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From: (Brad Verity)
Subject: Amie de Gaveston Rebuttal - Part 3: Margaret de Clare
Date: 19 Jan 2003 01:31:40 -0800
PART 3 MARGARET AS AN ILLEGITIMATE MOTHER
Margaret de Clare's issue with Piers Gaveston was not excluded from
her Clare inheritance through any kind of entailment, and the evidence
given for Joan Gaveston's age strongly supports her being the daughter
born in January 1312. This is sufficient enough to conclude that Amie
de Gaveston was certainly not the daughter of Piers by his wife
Margaret de Clare.
The next likely possibility is that Amie was an illegitimate daughter
of Piers, but before that can be examined, a more outlandish theory
needs to be debunked that Amie could have been the illegitimate
daughter of Margaret de Clare.
The evidence for this is as follows:
A) Margaret and Piers would have needed to conceive their daughter
born in York in the spring of 1311, while Piers was fighting on Edward
II's Scottish campaign, and the campaign was too dangerous for Piers
to have brought Margaret with him. The daughter was then conceived
adulterously. This theory was proposed by Robert Todd (RT), with help
from Douglas Richardson, in his article on Amie in the Winter 2000
issue of The Plantagenet Connection (TPC).
B) Margaret was expected by the court to be at Wallingford Castle in
late December 1311, when Queen Isabella sent a New Years' gift to her
there. The fact that Margaret gave birth up in the Franciscan Priory
in York in early January 1312, implies she may have secretly traveled
there to give birth and place the illegitimate baby with the Friars.
RT presented this in his article on Joan in the Winter 2001 issue of
C) Edward II and Piers unexpectedly ran into Margaret at York in
January 1312, and the birth was celebrated by Edward II as Piers'
child in order for him to not appear cuckolded. Proposed by RT in TPC
D) Edward II withheld Margaret's dower after Piers' execution in June
1312 for seven years. She was granted lands only for her sustenance,
and did not receive dower until 1319. This suggests the king was
displeased with his niece, which could be due to her bearing an
illegitimate child. RT, from Winter 2001 TPC.
The last argument above, as well as the one below, can apply to an
illegitimate birth to Margaret after Piers' execution and before her
April 1317 marriage to Sir Hugh d'Audley. Douglas Richardson proposed
the theory that Amie was Margaret de Clare's illegitimate daughter
born during her widowhood, in the book Plantagenet Ancestry, 2nd
E) As an illegitimate daughter, Amie could assume the surname - de
Gaveston - of her widowed mother Margaret (de Clare) de Gaveston. The
statement that she was the daughter of Piers in the 1334 fine was
simply a public accounting of paternity, but all the participants
involved can be expected to have known the true situation of her
A) MARGARET'S 1311 CONCEPTION
John C. Parsons, in his rebuttal to RT's original article, pointed out
that many Plantagenet ladies, including Queen Eleanor of Castile,
accompanied their husbands on military campaigns and gave birth in
sometimes dangerous situations. He also pointed out that Edward II
moved the royal court up North throughout the entire campaign, in part
to avoid the Lords Ordainers who were busy putting together their list
of reforms in London and the south. Parsons does say, "We don't know
if Margaret was at Perth, where Piers was living in the early spring
of 1311, and it's unlikely that extant sources will clarify the
point." [TPC Summer 2001]
Two Calendar Roll entries, however, do prove Margaret was at Berwick
where the King was keeping court during the campaign, and where we
know Piers paid at least one visit in the spring of 1311. Also at
Berwick was another niece of the King, Joan of Bar, Countess of
Surrey, whose husband John de Warenne was the only other Earl fighting
in the 1310-11 campaign.
From Chancery Warrants: "Berwick on Tweed, 19 April 1311. Mandate, at
the instance of the king's niece Margaret de Gavaston, countess of
Cornwall, to make letters of pardon to Richard de Burdegala of his
outlawry in the city of London for certain felonies and trespasses, so
that he surrender to the king's prison of Neugate. 77(1931)."
