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Parentage of Philippa Bonville

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Parentage of Philippa Bonville

The Issue
There is a disagreement about the parentage of Phillipa Bonville, wife of William Grenville. It has been said in print that she is:
1. a daughter of John Bonville by his wife Elizabeth Fitz Roger
and also that she is
2. a daughter of William Bonville by his wife Margaret Grey.
If her mother was Margaret Grey, she would have a substantial and well-known medieval ancestry including a link to Edward I, king of England. See this G2G thread where the issue came up.
Evidence that she was a daughter of William Bonville
The earliest mention that she was a daughter of William Bonville comes from William Pole in his Description of the County of Devon. [1] Pole was writing in the early 17th century, and he stated that the descent given was from a pedigree in the possession of Sir Bernard Grenville. However, he went out of his way to note that the pedigree did not agree with his own and expressed doubt as to its accuracy. The statement that Phillipa was a daughter of William was then repeated in many early 18th, 19th and 20th century publications. These include Collins' Peerage of England in 1716, Prince's Worthies of Devon in 1810, Gilbert's Survey of Cornwall in 1820, Burke's Landed Gentry in 1836, Polsue's History of Cornwall in 1838, and Fox's Chronicles of Tonedale in 1879 (which cites Burke and Pole). [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] None of these secondary sources give any evidence as they are all simple lines of descent. It is likely that they are all just following Pole as the original and only independent statement that Phillipa was a daughter of William Bonville.
More recently, the Grenville line with Phillipa as a daughter of William was published in early editions of Weis' Magna Charta Sureties. However, this line was revised in the 4th edition of MCS to make Phillipa a daughter of John Bonville and Elizabeth Fitz Roger. [8] Douglas Richardson continued this identification in his successor works to MCS, namely Plantagent Ancestry, Magna Carta Ancestry and most recently his Royal Ancestry publications. [9] [10] [11]
Most recently, and probably most significantly, Phillipa is called a daughter of William Bonville in the History of Parliament which states:
"These ties were to be strengthened by the marriage of Bonville's son and heir, William, to Lord Harrington's only child, and of two of his daughters, Philippa and Margaret, respectively to William Grenville ... and William Courtenay .." . [12] [13]
It is to be noted that in not one of these sources is contemporary evidence given that William Grenville married of daughter William Bonville. The only evidence is a pedigree dating to the early 1600s which was considered flawed at the time.
Roger Granville in his History of the Granville Family stated "Lord [William] Bonvill died [in 1461] possessed of the manors of Week St Mary, Swannacote, and other tenements in the hundred of Stratton in Cornwall, and the whole of this property came into William de Greynvill's possession by this marriage" to Philippa Bonville. [14]
If true this would provide good evidence that Philippa was a daughter of Lord Bonville. However, a closer examination shows this statement is almost certainly incorrect, and the result of some false assumptions.
  • William Bonville did not hold the manor or the advowsons in 1461 as stated. These manors were held first by the Blanchminster, then the Coleshill families and then the Arundell of Langherne family. He did die possessed of a few acres in Week St. Mary, which may have led to the confusion.
  • It obviously could not have been a maritagium if the marriage of Phillipa Bonville, and William Grenville occured c1427-1431, but William Bonville still possessed the land in 1461.
  • The Granvilles could not have obtained the land by inheritance, if the land was in the 1461 IPM as the land would have gone to the rightful heir by law, who was not Philippa.
  • There is no evidence of any kind in the form of grants, charters, feets of fines, or IPMs that William Granville, his son Thomas Granville, or his granson Thomas Granville ever possessed these lands. The fact that that these lands do not occur in the Granville IPMs is very strong evidence that these lands did not come into the Granville family with the marriage to Philippa Bonville.
  • As noted, these manors were eventually held by the Arundells of Lanherne. There was a known close association between these Arundells and the Granvilles in the early 16th century - in 1507, Katherine Granville married Sir John Arundell of Lanherne.
  • The Granvilles purchased the manors of Binamy and Stratton from the Arundells in the 16th century. Lysons states that the advowson of Week St. Mary descended with the manor of Stratton. This is almost certainly when and how Week St Mary, and Swannacote came to be possessed by the Granvilles.
  • Conclusion: There is no evidence that Week St Mary, and Swannacote came into the possession of the Granvilles with the marriage of Philippa Bonville. This evidence cannot be used to support the claim that Philippa was a daughter Lord William Bonville.
Evidence that she was a daughter of John Bonville
There is only one statement of any kind which tells us that Phillipa was even a Bonville. It comes from the Visitation of Cornwall which states: Willm Grenvile brother and hey. to Sr John temp H. IV. married Phillip Sist. to the Lo Bondvile. [15] As this is the only definitive evidence that Phillipa was even a Bonville, there needs to be convincing evidence that Phillipa was actually a daughter and not the sister of Sir William Bonville (as directly stated in the Visitation).
Can we answer the question with chronology?
If we accept that Phillipa is a Bonville, perhaps chronology can help determine (or at least rule out) if she is or could be a daughter of John Bonville or a daughter of William Bonville. If she was a daughter of John Bonville she would have to of been born by 1396 when he died. If she was a daughter of William Bonville, she would have had to of been born after 1414 when William married Margaret Grey.
The first in depth look at the Grenville family was by Charles Worthy in the 1884 Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association. [16] In it he states that William Grenville was married twice - first to Thomasine, daughter of John Cole, and secondly to Phillipa sister to Wm. Lord Bonville. In 1895 , Roger Granville published a comprehensive study of the Grenvilles. [17] Granville also stated he first married Thomasine Cole, and then secondly "Phillipa daughter (sister?) of William, Lord Bonville" He certainly was showing some doubt over the correct parentage of Phillipa. Most recently, Charles Fitch-Northen explored this issue in his DCNQ article A Revision of the Grenville Pedigree in 1979. [18]
William Grenville's birth date is not known with any certainty. His grandfather is said to have died in 1377, and his father died just a few years later. His older brother John Grenville was an adult and had succeeded their father certainly by 1386 when he was licensed to have a private chapel at Stowe; this places his brother's birth date as by 1365. [19] [20] John Grenville also occurs in a deed of 1396 and 1396. John was also a knight of the shire in 1389, 1394, 1397 and 1402; he served as sheriff in 1391-1392[21] William himself would have been of age when he ratified a deed of his brother in 1402. Taken together John Grenville was likely born in 1360s with his brother William being born by 1380 if not considerably earlier.
William Grenville was married to Thomasine Cole by 1403. [22] She was mentioned again in a deed in 1410. [23] On 22 April 1425, William Grenvile and Thomasine his wife were granted the right to a portable altar. [24] Finally, this first wife Thomasine was mentioned in an indenture dated 5 May 1427; this is the last known mention of Thomasine. The earliest William could have married Phillipa as his second wife is after this date in 1427 when William was at least 47 years old and when she was at most 12 years old.
So, the absolute earliest William could have married is in the last half in 1427 and so the earliest this couple could have had their son and heir born was in 1428, but even this date is unreasonably early if Phillipa wasn't born until after 1415. The first actual mention of Phillipa, as wife of William Grenville, isn't until a deed dated 24 July 1644. [25] [26] Their supposed son Thomas Grenville married, by license dated 7 September 1447, Anne Courtenay. [27] He was certainly of age when he is found in grants of land in 1449. [28] These dates make it likely Thomas Grenville was born 1426 and certainly by 1428.
Taken together with the constraints on the Bonville pedigree, the theory that Phillipa Grenville was a daughter of William Bonville is impossible. If anything she is a daughter John Bonville, and a sister of William Bonville, just as stated in the Visitations.

