EFFIGY OF SIR GUY DE BRYAN, K.G.
From Illustrations of the Manorial System
Foster after Stothard
THE TENURE OF KINGSDON BY SIR GUY DE BRYAN AND HIS REPRESENTATIVES
"Or, three piles meeting in base azure." Bryan
Since the early twelfth century, Kingsdon has been the home of a country family. Although the interests of Brian de Gouvis V were centered in Dorset, and even if in their twilight his sons were hard put to it to maintain their positions, vestiges of the old relationship between the squire and the tenants in the manor must have lingered, but form the mid-fourteenth century until the beginning of the nineteenth century, the manor of Kingsdon was never the home of its successive lords for any length of time. The extent of their personal interest in the village and property varied, no doubt, but to most of them Kingsdon was a mere investment. The dominant concern in the affairs of the place was passed to the parson, and to some extent, to the steward, who visited to preside at the manorial courts. Nevertheless, the concerns of the lord of the manor must still have been important to the people in the village, and news or gossip of the family had its unfailing interest. Feudal patronage and responsibility continued: from time to time a new parson appeared, chosen by the lord, and probably at Kingsdon as elsewhere the servants of the lord were sometimes picked from among the sons of the tenants, and thus few men obtained an opportunity to escape from servitude of the soil if only for an interval. There was occasional travel between manors in the same ownership, and in the days of Sir Guy, a journey on agricultural business from Kingsdon to Slapton or to Hazelbury Bryan, for instance, widened the horizon; and a visit from the lord or a member of his family, spending perhaps a few nights at the manor house in the course of a journey, provided a link with the great world.
Sir Guy de Bryan was seventh of his name, heir of castles in South Devon, of the very extensive lordships of Walwyns Castle in Pembrokeshire and Laugharne in Carmarthenshire. (Trans. Devon Assoc., LXVIII, 197-214). In 1339, he was steward of Haverford Castle also in Pembrokeshire. In 1341 he was already a member of the royal household, and he received a grant of lands in Devon from the king. He distinguished at Crecy and stood high in favour with Edward III, becoming the royal secretary and eventually the steward of the household. We find him at Avignon in May 1348, having gone to take letters from Edward III to Pope Clement VI. In June 1351, the pope allowed John Gough, archdeacon of St. Davids, to receive the fruits of his benefices for five years, being non-resident while engaged on the business on Guy de Bryan, Knight. (P.L. III, 426). John Gough acted for sir guy in much of the business connected with his estates.
In 1349, sir guy carried the royal standard at the battle near Calais, and showed great gallantry on this occasion, and on 13 January 1350, the king granted his an annuity at the exchequer of 200 marks for life or until he have an equivalent of land or rent; and in the following October, sir Guy had other letters patent of the 200 marks out of the farm of the alien priories of Otterton in Devon and Newton Longaville in Buckinghamshire. Alien priories had been a cause of difficulty ever since the seperation of Normandy from England, and in the French wars of Edward III were alleged to be nests of spies. Otterton was a cell of St. Michael in periculo maris - Mont St. Michel and Newton Longaville a priory of the Abbey of St. Faith at Longaville in Normandy (P.R., 1350, p. 444). It will be noted that sir guys first purchase in Kingsdon in 1353, previously referred to, was for 200 marks a years annuity.
