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Richard de Cornwall

circa 1255 - 1296

Father Richard, Earl of Cornwall
Mother unknown
Wife Joan
Children Edmund, Geoffrey, Richard, Joan


Richard was probably born sometime around the mid 1250s (1), the illegitimate son of Richard, earl of Cornwall (5). His mother is unknown, although it has often been claimed, without any proof, that she was named Joan de Valletort.

He was made Sir Richard by 1277, at which time he was a knight serving for his brother Edmund, earl of Cornwall (4). He maintained a close relationship with Edmund throughout his life, often witnessing Edmund's grants, travelling overseas with him, and fighting alongside him.

He married a woman named Joan (7)(10)(11), and their eldest known son Edmund (7)(18) was born around the late 1270s (8). They had another son Geoffrey about 1288 (12)(19). They may also have had another son Richard and a daughter Joan, amongst others (13).

In 1280 he went overseas with Edmund his brother, presumably on state business (14). In 1286 he had his seal stolen (15). In 1290 he witnessed a grant by his brother Edmund, giving land to Hailes Abbey, which his father had founded (16).

He died in the Siege of Berwick in 1296 (17). His wife survived him by at least 24 years (11)


Brief details of his children:



Sources:

  1. An estimated date of birth around the mid 1250s can't be claimed with any authority, but is based on the fact that the earliest recorded instance of him witnessing a charter (when he would almost certainly have been 21 or over) is in 1277 (2), meaning his birth was in or before 1256. Given that he appears relatively regularly after this (such as (3), and others not extracted here like Close Rolls 1272-1279 p 508; Charter Rolls 1257-1300 pp 240-1; Patent Rolls 1281-1292 pp 132-3 etc) implies that the reason he doesn't appear beforehand is because he had only recently come of age. "Knights of Edward I", 1929, claims that he was already a knight on January 1st 1277 (4), but I have not had chance to check the given source (Parliamentary Writs) yet.
  2. "Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward I, 1272-1281", 1901, page 211, lists the inspeximus of a writing dated May 14 1277, whereby John de Sancto Johann granted his manor of Sottewelle to Nutus Fulberti of Florence. Amongst the witnesses were Sir Edmund, earl of Cornwall, and Sir Richard de Cornubia.
  3. "Calendar of the Charter Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Vol III, 1257-1300", 1906, page 208, lists:
    Aug 10 1278. Inspeximus and confirmation of a charter, whereby Edmund, earl of Cornwall, gave to St Mary and the monastery of Hailes and the monks there the church of Hemelhamsted, co Hertford, with all its chapels, to be held in frank almoin; witnesses: Sir Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, Sir Geoffrey Russel, knight, the donor's steward, Master Roger de Seyton, king's justice, Sir Robert Malet, Sir Richard de Cornubia, Sir Walter de la Puylle, knights, Master Walter de la Mare, Michael de Northampton, Roger de Draiton, clerks;
          and of another charter, whereby the said earl gave to the said monks the church of Northle in the diocese of Lincoln to hold in frank almoin; witnesses as above, except Master Walter de la Mare.
  4. "Knights of Edward I", Volume 1, Harleian Soc, 1929, page 239, gives the following information:
    CORNWALL, Sir Richard de, Kt. (Cornewayle). Arg. On a fesse sa. 3 bezants. Base son of Richard, King of the Romans. A Knight serving for Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, 1 Jan 1277 (P.W.) Witness chartes of Said Edmund 10 Aug 1278 and to 1295 (Cart.R.). Notice that he has lost his seal through cutting of his purse, and therefore came to Chancery desiring that his loss should be known, 25 Nov 1286 (C.R.) Dead 3 Dec 1300, leaving widow Joan, son and heir Edmund, and younger son Geoffrey (Inq). His will proved at Lincoln 1300 (Gibbons' Early Lincoln Wills).
  5. The evidence for Richard being an illegitimate son of Earl Richard is far from definitive, although it is widely accepted (e.g. (4)). That he was Earl Richard's son can be seen from indirect references to the relationship (such as charters of 1286 and 1294 naming him as brother of Edmund, earl of Cornwall, Richard (king of Almain)'s eldest son and heir (6)), but his illegitimacy is more open to the possibiity of doubt as no contemporary documents mention it. For example in his "Antiquities of Shropshire" Eyton mentions that when Thomas Milles made this claim in his "Catalogue of Honour" in 1610 he invoked the wrath of Sir Thomas Cornwall, a descendant, who claimed that Richard was a legitimate son. Sir Thomas's letter of complaint is reproduced in "The House of Cornwall", by Liverpool & Reade 1908, but it is a confused and rambling document, which basically claims that Richard and his sons would not have been named as brothers and cousins of Earl Richard's legitimate family if he had been illegitimate.
