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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #122

Dear Reader,

Some chart news. The pre-order for Damaged has entered the hot new releases chart at #48 alongside international bestselling authors Robert Bryndza and Michael Connelly.

Damaged is book nineteen in my Sam Smith Mystery Series. Many thanks to everyone who has followed Sam’s story.

A new year’s 2021 resolution achieved. Victory against chess.com’s computer, level 2000. This is the final position from a Réti Opening: Nimzowitsch-Larsen Variation. The computer over-extended in the centre (a common motif in this variation) lost a pawn and allowed my rook to reach the seventh rank. My a and b pawns became active and the computer had to sacrifice material to stop them queening.

Computers are very good at calculation, and can out-calculate me, so I use positional openings against them. If I gain a positional advantage, sometimes I can convert that into a winning position.

In this month’s issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine…

An exclusive interview with bestselling author Caro Ramsey

Healing

Short Stories 

Recipes

An exclusive interview with artist Carl Jacobs

Paranormal Podcasts

World Space Week

And so much more!

A cosmopolitan branch of my family tree. My direct ancestor Ярослав Владимирович “Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev” married Ingegerd Ирина (Irina) “Sankta Anna” Olofsdottir of Sweden (both pictured). Their branch led to Gundreda de Warenne who married Roger Beaumont and continued through the Beauchamp, Turberville and Berkerolles families to the Stradlings who were lords of my home manor.

I often wonder how my ancestors met and decided to marry. For my noble ancestors marriages were arranged and I hope love developed from their union. At the other end of the scale I suspect that some of my pauper ancestors married out of financial need and for companionship. For the rest, the majority, I believe love was a factor. It was certainly a factor in this story, because my direct ancestor Sir Maurice Berkeley lost an inheritance over his choice of bride.

Maurice Berkeley, also known as Maurice the Lawyer, (1435- 1506) de jure the 3rd Baron Berkeley of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, was an English nobleman. He was born at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, the youngest son of James Berkeley, the 1st Baron Berkeley, (1394–1463). Contemporaries also referred to James as James the Just.

Berkeley coat of arms.

Maurice’s mother was Lady Isabel, daughter of Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, while his elder brother was William Berkeley, 1st Marquess of Berkeley, the 2nd Baron Berkeley. William was known as William the Waste-All. In terms of succession, because William had no children, Maurice was in line to inherit the Berkeley fortune.

In 1465 Maurice married Isabel Meade (1444 – 29 May 1514), the daughter of Philip Meade (c1415-1475) of Wraxall Place in the parish of Wraxall, Somerset. Philip was an Alderman of Bristol, an MP, and thrice Mayor of Bristol, in 1458-9, 1461-2 and 1468-9. 

Maurice and Isabel produced four children.

  • Sir Maurice Berkeley, de jure 4th Baron Berkeley (1467 – 12 September 1523), eldest son and heir, who was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of King Henry VIII in 1509. 
  • Thomas Berkeley de jure 5th Baron Berkeley (1472 – 22 January 1532), second son, who was knighted on 9 September 1513 by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, at the Battle of Flodden.
  • James Berkeley (c1474 – 1515).
  • Anne Berkeley (d.1560), my direct ancestor who married Sir William Denys (1470–1533) of Dyrham, Gloucestershire, a courtier of King Henry VIII and Sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1518 and 1526.

Maurice and his brother William were participants in the  Battle of Nibley Green, which was fought near North Nibley in Gloucestershire on 20 March 1470 between the troops of Thomas Talbot, 2nd Viscount Lisle, and William Berkeley. This battle was notable for being the last fought in England between private armies of feudal magnates.

North Nibley (Wikipedia).

The Battle of Nibley Green took place because of a dispute over the inheritance of Berkeley Castle and associated lands. Lisle challenged William Berkeley to a battle, a challenge William accepted.

Lisle raised a force among his ill-equipped local tenants while William Berkeley drew upon the garrison at Berkeley Castle, his local levies, and miners from the Forest of Dean. Maurice, with his retinue, also rode to his brother’s aid.

In terms of numbers, the Berkeley brothers held the advantage, 1,000 men to 300. Philip Meade, Maurice’s father-in-law, also provided men to support the Berkeley brothers’ cause.

Lisle encouraged his men to charge against Berkeley’s troops. In response, Berkeley’s archers loosed their arrows and broke up the charge. One of the Dean Foresters, an archer named ‘Black Will’, shot Lisle in the left temple through his open visor and unhorsed him. In the melee, dagger thrusts put an end to Lisle’s life. Leaderless, Lisle’s army scattered and fled.

Jan Kip’s aerial view of Berkeley Castle engraved for the antiquary Sir Robert Atkyns’ The Ancient and Present State of Glostershire, 1712.

Despite Maurice Berkeley and Philip Meade’s support, William Berkeley disinherited his brother. The reason? William reckoned that Maurice had married beneath himself; he’d married a ‘commoner’ a person of ‘mean blood’.

