Egidia and the Earl is a guest post written by Bev Newman. It is based on research that Bev is undertaking into a number of English families from the period of the Hundred Years War. In particular Bev has researched the Poynings Family, which has led her to the research outlined in the post that follows. Bev’s other posts on the period can accessed via the Poynings Family Facebook Page, or Website.
Egidia de Mauduit and the Earl of Salisbury
Egidia de Mauduit, also known as Giles, married John de Molyns, in 1325 aged seventeen. A co-heir to her parents, Sir John Mauduit and Margaret Poges, with her two older sisters Joan and Alice. Margaret had inherited the manors of Stoke Poges and Ditton1 from her father. They passed to her daughters on her death. Sir John held shares in the manors of Filikins, Black Bourton, Standlake, Wooton, Oxfordshire and Somerford Maudit, Wiltshire of other lords2. The holdings had been divided through female inheritance, in the 13th century. He also held Broughton Mauduit / Poggs in chief, by the service of mewing a falcon for the king3.
Egidia and her sisters inherited when she was 22, Joan 28 and Alice 324. By 1340 some properties had evidently been exchanged between the sisters as John de Molyns held Stoke Pogeys and Ditton in chief, in right of his wife. In December of 1340 John was arrested and his properties seised as he had fallen foul of Edward III, and was caught up in his purge against corrupt officials7. The king spent Christmas 1340 at Guildford then moved with his close associates to Stoke Poges. They spent three days there feasting, and plundering the manor of all its goods and chattels5. The whereabouts of Egidia and their two young sons with John and William is not recorded. 6
John was originally a retainer of William Montague, earl of Salisbury. He came to Edward III’s notice by participating in the arrest of Roger Mortimer 1st earl of March at Nottingham Castle in 1330. His assistance earned him a position in the royal household as a king’s yeoman. At some stage he was appointed as a clerk in chancery and took the clerical version of holy orders which allowed him to marry. For the son of a poor Hampshire knight, he married well. A skilled businessman Molyns used his time in royal service wisely. Taking advantage of confiscated lands and wardships, he had expanded his holdings and wealth, becoming the premier magnate in Buckinghamshire. He had also added manors in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset to his portfolio.
Egidia, despite the obvious anxieties provoked by her situation was a shrewd businesswoman in her own right. By exercising her rights, she ensured their estates would be returned intact once John had either proved his innocence or served his sentence. Her actions preventing William Montagu 1st earl of Salisbury from obtaining their manor of Stoke Tristre in Somerset. John and Edigia having purchased it in June 1346 from Elizabeth Child and her husband John Lorty8 9.
A close confidant of Edward III, Montagu was aware in advance of the king’s plans for de Molyns. The story of his harrassment of Egidia to use John’s seal to sign the property over to him came to light in 1346, when the couple’s lands were restored. Montagu had died in 1344, in a jousting accident. His son William was the ward of Sir John de Wynkfeld. On William’s behalf he contested the restitution of Stoke Tristre to the Molyns. This resulted in a hearing to determine who had rights in the manor on 29th September 1346.
Edward III ordered a thorough search of all documents pertaining to the sale of the manor. He also called several witnesses. Some from the royal household, others from Montagu’s family and household. They had all been involved in different ways in managing the lands or persuading Egidia to use her husband’s seal to transfer ownership of the lands.
The first deponent in the case, Nicholas de Bokeland was a royal administrator and custodian of Molyns confiscated lands. He stated that:
“ John de Wynkefeld, John de Miere ‘chivalers,’ and Robert de Burton, clerk, who were with the earl of Salisbury, when the king had seized the lands of John de Molyns into his hands, came often from the earl to Giles (Egidia), wife of John de Molyns, who has his seal in her custody as well before the said John surrendered as afterwards, to have a charter and letter of feoffment of the manor to the use of the earl sealed with her husband’s seal; but she would not ever seal any. And he well knows that the earl never had estate in the manor by the said John in any wise”10.
Next Robert de Barton the earl’s chamberlain gave his testimony, paraphrased below:
“…on the Monday aforesaid, the earl knowing that the king had seized the manor and other lands of John de Molyns into his hands, sent Robert from London to Giles, wife of the said John, who was residing at her manor at Stoke Poges. John was not aware of this. The earl sent a charter and letter of attorney, written by the earl’s counsel, which indicated that she should enfeoff the earl of the manor of Stoke Tristre. He wanted Giles to use her husband’s seal to seal the charter and letter. She refused, so Robert went to Edward St John ‘le neveu,’ a friend and confidant of the earl, to ask him to bring him to being him to John de Molyns. Edward did so on Wednesday 7 December 1340 and confirmed this before the king. Robert gave John a letter of credence from the earl warning him that the king’s commissions were made out for his arrest and for the confiscation of his lands. He then showed John the charter and letter of attorney from the earl. He did not tell him that he had already visited Giles, but asked him to send the charter and letter to her to be sealed, on the condition, that the earl should give them lands of equal value. John read the letters and replied that this would not be happening, and retained the charter and letter. But he would once free, discuss the business with the earl in a reasonable manner. Robert added that after John de Molyns had surrendered to prison, John de Wynkefeld, Robert Burton, clerk, and other of the earl’s council went from the earl to the said Giles to persuade her to seal another charter and letter, which she refused to do. Robert also confirmed that the earl died long before John was released from prison, so never received the manor from him or any other.”
