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Notes for Henry Vavasour and Constance Mowbray

1326 On 19 April, Henry le Vavasour was knighted, by the hands of Thomas de Langford at London. [1]

1336 Nov. 17. Stirling. To William de Ros of Hamelak, Ralph de Bulmere, Henry Vavasour, John de Eland, Robert de Scorburgh and William Scot. Whereas the king appointed them justices to enquire by the oath of lawful men of co. York concerning felonies, homicides, robberies, rape, misdeeds, trespasses, excesses and crimes perpetrated in that county after the king undertook the government of the realm, and to do and fulfil certain other things contained in that commission, and the men of that county are daily placed in inquisitions before these justices and before the justices of the Bench, now at York, wherefore they cannot come before these justices to make these inquisitions according to the form of the said commission, wherefore they have besought the king to provide a remedy in the premises; the king therefore orders the justices to continue the affairs begun before them by virtue of the said commission, in the same state in which they now are until the quinzaine of Hilary next. By K. and C. [2]

1342 "Sir Henry le Vavasour, a knight belonging to a family well known in Lincolnshire, was taken ill, and was advised by his physician to go and stay in the monastery of Louth Park; in the hope (as his wife afterwards naïvely explained) that he might get well there more quickly than at his own home, which was perhaps not a very peaceful one. But he did not recover his health, and finally died in the monastery. On the day before his death he sent for a certain John de Brinkhill, and there, sitting up in his bed in a dark coloured tunic, he showed a deed by which he conveyed his manor of Cockerington to the abbot and convent, on condition that they should admit ten more monks to the monastery, and celebrate divine service for his soul for ever. John de Brinkhill and others were made executors of the deed, and charged to carry it into effect at once. The dying knight had not, however, quite sufficient courage to confide his purpose to his wife, Dame Constance. She was, indeed, sent for to be present at the signing of the deeds; but their contents were not read to her, and she imagined that they were being made for her advantage. Her husband meanwhile sat silent in his bed and watched the proceedings. He died the next day, and to her dismay Constance found his executors already in possession of the manor. (fn. 19) She was not inclined to take her losses quietly. It was soon rumoured abroad that the abbot had forged the conveyance; and not long afterwards he had to complain that Constance and others had broken his closes and carried away some of his goods, especially a box containing deeds and muniments. (fn. 20) Constance retaliated by a countercharge of violence done to herself. (fn. 21) In consequence of these disturbances of the peace an inquisition was held in 1345, and the witnesses who were called proved beyond doubt that the deeds were genuine and that Henry le Vavasour had acted of his own free will. An exemplification of the results was made in the following November: the manor was to remain in the possession of the abbot, but he was to pay Constance and her son Roger 100 marks yearly, and to Roger after his mother's death 20 marks, out of its profits. The abbot had to give a bond of £1,000 as security that he would fulfil this agreement. (fn. 22) Later the Vavasours were still in possession of the manor of Cockerington, the abbot holding lands there. (fn. 23)
19 The story may be gathered from the depositions made at the inquisition of 1345. Pat. 19 Edw. III, m. 14, 15.
20 Pat. 19 Edw. III, m. 31d.
21 Ibid. m. 29 d.
22 Ibid. m. 14-15. The chronicler of the abbey remarks that the abbot 'underwent a very great persecution on account of the manor of Cockerington; and was buried' (when he died in the great pestilence) ' before the high altar near Sir Henry Vavassour, Kt.'
23 Ingoldmells Ct. R. xxv. [3]

1342/3 Henry Vavasour will was proved in February. Gibbons abstracted the will as "Henry Vavasyur, son of Wm. le Vavasur knight. 1342. [fo. 107.] To be buried in Monast. B.V.M. de Parco Lude. Bequests to--Nicholas Hanlay. Thomas Spink. John de Birk'm. Wm. Taliour. Hugh Comyn. John Gartin. Proved at Stowe Park, xi Kal. Feb. 1342." [4]

"Henry [Vavasour]; b c 1290; m Constance ___ and d 1 Dec 1342" [5]


[1] William A. Shaw, The Knights of England, A complete record from the earliest time, Vol. 1 (London: 1906), 123, [InternetArchive].

[2] H. C. Maxwell Lyte, ed., Calendar of the Close Rolls, Edward III, Vol. III, 1333-1337 (London: HMSO, 1898), 724, [HathiTrust].

[3] 'Houses of Cistercian monks: The abbey of Louth Park', A History of the County of Lincoln, Vol. 2 (1906), 138-141, [BritishHistoryOnline].

[4] Alfred Gibbons, Early Lincoln Wills ... 1280-1547 (Lincoln: James Williamson, 1888), 20, [GoogleBooks].

[5] Charles Mosley, ed., Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, & Knightage, 107th edition, Vol. 3 (Willington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage & Gentry, LLC, 2003), 3984.