These dates would make more sense is there was a missing generation from the Visitations. It is curious as to why a 20 year marriage to Elizabeth Cole goes un-noted in the Grenville pedigrees, and it is almost remarkable that she is assigned no children. Could there be a William Grenville born before 1380 who married Elizabeth Cole, who then had a son William who married Phillipa Bonville? This relieves all the problems of a very old William Grenville marrying a very young Phillipa Bonville. It also removes the constraints on the marriage date of William II Grenville to Phillipa so that we don't have a series young teen marriages and pregnancies. While I believe it chronologically impossible for Phillipa to be a daughter William Bonville if there is only 1 William Grenville, this is not true is she actually married a son of William Grenville.
The recent attacks on Douglas Richardson for his changing the parentage of Phillpa from William Bonville to John Bonville in MCS, PA and RA are unwarranted and unfair. He was simply following the most recent published research by noted genealogist Charles Fitch-Northen which reached this conclusion - it wasn't really his own research at all. [29]
  1. There are serious chronological problems in the Grenville pedigree which give doubts as to its accuracy. Could there be a missing generation? I think this is likely, but is not directly supported by any contemporary record.
  2. The evidence that Phillipa is even a Bonville is weak and comes from a flawed family pedigree from the early 1600s and the from Visitations of Cornwall 1620. These two sources give opposite parentage.
  3. The more reliable of the two sources is probably the Visitations of Cornwall 1620 which makes her a sister of William Bonville.
  4. If Phillipa was a daughter William Bonville, she would have been at least 45 years younger than William Grenville when they married, and she would have been too young to be the mother of Thomas Grenville.
  5. Assuming there is only one William Grenville, Phillipa could only be the daughter of John Bonville and so a sister of William, Lord Bonville (just as stated in the Visitations).
  6. If there is only one William Grenville, it is more likely than not that his children were by his first wife Elizabeth Cole and not by Phillipa at all.


