Friday, April 29, 2016

{69} James IV Descents for Katharine (née Gordon) (1764-1811), Mother of Lord Byron

Katharine Gordon (1764-1811), mother of Lord Byron
The story of Lord Byron's mother is a sad one. The eldest of three daughters of George Gordon, the 12th Laird of Gight Castle, at the age of 18, Katharine Gordon was the only surviving member of her immediate family, with her parents and her two younger sisters all cut down prematurely by illness. Described by Jerome McGann, author of Lord Byron's entry in the ODNB, as "unsophisticated, emotional, and naïve...Also plump and plain," Katharine was an heiress worth £23,000 (millions of pounds today) ripe for potential exploitation. That came in the form of a fortune-hunting rake, Capt. 'Mad Jack' Byron, a former officer who had seduced the Marchioness of Carmarthen, caused her divorce, then married her and lived off of her income of £4000 a year until her death in January 1784. In massive debt, hounded by creditors, and disinherited by his respectable, disapproving father Admiral John Byron, the 28-year-old Mad Jack made his way to Bath in search of a gullible lady of fortune. The sheltered, plain heiress of Gight, on holiday in that resort town, was putty in the hands of the still handsome Capt. Byron, the couple hastily married, and the heiress returned to Aberdeenshire with her new husband.

The Gordons of Gight Castle were scions of the Dukes of Gordon, the 1st Laird having been a younger son of the 2nd Earl of Huntly. "Fierce, colourful, and dangerously unstable," per psychologist/historian Andrew Steptoe in his 1998 book Genius and the Mind, the Gight Gordons had a legacy of violence, murder and execution, even before Katharine's paternal grandfather Alexander, the 11th Laird of Gight, drowned in an apparent suicide in the cold winter of 1760, four years before Katharine's birth. His widow, the formidable Margaret Duff, Lady of Gight, the closest family member Katharine had remaining, was forced to watch in dismay as her granddaughter's new husband burned through the inheritance in less than two years, reducing Katharine to an annual income of £150. Gight Castle was sold to the Duke of Gordon in 1786, and Mad Jack fled town with Katharine, bailiffs and creditors constantly on the couple's heels. In March 1788, two months after the birth of her only child, Katharine received a settlement securing £4222 of her estate against her husband's relentless creditors. The family settled in the city of Aberdeen, but Mad Jack Byron abandoned his wife and son in the autumn of 1790 for his sister in France, where he died the following year. Despite everything, Katharine had remained devoted to her husband and was desolate at his death. She never remarried, devoting herself instead to her son, who, in 1798 at the age of 10, succeeded the eccentric 75-year-old Lord Byron (who had outlived his wife, all four of their children, and their only grandchild) to the Barony of Byron of Rochdale and to Newstead Abbey, the family seat in Nottinghamshire. It was there where Katharine spent her final years, alone in the end except for the servants. She received colourful accounts of her son's adventures in the letters he wrote to her while on his two-year continental Grand Tour, at the same time fighting off at Newstead Abbey creditors and bailiffs seeking payment on the debts her son, taking after his heavy-spending father, had amassed. She died there on 1 August 1811, while Lord Byron was on his way home, and her death left the poet with a guilt which would linger with him for the remainder of his life.
Gight Castle in 1851, by James William Giles
Katharine Gordon Byron's maternal family, the Inneses, were a much more responsible, far less volatile, clan than the Gordons of Gight Castle had been. They were established around the town of Banff, where her maternal grandfather, Alexander Innes of Rosieburn House (in the nearby parish of Alvah), served as sheriff, town clerk and Provost (i.e. mayor), and married the daughter of the county  M.P.  Katharine's mother was the first of Alexander Innes's five children to die, and her orphaned daughter remained close to her maternal Innes and Russell aunts and uncles, frequently seeking their expertise to safeguard her greatly reduced inheritance. All four of Katharine Gordon's grandparents descend from the Stewart Kings of Scotland, but it is only through her maternal grandparents Alexander Innes and Katharine Abercromby that she has James IV in her ancestry. Details on the couple and their children will be followed by their four lines of descent from two of that monarch's illegitimate daughters.

ALEXANDER INNES of Rosieburn House, Alvah, Banffshire, Scotland, b. Dec. 1701; d. 16 Apr. 1761, bur. Banff Parish Church, 3rd son of John Innes, 6th of Edingight House (1662-1719, descended from James IV - see below) and Helen Strachan; Provost of Banff 1735-38; m. 29 Nov. 1729, KATHARINE ABERCROMBY, b. Glassaugh House, Fordyce, Banffshire, bap. 9 May 1708 Fordyce Parish Church; d. 8 Oct. 1784, bur. Banff Parish Church, 2nd dau of Alexander Abercromby, 3rd of Glassaugh House, M.P. Banffshire 1706-1727 (1678-1729, descended from James V) and Helen Meldrum (d. aft.1744, descended from Edward III), and had issue, one son and four daughters.
Innes of Edingight Coat of Arms
[Argent, 3 stars azure, with a border cheque]

Issue of Alexander and Katharine (Abercromby) Innes:

1) HELEN INNES, b. 1737/8; d. unmarried 21 Mar. 1829, bur. Banff Parish Church.

