Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pirton manor in Hertford and Ireland

Pirton manor in Hertford and Ireland

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Manor of Pirton   

    The manor of Pirton lies at the eastern end of the Chiltern Hills in Hertfordshire. At the core of the parish of Pirton (about 2,500 acres) is the village of Pirton with its famous motte and bailey castle known as ‘Toot Hill’ (meaning ‘look out’). The large earthen mound has a water filled ditch and two outer defence areas. Within one of the two baileys is situated the parish church of St. Mary which is a grade one listed building. It features in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Peritone or homestead of the pear tree. The manor at that time appears to have been prosperous with four water mills and about 200 people.[1]
Before the Norman Conquest (pre 1066) the manor of Pirton was held by Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury. Afterwards it was given by King William to Ralph de Limesy. Ralph divided the old manor of Pirton into two new manors called, Pirton and Rectory. The last manor was given by Ralph to the priory of St. Mary at Hertford, which he founded, when he granted the parish church of Pirton to that house.[2]

St. Mary's Pirton by Humphrey Bolton

Family of Ralph de Limesy

Ralph de Limesy had two sons; Alan de Limesy and Robert who became Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry in 1088. Alan de Limesy had two sons called Gerard and Triannus who appears to have had no issue. Gerard de Limesy succeeded to Pirton and married Amicia, daughter of Hanelade de Bidun from which marriage came six children. John de Limesy, the eldest son married Alice, daughter of Robert de Harcourt and they had one son, Hugh who died without issue. Alice remarried after her husband’s death to Waleran, Earl of Warwick.[3]
Two other sons of Gerard de Limesy; Alan and Gerard died without issue as did a daughter called Amabilla (wife of John Bruix). Two other daughters of Gerard married and had issue. Eleanor de Limesy married John de Lindesel (died in 1221-2) and had two sons; David and Gerard who died without issue. A daughter of Eleanor called Alice married Henry de Pinkeney. Henry de Pinkeney was succeeded by his son Henry who left two sons called Robert and Henry de Pinkeney. This latter Henry surrendered his barony to King Edward I on 4 September 1301.[4]
Meanwhile the last daughter of Gerard de Limesy called Basilia married Hugh de Oddingeseles and had issue of two sons; William and Hugh de Oddingeseles. Pirton manor was divided between these two sons. The Pirton history website says that it was Ralph de Limesy who divided the manor into three parts; Pirton, Doddingselles and Rectory manors but it is more likely that the division occurred over two separate periods. William de Oddingeseles got that part which included the old manor house (later after the 16th century known as Docrwa manor house) and was referred to as the manor of Pirton. Hugh de Oddingeseles got the part which became known as Pirton Doddingselles manor and Hammonds Farm became the manorial centre. Eton College purchased the latter manor in the 1530s.[5]

The issue of Hugh de Oddingeseles
Hugh de Oddingeseles died in 1228-9 and left two sons; Gerard and William de Oddingeseles. Gerard de Oddingeseles left a son called Hugh de Oddingeseles who died in 1304-5. This Hugh had a son called Sir John de Oddingeseles who was 28 years old at the time of his father’s death. Sir John de Oddingeseles married Emma and after his death Emma remarried to William Corbet who died in 1346-7. John de Oddingeseles and William Corbet held half of Pirton in their time.[6]

William de Oddingeseles senior
Meanwhile William de Oddingeseles senior (son of the first Hugh de Oddingeseles), witnessed a deed between the abbess of Lacock, Wiltshire and the countess of Warwick in c.1249.[7] William de Oddingeseles senior was living in 1262-3 and had a son called William de Oddingeseles.[8]

William de Oddingeseles junior and Ireland

William de Oddingeseles junior spent much of his adult life in Ireland. In 1281-2 William de Oddingeseles junior was granted wardship of John de Wallop’s heir and that person’s Irish estates. These lands were principally in the medieval county of Roscommon. Later in 1285, he got the Irish lands of the late William de Mohun as thanks for fighting with the king in Wales. In February 1286, William got legal protection in England for one year, as he was about to travel to Ireland. This was renewed in subsequent years as he remained in Ireland.  

In Easter 1289, William de Oddingeseles acted as deputy to justiciar Sandford in operations against O’Melaghlin of Meath. In 1290 William de Oddingeseles held custody of the royal castles at Roscommon and Rindown. Later, William was granted the castle and manor of Dunamon near Roscommon.