"Berwick on Tweed, 19 April 1311. Mandate to cause inquisition to be
made whether Thomas Godefrey of Dudelington has passed the age of 70
years, as the king's niece Joan, countess of Warenne, has shown; and,
if it be so, to make letters for him that he be not put on assizes,
juries or other recognisances for life. French. 77(1932)."
Margaret and Piers were together in the spring of 1311 to conceive the
daughter born in York in January 1312.
B) FROM WALLINGFORD TO YORK
RT's discovery of Queen Isabella's household entry regarding Margaret
is an important find. Historians had previously thought that Margaret
had remained up in York in the autumn of 1311, while the King and
court returned to the south and Piers went into exile. The Household
Book entry does now show that Margaret returned south, too, and took
up residence at Wallingford Castle, the chief administrative seat of
The full entry is:
"EXPENSES OF J. DE MARNY INCURRED IN VARIOUS AFFAIRS OF THE QUEEN:
...To the same [John de Marny], sent a fourth time [his previous three
trips that regnal year had nothing to do with Gaveston or Margaret or
Wallingford] from Westminster to Wallingford to the Countess of
Cornwall with various precious goods to give them on behalf of the
said queen to the countess as her New Year's gift, and from the same
place [Wallingford] to Harewell to the lady Margaret, formerly the
wife of the lord Edmund earl of Cornwall, deceased, with letters of
the queen addressed to her, for his expenses going and returning for 6
days at the end of the month of December [of 1311], receiving each day
9d., as before, 4s.6d."
The Calendar Rolls show that Edward II ordered the resumption of
Piers' properties to the crown in mid-December:
From Fine Rolls: "10 December 1311, Westminster. The like [commitment
during pleasure] to the king's clerk, John de Hothum, of the keeping
of the houses in London late of Peter de Gaveston. By K. on the
information of W. de Melton.
"The like to William de Vaus of the castle of Knaresburgh. By K. on
the information of W. de Melton. Order to the sheriff of York to
deliver the same to him.
"The like to Edmund Bacun of the castle of Walyngford and the honours
of that castle and of St. Valery. By K. on the information of W. de
Melton. Order to the tenants to be intendant to him as keeper. Order
to the sheriff of Berks to deliver the castle to him."
We know that Edward II spent Christmas with Queen Isabella at
Westminster, but was at Windsor Castle on 1 Jan. 1312. Windsor was
closer to Wallingford than Westminster was, so either Margaret met the
King at Windsor, or he picked her up at Wallingford on his way up
north. Since there was no pressing need to travel up to York in
January, the plan must have been for Piers to meet the King up there,
where he would be much safer than the south of England, rumors running
rampant that Piers was hiding out in the south. Leaving Margaret and
her soon-to-be-delivered child in the south wasn't an option, so the
King, and a very pregnant Margaret, attended by Gaveston's nurse
Agnes, made a rapid journey from Berkshire to York in icy early
January. They arrived in time for Margaret to give birth to her
daughter probably between January 12th and 18th, when Edward II
entered York with Piers.
As for Margaret scrambling up to York on her own to give birth in
secret in a religious house, the Franciscan friary in York where
Margaret was churched in February 1312, was adjacent to York Castle.
From Medieval York' by R.M. Butler [Yorkshire Architectural and York
Archaeological Society, 1982]: "The Franciscans had an important
friary between Castlegate and the Ouse. It was founded in 1232 and
moved to this site in 1243. Its buildings must have been capacious and
not too austere, since the royal family stayed there when York was the
base for war with the Scots, and the parliament of 1322 was held in
its church. The garden included part of a former outwork or bailey of
the castle where its wide ditch has recently been sectioned."
Margaret had dozens upon dozens of remote religious houses to choose
from - many of which would not require a journey of over 200 miles in
December and January and did not have strong ties to the royal court
if secrecy was what really motivated her.
Margaret was in Wallingford in December to receive Queen Isabella's
gift, then traveled up to York with the King in early January. Her
being there was not to give birth in secret.
C) THE CELEBRATION OF THE 1312 BIRTH IN YORK
It was Pierre Chaplais, in his 1994 book on Piers Gaveston, who
presented the evidence that the imminent birth of his heir was what
motivated him to return to England from exile in January 1312.
