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William de Albini was at last, with others, committed to the custody of Peter de Mauley, in Corfe Castle. During his confinement there, the king on the morning after Christmas, marched from Nottingham to Langar; and sent from thence, on the following day, a solemn message to Belvoir Castle, requiring its speedy surrender into his hands: and threatening, that if those who held it, insisted upon any conditions, its lord should eat no more. Upon which, Nicholas de Albini, one of William's sons, and an ecclesiastic, taking with him a knight, (Hugh Charnels) carried the keys of the Castle to the king, upon condition, that his father should be mercifully dealt with; and they with their horses and arms remain in peace. These conditions being granted, the custody of the Castle was committed to two of the king's followers, an oath of fidelity being exacted from all others in it. While William was prisoner at Corfe, the king seized on his manor of Uffington, and gave it to William Earl of Warren, for the better defence of his Castle, at Stamford. Before he was set at liberty, a fine of 6000 marks was imposed by the king; and his wife Agatha Trusbut enjoined to raise it from his lands, by sale, mortgage, or any other available means.
HENRY III, though his predecessor and parent had thus crippled the power of William de Albini, and received his submission, trusted him not; but compelled him to yield up his wife as a hostage; and afterwards his son Nicholas the priest, in her stead. He did not long, however, remain an object of royal distrust; but was nominated to a chief command in the battle of Lincoln, (1217) when Louis, the dauphin, and the English barons, his abettors, were overthrown; and shared in the property confiscated on this occasion; having had granted to him, the Castle of Muleton, in the county of Lincoln, and all the lands and fees of Thomas de Muleton (one of the English barons of the French party)
which the king had seized, committed to his custody, as an escheat.
The other remarkable events of his life, are, his grant of a manse, that had been his chapel, to the monks at Belvoir, with one sheaf of every kind of grain, arising out of all the lands belonging to his lordships of Belvoir, Woolsthorpe, Bottesford, Oskington, (Ouston in Nottinghamshire,) and Stoke: and his founding and amply endowing the hospital of our Lady, called Newstead, at Wassebridge, between Stamford and Uffington; for the health of his soul, and the souls of Agatha his second, and Margery his first wife. He lived to a good old age, and died at Uffington, May 6, 1236. He was buried in his hospital at Newstead, and his heart under the wall opposite to the high altar at Belvoir, with this inscription, which was afterwards removed to the Church at Bottesford, where it now no longer remains.
"Hic jacet cor Dni Willielmi Albiniaci, cujus corpus sepelitur apud novum locum juxta Stanfordiam."
Agatha, his second wife, was also buried at Newstead. By Margery, his first wife, daughter of Odinel de Umfranville, a great baron in Northumberland, who brought with her a considerable property into the family, he had issue; William; Sir Odinel, taken prisoner with him at Rochester, and carried to Corfe, who was buried at Belvoir; Robert; and Nicholas, who was presented to the Rectory of Bottesford, and died April 26, 1222.
Of William the eldest son and heir, called in his father's life-time, William de Belvoir, William de Albini junior, and afterwards WILLIAM DE ALBINI IV, little of material import is recorded. For the good of his soul, the souls of his father and mother, his two wives, Albreda and Isabel, and all his predecessors and successors; he confirmed what his father had granted to the hospital at Newstead. He died about the year 1247, and was buried before the high altar in the
Priory of Belvoir, and his heart at Croxton. His monument, which with others, was removed at the dissolution of the Priory, to Bottesford Church, is now totally lost. In him ended the issue male. By his wife Albreda Biset,* he had a daughter named Isabel, whom he left a minor, and in ward to Henry III. This opulent heiress of the house of Albini, married Robert de Ros, baron of Hamlake, the representative of a family of great consequence, which took their name from the lordship of Ross, in Holderness. Robert was the fifth in regular descent from Peter de Ros, who, by marriage with Adeline, daughter of Sir Walter Espec, became the inheritor of two princely fortunes.
Biset. Arms-Vert, 6 bezants, 3, 2, 1.
SECOND PERIOD, A. D. 1247-1508.
Leland has quoted from a history of the Battle of the Standard (1138) by Alured, Abbot of Rievaulx, a graphic description of the personal as well as mental endowments of Sir Walter Espec, baron of Helmsley. The Abbot speaks of him, as “an old man and full of days, of quick wit, prudent in counsel, courteous in peace, wise in war, constant in his friendship, and of unswerving loyalty to his sovereign. He had black hair, long beard, a free and open countenance, large and piercing eyes, a voice like a trumpet, with an eloquent and majestic address. He was, moreover, noble in blood; but nobler still in christian piety. For since he had no children for his heirs, though many importunate kinsmen, he made Christ, the heir of his best and fairest possessions." Sir Walter Espec married early in life, Adelina, daughter of
Hugh Beauchamp, baron of Bedford, by whom he had a son, Walter, like his father in the qualifications both of body and mind. He is spoken of as a comely youth, whose chief delight was in riding swift horses. It happened one day, that having urged his horse to a speed beyond his strength, his
"Fidem semper regibus servans."
horse stumbled, his rider fell, and broke his neck, near a small stone cross in the neighbourhood of Frithby.* The father, overwhelmed with grief at his loss, determined, though he had ever been a man of action, and had acquired his whole property by deeds of arms, to dedicate a large portion of his wealth to the founding of three monasteries; which design he accomplished in the following order: the monastery of Kirkham, on Wednesday the eighth of the kalends of March, 1122, the 22 Henry I, and the fifth year of the prelacy of Thurston, Archbishop of York; to which William Garton, the uncle and adviser of Sir Walter Espec, was appointed the first Prior:*-the monastery of Rievaulx in 1132:and the monastery of Wardon, in Bedfordshire, in 1136.
Sir Walter Espec lived thirty years after the foundation of the monastery of Kirkham; the last two of which were spent as a monk, in the Abbey of Rievaulx. As the object of the present work is merely to point out, as it were, the footsteps of history; the author is reluctantly compelled to abstain from further notice of the rather copious information, which has been preserved, of the endowment and other interesting particulars of these three monasteries. In 1782, the beautiful gate of the Priory of Kirkham still remained, with statues, and the arms of the founder, de Ros, England, Vaux, and others. The Church of Rievaulx is now almost perfect, except the tower and roof. Dr. Dibdin, in his Northern Tour, (1838) with an ecstacy of description, an imitation of which it would be unwise to attempt, compares the ruins of Rievaulx with those of Tintern, Fountain, Melrose, and Jumieges in Normandy, and gives the preference to Rievaulx, as immeasurably superior for effect. Considerable remains of Wardon Abbey appeared in 1777, fitted up as a farm-house. (See Notes.)
* Frithby, near the Priory at Kirkham.
William, the first Prior, survived his appointment only one year, three months, and two days. (Dugdale.)