+7 votes
How is it possible that Elizabeth FitzRoger gave birth to Thomas Bonville in 1394, Isabel Bonville in 1395, and then Philippa Bonville in 1396?  Is there any proof of age that Philippa Bonville was born in 1396, other than the fact that Douglas Richardson states in all of his Bonville pedigrees, "Philippa born by 1396"?  Which, lo and behold, means that Philippa had to have been born before John Bonville died in 21 Oct. 1396.  

Philippa Bonville was born into an aristocratic family and had five children by her first husband, William Grenville, Esq. (died c. 1450), whom she married after 12 May 1427.  Are WikiTree members suppose to believe that Philippa married firstly in her mid-30s and then had kids in her late 30's to early 40's all during the early 15th century?  Are we also suppose to believe that Philippa did not have children from the ages of 15 to 34, given that she was born in or before 1396 and was about 35 years of age when she gave birth to her first son, Sir Thomas Bonville I (born c. 1430)?

Philippa Bonville was obviously capable of having children.  She mothered five children with William Grenville, Esq., all in the 1430s.  I assume Philippa Bonville was not on birth control when she was 15 years old to 34 years old, no matter how many husbands she had prior to William Grenville, Esq.  Seems kind of far-fetched to me that Philippa would start having kids in her mid-late 30s if she was born in or before 1396, no matter how many publications Douglas Richardson puts out stating that Philippa was born by 1396!  I guess WIkiTree likes to be very sequential in their dates of birth.  Proofs of age would be helpful for Elizabeth FitzRoger's children by John Bonville if they are out there, otherwise they are just speculative guesses and should be annotated as uncertain.  

However, I'm certain that Thomas Bonville and Isabel Bonville were born between the years of 1393 and 1396!!!  Thanks for clearing this up.
WikiTree profile: Elizabeth Stucley
asked in Genealogy Help by
reshown by Darlene Athey-Hill

That surely looks like Bonville arms impaling Grenville arms in the upper left hand stained glass window, which can be found at St. Petroc's Church in Devon, England, UK, not Cornwall!

My apologies - Devon - don't know where I got Cornwall from.

5 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer

This question or similar, have already been been asked on WikiTree. See here and here.  For anyone who follows the Genealogy Medieval discussion group, it has been also been discussed here and here and probably at other times as well.

The main problem is that we just don't have enough primary documents to definitely identify the parents of Philippa Bonville, and the secondary sources seem to present contradictory information.  There is also a reliance on suppositions about age at marriage and other issues during this time period, which may represent the average, but don't necessarily represent what is possible.

Unless more information is discovered in some long lost book of documents it would appear that this situation of not really knowing for sure is going to persist, and no amount of rephrasing the question or the written communication equivalent of shouting is going to change that.

answered by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (312k points)
selected by Joe Cochoit
+4 votes

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am inclined to move Philippa to show her to be the "uncertain" granddaughter of Elizabeth FitzRoger, together with adding another "uncertain" generation to the Grenville family tree, as discussed by Joe Cochoit.  

However, I am also inclined to move slowly on this, waiting until I have a block of time to present thorough explanations on each profile.  And then of course others will be welcome to add to or propose edits to the explanations.  If done correctly, this Philippa Bonville conundrum (whether she was the daughter or the sister of William Bonville) could become an excellent exposition of the pitfalls of medieval genealogy, and that is what I intend to strive for.

Regarding Douglas Richardson, in the vast majority of cases, Richardson's work is authoritative and serves as a useful shortcut for wikitreers who are trying to sort through the accumulated mass of imaginary, dubious, or downright fraudulent medieval lineages.  In this particular case, Richardson avoided adding a fistful of unproven Magna Carta lineages by choosing John Bonville as Philippa's father, as opposed to William Bonville, whose wife Margaret Grey had the numerous Magna Carta links.  Elizabeth FitzRoger does have a Magna Carta lineage, so it would appear that Richardson included the lineage as he did to show an undisputed Magna Carta lineage for Philippa, while avoiding uncertainty. 

 Perhaps Richardson was too cautious, and the argument about Philippa's age at time of marriage certainly makes sense.  However, per Joe Cochoit's discussion at, the William Grenville who married Thomasine Cole could be the FATHER of the William Grenville who married Philippa Bonville, meaning that Philippa's son Thomas could have been born before 1430.  And Thomasine Cole would presumably have been the step-mother-in-law of Philippa.  Per the stained-glass windows that Philippa (Bonville) Grenville had installed in Petrocstowe Church in 1450 (per the Yeo Society website), there was a Grenville-Calmady marriage (Grenville impales Calmady at the top of the second panel), and that would seem to be Philippa's parents-in-law.  See

answered by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (92.4k points)
reshown by Darlene Athey-Hill
+2 votes
The stained glass window appears to show a Bonville man marrying a Grenville girl.

