Sir Hugh Swynford, Kt.

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Sir Hugh Swynford, Kt

Also Known As: "Hugh /Swynford/ Sir"
Birthplace: Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, UK
Death: Died in Bordeaux, Gironde, France
Cause of death: dysentery
Place of Burial: St Peter & St Paul, Kettelthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Swynford and Nicole de Ardenne
Husband of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster
Father of Blanche Swynford; Dorothy Thimelby (Swynford) and Thomas Swinford, Sr., Sir Knight

Occupation: Lord of Kettlethorpe and Coleby, Lincs.
Managed by: Noah Gregory Tutak
Last Updated:

About Sir Hugh Swynford, Kt.

  • 'Sir Hugh Swynford1
  • M, #107319, b. 1340, d. 1372
  • 'Sir Hugh Swynford was born in 1340.1 He married Katherine Roët, daughter of Sir Payne Roët, before 1367 at St. Clement Danes Church, The Strand, London, England.1 He died in 1372.1
  • 'Sir Hugh Swynford
  • M, b. circa 1340, d. 13 November 1371
  • 'Sir Hugh Swynford was born circa 1340 at of Kettlethorpe & Colby, Lincolnshire, England.1 He married Katherine Roet, daughter of Sir Payn Roet, in May 1366 at St. Clements Danes, Westminster, Middlesex, England. Sir Hugh Swynford died on 13 November 1371.Married: Katherine Roet b. 25 Nov 1340, d. 10 May 1403


Hugh was descended from Saxon stock apart from one Ketel, a Dane, who ravaged and pillaged to his way along the Trent i n about 870, who stopped and set up his home (thorpe) in Lincolnshire. It is now known as Kettlethorpe and can be foun d off the A57 Lincoln to Gainsborough road, where you turn off the A57 on to the B1133/B156 at Newton-on-Trent. However , for some reason Hugh moved to the Swinesford (Swynford) in a Leicestershire and appears to have married and settled t here.

It was his father, Sir Thomas, who bought back Kettlethorpe when Hugh was a child and the family moved back to Lincolns hire. He used funds from the dowry of his 2nd wife Nichela (Nicole), from Bedford. Hugh and his stepmother did not ge t on together and would it would appear that Hugh decided to pursue his own life and left home at about the age of 15 t o join up Edward III's army which was invading Scotland. During this period he first met John of Gaunt, then only Ear l of Richmond, and they appear to have established some rapport.

Hugh then appears again fighting for the Black Prince at Poitiers, when Jean de France was captured. It would seem to b e at this time that Hugh was knighted and returned home to show off his title and spoils. There is the gap until he goe s to London, with squire in tow to do knights' service to the Duke of Lancaster, his feudal overload. Hugh owned a mano r at Coleby that belonged to John's manor of Richmond.

However, by this time John had married Blanche of Lancaster and had possession of all her lands and the Dukedom. Hugh w as one of a retinue of two hundred barons, knights based at the Savoy Palace in London. He was very unpopular with th e "Norman" contingent and the rest don't seem to have had any good rapport him. He does not appear to have had much tim e for chivalry and earthly pursuits. However, he was a "damn good soldier" and is described in the registers as "a shre wd and terrifying fighter". He was small, stocky and known by his fellow as has "the battling Saxon ram!"

Nothing is known of him until his marriage to Katherine. It would seem that the marriage was arranged under the auspice s of Queen Philippa of Hainault and was not to Katherine's liking. Unusually, they did not remain at court after thei r marriage. It would appear that Hugh offended someone, the registers state that he was sent back to Kettlethorpe to wa it the time when and if his services as a fighter should be required!

It would seem that this exile was short-lived, however, just long enough for him to collect his rents, sort out manor a ffairs, settle Katherine into her new home and depart in August 1366 for Aquitaine. John and Edward, the Black Prince w ere entering into war in Castile with King Pedro against his brother Henry of Trastamere, who had usurped the throne.

Katharine was with child when he left and Hugh obviously confided this fact to John. Again, the registers record that K atherine was escorted to Bolingbrook to spend Christmas and New Year with Duchess Blanche who was herself with child. N o more is known of either Katherine or Hugh until May 1367 when the registers note that John of Gaunt appointed his ser vitor, Nirac de Bayanne, as Stewart over Kettlethorpe until Hugh could be sent home. They also record that he stood spo nsor to Blanchette, Hugh and Katherine's daughter born in May 1367 and ordered for her the silver and gilt cup and at a s a baptismal gift.

