Vice-Adm. Sir Rice Mansell

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Sir Rice Mansell (Mansel)

Also Known As: "Rice Mansel", "Rhys Maunsell", "Rhys"
Birthplace: Glamorgan, UK
Death: Died in City of London, Greater London, UK
Place of Burial: London, UK
Immediate Family:

Son of Jenkin Mansel and Edith Kyme
Husband of Eleanor Basset; Anne Brydges and Cecily Dabridgecourt
Father of Elizabeth Mansell; Catherine Bassett (Mansell); Sir Edward Mansell, MP; Anthony Mansell, MP and Mary Mansel
Brother of Philip Mansell and NN Mansel

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Vice-Adm. Sir Rice Mansell

See Peter Bartrum, (December 21, 2016; Anne Brannen, curator) ________________

From Oxford DNB:

Mansel [Mansell], Sir Rice (1487–1559), soldier and administrator, was born in Oxwich in the Gower peninsula, Glamorgan, on 25 January 1487. His father was Jenkin Mansel, known as ‘the Valiant’ (fl. 1450–1510), and his mother was Edith (fl. 1450–1510), daughter of Sir George Kene, a knight of Kent. The family estate, in west Gower, had been built up over two centuries by careful management and prudent marriages. It had been forfeited in 1464 when an act of attainder was passed against Philip Mansel (Rice's grandfather) for conspiring with Jasper Tudor against the Yorkist cause. Jenkin (Rice's father) recovered the estate soon after the battle of Bosworth which suggests that he had fought for Henry Tudor at that battle. Jenkin was a client of the powerful Rhys ap Thomas of Dinefwr and may have named his son after him.

In his youth Rice Mansel was placed under the guardianship of his uncle Sir Mathew Cradock, a naval commander and prosperous Swansea merchant, and from 1509 was entrusted with the charge of a number of ships bearing the Cradock family name. Rice received seisin of his estates from his guardian in 1510 and on 17 May in the following year married Eleanor, daughter of James Bassett of Beaupré, the first of his three wives, who died in or just before 1520.

The record of Mansel's career between 1513 and 1526 is virtually a blank, apart from a mention of his service with the earl of Worcester in Flanders in 1517. His knighthood, however, granted in 1526, when he was still comparatively young, points to his having served with distinction as a soldier and administrator in the royal pay. His private life at this period is better documented. In 1520 he married his second wife, Anne Brydges, who bore two daughters. His third marriage, in 1527, to Cecily (d. 1558), daughter of John Daubridgecourt of Solihull, forged an intimate link with the court, for Cecily was a lady-in-waiting to Princess Mary (the future queen) and the friendly connection between them continued after Cecily's marriage and Mary's accession.

Mansel played a conspicuous part in suppressing the rebellion of Thomas Fitzgerald, Lord Offaly, in Ireland in 1534–5. The English commander, Sir William Skeffington, wrote that ‘Sir Rice Mansel with his band … has done right good exploits and acceptable service’ (Maunsell and Statham, 1.299). Mansel was among the first to enter the fortress of Maynooth after a five-day bombardment had breached the walls, probably the first time heavy artillery had been used for such purposes in Ireland. His wife pleaded with Thomas Cromwell to allow him to return, on the grounds that ‘most of his living is encumbered with jointures and other charges, so that if God should take him, I and my children are undone’ (Maunsell and Statham, 1.302). Mansel's successes in Ireland brought him to the favourable notice of the king and his ministers, for in 1536 he was made chamberlain of Chester. He also became a member of the council in the marches of Wales, and was placed on the commission of the peace for a number of counties and pricked as sheriff of Glamorgan.

Mansell, though a religious conservative, was probably not over-concerned with the niceties of theology and had no compunction about profiting from the dissolution of the monasteries. He obtained a lease of the site of the abbey of Margam in 1537, and between 1540 and 1557 he purchased the site of the abbey and much of its estate in four instalments for a total sum of £2482 13s. 1d. His investment tripled the acreage of his estate and secured him a place in the first rank of the landed society of south Wales. Leaving his new residence at Oxwich Castle for his son and heir, Edward, to complete, he set about converting the domestic buildings of the abbey, together with its fine chapter house, into a mansion which became his principal home and survived until its demolition in 1792–3. He dismantled the monks' choir and presbytery, leaving the former lay brothers' nave to function as the parish church.

When war with France and Scotland was resumed in 1542, Mansel as vice-admiral engaged the French rather unsuccessfully in the channel; and in 1544 as knight marshal he led a commando-style raid against Rothesay Castle on the Isle of Bute. His wife's friendship with the Catholic Princess Mary may have prompted Mansel to keep a low profile during the radically protestant reign of Edward VI, but when Mary succeeded to the throne he was rewarded for his services and loyalty with the offices of chamberlain and chancellor of south Wales and the counties of Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire, as well as the stewardships of many manors and lordships. These offices gave him the power and status of the chief royal representative in south Wales and the influence once enjoyed by the family's patron, Rhys ap Thomas of Dinefwr.

