Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-07 > 1025991415

From: "Chris Phillips" <>
Subject: Isabel, wife/wives of William de Felton (d.1358)
Date: Sat, 6 Jul 2002 22:36:55 +0100

Douglas Richardson pointed out in March the evidence that Isabel, wife of
William de Felton of Edlingham (d.1358) was the daughter and heir of Duncan,
Earl of Fife (d.1353), whereas it had previously been believed that Isabel
married William de Ramsay, and that the latter held the earldom in her
right. (Oddly Isabel's marriage to William de Ramsay even seems to have been
believed by some - such as C.H. Hunter Blair, writing in Archaeologia
Aeliana in 1923 - who knew that she had married William de Felton, and knew
(or at least suspected) that William de Ramsay had been granted the earldom
before William de Felton's death.

The evidence for the marriage of William de Felton's marriage to Isabel of
Fife from Sir Thomas Gray's "Scalacronica" is confirmed by a contemporary
record from June 1351 of a papal reservation of a benefice for William de
Felton's son Duncan, at the petition of the king and queen, in which it is
stated that William was of kindred to the king on his wife's side (Isabel of
Fife was a cousin of the king). Isabel survived her husband (being named as
an executrix in his will) and married three times more.

Although it has also been assumed that Isabel died without issue, it seems
clear that William de Felton's son John (d.1396) was her child. His
inquisition post mortem says that the manor of Hinton, Northamptonshire, was
granted to William and Isabel and to their heirs of ther bodies, with
remainder to William's right heirs, that William and Isabel were both dead,
and that John was their son. This grant was by a fine dated June 1344. From
the facts that William's son by Isabel of Fife, Duncan, was old enough in
1351 for a petition to be made on his behalf for a benefice, and that Isabel
of Fife survived William, I think it's clear that the Isabel who was married
to William in 1344 was Isabel of Fife.

There is also an earlier Northumberland fine in which an Isabel, wife of
William de Felton, appears, which is dated in the quindene of St Hilary 6
Edward III. Possibly this is a potentially ambiguous date, as the feast of
St Hilary 6 Edward III would be 13 January 1332/3, but the quindene (ie week
beginning 15 days later) of St Hilary begins 28 January, and 28 January 6
Edward III would be 1331/2.

But looking again at the sequence of fines in the printed volume, and also a
couple of examples where there is a transaction in the quindene of St Hilary
and a later transaction in the same regnal year, it does seem clear that the
date of this appearance of Isabel, wife of William de Felton, is January

It does not seem possible that an Isabel appearing as the wife of William in
January 1331/2 can be Isabel of Fife.

For one thing, Isabel's mother Mary was granted safe conduct to join her
husband in Scotland only on 28 January 1319/20. Assuming that Isabel was
conceived after this date, she could not have been born much before the
start of 1321 (new style), which would make her only 11 at the date of the

Also, the "Scalacronica" says that Isabel married William de Felton while he
had her "in ward". On this basis, it's difficult to believe he could have
married her as early as January 1331/2, as the evidence from the
"Scotichronicon" has Isabel's father Duncan being taken prisoner at the
battle of Dupplin, 12 August 1332, submitting to Edward Balliol and
subsequently assisting at his, 24 September, but on 7 October being taken
prisoner at Perth, with his wife and daughter, by Edward Balliol's
opponents, James and Simon Fraser and Robert de Keith.

I'm not clear how Isabel of Fife would have come into William de Felton's
keeping, but at any rate, it seems that it must have happened after these
Scottish events, and so it seems that William de Felton's wife Isabel of
January 1331/2 must have been a different Isabel.

Perhaps the Isabel of 1331/2 was William's first wife, for whom Rosie Bevan
has made out a very strong case to be a daughter of Thomas de Grey of Heton.

Chris Phillips

This thread: