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vision the defences of the realm, and that by the statute 14 Edward III. cap. 13, the people might not even be compelled to sell against their will, cited a case occurring at Devizes during the wardenship of John de Evesham. “That the statute” says he “in this particular was not the introduction of a new law, is cleared by the case Trin. 16 Edu. I. Rot. 93 Wilts in a little Roll, and in a great Roll of the same year Rot. 19 when in Trin., by John Eversham against John Flavel, because he had taken his corn stock. The defendant says, he was Constable of the King's castle of the Devizes, and having it in the King's precept that he should provision the castle with live and dead stock, he took an inquest to know where he might best have these provisions to the least damage to the country. The jury fixing on the plaintiff, he went to his house, and offered to purchase for the King's use: but the plaintiff refused to sell, and they departed from his house: the issue joined, and found against the defendant: 100 marks damages given the plaintiff, and adjudged.” State Trials. [abbreriated.] Flavel had in the first instance been fined 20 marks for contumacy in refusing to sell: so that the judgment cited by Mr. St. John was a reversal of the former sentence.
MATTHEW Fitz-John 1286. He bore the title of lord of Stokenham in Devon; and did homage not only for Devizes but for the manors of Erlestoke and Hakleston (Q. Haxton near Netheravon). The annals of this family furnish us with a glimpse of the early history of the seat at Erlestoke. Matthew Fitz-Herbert, Justiceitinerant in Wilts and other Southern counties in the reign of Henry III. resided at Erlestoke, towards the rebuilding of which, the King gave him ten oaks out of Chippenham forest. Rot. Claus. i. 443. The son who succeeded him in his Wiltshire estates was termed Herbert Fitz-Matthew, who died without issue, when they descended to a brother Peter, and then to a nephew John, to whom Dugdale gives a son, Matthew Fitz-John who died 2nd Edward II., no doubt, the Devizes Governor aforesaid.
Edward I. was often at Devizes, as proved by the numerous attestations here dated; once if not oftener he dates from Poulshot; while sundry entries on the Rolls relative to the transmission hither of dogs and falcons, indicate one at least of the objects of his periodical visits to these parts. During the early part of his reign, Queen Eleanor the widow of Henry III. was residing at Amesbury Nunnery; and there, Speed tells us, she was duteously visited by her son Edward whensoever it happened that he spent his Easters at Devizes. He was at Devizes when he heard of the rebellion of David the Welsh Prince's brother; and having issued prompt orders for the equipment of his army, he rode in a private manner to Amesbury to offer his salutations to the Queen-mother before entering on his campaign in the Marches of Wales.
King Edward being anxious to make Devizes part of the dowry of his second Queen, Margaret of France, agreed to receive it back from Matthew Fitz-John in exchange for the manor of Wrexhall in the Isle of Wight. This was in 1305. The Queen nominated as her seneschall at Devizes John Blewit; who in the first year of the following reign received an order to surrender the property into the hands of “our beloved and trusty"
HUGH LE DESPENCER 1307. During the Scottish wars of Edward I. and II. the castle became the temporary prison of distinguished captives belonging to that nation, as Edmund de Ramsay and William Olyfard in 1297, and David Lindsay in 1315. The usual residence of Hugh le Despencer in Wilts was, it is believed, at Fasterne House near Wootten Basset. For some further account of the estates of the Despencers, father and son, in this county, see the Wilts Magazine Vol. iii. The story of these two noblemen as the favourites of Edward II. is too well known to need recital in this place. It must suffice to say that the tenure of Devizes Castle must have passed virtually into the power of Queen Isabella and her paramour Roger Mortimer before Edward's death, since it was made the prison of his adherents, William de la Zouch and his wife Eleanor, even while the King and his council were sitting at Windsor. From this duresse, Roger Mortimer then informed the captives that they could purchase deliverance only by the surrender of their lands in Wales, Gloucestershire and other parts. “For the salvation of their lives and for doubt of death” they did indeed make a considerable sacrifice: but as the grant was forced, of course they petitioned for restitution as soon as Mortimer was slain. See their case in the Rotuli Parl. 4th Edward III.
