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From: William Addams Reitwiesner< >
Subject: Re: Ancestors of Thomas West, 2nd Lord Delaware, part 1
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 01:08:39 GMT


(Alex Polenov) wrote:

>Hello! I'm not understand this. Sir William West was 10th lord de la Warre but his
>son Thomas was 2nd lord Delaware (not 11th!!!)?! Is this mistake or de la Warre is
>not Delaware?
>
>Alex
>
>> 12 Sir William Westaka: 10th Lord de la Warreb: Abt. 1520d: 30 Dec
>> 1595ref #: F143:4
>> *2nd Wife of William West:
>> +Elizabeth Strange
>> 13 [11] Sir Thomas Westaka: 2d Lord Delawareb: Abt. 1556d: 24 Mar
>> 1601/02ref #: F143:3
>> +[12] Anne Knollysd: Aft. 1607ref #: F54:2i
>> *2nd Husband of Anne Hoo:

That's correct.

One of the problems here is that at that time peerage law was just
beginning to be codified.

British law now accepts that a summons to the English Parliament in the
late 12th/early 13th century, followed by the person so summoned actually
taking his seat, created an hereditary peerage, or, to be precise, a
"barony by writ". This would have been considered absurd by those living
in the 13th/14th century, as those summonses held no more significance then
than a jury summons holds today. Nonetheless, because of the legal fiction
that a barony by writ was created by these summonses, you and I refer to
these persons as "3rd Baron Stafford", "4th Baron Percy", etc., whereas
they and their contemporaries never described them that way, and would not
have understood the concept of a "barony by writ".

One of the concepts imposed by this legal fiction of a "barony by writ" is
the concept of "abeyance". English property laws followed the principle of
"coparceny", meaning that if a property holder dies leaving two or more
daughters and no sons, then all of the daughters inherit an equal share of
the property. For example, if there were three daughters then each
daughter inherited one third. If the property holder had died leaving one
or more sons then the oldest son would inherit everything (under the
principle of primogeniture), or if he had died leaving only one daughter
and no sons then she would inherit everything (as his sole heiress), but if
there were multiple daughters then each would be a "co-heiress". As the
legal fiction of a "barony by writ" was being developed, a precise method
of inheritance would have to go along with it, and the method that was
eventually adopted was that of the property laws, along with its idea of
coparceny. Since a peerage dignity (a seat in the House of Lords) is not
divisible (you couldn't have three people each taking up a third of a
seat), the doctrine was developed whereby when a person who held a barony
by writ died leaving coheiresses, the peerage fell into "abeyance", which
could be resolved either naturally (when all the descendants of all the
coheiresses but one died out) or by executive action (the Sovereign would
summon one of the coheirs to Parliament thus resolving the abeyance).

Okay, you've got these two ideas, the legal fiction of a "barony by writ",
and that a barony by writ can fall into "abeyance", right?

Thomas West, 8th Lord De La Warr (a "barony by writ") died in 1525, having
had two wives, first Elizabeth Mortimer and second Eleanor Copley. By his
first wife he had one son, Thomas, and by his second wife he had three
sons, Sir Owen, Sir George and Leonard. At the 8th Lord's death he was
succeeded in his barony by writ by his oldest son Thomas, 9th Lord De La
Warr. The 9th Lord died in 1554 leaving no children. He would have been
succeeded by his half-brother Sir Owen, but Sir Owen had died in 1551
leaving two daughters and coheiresses. So who was summoned to Parliament
to resolve the abeyance? Sir George's son William was summoned as Lord De
La Warr in 1570.

Nobody knows precisely why, though the fact that William West was at the
time a favorite of one of the factions at Court was probably a determining
factor. Nonetheless, because the rules of succession to a "barony by writ"
are now interpreted strictly, the current doctrine is that the older De La
Warr peerage is still in abeyance among the descendants of Sir Owen West's
daughters, and William West's 1570 summons created a new and different De
La Warr peerage.

William's 1570 summons in his uncle's peerage is even less understandable
in light of the fact that William tried to kill his uncle by poison, so as
to accelerate his own succession to the estates and title, and in
consequence was disabled from all honors by Act of Parliament, dated 1
February 4 Edw. VI (1549/50).

See the second edition of Cokayne's *Complete Peerage*, vol. IV [1916], pp.
155-159 for further details.

William Addams Reitwiesner


"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc."

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