27 April, 2018

The Abduction of Margaret Multon by Ranulph Dacre, c. 1316

The following entry appears on the Patent Roll on 28 October 1317 (CPR 1317-21, p. 39):

"Pardon to Ranulph de Dacre for abducting by night Margaret, the daughter and heiress of Thomas de Multon of Gillesland [Gilsland], tenant in chief, a minor in the king's custody, from the castle of Warrewyk [Warwick]."

There were two branches of the Multon family: the Multons of Gilsland in Cumberland and the Multons of Egremont, also in Cumberland. Piers Gaveston's daughter and heir Joan (1312-25) was betrothed in 1317 to John Multon (b. 1308), son and heir of Thomas, Lord Multon of Egremont and a grandson of the earl of Ulster. Thomas, Lord Multon of Gilsland was born on or around 19 September 1281. [CIPM 1291-1300, no. 285; CCR 1296-1302, p. 560] He was one of the 266 men knighted with Edward of Caernarfon, prince of Wales, duke of Aquitaine, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu, on 22 May 1306, and married a daughter of Piers, Lord Mauley, who was granted his marriage on 21 August 1297. [CPR 1292-1301, p. 304] Sadly, his wife's name is not recorded. Thomas Multon died shortly before 14 January 1313 when the writ for his Inquisition Post Mortem was issued. [CIPM 1307-17, no. 452] According to the Complete Peerage, citing a record of the King's Bench, Thomas's daughter and heir Margaret Multon of Gilsland was born at Mulgrave Castle on 20 July 1300 when her father was still only eighteen, and was baptised four days later. Margaret was given livery of her lands on 30 October 1317 "as she has proved her age before the king," which was just two days after Ranulph Dacre was pardoned for abducting her. [CCR 1313-8, p. 504] Margaret Multon's birthplace, Mulgrave Castle, lay in Lythe near Whitby, Yorkshire, and belonged to her maternal grandfather Piers Mauley.

So there was Margaret, minding her own business in Warwick Castle, when along came Sir Ranulph or Randolf or Ralph Dacre. He was a few years Margaret Multon's senior, born around 1290 or 1294: he was said to be twenty-eight when his father William died in August 1318 and thirty when his mother Joan died in December 1324. [CIPM 1317-27, nos. 155, 574] (Yes, according to that evidence he only aged two years in six years! That's a useful trick!). According to the chronicle of Lanercost Priory, which is an extremely useful source for events in the north of England in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, when Thomas de Multon of Gilsland died his daughter and heir Margaret was already married to Robert son of Robert de Clifford, and they married near Appleby when Margaret was in her seventh year. [Chronicle of Lanercost, ed. Maxwell, p. 205] This is somewhat puzzling. I assume this means the Robert Clifford who was born in 1305 and later succeeded his elder brother Roger (b. 1299/1300, executed as a Contrariant in March 1322). Their father Robert, Lord Clifford was killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, and the Cliffords certainly were an influential family in Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire so it's not unlikely that they would have married into another influential northern family. The Lanercost chronicle goes on: "and in the life of the said Robert [de Clifford], Ralph de Dacre, son of William de Dacre, married the same Margaret, having a right to her through a contract concluded between Thomas de Multon, father of the said Margaret, and William de Dacre, before her former marriage." [Ibid.] The bit I really don't get is how Magaret Multon can have married Ranulph Dacre if she was already married to young Robert Clifford.

According to the Complete Peerage citing a King's Bench record, Ranulph Dacre and Margaret Multon were already married at Easter in Edward II's ninth regnal year, which was 11 April 1316. Warwick Castle, from where Dacre abducted Margaret, belonged to Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, who died on 12 August 1315. As his son and heir Thomas was then only eighteen months old, all Guy's lands and castles passed into the king's hands, which presumably was why Edward II accommodated Margaret Multon at Warwick Castle (as she was the heir of a deceased tenant in chief, by the rules of the era he was her legal guardian). When Dacre took Margaret from Warwick Castle, it was in the custody of the late earl of Warwick's executors. [CPR 1313-7, p. 664]

Evidently, Ranulph Dacre went to Warwick Castle at night and abducted Margaret, and presumably married her shortly afterwards; yet another abduction and forced marriage of a fourteenth-century noble heiress, along with Elizabeth de Burgh, her sister Eleanor Despenser, their niece Margaret Audley, and Alice de Lacy, countess of Lincoln. As with all the others, Margaret Dacre née Multon basically had no choice but to live with her abductor, now her husband, and to make the best of the situation. She gave birth to her first son William Dacre, named after his paternal grandfather, around 1319 (William was said to be twenty years old at Ranulph's IPM in June 1339), and had younger sons Ranulph (born in or before 1322), who was a parson, Hugh, who was the ultimate Dacre heir, Peter, and Thomas. William the eldest Dacre son inherited his parents' lands but died childless, whereupon they passed to the second son Ranulph and then to Hugh. As far as I can tell, Hugh was the youngest Dacre son but his older brothers Peter and Thomas died before he did, and it was Hugh who carried on the Dacre line; he died in 1383 when his son and heir William was twenty-six. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 229; CIPM 1361-5, nos. 60, 317; CIPM 1374-7, no. 119; CIPM 1377-84, nos. 971-3] Horribly, Hugh Dacre was suspected of murdering his elder brother Randolph the parson, whose heir he was, and sometime before 2 July 1376 was imprisoned in the Tower of London. [CCR 1374-7, p. 433] Margaret Dacre née Multon died on 10 December 1361 at the age of sixty-one, having outlived her abductor and husband by twenty-two years, her eldest son William Dacre by some months, and her younger sons Peter and Thomas as well.

5 comments:

sami parkkonen said...

This seems to have been an epidemic on these times. Quite strange and horrible.

Anonymous said...

It's particularly awful that they seem to get away without significant punishment as that hardly deters others from following suit.

Jo

Anonymous said...

Reading Ian Mortimer's Henry IV bio regarding his marriage to Mary Bohun (Chapter 2). Mortimer says according to Froissart, Thomas of Woodstock hoped to put Mary in a nunnery so that his own wife (Mary's sister) would get the whole of their joint inheritance, which he would then control. Do you happen to know if that's true or a bit of Froissart embroidery? And is that something that happened as frequently as abduction and forced marriage?

Jo

Kathryn Warner said...

Personally, I suspect that's a bit of Froissart embroidery. Thomas and Eleanor may well have hoped that Mary would take the veil, but they must have known that was wishful thinking. Henry and Mary's wedding took place at a manor belonging to Mary's mother Joan, who had helped to arrange the marriage, so I wouldn't consider it an abduction and forced marriage, no.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing that up.

Jo