A SHORT HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL MALIPHANTS
Revised following a visit to Upton Castle 20th August 2011
Many families with old French names like to say: “We came over with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings”. Unfortunately, only some 15 named individuals are known to have been at the battle, and Maliphants (or Malenfant to give the early spelling) weren’t one of them!
At a time when “John fitz John” was more common a name than “John Smith” or “John London”, Malenfant seems to have been one of the earliest surnames. A tax roll of 1195 shows one Thomas Malenfant at Ambrieres in France, on the border between Normandy and Anjou. There are many similar names from that era that you can still find in the phone book today – Maltravers, Mallalieu, Malpass, and conversely Beauchamp, Beaufort, Beaumont etc. “Malenfant” can be translated as bad child or sickly child, but it’s too long ago to guess the name’s original significance.
The first record of a Malenfant in England is a Geoffrey Malenfant paying a fine in 1206 to the Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. It is tempting to link the arrival of Malenfants in Wales as knights of the Earl of Pembroke to the appointment of Gilbert of Clare in Suffolk as Earl of Pembroke in 1138. Gilbert’s son Richard “Strongbow” invaded Ireland in 1170, and we know there were subsequently Malenfants in Ireland, which could be another clue, but otherwise we have no idea exactly when Malenfants came to Wales,
The first Malenfant we hear of in Wales is Walter, who was killed fighting the Welsh outside Cilgerran in 1258. The oldest parts of Upton Castle date from the thirteenth century, did Walter build them? Based on the style of armour, and the crossed limbs of a crusader, the battered old effigy in the family chapel is likely to be an earlier lord, perhaps someone who responded to the Third Crusade preached throughout Wales by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1188. The better preserved knightly effigy in the chapel is apparently in similar style to the tomb of the Black Prince, who died in 1376, so it is thought it represents William Malenfant who died in 1361 – though there is no inscription to confirm this.
The real problem with medieval family history is the lack of proper birth, marriage and death records until parish registers began to be kept in the 1560s. Henry Owen’s “Old Pembroke Families” published in 1902 attempts to link known Malenfants in father / son relationships, but mostly these links can only be assumed based on an estimate of generation gaps.
Henry Owen suggests Upton Castle went out of the family by marriage in the 1400s, by which time Sir Thomas Malenfant (buried in St Bartholomew the Less in London in 1438) had other properties in Glamorganshire. These too passed from the family as shown by a document in Cardiff record office noting the dowry of Margaret Malenfant, widow of John who died c. 1490 and who appears to have been the last male Malenfant of the senior line.
There were other lines of Malenfants, notably around Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire, where there was a Henry Malenfant as early as 1313. These Malenfants seem more involved in trade and the church than politics. Is this why no Malenfant came forward to claim the Glamorganshire lands in 1490? The Wars of the Roses were just ending then – Margaret’s dowry was approved by no less than Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke and uncle of Henry VII – and so political danger may have been one of many reasons for keeping quiet.
Whichever way, most if not all modern Maliphants are descended from another Henry Malephant whose death in 1591 is recorded in the miraculously surviving parish register for St Ishmael, in the next parish to Kidwelly, the town where many Maliphants still live.
B.A. (Hons) Ancient & Medieval History
PROVEN COMPANIONS OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR
Many ancient English families of French origin have claimed amongst their ancestors a participant at the Battle of Hastings as a matter of great pride giving them legitimacy in the higher echelons of the British aristocracy. The large majority of these claims are based on legend and cannot be proven by historical evidence.
Many hundreds of Norman nobles of varying degrees certainly fought with the Duke at Hastings, yet the fact remains that the names of only 15 of these are recorded in contemporary historical sources considered to be unimpeachable. This very select group is therefore known as the “Proven Companions”, as distinct from the several hundred “Likely”, “Probable” or “Possible” Companions. Many lists and "rolls" of so-called Companions have been drawn up over the ages, and continue so to be.
