|Effigy of Eleanor (de Bohun),|
Countess of Ormond
at St Mary Church, Gowran
[Photo courtesy of Mark Humphrys
As a granddaughter of Edward I who married a newly-created Irish earl, Lady Eleanor de Bohun is, for hundreds, if not thousands, of Irish gentry families, the gateway ancestor to a descent from the Plantagenet kings. Yet little is known about her life, beyond the basic dates provided in the peerage works. She was a very important lady in the reign of her first cousin Edward III, and the details behind the marriages which her children and grandchildren made are fascinating. 14th-century genealogical research is full of challenges, especially where Ireland is concerned, but they just make the reward that much better when a breakthrough occurs. The chancery documents, translated from medieval legalese in Latin or Anglo-Norman French, make dry, dull reading, but often hidden within them are important clues in establishing vital dates of birth, marriage and death. The most important of all surviving documents to genealogy is a will. Jessica Lutkin and Jonathan Mackman have provided a full transcription and translation of the 1363 will of Eleanor, countess of Ormond, for this summer's issue of Foundations. It's the first time this document is being published, and a full reading of it casts much-needed light on the life the countess led.
To complement the will, I provided an article, 'Descendants to the Third Generation of Eleanor, Countess of Ormond', which compiles the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the countess using original chancery documents and contemporary chronicles. It was incredibly time-consuming, but fascinating as well, especially the Irish lines, which I hadn't looked into in any detail beforehand. Hopefully it will prove useful to those studying the families of Butler of Ormond, Fitzgerald of Desmond, Talbot of Herefordshire, and Fitzwalter of Essex.
I also put together a photo essay that will appear in the online edition of Foundations. It tells how Kilpeck Castle came into the possession of the countess of Ormond, as well as the role the castle played in the marriage of her elder daughter, Lady Petronilla Butler, to Gilbert, Lord Talbot. Pictures taken on my excursion to the castle (and other nearby landmarks) in October 2015 complement the text. Following is an extract - the first portion of the photo essay.
|The South Wall of Kilpeck Castle|
An artist rendering of the area as it appeared in the early 14th century
[from the Kilpeck Castle entry sign]
|Tomb of Dame Joan (Plugenet) Bohun in Hereford Cathedral|
|The approach to the North Wall of Kilpeck Castle|
I encourage all who are interested in medieval genealogy to become a member of FMG. It sponsors and encourages detailed research in the pre-16th century period, and certainly inspires me to continue my own research and maintain it at the level of academic standard. Anyone wishing to access the full photo essay who is not a member of FMG, let me know, and I'll send you a pdf file of the essay (text only).