Whether this was the primary motivator, or simply one of several
factors that induced his return is hard to determine. The VITA
EDWARDI SECUNDI, a very thorough and reliable source, makes absolutely
no mention of the birth in York. At any rate, thanks to Edward II's
household expenses surviving, as well as the Bridlington chronicle, we
know that Margaret's churching in February after the birth of her
daughter was quite a party, complete with minstrels. For those in
York lucky enough to attend it was no doubt a memorable event.
RT argues that it was all done in order for the public to believe that
the daughter born was actually Piers'. Paul Reed gave a very thorough
explanation to the newsgroup, with examples, of how medieval law at
the time held that a child born during a marriage was automatically
deemed the legitimate child of the husband. Had Amie been the
daughter born in 1312, she would have been a legal and legitimate
daughter of Piers and Margaret, and thus have qualified as an heiress
to Margaret's Clare inheritance. A case challenging her legitimacy
would have to have been brought to court, and would have been very
difficult to prove.
*A) The celebration surrounding the 1312 birth in York was not a sham,
but a genuine rejoicing at the birth of a child to Piers and Margaret.
*B) No matter who fathered her biologically, the daughter born in
January 1312 was a legal legitimate daughter of Piers and Margaret,
and thus could not have been Amie de Gaveston.
D) MARGARET'S CORNWALL DOWER
Piers was executed on Blacklow Hill on 19 June 1312, six months after
his daughter's birth in York. All his lands were considered forfeit
to the crown. Margaret seems to have temporarily been placed in Queen
Isabella's household during the summer. She was at Lincoln, maybe
originally to await the Parliament that was supposed to decide the
fate of her captured husband.
From Patent Rolls: "3 Sept. 1312, Westminster. Acknowledgment that
the king is bound to the mayor, bailiffs and commonalty of the city of
Lincoln in 200l., advanced to them as a loan by the king's command as
well to William de Boudon for the expenses of the household of queen
Isabella, as to Margaret de Gavaston, countess of Cornwall, as is
contained in a bill of the Wardrobe which they have delivered into the
Chancery, which sum is allowed them in the farm of their town, which
they are bound to render at the Exchequer. By bill of the Wardrobe."
Margaret's dower was a sticky issue for the King. The restoration of
the earldom of Cornwall and all his lands to Piers earlier that year
was in defiance of the Ordinances and not recognized by the barons.
Yet their execution of him was on extremely shaky legal grounds, and
the King never considered Piers a traitor. Negotiations between both
sides went on for over a year, and the King of France even sent his
brother Louis, Count of Evreux, in to mediate.
So assigning Margaret a third of the lands she had held with Piers as
earl and countess of Cornwall as dower would have been likely
protested by the barons, who saw the earldom of Cornwall firmly vested
in the crown. Fate intervened to provide an easy solution. Margaret,
former wife of Edmund, the previous Earl of Cornwall to Piers, and
ironically the aunt of Piers' wife Margaret de Clare, died in late
August/early September 1312. She had been granted properties in her
1294 divorce settlement for the remainder of her life that had been
part of the lands connected to the Cornwall earldom. The King took
these lands and granted them to his niece Margaret on 16 Sept. 1312.
They weren't officially her dower, as she and Piers had never held
them while her aunt was alive, but they were extensive enough to
provide Margaret with a very decent income as a widowed countess until
the situation with the Cornwall title and lands could be worked out
The temporary nature of the situation is reflected in the Calendar
From Patent Rolls: "20 Sept. 1312, Windsor. Grant to Margaret, late
the wife of Peter de Gaveston, sometime earl of Cornwall, tenant in
chief, of the castle of Okham. co. Rutland, and [snip of the list of
the remainder of the lands], to hold, during pleasure, for her
sustenance, and until the king shall make other provision for her.
By K., on the information of A. de Valencia."
