Detailed discussion

N.B. Blue links are to more text or images; red links are references.


The inheritance of Guy son of Tieca

Reginald de Argentein (d.c.1203) inherited land which had been held by a certain Guy son of Tieca. (I shall use 'Tieca', as the form that appears consistently in the Pipe Rolls.) The contradictory evidence about the exact relationship between Reginald and Guy is examined here.

(a) Contemporary evidence

The contemporary evidence concerning Guy is as follows:

  1. In a charter of Henry II, addressed to his justiciars etc of England and Wales, the land of Guy son of 'Tece' is restored to him, and his part in the castration of Alan of Wales is pardoned.
    In the surviving transcripts of the document, he is said to be the son of 'Tece' (twice), 'Thece' or 'Tecij'.
  2. In the Pipe Roll from 1190 under Essex and Hertfordshire, Reginald renders account of 100 to have justice concerning the land which were of Guy son of 'Tiece' which pertain to him.
  3. In Pipe Roll entries from 1191 under Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, and from 1192 under Gloucestershire, Nicholas son of Robert (son of Harding) renders account of payments to hold in peace lands which were of Guy son of 'Tiece' which Reginald de Argent' claims.
  4. In the second confirmation of Richard I for Reginald de Argentein (1195), addressed to the justiciars etc of England and Wales (the first confirmation, concerning Great Wymondley, is addressed to the English only) he is promised justice concerning the land and inheritance 'Widon[is] fil[ii] The[c]ij aui sui', despite the castration of Alan of Wales. The natural translation here would seem to be 'his grandfather Guy the son of Thecius'.
  5. In 1202 Reginald claimed the advowson of 'Chederton', whereof 'Ticcia av[i]a ejus' was seised, and which had descended to a certain Guy, and then to Reginald's father, who had made the last presentation.

(b) The pedigree of 1591

The pedigree of 1591 purports to give the relationships between most of the people named in the documents mentioned above. Of course, a pedigree constructed 400 years after the event can have no intrinsic authority, but it is just possible that its authors had access to some evidence in addition to that above. For what it is worth, the version given by the pedigree is as follows:

                                 Teca, 'a noble man'                                  
                                 Guy son of Teca                        
                                 lord of Great Wymondley                
                     |                                    |             
                     |                                    |             
                     |                                    |             
                     |                                    |             
  John           = Helena                Nicholas      = Ala            
  de Argentonio    dau and coheir        son of Robert | dau and coheir 
  fl.temp.Stephen                                      |                
                                                 Roger son of Nicholas  
                                                 from whom the inheritance 
                                                 descended to Pointz    

Some corroboration for the version given in the pedigree can be seen in a Fine, dated 1205/1206, to which Roger the son of Nicholas and Richard de Argentein were parties. The fine concerned land in Everton and Tetworth (both near the Bedfordshire-Huntingdonshire border) and Weston (in Hertfordshire).

(c) Discussion

The evidence above is difficult to reconcile. On the one hand, the charter of Richard I seems to say that Guy was Reginald's grandfather (therefore his mother's father), and that Guy's father was Thecius. This is the version adopted by the pedigree. On the other hand, the form of the latter name in all the other sources appears to be a feminine one (even in the pedigree, where the name of the 'noble man' is spelled 'Teca'). Moreover, in 1202 'Ticcia' is said to be Reginald's grandmother. In this case there would be two possibilities. She could be his paternal grandmother, a wife of the first Reginald, in which case Guy would presumably be her son by an earlier marriage. Or she could be his maternal grandmother, and Guy his mother's brother, in which case Reginald's father would have held part of the inheritance in right of his wife.