William de Oddingeseles was justiciar of Ireland from October 1294 to April 1295 when he died. Shortly after, his children petitioned for the restoration of his English lands to them.[9] Before his death William had married Ela, the daughter and co-heir and at length, sole heir of Walter Fitz Robert by his wife Ela, daughter of William de Longespee, Earl of Salisbury.[10]

The property of William de Oddingeseles junior
In 1294-5 William de Oddingeseles was found to hold the following at Pirton at the inquest after his death. There was a messuage, 200 acres of arable, 10 acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture, 10 acres of wood and half of the local water mill. There was the service of bondmens, 100s of assize rent and 20s from pleas of the court. Pirton was held by William from his cousin Robert de Pinkeney by doing homage.[11]
William de Oddingeseles held other property in Warwickshire. In that county he held the manors of Solihull and Maxstoke. Half the advowson to the churches of both manors was held of Sir Hugh de Oddingeseles by ½ knight’s fee. Sir Hugh de Oddingeseles also it seems leased half of both manors to William de Oddingeseles. The second half of Solihull was held of Sir Robert de Pynkeny by soccage and rendering a pair of gilt spurs at Easter. William de Oddingeseles also held half of Maxstoke from the same Sir Robert by the service of ¼ knight’s fee.  
Other land in Warwickshire was at Merston and Cotes where William de Oddingeseles received 36s 8d per year from fourteen free tenants. This income was held of the Earl of Oxford for the service of one twelfth of a knight’s fee. The advowson to the church of Arley was held of Sir Hugh de Oddingeseles. At Buddebrok William de Oddingeseles acted as a middle man. He held the manor from Sir Hugh de Oddingeseles by one knight’s fee. William then rented the fee to Theobald de Nevyle and John Hastang for the same one knight’s fee.[12]

The heirs and widow of William de Oddingeseles

The heir of William was his son Edmund who was 22 years and more. Shortly after William de Oddingeseles died his son Edmund also died before getting seisin. Edmund had four sisters as his heirs, namely; Ida, Ela, Alice and Margaret who was the youngest and aged 18 years.[13]
Ela, the widow of William de Oddingeseles lodged a complaint that the manor of Olton and certain lands in Solihull where enfeoffed to her by her late husband but the king had taken them into his hands. A subsequent inquisition at Maxstoke found that Ela and William were enfeoffed jointly with the manor of Olton and tenements in Solihull from the fee of Hugh de Oddingeseles for a half knight’s fee. There was a further 12d yearly rent in Maxstoke of the fee of Sir Robert de Pynkeny. She was in peaceful possession of these places for about four and half years before William’s death.
William and Ela de Oddingeseles had acquired the tenements from the tenants of William. The tenements had previously paid 28s yearly rent to William and his heirs. One month later in June a writ of the privy seal was sent to the treasurer and exchequer barons to search the rolls on whether the king had rights of wardship. William de Oddingeseles had acquired land in Ireland which raised questions of wardship rights.[14]
In July 1295 a writ to the escheator was made with the consent of John de Clinton and Philip Verney to cause a third part of William de Oddingeseles land to be assigned Ela as her dower land. The king had previously accepted her oath not to remarry without the king’s licence.[15]
In 1304-5 much of the manor was held by Hugh de Oddingeseles by the service of a knight or two esquires. He held a messuage, 240 acres of arable, 12 acres of meadow, 12 acres of pasture, 12 acres of wood and half of a water mill. Hugh also received 15s 7½d of rent from free tenants along with ½ lb of pepper and 1lb of cumin. There was also £4 15d of rent from customers and their works and 4s rent from cotters. John de Oddingeseles was his son and heir and aged 26 years and more.[16] 

The daughters of William de Oddingeseles

Ida de Clinton
Around 1290 John de Clinton of Amington married Ida, the sister and co-heir of Edmund de Oddingeseles. Ida was the eldest daughter of William de Oddingeseles of Maxstoke. When Edmund died without heirs John de Clinton acquired the lordship and castle of Maxstoke, Warwickshire along with other property. John de Clinton died in late 1310. Ida de Oddingeseles accompanied the Queen Consort to France in 1312-13. She died in March 1322.[17]

Alice de Caunton
Alice, the daughter and co-heir of William de Oddingeseles married Maurice de Caunton of Co. Cork, Ireland. He was the son of William de Caunton of Glascarrig, Co. Wexford who died in 1286.[18] Following the death of Sir William de Caunton, his brother David de Caunton went to England to secure the family’s property and was successful. Yet the English council later learnt that Sir William de Caunton had an heir living in Ireland who was aged five years. The chancellor was to make a new inquisition as to the correct situation.[19]
The inquisitions post mortem for Alice de Caunton (May 1322) found she held half the manor of Pirton with a messuage and two carucates of land from the king in chief. The terms of the holding was in soccage by fealty and in service of a pair of gilt spurs worth 6d along with 2s 6d yearly to the sheriff for the view of frankpledge of Altonishevyd. Alice also held a fourth part of a messuage and half carucate of land at Solihull, Warwickshire by fealty to John de Oddingeseles. David de Caunton, then aged 22 years, was her heir.[20]
David de Caunton did not acquire immediate possession. Sir Hugh le Despenser prevented his occupation. In an undated petition to the king, David de Caunton asked to have livery of his inheritance. A bill was sent to the chancery to examine the situation.[21] In August 1324 Aymer de Valencia, Earl of Pembroke, was found holding the manor of Pirton from John de Oddingeseles by the service of a pair of gilt spurs worth 6d.[22]