SIR OLIVER DE INGHAM 1320. Presumed to be the son of John de Ingham [son of Oliver] who claimed Steeple Langford and East Grimstead after the death of John de Monmouth, mentioned above as hung for murder. He is described as a young, lusty, and valorous soldier, who greatly distinguished himself in Scotland and France, and was faithfully attached to Edward's cause at home. His monumental effigy, still in excellent preservation at Ingham in Norfolk, represents him grasping a spear with both hands, and reposing on a bed of stones; an attitude designed to attest the martial hardihood of the knight.
GILBERT DE BERWICK 1327. He was also Sheriff of Wilts 1335-6. His other estates appear to have lain at Norrington. See Jackson's List.
WILLIAM DE EDINGTON BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, Lord High Treasurer and Chancellor to Edward III. The length of his tenure we have not the means of declaring. He died in 1366.
PHILIPPA OF HAINAULT WIFE OF EDWARD III. Subsequently held the castle and manor, as part of the usual dowry of the Queen Consort; who dying in 1369 it was transferred to the hands of
ROGER DE BELLO CAMPO [BEAUCHAMP] 1369. Styled also Baron of Bletsho; one of the most accomplished knights of the chivalrous days of Edward III. His wife Sibyl acquired the manor of Lydiard Tregose. In the course of his wardenship at Devizes the castle was allotted for the habitation of the two sons of Charles de Blois, who were living in England as hostages for their father's ransom money. That Prince having engaged in a contest for the Dutchy of Bretagne with his uncle John Duke of Montford who did homage to Edward of England, was taken prisoner in 1347 by Sir Thomas Dagworth at the battle of la Roche de Rien; and after lingering in captivity for nine years, consented to pay 700,000 crowns for his ransom, and leave his two sons behind. Edward forgave him half the money, but the sons remained in England twenty years after this event, even long after the father's death. Entries in Rymer's Fædera shew them to have been committed to Lord Beauchamp's custody at two different periods.
In the last year of Edward's reign, Roger Beauchamp, being then Chamberlain of the Household, received, in consideration of his long and eminent services, an annual pension of 100 marks issuing out of the fee-farm of the town and castle of Devizes: his son, who bore the same name, succeeded him in the personal occupation thereof.
29 Edward III. The sum of £18 14s. arising from reclaimed parts of Chippenham, Pevesham, and Melksham forests, is ordered to be paid over by the Prioress of Amesbury, collectrix for the King, unto the porter of Devizes Castle during the lifetime of Roger Beauchamp, to be expended in the repairs of the castle; and also in the enclosing of the royal park there, under the supervision of the Parson of the Church and the Mayor of the Borough.
NICHOLAS DE SHARNEFFELD 1379.
ANNE, FIRST WIFE OF RICHARD II. 1390. This Queen was the daughter of the Emperor Charles IV. She died in 1392 ; during some years after which event, the absence of any known Governor of Devizes (though the King presents to the church] leaves us at liberty to conjecture that the post fell under the control of the renowned Sir William Scrope, Earl of Wiltshire and Treasurer to the King, who about this same time also obtained Marlborough Castle, and whose energetic management of the royal revenues drew from the Lord de Roos the sarcastic exclamation “The Earl of Wiltshire hath the realm in farm.” (See the History of Castle Combe by G. P. Scrope, Esq.) After Richard's deposition, and the accession of the Earl of Lancaster as Henry IV. this manor was again included in the jointure of the Queen,
JOAN OF NAVARRE, SECOND WIFE OF HENRY IV. 1412. Though this lady lived till 1437, there is reason to infer from the date of letters and of church-presentations, that long before that period, her occupancy of Devizes had been usurped by
HUMPHREY Duke of GLOUCESTER [1419 ?]. This nobleman, popularly known as “Good Duke Humphrey,” occupied the invidious position of Protector of the realm of England during the minority of his nephew Henry VI. until the ascendancy of the beauteous Queen Margaret of Anjou overshadowed his influence, and contributed to his fall. The hostility of Cardinal Beaufort and the Marquis of Suffolk had long been an undisguised thing. Suffolk lay under the imputation of ceding away the provinces of Maine and Anjou in exchange for the royal bride: but the secret suspicions