The Yeo Society website thinks both marriages involve Grenville men.  But that can't be right unless one is flipped and the other isn't, and then you get the horns pointing in different directions.

The alleged Gorges arms seem to be either Calmady or Orchard.

None of the big shields seems relevant.  I'm not seeing how the bend + 6 stars is Bonville.

There's nothing here for FitzRoger, let alone Grey. And I don't see any connection with Daumarle or Meriet.  And it's in Cornwall.

Persuade me this window has anything to do with Philippa or the senior lines of these families.  Presumably they had obscure junior branches like everybody else.
answered by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (406k points)
reshown by Darlene Athey-Hill
A right bunch of feoffees if I ever saw one.

But it looks like that whole package stayed together.  Lysons was just confused by the 1461 IPM and confused everybody else.
I'm not sure if people have appreciated the distinction between the BOROUGH (burgh) of Week St. Mary -- which could be the lands in Week St. Mary possessed by William Bonville in 1461 -- and the MANOR OF Week St. Mary, which passed from the Coleshills to the Arundels.
This time John is correct.  Although I believe he is correct on other matters as well, such as IPMs.  There is a definite distinction between manors, boroughs, bartons, parcels, and etc.  The manor of Week St. Mary, the borough of Week St. Mary, the manor of Swannacote, and the manor of Stratton were all their own distinct entities in Cornwall during this time period.

There should also be some prudence in evaluating these older sources. There can always be some confusing language, minor inaccuracies, and ambiguous dates, but I don't think calling Lysons or Granville outright liars solves the puzzle of the land inheritance of these manors and parcels of land during this time period.  Why would either gentleman have a reason to lie or print outright fiction?  They were both reverends and men of the clergy, which if anything else, should point to their intent of holding to the utmost integrity in their works.
I have made a bare beginning at discussing all of the above and more on Philippa Bonville's profile.  Those who want to participate in or follow this ongoing work could send a trusted list request, and interested wikitree leaders can of course add themselves as managers.

"According to the IPM of Sir John Colshull, he granted the manors of Stratton and Week St Mary, as well as the advowson of Week St Mary, as well as other places in Cornwall and Devon, by charter dated 3 April 1418 to John Preston, parson of St Ewe, John Jaybien, John Butte, John Cork and Thomas Nethercote.

So the question is how did it get from one or all of those men to the Grenvilles or wherever it went next?"

This is what I was talking about when I said most land was put into trust.  The five men named are actually trustees or 'feoffees to uses.'  John Coleshill granted the five men this land, but they are required to use it in only a certain way (the use).  The use is to grant it back to John Coleshill for his sole use (so he still collects all revenues), and to grant it to his right heirs on his death.

Why grant it to five men?  So if any of them die the land will not fall into the hands of the king.  New trustees can be chosen if some of them die off.

Why do this?  The land is now technically under the law the property of the trustees. John Coleshill still receives all revenues, and it is really still his as the trustees are required to give it back to his estate on his death.  However, the land does not come into the king's hands on his death, and the heirs do not need to pay relief to the king to obtain their inheritance.  Yes, it was just a medieval tax dodge.

I have created a new free space to keep my thoughts, sources and conclusions on the Parentage of Philippa Bonville.  This is meant to replace my Cochoit_Working2 were the information has been for almost a year.  The new space is meant to be more permanent and have a less confusing title.

John, I have also started writing up the evidence or lack thereof for a maritagium for Philippa Bonville and William Granville.  See the new page.  

Interesting G2G thread.  A lot of theories and assumptions thrown out there.  The one thing it might have accomplished is provide a little doubt on whether Lord Bonville actually held the manor of Week St. Mary.  It seems to appear he held lands and the borough of Week St. Mary.  

Unfortunately, nothing presented in this thread has disproved the statements of Rev. Lysons and Rev. Granville.  Another interesting note to add to this thread is that while feoffes (or trustees) were used as a means to avoid taxes paid to the king; there are IPMs of Grenvilles during this time period (1460 - 1620) which state the deceased Grenville held, "other lands and tenements in Cornwall and Devon!"