List of 15 "Proven Companions"
(The order of listing is that given in the respective sources)
(1) Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester (Source: William of Poitiers)
(2) Eustace II, Count of Boulogne (Source: William of Poitiers)
(3) William, 3rd Count of Évreux (Source: William of Poitiers)
(4) Geoffrey of Mortagne, later Count of Perche (Source: William of Poitiers)
(5) William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford (Source: William of Poitiers)
(6) Aimeri, Viscount of Thouars (Source: William of Poitiers)
(7) Walter Giffard, Lord of Longueville, later 1st Earl of Buckingham (Source: William of Poitiers)
(8) Hugh de Montfort, Lord of Montfort-sur-Risle (Source: William of Poitiers)
(9) Ralph de Tosny, Lord of Conches (Source: William of Poitiers)
(10) Hugh de Grandmesnil (Source: William of Poitiers)
(11) William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey (Source: William of Poitiers)
(12) William Malet, Lord of Graville (Source: William of Poitiers)
(13) Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, later Earl of Kent (Source: Bayeux Tapestry)
(14) Turstin FitzRolf (Source: Orderic Vitalis)
(15) Engenulf de Laigle (Source: Orderic Vitalis)
The Conqueror and His Companions
by J.R. Planché 1874.
RICHARD DE BIENFAITE
This great progenitor of the illustrious house of Clare, of the Barons Fitzwalter, and the Earls of Gloucester and Hertford, was the son of Gilbert, surnamed Crispin, Comte d'Eu and Brionne, grandson of Richard I, Duke of Normandy.
Count Gilbert was one of the guardians of the young Duke William, and was murdered by assassins employed by Raoul de Gacé, as already related in the memoir of the Conqueror. Orderic gives us the name of one of the assassins -- Robert de Vitot; and Guillaume de Jumièges tells us that two of the family of Giroie fell upon and murdered him when he was peaceably riding near Eschafour, expecting no evil. This appears to have been an act of vengeance for wrongs inflicted upon the orphan children of Giroie by Gilbert, and it is not clear what Raoul de Gacé had to do in the business.
Fearing they might meet their father's fate, Richard and his brother Baldwin were conveyed by their friends to the court of Baldwin, Count of Flanders. On the marriage of Matilda of Flanders to Duke William in 1053, the latter, at the request of the Count, restored to the two sons of Gilbert the fiefs which in their absence he had seized and appropriated, Richard receiving those of Bienfaite and Orbec, from the first of which, latinized Benefacta, he derived one of the various names whereby he is designated and the reader of history mystified.
By Wace, who includes him among the combatants in the great battle, he is called
"Dam Richart ki tient Orbec;" and the exchange of Brionne for Tunbridge, in the county of Kent, obtained for him the appellation of Richard of Tunbridge. At the same time the gift of the honour of Clare in Suffolk added a fourth name to the list, which is swelled by a fifth, descriptive of his parentage, viz., Richard Fitz Gilbert.
It is necessary for a reader to be acquainted with all these particulars, in order to identify the individual he meets with under so many aliases. In the exchange of the properties above mentioned a most primitive mode of insuring their equal value was resorted to. A league was measured with a rope round the Castle of Brionne, and the same rope being brought over to England, was employed in meting out a league round Tunbridge; so that exactly the same number of miles was allotted to the latter estate as the former had been found to contain. (Continuator of Guillaume de Jumièges.)
Besides Tunbridge, Richard possessed at the time of the compilation of Domesday one hundred and eighty-eight manors and burgages, thirty-five being in Essex and ninety-five in Suffolk.
EARLS OF PEMBROKE
The title of Earl of Pembroke has been held successively by several English families, the jurisdiction and dignity being originally attached to the county palatine of Pembrokeshire. The first creation dates from 1138, when the Earldom of Pembroke was conferred by King Stephen on Gilbert de Clare (d. 1148), son of Gilbert Fitz-Richard, who possessed the Lordship of Strigul (Estrighoiel, in Domesday Book), the modern Chepstow. In the Battle of Lincoln (1141), the Earl fought on the side of King Stephen. After the king's defeat however, he joined the party of the Empress Matilda. Later he became reconciled to Stephen when he recovered his throne. The earl married Henry I's mistress, Isabel, daughter of Robert de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester.