While he was still a young man, sir Guy married Alice Holoway, a Devon heiress, who died before 1350, leaving daughters but no son. Of these daughters, Phillippa married (i) sir Edward de Bohun, who died s.p. in 1362, and (ii) sir John Chandos, who died s.p. in 1428; Margaret married sir Hugh Courtenay (C.R., 1360-64, 242) as his first wife, and died s.p. shortly after 1361; and Elizabeth married sir Robert Fitzpaine, (formerly Grey) and had issue an only daughter who married Richard, lord Poynings, and through whom the Percies, earls of Northumberland, became eventually "the right heirs" of sir Guy de Bryan. In 1350, the king gave sir Guy in marriage, the hand of Elizabeth, daughter of William de Montacute, earl of Salisbury. She was widow of Giles, lord Badlesmere, who had died in1338, and of Hugh, lord de Despencer, who died in 1349. She bore sir Guy three sons, Guy, William and Philip, and a daughter, Margaret, and died in 1359. Her effigy in alabaster with that of her second husband, is to be seen on the superb tomb in Tewksbury Abbey to the north of the high altar. Sir Guy caused a tomb to be made for himself probably not long after her death athwart the entrance to one of the chapels in the ambulatory in close proximity to her monument. Stothard wrote c. 1815, describing the tomb as it was in his time: "Sir Guy Brian appears to have been represented in the act of drawing his sword, an action not common on monuments at so late a period; on his head is the basinet, the camail attached to it by a red lace; the surcoat is charged with the arms of Bryan, or, three piles meeting in the base azure; the field is diapered with a white raised composition; the piles are painted with ultramarine, and have been beautifully diapered with white The whole of the armour, plate and mail, has been once covered with silver leaf"(Stothards Monumental Effigies, 73). The traces of colour on the effigy are no longer visible, though azure may still be detected with in the canopy.
In the year of his marriage to Elizabeth de Montacute, sir Guy was summoned to parliament as lord Bryan a peerage being thus created by writ of summons. In 1354, he was one of "the Ambassadors sent with Henry, duke of Lancaster," to the papal court at Avignon. "The year following, in an expedition against the French, he was made a Banneret. In 1359, he was again active in the French wars, and, in two years after, revisited "the papal court" on important business" (Stothard, op. Cit.). He was ambassador to the papal court in 1361, and he petitioned Innocent VI to give to six of his clerks the benefices of the value of 350 gold florins, void by the death of his clerk, Thomas David, at the roman Court. It was thus that sir Guy, as a civil servant of high rank, obtained increments in salary of his juniors. Among those to be rewarded was Thomas Andrew, for whom the canonry and prebend of Crediton were requested notwithstanding that he had the church of Kingsdon in the diocese of Wells (C.P.R., 1342-1419, 369).
Towards the end of the reign of Edward III, sir Guy was one of the persons to whom the pope was in the habit of writing in order to bring pressure to bear on the aged king.
On 29 April, 1362, at Wiveliscombe, bishop Ralphe de Salopia admitted Thomas Don, priest, to the parish Church of Kingsdon on the presentation of John Seys and Martin Moulish, who were acting as attorneys for sir Guy; and on the same day, the bishop gave license for the said Thomas to serve sir Guy de Brian to Michelmas. (S.R.S., X, 763).
At a date unknown, sir guy acquired the manor of Somerton Randolph, and in or about 1367, he purchased the manor of Somerton Erleigh from sir John de Erleigh of Beckington, who was with the Black Prince in Spain, and had been wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Naziers in 1366. A large ransom had to be found. It is probable that the full marriage of John de Erleigh to sir guys daughter, Margaret, had already taken place although Margaret cannot have been more than fifteen years old. The purchases were convenient to sir guy, for by uniting Somerton Erleigh and Somerton Randolph with Kingsdon, the whole massif tot he southeast of Somerton was brought into a single estate. In 1368, sir Guy purchased the manor of Shockerwick in the parish of Bathford, and twelve pounds rent in Batheaston Thomas Don, rector of Kingsdon, being one of the querents when the line was made (S.R.S., XVII, 68). He purchased also the manor of Downhead, formerly a member of the great Glastonbury manor of Mells.
In the first and second years of the reign of Richard II, sir Guy "served both by sea and land against France, and accompanied Edmund Mortimer, earl of March, in his expedition to Ireland".
Although his duties at court and in the field must have been exacting, sir Guy found time to take an active part in local affairs in Somerset and in Dorset, especially in Somerset. His name stands first in the list of justices for those counties in various commissions of the peace.
On 5 February 1386, sir Guy de Bryan, eldest son or sir guy de Bryan, K.G., and generally known as "sir Guy the Younger", died in Spain leaving two daughters, Philippa and Elizabeth, but no son. His wife, Alice, daughter of sir Robert de Bures, survived until 1434.