Ballyderown - chief castle of David Caunton near Kilworth, Ireland

By March 1329 David de Caunton was staying in England and because he was going to stay there for at least two years he appointed two people to be his attorneys in Ireland. These people were Adam Talbot and Henry Bade.[23] By April 1335 Sir David de Caunton was back in Ireland when he was appointed the Irish attorney for Giles de Badlesmere for one year. This attorney job was renewed for another year in March 1336. On this occasion Sir David ceased to be sole attorney and was joined by John de Ellerker.[24] This joint attorney arrangement was because Sir David de Caunton was in England in the spring of 1336. On 4 May 1336 he made arrangements to return to Ireland and appointed Roger de Luda and Laurence de Ayet as his English attorneys for one year.[25] Sir David de Caunton was still in Ireland in February 1338 when he was appointed joint attorney with Hamo de Merebache for Hugh de Mortimer who was staying in England. This appointment was for two years.[26]
Sometime before 1340 Adam Doverton, parson of Ibestok and Henry de Sodyngton, parson of Esshetesford, granted half the manor of Pirton to David de Caunton (Condon), Joan his wife and the heirs of their bodies with reminder to William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon. David de Caunton died on 2 October 1340 leaving a three year old daughter called Elizabeth. Joan, the widow of Sir David de Caunton entered the half manor and held it for her life. The Irish property of de Caunton was taken into the king’s hand due to the minority of the heir. These lands were then assigned to John son of Nicholas de Kerry. But the extended Caunton family entered the Irish lands and the right of proper title fell into the Irish Court of Chancery.
It would appear that Joan de Caunton held Pirton without any such legal problems. Joan de Caunton died on Tuesday after the feast of St. Gregory (18 March) 1354. Her daughter and heir, Elizabeth was then 16 years old. But as Elizabeth was born and lived in Ireland the jurors in Pirton did not know if she was alive or dead.[27]
Before June 1355 Elizabeth de Caunton married Maurice FitzJohn FitzNicholas, Baron of Kerry and Lixnaw. On 6 June 1355 the escheator in Ireland was instructed to deliver to Maurice and Elizabeth all those lands which descended to Elizabeth from her. These lands were in the king’s hand because Elizabeth was a minor. But she gave prove that she was of age to inherit.[28] Subsequently Maurice Fitz Nicholas and Elizabeth de Caunton succeeded to Pirton. In July 1361 an inquisition post mortem relating to John de Bibesworth found that he held Bibesworth in Kympton, Hertfordshire, by the service of half a knight’s fee from Maurice Fitz Nicholas and Elizabeth de Caunton by their manor of Pirton.[29]
Elizabeth de Caunton died on 27 July 1364 leaving a son John by her husband Maurice FitzJohn. The young child continued to live in County Kerry but died on 6 January 1365. Elizabeth’s husband remarried to his cousin Joan FitzMaurice and left issue by her called Patrick FitzMaurice who became the first of his family to adopt the name Fitzmaurice as their surname. His decedents became Earls of Kerry in 1723 and Marquess of Lansdowne in 1784.[30]  
An inquisition was taken at Ware on the Tuesday before the feast of St. Martin, 1367 into Elizabeth’s property at Pirton. The jury found that she held half the manor as heir of David de Caunton by gift of Adam de Overton, parson of Ibestoke and Henry de Sudyngton, parson of Esschetesford with reminder to William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon. The two halves of the manor were held of the king in chief by the service of a pair of gilt spurs worth 12d.
The jury said that Elizabeth died without heir of her body and that William de Clinton is the next heir of her blood. This finding was not exactly correct as Elizabeth did have a son but as the son died six months after his mother the final outcome was not changed. Still royal officials were not happy with a wobbly finding.
A new inquisition was held at Hicchon on Monday before Ascension Day 1368. It found the same as the previous jury but that Elizabeth did have a child called John by her husband Maurice FitzJohn FitzNicholas. The jury found that John died without any heirs but that as Maurice FitzJohn was still alive he held Pirton by courtesy of England. Maurice FitzJohn subsequently divested the half manor to William de Caunton. The jury found that Maurice and William held the half manor until the Hicchon inquest.[31]

End of Pirton and Ireland

With the death of William de Oddingeseles as justiciar of Ireland and property owner there the link between Pirton and Ireland was broken. Yet it was renewed in the person of his daughter, Alice de Caunton. Her Anglo-Norman family in Ireland succeeded to half Pirton and held it for a few generations but lost it through the lack of heirs and the distancing of the Caunton family in Ireland from English rule. By the fifteenth century the Caunton family in Ireland were more Irish than the Irish. In the 1580s Queen Elizabeth seized much of the principal Caunton (by then known as Condon) estates in Ireland with the remainder seized by Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s.