The first creation: de Clare
· Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1100–1147)
· Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1130–1176)
· Gilbert de Striguil, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (1173–1185)
· Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke (1172–1220)
Like his father, Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare (commonly known as Strongbow) was a supporter of Stephen I of England - the last Norman king of England. His opposition to the claims of the French House of Anjou alienated him from the affections of Henry II of England. As a result, on his father's death in 1148, it seems likely that the king refused to recognise Richard's claims to the earldom of Pembroke. His claim to the lesser lordship of Striguil does not seem to have been challenged. Being effectively disinherited by the king (for the first but not the last time in his life) and with mounting debts, Richard welcomed the opportunity to restore his fortunes that presented itself in 1168. In that year, he was chosen to lead a Norman expedition to Ireland in support of Dermot MacMurrough, the deposed King of Leinster. The Lord of Striguil crossed over in person in 1170, took both Waterford and Dublin, and was married to Diarmuid's daughter, Aoife MacMurrough, claiming the Kingship of Leinster after Diarmuid's death in 1171. Henry II, wary of his power, stripped Strongbow of his new holdings the same year and invaded Ireland himself in 1171, putting his people in power. Strongbow returned to favour and power in Ireland, in 1173 when he aided the King in his campaign against his rebelling sons. He died in 1176 after years of bitter struggle with Irish magnates.
Strongbow died with male issue - Gilbert. However, Gilbert, being a minor, was not formally invested with either the earldom of Pembroke or of Striguil. It is unlikely that his father could have passed on title to Pembroke as he himself did not possess it. When Gilbert died in 1185, his sister Isabel de Clare became Countess of Pembroke in her own right (suo jure) until her death in 1220. In this way, she could be said to be the first successor to the earldom of Pembroke since her grandfather Gilbert, the first earl. By this reckoning, Isabel ought to be called the second countess, not the fourth countess of Pembroke.
In any event, the title Earl was re-created for her husband as her consort, the famous Sir William Marshal, son of John the Marshal, by Sibylle, the sister of Patrick, Earl of Salisbury.
The second creation: Marshal (1189)
· William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1146–1219)
· William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1190–1231)
· Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (c. 1191–1234)
· Gilbert Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (d. 1241)
· Walter Marshal, 5th Earl of Pembroke (c. 1199–1245)
· Anselm Marshal, 6th Earl of Pembroke (d. 1245)
In August 1189, at the age of 43, William Marshal, held by many to be the greatest knight in Christendom, was given the hand of Isabel de Clare, and, in 1199, was created the 1st Earl of Pembroke by King John. Although he had previously served Richard's father, Henry II, against Richard's rebellions, Richard confirmed the old King's licence for his marriage with the heiress of Strigul and Pembroke. He served Richard and John loyally, defending the latter against the French and English rebel barons in the First Barons' War. He was present at the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Upon John's death in 1216, the seventy-year-old Marshal was named Regent of the kingdom and protector of the young King, Henry III. He defeated the rebels and their French allies, and reissued the Magna Carta in order to secure the peace. He fell ill early in 1219, and died on 14 May at his manor of Caversham near Reading. He was succeeded in the regency by Hubert de Burgh, and in his Earldom by his five sons in succession.
Marshal's eldest son, William Marshal (d. 1231), 2nd Earl of Pembroke of this line, passed some years in warfare in Wales and Ireland, where he was justiciar from 1224 to 1226; he also served Henry III in France. His second wife was the King's sister, Eleanor, who later married Simon de Montfort, but he left no children.
His brother Richard Marshal (d. 1234), 3rd Earl, came to the fore as the leader of the baronial party, and chief antagonist of the foreign friends of Henry III. Fearing treachery, he refused to visit the King at Gloucester in August 1233, and Henry declared him a traitor. He crossed to Ireland, where Peter des Roches had instigated his enemies to attack him, and in April 1234, he was overpowered and wounded, and died a prisoner.
His brother Gilbert (d. 1241), who became the 4th Earl, was a friend and ally of Richard, Earl of Cornwall. When another brother, Anselm, the 6th Earl, died in December 1245, the male descendants of the great Earl Marshal became extinct. The extensive family possessions were now divided among Anselm's five sisters and their descendants, the Earldom of Pembroke reverting to the Crown.