In summary, there seem to be three possibilities:

     1       2                                                                                  
   N = Tieca = Reginald       Reginald = N    N = Tieca       Reginald = N    Guy, son of Tieca 
     |       |                         |        |                      |                        
     |       |                         |        |                      |        |               
     |       |                         |        |                      |        |               
     |       |                         |     ___|____                  |     ___|              
     |       |                         |     |      |                  |     |                  
     |       |                         |     |      |                  |     |                  
     |       |                         |     |      |                  |     |                  
     |       |                         |     |      |                  |     |                  
    Guy    ?John = N                 ?John = N     Guy               ?John = N                  
                 |                         |                               |                    
                 |                         |                               |                    
                 |                         |                               |                    
                 |                         |                               |                    
                 |                         |                               |                    
                 |                         |                               |                    
                 |                         |                               |                    
                 |                         |                               |                    
              Reginald                  Reginald                        Reginald                                                                                                               

The evidence does seem fairly clear in favour of Tieca being a woman rather than a man. If she was an heiress, it would not be unknown for her son to be known by her name rather than his father's. In these circumstances, as the name is so uncommon, it is understandable that a scribe should on one occasion have accidentally changed the name into a male form.

As for Tieca's position in the pedigree, we seem to be faced with a clear choice between Richard I's charter and the plea concerning the advowson of 'Chederton'. We could perhaps try to reconcile the versions by translating the Latin of the charter as 'Guy the son of his [Reginald's] grandfather (grandmother) Thecius (Tieca)', although this would imply two scribal errors instead of one. Or we could argue that the version in the charter has Tieca's gender wrong, and so may be muddled as to the relationship as well. If in addition, we accept that the dispute between Reginald and Nicholas was in its origin a quarrel between coheirs (as given in the pedigree), this would imply that Tieca was Reginald's maternal grandmother (the middle possibility shown above). However, the evidence suggests rather that the difficulty arose because of Guy's offence against Alan of Wales, his lands having escheated as a result (and possibly being granted to Nicholas' family).

Without further evidence it is impossible to be sure what the correct solution is.

[Update (November 2011). William Johnston has kindly sent me details of a plea between Reynold's grandson, Giles de Argentein, and Nicholas, son of Roger, in Easter term 1252 [KB 26/146, rot. 1; available at the AALT website]. This record gives a pedigree according to which Wydo, son of Teca (apparently written Teta), had two daughters, Elena and Ala, Elena being the mother of Reginald and Ala the mother of Roger, the father of Nicholas. It is also stated that Nicholas was the grandson of Nicholas, son of Robert, son of Harding. This or a similar record was presumably the basis of the relationships shown in the pedigree of 1591. Clearly this adds more weight to the probability that Guy was Reginald's maternal grandfather, though the pedigree was recorded several generations after the event, and may be partly dependent on the wording of Richard I's charter, which is also quoted in the record.]

The career of Richard de Argentein

(a) Basic chronology

Richard de Argentein was married to his first wife Emma by 1200, so he could not have been born much later than 1180. It could be questioned whether this is the same Richard who died in 1246, after a long and active career, or whether there are really two successive Richards in the pedigree. In fact there is only one, as shown below.

It is clear from the following pieces of evidence, considered chronologically, that the eventual successor Giles de Argentein was the son of the Richard who married Cassandra, daughter of Robert de Insula, about 1204:

Clearly there can be no intervening generation between Richard, the husband of Cassandra, and Giles.

Moreover, an examination of Richard's official career suggests that it was he, as a former royal steward, who in 1234 was entrusted, with the Earl of Hereford, with the seizure of Pevensey Castle, and not another man of the same name. There is no reason to doubt that he was the Richard de Argentein who died in 1246 holding the manor of Great Wymondley, rather than an otherwise unknown son of the same name (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem).

(b) Richard the Crusader

The evidence for Richard's presence on Crusade at Damietta in 1220 is his letter to his kinsman Richard de Insula, Prior of St Edmunds (and also the narrative of Walter of Coventry, though that may ultimately derive from the same letter).