2) ELIZABETH INNES, bap. 16 Apr. 1739 Banff Parish Church; d. 20 Feb. 1821 Aberdeen; m. Apr. 1767, as his 2nd wife, ALEXANDER RUSSELL, 3rd of Moncoffer, 1st of Aden, bap. 3 Jan. 1723 King Edward Parish, Aberdeenshire; d. 1798, est son of Alexander Russell, 2nd of Moncoffer (1697-1733, descended from James IV) and Katharine Skene (b. 1701, descended from James IV), and had issue, three sons and one daughter.

3) KATHARINE INNES, b. c.1742; d. 16 Aug. 1782; m. 2 June 1763 Banff Parish Church, GEORGE GORDON, 12th Laird of Gight Castle, bap. 14 Nov. 1740 Ardlogie, Morayshire, Scotland; d. 9 Jan. 1779 Bath, Somersetshire, bur. 15 Jan. 1779 Bath Abbey, son and heir of Alexander Gordon, 11th Laird of Gight Castle (1716-1760, descended from James I) and Margaret Duff (1720-1801, descended from Edward III), and had issue, three daughters.

Issue of Katharine Innes and 12th Laird of Gight Castle:

Capt. John Byron (1757-1791)
3A) KATHARINE GORDON, bap. 22 Apr. 1764 Banff Parish Church ("Katharine, daughter of George Gordon of Gight and Mrs. Katharine Innes, Lady Gight, was baptised and named after Mrs. Katharine Abercrombie, relict of Alexander Innes of Rosieburn, the grandmother by the mother"); d. 1 Aug. 1811 Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, bur. 9 Aug. 1811 St Mary Magdalene Church, Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire; m. 12 May 1785 St Michael Church, Bath, as his 2nd wife, Capt. JOHN BYRON of Marylebone, b. 7 Feb. 1757 Plymouth, Devon, bap. 17 Mar. 1757 St Andrew Church, Plymouth; d. 2 Aug. 1791 Valenciennes, France, er son of Hon. John Byron of Plymouth (1723-1786, descended from Edward III) and Sophia Trevanion (1730-1790, descended from Edward III), and had issue, one son (the famous poet Lord Byron).

3B) MARGARET GORDON, bap. 27 Dec. 1766 Banff Parish Church; d. unm. 7 Mar. 1780 Bristol Hot Baths, Gloucestershire.

3C) ABERCROMBY GORDON, b c.1770; d. young 28 Jan. 1777 Banff, bur. Banff Parish Church.

4) ANNE INNES, b. 1747; d. 13 Nov. 1814, bur. Banff Parish Church; m. 26 Feb. 1767 Banff Parish Church, Capt. THOMAS RUSSELL, 2nd of Rathen, b. 1742; d. 12 Apr. 1827, bur. Banff Parish Church, yr son of John Russell, 1st of Rathen (1700-1753, descended from James IV) and his 2nd wife Margaret Calder (1714-1770, descended from James IV), and had issue, seven sons and eight daughters.

5) THOMAS INNES of Rosieburn House, b. 1749; d. unmarried 24 Aug. 1784, bur. Banff Parish Church.

James IV of Scotland
James IV had two daus A1 & C1 (see below)
A1) Lady Janet Stewart, illegit. (c.1510-1562) m. Malcolm, 3rd Lord Fleming (c.1494-1547), and had a son A2 and a dau B2 (see below)
A2) John, 5th Lord Fleming (c.1540-1572) m. Elizabeth Ross (c.1545-1578), and had
A3) Jean Fleming (c.1565-1630) m. William Bruce, Heir of Airth (d. 1596, descended from James I), and had
A4) Sir John Bruce, 4th Laird of Airth (c.1585-by 1622) m. Margaret Elphinstone (see B4 below), and had
A5) Christian Bruce (b. c.1610) m. 2) John Innes, 4th of Edingight House (c.1614-1674, descended from Edward III), and had
A6) John Innes, 5th of Edingight House (c.1640-1726) m. Elizabeth Gordon (b. c.1640, descended from Edward III), and had
A7) John Innes, 6th of Edingight House (1662-1719) m. Helen Strachan, and had
A8) Alexander Innes of Rosieburn House (1701-1761 - see details above) m. Katharine Abercromby (see D9 below), and had
A9) Katharine Innes (c.1742-1782 - see details above) m. George Gordon, 12th Laird of Gight Castle (1740-1779, descended from James I), and had
A10) Katharine Gordon, 13th Lady of Gight Castle (1764-1811- see details above), mother of Lord Byron
4th Lord Elphinstone -
see Generation C3

