Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL.
ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES.
IN THREE VOLUMES.—VOL. III
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
from "Widville, Guidoville, or Viville, which was held from the De Toesnis in Normandy. Hugh de Guidville came to England 1066, and 1086 held in Northants and Leicester (Domesday). Robert, his son, temp. Henry I., granted the tithes of Guidoville to Conches Abbey, with consent of Ralph de Toesni (Gall. Christ, xi. 132, Instr.), and in 1130 held the estates of Roger de Mowbray in farm from the Crown. (Rot. Pip.) He had, 1. Ralph, father of Robert de Withville, whose brother William de Widville of Northants 1165 (Liber Niger) was ancestor of the Earls Rivers; 2. William, whose son, Richard de Withville, held five knight's fees in York from Mowbray, and half a fee in capite (Liber Niger). He was a benefactor to Byland Abbey (Burton, Mon. Ebor). Walter de Widville occurs t. Richard I. (Mon. ii. 984); and William, son of William de Wyville, in 1299 confirmed his ancestor's gifts to Byland Abbey. From this line descend the Baronets Wyville."—The Norman People. Hugh de Witwile, the founder of the family, held of the Honour of Grentemesnil, and appears to have been seated at Sproxton, in Leicestershire. They long continued in the county. Robert de Wyville of Stanton-Wyvill, was knight of the shire 23 Edward I., and was summoned in 1299 to go with horse and arms to Berwick to oppose the Scots. Either seventh or eighth in descent from him was William Wyvill, who died s. p. 10 Henry VII.
William de Wydeville, who, according to the Liber Niger, held half a knight's fee of Robert Foliot, was seated at Grafton in Northamptonshire, where his descendants continued for a great many generations. One of them, Richard de Wydeville, Constable of Northampton Castle, and twice Sheriff of the county under Edward III., married the widowed Lady of Warkworth, Elizabeth, heiress of the Lyons 5 another was Constable of the Tower and Esquire of the Body to Henry V.; but it was reserved to a third Richard, esteemed the handsomest man in England, to build up his fortunes by a stolen match with Jaquetta Duchess of Bedford. Not only was she by birth a Princess of Luxemburgh, but, as the widow of the King's uncle, the third lady of the realm, and when she chose for her second husband a poor Northamptonshire squire, her marriage took place without the Royal license, and was kept secret for several years. It was discovered at the same time as the Queen's misalliance with Owen Tudor, when "cloth of frieze was matched with cloth of gold;" and the Duchess' dower was declared forfeit to the Crown. Sir Richard had to pay a fine of 1,000 to obtain his pardon and its recovery. He was advanced at Court through the good offices of Cardinal Beaufort; was created Lord Rivers in 1448, became a Knight of the Garter and Seneschal of Acquitaine, and received some small grants of land. Yet he was ill able to make provision for the five sons and seven daughters that had been born to him; and he sought and obtained for the eldest girl a place at Court as maid of honour to Margaret of Anjou.
Elizabeth Wydevill was remarkably beautiful; fair as the day, with a wealth of pale yellow hair, that is represented in a contemporary illumination in the Harleian Collection as streaming down her back and reaching to her knees. She had no lack of suitors, and was married to Sir John Grey, son and heir of Lord Ferrers of Groby, a gallant young soldier who had the command of the cavalry in Queen Margaret's army. He led the desperate charge that decided the fortune of the second battle of St. Albans in 1461, but died of the wounds he received there. As a vehement Lancastrian that had revolted from the House of York, he was "the more hateful to those of that family"; and his little sons were deprived of his fair inheritance of Bradgate. The eldest of the two was then not more than four years old; and their widowed mother took refuge with them in her old home at Grafton. One day, hearing that the King was hunting in the neighbouring forest of Whittlebury, at that time a royal chace, she waylaid him under a spreading tree still known as the Queen's Oak, holding her fatherless boys by the hands, and throwing herself at his feet, besought him to restore their patrimony. Edward, who "had a heart for every new face," was struck with admiration at the sight of the lovely widow, kneeling in tearful supplication before him, and the scene of this first eventful interview became the trysting-place of many subsequent lovers' meetings. He had no intention of making her his wife, thinking to win this fresh prize (as he had several others) on easier terms than marriage; but although he was undeniably "the goodliest personage of his time," and Comines ill-naturedly hints at some former "Amorettes" of the beautiful Elizabeth, on this occasion he pleaded in vain. She would not listen to him: but, aided by the counsels of her scheming mother, stood firm to the only answer she had to give. She was, she declared, of far too mean an estate to become his wife, and yet esteemed herself too highly to be his concubine. The King was desperately in love, and "when he perceived that there was no other remedy but that he must shifte his saile to that scantling of winde," made up his mind to marry her. The Duchess arranged the wedding with such despatch and mystery that even Lord Rivers was not informed of it; and Edward and Elizabeth were married "in most secret manner, early in the morning, upon the first of May, 1464, at the house called Grafton near Stony Stratford. At which marriage was none present but the spouse, the spousesse, the Duchess of Bedford her mother, the priest and two gentlewomen, and a young man to help the priest sing. After the spousailles the King rode again to Stoney Stratford, as if he had been hunting, and then returned at night. And within a day or two he sent to Lord Rivers, saying he would come and lodge with him for a season, when he was received with all due honour, and tarried there four days, when Elizabeth visited him by night so secretly that none but her mother knew of it."—Fabyan. She was then thirty-three, nine years older than her bridegroom, having been born several years before the public acknowledgment of her parents' marriage. Her clandestine wedding, hurried on with such anxious precipitation, was attended with some obloquy, and gave dire offence when it became known. The Duchess of York—the same "proud Cis" who in her beautiful youth had been named the Rose of Raby—wrote a letter of angry remonstrance to her son. But it was too late. On Michaelmas Day, in the old palace at Reading, he declared Elizabeth to be his wedded wife, and at the following Whitsuntide she was crowned Queen.