This letter was accepted without question by Round (p.266), who relates the story of the miraculous punishment of the Fleming who abused the statue of St Edmund. However, there is apparently a problem with the letter, in that Richard de Argentein calls Richard de Insula his 'cognatus', which should strictly mean a blood relative on his mother's side. But as argued above, a son of the marriage between Richard de Argentein and Cassandra could have been at most in his early teens when this Crusade departed, and even if he had been present, he could hardly have played the prominent role suggested in the letter. If the letter is genuine, the word 'cognatus' must have been used in a looser sense, to mean a relative of Richard's wife. This does seem to have happened on occasion: an example from about a century earlier is that William of Grandmesnil of Apulia is called 'cognatus Boemundi', having married Bohemond's sister Mabel (Runciman, vol.1, p.238, citing H.Hagenmeyer, Chronologie de la Premiere Croisade (1902), p.166).

Dugdale (vol.1, pp.614-615) says that Richard went on Crusade in 14 Henry III, 'being a noble Knight and valiant in arms', and has been copied in this statement by subsequent authors. But this seems to be a clear misunderstanding of the passage in Matthew Paris, for the year 1228, where Richard is referred to as 'quidam nobilis miles et in armis strenuus'; this passage says that Richard had already visited the East, presumably referring to the Crusade a decade earlier. (It is true that there is a statement in April 1230 that Richard has gone overseas on the king's service, but this seems likely to be related to Henry III's imminent military expedition into France.)

The Dunstable Chronicle, in a rather garbled account, says that a Richard de Argentein was in command of the citadel when Jerusalem fell in 1244. At first sight it is difficult to believe that this could be Richard of Great Wymondley, who must have been in his 60s at the time. But in fact it was common for Englishmen to go crusading at an advanced age. Two examples are Saher de Quincy, the first Earl of Winchester, who died at Damietta in 1219 and Robert, the third Earl of Leicester, who died en route to Jerusalem in 1190. The first was perhaps in his late 50s, and the second probably in his 60s (Complete Peerage, vol.12, part 2, p.750 and vol.10, App I, p.106, note (b)].). Whether or not this was Richard of Great Wymondley, it seems that his age alone would not necessarily have prevented him from being at Jerusalem in 1244.

The marriage of Giles de Argentein to Margery, daughter of Robert Aguillon

There are a number of contradictory statements about the marriages of Margery, the daughter, and one of the heirs, of Robert Aguillon, and her ancestry, in secondary sources. Much of the confusion seems to originate from Blomefield's account, according to which Margery's heir was Andrew de Sackville, the son of Jordan de Sackville. In particular, Blomefield is followed by Phillips, who makes the same statement, citing later evidence ('a roll', Hillar. 13 E I, rot.23 (from Essex MSS, coll. Joh. Anstis), and Plea Rolls (fo.32 Hillar. 7 E III, from Coll. Top. Gen. i 276)).

If we work from strictly contemporary evidence, however, the identity of the heirs of Robert Aguillon seems clear:

It seems clear that Robert Aguillon's four daughters were:

  1. Isabella, who married Robert de Cockfield and had a son Adam.
  2. Joan, who married firstly Ralph fitz Bernard and secondly Imbert Pugeys, and by the latter had (presumably) a son Roger.
  3. Ela, who married Thomas de Ponings and had a son Luke.
  4. Margery, who married Giles de Argentein and had a son Reginald.

The evidence above suggests that Margery married Giles before 1239 and lived until 1267, when Giles is mentioned, but was probably dead by c.1274, when her son Reginald appears (there is no doubt that Reginald was of age by 1267). Judging by Jordan de Sackville's Oxfordshire Inquisition Post Mortem, and others quoted by Phillips, his son Andrew was born 9 October 1253, at which date Margery was certainly married to Giles de Argentein. Andrew de Sackville does not appear in connection with the property until c.1282 (although Blomefield (vol.2, pp.181,183; vol.8, pp.412,413) gives some references vaguely dated 'temp.Henry III', in fact they must be later). The later records quoted by Phillips must be in error (Andrew perhaps being changed from 'successor' of Margery into her 'heir').