Richard Talbot, steward of the king’s household confirmed that the earl had harrassed Egidia. Montagu had also attempted to enlist him in his plan to obtain Stoke Tristre by persuading the reluctant Egidia to use John’s seal. Talbot was aware that she had consistently refused to comply without John’s consent. He refused to be part of the earl’s plan, and advised John and Egidia against granting the manor to the earl. Andrew Sakevill, the earl’s confidant said that the earl had sent him to Giles with letters close, but that he had no idea of their content. He had no knowledge of the earl having a claim to the manor. This was further backed with the testimony of John Derby, Thomas Tochewyk, Robert le Warde and Thomas le Botiller11.
At the same hearing evidence was heard from men who had been present when the original transfer of lands from Elizabeth de Child, holder of the lands and her husband, Sir John Lorty had been made. These men included members of the earl’s family and household and all confirmed that Elizabeth Child and John Lorty had transferred the manor to John and Egidia jointly on 24 June 1340. The men included William de Shareshull, justice of the Common Bench, Sir Ralph de Middelneye, and Sir John de Miere, who had been the earl’s former steward. All confirmed the earl had no claim on the manor. His only link to being that Edward III had sent Middelneye to confirm that the Molyns was not storing any of the earl’s goods there.
When John Wynkefeld was called before the king to prove the William Montagu’s claim he was unable to produce anything to substantiate his ward’s claim. That Edward III had seised Stoke Tristre in 1340, when he took all the Molyns holdings also strengthened John’s case, as did Egidia’s consistent refusal to put his seal to any documents regarding the manor, presented by the earl and his son’s guardian.
Chancery confirmed that the only documentation they held, including letters of privy seal confirmed that the Molyns held the manor in jointure. And that the king seized Stoke Tristre from Molyns in 1340 and restored it to them in 1346. This lead Edward III to conclude that :
“…having regard to the premises considers that John de Molyns should have restitution of the manor of Stoke Tristre, with its members, fees, advowsons and other appurtenances, to hold to him and his heirs in form aforesaid, and commanding the chancellor to have these things aforesaid exemplified by letters patent under the great seal. And the foregoing is attested by these presents for the better declaration of the right of the said John in this behalf12“.
Letters of exemplification confirming John and Egidia held Stoke Tristre in jointure were issued on 29th September 1346. They also provided the Molyns with a record of it’s seizure and restitution, and confirmed that the earls of Salisbury had no claim on the manor or its lands.13
Had Egidia not known her rights and not exercised them against the earl, the family would have lost a valuable manor. Medieval women are often shadows on the pages of history and even here the only way to find out information about her was to search for her grandfather, father and husband. She was one of many medieval women who understood the law, managed vast estates and was highly protective of her dower rights and her children’s inheritance.
The Molyns are linked to the Poynings family via the marriage of Marjorie Bacun, daughter of Marjorie Poynings and Edmund Bacun. After Edmund’s death, Marjorie senior married Nicholas de la Beche, a prominent member of the royal household and an associate of John de Molyns. Marjorie junior married John and Egidia’s second son William. On the death of his older brother c1347, William became the de Molyn’s heir. His elder brother John junior’s widow Joan, subsequently married Michael, 1st baron Poynings. Marjorie and William’s grandson, James Berners was the guardian of Michael’s grandson Robert, following his father’s death in 1387. Oddly the senior male line of both the Poynings and Molyns families died out c1429, at Orleans in France. Both Richard Poynings and William Molyns left young daughters, both named Eleanor as their heirs.
1 J E E S Sharp and A E Stamp, ‘Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward III, File 21’, in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Volume 7, Edward III (London, 1909), pp. 199-209. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol7/pp199-209 [accessed 8 March 2022]. No 274
2 Victoria County History of Oxford vols 11 –14 and 17
3 ‘Broughton Poggs Parish’, in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 17, ed. Simon Townley (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2012), pp. 146-173. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol17/pp146-173 [accessed 8 March 2022].
4 J E E S Sharp and A E Stamp, ‘Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward III, File 21’, in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Volume 7, Edward III (London, 1909), pp. 199-209. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol7/pp199-209 [accessed 8 March 2022].
5 Elvey p197
6 Elvey G.R. The First Fall of Sir John Molyns www.bucksas.org.uk › rob › rob_19_2_194
7 Fine Rolls of Edward III 1337 – 1347 p197
8 Calendar of Patent Rolls of Edward III 1345 – 1347 p139 – 141
9 Green E. (1898) Feet of Fines for the County of Somerset, I Edward III to 20 Edward III Vol Xii p208 nos 40 and 41. Somerset Records Society.
10 Calendar of Patent Rolls of Edward III 1345 – 1347 p139 – 141
12 Calendar of Patent Rolls of Edward III 1345 – 1347 p139 – 141
13 Calendar of Patent Rolls of Edward III 1345 – 1347 p136 -138
Detail of a miniature of the Erithrean Sibyl writing, with a partial border and a foliate initial ‘E'(rithire), at the beginning of chapter XXI. Image taken from f. 23 of De claris mulieribus in an anonymous French translation (Le livre de femmes nobles et renomées). Written in French.