She lost no time in providing for her needy and numerous relatives. Her six comely sisters, till then portionless and unsought, were mated with the loftiest nobles of the realm; she married her brother Anthony to the greatest heiress of her day, the orphan daughter of Lord Scales, and made her father an Earl. He was further appointed Lord Treasurer, and caused bitter discontent by tampering with the coin and circulation. Her eldest brother John, a fine young man, was so greedy of gold as to contract "a diabolical marriage" (as William of Worcester wrathfully styles it) with a richly dowered widow in her eightieth year, Katherine Duchess Dowager of Norfolk. The very name of the Queen's rapacious kindred stank in the nostrils of the haughty baronage, and "became abhorrent to the nation."
The newly-made Earl did not long survive his elevation; for both he and his degraded son John perished in the Lancastrian revolt of 1469. They were captured in the Forest of Dean by Robin of Riddesdale (Sir Robert Hildyard of Winestead), and beheaded at Northampton without judge or jury. Anthony, jure uxoris Lord Scales, who then succeeded, was justly accounted one of the most accomplished gentlemen of the age. He was strikingly handsome; of noble and courtly bearing; peerless in the saddle; brave as steel; an excellent scholar no less than an excellent soldier; fond of literature; "great in feats of arms, and abundant in pilgrimages." The first printed book ever seen in England was published by Caxton under his and Lord Worcester's patronage: and a translation he had himself made of the works of Christine of Pisa afterwards issued from the same press. The ladies of England selected him as their champion in the tournament that was to celebrate his sister's coronation (but which in reality only took place two years later); binding above his left knee a jewelled garter bearing the enamelled Forget-me-not, or Fleur de Souvenance, to be sent with the challenge. He singled out a worthy adversary—Charles the Bold's brother, the Bastard of Burgundy; and gained great credit by worsting him in the lists. They fought for three successive days at Smithfield in the presence of the King. The first day "they ran together with sharp spears, and parted with equal honour:" the next the Bastard was unhorsed, and "Lord Scales rode about him with his sword drawn," in token that he held his life in his hand but on the last day they were on foot, armed with pole-axes, and strove "valorously, till the point of this lord's weapon entered the right of the Bastard's helm." The King then threw his warder down, and the honours of the combat were adjudged to Lord Scales.
He was greatly honoured and trusted by his brother-in-law, whose fortunes he faithfully shared during the civil war, following him in his brief exile to Holland, and fighting by his side on his triumphant return. He was then constituted Governor of the town and castle of Calais, the tower of Rysebank, the castle of Guisnes, and the adjacent marches, for a term of seven years, and named Captain General of the King's forces by sea and land. Some years before, he had received a grant in tail of the Isle of Wight; and when his young nephew was created Prince of Wales in 1473, he was appointed his governor, with the high office of Chief Butler of England. During the same year, he went on pilgrimage to Spain and Italy. But with the life of Edward IV., his glory departed from him; and in 1483 he was one of the first that fell a victim to the evil ambition of the Duke of Gloucester. He and the Queen's second son, Sir Richard Grey, were treacherously seized at Northampton, and taken to Pontefract, where, after a short imprisonment, he was beheaded in front of the Castle, without even the pretence of a trial, or a chance of opening his lips in his own justification. He had been twice married, but left no posterity. His next brother, Lionel, was Bishop of Salisbury; the fourth, Edward, had d. s. p.; and thus Richard, the youngest of the five brothers, became the third Earl of this ill-starred house, which ended with him in 1490.
