Knight holding a sword

The Barony of Thoresway

The Barony of Thoresway has an air of mystery to it. It’s unknown who first granted the title, but Alfred de Lincoln is clearly documented as its first holder. For the next hundred years or so, it then appears to have existed relatively peacefully, passing from heir to heir as one would expect. However, when the 5th Baroness of Thoresway died in the early thirteenth century, its history begins to get interesting.Knight holding a sword

Pendulumming with an outlaw

Maud, the 5th Baroness, had died childless, so the title passed to her uncle, John de Bayeux, who appears to have been a colourful character. In 1215, he was convicted of having committed murder and being an outlaw. This meant his recently gained title was then almost immediately lost to the Crown.

However, as was possible back then, within three years, he’d paid £100 tax to get his family estates back, which included the barony. And, to add to his joy, he then found himself appointed an itinerant judge for the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset.

Being the character he was, you may not be surprised to learn that he swiftly turned to using his new position to get the Chief Justice to review the charges that had been brought against him previously. Which, rather than opening a can of worms, appears to then have led to him being appointed a justice of the forests and Constable of Plympton Castle.

However, the saying that you should never judge a book by its cover was certainly true of John. For by 1234, he was facing charges for murder again. This time it was for the death of Roger de Mubray. But, yet again, it appears he was able to dig into his pockets to remedy the situation. He paid 400 marks to make reparation with de Mubray’s widow, and his seemingly lucky lot in life then enabled him to live another fifteen years, before he finally died without leaving a male heir.

A step to the side

The Barony of Thoresway therefore did a side move once again and passed to John’s brother, Stephen. A year later, though, Stephen sadly died, and the title passed to John’s two daughters. However, they were both still minors, and rather than enjoying freedom, found themselves placed in the custody of Elias de Rabayne.

It took Elias a handful of years to get the measure of the two girls. Once time had ticked by, he sent one overseas, and took the other, Maud, for himself in marriage. Being the one daughter remaining meant Elias, through Maud’s right, had full control of the barony. And as such, Elias therefore had the opportunity to bear the title of 8th Baroness of Thoresway.

One would hope that things might settle down for a bit, thereafter. However, the Second Barons War dominated the political domain for a few years. At some point, in the late 1260s, Elias was banished for deceiving King Henry III and the barony, once again, reverted to the Crown.

As was a hallmark of the times, though, this decision was reversed in 1270. And to add icing to his cake, Elias found himself appointed Constable of Corfe Castle. However, when he died in 1285, King Edward I (the Longshanks) was on the throne and, much to Maud’s disgust, the barony escheated to the Crown once more.

The wily work of women

Now it was Maud’s turn to rise to the fore. She married Peter de Malore and petitioned for her half of the barony to be returned to her. King Edward was minded to refuse, for he reckoned that the barony should be retained by the Crown for Elias’s heir to inherit once he came of age.

However, it would seem that the barony had a mind of its own. For by 1308, there was a new king on the throne – Edward II – and the title had been granted to a gentleman called Amery de Friscobaldi.

Within four years, though, it then found itself being granted to Isabel de Vescy. You could argue this meant it had risen in the world, for not only was Isabel a lady-in-waiting and close friend of Queen Isabelle, but she was also a lady who enjoyed King Edward’s favour(s) too.

Fearing that her influence was growing too strong over the king, the Lords Ordainers took steps to remedy the situation and retire her to her estates in Yorkshire. But, just a year later, in 1313, she returned to court, and her brother, Louis de Beaumont, was given responsibility to ward off Scottish attacks in the north. Much to Isabel’s chagrin, Louis’s quest was not a success. This meant that he then lost favour with the king, and she did too by association.

It would also seem that Queen Isabelle wasn’t keenly connected with King Edward either, though. She and her lover, Roger Mortimer, took steps to overthrow the king in 1326 and snatch the throne.

With all the politics flying around, Isabel found herself stuck between a rock and hard place. Should she support her friend, or support the ousted king? She chose the king and was promptly accused of plotting to free him. However, this time it was King Edward III, and to her relief Isabel found herself back in royal favour.

Sadly, however, she died just a few years later in 1334 without any children. And at this point, the barony escheated to the Crown, never to rise again… until now.

Could yours be the first family to bear the title since the 14th century? You could be the 10th Baron of Thoresway… Contact us if you’d like to find out more!