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Watlington Manor, Oxfordshire, England

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  • Sarah de Bidun (b. - 1211)
  • William Paynell (b. - 1215)
  • Halneth de Bidun (c.1095 - 1186)
  • Sir Francis Knollys (1511 - 1596)
    Sir Francis Knollys [ ) From Wikipedia:] Sir Francis Knollys of Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, KG (c. 1511 / c. 1514 – 19 July 1596) was a courtier in the service of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Eliz...
  • Sir Henry Norreys, Kt., of Wytham (c.1482 - 1536)
    Sir Henry Norreys/Norris (the former version now being preferred where an Earl of Lindsey and Abingdon's eldest son and heir is concerned); Usher Black Rod 1527, Esquire of the Body and Gentleman of th...

Watlington Manor, Oxfordshire, England

In 1068 the estate, later known as WATLINGTON manor, was held for 8 hides by Robert d'Oilly, Constable of Oxford castle. He died without male heirs and most of his land went to his brother Nigel d'Oilly, but Watlington may have been granted earlier to his daughter Maud, who married firstly Miles Crispin, custodian of Walling ford castle, and secondly Brian FitzCount, who became Constable of the castle and lord of Wallingford honor on the death of Miles Crispin. Watlington was later held as a fee of Wallingford honor and in 1297 was regarded as being in the bailiwick of the honor. Its independent status, however, is shown by the fact that when grants were made of the honor, specific grants were usually made of Watlington. This situation may have arisen because of the early history of Watlington manor. Maud's possession was evidently disputed by Nigel d'Oilly (d. c. 1115) and, according to a statement in a lawsuit of 1225, his son Robert (II) d'Oilly came to an agreement with Maud, the lady of Wallingford honor, by which Watlington and Ipsden were to revert to Robert and his heirs if she died without heirs. Robert certainly included in 1129 the advowson of Watlington among the foundation properties of Oseney Abbey, and his grant was confirmed by Henry I between 1129 and 1133. The family supported the Empress Maud in the civil wars of Stephen's reign and seems to have lost Watlington after the rout of Winchester in 1141. Robert (II) d'Oilly died in 1142 and although his son Henry (I) d'Oilly confirmed the grant of the advowson to Oseney, it is doubtful if he ever obtained possession of Watlington manor; the estate was forfeited to King Stephen, who gave it to William de Chesney.

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Later the king gave it to Halinad de Bidun, a Norfolk baron and one of the knights of Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, who had changed his allegiance to Stephen. Bidun granted the advowson and part of his demesne land to Oseney between about 1154 and 1162. He is listed in 1166 as holding Watlington fee of Wallingford honor, which was then in the king's hands. He died about 1186 and his daughter Sarah, wife of William Paynell, was his heir. The D'Oilly family, however, had not relinquished its claim and Oseney was careful to get confirmation of its rights in Watlington from all parties concerned. Henry (II) d'Oilly, described in the cartulary's heading to his charter of confirmation as chief lord, confirmed grants by the tenants between 1185 and 1200. In 1208 he began a suit against the Paynells, and in 1220 he claimed that a final concord had been made by which William Paynell recognized his claim to the manor and that Henry had granted him a life interest in it, provided it reverted to Henry and his heirs on William's death. From the pipe roll it appears that Watlington and other lands were taken into the king's hands on the death of Sarah before Michaelmas 1211, when William Paynell paid £100 and a palfrey for keeping his wife's inheritance for life. William Paynell died about 1215, and King John seized the land and committed it to the custody of the Constable of Wallingford, but in 1216 gave it to Peter FitzHerbert'. When peace was restored Henry d'Oilly renewed his claims and obtained a writ against FitzHerbert, who 'to avoid labour and expense' agreed to acknowledge D'Oilly's rights. Nevertheless, in 1219 Peter FitzHerbert was recorded as holding by the king's gift an escheated fee in Watlington, worth £24. Both FitzHerbert and D'Oilly were summoned before the king's court in 1220 for having made an agreement over Watlington, which the king maintained was held only in custody (de ballio suo) and not by gift (de dono). This agreement was annulled in 1223, when the king was adjudged seisin, and both FitzHerbert and D'Oilly lost all right. In Edward I's reign it was asserted that the manor had escheated to Henry III on the death of Sarah de Bidun, a tenant in chief, and that he had given it to his brother.