Elizabeth Wydevile died two years afterwards. Though her husband was notoriously unfaithful to her, and "received many others into the bosome of his fancie," she retained her hold over him to the last. She had a fair share of her mother's craft and cunning, and knew how to gain her end; "helping herself," says Lord Bacon, "by some obsequious bearing and dissembling of his pleasures." But she was patient and submissive in adversity, and passed through trials that might melt the hardest of hearts to pity. There are few more pathetic pictures in history than that of the fugitive Queen in the Sanctuary at Westminster, sitting "a-low on the rushes, all desolate and dismayed," with the glittering eddies of her beautiful hair, that had escaped from her widow's coif, enfolding her in a golden veil. All around her was "heavinesse, rumble, haste, and businesse with conveyance of her householde-stuff into sanctuary." The eldest of her two boys, from whom she had just parted for ever, had been born when she was before enrolled as a Sanctuary woman; and the day was close at hand when she was to be robbed of the one that remained to her. She clung to him passionately as he was taken away, crying, "God send thee safe keeping! Let me kiss thee once ere thou goest, for God knoweth when we shall kiss together again!" Then followed the last and most terrible scene of all, when the news of their murder "struck to her heart like the sharp dart of death." She fell swooning to the ground, "and there lay in great agony like to a dead corpse. And after she was revived and came to her memory again, she wept and sobbed, and with pitiful screeches filled the whole mansion. Her breast she beat, her fair hair she tare and pulled in pieces, and calling by name her sweet babes, accounted herself mad when she delivered her younger son out of sanctuary for his uncle to put him to death. After long lamentation, she kneeled down and cried to God to take vengeance, 'who,' she said, 'she nothing doubted would remember it.'"—Sir Thomas More. Her son-in-law Henry VII. is said to have confiscated her property, and not long before her death she retired to a nunnery at Bermondsey, from whence,
"Placed upon a bier
In happier hour than on a throne;"
she was borne to her place of sepulture in St. George's Chapel.
The remotely connected Yorkshire branch of this house, whose name more nearly retained its ancient spelling as Wyvill (in which form it is again inserted on the Roll), still exists in the male line. Richard de Withville, who is entered in the Liber Niger, was a benefactor of the monks of Byland (Burton, Mon. Ebor.); and in 1299 William, son of William de Wyville, confirmed his ancestor's gifts to the Abbey (Mon. ii. 984). They were seated at Slingsby, and probably held of the Fitz Hughs, whose coat they bore with changed tinctures. The elder line appears, by Leland's account, to have ended before his time. "Wyvel of the Northe, that was the ancientest of that Name, had his principal House at Slingesby yn Yorkshire. And this Wyvelle was a Man of faire Landes. Slyngesby about a v. Miles from Malton yn Riedale in the way from Malton to Newborow, that is distant xii. Miles from Malton. The House of Slyngesby and the Landes of this Wyvelle be devolvid to the Lord Hastings by Heires General.
"That Wyvell that now is dwelling at Burton Parva by Masseham in Richemontshire, cummythe of a yonger Brother of the Wyvelle of Slyngesby. He hath Burton Parva by an Heyre Generalle of one of the Pygotes of the Northe * * * * The Howse cawlyd Clifton, like a Pile or Castlelet, distant about a mile and an half from Litle-Burton, was the Lorde Scropes of Masham. This Lorde Scropes Landes in Continuance devolvid to 3 Doughters of one of them. Whereof one of them was maryed to Strangaise of Harlesey, a nother to Danby, the 3. to Strelley Com. Notts. Of this thirde descendid 2. Doughters, whereof one was maryed to Bingham, and other to Wyvelle that now liveth and hath Clifton by her." This is, however, not quite accurate. The youngest of Lord Scrope's three daughters, between whose descendants the barony of Scrope of Masham fell into abeyance in 1517, was the wife of Sir Ralph Fitz Randolph of Spennithorne, and it was the eldest of her five daughters that married Sir Nicholas Strelley. The youngest, Agnes, was the heiress that brought Sir Marmaduke Wyvill "a great accession to his estate;" though why the last born of five sisters, all of whom were married, and (with a single exception) had children, should have been so richly endowed, I am at a loss to conjecture.
Their grandson, another Sir Marmaduke, Vice Chamberlain of the Household to Queen Elizabeth, was created a baronet in 1611, and towards the end of James I.'s reign, removed to Constable-Burton, their present seat. The next Sir Marmaduke suffered heavily for his loyalty during the Civil War; his house was twice sacked by Cromwell's troopers, and he was mulcted of upwards of,1,300 as composition for his estate. The last in succession was the seventh baronet—again Sir Marmaduke—who died a bachelor in 1774. His sister had married her cousin, the Rev. Christopher Wyvill, to whom she brought the estates, but who could not claim the baronetcy. An uncle stood in his way; for his father (who was a grandson of Sir William Wyvill, the fourth baronet) had an elder brother who went out to America, settled in Maryland, and died there about 1750, leaving a son. On this son's posterity, if alienage do not bar their right, the baronetcy (unclaimed and dormant for more than one hundred years) has clearly devolved.
- ↑ According to Duchesne, the Vivilles held of the Feoda de Grentemesnil in Normandy.
- ↑ When the coffin of her second daughter, the Princess Mary (a beautiful girl of fifteen, who died the year before her father) was discovered in St. George's Chapel in 1810 it was found that "a curl of hair of the most exquisite pale gold had insinuated itself through the chinks."—Miss Strickland.
- ↑ The Duchess was so skilled and successful in intrigue that her power over the minds of men was popularly attributed to sorcery. She was believed to have inherited the enchantments of the fabled water-nymph of the Rhine, who held all hearts spellbound, and had enthralled her ancestor. The serpent of the fairy Melusina was borne as their device by several of the princes of the House of Luxemburgh.