William Malet
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William Malet (bef. 1174 - bef. 1216)

William "Lord of Curry Mallet" Malet
Born before in Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Brother of
Husband of — married about 1195 [location unknown]
Husband of — married about 1215 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died before at about age 42 in Englandmap
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Profile last modified | Created 21 Feb 2011
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Magna Carta Surety Baron
William Malet was one of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta in 1215.
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There were several William Malets in this period, and care needs to be taken not to confuse them. See Research Notes



Birth and Parentage

William Malet was of age no later than 1194 when his father died, meaning he was almost certainly born no later than 1173.[1][2] His parents were Gilbert Malet[3][1][2][4] and Alice Picot.[1][2]


William inherited the Barony of Curry Malet, Somerset from his father.[4] He also had lands in much of the southern half of England, including elsewhere in Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Surrey and Wiltshire.[1][2]

Marriages and Children

William married twice. The identity of his first wife is unknown (see below). Douglas Richardson lists four children:

  • William, who, before 1196, witnessed a charter of his grandfather Gilbert Malet, and who died before his father, whose heirs were William's three sisters[1][2]: there may be a question-mark about this - see Research Notes below
  • Helewise, who married Hugh Poyntz and Robert de Muscegros[1][2][3]
  • Mabel, who married Nicholas Avenal and Hugh de Vivonne[1][2][3]
  • Bertha, who died unmarried before 11 April 1221[1][2][3]

William's second wife was Alice Basset.[1][2][3] They had no children.[1][2] Alice was the daughter of Thomas Basset,[1][2] one of the Illustrious Men who were King John's counsellors listed in the preamble to the Magna Carta.[5]


In 1191 William was with Richard I on the Third Crusade.[3] Four years later, in 1195, he was with Richard I in Normandy.[1][2][3] The following year he paid the king £100 to enter into his inheritance.[1][2]

From 1200 to 1203 William was in a legal dispute with his cousin and namesake William Malet of Enmore, Somerset: this related to land at Sutton Mallet, Somerset.[1][2] In 1204 he was involved in another land dispute, this time with William de Evermue.[1][2][6]

In December 1209 he was appointed Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset, a position he held until 1212.[3]

William fell into substantial debt to the Crown by 1212.[3] The debt stood at 2000 marks in 1214,[3] when, in return for cancellation of the debt, he agreed to serve with King John in Poitou, bringing ten knights and twenty ordinary soldiers.[1][2][3]

Magna Carta

In 1215 William joined the group of Barons who rebelled against King John and subsequently became one of the Surety Barons for the Magna Carta. As a result he was excommunicated in December 1215.[1][2][3]


William died very soon after his excommunication.[1][2][4] His heirs were his daughters Helewise, Mabel and Bertha.[3][4] William was probably buried in the parish church of Curry Mallet, Somerset.[7]

His second wife Alice subsequently married John Bisset. She died in about 1263.[1][2]

Research Notes

Birth Date

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for William postulates a birth date of about 1175.[3] Douglas Richardson says he was of age in 1194.[1][2]

Mother of his Daughters

Some sources give Alice Basset as mother of William's daughters. But Alice's heirs were not children by William Malet but children by her second marriage to John Biset. This strongly suggests that the daughters were children of William by a previous marriage, to someone whose name is unknown.[1][2][8]

Son William

Douglas Richardson states that William had a son William who witnessed a charter of his grandfather Gilbert Malet in 1196, and who died before the William of this profile.[1][2] If the latter may have been born as late as 1173, there is a question as to whether a son would have been old enough to witness a charter in 1196.

Other William Malets

There were a number of other William Malets in this period, and they can be easily confused. Those with profiles on WikiTree at 24 February 2020 are:

In the records cited in Medieval Lands[8] it appears difficult to be certain which William Malet is being referred to.

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Biography

For the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, Professor Nigel Saul wrote a set of biographies of the Surety Barons. He and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee generously gave permission for them to be reproduced on WikiTree. They can be viewed here.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, 2nd edition, Salt Lake City: the author, 2011, Vol. III pp. 96-98 MALET 1
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, Salt Lake City: the author, 2013, Vol. IV pp. 2-3 MALET-1
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 Ralph V. Turner, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Malet, William (c. 1175–1215)', print and online 2004, revised online 2005, available online via some libraries
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 I J Sanders. English Baronies. A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1960, p. 38
  5. Fredrick Lewis Weis. The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, 5th ed., Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999, p. xi
  6. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vol. 35, pp. 421-422, entry for 'Malet, William (fl.1195-1215)', Wikisource
  7. Curry Mallet village website, All Saints Church
  8. 8.0 8.1 Medieval Lands: A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families by Charles Cawley © Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, 2000-2017 - entry for William Malet (Malet of Somerset 3.a.i)
See also:
  • Weis, Frederick Lewis. The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, 5th ed., Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999, p.75, line 57.1
  • Weis, Frederick Lewis. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 8th ed., Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004, p. 178, line 189.1


Magna Carta Project

William Malet is a Magna Carta surety baron and has the Magna Carta Project as a manager. This profile was revised by Michael Cayley for the Magna Carta Project in February 2020.
See Malet-18 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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Comments: 11

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I have been trying to simplify the footnotes. Most of the information really comes from Richardson I think, and I have cleaned up the references to him, but (1) we have had lots of repetitions of the same facts with slightly different wordings. I presume this comes from old merges. (2) the other footnotes raise concerns. Does anyone know more...?

The "stubbs" footnote looks like a copy paste of a bunch of sources from a secondary source, without anyone having actually checked if they were relevant. Not good.

The "roots" footnote is to Weis, but, as cited by Richardson, why would we not just cite Richardson? If there are important differences they would need to be spelled out, but I don't think that is the problem?

Why is Wurts being used? Does not look strong.

posted by Andrew Lancaster
Andrew, I hope you find my revised bio an improvement :-)
posted by Michael Cayley
I also don't think "Sir" was commonly a part of names, honorific or otherwise, in this period. If it is part of his name then surely there will be a source somewhere to show this?
posted by Andrew Lancaster
Well, Chase - you have been busy. It is a challenge to keep up with you :)

William Malet is written WILLIAM MALET by Richardson in Royal Ancestry, Vol Iv, page 3, without the honorific "SIR".

Regardless that there may be more to it than can be covered here, and this era produces conflicting opinions among experts, it is my opinion WikiTree should continue to use "SIR" unless a question in G2G produces changes in the guidelines.

Unless an original record can be produced that shows he was called "Sir", it should be deleted as a prefix since "Sir" supposedly wasn't used as an honorific in England until 1297 and, in any event, was for lesser mortal like knights and baronets. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir
posted by Chase Ashley
Thank you very much Jack! It looks better and reads more coherently.
April, I thought I would integrate the blocks of narrative into one integrated biography and that would make it easier to clarify the issue of maternity and children that you raised.
posted by Jack Day
William Malet married as his first wife, Unknown, the mother of his children. With his second wife, Alice Baset, "they had no issue". See Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families Vol 4, page 2
Gateway Ancestor to America is Samuel Stratton-20
posted by Renee Malloy Esq

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