One other feature of Margery's ancestry disclosed by the evidence above is that her mother was Margery, the daughter of William de Fresney, and not, as usually stated, Agatha, the daughter and coheir of Fulk de Beaufo (Blomefield, vol.2, p.178, vol.8, pp.412,413; Farrer, vol.3, p.111). Note that Phillips makes this Agatha the mother, not the wife, of Robert Aguillon, which would resolve the problem.

In summary, Margery's family was as shown below:

                                   William de Fresney                                          
                             |                          |                                      
                             |                          |                                      
                             |                          |                                      
                             |                          |                                      
        Robert Aguillon = Margery                    Idonea                                    
                        |                            de Beche                                  
                 |                      |                            |                    |    
                 |                      |                            |                    |    
                 |                      |                            |                    |    
                 |                   1  |   2                        |                    |    
  Robert de = Isabella    Ralph fitz = Joan = Imbert    Thomas de = Ela    Giles de  = Margery 
            |                               |                     |                  |         
  Cockfield |             Bernard           | Pugeis    Ponings   |        Argentein |         
            |                               |                     |                  |         
            |                               |                     |                  |         
            |                               |                     |                  |         
            |                               |                     |                  |         
           Adam                        [?]Robert                 Luke             Reginald     

The marriage of Reginald de Argentein to Lora, daughter Hugh de Vere

(a) Evidence for the marriage

The direct evidence for the marriage of Reginald de Argentein and Lora de Vere is an abstract of their marriage settlement included in the 'Argentein evidences', compiled, apparently, in the late 16th century, probably in connection with the drawing up of the pedigree of the Alingtons. In one manuscript the evidences are followed by drawings of several Argentein gravestones, of which one, Reginald's, still survives in Baldock church. Lora's gravestone, complete with a rhyming French inscription, is designed to match Reginald's, and bears the arms of Argentein and de Vere. An accompanying drawing shows the same arms displayed alternately in a window.

The Alingtons were evidently proud of their descent from the de Veres, who were overlords of their principal manor of Horseheath, and the arms of Argentein, impaling de Vere, were on display at Horseheath Hall (Parsons, p.10). Given the inventiveness of the Tudor heralds and their desire to please, it is obviously worth seeking confirmation of the marriage from contemporary sources.

The manor of Ketteringham had previously been settled in marriage on Margaret, another of the daughters of Hugh de Vere, but the marriage must have been childless, as it reverted to the de Veres on the death of her husband Hugh de Cressi in 1262 (Blomefield, vol.5, p.89; Complete Peerage, vol.10, p.216). By 1265 it was among the lands of Reginald de Argentein which had been seized for his participation in Simon de Montfort's rebellion (Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous). In February 1266, when Reginald de Argentein was in prison as 'the king's enemy', Lora was granted the manor of Ketteringham, 'which is said to be of her marriage', for her maintenance and her children's (Patent Roll). (The manor continued in the Argentein family until the death of Reginald's grandson John, whose legitimate heirs were his three daughters.) So the contemporary evidence is perfectly consistent with the marriage of Reginald and Lora, although it is not referred to explicitly.

Apart from Ketteringham, Reginald had one other estate seized by the royalists in 1265, at Fordham and 'Wisermundeford' in Essex (Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous). He later recovered this estate, which passed to his son John, and was found in 1322 to be subject to an annual payment of 10 shillings to the Prior of (Earl's) Colne. Although there is no documentary evidence of it, it is possible that Reginald's tenure here was connected with his marriage to Lora, as her family was closely connected with the priory.

In the decades following his marriage, Reginald is found several times in connection with the de Veres: in c.1276 he was one of three sureties for his brother-in-law Earl Robert (Close Roll); in c.1284 he attested the marriage settlement of Robert's daughter Joan (Genealogist) and in 1293 he was granted yearly fairs at Newmarket and Halesworth, on the information of Hugh de Vere (presumably Robert's younger son) (Charter Roll).