Hugh was sent back to Lincoln shortly after having taken part in the battle of Najera and distinguishing himself agai n as a good warrior and battle tactician. No more is heard of either Hugh or Katherine until 1369 by which time they ha d a son, names Thomas after his grandsire.

It was a bad year for England, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, died on his honeymoon trip. There was a rebellion in Acquitain e in April, war was declared against France. There were floods, on August 15 Queen Philippa died and plague broke out i n London.

On a local level, Hugh's stepmother died. Gildan, Hugh's half-brother died and Kettlethorpes' crops failed. Hugh was il l - it would appear to have been dysentery. Hugh and Katherine's relationship had mellowed, but Katherine appears to ha ve been quite pleased to go to Bolingbrook to wait on the Duchess Blanche. Sadly, by the time she arrived, Blanche wa s dying of plaque. Katharine nursed her and was able to locate a priest to give her the last rights. It would then appe ar that Hugh sanctioned Katherine's journey to London in Blanche's funeral train.

Quite what happened when she got to London is not really certain, but Katharine returned to Kettlethorpe as an armige r in her own right. Her blazon was designed, bestowed and registered by John. He also rewarded her, as a pension, "al l issues from, and profits from his towns of Waddington and Wellingere to be paid yearly". Hugh was, not unnaturally, n ot too happy, but seems to have accepted the reason for the gift. This was "for the care shown to the late Duchess an d for the Lancastrian children after their mother's death".

There was also a summons for a Hugh to go to France in a company led by Sir Robert Kindles. They would carry on as a fi ghting force under Kindles until John arrived to take over. The war was protracted and nothing more is heard of Hugh un til 1371. He was seriously wounded and transported back to Bordeaux in John's train. John appointed his own physician , bother William Appleton to care for him and secured lodgings for him in Bordeaux.

It was unusual for John to be so personally involved with one of his retinue. However it may have been because John ha d arranged for Katharine to travel to Bordeaux as one of the group of women picked to attend the Infanta Costanza (Cons tance) of Castile who was to be John's second wife. It is known that against John's wishes, Katharine went straight t o Hugh. It is also worth noting that Nirac de Bayanne was her escort.

No love was lost between Hugh and Nirac and this may have had some bearing on the next events. It was not until the rel ationship between Katherine and John was ending that Nirac was posthumously implicated in Hugh's death. He is reputed t o have confessed to poisoning Hugh on his death that and he repeatedly stated that neither John nor Katherine was awar e of what he had done.

It would appear that he was privy to John's desire for Katherine, he hated Hugh so much that he was literally able to k ill two birds with one stone. Less than a week after Katherine is arrival, Hugh was dead. His death surprised everyon e as he had been making a good recovery. Katherine seemed to have been genuinely shocked and upset by his passing. Aide d by Brother William, she arranged for Hugh's body to be returned to England and Kettlethorpe for burial. Unusually, sh e returned to court in Bordeaux, rather than accompanying his body home. Hugh was buried at his home, and faded into ob scurity, his contribution to history was his death which left Katherine free to enter into a liaison with John.

It is known that John and Katherine disappeared for several weeks prior to his second marriage, and presumably this i s when she became his mistress. She returned to England and was obviously pregnant because she gave birth to John, late r John Beaufort. It was assumed that John was Hugh's posthumous child, but when Henry was born to John and Katherine, t hey acknowledged John as theirs.

However, Hugh's son Thomas was raised with the Duke's own children and was knighted in his own right. He inherited Kett lethorpe, which was much improved by Katherine, and he turned it into a prosperous holding. He had two wives, the firs t was Janet Crophill of Nottingham by whom he had twin children, Hugh and Dorothy. He later married an older widow, Mar garet D'Arcy when Janet died giving birth. The infant also died.

Thomas served Henry of Balingbrodce, John's son and was fiercely loyal to him. It is therefore interesting to note tha t he was Constable of Pontefract Castle during Richard's II improvements there. Richard was forced to abdicate in favou r of Henry after a few "schisms". Richard died at Pontefract and it is likely that Thomas contrived his death.

