Walter Espec (d. 1153), Lord Helmesley

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Lord Helmesley Walter Espec

Birthplace: Old Warden, Bedfordshire, England
Death: after March 7, 1153
Helmsley Castle, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, (Present UK)
Immediate Family:

Son of William Espec and Unknown d'Espec
Husband of Adeline d'Espec
Father of Hawise Espec de Busli; Adeline d'Espec and Albreda de Trailli (d'Espec, b. 1096)
Brother of Adeline Espec
Half brother of Albreda de Trailli and Hawise Espec

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About Walter Espec (d. 1153), Lord Helmesley

Disagreement seems to exist as to whether the three sisters who were his heirs were his daughters or nieces.


From the Dictionary of National Biography, Index and Epitome, edited by Sidney Lee (London 1903), p. 408:

Espec, Walter (d. 1153), founder of Rievaulx Abbey, 1131, of Warden Abbey, 1135; itinerant justice in the north during Henry I's reign; a leader in the Battle of the Standard, 1138; died a recluse. [xviii. 4]

From the English Wikipedia page for Walter Espec:

Walter Espec (died 1153) was a prominent military and judicial figure of the reign of Henry I of England. In the years up to 1120 he with Eustace Fitz John controlled northern England[1].

Military man

  • He was the builder of Helmsley Castle; he built also Wark Castle[2]. As an old man, he fought against the Scots at the Battle of the Standard in 1138[3].

Monastic founder

  • He was the founder of Kirkham Priory (Augustinians) and later Rievaulx Abbey (Cistercians)[4].
  • Kirkham Priory was founded around 1130[5]. He then donated 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) to Rievaulx, where building started in 1132, and is largely credited for the arrival of the Cistercians in England[6]. By 1135 he also founded Warden Abbey[7] (Wardon) in Bedfordshire, a daughter house of Rievaulx.


  • His father was William Speche, a follower of William I of England[8].


  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography


  • 1.^ Paul Dalton, Conquest, Anarchy and Lordship: Yorkshire, 1066-1154 (2002), p. 105.
  • 2.^ Wark Castle
  • 3.^ Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom of England 1042-1216, (4th edition), p. 211.
  • 4.^ People
  • 5.^ Houses of Austin canons - Priory of Kirkham | British History Online
  • 6.^ Rievaulx- A Virtual Tour
  • 7.^ Bedfordshire County Council: Warden Abbey
  • 8.^ H2G2

External links

Four Great Abbeys and Priories of Yorkshire

From the English Wikipedia page on Helmsley Castle:

Helmsley Castle (also known anciently as Hamlake) is a medieval castle situated in the market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire, England.

The castle was first constructed in wood around 1120 by Walter l'Espec. Walter had no children and on his death in 1154 the castle passed to his sister Adelina who had married Peter de Roos. In 1186 their son Robert de Roos began work on converting the castle to stone. He built the two main towers, the round corner towers and the main gateway on the south side of the castle.


From the English Wikipedia page on Wark Castle:

Wark on Tweed (usually referred to simply as Wark) is a village in the English county of Northumberland. It lies about 15 miles (24 km) south west of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

It is on the south bank of the River Tweed that can be considered the border between England and Scotland.

The ruins of Wark on Tweed castle, originally an early 12th century motte-and-bailey, lie at the west end of the village. The castle (alternatively referred to as Carham Castle) was strategically important in the wars between Scotland and England, as the border cuts south from the Tweed not far upstream. The view of Wark for the Scottish and English was therefore uncomfortably or conveniently, respectively, close to Roxburgh, and a good base for English advances into Tweedale.

It was demolished and rebuilt on several occasions between the 12th and 16th centuries.


From the English Wikipedia page on Kirkham Priory:

The ruins of Kirkham Priory are situated on the banks of the River Derwent, at Kirkham, North Yorkshire, England.

The Augustinian priory was founded in the 1120s by Walter l'Espec, lord of nearby Helmsley, who also built Rievaulx Abbey. Legend has it that Kirkham was founded in remembrance of l'Espec's only son who had died nearby as a consequence of his horse being startled by a boar.

