| THE parish of Warkworth has
a sea-board of ten miles, extending southwards from the estuary of the
Aln to the mouth of the Lady burn in the middle of Druridge Bay. Its
area of 17,455 acres is divided into the eighteen townships of
Warkworth, Birling, High Buston, Low Buston, Sturton Grange, Walk-mill,
Brotherwick, Amble, Hauxley, Gloster-hill, Togston, Morwick, Acklington,
Acklington park, West Chevington, Bullocks-hall, East Chevington, and
Hadston, the last four forming the chapelry of Chevington. There is
scarcely one of these townships which does not yield material for family
history, whilst that of Warkworth is enriched by castle, hermitage, and
| The moated mound, on which
now stands the donjon of Warkworth castle, was, in all likelihood,
originally occupied by the `worth'
N or palace of the Ocgings, a line of Bernician princes who
claimed descent from Ida of Bamburgh, though not from his queen. A
considerable tract of country was attached to ` Werceworde' in those
early days, stretching, we are told, from the Line Water nearly to
Alnmouth along the coast, though not including Hauxley, and as far
inland as the civitas of ` Brincewelæ.'
In the beginning of the eighth century a revolution raised the
Ocging Cenred to the Northumbrian throne, on which he was succeeded
eventually by his brother Ceolwulf in 729. On the first appearance of
Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, King Ceolwulf
requested that it might be sent to him to read, and to ` Ceolwulf the
Most Glorious' Bede subsequently addressed the preface, extolling him
for his own love of history, and his desire that the knowledge of it
should be spread among his subjects. In an appendix written in 731,
however, our great historian had to confess that the opening of
Ceolwulf's reign was so full of civil disorder that it was impossible to
write an account of it, or to predict the turn events might take
—apprehensions more than justified, for, in the very next year, the king
was seized, shorn, and forced into a monastery, and then almost
immediately restored. The remainder of Ceolwulf's reign did much to add,
in all outward appearance, to the glories of Northumberland ; and
Warkworth could have been in little dread of any foreign invasion when
he laid the foundations of the church of St. Lawrence there on the very
brink of the Coquet. Bede, however, with the political insight of a true
historian, foresaw the dangers likely to arise from the fashion of
crowding into monasteries, then prevalent among Northumbrians, to the
entire neglect of the profession of arms. `What will be the result,' he
adds almost prophetically, `the next age will show.' He had been dead
only two years when Ceolwulf himself resigned his crown in 737, and not
only became a monk at Lindisfarne, but bestowed on St. Cuthbert
Warkworth and other large estates.
The exemption of the inhabitants of monastic lands from the duties
of military service must have been a great weakness to Northumberland
when exposed to the ravages of the Danes in the ninth century. On this
account, possibly, King Osbert took Warkworth from the monks. His doing
so was regarded as sacrilege, and held to be meetly punished by his
death in battle in 867.L
Eight years later, the savage Halfdene seems to have sailed into the
Coquet, and, verifying as it were the prediction of Bede, to have laid
waste ` Wyrcesforde.'
The moral of Osbert's fate was thrown away on the succeeding kings
and earls who retained the possession he had resumed. The great Norman
earl, Robert de Mowbray, increased this sin in the eyes of the monks of
Durham by giving the very tithes of Warkworth to his rival foundation at
Tynemouth ; and the church itself conferred by Henry I. on his chaplain
Richard de Aurea Valle, afterwards came into the patronage of the
bishops of Carlisle.
A tradition, preserved by Leland, declares that Warkworth castle
once belonged to the Merlays, who were followers of the Norman earls
Geoffrey of Coutances and his nephew, Robert de Mowbray. They certainly
gave Morwick, in the immediate neighbourhood of Warkworth, to Durham at
the end of the eleventh century. Warkworth may have been confiscated on
account of the share the Merlays took in Mowbray's rebellion, and their
gift of Morwick, though subsequently confirmed by them, invalidated on
the same grounds. It is stated in an abstract of 1673 that Warkworth `of
ancient tyme was of the possessions of one Robert Grenville and in the
tyme of King Henry the First came to the prince's hands by eschete.'