    The clinching argument must be the fact that his "brother" Edmund, the next Earl of Cornwall's next heir was his cousin once removed, the king, indicating that there was no no other (legitimate) living male descendants of his father Earl Richard. Hence Richard would seem to have had to have been illegitimate.
  6. "Calendar of the Charter Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Vol II, 1257-1300", 1906, pages 331-2, lists a charter of 1286 from Edmund, earl of Cornwall which has "Sir Richard de Cornubia, brother of the earl" amongst the witnesses. Another charter from 1294 (page 443) describes him the same way.
  7. "Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and other analogous documents preserved in the Public Record Office, Vol III, Edward I", 1912, entry no. 604, concerns the extensive lands of Edmund, Earl of Cornwall. Most of it is of no relevance here, but the following snippets are :
    Writ 26 Sept 28 Edw I (See Calendar of Fine Rolls, Edw I, p433)
    Edward, king of England his kinsman, is his next heir and of full age.
    ...
    Undated Inq.
    OXFORD. Esthall. 1/5 fee held by Edmund, son and heir of Richard de Cornubia.
    ...
    Pleas at York, 15 days from the day of Holy Trinity, 29 Edw I.
    OXFORD. Esthall. Margaret, late the wife of Edmund earl of Cornwall, by her attorney, seeks 1/3 of two parts of the manor and advowson of church as her dower, against Edmund, son of Richard de Cornubia; who by his attorney comes and says that the said earl gave the manor to Richard his father, whose heir he is, to hold to him and the heirs of his body, with reversion to the said earl and his heirs, whom he bound to warrant the same; and that without the king, as heir of the said earl, he ought not to answer her: a day was given &c.
    LINCOLN. Thunnonk. The said Magaret seeks 1/3 of the manor and of the advowson of the church, as her dower, against the abovesaid Edmund; who says that the said earl gave the said manor to the said Richard and his heirs for ever &c : a day is given &c.
    BUCKINGHAM. Evre. The said Margaret seeks 1/3 of 3 caracutes of land, as her dower, against Geoffrey son of Richard de Cornubia; who by his guardian says that the said earl gave the land to the said Richard and his heirs for ever &c; a day is given &c.
    ...
    Pleas on the octave of St Michael, 29 Edw I.
    CORNWALL. Branel. The said Margaret seeks 1/3 of the manor and of the advowson of the church as her dower against Walter de Cornubia; who says that the said earl gave the same to him and his heirs &c, and he offered the earl's charter which testifies this; a day is given &c.
    ...
    Pleas 15 days from St Hilary, 30 Edw I.
    OXFORD. Esthalle. The said Margaret seeks 1/3 of 1/3 of the manor and of the advowson of the church, as her dower, against Joan late the wife of Richard de Cornubia; who says that she holds the same in dower of the inheritence of Edmund, son of the said Richard and calls him to warrant &c: a day is given &c.
    LINCOLN. Thumek. The said Margaret seeks 1/3 of 1/3 of the manor and of the advowson of the church against the same Joan; who says she holds the same in dower &c as above &c.
    ...
    Writ to William Haward and Thomas son of Eustace, concerning the manor and advowson of Thunnock whereof the said Margaret seeks 1/3 against Edmund son of Richard de Cornubia, and 1/3 of 1/3 against Joan late the wife of the said Richard &c. 23 Oct, 31 EdwI by council.
    ...
    Similar writ to Walter de Aylesburi and Walter de Muleswerthe concerning 1/3 of three caracutes of land in Evere, which the said Margaret seeks in dower against Geoffrey son of Richard de Cornubia ... 23 Oct 31 Edw I.
    ...
    BUCKINGHAM. Extent made at Cesham on Tuesday the morrow of the Epiphany, 32 Edw I.
          Evere. A messuage &c 180a arable, 24a meadow, 2a pasture, 70s 6d rent of free tenants, and perquisites of court, held by Geoffrey son of Richard de Cornubia, of the gift of the said earl.
    ...
    Similar writ to Walter de Aylesbury and Nichiolas de Spershete concerning the manor and advowson of Esthall, whereof the said Margaret seeks 1/3 of two parts against Edmund son of Richard de Cornubia, and 1/3 of the third part against Joan late the wife of the said Richard ... 23 Oct 31 Edw I.
    ...