While Mansel's son Edward was defending the family's interests against George Herbert in a celebrated affray at Oxwich Castle in 1557, Rice was raising troops against the French. They were never used. Mary died, peace was restored, and before the new queen, Elizabeth, could reverse the religious changes of the previous reign, Mansel himself died at his town house in Clerkenwell on 10 April 1559. He was given an elaborate Catholic-style funeral and buried at St Bartholomew-the-Great, west Smithfield, a dissolved Augustinian priory, only recently restored as a Dominican priory by Queen Mary. No grave marker now survives, nor does a portrait; but his likeness has been preserved in the effigy on his fine tomb at Margam Abbey church. Three versions of his will are extant and two poems in his praise by the bard Iorwerth Fynglwyd (d. 1527).

F. G. Cowley Sources E. P. Statham, History of the family of Maunsell (Mansell, Mansel), compiled chiefly from data collected … by Col. Charles A. Maunsell, 3 vols. (1917–20) · G. Williams, ‘Rice Mansell of Oxwich and Margam (1487–1559)’, Morgannwg, 6 (1962), 33–51 · G. Williams, ‘The Herberts, the Mansells, and Oxwich Castle’, Castles in Wales and the marches, ed. J. R. Kenyon and R. Avent (1987), 173–83 · G. Williams, ‘The dissolution of the monasteries in Glamorgan’, Welsh History Review / Cylchgrawn Hanes Cymru, 3 (1966–7), 23–43 · G. Williams, ‘The affray at Oxwich Castle, 1557’, Gower, 2 (1949), 2–6 · An inventory of the ancient monuments in Glamorgan, 4/1: Domestic architecture from the Reformation to the industrial revolution, the greater houses, Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire (1981), 63–76, 382 · P. Moore and D. Moore, ‘Two topographical paintings of the old house at Margam, Glamorgan’, Archaeologia Cambrensis, 123 (1974), 155–69 · D. M. Williams, Gower: a guide to ancient and historical monuments on the Gower peninsula (1998), 24–7, 30–37 · H. Ll. Jones and E. I. Rowlands, Gwaith Iorwerth Fynglwyd (1975), 58–61 · W. de Gray Birch, ed., A descriptive catalogue of the Penrice and Margam Abbey manuscripts in the possession of Miss Talbot of Margam, 6 vols. (privately printed, London, 1893–1905) · J. Strype, Annals of the Reformation and establishment of religion … during Queen Elizabeth's happy reign, new edn, 1 (1824), 283, 335–6