B2) Agnes Fleming (c.1537-1597) m. William, 6th Lord Livingston (d. 1592, descended from James I), and had
B3) Jane Livingston (c.1557-1621) m. Alexander, 4th Lord Elphinstone (see C3 below), and had
B4) Margaret Elphinstone (1588-by 1643) m. Sir John Bruce, 4th Laird of Airth (see A4 above)

C1) Lady Margaret Stewart, illegit. (1496-aft.1562) m. 2) Sir John Drummond of Innerpeffray (d. aft.1554), and had
C2) Margaret Drummond (c.1532-1590) m. Robert, 3rd Lord Elphinstone (1530-1602), and had a son C3 and a dau D3 (see below)
C3) Alexander, 4th Lord Elphinstone (1552-1638) m. Jane Livingston (see B3 above)

D3) Elizabeth Elphinstone (c.1563-1613) m. Robert Innes, 19th Laird of that Ilk (1562-1596), and had
D4) Sir Robert Innes, 1st Baronet of that Ilk (1584-1658) m. Lady Grizel Stewart (descended from James V), and had
D5) Elizabeth Innes (c.1613-1640) m. 2) Alexander, 15th Laird of Brodie (1617-1680), and had
D6) Grizel Brodie (b. 1636) m. Sir Robert Dunbar, 3rd Laird of Grangehill (c.1625-aft.1670, descended from James I of Scotland), and had
Abercromby coat of arms
D7) Katherine Dunbar (b. 1655) m. 2) Alexander Abercromby, 2nd of Glassaugh House (d. bef. 1691, descended from James I of Scotland), and had
D8) Alexander Abercromby, 3rd of Glassaugh House (1678-1729) m. Helen Meldrum (c.1685-aft.1744, descended from Edward III), and had
D9) Katharine Abercromby (1708-1784 - see details above) m. Alexander Innes of Rosieburn House (see A8 above)

[Note: The first three of the above lines of descent appear on pp. 76-77 of Gary Boyd Roberts' The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants. Many thanks to my friend John Higgins for pointing out to me Line D above. The James V descent for Lord Byron is detailed in this post.]

This wraps up the series of posts on the royal ancestry of Lord Byron. The next post will look at his wife, the 11th Baroness Wentworth, and her lines of descent from Edward IV.

Cheers,                                         ------Brad

Thursday, April 28, 2016

{68} Hiatus Explained: Eleanor (de Bohun), Countess of Ormond (c.1310-1363)

Effigy of Eleanor (de Bohun),
Countess of Ormond 

at St Mary Church, Gowran
[Photo courtesy of Mark Humphrys
It's been three months since my last blogpost. There are several reasons for the hiatus, but I'm just going to go ahead and blame it on Eleanor (de Bohun), Countess of Ormond (c.1310-1363). Work and personal life reduced the amount of time I had for genealogy during the months of February and March. So I had to put aside my database work and focus exclusively on an article for the upcoming issue of Foundations, the Journal of the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy (FMG). I have written a handful of articles for FMG since their existence, all under the editorial talent of Steven Edwards. I was delighted to meet up with Steve last year at Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire. The conversations we had that afternoon have led to my resolve to become more involved with FMG, and I'm looking forward to attending their annual meeting in late October.

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
About 9 miles southwest of Hereford, and just 5 miles from the Welsh border, on top of a hill surrounded by farmland, stand the ruins of Kilpeck Castle. This country was once the small Welsh kingdom of Ergyng, later Anglicized to Archenfield. After the Norman invasion, William the Conqueror granted Kilpeck to his kinsman William Fitz Norman, who built the initial timber castle, later extended with stonework. Shortly after the accession of Edward I, Kilpeck Castle came into the hands of the baronial Plugenet family of Herefordshire. The Plugenets held the castle of the king, who was lord of the hundred of Archenfield.[*1]

Kilpeck c.1325
An artist rendering of the area as it appeared in the early 14th century
[from the Kilpeck Castle entry sign]

By 1325, when Sir Alan Plugenet, the 2nd Baron, died childless, Kilpeck Castle and the thriving medieval village which surrounded it, was valued at £62 0s 6d. In the previous century, Kilpeck had been granted a weekly Friday market and an annual fair, and it served as the administrative centre for Archenfield. Kilpeck was very much a Marcher village: Welsh was the primary language spoken by its inhabitants, and its architecture and art contained a strong Celtic influence. Sir Alan Plugenet’s heir was his middle-aged, childless sister Dame Joan Bohun, a Bannockburn widow. Her husband Sir Henry de Bohun had been killed by Robert the Bruce in single combat the day before that battle. Dame Joan travelled to court in October 1325 and performed homage to King Edward II for her brother’s lands, including Kilpeck Castle.