The third creation: de Valence (1247)
· William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke (c. 1225–1296)
· Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1270–1324) (extinct)
The next holder of the lands of the Earldom of Pembroke was William de Valence, a younger son of Hugh de Lusignan, count of La Marche, by his marriage with Isabella of Angoulême, widow of the English King John. In 1247, William, along with two of his brothers, moved from France to England, where their half-brother, Henry III was King. The King married William to Joan de Munchensi (d. 1307), a granddaughter and heiress to the great William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke. Valence was granted custody of the lands, and the title of Earl of Pembroke, giving him great wealth and power in his new land. As a result, he was unpopular, and was heavily involved in the Second Barons' War, supporting the King and Prince Edward against the rebels led by Simon de Montfort. After the final defeat of the rebels at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, William continued to serve Henry III, and then Edward I, until his death in 1296.
William's eldest surviving son, Aymer (c. 1265–1324), succeeded to his father's estates, but was not formally recognized as Earl of Pembroke until after the death of his mother Joan in 1307. He was appointed guardian of Scotland in 1306, but with the accession of Edward II to the throne and the consequent rise of Piers Gaveston to power, his influence declined. He became prominent among the discontented nobles, but in 1312, after the Earl of Warwick betrayed him by executing the captured Gaveston, he left the allied lords and joined the King. Valence was present at Bannockburn in 1314, and later helped King Edward defeat Thomas of Lancaster. However, by his death in 1324, he was again marginalized at court, and in financial trouble as well. His wife, Mary de Châtillon, a descendant of King Henry III, was the founder of Pembroke College, Cambridge.
The fourth creation (1339): Hastings
· Laurence Hastings, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1318–1348)
· John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1347–1375)
· John Hastings, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (1372–1389) (extinct)
Lawrence, a great-grandson of William de Valence was created, or recognized as, Earl of Pembroke, having inherited (through the female line) a portion of the estates of the Valence Earls of Pembroke. His son John (d. 1376) married Margaret, daughter of King Edward III, and on the death without issue of his grandson in 1389, the Earldom of Pembroke reverted again to the Crown.
The fifth creation (1414): Plantagenet
· Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester (1390–1447) (extinct)
Humphrey, the fourth son of King Henry IV, was created Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Pembroke for life, these titles being subsequently made hereditary, with a reversion as regards the Earldom of Pembroke, in default of heirs to Humphrey, to William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk.
The sixth creation (1447): Pole
· William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk (1396–1450) (extinct)
On the death of Humphrey without issue in 1447, William de la Pole became Earl of Pembroke. He was beheaded in 1450 and his titles were forfeited.
The seventh creation (1452): Tudor
· Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford (c. 1431–1495) (forfeit 1461; restored 1485) (extinct)
Sir Jasper Tudor was the half-brother of King Henry VI. Being a Lancastrian, his title was forfeited for 24 years during the predominance of the House of York.
The eighth creation (1468): Herbert
· William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1423–1469)
· William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (d. 1491) (surrendered 1479)
Following Jasper Tudor's attainder, Sir William Herbert, a zealous Yorkist, was raised to the peerage as Baron Herbert by Edward IV. Herbert took the Lancastrian Jasper Tudor prisoner during the civil war. For this service, he was created Earl of Pembroke in 1468. His son William received the Earldom of Huntingdon in lieu of that of Pembroke, which he surrendered to Edward IV.
The ninth creation (1479): House of York
· Edward Plantagenet (1470–1483) (merged into crown 1483)
In 1479, Edward IV conferred the title on his son, Edward, Prince of Wales. When this prince succeeded to the throne as Edward V of England, the Earldom of Pembroke merged in the crown. Following the defeat of the House of York, the earldom (and kingdom) were restored to the Tudors with the accession of Henry VII.
Marquess of Pembroke (1532): Anne Boleyn
· Anne Boleyn, (1501/7–1536)
On 1 September 1532, a few months prior to her marriage to Henry VIII, Anne was granted the Marquesate of Pembroke; she was found guilty of treason and executed in May 1536, at which point the title became either forfeit or extinct at her death without male children.
The tenth creation (1551): Herbert
The title was next revived in favour of Sir William Herbert, whose father, Richard, was an illegitimate son of the 1st Earl of Pembroke of the house of Herbert. He had married Anne Parr, sister of Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine Parr, and was created Earl in 1551. The title has since been held by his descendants.