It is worth noting that one of the most unreliable pedigrees of the family, drawn up by John Philipot, gives an entirely different identification for Reginald's wife Lora. Philipot says that Lora was the daughter of 'Robert Mountford'. The same marriage is attributed (impossibly) to the earlier Reginald de Argentein (d.c.1203) by the Swinhope pedigree and others. The origin of this statement seems to be a fine, dated c.1272, by which Robert de Montfort and his wife Petronilla conveyed land in Little Melton (near Ketteringham), in Norfolk, to Reginald and Lora, to be held by Reginald and Lora, and the heirs of Lora, from Robert and Petronilla, and the heirs of Petronilla. This has apparently been interpreted as a marriage settlement on the couple by Lora's father. But this is clearly not the case. Reginald and Lora had been married for nearly 10 years, and were to give 330 marks for the land in question. Moreover, Robert and Petronilla seem to have been, if anything, younger than Lora - Petronilla was born c.1248 (Complete Peerage, vol.8, p.463).

(b) Lora's death and burial

The drawing of Lora's gravestone, together with three others, including Reginald's, in Sloane MS 1301 (fo 146b), seems to prove that she was buried in Baldock church, as Reginald's gravestone remains there.

However, Blomefield (vol.4, p.417) says that Dame Lora, wife of Sir Reginald de Argentein, and sister to Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was buried in 1292 in the church of the Carmelites in Norwich. He is followed in this statement by the Complete Peerage (vol.1). It would appear that Blomefield's source is Weever, whose account of burials in the church of the Carmelites begins 'Sir Oliuer Ingham Knight, obijt 1292. Dame Lo... Argentein. Dame Eleanor Boteler [etc].' Blomefield seems to have transferred Ingham's date of death to Lora, as well as completing her name and adding those of her husband and brother.

If Weever's source was a gravestone rather than, for example, an obituary book, and if it refers to the same Lora (we know of no other), there is a puzzling conflict of evidence - she cannot have been buried both at Baldock and at Norwich. Perhaps the likeliest explanation is that Lora's gravestone at Baldock, which matches that of her husband, may have been prepared at the time of Reginald's death, and that in her widowhood, Lora perhaps retired to the manor of Ketteringham (which she had brought to the marriage) and was buried at Norwich nearby.

The wives of William Argentein (d.1419)

Presumably William was married to Isabel, the daughter of William de Kerdeston, soon after his father received licence to entail property on the couple, in May 1381 (Patent Roll). Isabel is mentioned again as 'now the petitioner's wife' in a writ of plenius certiorari in April 1383 (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem) and as William's wife in orders to the escheators of Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk May 1384 (Close Roll). This is the last definite reference to Isabel, although one pedigree gives the gives the date 'Ao 5 H 4' 1403 or 1404) beneath her name, suggesting she was still alive at that date (Davy). If she were still alive at this date, she must have been the mother of William's son John (who fathered his eldest daughter in 1411). Unfortunately the source for the date is not stated, and it cannot be verified.

Around the same time, William Argentein was acting as a feoffee for the de Kerdeston family. In c.1394 he and Sir John Geneye released the manor of Oby to Cecilia, the widow of Sir William de Kerdeston (Blomefield, vol.11, p.177). In 1402, with Sir Miles Stapleton, he presented to the churches of Repham and Ashby, both in Norfolk, of which the advowsons belonged to the Kerdestons (Blomefield, vol.8, p.245; vol.10, p.95). But obviously, he may have continued to act as a trustee for his wife's family after her death, so these transactions do not prove she was alive at any of these dates.

