William (Plantagenet) Longespée

William (Plantagenet) Longespée (abt. 1176 - 1226)

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Sir William "Earl of Salisbury, Baron of Chitterne" Longespée formerly Plantagenet aka de Longespee
Born about in Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married before Sep 1197 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Salisbury Castle, Wiltshire, Englandmap
Profile last modified 11 Sep 2019 | Created 5 Mar 2013 | Last significant change: 13 Sep 2019
15:58: Michael Cayley edited a message from Michael Cayley on the page for William (Plantagenet) Longespée (abt.1176-1226). [Thank Michael for this]
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Illustrious Men
William Longespée was one of 16 Illustrious Men, counselors to King John, who were listed in the preamble to Magna Carta.
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William (Plantagenet) Longespée was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.
The House of Plantagenet crest.
William (Plantagenet) Longespée is a member of the House of Plantagenet.

Birth and Parentage

William Longespée's birth date is uncertain. He was an illegitimate son of King Henry II of England by Ida de Toeni.[2][3]

Marriage and Children

In 1196 his half-brother Richard I gave him the hand of Ela, whose father had died that year, making her Countessof Salisbury in her own right: she was then still a child.[2] Through this marriage, William became Earl of Salisbury. They had the following children:

  • William, who died before his mother and therefore never legally assumed the title of Earl of Salisbury.[2][4][5] He married Idoine de Camville [5]
  • Stephen[2] who married Emeline de Ridelisford [6]
  • Richard, a clerk, canon of Salisbury[2], was buried at Lacock Abbey. [7]
  • Nicholas, Bishop of Salisbury[2][8][9]
  • Ida, who had two husbands - first Ralph de Somery, and second Sir William de Beauchamp[10]
  • Petronilla or Pernel, who died unmarried.[2][11]
  • Mary, who married an unknown husband in about September 1227. [12]
  • Isabel, who married Sir William de Vescy.[2][13] She was buried at Alnwick Abbey, Northumberland, England.[13]
  • Ela, who had two husbands - Thomas Warwick, 6th Earl of Warwick, and second, Philip Basset.[2][14]
  • Another Ida, who married Sir Walter Fitz Robert[2], son and heir of Magna Charta Surety Sir Robert Fitz Walter[5]


William fought with Richard I in Normandy in 1196-1198.[1][2] He was present at the coronation of King John in 1199[1][2] and was closely associated with him.[2] He held a number of appointments under King John and during the minority of Henry III, including:

  • Sheriff of Wiltshire (1199-1202, 1203-1207, 1213-1226)[1][2] and was closely associated with him.[2]
  • Lieutenant of Gascony (1202)[11]
  • Keeper of the Castle of Avranches (1203)[1]
  • Keeper of the Castle and Honor of Eye (1205)[1]
  • Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and of Huntingdonshire (1212-1215/6)[1]
  • Keeper of Dover Castle (1204-1206[11], 1212/3 and probably at other times)[1]
  • Sheriff of Somersetshire and of Devon (1217)[1]
  • Sheriff of Lincolnshire (1217-21)[2][11]
  • Sheriff of Shropshire and Staffordshire (1223/4)[1]
  • Keeper of the castles of Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury (1224)[1]
  • Constable of Portchester, Southampton, and Winchester Castles (1224)[11]

He also headed several diplomatic missions. In 1204 he escorted Llywelyn the Great to a meeting with King John. In 1206 he escorted William the Lion, King of Scotland, to meet King John at York.[1][2]

At various times in his life he fought in France, Flanders and Wales. In 1214 he was captured during the Battle of Bouvines: he was exchanged by May 1215 for Robert, son of the Count of Dreux.[2]

At the time of the signing of the Magna Carta he was one of the "Illustrious Men" who were with King John[1][2] and he stayed loyal to John over the following months. But in late June 1216 he submitted to Prince Louis, who had made rapid gains in southern England. King John ordered his lands to be seized. In May 1217 he returned to royalist allegiance, taking a prominent role in the Battle of Lincoln and the naval battle off Sandwich which paved the way for the negotiations which led to Louis leaving England.[2]

In 1225 William was de facto leader of a military expedition, nominally under Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to secure English possessions in Gascony.[1][2] He was taken sick there, and set sail for England. On his way back he was shipwrecked and narrowly escaped capture.[2]