Undated map of Pirton

The Corbet half of Pirton

Meanwhile the other half of Pirton manor was first held by John de Oddingeseles and Emma his wife and then by her second husband Sir William Corbet. On 18th October 1345 Sir William Corbet died leaving John Corbet, his brother, as heir and who was 30 years old at the time. An inquisition held at Hinchin on 7th February 1346 found that Sir William Corbet held half the manor of Pirton jointly with his wife Emma and by her right. She had it by grant of Thomas de Wassyngle to John de Oddingeseles and Emma who was then his wife and the heirs of John. They held it by the accustomed services for ever by a fine made at the king’s court in 1316-7 and by a king’s charter granted in 1315-6. This half of Pirton was held of the king in chief as a parcel of the barony of Ulverleye which barony Emma held by 1346-7.[32]
In 1347-8 Emma, late wife of John de Oddingeseles and Sir William Corbet, held half the manor of Pirton. This holding included a leat to be held at Michaelmas by the county sheriff. The king was to receive 5s as a common fine for this leat. Emma paid a half knight’s fee for Pirton. Her heir was her son John de Oddingeseles who was over thirty years old.[33]

Meanwhile Sir William Corbet also held the manor of Stafford in Hertfordshire at the time of his death. But this manor was only held for his life by demise of Sir Roger Corbet of Hadelye [said to be his father and who survived William] with reversion to Sir Roger. The manor was held of the king in chief by service of a tenth part of a knight’s fee and by service of rendering £4 at the king’s exchequer by the hands of the sheriff of Stafford. In this inquisition William’s brother and heir, John Corbet, was said to be 34 years old.[34] 


End of post


[6] accessed on 9 April 2012 = Sir John de Oddingeseles was succeeded by his son called Sir John de Oddingeseles, husband of Amicia, daughter of Roger Corbet. This Sir John died in 1353-4 and was succeeded by his son Sir John de Oddingeseles. This knight married Alice, daughter of Sir John St. John and died in 1380-1 to be succeeded by his son who was also called John. This Sir John de Oddingeseles married Mary Bernake and died in 1403-4 leaving a son called Edward. This Sir Edward de Oddingeseles married twice and left issue by both wives. By his first wife, Margaret, daughter of John Cokaine of Bedfordshire, Sir Edward had a son called Gerard de Oddingeseles of Long Itchington, Warwickshire. This Gerard left four generations in Warwickshire the last of whom, Thomas de Oddingeseles was a servant to Lord Burleigh.
The second wife of Sir Edward de Oddingeseles was Alice, daughter of Henry Sharpe. By Alice, Sir Edward had a son called Henry Oddingeseles of Eperston, Nottingham. Henry in turn was the father of Richard Oddingeseles. This Richard left many generations from his two sons in Nottinghamshire.
[7] Rogers, K., Lacock Abbey Charters (Devizes, 1979), no. 418
[9] Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (5 vols. Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. II, nos. 1613, 1891; Ibid, vol. III, nos. 86, 197, p. 256, no. 317, p. 318, nos. 441, 532, 623; Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans (Dublin, 2005), vol. IV, p. 37; Connolly, P. (ed.), Irish Exchequer Payments (Dublin, 1998), p. 123; Connolly, P., “Irish material in the class of Ancient Petitions”, Analecta Hibernica, no. 34, p. 100
[10] Cokayne, G.E. (ed.), The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom (Alan Sutton, Gloucester, 1987), vol. III, p. 313
[11] Sharp, J.E.E.S (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem preserved in the Public Record Office (14 vols. Liechtenstein, reprint, 1973), vol. 3, no. 286
[12] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 3, no. 286
[13] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 3, no. 286
[14] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 3, no. 286 (p. 187)
[15] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 3, no. 286 (p. 187)
[16] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 4, no. 318
[17] Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. III, p. 313
[18] Brooks, E. St. John (ed.), Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1950), p. 31; Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. III, p. 205
[19] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 6, no. 290
[20] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 6, no. 290; Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. VII, p. 205
[21] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 6, no. 290
[22] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 6, no. 518 (p. 317)
[23] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1327-1330, p. 373 care of accessed 24th August 2014
[24] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1334-1338, pp. 90, 235
[25] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1334-1338, p. 258
[26] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1338-1340, p. 2
[27] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 10, no. 176
[28] Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. VII, p. 205
[29] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 11, no. 43
[30] Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. VII, pp. 205-6, 215
[31] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 12, no. 113
[32] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 8, no. 612
[33] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 9, no. 25
[34] Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 8, no. 612

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