Alan Basset was one of 16 Illustrious Men, counselors to King John, who were listed in the preamble to Magna Carta.
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He married Aline de Gai. (See Research Notes for discussion of whether he had a previous wife, Alice de Gray, or whether they were the same person.) The marriage must have been before 21 April 1191, when he is recorded as having an interest in the advowson of Wootton Bassett: Wooton Basset was a manor he acquired through his marriage to Aline. Likely birth dates for his children point to the probability of a marriage date some years before that.
He had the following children:
By 1186/1187 Alan Basset and his brother Gilbert held lands in the Honour of Wallingford.
Alan Basset served as a senior diplomat and royal advisor. In 1197 Richard I sent him on a mission to try and persuade the Count of Flanders and the Count of Boulogne to renounce their allegiance to Philippe-Auguste of France. In the late 1190s he witnessed a number of documents signed by Richard I, including as surety for Richard I for a treaty with the Count of Flanders. Richard I granted him the manors of Woking, Surrey and Mapledurwell, Hampshire. In 1198 he was also given the right to use dogs in hunting foxes, hares and wildcats throughout the royal lands.
Under King John he continued his close association with the monarch. In 1200 he and his brothers Thomas and Gilbert witnessed the act of homage by the King of Scotland to King John for fiefs in England. He witnessed at least 25 of King John's royal charters in France and England. In 1210 he went with King John to Ireland. In 1215 he accompanied King John to Runnymede for the signing of the Magna Carta, and was named in it as one of the "illustrious men" who acted as the king's counsellors. He was probably with King John on an expedition to the North of England in 1215-1216. John added to his properties the manors of Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, of Berwick Bassett, Wiltshire and of Greywell, Hampshire. There is a record of King John giving him a dolium (keg) of his best wine.
He managed to make the transition to the reign of Henry III smoothly. On 11 November 1216 he was one of the witnesses when the Magna Carta was re-issued. He is recorded as in royal service on 14 December 1216. The following year he took part in the Battle of Lincoln, which led to the expulsion of French invading forces from England. He served from time to time in the Curia Regis. In 1220 he and two other ambassadors went to France to secure a four-year truce. From 1217 to 1229 he was Sheriff of Rutland.
Through his wife Aline de Gai, Alan Basset held the manors of Wootton Bassett and Broad Town, Wiltshire.
It has often been believed that Alan Basset may have had two wives, Alice de Gray and Aline de Gai, though their names are so similar that it has been suspected that they may be the same person. See, for instance, his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
There have been a number of threads in soc.genealogy.medieval in which this has been discussed. Douglas Richardson appears to have concluded that Alice de Gray and Aline de Gai are inked the same person. He has shown that Aline de Gai was also called Alice in Curia Regis Rolls, and has found entries in other records, including on Gai and Basset family ownership of the manor of Wootton Bassett, which lends support to his view. The key threads are probably "Marriage Date of Sir Alan Basset and Aline de Gay" (post by Douglas Richardson 27 April 2005) and "Philip de Gai Lord Wootten Bassett?" (post by Douglas Richardson 18 December 2002), but there are others.
There may remain a possibility, though, that Alan Basset had two wives.
Hawise and William have previously been shown as children of Alan Basset, without a source. They are not listed in either the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography or Medlands. Hawise has now been detached; it is possible that there is confusion with Hawise de Louvain, the first wife of Alan Basset's son Philip. Keats-Rohan has a William Basset (d.s.p. 1249) son of a Simon who died in 1205, and William has now been attached to him.
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