From the English Wikipedia page on Rievaulx Abbey:

Rievaulx Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey headed by the Abbot of Rievaulx. It is located in the village of Rievaulx (pronounced /riːˈvoʊ/ ree-VOH), near Helmsley in North Yorkshire, England.

Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 by 12 monks from Clairvaux Abbey as a mission centre for the colonisation of the north of England and Scotland. It was the first Cistercian abbey in the north. With time it became one of the great Cistercian abbeys of Yorkshire, second only to Fountains Abbey in fame.

The remote location was ideal for the Cistercians, whose desire was to follow a strict life of prayer and self-sufficiency with as little contact as possible with the outside world. The patron, Walter Espec, settled another new Cistercian community, founding Wardon Abbey, Bedfordshire, on one of his inherited estates, again on unprofitable wasteland.

The abbey lies in a wooded dale by the River Rye, sheltered by hills. To have enough flat land to build on, a small part of the river had to be diverted to a point several metres west of where it formerly flowed. (The monks altered the course of the river three times during the 12th century.) The trace of the old river is still visible in the abbey's grounds. This is one illustration of the technical ingenuity of the monks, who over time built up a very profitable business mining lead and iron, rearing sheep and selling wool to buyers from all over Europe.

From the English Wikipedia page on Wardon Abbey:

Wardon or Warden Abbey, Bedfordshire was one of the senior Cistercian houses of England, founded about 1135 from Rievaulx Abbey.

The patron was Walter Espec, who had founded the mother house and settled the new community on one of his inherited estates, on unprofitable wasteland, as its early name, St Mary de Sartis, implied,[1] just the kind of remote, uninhabited sites specified by the founders of the Cistercian order. The first abbot, Simon, was a pupil of Aeldred, Abbot of Rievaulx.


1. Evelyn Baker, "Images, Ceramic Floors and Warden Abbey" World Archaeology 18.3, Archaeology and the Christian Church (February 1987:363-381).

From the English Wikipedia page on the Battle of the Standard:

The Battle of the Standard, sometimes called the Battle of Northallerton, in which English forces repelled a Scottish army, took place on 22 August 1138 on Cowton Moor near Northallerton in Yorkshire. The Scottish forces were led by King David I of Scotland. The English were commanded by William of Aumale.

King Stephen of England (fighting rebel barons in the south) had sent a small force (largely mercenaries), but the English army was mainly local militia and baronial retinues from Yorkshire and the north Midlands. Archbishop Thurstan of York had exerted himself greatly to raise the army, preaching that to withstand the Scots was to do God’s work. The centre of the English position was therefore marked by a mast (mounted upon a cart) bearing a pyx carrying the consecrated host and from which were flown the consecrated banners of the minsters of York, Beverley and Ripon: hence the name of the battle. This cart-mounted standard was a very northerly example of a type of standard common in contemporary Italy, where it was known as a carroccio.[1]

David had entered England for two declared reasons[2]:

  • 1. To support his niece Matilda's claim to the English throne against that of King Stephen (married to another niece)[3]
  • 2. To enlarge his kingdom beyond his previous gains.[4]

David’s forces had already taken much of Northumberland apart from castles at Wark[5] and Bamburgh.

Advancing beyond the Tees towards York, early on 22 August 1138 the Scots found the English army drawn up on open fields two miles north of Northallerton; they formed up in four ‘lines’ to attack it. The first attack, by unarmoured spearmen against armoured men (including dismounted knights) supported by telling fire from archers failed. Within three hours, the Scots army disintegrated, apart from small bodies of knights and men-at-arms around David and his son Henry. At this point, Henry led a spirited attack with mounted knights; he and David then withdrew separately with their immediate companions in relatively good order. Heavy Scots losses are claimed, in battle and in flight.

The English did not pursue far; David fell back to Carlisle and reassembled an army. Within a month, a truce was negotiated which left the Scots free to continue the siege of Wark castle, which eventually fell. Despite losing the battle, David was subsequently given most of the territorial concessions he had been seeking (which the chronicles say he had been offered before he crossed the Tees). David held these throughout the Anarchy, but on the death of David, his successor Malcolm IV of Scotland was soon forced to surrender David's gains to Henry II of England.


