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Author: Dr John S Plant (bio)
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Medieval feudal lords over the early Plant name

This 'feudal lords' main page has in particular links to three sub-pages:
  • Warren: the no more than minimal success for the Warren hypothesis;
  • Longspée-Audley: the far more convincing Longspée-Audley hypothesis;
  • Normandy links: setting the scene for an early 'vegetal' name migration from Normandy to England.

  • Developments towards a better hypothesis

    Around the times of my 1999 Reunion talk, I broached the topic of who might have been the feudal overlords ruling over the first Plants. At that time I pointed to, for example, Ranulph Blundeville the 6th earl of Chester or perhaps the early Lancastrians as well as the Warren earls of Surrey. By 2004, I had added an initial webpage to this site (updated subsequently) mentioning not least the Warren earls who had descended from Henry II's illegitimate half brother, Hamelyn. This related to just 3 or 4 coincident locations between the Warrens and early Plant records. However, with more early locations for the Plants, it became apparent that this mostly did not fit the Warren hypothesis and even for those initially considered locations, there were possible alternative explanations, such as..

    In place of a few ambiguous coincident locations between the early Plants and the Warrens, it became clear that the Longspée-Audley feudal line of lords could explain better the location of essentially all of the early Plants. We can accordingly consider that the first Plants were peasants under an influence from these particular noble lords, who descend from an illegitimate son called William Longspée of Henry II. By 2015, the evidence was being augmented by steadily more information, such as that which had become available with the help of leads on the web. This has led to a clarity that the Longspée-Audley hypothesis (also abbreviated the L-A hypothesis) is far superior to the Warren one, with around 20 coincident locations between the Longspée-Audley lords and essentially all of the available thirteenth- and fourteenth-century records for the first Plants in England.

    As a further extension to this, earlier twelfth-century links to the Plant name in Normandy have become apparent, not least from before England's loss of Normandy. Hence these are also discussed in the context of a wider feudal scene set earlier by the Chester and Bigod earls and others. This augments, in particular, the situation in regard to the Longspée part of the L-A hypothesis by pointing to other administrative links betweem early Plant locations besides those just reppresented by William Longspée (ca.1176-1226).

    The changing relevance of seignorial and county administrations

    The importance of seignorial justice was still recognised at the heart of the Angevin establishment by the last years of Henry II (reigned 1154-89). This was the authority of a lord over his lands, even though the estates were often scattered through various counties. This involved 'honours' of lands that were generally kept together, even when they were revoked by the king and given to a different lord, and even when the lands were widely scattered. It was during the reign of Henry II that he diminished some of the importance of seignorial lords in connection with judicial cases involving land. However, tennants still had their obligations to their seignorial lord's court, to pay him scutage (in lieu of military service), to recognise his rights of wardship (over minors and single women), etc. That said, from around the 13th century, county courts began to attain more significance and cases could easily be referred up to royal courts. [EUNAK pp 219-22] – source – EUNAK: Robert Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225 (Clarendon Press Oxford, 2000 reprinted 2013).

    County and abbey and royal circumstance of the main Plant homeland

    The county of Cheshire, in its SE part, adjoined a NE portion of the county of Staffordshire. The main Plant homeland was in these two county pieces. In 1214, the earl of Chester donated the Staffordshire part to Dieulacres abbey; it is not known when the Plant name first arrived here, apart from surviving records for Plants here by 1360. The Chester earldom was unusual in two regards. First, the earl had been given the whole county of Cheshire shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066, as well as his holding of the honour of Chester outside Cheshire, in addition to his holding of other honours of scattered lands. Secondly, following the death of the last non-royal earl of Chester in 1237, the earldom passed to the crown and was moreover annexed by king Henry III in 1246, who passed it to his son in 1254; this future Edward I became king in 1272 and the Chester earldom passed to his son (claimed for Alphonso but passed officially to the future Edward II in 1284). King Edward I conquered north Wales from the Chester stronghold in the late thirteenth century and the Chester title came to be conferred, along with the title Prince of Wales, on the royal heir. In early particular detail, Edward III became Chester earl 1312-77 seemingly retaining it upon becoming king in 1327 but with substantial delegation to his son, the Black Prince, who predeceased his father in 1376; the Black Prince's son king Richard II became king while still young in 1377 and kept Cheshire until his forced abdication in 1399 which involved the collapse of his Cheshire guard.

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