It would seem that those bearing the name of Swynford were descended from Thomas's children since Blanchette, Hugh's da ughter disappeared during the destruction of the Savoy in the Peasants Revolt. There are two theories, neither of whic h is supported that she either perished in the fire during the fighting or she was rescued by a group of Flemings and b ecame a Nun. What ever happened, nothing is known of her and she had no issue.

  • 'Full text of "[Publications]"
  • As to the second point, there is no proof that 'Katherine Root belonged to Lincolnshire before she married Sir Hugh Swynford, who had lands in that county, or for some time after his death'. Towards the end of her life, however, she resided at Lincoln, where she was married to John of Gaunt in 1396, and she was buried in Lincoln Cathedral in 1403. 3 On the other hand, the Swynfords were landowners in Lincolnshire, as well as in Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire. In 1341 Margaret, widow of Thomas de Swynford, and in 1343 John de Swynford, her son and heir, died seised of lands
    • 1 No. 144, and Additions, Nos. 6, 7.
    • 2 No. 186. The grant to Chaucer of the office of Controller of the Customs (No. 107) is immediately preceded by a ratification of the estate of Katherine de Swynford in certain manors which she held by grant of John of Gaunt ; but this may be referable to her connexion with Philippa rather than Geoffrey. Sir Thomas Swynford and Thomas Chaucer, Esquire, were feoffees with others of John Stodele, of lands in co. Huntingdon, in 1404. (Ancient Deeds, B. 3199.)
    • In 1404, an Elizabeth de Swynford was elected Prioress of Catesby, in Northamptonshire, where she was still living in the reign of Henry V., but that may not have been her original name, as the religious usually dropped their own names, and took those of the places from wli 'noe they came. (Dugdale, IV. 636, referring to "Reg. Beaufort." Ancient Deeds, vol. III., D. 1038.)
    • 3 Dictionary of National Biography.
    • LIFE-RECORDS, I. b
    • xviii Tlte Lincolnshire $ London Swynfords. O.'.s 1 Court-interest.
  • in Nocton and Dunston, just outside the city of Lincoln. 1 An Edmund and a Norman do Swynford, who possessed lands in Lincolnshire, are mentioned about the same time. 2 In 1361 Sir Thomas de Swynford was succeeded in various Lincolnshire properties by 'Hugh, his son and heir, then aged 21 years. In 1372 Sir Hugh Swynford died seised of the same, leaving Katherine his widow, and Thomas his son and heir, aged four years'. 1 This last was the Sir Thomas before mentioned, who was contemporary with Thomas Chaucer. He died in 1432, leaving another Sir Thomas, his son and heir, aged 26. His widow, Margery, was wife of Sir John Darcy in 1441.
  • _____________________________
  • 'Middle Ages
  • 'Katherine Swynford
  • 'Katherine Swynford and the Death of Hugh Swynford
  • 'Hugh Swynford was recalled to France in 1371. During this time he died. There were many mysteries surrounding his death as he died by poisoning. He was believed to have been poisoned by Nirac de Bayanne, a faithful servant of John of Gaunt. There is no other connection between John and Katherine and the death of Hugh Swynford but it did give rise to rumours as John and Katherine's relationship developed.


John of Gaunt - Sydney Armitage-Smith ed by V. H. Galbraith

  • Children of Sir Hugh Swynford and Katherine Roët
    • 1.Blanche Swynford1 b. c 1370
    • 2.Sir Thomas Swynford1 b. 24 Feb 1372/73, d. 2 Apr 1432


  • Citations
  • 1.[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 102. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Family.
  • 1.[S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 256.
  • 2.[S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 75-76.
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Sir Hugh Swynford, Kt.'s Timeline

Westminster, Middlesex, England, Great Britain
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, UK
May 1, 1363
Age 23
Kettelthorpe Manor, Kettelthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
Age 26
Kettlethorpe, Lincolnshire, England
September 21, 1368
Age 28
Kettelthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
November 13, 1371
Age 31
Bordeaux, Gironde, France
Age 31
St Peter & St Paul, Kettelthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
Westminster, Middlesex, England
Westminster, Middlesex, England