By late July David had had crossed the river Tyne and was in "St Cuthbert's land" (the lands of the Bishop of Durham). With him were contingents from most of the separate regions of his kingdom, amounting to more than 26,000 men. Eustace fitz John had declared for David and handed over to him Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The garrison of Eustace's castle at Malton to the North East of York began to raid surrounding areas in support of David (or Matilda).[11]

The magnates of Yorkshire[20] gathered in York to discuss the worsening crisis:

  • Archbishop Thurstan of York (who, as will presently appear, greatly exerted himself in this emergency),
  • William of Aumale,
  • Walter de Gant,
  • Robert de Brus,
  • Roger de Mowbray,
  • Walter Espec,
  • Ilbert de Lacy,
  • William de Percy,
  • Richard de Courcy,
  • William Fossard,
  • Robert de Stuteville.

Much irresolution was caused by distrust of each other, arising from suspicions of treachery, by the absence of a chief and leader of the war (for their sovereign, king Stephen, encompassed by equal difficulties in the south of England, was just then unable to join them), and by their dread of encountering, with an inadequate force, so great a host[11]

However, urged by the 70-year-old Thurstan, to stand and fight and if needs be die in a holy cause,[21] they agreed to gather their forces and return to York, where they were joined by reinforcements from Nottinghamshire under William Peverel and Geoffrey Halsalin , and from Derbyshire led by Robert de Ferrers. They advanced to Thirsk, from where they sent Robert de Brus and Bernard de Balliol (recently arrived with a few mercenaries sent by King Stephen) on an embassy to David, whose army was now approaching the River Tees and North Yorkshire.[11]

The emissaries promised to obtain the earldom of Northumberland for Henry, if the Scots army withdrew. Ailred of Rievaulx gives de Brus a speech in which he tells David that the English and the Normans have always been his true friends (against the Gaels), and without their help he may not be able to keep his kingdom together.[22] Whatever was initially said , it ended in hard words being exchanged. Having failed to persuade David to withdraw, the emissaries returned to Thirsk, with de Brus angrily withdrawing his homage to David.[23] David’s forces crossed the Tees and moved south. The English forces moved northwards and took up a defensive position to the north of Northallerton.[24]


Anglo-Normans orate

Both Ailred and Henry of Huntingdon report a speech made to the Anglo-Normans before battle was joined. The speech may well be a literary device of the chroniclers, to present the reasons why it was fit and proper that the Normans should win, rather than accurate reportage of an actual speech. Ailred of Rievaulx says the speech was made by Walter Espec, Sheriff of York (and founder of Rievaulx). Henry of Huntingdon and after him Roger of Hoveden say the speech was made by Radulf Novell Bishop of Orkney as the representative of Thurstan.[36][37]

The speaker first reminds the Normans of the military prowess of their race (especially when compared to the Scots):

  • "Most illustrious nobles of England, Normans by birth, ... consider who you are, and against whom, and where it is, you are waging war; for then no one shall with impunity resist your prowess. Bold France, taught by experience, has quailed beneath your valour, fierce England, led captive, has submitted to you; rich Apulia, on having you for her masters, has flourished once again; Jerusalem so famed, and illustrious Antioch, have bowed themselves before you; and now Scotland, which of right is subject to you,[38] attempts to show resistance, displaying a temerity not warranted by her arms, more fitted indeed for rioting than for battle. These are people, in fact, who have no knowledge of military matters, no skill in fighting, no moderation in ruling. There is no room then left for fear, but rather for shame, that those whom we have always sought on their own soil and overcome ..have ...come flocking into our country."[37]

He next assures them that God has chosen them to punish the Scots:

  • "This .. has been brought about by Divine Providence; in order that those who have in this country violated the temples of God, stained the altars with blood, slain his priests, spared neither children nor pregnant women, may on the same spot receive the condign punishment of their crimes; and this most just resolve of the Divine will, God will this day put in execution by means of your hands. Arouse your spirits then, ye civilized warriors, and, firmly relying on the valour of your country, nay, rather on the presence of God, arise against these most unrighteous foes"[37]