In the morrow of the Ascension and afterwards in the octave of Trinity, 1836, sir Guy de Bryan, K.G. settled lands in Dorset and Devon and also the manors of Kingsdon, Somerton Erleigh and Somerton Randolph in tail male on his eldest surviving son, sir William de Bryan, and his third son, sir Phillip, and failing male heirs on the right heirs of sir William (S.R.S., XVII, 202). A few days after the octave of Trinity, sir Phillip died leaving, it appears no issue. In August, 1388, sir Guy attempted to repudiate this settlement which he stated was against his will; and in the following November, sir William made a public declaration of the reasons for his action, stating that there had been no undue pressure on his father when the settlement of 1386 was made. Earlier in 1388, sir guy had found that documents were missing from his strong boxes and had gone to sir Williams inn in London where he broke open a chest and found the missing sheepskins (C.R., 1358-89, 593. 605, 628). Not long afterwards, sir William went to Carmarthenshire, scaled the walls of the castle of Laugharne and abstracted 25 l. from the paternal coffers (P.R., 1390, 303; 1392, 169).
Sir Guy de Bryan, K.G., lord Bryan, "departed this life on Wednesday next after the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin," 1390 (Stothard, op. Cit., 73). According to Gerard, he was buried at Slapton in Devon where he had founded a small priory, and not within his tomb-chest at Tewksbury. The peerage, by later doctrine, fell into abeyance between his grand-daughters, Philippa and Elizabeth. It is not surprising that their uncle, sir William de Bryan, had difficulty with his fathers executors about the succession to the various estates, and there is some uncertainty whether he was ever in possession of Kingsdon. At his request, pope Boniface IX wrote in July 1391, to the archbishops of Canterbury and York and the bishop of London. They were instructed to raise a mandate "to warn, and under pain of excommunication to compel the restoration of all the letters, privileges, charters and muniments concerning the paternal inheritance and rights of William, knight, of the diocese of Canterbury, son of the late Guy de Bryan, knight, which when formerly by the order of king Richard, he was sent with Richard, earl of Arundel, to conquer certain provinces and places, situate near the realm of certain of the kings enemies in the maritime parts, were deposited in a chest in a house in London, and which certain unknown persons, breaking open the chest, have carried off" (Papal Letter, IV, 393). "Certain unknown person" was, perhaps, a euphemism. In 1395, sir William died childless; there is a noble brass commemorating him in Seal Church, Kent.
Sir William being dead, his nieces, Philippa and Elizabeth were the undoubted heirs of all the de Bryan estates except a few manors settled on the daughters of their grandfather, sir Guy de Bryan, K.G. Philippa, who was born in 1378, was married before she was twelve years old probably while she was of far more tender age to sir John Devereux, who died while still a minor in 1396. His father had been a famous captain in France and Spain, first the companion in arms and then the opponent of du Gueselin himself. Kingsdon and the two manors in Somerton passed to Philippa de Bryan. Her share as the elder child far exceeded that of her sister. In 1399, Philippa was married to Henry le Scrope, K.G., better known as "lord Scrope of Masham". She died childless in 1405, and her estates were inherited by her sister, Elizabeth de Bryan. It was found on Philippas death that she had held Kingsdon of sir Robert Latimer on Duntish (H.S., III, 185).
Elizabeth de Bryan had been married before she was nine years old to sir Robert Lovel, younger son of John, fifth lord Lovel of Titmarsh. In 1407, Robert and Elizabeth Lovel settled a life interest in Kingsdon, Somerset Erleigh and Somerton Randolph on sir Henry Scrope: "for this Henry gave them two hundred pounds sterling" (S.R.S., XXII, 177). Elizabeth, lady Lovel, survived he husband many years. Her daughter, Matilda Lovel, was her sole heir a rich prize. She was married first to sir Richard Stafford of the Dorset family, who died c. 1427, their only child, Avis Stafford, being then about four years old.
Not long after sir Richard Staffords death, his widow, Matilda, married one of the most remarkable men of the time, John Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, sometimes known as John Arundell. He was born in 1408, was summoned to parliament as lord Arundell of Arundel on attaining his majority, and was later recognized as earl of Arundel by tenure of Arundel castle. Under the Regent Bedford he distinguished himself in the contest for France, and was the pattern of chivalry in the war. Poydore Vergil describes him as "a man of singular valor, constancy, and gravity." He was a knight of the Garter and was created duke of Touraine. Having been seriously wounded in a leg, he died at Beauvais on 12 June 1435. It was the period of the revival of classical learning, and for the manner of his death, he was called "the English Achilles". Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer.