"7 Oct. 1312, Windsor. Grant, until the king shall otherwise order,
to Margaret, late the wife of Peter de Gaveston, earl of Cornwall,
tenant in chief, of the knights' fees, and advowsons of the churches
and hospitals appertaining to the castles, manors and lands granted to
her, 16 September 1312, for her sustenance, viz. The castle of Okham,
co. Rutland, and [snip of the list of the remainder of the lands]."
A treaty was reached between the King and the barons on 20 Dec. 1312,
but Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, refused to adhere to it, and
negotiations dragged on throughout most of the following year, the
earls responsible for Gaveston's death finally receiving royal pardon
at Westminster on 14 Oct. 1313.
Margaret next appears in the Calendar Rolls in Feb. 1314, in the
presence of the king and her brother Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester, at
From Patent Rolls: "20 Feb. 1314, Canterbury. Licence, at the
instance of Margaret, countess of Cornwall, the king's niece, for the
prior and convent of St. Fredeswyde's, Oxford, to acquire in mortmain
lands, tenemants and rents to the value of 20l. a year. By K."
The death of her brother Gilbert that summer in the battle of
Bannockburn made Margaret a coheiress to the most extensive holdings
of property in England, second only to the crown properties. Margaret
accompanied the King on a progress from London to York in 1316, and in
December of that year, her land settlement was renegotiated. She
returned the manor of Burstwyk in exchange for other manors that had
been part of the holdings of her late aunt Margaret, former wife of
Edmund of Cornwall. This grant was now for the term of Margaret's
life, provided she did not marry without the king's licence.
Margaret's next marriage was perhaps already in the planning stages at
that time. It took place at Windsor Castle on 28 Apr. 1317, and the
new husband was Sir Hugh d'Audley, a knight of the king's household.
The Audleys were a prominent family from the Marches bordering Wales,
and were kin to the royal family. Margaret's new father-in-law, Sir
Hugh d'Audley the elder, was a trusted retainer of Edward II and had
been under Edward I as well. Shortly before the wedding, Margaret
officially surrendered back to the King all the lands he had granted
her during her widowhood. This was in order for him to re-grant them
jointly to Hugh, Margaret, and the heirs of their bodies, which he did
on 13 May 1317.
Sir Hugh d'Audley now found himself quite an extensive landowner with
these properties (Okham, etc.) from the old earldom of Cornwall, and
Margaret's third of the vast Clare inheritance was not even assigned
to them yet. Audley was summoned to his first Parliament on 20 Nov.
1317, where he and Margaret were given the list of and the right to
enter into the properties from the Clare inheritance assigned to them.
Audley was very much viewed as a member of the court party, those
household knights loyal to the King who were now reaping favors from
him as Gaveston had. Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, was the chief of the
barons who were jealous and wary of this new court party, and was able
to pressure Edward II to comply with the Ordinances. Edward II had to
resume into his hands in June 1318 the Cornwall properties (Okhum,
etc.) that had been granted to Hugh and Margaret jointly, as the grant
did not comply with the Ordinances. All of the properties were taken
back into the King's hands, and in July, Hugh had to pay a hefty fee
at the Exchequer to repossess the goods and chattels that were within
the properties. In Clipston outside York on 10 Sept. 1318, the King
ordered that the Cornwall properties (Okhum, etc.) be delivered back
to Hugh and Margaret. But they, probably wishing for a final
resolution to the Cornwall lands situation, proceeded to the
Parliament at York, and delivered the following petition:
From Close Roll: "That Hugh de Audele, the younger, and Margaret his
wife delivered in parliament at York in three weeks from Michaelmas,
in the 12th year of the king's reign, a petition to this effect:--Hugh
de Audele, the son, and Margaret his wife pray the king and his
council that whereas the king by his charter made before the
ordinances gave and granted, with the assent of his council, to Sir
Peter de Gaveston and the said Margaret, then his wife, the earldom of
Cornwall and the lands of Edmund, late earl of Cornwall, to have and
to hold to them and the heirs of their bodies, and whereof they were
seised long before the ordinances, and they had issue still living,
until after the earl's death the king re-seised the earldom and other
lands aforesaid into his hands, that it may please the king and his
council to render the earldom and lands to Hugh and Margaret as her
right, to hold in manner aforesaid, having regard to the Great
Charter, which wills that her inheritance and marriage shall be
rendered to a widow immediately after her husband's death, that no
one's right shall be delayed, and that no one shall be ousted of his
freehold without judgment of law, and to the second statute of
Westminster, which wills that lands given in tail shall remain to
those to whom they are given and to their heirs according to the will
of the donors. French."