Any keenness of the Scots to attack is because they don't understand the superiority of Norman equipment:

  • "And let not their rashness move you, because so many insignia of your valour cause no alarm to them. They know not how to arm themselves for battle; whereas you, during the time of peace, prepare yourselves for war, in order that in battle you may not experience the doubtful contingencies of warfare. Cover your heads then with the helmet, your breasts with the coat of mail, your legs with the greaves, and your bodies with the shield, that so the foeman may not find where to strike at you, on seeing you thus surrounded on every side with iron."[37]

Furthermore, the Scots' advantage in numbers is no advantage at all, especially when they are up against properly trained Norman knights:

  • "[I]t is not so much the numbers of the many as the valour of the few that gains the battle. For a multitude unused to discipline is a hindrance to itself, when successful, in completing the victory, when routed, in taking to flight. Besides your forefathers, when but few in number, have many a time conquered multitudes; what then is the natural consequence of the glories of your ancestry, your constant exercises, your military discipline, but that though fewer in number, you should overcome multitudes?"[37]

The bishop then finishes by promising that anyone who dies in battle against the Scots this day will go straight to Heaven with all his sins forgiven.[39] These preliminaries over, the battle begins.



End of the Campaign

David regrouped his forces at Carlisle; the nobles of Yorkshire did not move North against him, and their local levies dispersed to their homes rejoicing at the victory. Thus, although militarily the battle was a "shattering defeat",[49] it did not reverse David's previous gains. David had the only army still under arms and was left to consolidate his hold on Cumberland and Northumberland.

On 26 September Cardinal Alberic, bishop of Ostia, arrived at Carlisle where David had called together his kingdom's nobles, abbots and bishops. Alberic was there as a papal legate to resolve a long-running dispute as to whether the bishop of Glasgow was subordinate to the archbishop of York. However, Alberic also addressed more temporal matters: he persuaded David to refrain from further offensive action until Martinmas (11 November) whilst continuing to blockade Wark in order to starve it into submission, and the 'Picts' to (also by Martinmas) return their captives to Carlisle and free them there[50]

At Martinmas, the garrison of Wark surrendered on the orders of the castle's owner (Walter Espec), conveyed by the abbot of Rievaulx. The garrison had eaten all but two of their horses; King David rehorsed them and allowed them to depart with their arms.[51]