Arundels tenure of Kingsdon in 1431 for one quarter of a knights fee, referred to in Feudal Aids, must have been in respect of his wifes jointure, for Elizabeth, lady Lovel was still alive in that year (E.A.W., 429).
There was one child of the marriage of the duke of Touraine and Matilda Lovel a son, Humphrey Fitzalan, who was born in 1429, succeeded as duke of Touraine and earl of Arundel, and died on 24 April, 1438. His mother, lady Lovel, died on 19 May, 1436, and it seems that his grandmother, Elizabeth, lady Lovel, died at about the same time. For two years, therefore, Humphrey, who was a ward of the crown, was nominal lord of Kingsdon.
In the de Bryan estates, Humphreys heir was his elder half-sister, Avis Stafford. She was born 4 December, 1423, at Woodsford castle, Dorset the remarkable fortified house (it is a house rather than a castle), built by her ancestor, sir Guy de Bryan, K.G., and which still remains in a tolerable state of preservation. She had been married to James Butler while he was under age and she a mere child. He was a zealous Lancastrian, and in 1449 was created earl of Wilts. In 1452, he succeeded as fifth earl of Ormonde, and two years later was constituted lord High Treasurer of England.
In 1445, Avis, countess of Wilts, and her husband settled her lands in Somerset the manors of Shockerwick, Batheaston, Kingsdon, Somerton Erleigh, Somerton Randolph, and Downhead with the adowson of the Church of Kingsdon and also lands in Essex, Devon, Gloucestershire, Kent, Dorset, and Suffolk, on themselves and their own issue, "and if they die without issue then to remain to the heirs begotten of Anicia (Avis), and if there be no such heir then to remain to the right heirs of James" (S.R.S., XXII, 198). It was a settlement which was to have far-reaching effects, and it may have wondered whether Avis understood its full import. Certain of her manors in Devon and Dorset, with which we are not here concerned, were acquired later by the Stafford family. She died childless in 1457. Shortly after her death, Ormande married lady Eleanor Beaufort, daughter of Edmund, duke of Somerset, K.G.
Although Ormonde can have had little personal touch with the manor of Kingsdon, his influence was felt there in the appointment of William silk to the living 1451 (S.R.S., XLIX, 175). Silk took an active part in the affairs of the diocese as well as of his parish. He is presumed to have persuaded Ormonde as patron of the living to agree to bishop Beckington being approached about a transfer of the feast of the dedication of the church. The preliminary negotiations for this momentous alteration in the village calendar must have been begun in 1460 or early 1461. Ormonde was actively engaged for Henry VI at this time, and before Beckingtons response to the petition was received, he had been captured by the Yorkists after the battle of Towton. He was beheaded at Newcastle on 1 May, 1461, and, not doubt, the village said that "thats what became of trying to alter the date of the feast" and the steward, if he was superstitiously inclined, may have murmured of the breaking of entails. Beckingtons dictum about the feast reads:
"The feast of dedication" is thought to have been in the case, on the traditional day of the dedication when the church was built, rather than on the patronal festival: the church already seems to have been known as "the Church of the All Hallows".
Eleanor, countess of Wilts she is generally so styled remained in possession of Kingsdon and the other estates from the death of her husband "till taken in to the kings hands by reason of an act of forfeiture against the earl", dated 4 November, 1461 (P.R., 1478, P. 106).