Isabel certainly died within her husband's lifetime, and he had at least one more wife, for William left a widow Margery at his death in 1419. Indeed, he may have remarried more than once. In Philipot's pedigree, William's son John is given three wives: 'Isabell', 'Jane' and 'Margery d to Wm Calthorpe, Knight'. The final name is correct, but the first suggests that 'Isabell, Jane and Margery' have been transferred from the father to the son. However, Philipot's pedigree is far too unreliable and muddled for us to accept that William had a second wife, Jane, on this evidence alone. Another piece of evidence, a transcript by Cole of an order to give dower in a certain tenement in Newmarket to Margaret the widow of John de Argentein, seems to suggest that William had a wife called Margaret in January 1383. But this seems impossible to reconcile with the references mentioned above, which show Isabel living at least until May 1384. Probably the wife's name has been mistranscribed (the order cannot have been misdated by very much, as John's widow Margaret died in September 1383 - nor is it clear why such an order should be jointly addressed to William and any wife other than Isabel, on whom the Argentein estates had been entailed).

William's last wife, Margery, was identified by Hervey, on the basis of her will, the inscription and heraldry on her monument at Elstow, and the heraldry on John Hervey's monument at Thurleigh. This showed her to be the widow of John Hervey of Thurleigh, and the daughter of Ralph Parlys by his wife, who appears to have been of the family of Talbot of Richard's Castle, in Shropshire.

John Hervey seems to have been still living in 1407, and his monumental brass at Thurleigh can be dated to later than c.1410 on stylistic grounds (Hervey). William Argentein clearly married Margery late in life; certainly too late for her to be the mother of his son John.

The marriage of Walter Aslak to Margery, the widow of John Argentein

Several pedigrees show this Margery remarrying to a man called 'Aske'. One pedigree alone (in British Library, Harleian MS 4204, fo.358) calls him 'Aslake' (or 'Astake').

Some further light is shed by a local legend recounted by Blomefield (vol.5, p.181):

In the chancel window at Aslacton, co Norfolk, is the picture of an infant in swadling clothes, which, according to tradition represents an orphan so left at the church style; this orphan was brought up by the parish, and from the town was called Aslac. He was said to have become a man of renown, standard bearer to Edward III, and to have married the daughter of Sir Oliver Calthorp knt, of Burnham.

A number of impaled coats of arms connected with the Calthorpe family were in the window, including (13th) Aslac and Calthorp and (14th) Argentein and Calthorp.

Elsewhere (vol.10, p.464), Blomefield blazons arms formerly in the church windows at Sprowston, including Argentein, Calthorp impaling Aslake [blazoned], Calthorp and Argentine. (These last two are similar to those at Aslacton, described above, but reversed, perhaps through the glass having been placed the wrong way round in the window at some stage.) Blomefield adds (p.462) that Walter Aslake esq of Sprowston had a protection 10 H VI [1431 or 1432], being in France in the retinue of John Duke of Bedford.

The final piece of evidence is an indenture, dated October 1422, attesting that John Tolle of South Elmham has delivered to Walter Aslak, armiger, specified rolls of the manor of Gisleham (Davy). Note that John Tolle had previously acted as an Argentein feoffee, and that Gisleham was one of the manors which Margery had previously granted to William Argentein for his life.

Putting these indications together, it is clear that Margery married Walter Aslak of Sprowston before 1422. Further confirmation is provided by Walter Aslak's appearance as a feoffee with Margaret, the widow of Richard Calthorpe, c.1438 (Gybbons). This Richard Calthorpe was Margery's brother.

The Aslacton legend provides an interesting example of how traditions containing a grain of truth can be distorted with the passage of time. Margery was the granddaughter, not the daughter, of Sir Oliver Calthorpe, and Walter Aslak certainly did not start life as a destitute orphan (in 1402 John Aslak of Sprowston was a serjeant at arms: Blomefield, vol.4, p.166). Clearly Walter Aslak was never Edward III's standard-bearer, but apparently this office was held by John de Pierpoint, who married Sir Oliver Calthorpe's sister Ela (Lee-Warner). And it is easy to see how this bit of the legend attached itself to the chancel window at Aslacton, because another of the shields listed by Blomefield contains none other than the arms of 'Pierpound' impaling Calthorpe!