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Henry III, despite the claims of D'Oilly and FitzHerbert, had granted a lease of Watlington in 1217 to Nicholas de Molis; and after the judgement of 1220 various other leases were made: in 1225 to the Archbishop of Dublin for 50 marks a year in part payment of a debt; in 1227 to Philip d'Aubigny to hold as long as he was keeper of Wallingford castle; in 1229 to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, along with the castle and honor of Wallingford, during pleasure, to sustain the earl in the king's service; in 1231 to Godfrey de Crowcombe with the castle, but later in that year Henry III made a perpetual grant of Watlington manor with Wallingford honor and castle to the Earl of Cornwall to be held by the service of 3 knight's fees. Watlington itself was held for 1 fee. On the death of Richard's son and heir Edmund in 1300 the freemen and villeins of Watlington were said to be holding the fee of the honor, which later in the year reverted to the Crown.

In 1302 Watlington was among the estates granted by Edward I to Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. After Bigod's death in 1306, Edward II granted the manor in 1307 to Piers Gaveston, who was given also the Earldom of Cornwall and Wallingford honor. Gaveston's estates reverted to the Crown on his death in 1312 and in 1316 Edward II leased Watlington for life for £42 a year to John Knockyn, king's yeoman, who already held it during pleasure. In 1318, however, Queen Isabella, who had been granted dower of Wallingford honor, exchanged one of her other manors with John Knockyn for Watlington, which was valued at £60. It reverted to the Crown after her disgrace in 1329 and the downfall of Mortimer, and was committed in 1331 to the keeping of Sir John de Stonor. Edward III granted it later in 1331 to his brother, John of Eltham, who had already been given the earldom of Cornwall and Wallingford honor, thus reaffirming the close connexion between Watlington and these honors. After the death of John of Eltham in 1336 Watlington was granted in 1337 to Nicholas de la Beche, a devoted servant of Edward III, who superintended the education of the Black Prince and was at one time Constable of the Tower of London and Seneschal of Gascony. On his death in 1345 the manor reverted to the prince, presumably because it was a member of Wallingford honor, which had been granted to him and his successors. In 1350 the prince granted Watlington manor for life to Sir Roger Cottesford 'in support of his estate as a knight'. Sir Roger, lord of Bletchingdon and later Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Keeper of Oxford castle, died in 1375. On the death of the Black Prince in 1376 the manor and park, valued at £40, formed part of the dower of his widow Joan of Kent (d. 1385). They then reverted to Richard II, who immediately granted them for life to one of his knights,Baldwin de Bereford. This grant was not revoked until 1404, when Henry, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall (later king Henry V) successfully claimed the manor as part and parcel of Wallingford honor. It was assigned after his death as dower to his widow Katherine de Valois, who was returned as holding lands and tenements in Watlington for 1 fee in 1428. The Crown retained the manor in its own hands after her death in 1437, until Henry VIII left it in his will to his daughter the Lady Elizabeth. She retained the manor in her own hands, but James I granted it to his son Charles' in 1616. James I had already, however, leased it in 1613 to a group of London merchants for £54 11s. 1d. a year, and in 1617, despite the grant to Prince Charles, he sold the lordship to Sir Francis Bacon and others. They sold off the demesne land in small lots, leaving the manor only its rights and privileges. A fine in 1629 enabled the lease and reversion of the manor to be acquired by a single person, who would thereby become virtually the lord of the manor. These rights were acquired in 1630 by Thomas Dean of Chalgrove and Edmund Symeon of Pyrton, and passed from them through two or three other groups to Thomas Allen of Henley, Robert Dobson of Aston Rowant, and Thomas Wiggins of Clare, who held the manor in 1664. In 1664 55 freemen of Watlington, paying a pound each, purchased the manor, preparatory to the building of the Town Hall on the waste of the manor. By 1780 the shares in the manor had reached 64 in number. The fee farm rent of £54 11s. 1d. was still due to the Crown and was paid until the middle of the reign of George III, when the rent was sold to a certain Naphthali Franks, whose descendants were receiving it in 1921.

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The manor does not seem to have been leased to under-tenants in the Middle Ages after the grant to Baldwin de Bereford, and it was administered by stewards; a John Harpenden, for example, in Queen Katherine's time; in 1437 William Phellip, Chamberlain of the Household; and in 1438 William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, who headed a commission of inquiry to discover whether Watlington and certain other manors, parcels of Wallingford honor, were let at farm or in the king's hands. In 1447 Richard Lyllyng, king's sergeant, who already held the 'site', was granted the 'keeping of the manor' for life. There are no later grants to stewards recorded and it may be that the bailiff of the manor, who in the 14th century had held under the steward, took over his position. Among the appointments in the second half of the 15th century were two king's yeomen, and a later bailiff was Henry Norreys, an intimate of Henry VIII, who was appointed in 1523 and held until his death in 1537. In 1592 the bailiff was the Treasurer of the Queen's Household, the Oxfordshire magnate, Sir Francis Knollys, who also held Wallingford castle.

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