Tomb of Dame Joan (Plugenet) Bohun in Hereford Cathedral
A benefactress of nearby Hereford Cathedral (where her elaborate tomb still exists), Dame Joan Bohun would have been well known to Adam Orleton (d. 1345), the bishop of Hereford who played an instrumental role the following year in the invasion of Edward II’s wife Queen Isabella and her lover Sir Roger Mortimer, and in the deposition of Edward II in favour of his 14-year-old son, now King Edward III. Likely aware of her imminent death, in the last months of her life Dame Joan Bohun, worked, no doubt in collusion with the bishop of Hereford and Queen Isabella, to determine who would inherit Kilpeck Castle and the other Plugenet lands in Herefordshire. Their choice was a kinswoman of Dame Joan’s late husband, and in the early autumn of 1327, while Parliament was meeting in Nottingham, occurred the transfer of Kilpeck Castle from Dame Joan Bohun, who would die just a few weeks later in December, to Lady Eleanor de Bohun, a teenaged noblewoman freshly emerged from a nunnery. [*2]

The approach to the North Wall of Kilpeck Castle
As the elder daughter of the powerful earl of Hereford and Essex, constable of England, Lady Eleanor de Bohun’s early years were mainly spent at Pleshey Castle, the Bohun’s chief seat in Essex. She was orphaned when about age 12, after her father joined the earl of Lancaster in open rebellion against Edward II, and was killed at the battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. Luckily, Lady Eleanor’s mother--who had died in childbirth when Eleanor was only about age 6—had been the king’s sister Elizabeth, countess of Hereford. So after her father’s death, King Edward II entrusted his niece Eleanor to the care of her aunt, his sister the nun-princess Mary (1279-1332), at Amesbury Priory in Wiltshire. The priory was a daughter house of Fontevraud Abbey, a Benedictine institution in Anjou, France, which had been founded by Petronilla of Chemillé (d. 1149), its first abbess, whose feast day on April 24th was celebrated in both Fontevraud and Amesbury. That Amesbury Priory, the Order of Fontevraud, and the education received from her aunt the nun-princess Mary all had a life-long impact on Lady Eleanor, is reflected by her giving her firstborn daughter the name Petronilla, after Fontevraud’s founder, and in her 1363 will, in which she made a bequest for the soul of her aunt Mary (one of only two deceased relations whom Eleanor remembered in her last testament). In 1327 when she received Kilpeck Castle, Lady Eleanor was about age 17, and Kilpeck gave her enough income to maintain a life independent of the court and of her four elder brothers. It also would make for a good marriage portion, and Lady Eleanor was no doubt a leading lady at the court of Queen Isabella and the young Edward III in the first two years of the reign. It would’ve been at court that Lady Eleanor met the Irish knight who became her first husband. [*3]

[*1] Most of the information on the community of Kilpeck and the history of the castle is from the excellent guidebook, The Parish Church of St Mary & St David at Kilpeck, by James Bailey, Berrington Press (Hereford: 2000).
[*2] For details on Dame Joan Bohun and her brother Sir Alan Plugenet, see the Plugenet article in CP Vol. 10 (1945), pp. 554-556.
[*3] Entries regarding the transfer of Kilpeck Castle to Lady Eleanor de Bohun can be found in CPR 1327-1330, pp. 164, 181-182, 230, with Queen Isabella’s involvement specifically mentioned on p. 175. For the type of education, with an emphasis on lineage, that Eleanor would have received from the nun-princess Mary at Amesbury, see Laura Barefield, ‘Lineage and Women’s Patronage: Mary of Woodstock and Nicholas Trevet’s Les Cronicles,’ Medieval Feminist Forum Vol. 33 No. 1 (2002), pp. 21-30.


The full photo essay has been uploaded to the FMG website, here.

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).

At the beginning of this month, I had both the article and photo essay in submittable drafts, and was able to turn my focus back to expanding the Royal Descent database. I'm still in the process of building up the ancestors and descendants of the immediate family of the poet Lord Byron. It's led to some fascinating lines, and I'll be sharing them in the next several blogposts. First up will be the lines of descent from James IV of Scotland to Lord Byron's mother, Katharine (née Gordon).

Cheers,                                   ------Brad