A curious number of historical facts have been preserved in
charters connected with the salt-pans at Warkworth, during the troublous
reign of Stephen. One of these salt-pans was granted to the Cistercian
community, which settled at Newminster in 1138, by Simon de St. Liz,
earl of Northumberland, the eldest grandson of Waltheof.
LN His half brother Henry, the son of David, king of Scotland,
who was made earl of Northumberland by the Treaty of Durham in 1139,
confirmed this charter,
LN and bestowed another of these salt-pans on the priory of
N The abbey of Alnwick, too, received from its founder Eustace
fitz John in 1147 a salt-pan at Warkworth.LN
After the death of Earl Henry in 1152, his young son, Earl William, who
became king of Scots on the death of his brother Malcolm in 1165,
confirmed the Brinkburn canons in their rights.
Warkworth Castle from the south east.
| By this time a castle of
some sort must have risen at Warkworth, since Henry II., in a
charter attested by his brother William of Anjou, gave and confirmed
to Roger the son of Richard, for service rendered, the castle and
manor of 'Werkewrde,' to be held by him and his heirs as the
hereditary fee of one knight, with all that belonged to them as well
and as entirely as ever his grandfather Henry I. had held that
The Richard in question was Richard fitz Eustace, constable of
son, by his second marriage, of Eustace fitz John, lord of Alnwick.
Eustace fitz John had fallen, an aged warrior, in the ambuscade
laid for Henry II. by Owen of North Wales in the wooded defile of
Coleshill, between Flint and Holywell, in 1157. The English army was
in danger of annihilation. The constable, Henry of Essex, believing
the king had been slain, threw down the royal standard and took to
flight. A total rout was only averted by King Henry proving himself
alive by raising the vizor of his helmet, and by the earl of Clare
providentially arriving with fresh troops.N
Henry marched on to Rhuddlan in a rage,
L and there issued a charter confirming William de Vesci,
the eldest son of Eustace fitz John's second marriage, in the barony
of Alnwick and other possessions of his father.
LN It is probable that the grant of the castle and manor
of Warkworth to Eustace's grandson, Roger fitz Richard, was made at
Rhuddlan at the same time, and was the reward of Roger's bravery at
Coleshill. In consequence of this alienation of Warkworth by the
Crown the sheriff of Northumberland returned £38 2s. less rent for
the county in 1158.N
At any rate, Roger became closely connected with
the events of that fatal day. Six years later Robert de Montfort, in
the king's presence, called Henry of Essex a coward for his conduct,
and resort was had to wager of battle on an island of the Thames
near Reading. Henry of Essex was struck down and carried for dead
into the neighbouring monastery, where, on his reviving, his life
was spared on condition of his entering the order. He, himself,
regarded his defeat as a judgment, not on his cowardice at Coleshill,
but on his disputes with the abbey of St. Edmund at Bury, and his
having tortured to death Gilbert de Cereville, a knight whom the
wife of Essex had falsely accused in endeavouring to hide her own
N The honour of Clavering forfeited by Essex, and Adeliza
de Vere, his wife of sullied repute, were both bestowed by the king
on Roger fitz Richard.
N With her consent and approbation Roger gave to the monks
of St. Mary of Newminster his salt-work at Warkworth, situated near
where the stream from below Gloucester falls into the Coquet, and
included within bounds which he and his heir had perambulated in
company with the monks and his own men.
L His reply to the king's enquiries with a view to
assessing‘ the aid of 1168 is the most laconic of any received from
the tenants-in-chief in Northumberland.