It should also be pointed out that Philippa Bonville married as her first husband, William Grenville, Esq., who was a man considerably older than Philippa (anywhere from 34 to 40 years older).  Interestingly Philippa’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Yeo, married a man who was also much older than Elizabeth. 

For we find from the website,, where it states, “Robert Yeo, his extended family and friends also contracted his daughter, Elizabeth Yeo, then only in her early twenties, to marry Sir John Crocker, of Lynham, Kt., an elderly but prominent man in his seventies.”

Elizabeth Yeo (born c.1475) married Sir John Crocker (born c.1425 – died 1508) as his second wife and a man who was at least 50 years older than Elizabeth when they married in the late 15th century.  This represented a greater age gap than what it was between Elizabeth’s great-grandparents, which profoundly points to the fact that women did marry men much older and sometimes a generation or more during the 15th century.  So, Wikitreers should take caution of anything they read which would be to the contrary of this fact!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this discussion.
To "anonymous": I would be pleased to consider your statement that Philippa Bonville's first husband William Grenville was more than 30 years older than Philippa.  I don't think that is likely.  I am inclined to suspect that Philippa's husband William Grenville was no more than 15 years older than Philippa.  Of course, I could be wrong, but -- as far as I am concerned -- this thread has considerable value in helping me to test various assumptions and speculative possibilities.  If you could explain your reasoning for thinking that William was so much older than Philippa, I would be glad to share my own reasoning for comparison.

p.s.  Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Joe Cochoit has more experience in medieval genealogy than I do.
+1 vote

I have been working, slowly, on reconstructing the Grenville/Bonville genealogy.  Please feel free to comment on what I have done so far; my gut feeling is that the current versions of my explanations are far from perfect.

Another problem: If William Grenville, the husband of Philippa Bonville, was indeed the son of another William Grenville (as Joe Cochoit has suggested) who was the William who actually married Thomasine Cole (as I surmise), then the father of Thomasine's mother Ann Bodrugan becomes another headache with disputing sources.  I have just started a separate G2G thread on that topic here:

answered by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (92.4k points)
reshown by Darlene Athey-Hill
Perhaps William Grenville (the son), who was the husband of Philippa Bonville, was also the husband of Thomasine Cole.  There could have still been another William, father of the William who married Thomasine and Philippa, but William (the father) would have then had an unknown mystery wife.  I believe this is how the Yeo Society concluded it by creating another William Grenville, father of William Grenville (husband of Thomasine and Philippa).  Another fact to consider is that Douglas Richardson found yet another William Grenville, who Richardson states was the son of William Grenville, husband of Philippa Bonville!
Chronology rears its ugly head: the William Grenville who was husband of Thomasine Cole married her by 1402 and was still married to her in 1427.  I suppose it's not impossible that William married a second wife and had a family after almost 30 years of a childless marriage, but it does seem unlikely.
Great job on discovering the most important clue regarding the heraldic evidence with the Bonville-Grenville medieval stained glass windows in St. Petroc's Church.

Chronology can be a fascinating thing.  For the sake of argument, let’s say that William Grenville (died c. 1450) had a childless first marriage with Thomasine Cole that began in 1402 and ended anywhere from 1427-1431, and then he married Philippa Bonville during that time frame.   If that were the case, then we must ask ourselves the following question.  Why would William Grenville, especially in the early 15th century, choose to marry a woman in her early-mid 30s and at the end of her childbearing years to give him a son and heir for the manors of Bideford and Kilkampton, including all the other Grenville lands in Devon and Cornwall?   It stands to reason that William Grenville (an upper class man with several estates and vast landholdings), would have chosen a young bride for a second wife with many childbearing years left ahead of her to give William the son and heir he so greatly desired after a 25-29 year childless first marriage!  As it turns out, William Grenville and Philippa Bonville would go on to have five children together, including a son and heir (Sir Thomas Grenville I).  William Grenville choosing to marry a young bride in her teens for his second wife would be the most logical conclusion for this chronology.  We can be quite certain of this as it is time period appropriate for the early 15thcentury and based on the premise that William Grenville had a 25-29 year childless first marriage with Thomasine Cole.  

In a 2017 SGM thread concerning Philippa Bonville, Douglas Richardson makes the following statement:

In contrast, we have the Grenville pedigree in Pole, Collections towards a Description of Devon (1791): 387–388, which reads: 

“Willam Grenvill his brother maried Thomazin, & unto his 2 wief Phelip, daughter of Willam Lord Bonvill, & had issue Sr Thomas ...”).  END OF QUOTE. 