Death and burial

William Longespée died at Salisbury Castle, Wiltshire on 7 March 1226.[1][2] The chronicler Matthew Paris gives an almost certainly false story that his death was due to poisoning by Hubert de Burgh. Hubert was a close friend of his from childhood and William's death may well have been due to the illness he had contracted in Gascony.[2] He was buried at Salisbury Cathedral.[2] The tomb can be seen in the South Transept.[15][16] He is the first person known to have been buried in the Cathedral.[17]

Research Notes

Birth date

William's birth date is unknown. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that in 1188 Henry II granted him the Manor of Appleby, Lincolnshire[2], pointing to his being of age then. But according to a statement in a legal dispute between John Malherbe and the Abbot of Thornhill Priory, the grant was to Henry II's brother William, who was also nicknamed Longespée.[3] The earliest certain reference to the William Longespée of this profile seems to be on 5 February 1190/1, when Richard I ordered that the manor of Kirton in Lindsey be given to his brother William. That may suggest that William was just of age then.[3]


It has long been known that William Longespée was an illegitimate son of Henry II, but the identity of his mother was established only recently. For some time there was speculation that she was the 'Fair Rosamund', Rosamund Clifford.[1][3][18] Besides issues around dates, this is disproved by a charter in which he refers to "Comitissa Ida, mater mea" - "Countess Ida, my mother".[3] Paul C Reed's 2002 article in The American Genealogist discusses the identity of Countess Ida. There were two Countesses called Ida in the relevant period. One was Ida of Eu, who was a countess by birth and whose mother was born no earlier than 1138, and quite likely several years later. Ida of Eu would have been too young at the time of William Longespée's birth to be his mother. The other Ida is Ida de Toeni who became Countess of Norfolk by her marriage to Roger Bigod.[3] A list of prisoners taken at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214 confirms that Ida de Toeni was indeed William Longespée's mother: it includes Ralph Bigod, described as brother (in fact half-brother) of the Earl of Salisbury, and Roger was Ida’s son.[2][19]

Legitimate Chldren

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that William Longespée and Ela, Countess of Salisbury had only four daughters, giving only one Ida, whose husbands are stated to be Walter FitzRobert and William de Beauchamp.[2]

Some trees on the internet give a further daughter, Lora, said to have been a nun at Lacock Abbey.[20] This suggestion appears in T C Banks's The Dormant and Extinct Baronage of England (1809).[21] The book Annals and Antiquities of Lacock Abbey suggests that Lora was a granddaughter.[22]

Roger de Meulan

It is sometimes suggested that Roger de Meulan (or Meuland or Meyland etc), c.1215-1295, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, may possibly have been an illegitimate son of William de Longespée.[23] In 1738 Thomas Cox, in a series of books on Britain, described Roger as "3d son of William Longespe, Earl of Salisbury, and Eva his wife," suggesting he was actually a legitimate child.[24] As the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states, these suggestions are speculation and guesses ultimately inspired by the fact that Matthew Paris, chronicler of the first half of the 13th century, once appears to refer to him as "Master Longespée" without naming a father, and there is no good evidence for the relationship.[25] In a 2007 discussion in soc.genealogy.medieval (post by Peter Stewart dated 3 December 2007), some doubt was expressed as to whether Matthew Paris was actually referring to Roger de Meulan or to someone else.[26] An 1835 book on Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire seems to imply that the idea of this possible relationship originated in a conjecture by a Dr Pegge.[27] The Victoria County History of Staffordshire cites a grant of 1259 by Henry III to "Bishop Roger de Meuland or Longespèe... his kinsman" but with nothing to indicate how Roger might be connected to the Longespée family.[28]

The 2007 discussion on soc.genealogy.medieval confirms the doubts about a relationship between Roger de Meulan and William Longespée, and other possibilities for Roger's parentage are floated.[26] A 2012 post there by Douglas Richardson suggests that Roger de Meulan's father may have been an illegitimate son of King John, which would rule out William Longespée as his father.[29] Richardson cites a document in which a Roger, cleric, describes himself as nephew of the King of England and Richard Earl of Cornwall.[30]


