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Parentage of William Deincourt 9th (aka 2d) Baron

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Date: About 1300 to 1364
Location: [unknown]
Surname/tag: Deincourt, Deyncourt
Profile manager: Chase Ashley private message [send private message]
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This page sets forth the evidence and argument presented by Trevor Foulds in his 1995 Thurgarton Cartulary for the proposition that, contrary to the view expressed in Complete Peerage, William Deincourt the 9th baron (or 2d baron, using Complete Peerage's numbering), who succeeded Edmund Deincourt the 8th baron (or 1st baron, using Complete Peerage's numbering), was the son of the John Deincourt of Park Hall who was a distant cousin of Edmund and not the son of the John Deincourt who was Edmund's son.

The evidence cited by Foulds is as follows:

  • Edmund the 8th baron had a son named John, who in turn had a son named Edmund, as established by a record dated February 4, 1327 in which Hamund de Mascy and his wife Joan, late the wife of Edmund son of John Deyncourt kinsman of Edmund 8th baron and grandfather of Edmund (son of John), demanded Joan's dower lands.[1]
  • By 1314, it appears that John Deincourt, Edmund the 8th baron's son, had died, that the only child of grandson Edmund (son of John) was a daughter named Isabella, and that Edmund the 8th baron feared that grandson Edmund would die before him without a male heir, as established by record dated February 23, 1314, which states that (1) Edmund the 8th baron affirmed that his surname and arms after his death would be lost from memory in the person of Isabella, the daughter of Edmund Deyncourt, his heir apparent, (2) at Edmund's request, Edmund was granted a license to enfeoff whomsoever he wanted with his lands and tenements, knights' fees and church advowsons and (3) the person Edmund enfeoffed would bear his surname. (Note that this record DOES NOT establish that John Deincourt did not have a son William who was younger than eldest son Edmund, because under English laws of inheritance at the time, the daughter of the deceased eldest son had priority over a younger son.[2])
  • By 1317, Edmund the 8th baron's grandson Edmund had apparently died, leaving only a daughter, Isabella, and, on May 15, 1317, because he feared his arms and surname would become extinct in the person of Isabella, his heir apparent, Edmund the 8th baron obtained a license to enfeoff Master Oliver Deyncourt and John Deyncourt of Park Hall with specified manors and lands, with Oliver and John to regrant the same for life to Edmund the 8th baron, with remainder to William son of John Deyncourt and his heirs.[3][1] (This arrangement was a typical way, at the time, for a minor (in this case William Deyncourt) to obtain land they would not otherwise obtain by inheritance.) The grant was effected, in accordance with the terms of the license, by a fine of 6 October of an uncertain year (possibly 1326).[4]
  • The inquests post mortem for Edmund the 8th baron held on January 12 and 13, 1327 found that Edmund held lands by fine levied between Edmund, Master Oliver Deyncourt and John Deyncourt of Park Hall with remainder to William Deyncourt, as well as other lands, and that all of Edmund's lands remained to William Deyncourt, except for lands and rents held by Hamund de Mascy and Joan his wife (described above), with William being described as a kinsman, but sometimes (according to Foulds) as a cousin, of Edmund the 8th baron.[5][1]

Foulds' argument that William Deyncourt was a son of the John Deincourt of Park Hall who was a distant cousin of Edmund the 8th baron, and not the son of the John Deincourt who was Edmund's son, is apparently based on the last two documents described above:

  • Re the May 15, 1317 license - Foulds generally appears to try to stick very close to a translation of the Latin. I therefore assume that the "of Park Hall" in his reference to the enfeoffment of "Oliver Deyncourt and John Deyncourt of Park Hall" was in the original Latin, but that the "of Park Hall" was not repeated in original Latin of the reference to the "William son of John Deyncourt". However, absent wording in the license suggesting a different John Deyncourt was intended, the inference is that the John Deyncourt who was the father of William was the same John Deyncourt of Park Hall referred to earlier in the license. This interpretation is also consistent with common practice at the time, where land was granted to persons acting essentially as trustees for a minor, with one of the trustees being the minor's father.
  • According to Foulds, the inquisition post mortem for Edmund the 8th baron sometimes refers to William as Edmund's cousin. Such a description would be consistent with William being the son of John Deincourt of Park Hall, but would not be consistent with William being Edward's grandson.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Foulds, Trevor. The Thurgarton Cartulary. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1994. pp. xciv-xcviii.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The law of inheritance," Inquisitions Post Mortem: Mapping the Medieval Countryside, inquisitionspostmortem.ac.uk. Accessed November 24, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office. Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317. 1898. pp. 651-652. Link to pages at archive.org.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Feet of Fines: CP 25/1/285/30", www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk. See number 129. Accessed November 25, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and Other Analogous Documents Preserved in the Public Record Office. Vol. VI. Edward II. 1910. p. 468. Link to page at archive.org.

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Comments: 11

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It seems to me that the license granted to Edmund the 8th baron was due to his DAUGHTER Isabella (not a supposed great-granddaughter - a daughter of grandson Edmund) being his sole heir after son John, since he had no other male children apparently. He wanted his male grandsons William or John (who were minors in 1314 & 1317) to be his heirs rather than his daughter Isabella and her heirs, so he set up the arrangement via the license with Master Oliver and John of Park Hall until his grandsons were old enough to inherit.

(John of Park Hall is listed as having died before Edmund in 1322. Regardless, while serving as "guardians" of William and John, Oliver and John re-granted the lands to Edmund for his life, and he was still alive until 1327. All that it seems could have passed to heirs of Oliver and John during that time, as long as Edmund remained living, was the "guardianships" of William and John until they became of-age.)

When Edmund finally died in 1327, William was of-age and could (and did) inherit per the license.