Footnotes and citations:
  1. Pole, p. 387
  2. Collins 1716, p. 243
  3. Prince 1810, p. 441
  4. Gilbert v.2 pt. 2 1820, p. 538
  5. Burke vol. 3 1836, p. 4
  6. Polsue, p. 376
  7. Fox 1879, p. 46-47a
  8. Weis. MCS 1215, p. 26, line 22
  9. Richardson Royal Ancestry vol. 1, p. 433
  10. Richardson Plantagenet Ancestry
  11. Richardson Magna Carta Ancestry
  12. Roskell HoP 1386-1421
  13. History of Parliament Online
  14. Granville. page 57.
  15. Visitation of Cornwall, p. 84
  16. RTDA 1884, p. 684-685.
  17. Granville 1895, p. 57
  18. DCNQ 1979, pp. 154-161.
  19. Granville 1895, p. 55
  20. Hingeston-Randolph, p. 651
  21. Granville 1895, p. 55, 57
  22. DCNQ, p. 158: citing a deed in the Pole Collection
  23. DCNQ1979, p. 158
  24. Reg of Bishop Lacy vol. 1, p. 118
  25. DCNQ 1979, p. 158
  26. RTDA 1884, p. 685
  27. Dunstan, Reg. of Bishop Lacy vol. II, p. 394
  28. Granville 1895, p. 58
  29. DCNQ 1979, p. 154-161
Source list:
  • Burke, John. A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3. (London, 1836):4. LINK
  • Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. XXXIV no. 4 (Autumn 1979):154-161. A Revision of the Grenville Pedigree, by Charles Fitch-Northen.
  • Dunstan, G.R. ed. The Register of Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter, 1420-1455: Registrum Commune, vol. 1. (Torquay: Devon and Cornwall Record Society new series vol. 7, 1963). LINK (paid sub.)
  • Dunstan, G.R. ed. The Register of Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter, 1420-1455: Registrum Commune, vol. 2. (Torquay: Devon and Cornwall Record Society new series vol. 7, 1963):394. LINK (paid sub.)
  • Fox, Charles H. Chronicles of Tonedale: Two Centuries of Family History. (Taunton, 1879):46-47a (Appendix V ped.). LINK
  • Gilbert, Charles Sandoe. An Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall : ... vol. 2 pt. 2. (London, 1820):538. LINK
  • Granville, Roger. The History of the Granville Family (Exeter, 1895): 57. LINK
  • History of Parliament Online: Biography of Sir William II Bonville (1392-1461), of Chewton-Mendip, Som. and Shute, Devon. Website LINK
  • Lysons, Daniel. Magna Britannia: Cornwall, vol. 3 (London, 1814):296, 321.
  • Pole, William. Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon. (1791):387.
  • Polsue, Joseph. A Complete Parochial History of the County of Cornwall: Compiled ..., Volume 2. (London, 1838):376. LINK
  • Prince, John. Danmonii Orientales Illustres: or, The Worthies of Devon. (London, 1810):441. LINK
  • Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association vol. 16 (1884):670-702. Notes Genealogical and Historical:Being a Second Essay towards a History of Bideford, by Charles Worthy. Grenville family starts p. 680, William Grenville on p. 684-685. LINK
  • Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, in 5 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013).
  • Richardson, Douglas, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, exp. 2nd edn. in 3 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011).
  • Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, exp. 2nd ed. in 4 vols, (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011).
  • Roskell, John Smith, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffeeds. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons, 1386-1421. (1993).
  • Vivian, John Lambrick. Visitation of the County of Cornwall in the Year 1620. (London: Harleian Society Visitation Series vol. 9, 1874):84, Grenvile pedigree. LINK
  • Weis, Frederick Lewis. The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215. (Baltimore, 1991):26, line 22.
  • Hingeston-Randolph, Rev. Francis Charles ed. Register of Thomas de Brantyngham, Bishop of Exeter (A.D. 1370-1394) part 2, (1906):651. LINK


On 20 Mar 2018 at 21:22 GMT John Atkinson wrote:

The Reg Lacy reference is to The Register of Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter, 1420-1455, Vol 3, p. 396 (available via which is a testimonial dated 25 July 1455, about a dispensation by Pope Martin V dated at Rome 15 October 1430 for William Boneville and Elizabeth, widow of John Arindon, to solemnize their marriage in church, they having previously married not realising that Elizabeth standing as godmother to a daughter of William by his first wife, was an impediment to their marriage. The dispensation also makes their children legitimate but I'm not sure if this is just a standard statement or they actually did have children from the marriage?

This is from the English abstract, the actual document is much longer and in Latin.

On 20 Mar 2018 at 19:42 GMT M (Gervais) Anonymous wrote:

From Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993[1] "Bonville’s second marriage, which took place some time between then and October 1430, required the procurement of a papal dispensation, because his new wife, Elizabeth, was already a godmother of one of his daughters. ".

There is also a footnote: "CP, ii. 218-19 is incorrect in giving Bonville’s date of birth as 30 Aug. 1393 and the date of the papal dispensation for his second marriage as 9 Oct. 1427. The correct dates are to be found in C138/5/58 and Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lxii), 396, respectively."

Perhaps it would be good to find this papal dispensa

On 14 Nov 2017 at 19:58 GMT J (Schmeeckle) S wrote:

Perhaps it is worth revisiting the Grenville genealogy's statement that William Bonville possessed various tenements in the HUNDRED of Stratton. A "hundred" is a subdivision of a county with its own court. A hundred comprised several parishes. So there may be lands in various nearby parishes that were owned by both the Bonvilles and the Grenvilles in the 15th century. The problem with that is, as somebody pointed out on the G2G thread, an IPM might state "and other lands" without exhaustively listing everything.