William (Lanvallei) de Lanvallay

William (Lanvallei) de Lanvallay (bef. 1190 - bef. 1217)

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William "Lord of Stanway Castle, Essex" de Lanvallay formerly Lanvallei aka de Lanvalay, Lanvalai
Born before [location unknown]
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1212 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died before [location unknown]
Profile last modified 12 Sep 2019 | Created 25 Mar 2012 | Last significant change: 12 Sep 2019
00:18: Liz (Noland) Shifflett edited the Biography for William (Lanvallei) de Lanvallay (bef.1190-bef.1217). (star review, if needed, done (98% - source check maintenance category added) ) [Thank Liz for this]
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Magna Carta Surety Baron
William de Lanvallay was one of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta in 1215.
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William (Lanvallei) de Lanvallay was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.

"William de Lanvalei III (d. c. 1216), lord of Walkern (Herts.) was a member of a family of curialist administrators that had risen to prominence under Henry II and who owed much of their wealth to their years of service to the Crown and the opportunities for enrichment which these offered. It is a mark of King John’s mismanagement of the nobility that he should have so alienated such a man that he ended up on the baronial side in 1215.

"William was the grandson of the founder of the family fortune, William de Lanvalei I, a Breton whom Henry II appointed as his first seneschal, or administrator, of Rennes after his takeover of the duchy of Brittany in 1166. William served in the office for five years, crossing to England in 1171 or 1172 to become the king’s castellan of Winchester and serving thereafter in a variety of capacities in the king’s English administration. Probably as a result of his royal connections, William was awarded the hand in marriage of Gunnora, daughter and heiress of Hubert de Saint Clair, through whom he gained possession of the barony of Walkern, created for Hubert’s father, Hamo, in 1120 from the escheated lands of Eudo Dapifer (Eudo the Steward). William I died in 1181/2, leaving a son William II, who died in 1204, and was in turn succeeded by William III, the member of the Twenty Five, a minor on his father’s death.

"Like most thirteenth-century aristocratic families, the Lanvaleis had various claims to lands and offices which they pursued as and when opportunity and circumstance afforded. William’s father had brought a suit in the king’s courts against Hugh de Beauchamp over the manors of Eaton Socon and Sandy (Beds.), to which he laid claim by descent from his mother as successor to Eudo Dapifer, who had held the manors in 1120. Hugh appears to have lost possession of the manors for a time, as Gunnora was briefly in possession, but the Lanvaleis failed to establish a lasting title. William III’s own interest was rather in securing control of the royal castle at Colchester, again by right of descent from Gunnora. In Henry II’s reign the castle had been held by the justiciar Richard de Lucy, but the Lionheart had apparently granted it to William’s father, and he and his widow held it until 1209. In that year it was apparently lost to the family.

"William accompanied John on his expedition to Poitou in 1214 and was present at the truce concluded with the French king in September. It is impossible to trace the path by which he made his way into the baronial camp, but for him, as for others, the ties of kinship must have played a part. He was related to none other than Robert FitzWalter, the baronial leader, through his wife’s mother, who was FitzWalter’s niece. His own mother, moreover, was sister-in-law of Geoffrey FitzPeter, which made her the aunt of another future rebel, Geoffrey de Mandeville. William can thus be seen as belonging to the wide east of England network which was increasingly dominant in the baronial movement as it spread from its northern heartland.

"In July 1216, probably at a meeting of the council at Oxford, William secured a grant of custody of Colchester castle, for which he had striven for so long. He died shortly afterwards, leaving as his heir a daughter Hawise, who became the ward of Hubert de Burgh, the future Justiciar, and was married by Hubert to his John, to whose family the barony passed.

"It is tempting to associate the fine Purbeck marble effigy of a knight in the south aisle of Walkern church (Herts.) with this William, as lord of the manor. It shows the commemorated in a mail hauberk, a surcoat and a pot-style tournament helm. The effigy is one of a group of elegantly designed figures which includes three of the famous Temple Church effigies. On stylistic grounds the effigy can be dated to c. 1240-50, close enough in time to make William a possible candidate. The equally fine effigy of King John in Worcester Cathedral was not commissioned until the mid 1230s, some twenty years after the king’s death. One reason for associating the effigy with William is that he was the last of his direct male line, and the commissioning of an effigy in such cases was a way of keeping the family name alive. Yet it is important to say that the identification cannot be considered certain. The Lanvaleis were patrons of St John’s Abbey, Colchester, by right of descent from the founder Eudo Dapifer, and in an age when monastic burial was popular with the nobility it may well be that he was interred there. William’s grandfather, William I, had made a grant to the abbey ‘cum corpore meo’ (‘with my body’) implying that he desired to seek burial there. Unfortunately little remains of the abbey, and there is no documentary evidence which sheds light on burials within its walls. If the effigy at Walkern is not William de Lanvalei’s, it is probably that of his son-in-law, Sir John de Burgh. "

Above text courtesy of Professor Nigel Saul and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee

Research Notes

Estimated Birth Date: Estimates of William's date of birth vary around 1185-1195. The above text states that he was a minor at his father's death in 1204.

Cawley's Medieval Lands database[1] offers [1214-1216] as an estimated date of death. This is possible because Cawley does not commit himself to the position that it was this William, rather than a different William (e.g. his 2nd cousin) who was the Magna Carta Surety in 1215. (Note that Cawley uses brackets to indicate uncertain information.)


As a result of bad merges, 3 different men may redirect to this profile. See
(This profile was originally the grandfather.)
There were other relatives of the same name in the same era and region - see Cawley for details.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Charles Cawley. Page with William IV's entry in Medieval Lands.


This page has been edited according to Style Standards adopted 25 January 2014. Click the Changes tab to see edits to this profile; from that list, click WikiTree IDs other than Lanvallei-3 to see changes to those profiles prior to being merged.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this profile.

Magna Carta Project

As a surety baron, William de Lanvallay is managed by the Magna Carta Project. See Lanvallei-3 Descendants for profiles of his descendants that have been improved and categorized by the Magna Carta project and are in a project-approved trail to a Gateway Ancestor. See this index for links to other surety barons and category pages for their descendants. See the project's Base Camp for more information about Magna Carta trails.

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Images: 2
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William de Lanvalay coat of arms
William de Lanvalay coat of arms


On 29 Apr 2018 at 18:23 GMT Abbeh Cooley wrote:

My 26th great grandfather!

On 28 Oct 2015 at 18:42 GMT Andrew Lancaster wrote:

Thanks Liz. Should the link in text be changed.

On 27 Oct 2015 at 23:04 GMT Liz (Noland) Shifflett wrote:

um. No, the _Category_ "Lanvallei-3_Descendants" shows only MC-reviewed/approved descendants. If you click on http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Lanvallei-3_Descendants (the link that goes with the text "have been improved and categorized by the Magna Carta project."), the category is empty ... as it should be, since no MC Trails have been reviewed/approved yet.

If you click Descendants from the dropdown menu under "Lanvallei-3", or otherwise arrive at http://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Lanvallei-Descendants-3 , you'll get his descendants according to existing WikiTree connections.

On 11 Oct 2015 at 10:44 GMT Andrew Lancaster wrote:

Don't think the remark in the text is correct that clicking on "Lanvallei-3 Descendants" will only show descents which "have been improved and categorized by the Magna Carta project." (As per recent discussions on Base Camp page, this line does have apparently wrong descents still.)

William is 28 degrees from Tanya Lowry, 21 degrees from Charles Tiffany and 12 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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Categories: Magna Carta | Surety Barons | MedLands | Magna Carta Project Needs Source Check