This petition must have hit Parliament like a ton of bricks. It
debated it not just in the September session, but in the spring
session as well. Sir Roger d'Amory, married to Margaret's sister
Elizabeth, and Sir William de Montacute, were two other court party
members who'd been summoned to their first Parliament last year, just
as d'Audley had. The political influence of this group (which also
included the Despensers, father and son) was clearly on the rise. Now
d'Audley was petitioning to be made an Earl through his wife and given
control of all the Cornwall lands, which, added with Margaret's third
of the Clare inheritance, would make him a more powerful landowner
than Piers had ever been.
By December 1318, it must have been becoming clear that, for political
reasons alone, it was not likely Hugh and Margaret would get the
entire earldom of Cornwall. Edward II struck a deal with them.
From Patent Rolls: "4 Dec. 1318, York. Settlement between the king
and Hugh de Audele, the younger, and Margaret his wife, countess of
Cornewaile, of the claim made by them in their petition presented in
the present Parliament at York to the county of Cornewaile, and other
lands and tenements of which she had been jointly enfeoffed, by the
king's charter, with Peter [de Gaveston], her late husband (baron),
viz. in consideration of a release by them to the king of all claim to
the county, etc., he grants them for their lives lands to the value of
2000 marks a year, and in case she shall pre-decease the said Hugh,
lands to the value of 1200 marks a year shall remain to the said Hugh,
and the remaining lands to the value of 800 marks a year with the
knights' fees and advowsons thereto pertaining shall revert to the
The Cornwall lands (Okhum, etc.) that the King had already granted to
Margaret and Hugh were valued at 2000 marks a year, so it was now a
matter of waiting for Parliament's decision. In April, Parliament
answered to the petition for the earldom of Cornwall.
From Close Rolls: "Afterwards, in the parliament at York, in a month
from Easter, after the petition had been fully treated of in full
parliament, and because it was there recorded by the prelates, and by
the earls, barons, and whole community of the realm, that it was
agreed and ordained at another time [in 1311] by the prelates, earls
and barons, and by the whole community of the realm that all grants
made by the king to the said Peter and Margaret of the aforesaid
earldom and of certain other castles, manors and lands should be
revoked and annulled and extinct in the person of Peter and Margaret
and their issue, it was agreed by the aforesaid prelates, earls, and
barons, and the whole community of the realm that the earldom and all
other castles, manors, and lands shall remain to the king quit of the
aforesaid Hugh and Margaret and of the issue of Peter and Margaret,
and that the charters and writings made by the king concerning the
same shall be restored to chancery and annulled, and that the
enrolments thereof in chancery shall be quashed and annulled, and that
this judgment shall be entered in the rolls of parliament and in the
chancery, and shall be sent thence to the exchequer and to both the
Benches, and shall be enrolled therein."
Parliaments orders regarding this were carried out in June 1319, and
in July, the settlement of dower from the Cornwall lands was finally
resolved. The agreement Margaret and Hugh had made with the King in
December was upheld, and they were allowed to keep the Cornwall
estates (Okhum, etc.) the King had granted them in 1317.
From Patent Rolls: "20 July 1319, York. Grant, with the assent of the
Parliament at York, as Margaret, countess of Cornwall, the king's
niece, whom Peter, earl of Cornwall, had by the king's will married,
had not had her dower of the lands late of the said Peter, and who
afterwards with the king's assent married Hugh de Audeleye, the
younger, to the said Hugh and Margaret of the castle of Okham, co.
Rutland, and of [snip of the list of the remaining lands] to hold to
the said Hugh and Margaret for their lives together with advowsons of
churches and all other things pertaining to the said castles, manors,
shrievalty, lands, tenements and rents; saving to the king and his
heirs the fees of the knights pertaining to the said castles, etc.