The manor of Warkworth as granted by Henry II. to Roger fitz
Richard was something very small in comparison with the wide domain
that had belonged to Warkworth in the days of Ceolwulf. The latter
comprised the whole ancient parish of Warkworth, with the exception
of Hauxley, and in addition at the very least the chapelries of
Widdrington and Brainshaugh ; whereas the extent of the manor fell
far short of the limits of the parish, which included not only
Amble, Morwick, and East Chevington, parcels of the great barony of
Alnwick, but also the capital seats of the Morwick and Heron
baronies at West Chevington and Hadston. A lord of Warkworth
possessed of nothing more in Northumberland would scarcely have
begun to build a castle on a grand scale ; and when in 1173 the
former heir of Warkworth reappeared in Northumberland no longer in
the character of a confirmer of salt-pans to the peaceful canons of
Brinkburn, but as the Lion King of Scotland, singling Warkworth out
for especial destruction,
N Jordan Fantosme expressly tells us that the walls and
earthworks of the castle were so weak
N that Roger fitz Richard, though a valiant knight, made
no attempt to defend it as he successfully did that of Newcastle of
which he was constable. In the following year, on Saturday, the 13th
of July, Duncan, earl of Fife, entered Warkworth with his Scots, set
fire to the town, and put the inhabitants to the sword, not sparing
even those who had sought shelter in the `minster' of St. Lawrence.
N Why one of William the Lion's most moderate counsellors
N should have directed this massacre is not explained.
Probably it was due to some breach of faith on the part of the
burghers. The murderous sacrilege was considered to have been
avenged by the capture of the Scottish king on that very day before
the walls of Alnwick.
Roger fitz Richard died, apparently not long after his father the
constable of Chester, in 1178. His heir, Robert fitz Roger, did not
come of age till 1191, and during the reign of Coeur-de-Lion (from
whom he received a grant of the manor of Eure in Buckinghamshire)
resided chiefly in Norfolk, where he possessed large estates through
marrying the heiress of William de Chesney, lord of Horsford. In
Norfolk he founded in 1198 the abbey of St. Mary of Langley, which
he filled with Præmonstratensian canons from Alnwick.
N In July, 1199, King John confirmed to him the castle and
manor of Warkworth for the consideration of 300 marks,
N and he seems about this time to have transferred his
activity to Northumberland, of which he became sheriff in 1203, a
very lucrative post under an administration like that of John. A
favourite of the king, he received grants of the manor of Corbridge
in 1204 and of the manors of Newburn and Rothbury in 1205. In all
probability it was this Robert fitz Roger who rebuilt the castle of
Warkworth on the general lines seen at present. The architecture of
the great gatehouse points clearly to this particular period.
Attached to his grant of a rent-charge from his mill at Warkworth
for the purpose of maintaining the light before St. Cuthbert's
N is a large seal of green wax on which Robert fitz Roger
appears on horseback, in a characteristic fashion, brandishing a
N He is clad in a hauberk of chain-mail, the surcoat worn
over it hanging right down to his triangular stirrups. The upper
part of his face is just visible beneath the plain round bassinet.
His arms Quarterly [or and gu.] a bendlet [sa.] can just be
discerned on the long shield. The breast-piece of his horse is
ornamented with the long pendents then in fashion.
On Saturday, the 2nd February, 1213, King John himself was at
Warkworth on his way from Fenwick (opposite Holy Island) to
N He had made a sudden expedition to the north for the
purpose of overawing the barons in general, and injuring by every
means in his power his especial enemy Eustace de Vesci. The disorder
and probable devastation of Northumberland is marked by the absence
of any returns relating to it on the Pipe Roll of this, the
fourteenth year of John's rule. Up to this time Robert fitz Roger
had continued to be sheriff, and was so again the next year, when he
died. John, therefore, probably came in peace to Warkworth. While
there, though his kingdom was still under interdict and he himself
excommunicated, he presented to two livings belonging to estates he
had confiscated to his use, and also made over the custody of two
unfortunate children to one of his favourites.
GENEALOGY OF THE LORDS
OF WARKWORTH AND CLAVERING.
ARMS : Quarterly or and gules; a bend sable.
John, constable of Chester, and his descendants differenced this
coat with a label, till, at the end of the thirteenth
century, Henri de Laci, earl of Lincoln, assumed a new coat—or, a
lion rampant purpure.
