de Valognes". It is
doubtful that he can be identified as son of Henry de Essex, but was rather
son of Hugh de Essex.

VCH Essex v. 4 p. 287, on the section for North Weald Basset, discusses the
paper written by J. H. Round, 'North Weald Basset and the Essex family',
E.A.T. N.S. xiv, 111-114, saying that Round suggested that the manor had
been brought into the family by Cecily, mother of Henry and Hugh of Essex.
The reason that it had not been confiscated with the rest of the de Essex
lands was because it was held by right of her inheritance. Details of family
are given thus

1236 Henry of Essex held 5 knights fees in Sutton, Springfield, Layer de la
Haye, Barningham and Ikenton of the barony of Valoines.

1244 Henry son of Hugh of Essex was involved in litigation concerning the
advowson of North Weald.

1254 Henry de Essex compounded with Lora de Baliol coheiress of the Valognes
barony for the customs and services due from his tenement in Benington
(caput of the Valoines barony).

1267/68 Hugh son of Hugh de Essex granted to Philip Basset and Ela Countess
of Warwick, his wife that they should hold North Weald for their lives from
him and the heirs of his body.

Baldwin son of Hugh de Essex granted Philip and Ela the manor of North Weald
and the 5 knights fees belonging to it.

Charters relating to these transactions are to be found in the PRO

PRO E 40/753
Letters patent of Edward I. approving the grant made by Roger le Bygod, Earl
of Norfolk and Marshal of England, and Alina his wife, daughter and heir of
the late Philip Basset, to Hugh de Essex of the manor of Toleshunt; which
grant has been made to remove the ambiguity in a demise of Northwelde manor
made by the said Hugh to Philip Basset in the latter's lifetime, and in
order that the said manor of Northwelde may remain to the Earl and Alina
without challenge of Hugh or his heirs.
Winchester, 4 January, 8 Edward I

PRO E 40/768
Grant by Baldwin, son of Hugh de Essex, for 100 marcs, to Sir Philip Basset,
of his manor of North Waude (North Weald), formerly his father Hugh's, the
advowson of the church there, and five knights' fees to it belonging,
whereof Sawhal de Springgefeld holds one in Springgefeld, William de Monte
Caniseto one in Legere de la Haye, the Knights Templars of Jerusalem two in
Sutton, Rocheford Hundred, all in Essex, and lady Isabella de Berninggeham
one in Berninggeham, Norfolk.

PRO E 40/774
Grant by Baldwin, son of Hugh de Essex, to Sir Philip Basset and lady Ela,
Countess of Warwick, his wife, for 100 marcs, of the manor of North Waude
(North Weald), formerly belonging to Hugh his father, with advowson of the
church and five knights' fees belonging thereto, held as specified in
E40/768, with reamainder to the next heirs of Sir Philip, if lady Ela die
without issue.

PRO E 40/798
Acknowledgment by Baldwin de Essex that whenever Sir Philip Basset shall
summon him he is bound to go to prosecute concerning Waude manor, if Sir
Philip be impleaded for the same, at the latter's cost; if he fail to do so
(except in the case of grave infirmity), he will permit Sir Philip to enter
on and hold his land of Westle.

A further charter shows that Hugh de Essex had a daughter Anne who married
Hamon le Parker.

PRO DL 25/1000
Hugh de Essex to Hamon le Parker, and Anne daughter of the grantor: Grant,
indented, of his land in the townships of Tolleshunt, Gynes in the parish of
Tollesbury, Salcott, Rivenhall, Laver (Lawefare), Walda, and Mary Hall in
Belchamp Comitisse: (Essex)

An inquisition was held for Hugh de Essex shortly before 28 Dec 1250 when he
was found to be holding the town of Rivenhall, Essex [CIPM 1 : no.184]. He
left a son and heir Hugh aged five. It's possible that there had been a
marriage to a descendant of Baldwin de "Oskerwicke' who had held Rivenhall
in demesne in 1212 [Red Book of the Exchequer p.476]. By coincidence the
manors of Rivenhall, Tolleshunt and Sutton had been held in chief by Swein
of Essex at Domesday, but were held in demesne by the family in the 1200s.