Parliament had agreed to the King's 1317 grant of the Cornwall lands
(Okham, etc.) to Margaret and Hugh, but had altered the tenure they
would now only hold them for their lives together, not to them and the
heirs of their bodies. So once Margaret died, these lands from the
original Cornwall earldom would revert back to the crown. Hugh and
her issue by him would not inherit or control them.
Edward II provided well for Margaret immediately after Piers'
execution. She was never without income or out of favor. Her dower
from the Cornwall lands was a political hot potato for five years.
That, and not any displeasure toward her on the king's part, was the
reason the dower was not settled until the summer of 1319.
E) MARGARET AS WIDOW
There are records that survive which indicate that Margaret used the
surname of de Gaveston' during her widowhood.
From Fine Rolls: "13 July 1315, Westminster. Margaret de Gavaston,
countess of Cornwall, another sister and co-heiress of the said
Gilbert, puts in her place John Waldeshef to seek and receive her
purparty as above.---John de Hothum, clerk, received the attornment."
There is also a Feudal Aids 1316 Oakham entry where she is styled
'Margaret de Gavaston, countess of Cornwall.'
Though in both instances, her title of countess of Cornwall is also
used, and other entries simply use her first name and title.
Douglas Richardson came across an example of a 15th/16th century
occurrence in the Tinker family, of the illegitimate daughter of a
widow born after the death of the woman's husband, and identified as
the daughter of the woman's husband in a legal document. He proposed
that Amie was the illegitimate daughter of Margaret born after Piers'
execution and likewise identified in the 1334 Fine as the daughter of
The theory has no basis in documented evidence that pertains to
Margaret, but rather is a possibility stemming from the combination of
two unrelated pieces of evidence (the 15th/16th century Tinker
document and the 1334 Fine). It then requires heavy corroborative
documented evidence that does pertain to Margaret in order to be given
There is no document that mentions Amie and Margaret together at all,
let alone as mother and daughter. There is no pedigree from the 14th
or 15th century that has Amie's daughter and grandchildren as
descendants of Margaret. Amie is mentioned in two documents with
Edward III but is not referred to as a kinswoman of the king. There
is a record of Amie's daughter holding a knights' fee interest (worth
3 shillings) out of Oakham manor in Rutland, but Paul Reed has
demonstrated that this probably came to her through her father's
family, not through her mother Amie. Other than that, there is no
evidence that links Amie to any of Margaret's vast properties.
Margaret's sister Elizabeth de Burgh makes no reference to Amie in any
of her many household records that survive (she lived to the year
Elizabeth de Burgh was abducted and married by Theobald de Verdun in
1315. She was an heiress to the Clare inheritance at that point.
This all took place without the king's licence, which greatly upset
him, but he did not (for he could not legally) prevent her from
obtaining her third nor could he disinherit her resulting daughter
Isabella de Verdun. The widowed Maud, Countess of Gloucester,
Margaret's sister-in-law claimed a false pregnancy for over two years
in order to delay the partition of the vast Clare inheritance, which
caused Hugh Despenser the Younger, Margaret's brother-in-law to appeal
to Parliament over the situation.
It is in this timeframe that Margaret would have had an illegitimate
daughter, for which there is no evidence. Given the evidence that
survives regarding the activities of her sister Elizabeth and
sister-in-law Maud, it would be quite an accomplishment for important
heiress and royal niece Margaret to produce a bastard daughter and
have it escape mention in any of the many and various records of the
There is no evidence that Amie de Gaveston was the daughter of
Margaret, nor is there evidence of Margaret having any daughter other
than Joan Gaveston and (later) Margaret d'Audley. Also, given the
evidence that does survive regarding Margaret and members of her
family during the period 1312-17, it becomes extremely unlikely for an
illegitimate child born to Margaret to escape record. Margaret had no
illegitimate child during her widowhood.
|Amie de Gaveston Rebuttal - Part 3: Margaret de Clare by (Brad Verity)|