    OXFORD. Extent made at Wodestok on Saturday after the Epiphany, 32 Edw I.
          Esthalle. The manor (extent given), whereof Edmund son of Richard de Cornubia holds two parts and Joan late the wife of the same Richard holds the third part.
    ...
    Writ to Gilbert de Knovill and Thomas de la Hyde concerning the manor and advowson of Branel, co Cornwall, whereof the said Margaret seeks 1/3 against Walter de Cornubia
  8. An estimated date of birth for Edmund of around the late 1270s can't be claimed with any authority. However, he appears in the rolls in 1301 (9) (at which time he would have been 21 or more), in the first of numerous entries regarding a dispute with his aunt Margaret, widow of Edmund, earl of Cornwall, over the manors of Asthall in Oxfordshire and Thunnock in Lincolnshire (which, it is claimed in "The House of Cornwall", by Liverpool & Reade 1908, was granted to his father in 1280 by Earl Edmund. No primary source for this is cited, but the transcription of a letter from Sir Thomas Cornwall to the heralds from 1623, refers to this grant, although doesn't mention its date, as being amongst the documents made available to them to prove his lineage). (c.f. also (7)(20)(21))
  9. "Calendar of the Close Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward I, Vol IV, 1296-1302", 1906, page 491, lists:
    May 26 1301. Edmund de Cornubia came before the king, on Friday in Whitsun week, and sought to replevy his land in Asthalle, which was taken into the king's hands for his default before the justices of the Bench against Margaret, late the wife of Edmund, earl of Cornwall. This is signified to the justices.
          In like manner Edmund sought to replevy to Joan, late the wife of Richard de Cornubia, her land in Asthalle, which was taken into the king's hands as above (sic).
  10. "Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and other analogous documents preserved in the Public Record Office, Vol VIII, Edward III", entry no. 461, states:
    RICHARD SON OF GEOFFREY DE CORNUBIA
    Writ 24 October, 17 Edward III.
    NORTHAMPTON, Inq taken at Daventre, 30 October, 17 Edward III.
          Throp. The manor (extent given), held as of fee of Chokes by service of two parts of a moiety of a knight's fee, and five messuages and five virgates of land in Norton (extent given), which contain a moiety of the manor of Norton, held jointly with Sibyl his wife, by the grant of Geoffrey de Cornewaylle and Margaret his wife,......, by virtue of a certain fine levied in the king's court at York in 2 Edward III, to hold the said manor and its appurtenances to the said Richard and Sibyl and the heirs of their bodies, of the said Geoffrey and Margaret, and the heirs of the said Geoffrey, for ever, rendering yearly to the said Geoffrey and Margaret, for the lifetime of the said Geoffrey, 40 sterling, and to the heirs of the said Geoffrey a rose yearly, for all services &c with reversion of the said manor, and the messuages and land in Norton, in default of issue of the said Richard and Sibyl, to the said Geoffrey and Margaret and the heirs of the said Geoffrey, quit of other heirs of the said Richard and Sibyl, to be held of the chief lords of that fee, by the services thereto belonging, for ever.
          Norton. The other moiety of the manor (extent given), held, by the grant of Joan, late the wife of Richard de Cornubia, to the said Richard and the heirs of his body, of the said Joan and her heirs by the service of a rose yearly, by virtue of a fine levied in the king's court at Westminster in 10 Edward II. He held no other lands &c.
                He died on Monday next before St Denis last. Geoffrey his son, aged ... yeasr at the feast of the nativity of the Blessed Mary last, is his next heir.                                                                                                 C. Edw. III. File 69 (24)
  11. "Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward II, Vol II, 1317-1321", 1903, page 495, lists:
    Aug 6 1320. Licence for the alienation in mortmain by Joan, late the wife of Richard de Cornewaille, of 5 messuages, 4 tofts, 2 virgates of land, and 10s of rent in Asthalle and Asthallle Lyngeleye, to the prior and hospital of St. John, Boreford, to find a chaplain to celebrate divine service daily in the church of St Nicholas, Hasthalle, for the souls of the said Joan and Richard.
  12. See Geoffrey's page for details.