The above shows that Henry de Essex, the Constable, left male descendants,
and that Agnes his daughter, wife of Aubrey de Vere first Earl of Oxford,
could not have been his heir. She was holding 5 fees of the honour of
Haughley in 1206 in her widowhood, possibly representing her marriage
portion (which had probably been arranged before her father's downfall). As
the Haughley barony consisted of 50 knights' fees and the Rayleigh barony
had consisted of about 48-58, [Sanders 120, 139], this is a very small
proportion of the total. Most of it remained in the king's hands after
confiscation, although in 1205 Gilbert Stanford (Sanford?) answered for 13
fees "a sixth part" of the honor of
Henry de Essex and four and a half fees of the honour of Haughley [Red Book
of the Exchequer, p.748].

About the identity of Cecily, abstracts of charters in the PRO point to
further Valognes links

PRO E 40/3699
Grant by Agnes de Waloniis, to Gunnora de Essex', her niece and foster
child, of all the land and fee which she holds of the bishopric of Ely and
of Roger de Thorn, viz. Westley, Fulburn and Feversam, which William
Delmaneir holds, and the land called 'the land of the small hall;' to be
held by the service of two knights, which the said William will perform, and
a sparrowhawk yearly.
(Twelfth Century)

PRO E 40/3958
Grant by Peter, the prior, and the convent of Binham, to Gunnora de
Estsexia, for her life, or until she takes the veil, of land in Westleia
granted to them, in frank almoin, by Lady Agnes de Valoniis, and Robert de
Valoniis, her son. Witnesses:- John, the chaplain of the countess, Robert de
Ver, Geoffrey de berleia, and others (named): [Camb. Twelfth century.

The grant by the prior of the convent of Binham, Norfolk, which Peter de
Valognes founded about 1107, points to the identification of Lady Agnes de
Valognes as Agnes, sister of Payn and Eustace fitz John and widow of Roger
de Valognes d. 1141 of Benington, Herts., and mother of his sons and heirs,
Peter d.s.p.1158, and Robert d.1184. Because the gift is made with the
assent of Robert, the charter would appear to date after the death of her
eldest son in 1158 and
probably after 1163 when the Essex family lost its vast fortune. Agnes was
trying to provide for a younger daughter of the family. I would also suspect
that the interpretation of the word 'niece' is derived from the Latin
neptis, which was also used to mean granddaughter.

The lands which Agnes gave Gunnor de Essex are in Westley Waterless,
Fulbourn and Teversham (Feversam is a misreading), in Cambridgeshire, and
had been in the demesne of the Abbey of Ely probably from before the
conquest. The reason for two charters granting Westley, is that at some
after the first grant, it was transferred from Ely to the Valognes
foundation of Binham priory [VCH Norfolk, v.2 p.343]. Binham priory appears
to have tightened the conditions of the grant to a life tenure.

'The land of the small hall' which is mentioned in document E 40/3699 is
identified in VCH Cambs v.6 p.177, as land in Westley which was given to
Agnes by Ralph de Tony before 1126, citating Cat Anc. D. v. A
11090, and Farrer, Feud. Cambs, 50. The author of the article assumes that
the donee, was Gunnor, daughter of Robert de Valognes. However, in 1272
Baldwin de Essex granted a messuage in Westley and 1 carucate to Hugh de
Essex, and in 1307 Reynold de Essex sold a messuage and 70 acres in Westley
to Nicholas de Styvecle, retaining a life interest, and was still alive in
1321 [VCH Cambs. v.6 p.178]. The continued de Essex family holdings in
Westley clearly show that this Gunnora's heirs were male descendants of
Henry and Cecilia de Essex.