Kingsdon was in the kings hands until Edward IV, in 1465, made an extensive grant of forfeited estates to his brother, George, duke of Clarence. The de Bryan manors which had been held by James Butler, were included (P.R., 1465, P. 454). Clarence was in revolt against Edward IV, with his father-in-law, Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. After several months of success, culminating in failure, Clarence fled to France in March, 1470. His estates were forfeited, and on 20 July of that year, a grant of "100 marks yearly from Easter last: from the manors and lordships of Batheaston, Shockerwick, Somerton Erlerigh, Somerton Randolph and Kingsdon "parcel of the jointure of Eleanor, countess of Wilts" was made for her use and sustenance (Id., 1470, p. 211). The brief restoration of Henry VI followed. Clarence assisted in the restoration of the York dynasty, and in July 1474, he received a new and very extensive grant of estates from Edward. Kingsdon and the other de Bryan manors were included. There is no reference to the annuity payable to Eleanor, countess of Wilts, but it may have been regarded as a charge on the property to which no specific reference was required (Ib., 1474, p. 457).
In 1475, Clarence was "going across the sea with the king on his voyage and service", and obtained special powers with regard to certain manors, of which Kingsdon was one, apparently with a view to raising a sum of ready money. It was not clear whether he carried out his intention (Ib., 1474, p. 517,518,557). Then, in February 1478, Clarence, charged with compassing the death of the king by necromancy, and with other treasonable practices, was attainted by parliament and executed in the Tower of London and there was gossip in the village about a butt of malmsey.
On 16 May, in the year of Clarences death, Edward IV made a grant for life to Eleanor, countess of Wilts, of Kingsdon, Somerton Erleigh and the other manors which had been sometimes hers and sometimes snatched away (Ib., 1478, p. 106). She had taken as her second husband in or before 1470, sir Robert Spencer of Spencercomb in Devon, and is believed to have avoided the court, but her stairs had been enhanced by the death of her brothers whose co-heir she had become, Her eldest brother, henry, duke of Somerset, was beheaded in 1471 after the battle of Tewksbury, where he had commanded the Lancastrian vanguard. Her third brother, John Beaufort, was killed at the battle of Tewksbury; and her fourth brother, Thomas has died unmarried. On the accession of Henry VII, her position became more secure, for she was cousin german of lady Margaret Beaufort, the kings mother.
Early in the reign of Henry VII, various persons descended from the daughters of sir Guy de Bryan, K.G., claimed the do Bryan estates. The claims were almost as complicated as the claims to the crown had been a short time before, and it was characteristic of the period that a compromise was arrived at, which even if it did not completely satisfy any of the claimants was preferable to prolonged litigation.
There exists a note of the "execution and enrolment of a deed of agreement", dated 16 December, 1488, between Henry Percy, fourth earl of Northumberland; Thomas, seventh earl of Ormonde; sir Edward Poynings, knight; and sir Thomas Seymour, knight. It was agreed that "the said erl of Northumberland is and oweth to be takyn and reputed as heire generall to the said Sir Guy de Brian; nevertheless for greate diverse, and reasonable concideraciouns muoying alle the said parties and ther counseillis, it is aygreed and accorded bitwene theym that alle the said castells, manors, londis, and tenementes shal be devyded and distributed."
Sir Thomas Seymour claimed the whole inheritance as heir general. He was the senior representative of Margaret, daughter of sir Guy de Bryan, as it would seem by his marriage to Elizabeth de Montacute, and therefore sister of the whole blood to sir William de Bryan. He also claimed "by reason of a will by him alleged to have been made by Elizabeth Lovel, the cousin of the said sir Guy, and also by reason of recoveries of certain parcels of the same has by sir John Erle, ancestor to the said sir Thomas, whose heir he is." Sir Thomas was allotted Wraxall, Rampisham, Mapperton, and Chilfrome in Dorset, with the advowsons of the churches of Wraxall and Rampisham, and of the chapel of Chilfrome.
The earl of Ormonde claimed as brother and heir to James, late earl of Wilts, by reason of diverse fines "rered" to the use of the said earl of Wilts by dame Avis, countess of Wilts, then heir to sir Guy de Bryan. He was allotted, "to him and to his heirs in fee simple" Lundy Island and the manor of Northam in Devon (Lundy Island had been brought into the de Bryan inheritance by the marriage of Elizabeth de Montacute to sir guy de Bryan, K.G.) the manor of Lower Kentcombe in Dorset, the reversion of the lower manors of Puncknowle, Toller Porcorum, Hazelbury Bryan, with the advowson of Hazelbury Bryan and Puncknowle in Dorset, and of the manors of Kingsdon, Somerton Erleigh, and Somerton Randolph, which reversions were to take effect immediately after the death of Eleanor, countess of Wilts. In the meanwhile, Ormonde was to have a rent charge out of the manors of Stogursey, Wyke, and Staple manors which had been inherited by earl of Northumberland from the Poynings family, and which had never been included in the de Bryan estates. Lundy passed eventually to the family of St. Leger of Annery, Ormonde's eldest daughter having married sir James St. Leger.