  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 G E Cokayne. Complete Peerage, new edition, volume XI, St Catherine Press 1949, pp. 379-82 SALISBURY III
  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 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 Oxford Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: 'Longespée [Lungespée], William, third earl of Salisbury', 2004, revised online 2010, available online via some libraries
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Paul C Reed. 'Countess Ida, Mother of William Longspee, Illegitimate Son of Henry II', The American Genealogist, volume 77, 2002, pp. 137-149
  4. G E Cokayne. Complete Peerage, new edition, volume XI, St Catherine Press 1949, p. 384
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013. See also WikiTree's source page for Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, page 610 #6
  6. Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 603ii
  7. Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 606iii
  8. Nicholas, Bishop of Salisbury
  9. Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 606iv
  10. Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 607v
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, pp. 599ff
  12. Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 608iv
  13. 13.0 13.1 Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 608vii
  14. Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 608viii
  15. Personal knowledge of Michael Cayley who has visited the Cathedral
  16. 2015 Salisbury Cathedral welcome leaflet for visitors
  17. 'Salisbury Cathedral: effigy of William Longespee, Earl of Salisbury, in the south transept', page on website of the Royal Institute of British Architects, accessed 28 June 2019
  18. W H Matthews. Mazes and Labyrinths, Longmans, Green & Co, 1922, Chap. XIX, p. 164, Internet Sacred Text Archive
  19. Raymond W Phair. 'William Longespee, Ralph Bigod and Countess Ida', The American Genealogist, volume 77, 2002, pp. 279-281
  20. See for instance this tree on www.geni.com
  21. T C Banks. The Dormant and Extinct Baronage of England, Vol. III, London, 1809, p. 646, Google Books
  22. William Lisle Bowles and John Gough Nichols. Annals and Antiquities of Lacock Abbey, pub. John Bowyer Nichols and Son, London, 1835, p. 160, footnote 1, Internet Archive
  23. See for instance Wikipedia: Roger de Meyland
  24. Thomas Cox. Magna Britannia Antiqua & Nova, volume V, 1738, p. 131, Google Books
  25. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Meuland [Meuleng, Meulent, Molend], Roger de [Master Longespée]', 2004 (print), revised online 2008, available online through some libraries, accessed 21 June 2019
  26. 26.0 26.1 'The Longespée parentage of Roger de Meulan, Bishop of Coventry & Lichfield', soc.medieval.genealogy, also archived at narkive.com
  27. William Lisle Bowles and John Gough Nichols. Annals and Antiquities of Lacock Abbey, pub. John Bowyer Nichols and Son, London, 1835, p. 164, Google Books
  28. 'Cannock: Manors and economic history', in A History of the County of Stafford, Volume 5, East Cuttlestone Hundred, ed. L Margaret Midgley (London, 1959), pp. 49-63, British History Online, accessed 26 June 2019
  29. 'King's Nephew: Roger de Meulan (died 1295), Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield', post by Douglas Richardson dated 27 April 2012, soc.genealogy.medieval
  30. Les registres de Grégoire IX, Volume III, Albert Fontemoing, Paris, 1908-1910, p. 132, entry 4966, Internet Archive
  • Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013. See also WikiTree's source page for Royal Ancestry:
    • Volume I, p. 40: illegitimate child of Henry II, by a mistress, Ida de Tony, daughter of Ralph de Tony, (died 1162), by Margaret, daughter of Robert, 2nd Earl of Leicester. Ida later became the wife of Roger le Bigod, Earl of Norfolk (died 1221). William Longespee, Knt., Earl of Salisbury, married Ela Of Salisbury.
    • Vol. I. p. 354
    • Vol. I, p. 448
    • Vol. III pp. 599-610
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: 'Longespée [Lungespée], William, third earl of Salisbury', 2004, revised online 2010, available online via some libraries
  • Cokayne, G E. Complete Peerage, new edition, volume XI, St Catherine Press 1949, pp. 379-82 SALISBURY III
  • Royal Tombs of Medieval England M. Duffy 2003 p. 65-68
  • Leese, T Anna. Blood Royal. Issue of the Kings and Queens of Medieval England 1066-1399, Heritage Books 2007, pp. 54-55
  • G2G discussion (birth location)
  • The American Genealogist, volume 77 (April 2002): 137–149. Countess Ida, Mother of William Longespée, Illegitimate Son of Henry II, by Paul C. Reed.
  • The American Genealogist, volume 77 (October 2002): 279–281. William Longespée, Ralph Bigod, and Countess Ida, by Raymond W Phair
  • Weis, Frederick Lewis, continued by Sheppard, Walter Lee Jr. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America before 1700, 8th edition, Genealogical Publishing Company 2004, p. 38 (line 30-26)
  • Thomson, Richard. An Historical Essay on the Magna Charta. London, 1829, p. 313
  • Call, Michel. Royal Ancestors, self-published 2005: http://www.royalancestors.com
  • http://www.robertsewell.ca/longespee.html
  • Wikipedia: William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury
  • Shaw, Henry, Dresses and decorations of the middle ages, (London, England, 1843), digital image, Internet Archive, accessed 28 March 2014; extracted from database of same title, Vol I