In addition to the five fees attached to North Weald, there is further
evidence of Valognes land in Hertfordshire passing to the Essex family in
the twelfth century - the manors of Hertford, Bayford and Essendon,
Hertfordshire, had been granted to Peter de Valognes when sheriff of
Hertfordshire by William I, and confirmed by Empress Maud to Roger de
Valognes, son of Peter. By 1154/5 these had passed to Henry de Essex [VCH
Herts. v.3 p. 501]. Held in chief, they appear to have been confiscated with
the rest of the Essex estates in 1163.

Taking the Valognes links into consideration, a reasonable conclusion is
that Cecilia was the daughter of Roger and Agnes de Valognes. This would
suggest that Gunnor has been misidentified as the daughter of Robert de
Essex by Keats-Rohan in DD 451, but was actually the daughter of Henry and
Cecilia de Essex, as well as the sister of Agnes, wife of Aubrey de Vere.
Onomastically it is a good match - Agnes the first born daughter was named
for Cecily's mother and Gunnor the second daughter was named for Henry's

The name Cecily appears to have originated from the fitz John family [CP
XII/2 : 271 n.(i)]. Circumstantial evidence suggests that John's wife
(Agnes' mother) may have been named Cecily. Before the Vescy marriage, the
fitz Johns' main landed interests were in Norfolk with John 'nepos Walerami'
holding land in Saxlingham of the abbot of St Benet of Holme [CP XII/2 :
269]. In 1205 a Norfolk fine between Eustace fitz John and the abbot of
Holme confirmed tenancy of land which had been held by his grandmother
Cecily and mother Ede [Barbara Dodwell, 'Feet of Fines for the County of
Norfolk for the reign of King John 1201-1215', (London : Pipe Roll
series v.XXXII, 1956) no. 156]. This Eustace is possibly a younger son of
Eustace fitz John. Curiously the tithes of the manor of Saxlingham formed
part of the foundation of Binham priory.

From the above information we can deduce the de Essex descent in North

1.Henry de Essex=Cecily de Valognes d. by 1186
2.Henry de Essex fl.1186, d.s.p.bef 1194
2.Hugh de Essex fl 1194 d. by 1227
3.Henry de Essex d.s.p aft 1254
3.Hugh d.1250
4.Hugh b c.1245 heir of his uncle
5.Baldwin de Essex had issue
?4.Anne=Hamon le Parker
2.Robert, cleric d.s.p.
2.Agnes de Essex b. 1151/2, fl 1206
2.Gunnora de Essex d.s.p.

This is the proposed reconstruction of the Valognes/Essex families based on
the above discussion.

1.Peter de Valognes d. c.1109, founder of Binham priory=Albreda de
2.Roger de Valognes d.1141=Agnes f. John
3.Peter de Valognes d.s.p. 1158=Gundred de Warenne
3. Robert de Valognes d.1184=Hawise
4.Gunnora de Valognes=(1) Durand de Ostilli d.1194
(2) Robert fitz Walter of
Little Dunmow
5.Maud f Walter d.s.p.=William de Mandeville
5.Christiana f. Walter d.s.p. 1232=Geoffrey de Mandeville
3.Philip de Valognes of Panmure
4.William deValognes
5.Christiana }
5.Lora } coheirs of the Valognes inheritance in 1235
5.Isabella }
3.Roger de Valognes
3. John de Valognes
3.Geoffrey de Valognes
3.Cecilia de Valognes=Henry de Essex
4.Henry de Essex
4.Hugh de Essex, had issue
4.Robert de Essex, cleric
4.Agnes de Essex=Aubrey de Vere 1st earl of Oxford
5.Aubrey de Vere 2nd earl of Oxford d.s.p.l 1214
5.Ralph de Vere d.s.p.
5.Robert de Vere 3rd earl of Oxford d.1221 had issue
5.Henry de Vere
4.Gunnor de Essex d.s.p.
2.William de Valognes
2 .Muriel de Valognes=Herbert de Munchensy
2. NN= Alvred de Athleborough

Comments welcome.




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