In reality, Isabel’s father, Philip, was a wealthy merchant, but William reckoned that the marriage brought the noble family of Berkeley into disrepute. However, Maurice stood by Isabel and forsook his inheritance, which included Berkeley Castle.

Maurice died in September 1506 aged 70 and was buried in the Austin Friary in the City of London. Isabel was also buried there, in 1514.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #97

Dear Reader,

My home overlooks Margam Park and I just discovered that my 15 x great grandfather Sir Rice (Rhys) Mansell bought the park, and Margam Abbey, when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536. Sir Rice demolished the monastery and built Margam House, pictured. 

This line dates back to Philip Mansell, born 1040 in Normandy. Philip was cup bearer to William the Conqueror, a highly responsible position. Philip served William his wine and made sure it wasn’t poisoned.

View of Margam House, Glamorgan, Looking North, c.1700 Attributed to Thomas Smith (fl.1680s-1719)

Oil on canvas

A baptismal record for my 4 x great grandmother Ann Locock has led to sixteen new branches on my family tree. My DNA revealed Dutch ancestors and one of these branches is Dutch, a family from Amsterdam. My 8 x great grandfather, Melgior Rosewel, worked for the Dutch East India Company, which offers scope for a lot more research.

My direct ancestor Sir John Mansell, 1188 – 1264, was a busy man.

  • Privy Counsellor 
  • Constable of Dover Castle, pictured (Wikipedia)
  • Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
  • Lord of the manor in Berkshire, Suffolk, Sussex, Lancashire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Kent
  • Cup Bearer to Henry III
  • Founder of a priory in Bilsington
  • Provost of Beverley
  • Treasurer of York
  • Lord Justiciary of England
  • Member of the Council of Fifteen
  • Constable of the Tower of London
  • Chancellor to Henry III
  • England’s first Secretary of State

I think I inherited my multi-tasking from him 😉

An article about Sir John Mansell will follow in a future post.

From my research, a lobby card for The City That Never Sleeps, a 1924 silent movie directed by James Cruze.

Many thanks to everyone who has placed my forthcoming Eve’s War story, Operation Sherlock, at #32 on the Hot New Releases chart.

One of modern life’s great imponderables…

I never expected to discover ancestors in Kiev, so I double-checked this line and established that it is correct. 

This is an image of my direct ancestor Olga ‘the beauty’ a Pskov woman of Varangian extraction who married Igor of Kiev. After Igor’s death, she ruled Kievan Rus as regent, c945-963, for their son, Svyatoslav.

Only joking 😉

I’ve traced the Preston branch of my family tree back to Leolphus de Preston, who lived during the reign of William the Lion of Scotland, floruit 1165 – 1214. 

Leolphus’ son, also Leolphus, made donations to Newbattle Abbey while his grandson, William de Preston, was one of the twenty-four Scottish nobles chosen by Edward I of England to arbitrate between John Balliol and Robert the Bruce, the main disputants for the crown of Scotland after the death of Margaret Maid of Norway, Queen of Scots.

The nobles met on 3 June 1291 to debate the succession. Debates and adjournments continued until 14 October 1292 when William de Preston and his fellow nobles decided that ‘succession by one degree from the eldest sister was preferable to succession nearer in degree from the second.’

Thus informed, on 17 November 1292 Edward I decided in favour of Balliol who ruled for four years, mainly as Edward I puppet. In 1296 the Scottish nobility deposed Balliol and appointed a Council of Twelve to rule instead. In retaliation, Edward I invaded Scotland, triggering the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Meanwhile, William de Preston’s role of arbiter set a family trend, which resulted in later generations of arbiters and judges.

John Balliol, his crown and sceptre symbolically broken, as depicted in the 1562 Forman Armorial, produced for Mary Queen of Scots.

Sir William’s son, Nichol de Preston, was one of the Scottish barons who signed the Ragman Roll in 1296, swearing his allegiance to Edward I.

The Preston line continued with Laurence and his son, Richard. With these generations the Prestons moved south, into Northern England where they owned vast estates in Westmorland, founding the towns of Preston Richard and Preston Patrick.

More Richards followed: Sir Richard Preston, his son Richard, and his son Sir Richard. The latter was called as one of the jurors to settle a dispute between the King of England and the Abbot of St Mary convent, Yorkshire. The dispute centred on the rights to make appointments to the two churches at Appleby. 

Yet another Richard followed and he married Annabella. They produced a son – you’ve guessed it – Richard, later knighted. Sir Richard represented Westmorland in Edward III’s parliament in the mid-1300s, the height of chivalry.

During Edward III’s reign membership of the English baronage was restricted to those who received a personal summons to parliament. At this point parliament developed into a House of Lords and a House of Commons, with the Commons gaining the ascendancy, thus marking a watershed in English political history.

Parliament, 13th century.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx