Peter Worden's Magna Carta Surety Ancestors

John R. Schuerman


Six Magna Carta sureties are likely to have been ancestors of Peter Worden I, the immigrant to New England.  Some of them were also crusaders, as we shall see.


The Magna Carta was signed by King John in the meadow of Runnymede on June 15, 1215.  It was the culmination of a long series of events.  The principals in this drama were the king and the barons, but many other actors had roles as well, including the Kings of Scotland, William I ("the Lion," also an ancestor of Peter Worden) and Alexander II; Pope Innocent III; the King of France, Philip-Augustus; the German emperor, Otto IV; and various princes of Wales and counts in France.  These actors were involved in various shifting alliances.


Conflict between the king and the barons had a long history, going back to William the Conqueror's son and successor, William II, Rufus (Rufus ruled from 1087 to 1100; William I had problems too, but he ruthlessly put down challenges to his authority and besides, he gave away most of England to his pals from Normandy).  King John (ruled 1199-1216) was preceded by his father, Henry II (ruled 1154-1189) and his older brother Richard I (ruled 1189-1199) both of whom had problems with the barons.  But the barons got thoroughly fed up with what they thought was John's arbitrary and tyrannical rule.  Besides that, he was losing battles, most notably with the French. 


William the Conqueror (called at the time "the Bastard" since he was the illegitimate son of his father, Robert) was Duke of Normandy, and he continued to hold that territory when he became king of England.  His successors managed to conquer other parts of France.  Early in King John's reign, Philip-Augustus took over most of the parts of France that England held (except Acquitaine), without much of a fight.  In 1214, John tried to take them back but suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Bouvines. 


Theoretically, the Pope was at the head of the feudal order of the day.  All Christian temporal monarchs owed him fealty, and annual payment.  John, along with a number of other monarchs, rebelled against this idea.  In addition, there was a dispute with the Pope over the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  As a result, Pope Innocent III (pope from 1198 to 1216) put England under an interdict in 1208 and excommunicated John in 1209.  Innocent enlisted Philip-Augustus to enforce the sanctions on John and England and faced with the possibility of invasion, John submitted to Innocent in 1213, acknowledging that England was a papal fief and agreeing to appropriate tribute. 


By this time, many of the English barons were disgusted with John.  He had lost Normandy and most of English France and had made England subject to the Pope.  The barons were most unhappy with the high taxes they had to pay to support the wars and with the demands of John that they provide knights for his excursions.  London had been granted limited powers of self-government in 1191 and became the center of the baronial rebellion, which included its mayor.  Many of the most radical of the conspirators were from the north (they were called "the northerners" by chroniclers of the day) including most of those I discuss below.  At Easter 1215, the barons met at Stamford and presented a series of demands on the king.  When he refused, they renounced their homage and went on the attack at Northampton.  In June they met with John at Runnymede and engaged in hard bargaining, resulting in the Magna Carta. 


The Magna Carta is thought of as the foundation of constitutional government and the rights of man.  It does contain a number of provisions for the protection of the common man (or at least "free men") against arbitrary exercise of authority, but its main objective was the protection of the interests of the barons.  It was the first written limitation on royal power, codifying previous unwritten understandings of those limitations.  One of its provisions was that 25 barons be chosen to enforce the charter (the "surety" clause, this was dropped from later reissues because of objections from subsequent kings and because it had proven ineffective).  The 25 were not named in the charter and it is not known how they were chosen.  Probably, they forcefully nominated themselves.  The 25 chosen were generally the most radical of the rebels.  Many of the 25 were related by blood or marriage and subgroups had collaborated in military operations.  Some were rivals for power over various lands. 


John had no intention of abiding by the Magna Carta and he began abrogating its provisions soon after he signed it.  He got Pope Innocent, with whom he now had good relations and who needed John for his own political reasons, to nullify the charter and excommunicate the 25 sureties.  Attempts were made to confiscate their lands.  Civil war ensued.  The barons attempted to connive with the kings of France and Scotland against John and a group of them went to France to offer the English crown to Prince Louis, the son of King Philip.  John died in 1216 and was succeeded by his son, Henry III who served until 1272.  The conflicts between the barons and the crown continued.


Of the 25, seven have no known descendants beyond the fourth generation.  About another, William de Hardell, the mayor of London, little is known of his family.  The descents of the remaining 17 have been extensively studied, most recently by Douglas Richardson in his Magna Carta Ancestry (2005).  I said above that "six Magna Carta sureties are likely to have been ancestors of Peter Worden I."  One of those, Robert de Ros, is almost certainly an ancestor, through William Plumpton (d. 1362).  The other five are ancestors of John Mowbray (d. 1323).  Douglas Hickling has argued persuasively that John Mowbray was the father of Christiana Mowbray, the wife of William Plumpton (see  William Plumpton and Christiana were the parents of Alice Plumpton, the wife of Richard de Sherburne.  The accompanying chart shows the relationships.  I discuss below each of these men.


Sir Robert de Ros.  I have discussed Robert de Ros (c. 1170-1227) in a previous article in Wordens Past.  He was the husband of Isabel, the illegitimate daughter of King William I of Scotland.  An often told story is that King Richard I entrusted a French prisoner to him but the prisoner bribed the keeper of Robert's castle into letting him go.  As a result, the king hanged the castle keeper and fined Robert.  At first, Robert was in the good graces of King John and was enlisted to escort his wife's father to do homage to John in 1200.  During the next 14 years, things were up and down between the king and Robert.  In The Northerners, a Study in the Reign of King John J. C. Holt describes Robert as "a man of curious vacillations" and the Dictionary of National Biography says "he was clearly not the most reliable of men."  In 1213, he witnessed John's concession to the Pope.  But by Easter 1215 Robert had gone over to the baronial opposition, attending the meeting at Stamford.  After the signing of the Magna Carta, he continued in opposition to John and Henry III but submitted in 1217 and over the next few years recovered lands that had been confiscated from him by John. 


Sir Richard de Clare.  Richard de Clare (d. 1217) was the 3rd Earl of Hertford, son and heir of Roger de Clare and Maud, daughter of James de Saint Hilary.  Richard married Amice of Gloucester, daughter of William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester and Hawise, daughter of Robert de Beaumont.  However, Richard and Amice were separated by the pope in 1198 on grounds of consanguinity.  It is not clear whether they managed to get back together.


In 1173, Richard was suspected of involvement in actions against King Henry II led by Hugh le Bigod but he later supported Henry II in the rebellion of the king's son, "the young Henry,"  whom the king had crowned as co-monarch.  He generally seems to have been in the good graces of Kings Richard and John, up until 1215 when he joined the rebellious barons.  Before his death in 1217 he pledged fealty to Henry III and his lands were restored to him.


Sir Gilbert de Clare (c. 1180-1230), the 7th Earl of Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford, and 5th Earl of Gloucester, was the oldest son of Richard and Amice.  He was married to Isabel Marshal, daughter of William Marshal and Isabel Fitz Gilbert.  After King John's death, Gilbert aligned himself with Louis of France, who engaged in an attack on England.  In 1217, Louis and his forces besieged Lincoln castle.  Apparently, they did not fight too hard and were defeated by King Henry III's forces, led by Gilbert's soon to be father-in-law, William Marshal.  Gilbert got back into the king's good graces (and I guess those of his wife's family) and was present when Henry confirmed the Magna Carta (without the surety clause) in 1225.  Then in 1227 he sided with Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the king's brother, in Richard's uprising against the king.  The king and his brother settled that dispute and Gilbert led successful raids against the Welsh in 1228.  In 1230 Gilbert was with Henry in an expedition to Brittany and died there at Penros on October 25, 1230.


Sir Saher de Quincy (d. 1219) was the Earl of Winchester and the son Robert de Quincy and Orabel, daughter of Ness Fitz William.  He married Margaret de Beaumont, daughter of Robert de Beaumont and Pernel, daughter of William de Grandesnil.  In 1173 he was part of the rebellion of young king Henry.  Saher was part of the party that conducted William I of Scotland to pay homage to King John in 1200.  In 1203 he and his cousin, Robert FitzWalter, were in charge of the castle of Vaudreuil in France when it was attacked by King Philip of France.  The defense of the castle was quite incompetent and became the subject of derision by Saher's contemporaries.  Saher and his cousin were captured and imprisoned, later to be freed on payment of ransom (in those days, ransom was the source of a lot of income for kings and other magnates).  He served King John in various capacities, including ambassador to Otto IV, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, but in early April 1215 traveled to Scotland to meet with King Alexander II to try to get Alexander to join in an attack on King John.  He was present at Stamford at Easter.  After the signing of the Magna Carta, Saher was one of those who traveled to France to offer the crown to Prince Louis.  He continued to align himself to Louis after the accession of Henry III and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lincoln in 1217.  Later that year, he reconciled with Henry.  Saher had taken the crusader's vow, following his father, Robert, who had taken part with King Richard I in his crusade.  In 1219, Saher sailed for the Holy Land.  He died during the siege of Damietta, in northern Egypt, apparently of illness, rather than battle wounds, and was buried at Acre, Palestine. 


Sir John de Lacy (c. 1192-1240), the 3rd Earl of Lincoln, was the son of Roger de Lacy, constable of Chester, and his wife Maud de Clare.  John's second wife (married c. 1221) was Margaret de Quincy (d. 1266), daughter of Robert de Quincy and Hawise, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Chester.  Margaret was the granddaughter of Saher de Quincy.  Originally John de Lacy supported King John but then joined the rebels in June 1215.  After the signing of the Magna Carta he vacillated back and forth between loyalty and rebellion, depending on who was on top and on the pressure the king was placing on his possessions.  He held the castles of Pontefract in Yorkshire and Donington in Leicestershire.  The king captured Donington in late 1215 and in response John de Lacy repudiated the Magna Carta and gave up his brother as a hostage.  He rebelled again the next year, but after the defeat at Lincoln, pledged fealty to Henry III.  In 1218 he went on crusade and fought at the siege of Damietta.  For the next several years he was closely aligned with his father-in-law, the Earl of Chester, with whom he was involved in various machinations against the crown.  But he eventually made peace with the king and witnessed the confirmation of the Magna Carta by Henry III in 1225.  From then until his death he was generally supportive of the crown, serving in a number of important capacities. 


William de Mowbray (c. 1173-c. 1224) the son of Nele de Mowbray and his wife Mabel and the grandson of Roger de Mowbray.  He married Agnes d'Aubigny, daughter of William d'Aubigny and Maud de Saint Hilary (there is some dispute about William d'Aubigny's wife).  William was the Constable of York Castle.  He was with King Richard I in Germany during his return from crusading in Palestine, when Richard was captured and held for ransom.  William was one of the hostages for the ransom and paid heavily in the assessment of the barons for the ransom.  At the accession of King John he swore fealty in return for assurances of his rights.  William served the king in various ways for several years but lost substantial land in Normandy when that dukedom was lost.  His lands in England were forfeited when he joined the rebel barons against John.  He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lincoln and afterwards made peace with Henry III and his lands were restored. 



Note:  In previous articles in Wordens Past, I have discussed the Tempest family, ancestors of Peter Worden I.  Doug Hickling and I have written an article on some Tempest women which is posted on Chris Phillips's medieval genealogy website:


Sources:  English translations of the Magna Carta may be found at various places on the web (the original was in Latin, two original copies are in the British Library in London).  For general history I have depended on The Oxford Companion to British History; Norman Davies, The Isles (1999); and Wikipedia.  Various of the Northerners are discussed in J. C. Holt, The Northerners, A Study in the Reign of King John (Oxford, 1992).  For discussions of individual sureties, see Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry (2005) (Richardson has the descent from Robert de Roos to Peter Worden); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online through major libraries); I. J. Sanders, English Baronies (1960); and George E. Cokayne and others, The Complete Peerage.  The relevant articles in Complete Peerage are: Mowbray, v. 9, pp. 373-74; Quincy, v. 12(2), pp. 748-50 (under Winchester); Lacy, v. 7, pp. 676-80 (under Lincoln); Ros, v. 11, pp. 92-93; Gilbert de Clare, v. 5, pp. 694-96 (under Gloucester); Richard de Clare, v. 6, pp. 501-503 (under Hertford).  For the Clare family, see Michael Altschul, A Baronial Family in Medieval England: The Clares, 1217-1314, part of the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (1965).  For the Lacy family up to 1194, see W. E. Wightman, The Lacy Family in England and Normandy, 1066-1194 (Oxford, 1966). 


All of the sureties and most of their wives have traceable ancestry beyond that noted here. 


Descents from Magna Carta Sureties to Peter Worden I


Robert de Ros   Richard de Clare   Saher de Quincy              William de Mowbray

     | d.1226          | d.1217          | d.1219                      |  d.1224

     |                 |                 |                             |

William de Ros  Gilbert de Clare   Robert de Quincy               Roger de Mowbray

     | d.c.1264        | d.1230          | d.1217                      | d.1263

     |                 |                 |                             |

William de Ros         |           Margaret = John de Lacy             |         

     | d.1310          |           d.1266   | d.1240                   |         

     |                 |                    |             _____________|

Lucy de Ros     Richard de Clare = Maud de Lacy           |            

     |                  d.1262   |  d.1289                |            

     |                           |                        |            

     |                         Rose de Clare = Roger de Mowbray

     |                            d.>1316    |  d.1297

     |_________________                      |

                       |                   John de Mowbray

                       |                      | d.1323

                       |                      |

                  William Plumpton = Christiana de Mowbray

                   d.1362          |  d.1363


                              Alice Plumpton


From Alice Plumpton, the line to Peter Worden I is:

Alice Plumpton d>1408 = Richard de Sherburne

Margaret de Sherburne = Richard de Bayley d<1388/9

Richard Sherburne d.1441 = Agnes Harington d.1444

Richard Sherburne = Alice Hamerton

Agnes Sherburne = Henry Rishton d<1490

Nicholas Rishton d.1508 = Margaret Radcliffe d.1528

Agnes Rishton = Richard Worthington d.1526

Peter Worthington d.1577 = Isabel Anderton d.1573

Isabel Worthington = Robert Worden d.1580

Peter Worden I d.1638/9 = Margaret Grice