Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2003-06 > 1056918659

From: "Phil Moody" <>
Subject: Re: DD Corrections - a belated reply
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2003 15:32:54 -0500

comments interspersed:

Phil Moody wrote:
> PLM: If William Fitz-Nigel was constable of Chester, why does Farrer name
> constable of Hatton? William Fitz-Nigel had a son, William Fitz-William
> succeeded as constable, and whose death date is not give by Farrer. It
> be after the death of William Fitz-William when Agnes would have inherited
> constabulary from her deceased brother, presumably because she was older
> her sister Matilda. If the date of death of William Fitz-William can be
> determined, then we can determine when Eustace Fitz-John could reasonably
> constable of Chester.

CP calls William Fitz Nigel and his son barons of Halton and constables of
Chester. I haven't seen Farrer's "constable of Hatton" statement - I don't
know whether it's an error or a separate office.

PLM: The "constable of Hatton" should be Halton; which was a typo on my part.
It is given in EYC, iii, presumably on page 199 (my chart has no page number).
Both William Fitz-Nigel, and his son William Fitz-William are called
"constable of Halton" on this chart.

CP and DD (in Eustace's entry) follow Hatton's Book of Seals in saying that
Eustace became constable by 1139 (based on a royal confirmation of a gift of
the church of Flamborough to Bridlington priory, originally made by William
Fitz Nigel and confirmed by Eustace [citing Early Yorkshire Charters ii no
1144]). The editors of "Hatton's" interpret this as William's having either
died or been succeeded by that date; DD, in the entry on William Fitz
William, says that he died before 1149.

PLM: What is the basis for the editor's of "Hatton's Book of Seal" to assert
that Eustace Fitz-John succeeded as constable of Chester in 1139, when they
also assert that William Fitz-William did not die until 1149 - ten years
later? 1139 is a plausible death date for William Fitz-Nigel (if not earlier),
but I am still puzzled by how Agnes and Eustace came by the constabulary when
her brother still lived.

> The first charter confirms that Eustace Fitz-John and Agnes had two sons,
> Richard and Geoffrey, with no daughters mentioned at that time. I don't
> understand why Agnes' second husband is referred to as Robert Fitz-Count,
> it appears that it should properly be Robert Fitz-Earl. Is Robert's
> unknown? I thought all the Earls and their progeny were accounted for at
> time?

Fitz Count does seem an odd construction, but as comte was the French
equivalent of earl, it amounts to the same thing as Fitz Earl or "son of the
earl". I think the man is known only from this single charter. This is what
Hatton's Book of Seals says (p. 357):

PLM: If the land held was in England, then it should read Earl, but if the
land in question was on the Continent, then the term Count would apply, cf.
the Counts of Aumale. Since Robert Fitz-Comte's paternity is unknown; I
suppose it could be either.

"Farrer in his head-note describes the grantor as 'son of the constable of
the earl of Chester', and extends constabul' as constabularii. The order of
the words in the Latin makes such a rendering impossible and there can be no
doubt that the full extension is 'constabularius'. Robert was apparently the
illegitimate son of an earl of Chester, probably either of Ranulf I or
Ranulf II, though Richard (d. 1120) is a possible father. On the death of
Eustace fitzJohn Agnes's marriage would belong to the earl and would offer
an opportunity of providing for an irregular member of the family."

PLM: This is an intriguing possibility, but I still find it unusual that
Robert's patronymic is Fitz-Count/Earl.

> PLM: One alternative would be that Robert, constable of Chester, was
> holding the title for the rightful heir during his minority, John
> Fitz-Richard. 1166 may just be the year that John Fitz-Richard gained his
> paternal inheritance; so it is not certain that Robert Fitz-Count died
> year.

I would have thought that as Agnes's husband he would continue to hold the
office in her right so long as they were both alive, regardless of the
status of her son by a previous marriage. On the other hand, I don't think
we know when Agnes died, do we? I don't know enough about how these things
were usually done to say whether Robert would have continued to hold th
office after Agnes's death.

PLM: No, we don't know when Agnes died, but she was alive at the time Robert
Fitz-Count re-affirmed the grant by Eustace Fitz-John to Watton Priory. You
also cite a charter given by Agnes herself (presumably dated at the same time;
although the date is unknown) where you quote "pro salute domini & mea & pro
anima Ricardi filii mei & Gaufridi & ceterorum amicorum
meorum"; so what exactly does the Latin translate to in English?

> PLM: I don't see this as a valid argument against Richard Fitz-Eustace
> constable of Chester prior to his father's death in 1157. Eustace
> may have been to old to perform his duties; so he relinquished the title
> Richard before his death. I note Farrer has that William Fitz-Nigel occurs
> 1086; which I infer he was an adult of child bearing age; so what birth
> can we infer from this data for the 2nd wife of Eustace Fitz-John, Agnes?
> I adduce from it is that Eustace Fitz-John was probably to infirm to
> his duties as constable; it is quite reasonable for Richard to have
> the duties prior to his father's death.

I think my summary of the comment on the 1157 charter was perhaps a bit
misleading. This is the comment in full:

"VCH Lancs. i. 299, cites as evidence a charter of Henry II dated at Falaise
in 1157 (CDF, No. 613) which is witnessed by Richard the constable. But he
is undoubtedly Richard du Hommet, constable of Normandy. The charter itself
is, at least in its present form, doubtful. If it is to be accepted it must
be of an earlier date than Apr. 1157, when Henry II crossed to England, not
returning to Normandy until Aug. 1158. Since Eustace did not die until July
1157, his son could not have been constable early in the year."

I read that as saying that "Richard the constable" in a charter given in
Normandy was intrinsically most likely to be the constable of Normandy, not
of Chester. The follow-up argument is meant to prove beyond that, that
Richard couldn't have been constable of Chester that early.

If this is accepted, I think we have to say that there's no evidence that
Richard was ever constable of Chester.

PLM: I believe it possible That Richard Fitz-Eustace could have been constable
of Chester prior to his father's death (as previously mentioned), as Kings and
Earls stepped aside prior to their deaths to allow their sons to succeed them.
Nor do I think it impossible that the constable of Chester was with King Henry
II at Falaise in 1158. I'm not sure why you are dismissing Ormerod's drawing
of a seal of Richard the Constable, before giving it a peek.

> PLM: I agree. I would go further and say that it is HIGHLY probable that
> Richard Fitz-Eustace was constable of Chester, immediately before the
death of
> his father, Eustace Fitz-John. Richard continued as constable until his
> death c. 1163, at which time his step father Robert Fitz-Count assumed the
> title, due to the minority of Richard's heir John. In 1166, John
> became Constable of Chester; because he came of age and inherited his
> patrimony. This does not mean that Robert Fitz-Count could not have also
> that year, perhaps hastened along by John Fitz-Richard:-

I think what we can say is that Richard probably died before 1163 (so that
it's possible he died before his father), and that John was constable by
1166 (he could have become constable several years before).

Chris Phillips

PLM; We are agreed that Richard died in, or before 1163, but I still don't
believe the evidence is sufficient to assert that Richard died before his
father; although it remains possible.

Best Wishes,

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