by Peter Sinclair

Published by Walkern History Society, 2013; 134 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-0-957-62860-1.

Reviewed for FMG by Chris Phillips[1]

Foundations (2014) 6: 103-104 © Copyright FMG and the reviewer


PDF version

This short book presents a detailed account of those who held the Hertfordshire manor of Walkern in the 12th and 13th centuries, beginning with Eudo de Ryes (Dapifer) and continuing with the Saint Clair and Lanvallay families, with special emphasis on William III de Lanvallay, who was a surety of Magna Carta. The author does a good job of putting these families' roles as local landholders into the broader context of the national events of the time. There are also an in-depth discussion of a 13th-century effigy of a knight in armour in Walkern church, tentatively identified as a monument to William III de Lanvallay, and a brief account of the later history of the manor, including some interesting extracts from 14th-century manorial records. The book is written in a readable style and is attractively illustrated with reproductions of documents, maps and modern photographs of associated buildings and locations. The text is fully indexed and referenced, and the author helpfully explains many medieval terms in footnotes.

Most of the genealogy is based on the conclusions of recent scholarship, such as the work of Dr Keats-Rohan, and is generally reliable (though occasionally the errors of the recent scholars are reproduced).

The most significant new genealogical suggestion is that Clemence, the wife of Hubert de Saint Clair (d.1155), was a daughter of Gilbert fitz Gilbert de Clare, earl of Pembroke (d.c.1148) [called Gilbert FitzRichard de Clare by the author]. The argument for this identification, given on pp.35-37, is that in 1185 Clemence was living as a widow at the manor of Newberry (in Weston), which was her maritagium (marriage portion). Furthermore, Newberry was [later, by Clemence's descendants] held of the lords of the manor of Weston, and the lord of Weston at the likely time of Clemence's marriage was earl Gilbert [he held the manor between c.1138 and c.1148], which suggests that he was her father and gave the manor as her maritagium.

On the face of it this argument seems reasonable. The 1185 record, from the Rotuli de Dominabus, neither names Clemence's land in Weston nor describes it as her maritagium, but the author cites J H Round's edition of the Rotuli (p.66), where further evidence is given which confirms the identification with the manor of Newberry and shows that Clemence had land in Weston of her marriage. The Rotuli make conflicting statements about Clemence's age in 1185 - one entry says she was 60, another 80. But other evidence suggests that 60 is likely to be nearer the mark, and that she would probably have married in or around the 1140s. It's not impossible that the daughter of a 12th-century earl might have gone otherwise unrecorded. On the other hand, the size of the maritagium - a small manor worth only £4 a year - does seem very inadequate for a daughter, particularly as earl Gilbert is known to have given the much larger manor of Barrow in Suffolk to the husband of a kinswoman of his named Maud, and later confirmed it to her son.[2] Perhaps Newberry too could have been a gift to a kinswoman of the earl, rather than to a daughter?




[1]     Chris Phillips is a regular contributor to Foundations. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

[2]     CP 10: 352, note b.


Back to Top