  13. A number of claims have been made for other children of Richard, but with only assertion and/or speculation to back them up. The most commonly asserted one (or two!) is of a daughter Joan, and this is based upon her being the sister of a Richard de Cornwall, rector of Walsoken (as per the IPM of her husband Sir John Howard, which names her as this Richard's sister). Hence the claim for both of these depend solely on Richard the rector being son of this Richard. Whilst this is feasible, and indeed it would seem likely that this Richard, whose father shared his name, should also name a son Richard, I have been unable to find any evidence to connect the two. Richard the rector, was first mentioned in the Patent Rolls of 1292 as being the king's clerk. Assuming him to be "of age" at the time, he would have to have been born no later than 1271, and hence the eldest son. Considering that he was still alive at the time of Edmund, earl of Cornwall's, IPM in 1300 (indeed he appears to have lived until at least 1331), it seems telling that he is not mentioned therein, along with his purported brothers, as holding land which the earl gave to their father. It seems to me that he is more likely to have been the son of this Richard's brother, Walter, and is not mentioned the said IPM, because Walter was still alive, and so still in possession of any land that was under dispute, rather than any of his children.
  14. "Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward I, 1272-1281", 1901, page 375, lists:
    June 2 1280. Protection with clause volumus, until Michaelmas, for Richard de Cornubia, going beyond seas.
    [same date] Letters for Edmund, earl of Cornwall, going beyond seas, nominating Henry de Shotesbrok and Michael de Northampton his attorneys until Michaelmas.
  15. "Calendar of the Close Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward I, 1279-1288", 1902, page 465, lists:
    Nov 23 1286. Memorandum, that Richard de Cornubia came into chancery, on Wednesday after St Katherine, and asserted tat he had lost his seal through the cutting of his purde, and he wished that this should be made known to all.
  16. "Calendar of the Charter Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Vol III, 1257-1300", 1906, page 349, lists:
    June 5 1290. Inspeximus and confirmation of a charter, whereby Edmund, earl of Cornwall, for the souls of Richard, king of Almain, his father, Sanchia his mother, and King Henry his uncle, gave to St Mary Heyles, and the abbot and monks there all his manor of Langeberge with appurtenances, to be held in frank almoin; witnesses, Sir Geoffrey Russel, Sir Thomas de Breaute, Sir Richard de Cornubia, Sir Henry de Sottebrok, Sir Walter de la Puylle, knights, Michael de Northampton, Adam Payne and Roger de Drayton.
  17. The "Annals of Worcester" (Annales de Wigornia, Annales Monastici volume 4 page 526) and the "Annals of Dunstable" (Annales de Dunstaplia, Annales Monastici volume 3 page 403), both contemporay records, record the death of Richard, brother of Edmund the earl of Cornwall, slain at Berwick on the penultimate day of March 1296. His death is also mentioned in numerous more modern books, as defining moment in the slaughter that took place there (for example "Robert the Bruce and the struggle for independence" 1897; "Life of Sir William Wallace of Elderslie"; "William Wallace: Braveheart", 1996, amongst many). King Edward had laid siege to Berwick in Easter 1296, where a group of about 30 Flemish Archers were holed up in the Red Hall. One of them got a lucky shot and managed to fire an arrow through the visor of Richard's helmet, killing him instantly. He was the only English knight to die in the siege, but his death so enraged Edward that he ordered the brutal slaying of the majority of the population of Berwick in response - estimates of the number killed range widely from 2-80,000 people, but it is often cited as the worst massacre in the history of the British Isles. "The political songs of England, from the reign of John to that of Edward II" (Wright, 1839) includes extracts from the chronicle of Peter Langtoft, canon of the priory of Bridlington at the time, and offers an English translation :
    ...the festival of Easter there, and afterwards went
    towards Berwick-on-Tweed, and besieged the town.
    The ill fated people at first surprised
    two ships of English, and put them to death
    King Edward heard of it, and attacked the gates;
    the English passed the ditches without respite.
    On Easter Friday in the afternoon he conquered
    the town of Berwick; the English slew there
    four thousand Scotsman, and many others perished
    Sir Edward lost there one knight and no more
    Richard de Cornwall was he, a Fleming struck him
    with an arrow which he shot out of the red hall
    Soon was the hall taken, the fire cleared the way