Sir Edward Poynings (later lord deputy of Ireland), claimed by reason of the entails of estates to his father, Robert, son of Robert, lord Poynings, grandson of Elizabeth, daughter of sir Guy de Bryan, K.G. by his first marriage. Kingsdon was not included in his claim. He received four manors in Kent, the manors of Shockerwick, Batheaston, "with the rents, services, and perquisites of the court of and in the manor of Donhead" (Downhead) "in Somerset" a rent charge of twenty marks to the earl of Northumberland being deducted "in recompense of lands and tenements of that yearly value delivered for the said Edward to the earl of Ormonde and to his heirs."
The earl of Northumberland was to have all the residue "of all the castles, etc.: which were of the said sir Guy." Northumberland, who had been dogged by misfortune from childhood, was murdered in the following year (Materials Illustrative of the Reign of Henry VII, Chron. & Mem. Series, II, 380-383. Early Owners of Torbryan Manor, J.J. Alexander, Trans. Devon Assoc., LXVIII, 197-214).
Eleanor, countess of Wilts, remained in undisturbed possession of Kingsdon and the other manors until her death on 16 August 1501. The inquisition taken in the following June records that Somerton Erleigh was held of the king in chief service of a tenth of a knights fee, Somerton Randolph of the prior of St. Swithuns, Winchester, in right of his house, service unknown, and Kingsdon worth 20l. of the said prior. The origin of the priors interest in the two manors has not been discovered. There is a reference in the inquisition to the grant by the trustees of Thomas, earl of Wilts and Robert Spencer, knight, of the properties for her life with remainder after her decease to Thomas Butler, earl of Ormonde (Cal. Inquis. Hen. VII, II, 327).
Ormonde presented James FitzJames to the living of Kingsdon in 1509 (S.R.S., LIV, 139). In 1511, Ormonde conveyed three manors Northam in Devon, Lower Kentcombe and Hazelbury Bryan in Dorset to Ann, daughter of the fourth earl of Northumberland, later countess of Arundel, for life, with reversion in tail to her brother, the fifth earl (Alnwick muniments). On Ormondes death in 1515, Kingsdon and certain other de Bryan manors he had held passed to Henry Algernon Percy, fifth earl of Northumberland (It was a coincidence that Henry Algernon had married Catherine Spencer, daughter of Eleanor, countess of Wilts, by her second marriage). The estates were transferred as a result of directions given in Ormondes will (Letters & Papers, Hen VIII, IV, pt. 2, no. 3119) but the reason for Ormondes testamentary disposition remains obscure.
In 1516, "Henry, earl of Northumberland, lord of the honour of Cokyrmouth and Petworth, lord of Ponynges, Fitzpayne and Bryan" granted the next presentation to the Church of Kingsdon to Richard, bishop of London, and his executors and assigns; and in 1521, the bishop presented James Gilbert to the living (S.R.S., LV, 18).
The existing tower of Kingsdon church seems to date from the period when the fifth earl of Northumberland was lord of the manor and patron of the living. The old tower, referred to in Section IV under Brian de Gouvis III, was perhaps truncated shortly before the new tower was built.
The unhappy Henry Algernon Percy, sixth earl of Northumberland, succeeded his father in 1527, and two years later, sold the manor and advowson of Kingsdon to his friend Thomas Arundell: the exemplification of recovery is dated 15 February, 20 Henry VIII (Arundel of Wardour muniments). Northumberland also sold Somerton Erleigh and Somerton Randolph, but to sir Thomas Johnson, and those manors have not since been held with Kingsdon. The tenure of Kingsdon by representatives of sir Guy de Bryan, K.G., was at an end.
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