Geoffrey held lands in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, Northamptonshire and Sussex, and also in Normandy. He inherited the Barony of West Greenwich, Kent from his mother. He is recorded in 1224 as having 42 knights' fees in Montgomeryshire, Wales.
Geoffrey's father had granted Sayes Court, Deptford, Kent to the Knights Templar. Geoffrey recovered it in the later 1220s in exchange for giving the Templars property at Saddlescombe, Sussex
Geoffrey appears in documents from 1197/8 (when he confirmed a grant of his father's) onwards.
In 1202 Geoffrey was awarded compensation for lands lost to the French king in Anjou.
In 1215 Geoffrey sided with other barons against King John, and was one of the Surety Barons for the Magna Carta. A few months later most of his lands were confiscated: they were not restored until he returned to allegiance to the English Crown in 1217.
Geoffrey went on pilgrimage twice: in 1219, to the Holy Land; and in 1221, to Santiago da Compostella.
Geoffrey died in Poitou on 19 August 1230 while campaigning with Henry III. He was buried at the Hospital of St Mary, Dover, Kent, of which he had been a benefactor.
Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Biography
by Professor Nigel Saul
"Geoffrey de Say sat in the baronial camp in an uneasy alliance with Geoffrey de Mandeville, his cousin but also his rival for the inheritance of the de Mandeville earls of Essex. The competition between the two men and their families affords a reminder that there were divisions within the baronial camp as well as between the rebel barons and the king. No more than such other medieval opposition movements as the Ordainers in Edward II’s reign or the Appellants in Richard II’s were the Twenty Five of John’s reign a solid monolithic bloc unhindered by faction or rivalry.
"The two Geoffreys both had a claim on the estates of another namesake, William de Mandeville, third earl of Essex, the last of his line, who had died without issue in 1189. De Say’s claim arose from his grandmother, the long-lived Beatrice de Say, the first Mandeville earl’s sister, who transmitted her rights to her son, while Geoffrey de Mandeville’s claim was inherited from his mother, another Beatrice, the wife of Geoffrey FitzPeter and daughter and eventual coheiress of William de Say II, William I’s son. Geoffrey de Say I, our Geoffrey’s father, obtained a grant of the disputed lands from Richard the Lionheart in 1189, but was unable to raise the huge sum of 7,000 marks (about £2333), which the king demanded as his price. The estates, accordingly, reverted to the king and were awarded instead to Geoffrey FitzPeter, a powerful man and later King Richard’s justiciar. FitzPeter and his wife were confirmed in their possession of the estates by a royal charter granted at Messina on 23 January 1191. The early stages of the dispute are told in a fascinating account in the Walden Abbey chronicle, The Foundation Book of Walden Monastery.
"The younger Geoffrey had started his career under Richard and John fighting in the defence of Normandy and had evidently lost property there when the duchy was finally overrun by the French. As early as 1202 the duchy’s seneschal was instructed to find as much as one hundred liberates of land with which to compensate him for the losses which he had suffered.
"In 1214, after his father’s death, he reactivated the family claim to the Mandeville inheritance, this time against FitzPeter’s son – Earl Geoffrey – taking advantage of his service with the king in Poitou to offer him no less than 15,000 (£10,000) marks for possession. John wrote to the justiciar in England ordering him to take advice on what might be the best course to take. No further action is recorded, and presumably the justiciar did nothing. It is no surprise, therefore, in 1215 to find Geoffrey on the rebel side, aggrieved at his failure to secure justice. In June he was named to the Twenty Five and in November he was involved alongside FitzWalter and de Clare in the fruitless negotiations with the king for a settlement. Siding with Louis and the French, he only made his peace with the royalists after the massive baronial defeat at Lincoln in May. He was not active in the politics of the Minority. In 1219 he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and in 1223 to Santiago de Compostella, apparently in the company of Earl Warenne. He died on 24 August 1230 while campaigning with Henry III in Poitou.
"Geoffrey married Alice de Chesney, whose date of death is unknown, and he left a son William, who succeeded him and lived to 1271." [The marriage to Alice de Chesney is incorrect - see below]
In the Complete Peerage Cokayne has conflated Geofrey with both his father and his half-brother. So do Burke's Peerage and some other secondary sources.
Douglas Richardson discusses confusions over Geoffrey de Say's marriage history in Magna Carta Ancestry and his 2007 post in soc.genealogy.medieval.
Cokayne in his main entry for Geoffrey ascribes two wives to him: Alice, probably heiress of John de Chesney/Cheyne, and Margery de Briwerre. So does Burke's Peerage. I J Sanders in his English Baronies states that Margery de Briwerre was a wife of the Geoffrey of this profile. So does Cawley.
Alice de Cheyne (or Chesney) was Geoffrey's mother, not his wife. This is evidenced by contemporary documents. For instance in about 1198 Geoffrey and his father Geoffrey made a gift to the hospital at Drincourt (now called Neufchâtel-en-Bray) for the soul of Geoffrey's mother Alice de Chesney. There is a correction to Cokayne on the Notes on Medieval English Genealogy website. By way of extra evidence that Alice was Geoffrey’s mother, this correction to Cokayne cites a grant confirmed by Geoffrey de Say son of Geoffrey de Say and Alice "de Chemunei" (a variant spelling of Cheyne). Cokayne himself shows Alice as the mother of the Geoffrey of this profile in a Mandeville pedigree.
Margery (or Margaret) de Briwerre was probably the second wife of Geoffrey's half-brother of the same name, who would have been her third husband. Her previous husbands were William de la Ferté and Eudo de Dammartin, and she was alive in 1233. (Sanders and Cawley disagree on which of these previous husbands was the first, and which the second.)
Confirmation that Geoffrey married Hawise de Clare is given by a charter of about 1235 issued by his widow Hawise de Clare and his son William relating to property in Edmonton, Middlesex. There is also a record dated 1215 of Geoffrey having knights' fees held from the Earl of Clare by "free-marriage".
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’’. Vol. IV, p. 562
Richardson, Douglas. 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. 495-497, SAY 1. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Magna Carta Ancestry.’’ Partially viewable in snippets on Google Books.
Richardson, Douglas. 'Complete Peerage Addition: Hawise de Clare, wife of Geoffrey de Say, Magna Carta Baron', post in soc.genealogy.medieval, 10 Nov 2007, viewable on Narkive, accessed 28 November 2019
Magna Carta Project
As a surety baron, Geoffrey de Say's profile is managed by the Magna Carta Project. See Say-76 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.
This profile was revised for the Magna Carta Project by Michael Cayley, finishing 4 December 2019.