It seems to me that if the license and references to it had been intended to mean a William, son of John of Park Hall, they would have said "William, son of said John" - referring to the previously mentioned John of Park Hall - rather than merely (as they apparently do) say "William, son of John." In that way, the license and references to it seem clearly to be referring to a different John than John of Park Hall. [Granted I am not a learned scholar of this era and its documents or inheritance rules, but am basing my conclusions on the apparent face value of the evidence provided.]

posted by Dan Roe
edited by Dan Roe
Re the 1st one - I agree that the abstract reads as though "grandfather" was in the original, but I would need someone well-versed in medieval latin to read the original to confirm that interpretation, and it's always possible that the reference was figurative.

Re the 2d one - I agree that not too much weight should be put on that one, since it is very possible the the "son" was a gloss added by the commentator based on a misreading of "Complete Peerage".

Overall, I think the current handling in William's profile is correct: keeping him as the grandson of Edmund, but marking his parentage as uncertain, and citing Foulds' theory with a reference to this page

posted by Chase Ashley
I had a thought to look up the National Archives website to see if there is anything there and found this one https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C9294158 where apparently William names Edmund as his grandfather, and this one https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C9529554 where they are called father and son.

I'm not sure though, particularly with the second one, if this is actually what is written on the document. You can download scans of the original records for free, but actually reading them is a different matter.

posted by John Atkinson
Chase thanks for the link to The law of inheritance, it was very illuminating. However the stumbling block for me, is still Roger, John Deincourt of Park Hall's eldest son. Although it's not necessarily very scholarly, it doesn't make any sense to me, that in the 1317 licence, you would set aside the rights of an adult of about 30 in favour of a minor aged about 16. Nor that Roger would be happy about being effectively disinherited? Although he also only had daughters as heirs, presumably at 30 there is still the chance that he could have a son?

Even if Roger did accept that his younger brothers were the preferred heirs, I would expect to see some claim on the estate by his sons in law?

posted by John Atkinson
John - I don't consider myself an IPM expert, but my understanding is that the purpose of the IPM was to determine the legal heir to the land - ie who had the right to hold the land - after the death of a feudal tenant. Per "The law of inheritance" article linked to in this profile, while that was typically determined by common law inheritance, it was not always. In this case, by license of the king, Edmund was given the right to provide for a different heir than the one who would have been his heir under common law (great granddaughter Isabella) and made William the heir to his baronial holdings by feoffment through the fine levied between Edmund, Oliver and John. This feoffment is mentioned in Edmund's IPM because it is what determined who the heir to his baronial holdings was.

I do think this is worthy of a G2G discussion. But I suspect that, ultimately, we will be left with a dispute and with William's parentage as uncertain. Foulds was no slacker and neither were the people who wrote the Peerage and its addendum.

I note that the fact that John of Park Hall (as shown in his own IPM) held land of Edmund and the fact that Edmund made John of Park Hall one of the feoffees, indicates that, although they were distant cousins, they were personally close. It would therefore not have been surprising if Edmund had transferred the barony to John of Park Hall's son in the absence of a male heir of his own.

posted by Chase Ashley
If we can't come to an agreement on this then we should ask the question on g2g to see if others working with these sorts of profiles have an opinion.
posted by John Atkinson
Sorry Chase, but I think there is a problem with Foulds interpretation of the ipm. My understanding is that with freehold land, Edmund could perhaps leave that to who he liked, but ipms were investigations into land held of the king and the escheators investigating would nominate the legal heir. That's why ipms are considered such a valuable source, because they do deal with legal heirs not who the person may have wanted to be their heir. I suspect this is the point that The Complete Peerage, addenda, found unconvincing.

In regards to the name if the documents are referring to just one man named John Deyncourt, then I don't see why there is a need to identify him as John Deyncourt of Park Hall, but this is a minor point, the ipm is in my opinion the stumbling block to Fould's theory.

posted by John Atkinson
John - Excellent work digging up all the documents. I have added citations to them to the freespace page. The abstracts are highly consistent with what Foulds said they were.

Re William and his brother John never specifically named as the sons of John Deyncourt of ParkHall - It could be construed as more significant that the document apparently doesn't say that the John Deyncourt who was William's father was Edmund's son or otherwise indicate it was a different John Deyncourt than the John Deyncourt of Park Hall already referred to in the document.

Re why William was "next heir" and not John of Park Hall's eldest son, Roger -- I assume the answer is that the license granted to Edmund on Feb 23, 2014 (see second bullet) allowed him to pick whomever he wanted to be the "heir" to his barony (not by inheritance, but license) and, for whatever reason, Edmund picked William.

posted by Chase Ashley
Hi Chase, I have found most of the records though in translation and abstracts. The Feet of Fines is here http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/fines/abstracts/CP_25_1_285_30.shtml and the licence dated 15 May 1317 is here https://archive.org/details/calendarofpaten02grea/page/651 (and over the page). I think it is significant that William and his brother John, are never specifically named as the sons of John Deyncourt of ParkHall.

Edmund Deyncourt's inquisition post mortem is here https://archive.org/details/cu31924099427845/page/n506 and for me the big question is; William is his 'next heir' then if he is the son of John Deyncourt of Park Hall, then why isn't his eldest son Roger, Edmund's 'next heir' as he would legally be? See https://archive.org/details/cu31924099427845/page/n250

posted by John Atkinson
John - I haven't seen the original record. Per my 2d to last bullet, I read Foulds as saying it does say that (otherwise he is cheating). But I agree that the key is for someone to find the original 1317 license and 1327 IPM, which are no doubt in Latin, and reviewing to see if they indicate that John was of Park Hall and/or refer to William as Edmund's "cousin".
posted by Chase Ashley
Does the original record name John Deincourt, as being of Park Hall?
posted by John Atkinson