While I certainly respect Pole, he is not infallible.  He makes Philippe the daughter of Lord Bonville.   I should note that Pole was writing in a later period than the published visitation.  In this case, I would give the visitation greater weight than Pole.

This statement by Douglas Richardson is completely false concerning when Sir William Pole (b.1561-d.1635) was writing his Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon.  There is evidence that exists which refutes Douglas Richardson’s statement regarding Sir William Pole.  The truth is that Pole was not writing in a later period than when the 1620 Visitation of Cornwall-Grenville pedigree was published in the visitation.

In the articles of Prince, p. 636, Risdon, p. 29, Introduction to Sir William Pole's "Collections," & c. Lysons, part ii. p. 136; we can find a description of the timeframe as to when the works of Sir William Pole (born 1561 – died 1635) were compiled and written.  According to Risdon, “It is observed by his editor, in the Introduction, that what is published is little more than a common-place book to a much more extensive design, which the author had in contemplation so early as the year 1604, as appears from a letter of his published in this Introduction, the original of which is in the British Museum, Bibl. Harl. No. 1195, fol. 37.”

From the British Museum archives, it is apparent that Sir William Pole was compiling his works as early as 1604 when he was 43 years of age and finished it in the 1610s, well before Sir Bernard Grenville gave his original pedigree manuscript to the visitation heralds in 1620.  The Grenville pedigree manuscript found in Vivian, The Visitation of the County of Cornwall in the year 1620, (1874): p. 84 (Grenvile ped.) was given to the heralds by Sir Bernard Grenville in 1620.

So, it is abundantly clear that Douglas Richardson makes another false assumption concerning the origination date of Sir William Pole’s Grenville pedigree.  Just like so many other Antiquaries (Rogers, Burke, & J.S. Roskell) have done, I would give Sir William Pole greater weight in determining Philippa’s parentage than a flawed 1620 Visitation of Cornwall-Grenvile pedigree with proven errors in multiple generations!

–1 vote
You ask some interesting questions here. Birth dates, it appears, are always a guestimate. It is quite possible to have 3 children in three years, not healthy, but possible. However, if Phillipe was born in 1395, her father, if it was William Bonville would have been 3 years old when he fathered her, based on the guestimates I have (from pedigrees recorded by researchers, both professional and amateurs - I can't figure out which is which). And I also show on the same pedigree that 6 of her 7 children were born before she married William Grenville.

Marriage was supposedly in 1425, but you say maybe in 1427, these are the birth dates I have of her children:

Ellena - 1416

Ellin - 1418

Phillipa - 1419

William John - 1420

Sir Thomas I - 1420

Margery - 1425

Sir Richard 1432.

Typically, they say the marriages are "before" a date, not after a date. The reason being, I think, is that they only know they were married because they are called a married couple as of a date that a legal transaction, such a selling property took place. We don't have an actual marriage certificate.

It seems unlikely that she could be the daughter of William Bonville as many documents state that she is, there is one that states that she is the sister of Lo' Bonville. Researchers are left to guess which connection is correct. To make matters worse, John Bonville's father, William Bonville has children the same age as his son, John Bonville's, children. So, in the wildest stretch of the imagination, Phillipe could be the daughter of William and John's aunt, William's great-aunt but around his same age.
answered by

Your post to this G2G thread is sorry to say, 'riddled in historical errors and inaccuracies'.  For one, Philippa Bonville (living 1464) married William Grenville (died c. 1450) between 12 May 1427 and early 1431, as their first born son, Thomas Grenville I, was born by 21 January 1432.  Second, if Philippa were the daughter of Sir John Bonville, then she would have been born no later than 1396, as Elizabeth FitzRogers married Richard Stucley in Dec. 1396 and gave birth to their first born child, Roger Stucley, in 1397.  In this case, Philippa would have been at a minimum 31 years of age upon her first marriage to William Grenville (died c. 1450).  There has been zero evidence uncovered throughout the past five centuries suggesting that Philippa had husbands and/or children prior to her marriage to William Grenville (died c. 1450).  With that said, NEVER during the 15th century in England did an aristocratic/upper class woman marry for the first time at an age in her 30s.  Third, Philippa and William are traditionally thought to have had three children (Sir Thomas Grenville I, Margaret (Grenville) Thorne, and Ellen (Grenville) Yeo; with the possibility of two previously unknown sons (John Grenville, Gent.; and William Grenville).  You might want to think about correcting your post or deleting it all together.  


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