Lady of the Manor

Jill Wilson

The seal of Ralph de Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester, Hertford, and Atholl (c. 1270 – 5 April 1325)

After the death of Sir Roger de Somery, Baron Dudley, in 1273, the manor of Campden had to be divided between his four daughters as he did not have a son to succeed him.  In just under a century the quarter manors allocated to Mabel and her husband Walter le Sully had been joined with that inherited by one of her sisters.  In between, the manor formed part of the estates of some very important people.

The exact way in which Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford acquired the quarter manor after the death of Walter de Sully is not entirely clear.  Widow Mabel is shown as a tenant of the Earl in 1289 for certain Campden properties but the precise details of his takeover are uncertain.  It would be interesting to learn more of this as he has been described as ‘one of the most difficult of [the king’s] subjects’ (no doubt this has to do with his having briefly supported de Montfort before the battle of Evesham).

His second wife was Joan of Acre, the third daughter of King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. She had been born in Acre when the royal couple were on Crusade in 1272.  In 1290 she had married the 47-year-old Gilbert  but he died only five years later.  So at the age of only 23, she managed all his estates and titles as their son, Gilbert was only 4 years old.

It was not long before she fell in love with one of her squires, Ralph de Monthermer and, perhaps guessing her father’s reaction, they were married privately early in 1297. The king, having heard that she planned to marry her squire, deprived her of all her lands and titles and began to arrange a marriage for her with Amadeus of Savoy.  In those days dynastic marriages were the norm.

She had to admit that she was already married. Edward immediately put Ralph in prison. By July Joan had succeeded in getting him to relent and her lands were restored to her.  On 2nd August Ralph did formal homage and assumed the title of Earl of Gloucester and Hertford. Over the next few year he ‘rose to high favour with the King’.  In 1306 Edward I created him Earl of Atholl.

I wonder – did they ever visit Campden? And how much of all this was gossiped about on market day?

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