  • 1.^ Bradbury, p. 238
  • 2.^ Lynch, Michael, Scotland: A New History,(revised edn: London,1992 ISBN 0-7126-9893-0), page 83
  • 3.^ Green, Judith A., "David I and Henry I", in the Scottish Historical Review. vol. 75 (1996)(p 18) suggests David may had his own ambitions for the English throne
  • 4.^ Strictly speaking he had enlarged his holdings, not his kingdom: England had not ceded territory to Scotland, rather the King of England had granted the King of Scotland various lands within England, some of which abutted Scotland. Everybody knew this to be a polite fiction, though.
  • 5.^ Otherwise known as Carham -'Carrum' in Richard of Hexham's chronicle is a good phonetic transcription. There is also a Wark with a castle in Tynedale, with which it should not be confused; Wark was strategically important because it secured the furthest point upstream at which the Tweed was the border.
  • 11.^ Stevenson, Joseph (1853-58). "Richard of Hexham : De Gestis Regis Stephani" (in English translation). Church Historians of England, volume 4, part 1. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  • 14.^ "Remember what they did in the lands across the Tyne, and hope for nothing gentler if the Scots conquer. I am silent about the slaughter, the rapine, the fires that the enemy employed in something like a human way. I would tell such acts as no stories tell and no histories relate of the fiercest tyrants. I would tell them, I say, if words did not fail before such horror, or the listener flee. They spared no age, rank or sex. The high born, boys as well as girls were led into captivity." Walter Espec's speech before the Battle of the Standard Ailred of Rievaulx: Historical Works p 254.
  • 20.^ the value of the major holdings in Yorkshire is given on p298 of Dalton, Paul et al. , Conquest, Anarchy and Lordship: Yorkshire, 1066–1154, Cambridge University Press, ( Cambridge, 2002), ISBN 0-5215-2464-4
  • 21.^ Thurstan had been in a sustained dispute with David as to whether the Bishop of Glasgow was subordinate to the Archbishop of York (the sparring on this occupies pages in Anderson Scottish Annals(1908)); as a result of this a papal legate was sent (and will play his part later), but here Thurstan is referring to the need to resist the Scots army rather than their bishops
  • 22.^"Therefore I ask you my lord, have you found such fidelity in the Scots that you can safely dismiss the counsel of the English for yourself and your people and deprive yourself of the aid of the Normans, as if the Scots alone sufficed even against the Scots. This reliance in the Galwegians is new to you. Today you are attacking with arms those through whom you have until now ruled, beloved by the Scots and terrible to the Galwegians" Aelred of Rievaulx Historical Works p 261-2. De Brus's speech may well have been good advice in c 1155 when Ailred is thought to have written it, but in 1138 England was slipping into anarchy, and its Normans would soon be occupied with their own internecine campaigns. De Brus, however, would have had a very specific concern ; de Brus's birthplace and English fief was Skelton, near Gisborough, a short day's march south of the Tees.
  • 23.^ He had done homage to David for lands in Annandale- where he had built castles at Annan and Lochmaben. Ailred describes him as " a worthy old man, belonging by law to the King of England, but from youth an adherent of the King of Scotland"; i.e., he had followed David to Scotland as a friend - which may explain the rancour of their parting. Ailred (as always)says David was blameless; the harsh words are an intervention by the king's nephew.
  • 24.^ Covering both the road to York and the road south via Boroughbridge and the old Roman road
  • 36.^ The underlying themes are essentially the same, but are handled somewhat differently. Ailred's version of the speech is substantially longer, and the extracts given below are therefore from Roger of Hoveden's version.
  • 37.^ Riley, Henry (1853). "Roger of Hoveden: The History of England and of Other Countries of Europe from A.D. 732 to A.D. 1201" (in English translation). Bohn, London. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  • 38.^ The Normans held that in William the Conqueror's time the King of Scotland had done homage to him, and subsequent Kings of Scotland had served on the campaigns of the King England when summoned. Aelred has Walter Espec be slightly more specific: Who then would not laugh, rather than fear, when to fight against such men runs the worthless Scot with half-bare buttocks ? They are those, they are only those who of yore thought not to oppose us, but to yield, when William conqueror of England penetrated Lothian, Calatria and Scotland as far as Abernethy, where the warlike Malcolm was made ours by his surrender
  • 39.^ (Walter Espec can only vow to conquer or die and successfully invite his listeners to make a similar declaration.)
  • 49.^ Lynch, Michael, Scotland: A New History,(revised edn: London,1992 ISBN 0-7126-9893-0), page 84
  • 50.^ Richard of Hexham, Anderson Scottish Annals (1908) p 211-212. Richard also reports that, The king also spoke with the prior of Hexham, who had come thither with the legate, before [the prior] had appealed to him, concerning the loss sustained by him and by his brethren; and deplored it much, and promised that he would cause the whole to be restored : and moreover that he would compel his men to compensate them for the wrong which had been done to them and to their church, and for the slaying of their vassals. And this in great part he did. For both their money and that of their vassals was almost wholly returned.
  • 51.^ A beau geste in recognition of their stout defence of Wark, presumably. The chroniclers say he provided 24 horses, and the usual deduction from this is that there were 24 mounted men in the garrison. (Richard of Hexham, Anderson Scottish Annals (1908)p 213) Norham the neighbouring castle and whose garrison - provided by the Bishop of Durham - included only nine knights was felt to have been both under-garrisonned, and too readily surrendered (Richard of Hexham, Anderson Scottish Annals (1908) p 188) "Under Henry II a standard price [of horses] appears to have been £2" Prestwich, Michael, Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages, page 34


