Sunday, January 8, 2017

William Malet, Signer of the Magna Carta

While scurrying around the roots of my family tree - still playing with the tree of Ruth Chase Cole (1651 - 1694), who married Job Winslow - I found that one of my many-times great-grandfathers was a signer of the Magna Carta in 1215.  I haven't yet counted how many generations back he is - but I will do so in the next few days.  The man who signed the Magna Carta was William Malet, Baron of Curry Mallet (or Cory Malet) in Somerset.
    Lord William was one of a large group of rebel Barons who were heavily indebted to King John, which made the Baron's Revolt of 1215 something of a debtors' revolt.  William, the Lord of Curry Mallet in Somerset, was the descendant of Robert Malet (the first Baron of Curry Mallet), and the son of Gilbert Malet, who died in 1194.  Gilbert was in debt to the Crown of England, and William paid a fine and a relief of 150 pounds to King Richard the Lionheart, in order to claim his inheritance.
    William's early career, characteristically for someone of his background and upbringing, had been in royal service.  He had accompanied Richard the Lionheart on Crusade in 1190, and had taken part in the Siege of Acre in 1191. He returned to England in 1193.
     He was appointed Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset by King John in 1209, after the two counties had petitioned to have someone local as their Sheriff, instead of Sir William Brewer (a courtier), and he served as Sheriff until 1212.  By then, he was in financial difficulty, although the precise cause is not known; by 1214, he owed King John 2,000 marks (about 1,333 pounds).  In that year, 1214, he entered into an agreement to serve with King John in Poitou , bringing ten knights and twenty other soldiers, in cancellation of his debt.  King John did not cancel the debt.  In 1215, William joined the rebel Barons, and was their Muster at Stamford during the week of Easter; in June 1215, he was appointed to the Twenty Five.
    The Baron of Curry Mallet, William Malet, died only months later, in December of 1215.  By Christmas of that year, his estates were in the possession of his son-in-law, Hugh de Vivonia.  He had three daughters, between whom his estates were divided: Mabel, Helewisa, and Bertha.  Bertha died unmarried before 1221.  Helewisa, whom I am descended from, married Hugh de Poyntz, an associate of her father's during the Baron's Revolt; after Hugh's death, she remarried to Robert de Mucegros.  I am descended from Helewisa and Hugh's son, Nicholas de Poyntz...

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