Sir John de Clavering bore (during his father's lifetime) a
vert at Caerlaverock, 1300 ; Sir Alexander charged the bend with
three mullets argent, as did Sir Alan with three mullets
Sir Hugh de Eure and his descendants bore three escallops argent
on the bend.
Baronage, i. p. 90 ; Mem. of Fountains Abb. i.
Surt. Soc. No. 42, p. 50. Serlo de Burg usually heads
the pedigree as founder of Knaresborough castle. etc. ;
but see Plumpton Correspondence, Camden Soc. p.
(b) ' Stemma fundatorum prioratus de Watton.'
Dugdale, Monasticon, ed Caley, vi. p. 957.
Cheshire, 1819, i. p. 510.
(d) Pecham (The Compleat Gentleman, p.
189) was wrong in supposing Agnes to have been the first
wife of Eustace fitz John. Adam, abbot of Meaux (not
founded till 1150), is a witness with her to the
foundation charter of the monastery of Watton. Dugdale, Monasticon, vi. p. 970.
(e) Dugdale, Baronage, i. p. 90. The evidence on
which Roger is made son of Richard fitz Eustace is not
very strong, and it is remarkable that the Lacies, if an
elder line, should have used a label over arms
which the Claverings bore with no difference.
(f) Ormerod, Cheshire, i. p. 509.
Monasticon, vi. p. 929.
(h) Dugdale, Baronage, i. p. 108,
referring to chartulary of Bardney abbey.
Ing. p.m. 35 Henry III. No. 51, in Cal. of Doc. rel. to Scot. i. No. 1837. For
the inquisition on her lands in Northumberland, held at
Linton, near Woodhorn, see ibid. No. 1821
Pipe Rolls, 5 John. 5 d. The Titular
Barony of Clavering. London : privately printed.
(k) Proc. Arch. Inst. 1852, ii. p. 191.
(I) Matt. Paris, Hist. Anglorum, Rolls ed.
iii. p. 67.
(m) 'Stephanus de Ever.' Newminster Chartulary,
Surt. Soc. No. 66, p. 45. ' Stephanus de Bello.' Randal
; see Hodgson, Northumberland, pt. ii. vol. ii. p. 31 n.
` Stephanus de Balliol,' rector of Mitford, and Sir Hugh
de Eure his brother, by the father's side, in deed at
Balliol college, Oxford, dated Durham, Oct., 1284. Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Report, p. 444.
Surtees, Durham, Seals, plate vi. No. 15 (loc. i.).
(o) Coram Rege, 35 and 36 Hen. III. No.
88, m. 44, d. ; Cal. of Doc. rel. to Scot. i. No.
(p) List of Benefactors of Sibton Abbey, in
Taylor, Index Monasticus; Dugdale, Monasticon,
v. p. 558.
(q) Reg. Abbey de Sibeton, Royal Soc. MSS.
221 ; Dugdale, Monasticon, v. p. 228. Blomefield,
Norfolk, ed. Parkin, x. p. 149, calls her Mary.
(r) Surtees, Durham, Seals, plate x. No.
(s) `Ex antiquo pergamento quodam penes Samsonem
Leonard fecialem, an. 1598,' in Dugdale, Monasticon,
iii. p. 636.
(t) On 5th June, 1312, John de Clavering and
Hawise his wife settled the manors of Clavering and
Bliburgh, in the event of their deaths without male
issue, on Edmund de Clavering for life, and then on
Ralph de Nevill and his heirs ; while on 3rd February,
1342, Robert de Benhall and Eve his wife released the
manors of Clavering, Aynho, Eure, and Bliburgh to Ralph
de Neville and Hawise de Clavering. Ped. Fin. Divers.
Com. Ed. III. 301.
In Dugdale, Baronage, i. p. 292. 'Ex. Coll. R. Glov. S.'