  • Anderson, Alan Orr (ed.), Early Sources of Scottish History: AD 500-1286, 2 Vols, (Edinburgh, 1922)
  • Anderson, Alan Orr (ed.), Scottish Annals from English Chroniclers: AD 500-1286, (London, 1908), republished, Marjorie Anderson (ed.) (Stamford, 1991) - see link below, but beware that a continuous narrative is achieved by the editor putting together snippets from the various chronicles; the words are all in the chronicles, but the choice of material and its ordering is down to the modern editor
  • Darlington, Reginald r et al., The Chronicle of John of Worcester: The Annals from 1067 to 1140 with the Gloucester Interpolations and the Continuation to 1141 Oxford University Press, ( Oxford, 1995) ISBN 0-1982-0702-6
  • Freeland, J P (trans & ed) Aelred of Rievaulx: The Historical Works (Kalamazoo,2005) gives a modern (more readable) translation of the Standard narrative (p 245-69); also includes Ailred's Lament for the Death of King David (p 45-70)
  • Greenway, Diana E (trans & ed)Historia Anglorum: The History of the English People by Henry of Huntingdon (Oxford, 1996) ISBN 0-1982-2224-6
  • Riley, Henry - translation of Roger of Hoveden The History of England and of Other Countries of Europe from A.D. 732 to A.D. 1201 (London,1853) - see link below
  • Stevenson, Joseph The Church Historians of England, volume 4, part 1 (London, 1853–58) (translation of Richard of Hexham - see link below)

Modern secondary sources

  • Aird, William M, "Sweet Civility and Barbarous Rudeness" A view from the frontier, Abbot Ailred of Rievaulx and the Scots p 63 onwards in Ellis Steven G et al. (eds) Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities, (Pisa, 2007), ISBN 8-8849-2466-9
  • Baker, D., Aelred of Rievaulx and Walter Espec p 91-98 in Haskins Society Journal 1989, 1
  • Bartlett, Robert, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings, 1075–1225, (Oxford, 2000)
  • Beeler, John Warfare in England 1066–1189 (New York, 1966) [narrative of battle p 84-95]
  • Bliese J. R. E,. , The Battle Rhetoric of Aelred of Rievaulx p 99-107 in Haskins Society Journal 1989, 1
  • Bradbury, J., The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare, Routledge (2004) ISBN 978-0-203-64466-9
  • Burton, Janet, The Monastic Order in Yorkshire, 1069–1215, Cambridge University Press,(Cambridge,1999), ISBN 0-521-55229-X
  • Clancy, M. T., England and its Rulers, 2nd Ed., (Malden, MA, 1998)
  • Davies. R. R., The First English Empire: Power and Identities in the British Isles, 1093–1343, (Oxford, 2000)
  • Duncan, A. A. M., The Kingship of the Scots 842-1292: Succession and Independence, (Edinburgh, 2002)
  • Duncan, A. A. M., Scotland: The Making of the Kingdom, (Edinburgh, 1975)

Gransden, Antonia, Historical Writing in England, Routledge, (London, 1974), ISBN 0-4151-5124-4

  • Green, Judith A., "Anglo-Scottish Relations, 1066–1174", in Michael Jones and Malcolm Vale (eds.), England and Her Neighbours: Essays in Honour of Pierre Chaplais (London, 1989)
  • Green, Judith A., "David I and Henry I", in the Scottish Historical Review. vol. 75 (1996), pp. 1–19
  • Moffat, Alistair The Borders , Birlinn, (Edinburgh, 2007) ISBN 1-84158-466-5
  • Oram, Richard, David: The King Who Made Scotland, (Gloucestershire, 2004)
  • Powicke, M, Aelred of Rievaulx and his Biographer, (Manchester, 1922)
  • Ritchie R L G The Normans in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1954)(narrative of battle is p 256-70)
  • Strickland, Matthew, Anglo-Norman Warfare: Studies in Late Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman Military Organization and Warfare, (Woodbridge, 1992)ISBN 0-8511-5328-3
  • (Victoria County History) A History of the County of Cumberland : Volume 2 (1905)

From the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy page on English Nobility Medieval (covering Walter's daughter Adeline Espec, with reference to some near-contemporary and contemporary sources regarding Walter Espec):

PIERS de Ros .