  18. "Knights of Edward I", Volume 1, Harleian Soc, 1929, page 239, gives the following information:
    CORNWALL, Sir Edmund de, Knt. De argent a un lion de goules corone de or, od la bende de sable besaunte de or. Oxon, (Parl, Stepney). Dargent ove i lyon de gul' corone dor i bastoun de sable besauntee (Boro). Son and heir of Sir Richard (above, died 1300) (Inq). King's yeoman. Grant of free warren at Thonnayk, Lins, and Esthall, Oxon, 30 Sep 1301 (Cart R.) Has suit against Joan, widow of his father, re tenement at Thunnayk, and against Abbot of Hayles re tenement at Esthalle, 8 Mar 1303. Has suit re tenement at Northorpe, Lins, 20 May 1304 (C.R.). King's yeoman and kin. Grant of custody of lands of Brian de Brompton, deceased, in minority of his 2 daughters and coheirs, Matilda and Elizabeth, 2 Jan 1305 (P.R.). Knighted with Edw, Prince of Wales, 22 May 1306 (Shaw). Serving for King in Sctoland, he has Licence to sell oaks in Ashalle wood in Whicchewode Forest 3 Sep 1306 (P.R.). His wife Elizabeth, a minor, is daughter and coheir of Brian de Brompton 3 Mar 1309 (Inq). He holds Kimlet Manor and lands at Staegge and Ashe, Salop, in her right, 21 Dec 1309 (Inq). Being now 14 and of age, taht manor and lands are assigned as her portion of her father's lands 15 Mar 1310(C.R.) As his widow she sealed, 1355, with his arms, impaling 2 lions passant (Birch).
  19. "Knights of Edward I", Volume 1, Harleian Soc, 1929, page 239, gives the following information:
    CORNWALL, Sir Geoffrey de, Kt. Dargent ove i lyooun de gul' corone dor, i bende de sable, en la bende iii molez dor (Boro). Younger brother of Sir Edmund (above), son of Sir Richard (above, died 1300). His wife Margaret is daughter & coheir of Hugh de Mortimer 15 Feb 1308. She is aged 14 and coheir also of Wm de Mortimer of Hamme 2 Nov 1308 (Inq), and is to have moiety of Burford Manor, Worc, and other lands 2 Mar 1309 (C.R.) Geoffrey de Cornwall holds King's Nymet Manor, Devon, late of Alan la Zouche, 5 May 1314 (Inq). Remission of scutage 26 Apr 1315, for inheritence of Hugh de Mortimer, as he had served for 3 Knight's Fees in Ess in 28 and 31 Edw I, and was dead 12 Aug 1304 (C.R.). Grant of free warren at Stipleton, Hereford; Burford, Salop; Norton, Nothants; Auberden, Essex, and Nymynton Regis, Devon, 22 Nov 1316 (Cart R). Grant of farm of the half Hundred of Ovres, Salop, at 6/8 rent, 10 May 1317, and of Macclesfield and Overton Manors, Ches, at 301 8s rent, 6 Mar 1319 (F.R.). Having served for 1 Fees in Salop in 4 Ed II, has his scutage in divers counties 23 Aug 1319 (S.R.) and 18 Sep 1320 (C.R.). He was ancestor of Cornwall, Barons of Burford, &c.
  20. "Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward I, 1301-1307", 1898, page 197, lists a long entry, which starts :
    Oct 23 1303. Commission to Walter de Aylesbury and Nicholas de Spershet to make an etent by jury of the county of Oxford of the following lands, &c, of which Margaret, late the wife of Edmund, sometime earl of Cornwall, the kig's kinsman, who held in chief, prays before the justices of the Bench to have the third part as dower, to wit:-
          Against Edmund son of Richard de Cornubia, a third of two parts of the manor of Esthall with the advowson of the church.
          Against Joan, late the wife of the said Richard, a third of a third part of the said manor and advowson. ...
  21. "Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward I, 1301-1307", 1898, page 332, lists:
    April 1 1305. Grant to Edmund de Cornubia, king's kinsman, son of Richard de Cornubia, sometime king of Almain, that in his manor of Thunnayk, co Lincoln, he may have his free court, view of frank pledge of all the tenants of the fee and all the members of the manor, to wit, Laghton, Wyflesworth, Northorp, Yolthorp, Tunstall, Upton, Wadyngham, Suthorp, Nettleton, Clexby, Houton, Housum, Est Rasen, Waltreth, Walesby, Thevelby and Cokewald, infangethef, gallows, fines for breach of assize of ale, tumbrell, thewe, animals called 'wayf', fines for hue raised within the manor, and blood shed there and chattels of felons indicted there; as it appears by inquisition made by the sheriff of Lincoln, that Henry de Munden, Richard, father of the said Edmund, Edmund, sometime earl of Cornwall and Richard de Cornubia, heretofore lords of that manor, enjoyed the said franchises.



Notes:

I suspect that the children I have listed to Richard's son Edmund, may actually have been his grandchildren, and that another Edmund came between the generations. However, as this doesn't concern my direct ancestry, further research is way down my list of priorities.


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