Another Victim: Maud Countess of Salisbury (d. 1424)


CIPM xxii.463-6. Maud Countess of Salisbury, who died in 1424, was the daughter  of London mayor Adam Francis.[1. He died in 1375. A Calendar of the Cartularies of John Pyel and Adam Fraunceys, ed. S.J. O'Connor, Canden 5th ser. ii (1993), 3.Her brother Adam was heir, ibid. 22] She was married first to John Aubrey, son of Andrew Aubrey, another  citizen of London.[2. See CIPM xviii, 22,  25, 26. ] Following Aubrey's death in 1380-1, she remarried at once to the much older  Sir Alan Buxhull (d. 1381) and married thirdly John Montagu, earl of Salisbury (k. 1400).[3. GEC xi  392-3] Maud had no children by Aubrey: his coheirs were cousins.[4. CIPM xviii.25] Buxhull already had two daughters aged 30 and 28 at his death who were found as his heiresses in his IPM and had possession of their inheritance.[5. CIPM xv. 459; xviii.668.] But his young widow Maud was pregnant,[6. CIPM xv 459-60] subsequently bearing another Alan Buxhull on 20 January 1382, who cut his sisters out of their family inheritance.[7. CIPM xviii.668-71.] Maud had dower of the Buxhull estates. Although forbidden to remarry without royal licence, she had nevertheless remarried to by 2 June 1383Sir John Montagu, son of John Lord Montagu.[8. CIPM xv.695] Montagu succeeded his father and then in 1397 his uncle  as earl of Salisbury . By Earl John  she had another son, Thomas Montagu, later earl of Salisbury  and at least three daughters.[9. Ann Payne, ‘The Salisbury Roll of Arms, 1463',  England in the Fifteenth Century, ed. D. Williams (Woodbridge, 1987), 187.]

Maud  is thus a classic case in several ways: of a second wife whose offspring took precedence over older siblings – Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (k. 1314) and Henry Duke of Warwick (d. 1446) are obvious instances; of mercantile wealth raised into the nobility – the de la Poles of Hull, later earls and dukes of Suffolk, are a more famous case;  and of a much-married lady who traded up the social hierarchy with each marriage, Alice Chaucer, countess of Salisbury and Suffolk (d. 1475) standing out as comparison.

Presumably Maud inherited principally moveable wealth. Remember that she was not her father's heir. Earl John's  IPM of 1400 itemises her lands:  the New Inn in Thames Street in London, the manor of Wyke in Hackney and Stepney in Middlesex , and Newton by Sudbury in Suffolk, all presumably inherited from her father Adam Francis;[10. Wyke had been entailed on Maud's mother Agnes and her mother at its purchase in 1357, CIPM xviii.23.] miscellaneous property in Essex and Herfordshire settled jointly on her and Aubrey; and dower of Sir Alan Buxhull in Dorset and Sussex.[11. CIPM xviii.20-5, 27-8.] The earl also had custody of the lands and person of her son, younger Alan Buxhull, who proved his age in 1402. [12. CIPM xviii.22, 670; CPR 1381-5, 362.] The dower assigned from Buxhull's estate in Dorset does not appear in her own  IPM.[13. CIPM xxii.463-6] At her death, her Aubrey property reverted to his coheirs and her Buxhull dower to her eldest son Alan, then aged 30 and more. Alan was also the heir to her Francis lands,[14. CIPM xxii. 463-4.] not Earl Thomas. Thomas thus had a half-brother Alan and quite obscure connections via his sisters and Aubrey's cousins with modest gentry.

Maud's husband John Earl of Salisbury was one of the Ricardian earls who rebelled against Henry IV in 1400 and was killed, in his case at Pleshey in Essex. As a traitor, he suffered forfeiture of those lands he held in fee simple or in trust, but his son Thomas was allowed to inherit those that were entailed. Thomas was aged 12 at his father's death.[15. CIPM xviii.21.] The sentence against Earl John was not repealed until 1461, but Thomas was allowed access to his inheritance in stages, starting in 1409.[16. M.A. Hicks, ‘The Neville Earldom of Salisbury 1429-71', Richard III and the Rivalos. Magnates and their Motives in the Wats of the Roses (London, 1991),  353; GEC xi.393.]  Earl John's widow lost her entitlement to dower. She was entitled to jointure, but her own IPM makes no reference to any, so perhaps there was none, She was reduced therefore to living off her own lands and her Buxhull dower, together extended at £29 3s. 11d. in 1424  – a genteel estate, but hardly what a dowager countess could expect – plus £180 in annuities paid by the crown.[17. GEC xi.393n.]

Five traitors perished in January 1400. Apart from Salisbury, the others were John Holland, earl of Huntingdon, Thomas Holland, earl of Kent Thomas Lord Despenser, and Ralph Lord Lumley.  All were married. Those widows more closely related to the crown fared better. Elizabeth Countess of Huntingdon was the king's whole sister: on 18 February she was granted 1,000 marks a year (close to the whole value of her husband'sestate) and in 1404 she was allowed her dower.[18. GEC v.199,] Constance Lady Despenser, daughter of Edmund Duke of York (d. 1402) and another lady of the blood royal, was the king's first cousin and was also granted 1,000 marks a year for life in February 1400.   Although of doubtful loyalty and morality – she bore a bastard by Edmund Earl of Kent – she secured  a share of the Despenser estate in 1406.[19. GEC iv.281.] The countesses of Kent and Salisbury and Lady Lumley had no such connections and no comparable concessions. Maud was granted the manor of Stokenham in Devon  in February 1400 to the value pf £100 a year for the maintenance of herself and her children, later raised to £180.[20. CPR 1399-1401, 226; GEC  xi.393 &n. It is not clear whether this was indeed paid for life.] Her son Thomas had already been married by his father to Eleanor Holland, sister of another of the Ricardian earls.[21. GEC xi.394.] The IPM of Maud Countess of Salisbury  however reveals that her son Earl Thomas made generous provision for his mother himself almost as soon as he proved his age and was restored to the entailed lands on 14 June 1409. This was on 20 June 1409 by deed dated at her manor of Stokenham in Devon. She was described as his ‘respected lady and mother' – surely respected rather than respectful as calendared.[22. CIPM xxii. 466.]

Earl Thomas granted her quite an extensive estate in Devon where hitherto she had no land. The Montagu estate was concentrated in central southern England. He granted her for twenty years  the seven manors of Clyst St Mary, Oakford, Pyworthy, Start, Stokenham, Wonford, Yealmpton and appurtenant manors and advowsons, together worth £115 a year.[23. Ibid.] It was a generous gesture, but probably fell substantially short of what her dower would have been. Where she resided, before or after the grant, does not appear from the IPM. That Earl Thomas's deed was dated at Stokenham, which she held, and that this was part of the jointure of the next dowager countess suggests that Maud could have resided there. However she chose to be buried in the family mausoleum, Bisham Priory in Berkshire.

It was a disappointing end to the upward trajectory of Maud's career. Maud was certainly a lasting casualty of her husband's political miscalculation and her fortunes were not completely repaired by the restoration of her son. As Professor Rosenthal showed for the Wars of the Roses,[24. J.T. Rosenthal, ‘Other Victims. Peeresses as War Widows 1450-1500', History lxxii (1987).] such non-combatant ladies were not immune from family disasters. Countess Maud was not alone in her misfortunes. Whilst birth, family, and connections undoubtedly helped such ladies, we seldom know how or what extent. Maud's 1424 IPM is unusually revealing. It may be representative of what befell other victims in the political upheavals of 1388-1415.

Michael Hicks