  • A charter of King Henry II, dated to [1156/57], confirmed donations to York St Mary, including the donation of land “in Gillinga Ridale” by “Petrus de Ros”[618].

m ADELINE Espec, daughter of WALTER Espec Lord of Helmsley, Yorkshire and Wark, Northumberland & his wife ---.

  • “Walterus Espec et Adelina uxor eius” founded Kirkham Priory, Yorkshire by undated charter, dated to the reign of King Henry I, witnessed by "Willielmo de Buyssy et Jordano de Buyssy et Rogero de Buyssy, filiis Hawisiæ sororis meæ primogenitæ, et Galfrido de Trailli et Willielmo de Trailli et Nicholao de Traille et Gilberto de Trailli, filiis Albredæ sororis meæ secundæ, et Everardo de Roos et Roberto de Ross, filiis Audelinæ sororis meæ junioris…"[619].
  • The 1130 Pipe Roll records "Walts Espec" in Yorkshire[620].
  • Piers & his wife had two children.


  • [618] Early Yorkshire Charters Vol. I, 354, p. 269.
  • [619] Dugdale Monasticon VI, Kirkham Priory, Yorkshire, I, p. 208.
  • [620] Pipe Roll 31 Hen I (1129/30), Yorkshire, p. 32.

Walter Espec

His father was William Speche, a follower of William I of England[8].


Name William Espec [65, Willelm Spec, p. 496], [97, His dau, Adeline Espec, p. 840], [97, His son, Walter Espec, p. 841], [99, Old Wardon, Beds barony (2nd class), p. 133], 26G Grandfather

General Domesday tenant-in-chief of Old Wardon, Beds.



  • 1. Walter (-1155)
  • 2. Hawise
  • 3. Albreda (-ca1125)
  • 4. Adeline (-<1230)

Notes for William Espec

  • He had three daus, co-heirs of his son Walter: Hawise, Albreda and Adeline.
  • Norman, from a family linked to the Albinis of the Cotentin.

Mr. De Espec:


  • 1. Walter De Espec, (Baron) Lord of Helmsley and Kirkham married Lady Adeline de Espec. Their only son Walter was said to have been accidentally killed as a boy while riding a horse. Lord Walter De Espec founded the Priory of Kirkham in 1122, the Abbey of Rievaulx in 1131, and that of Warden in Bedfordshire in 1136.
  • 2. Adeline de Espec
  • 3. It is said that Mr. de Espec had at least 3 daughters.

Name Walter Espec [99, Helmsley, Yorks barony, p. 52], [97, Walter Espec, p. 841], [99, Old Wardon, Beds barony (2nd class), p. 133], 26G Uncle

  • Death 1155, Rievaulx abbey
  • General dsp. Granted Helmsley barony by H. I.
  • Father William Espec
  • Spouses

Notes for Walter Espec

  • He entered Rivaulx abbey c. 1153.
  • Of his estates, Helmsley went to his sister Adeline and the Bedfordshire ones were divided between the heirs of his sisters Hawise and Albreda.
  • He also received Wark, which was divided between his sisters but re-entered by Henry II during squabbles with the Scots. Eventually the most of not the whole honour seems to have been given to Everard de Ros (d.1183)

According to this wikipedia article, Walter d'Espec was childless. I did not find any primary sources for him, and so I am wondering if there is an error.

Helmsley Castle (also known anciently as Hamlake) is a medieval castle situated in the market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire, England.

The castle was first constructed in wood around 1120 by Walter l'Espec. Walter had no children and on his death in 1154 the castle passed to his sister Adelina who had married Peter de Roos.

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Walter Espec (d. 1153), Lord Helmesley's Timeline

Old Warden, Bedfordshire, England
Age 6
Old Warden, Bedfordshire, , England
Age 16
Helmsley, Yorkshire, England
Age 22
Kirkham, Yorkshire, England, (Present UK)
March 7, 1153
Age 79
Helmsley Castle, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, (Present UK)