In 12th century England, at what age did wardship cease and at what age could someone grant frankalmoign?

+2 votes
289 views
Are the following two sentences consistent? They both relate to an heiress, Margaret de Bupton, who married a Nicholas fitz Nigel.

1 - The [bishop's] see of Chester was vacant from August, 1126 until December, 1129, and its temporalities were in the king's hand. Geoffrey de Clinton was the custos and it was during this period that Margaret de Bupton, as a minor holding of the bishop, became his ward.

2 - Between 1126-29 Margaret, wife of Nicholas f. Nigel, granted in frankalmoign to the church and canons of S. Mary of Kenilworth the church of Longford, situated in her patrimony.

Would a woman who is married (to say, a man who is not yet 21) continue to be a ward until either she or her husband became 21?

Could an heiress who is not yet 21 grant frankalmoign in her inherited properties?
in The Tree House by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (193k points)
edited by Chase Ashley
At that date the only law was customary law, generally unwritten.  There's little surviving evidence, and you can't necessarily project back from later centuries.

But I'm thinking that Geoffrey would cash in his heiress as quickly as possible, because the king might appoint a new bishop any day.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Coming of age was dictated by English Common Law as 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy.   The Magna Carta changed some of the rules governing wardship so rules depend on timing.   Basically wardship allowed rulers to collect money from their wards estates to support the rulers military obligations.  Marriage would end wardship.  

Some good sources:

http://johnmclaughlin.hypermart.net/childmarriage.htm

 https://www.usna.edu/Users/history/abels/hh315/feudalkingship.htm  query for wardship to find it.  

http://www.inquisitionspostmortem.ac.uk/contexts/the-law-of-inheritance/

https://www.usna.edu/Users/history/abels/hh315/MAGNACAR.htm
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (632k points)
Thanks, Laura. Re wardship ending marriage - I assume that if the husband was also under 21, the wife (and her property) would become wards of the husband's custodian.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_(law)   According to this in the United Kingdom it is age 18 but it does not say when that age began.

https://www.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/24504_Ch01.pdf  this is an entire treatise on the various ages of childhood and what you could and could not do...  in England it seems various rights were not all inclusive at a specific age.
Prob. the modern definition - that second source is pretty good since it goes through a few different scenarios depending on the person. Peasant children without property were a lot different than gentry children.
+2 votes
The full legal majority age has been 21 since the 12th century, although you could sue for livery and maintenance at any age if you could prove you were able to serve as a soldier.

I believe those ages Laura gave are for marriage not inheritance. The former is the age that was most important for females, since her property would have flowed to the husband, and I think the marriage ends the wardship since her husband is now her lord and you could both buy and sell both the wardship and marriage of an under-age female heir.

If both were wards of the crown I would assume nothing changed until the husband sued for livery of her lands. Considering how often wards were married to each other I assume this was to avoid losing the income from your wards estates for a few years.

There's a bunch of historians who write books about the 'life cycle' of Medieval England, another sub-topic is childhood. I think if you browse a few of those you'll find a better answer!
by Kirk Hess G2G6 Mach 6 (62.9k points)
edited by Kirk Hess
If, at the time of marriage, the husband was also under 21, would the wife (and her property) would become wards of the husband's custodian until the husband was 21? It seems like it would make sense that they would, since it wouldn't make sense to pay for the wife and her property is you didn't get control over it for another 9 years.

That's kind of what I thought happened - you prob. can find some examples of this in one of those Life Cycle books since it was somewhat notable and prob. happened with wealthier heiresses. 

I forgot to address your second question (Could an heiress who is not yet 21 grant frankalmoign in her inherited properties?) The age is a redherring - a heiress who didn't have livery of a manor shouldn't be able to grant it to anyone. However, the Church could have the influence to get her livery for the purpose of frankalmoign since they owned a lot of property and many bishops were mense-lords they could have been her custodian.

Also, I always keep in mind is English common law is a cloudy gas of possibilities which changed depending on your social status and wealth. 

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