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Images: 4
William Longespee effigy
William Longespee effigy

William Longspee tomb effigy
William Longspee tomb effigy

William Longespée effigy
William Longespée effigy

Le Comte de Salesbury
Le Comte de Salesbury


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On 11 Sep 2019 at 17:33 GMT Michael Cayley wrote:

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100% 5-star profile (see more at Magna Carta Project Star Profiles)

On 28 Jun 2019 at 14:49 GMT Michael Cayley wrote:

I have now done the main work I intended on this profile. Research notes are more extensive than usual, but there is quite a bit to cover in them. Please feel free to improve on what I have done, and to correct any typos etc I have missed. I have marked supposed daughter Lora as uncertain, discussing this in the Research Notes: I almost detached her altogether, leaving her just to be mentioned in the research section - should I do this?

I will probably do some work on his wife and children over coming days.

On 26 Jun 2019 at 12:20 GMT Michael Cayley wrote:

I am starting to do some more work on this profile. So far I have done some editing of general sources and added some more sources. I am likely to do further editing of general sources as I work on the main part of the bio and in the process do some editing of inline references.

On 21 Jun 2019 at 19:52 GMT Michael Cayley wrote:

I have now added a research note on the suggestion that Roger de Meulan may have been a son of William de Longespée.

On 21 Jun 2019 at 19:29 GMT Michael Cayley wrote:

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that the 13th century chronicler Matthew Paris once, and only once, refers to Roger de Meulan as “Master Longespée” without naming a father, and that this has led to speculation that Roger was son of William Longespée, but that there is no evidence for this. I have found earlier books which have also said there is no real evidence for the relationship, and that some who have aired it have described their suggestion as “conjecture”, ie just a guess. Roger de Meulan’s precise origins seem to be unknown, though he is described in contemporary records as some sort of kinsman of Henry III.

On 21 Jun 2019 at 18:44 GMT Isaac Taylor wrote:

Hello folks,

Do we have a name or location for his presumptive mistress who was the mother of Roger de Meyland (Meulan), bishop and sheriff; and his NN sister (possibly also called de Meyland) who married Henry de Napton?

Is there any reason not to include those natural children in the bio, even if we don't have profiles for them yet?


On 5 Dec 2017 at 16:09 GMT Liz (Noland) Shifflett wrote:

Hi! Because this profile is not eligible for the Magna Carta project box, the Magna Carta Project cannot be its manager. Therefore, I dropped the project to just trusted list (profiles with the Magna Carta Project sticker need to be monitored by the project but cannot be managed by it).

Could you add the appropriate EuroAristo project account as manager?

Please contact me if this is not feasible & I'll work on getting a fourth Magna Carta project box for the Illustrious Men.

Thanks, Liz ~ Project:Magna Carta

On 19 Apr 2017 at 14:20 GMT David Douglass wrote:

There are arguments to be made in all camps which generally depend upon both moral and cultural differences. Spouse and marriage have similar meanings in all cultures but in practical terms take different form and practice depending on time and culture. But for our purpose the use of the data field "spouse" seems to be anglo-centric and this is primarily because most of the profiles under discussion are of persons of european origin. But as Jack said this issue has been vigorously discussed in G2G and the consensus is that the "spouse" field should be used only for persons whose marital relationship has been santioned by the church or legal authority. Parent-child relationship can be made independantly and any othet relationship detail documented in the bio. In practice we might follow a different set of guidelines depending upon time and cultural mores such as we might find in Amerind or other non-European cultures.

On 19 Apr 2017 at 12:02 GMT Jack Day wrote:

A mistress is not a spouse. The data field should reflect true facts which are entered in the biography with a source. There have been discussions about this on G2G before and my understanding of the consensus is that the spouse data field should be restricted to spouses; otherwise we are conveying unturths. The facts regarding the mistress belong in the biography, and the child is shown as the child of both the father and the mother, but any links between mother and father should be in the biography!

On 19 Apr 2017 at 01:31 GMT David Douglass wrote:

My comment although not very clear was on the same track as Chet Snow. A mistress should probably be included as a spouse so that children, if any, from that relationship could be linked to her as their mother. The actual relationship as an mistress could be noted in the bio. Would creating a separate data field for an unmarried relationship be preferable  ?

more comments

William is 26 degrees from Tanya Lowry, 20 degrees from Charles Tiffany and 10 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.