Likenesses tomb effigy, Margam Abbey church; repro. in Williams, Gower: a guide

  • 'History of Maunsell or Mansel, and of Crayford, Gabbett, Knoyle, Persse, Toler, Waller, Castletown; Waller, Prior Park; Warren, White, Winthrop, and Mansell of Guernsey (1903)
  • PHILIP MANSELL, son of John Maunsell and Cecily, his wife, was 15 years of age when he succeeded to his father's and grandfather's estates, as per Inquisition held at Swansea by Humphry Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester, 13th Henry VI. About 1444, he married, first, Mabel, dau. of Griffiths Nicolas, of Newton, Co. Caermarthen, heiress of her mother, Jane, heiress of Jenkin ap Rees ap David, descended from Cadifor ap Dinawall. In the Inquisition recorded above, Philip is mentioned as the son of John, and grandson of Richard Maunsell.
  • .... his Gower estates on his sons, John, Leonard, and Jenkyn. (See Appendix, Nos. 77 and 84.)
  • He married, secondly, about this latter date, Elizabeth, dau. and heir of Sir Philip Long, Knt., and had further issue.
  • ..... Philip appears to have been the first to omit the "u" in spelling of the name. He had issue by his first wife, viz. :
    • JENKIN MANSELL.on the accession of Henry VII., in 1485, obtained a repeal of the attainder against his father and a restoration in blood and estates. At a tournament given by his cousin. Sir Rice ap Thomas, Knt., Constable and Lieutenant of Brecknock, 21st Henry VII., to celebrate the order of the Garter having been conferred on him, amongst others from Glamorgan came Jenkin Mansell, surnamed "Dewr," or "the Valiant." In this tournament he bore for motto, " Perit sine adversario virtus." — See Cambrian Register, Vol. I., page 25. In 1486 he married Edith, dau. and heir of Sir Geo. Kyme or Kene, Knt., of Well Hall, Eltham, Co. Kent, and granddaughter of Sir Wm. Kyme (who was sheriff of Kent 25 Hen. VI.). by Agnes, widow of John Tettershall, and dau. of John Chichele, Chamberlain of London, by Margery, dau. of Sir Thos. Knolles, Lord Mayor of London. Agnes was grand-neice of Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, who founded All Souls College, Oxford, and all "akin" to him became entitled to a presentation to a fellowship to that college. He had issue, viz. :
      • ' I. Rhys, of whom afterwards.
      • II. Hugh, married Jane, dau. and co-heir of Richard Wogan, of Kent, and had issue viz. : .....
      • III. Philip of Llandewy, married Anne, dau. of Wm. Daubridgecourt, of Hants, and had : .....
      • IV. Alice, married John Drew, of Bristol.
      • V. Anne, married David ap Rees Gwynne, of Llancayach.
      • VI. Jane, married John Gwynne ap Jenkyn ap Richard, of Llansanwr.
      • VII. Elizabeth, married Christopher Fleming.
      • ' RHYS MANSELL, Sir, Knt., the eldest son, born 25th January, 1487, received the honour of knighthood between the 17th and 27th Hen. VIII. In the latter year he was sent to Ireland at the head of a body of troops to assist the Lord Deputy in suppressing a rebellion of the Earl of Kildare. Next year he had grant for life of the site of the monastery of Margam, Co. Glamorgan, a grant for life of the office of Chamberlain of the County Palatine of Chester, and the Royalty of Avon Waters to him and to his heirs. After the dissolution of the abbeys, he got a lease of Margam, and in 1540 he purchased the whole of that property, the conveyance bearing the autograph of the King. In 1544, being concerned in an expedition against Scotland, the isles of Arran and Bute, and the castle of Rothsay, were delivered to him, and he took formal possession thereof in the name of the King of England. He died in 1559,(I) at Clerkenwell, London,where he had a mansion, and was succeeded as Chamberlain of Chester by Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby. Me married, first, on 17th May, 1511, Eleanor, dau. and sole heir of James Bassett, of Beaupre, but by her left no issue. The marriage bond
      • ' (I) Sir Rhys Mansell, in his will proved 1559, mentions his sons, Edward and Anthony, Dame Jane, wife of said Edward ; and Dame Mary Dorell, now married to Henry Ffoscue, late wife of said Philip, deceased ; sister Fleming, daughters Mary, Katherine Bessett, and Elizabeth Morgan, niece Mary, daughter of brother Philip ; nieces Elizabeth Howe, Elizabeth Hopkins, Margaret, wife of Rd. J. D. Morgan; Elynor, wife of Randolph Purcell ; and Katherine, wife of Rd. ap Owen. Nephews Harry, George, Thomas, Leonard, Edward, and William Maunsell, and nephews Arnyld Bassett and Wm. Fleming. Also late sister Anne Maunsell, widow, executrix of late brother Philip.
      • 'was dated 17th May, 1511, and the witnesses to it were John ap Thomas Gwillim, Richard Howell, Richard Maunsell, John Haron, Richard Thomas, Jenkin Russell, Hugh ap Hopkin, Thomas ap David ap Howell, Nicholas ap Rice. He married secondly, in 1520, Anne, dau. of Sir Giles Bruges, Knt., of Coberly, Co. Gloucester, and by her had three sons, who all died in his lifetime, and two daughters, viz. :
        • I. Catherine, married William Bassett, junior, of Beaupre, by which the Bassett estates reverted to that family.
        • II. Elizabeth, married William Morgan.
      • ' He married thirdly, on 19th June, 1527, Cecily, dau. of John Daubridgecourt, and had :
        • III. Edward, of whom presently.
        • IV. Philip, married Mary Dorrell, d. s. p. She married, secondly, H. ffoscue.
        • V. Anthony, married Elizabeth, dau. of John Bassett, and had issue, viz. : .....
        • VI. Mary, married Sir Thos. Southwell, Knt., of Woodrising ; and their son and heir. Sir Robert Southwell, married Elizabeth, dau. of Charles Howard, Lord High Admiral of England, and had issue.
        • EDWARD MANSELL, Sir, Knt., received honor of knighthood in 1572, and, upon the death of the Earl of Derby, was appointed Chamberlain of Chester, distinguishing himself in many services during reign of Queen Elizabeth. He married Lady Jane Somerset, youngest dau. of Henry Earl of Worcester, and had issue, viz. : .....
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Vice-Adm. Sir Rice Mansell's Timeline

January 25, 1487
Glamorgan, UK
Age 39
Age 43
Glamorgan, Wales, UK
Age 44
Age 71
City of London, Greater London, UK