Ralph de Nevill, who died 1331, is said to have married
Euphemia. daughter (? sister) of John de Clavering. The
evidence of this marriage is not satisfactory. Ralph de
Nevill was constable of Warkworth in 1322. Clavering
remained in the Nevill family for several generations.
(u) Cal. Genealog. p. 706.
(n) Ibid. p. 733.
(w) The Titular Barony of Clavering.
London : privately printed. 1891.
Seals of the Lords of Warkworth
|Robert fitz Roger I
|| Secretum of Robert
|John fitz Robert
||Robert fitz Roger II
|Robert fitz Roger II
||Eva de Clavering 1346
Nicholas de Britle. Probably Chaplain or Master of the Chapel of St. Mary
| John fitz Robert, the
next lord of Warkworth (1214-1240), differed in politics from his
father. He was one of the twenty-five to whom the execution of the
provisions of Magna Carta was entrusted;
N and as a natural consequence his lands were seized for
the king. On the seal of the charter by which he conveyed his meadow
of Braineslawe to the monks of Durham, we see him careering in a
cylindrical helm, which viewed in profile presents a concave line
behind, the front part rounded below and pierced with holes to
enable him to breathe, his surcoat considerably shorter than his
father's, but the other equipments similar, and the sword equally
N His widow Ada, daughter of Hugh de Baliol, appears to
have been a woman of much character. She could not, however, even
for 1,000 marks, obtain the guardianship of her son Roger fitz John,
which Henry III. bestowed on his own half-brother, William de
Valence. The want of a surname seems to have now made itself felt in
the family, and the young lord of Warkworth called himself Roger
fitz John de Baliol after his mother's family, while two of his
younger brothers took the name of Eure after their father's manor in
N Roger de Baliol gave, it is recorded, 20 marks, three
robes, and corn and hay for two horses every year for the
safeguarding of his castle of Warkworth.
L He must have been a youth of great promise. Matthew of
Paris says that he was the most noble knight and baron in the North
of England, and had already displayed remarkable activity in the
arts of war. His career was cut short by his being ridden over in a
tournament at Argences in Normandy in 1249.
N His heir, Robert fitz Roger II., only a year and a half
N was committed to the custody of William de Valence,
together with `the noble castle' of Warkworth. A beautiful seal
attached to a document dated 1276 and preserved at Paris shows us
Robert fitz Roger with a fan-crested helmet mounted on a horse with
plain housings but also adorned with a fan-crest.
N He was summoned to parliament as a baron by writ dated
28th June, 1283.
N In his time Edward I. visited Warkworth, on the way from
Alnwick to Woodhorn, on Thursday, the 18th of December, 1292.
N On the Subsidy Roll of 1296, his goods in 'Warkworth
outside the borough' are entered as of the value of £6 1s. 4d.,
those of John de Warkworth, meaning, no
doubt, his eldest son, as being worth £2 9s. The following year John
with Robert was taken prisoner at the battle of Stirling (11th
N in which Hugh de Cressingham, the English treasurer, was
slain. It was rumoured that Cressingham on leaving Berwick had
entrusted his goods there to the charge of Robert Heron, rector of
Ford, who kept the king's coket at that port, and of a certain Sir
Hugh de Roubiri (Rothbury), and that on hearing of Cressingham's
death Heron and Roubiri immediately sent 400 marks to Warkworth
castle and delivered them to William de Toggesdene, the constable,
as also £40 in a pouch. So long after as the autumn of 1304 a formal
enquiry was held into this rumour at York.' William de Toggesdene
declared on oath, that about a week after Cressingham's death, Hugh
de Roubiri, attended only by his grooms, did bring to Warkworth two
`bulgias' covered with hide, and a coffer for harness, sealed and
locked, and requested him to take charge of them. He considered that
there might be £300 in them, but others thought more probably £400,
judging from their great weight, which he, too, remarked when his
son William carried them from the great chamber of the castle to an
adjoining closet. There they remained for a week, when Hugh de
Roubiri returned with his grooms and took them away.
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