Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Amicia de Meschines


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  • Name Amicia de Meschines  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Gender Female 
    Person ID I5878  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of AP, Ancestor of DDB, Ancestor of DGH, Ancestor of DK, Ancestor of EK, Ancestor of JMF, Ancestor of JTS, Ancestor of LD, Ancestor of LDN, Ancestor of LMW, Ancestor of TNH, Ancestor of TSW, Ancestor of TWK, Ancestor of UKL
    Last Modified 23 Mar 2019 

    Father Hugh of Chester,   b. Abt 1141   d. 30 Jun 1181, Leek, Staffordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location (Age ~ 40 years) 
    Mother (Unknown first wife of Hugh of Chester) 
    Family ID F683  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Ralph Mainwaring   d. Aft 1189 
    Marriage Abt 1179  [1
    +1. Roger Mainwaring,   b. of Warmingham, Cheshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Bef 1244
    +2. Bertrade de Mainwaring   d. Aft 1248
    Family ID F343  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 1 Jul 2015 

  • Notes 
    • Also called Amice of Chester. Her legitimacy was the subject of a lengthy seventeenth-century controversy which can be read, in all its magnificently florid language, here.

      It seems to us entirely plausible that Amicia was Hugh's legitimate daughter by an unknown earlier wife. The Earl's behavior toward Amicia, and the attitude shown by all their contemporaries -- to say nothing of the illustrious guests recorded as having attended Amicia's wedding to Ralph Mainwairing -- are all consistent with Amicia being legitimate. It's far from impossible that history should have lost track of the identity of a twelfth-century magnate's short-lived first wife. We don't even have firm knowledge of the birth dates of some post-Conquest English kings.

      A summary of the issues, from Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages:

      The earl had another dau., whose legitimacy is questionable, namely Amicia,* m. to Ralph de Mesnilwarin, justice of Chester, "a person," says Dugdale, "of very ancient family," from which union the Mainwarings, of Over Peover, in the co. Chester, derive. Dugdale considers Amicia to be a dau. of the earl by a former wife. But Sir Peter Leicester, in his Antiquities of Chester, totally denies her legitimacy. "I cannot but mislike," says he, "the boldness and ignorance of that herald who gave to Mainwaring (late of Peover), the elder, the quartering of the Earl of Chester's arms; for if he ought of right to quarter that coat, then must he be descended from a co-heir to the Earl of Chester; but he was not; for the co-heirs of Earl Hugh married four of the greatest peers in the kingdom."

      (*) Upon the question of this lady's legitimacy there was a long paper war between Sir Peter Leicester and Sir Thomas Mainwaring -- and eventually the matter was referred to the judges, of whose decision Wood says, "at an assize held at Chester, 1675, the controversy was decided by the justices itinerant, who, as I have heard, adjudged the right of the matter to Mainwaring."

      The passage from Dugdale that evidently occasioned Sir Peter Leycester's astonishment and disbelief, from his Baronage of England, 1675, reprinted by Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim & New York, 1977; Earls of Chester, pp. 40-41:

      [I]t is certain that [Sir Hugh] had another Daughter called Amicia, married to Raphe de Mesnilwarin (a person of a very ancient Family, and Justice of Chester, in those days) whose Legitimacy is doubted by some; the cheif reason they give for it, being, that they find no Memorial, that Earl Hugh her Father had a former Wife.

      That she was his Daughter, sufficiently appeareth, not only from his Grant of two Knight Fees with her in Frank-marriage, unto Raphe de Mesnilwarin before mentioned, where he so termeth her. But by another Deed of Roger de Mesnilwarin her Son, wherein he calls Ranulph, Earl of Chester, (Son to this Earl) his Uncle.

      As to her Legitimacy, therefore I do not well understand how there can be any question, it being known Maxim in Law, that nothing can be given in Frank-marriage to a Bastard.

      The Point being then thus briefly cleared, I shall not need to raise further Arguments from Probabilities to back it, then to desire it may be observed, that Bertra (whom I conclude to have been his second Wife) was married to him, when he was in years, and she, herself, very young, as is evident from what I have before instanced. So that he having been Earl no less then twenty eight years, it must necessarily follow, that this Bertra was not born, till four years after he came to the Earldom. Nor is it any marvel he should then take such a young Wife, having at that time no Issue-male to succeed him in this he great Inheritance."

      From Palatine Anthology: A Collection of Ancient Poems and Ballads Relating to Lancashire and Chester ed. James Orchard Halliwell (London: 1850):

      The following old ballad relates to a famous dispute between two Cheshire knights, Sir Peter Leycester and Sir Thomas Mainwaring, about the legitimacy of Amicia, daughter of Hugh Lupus. The worthy knights were related by marriage, and the controversy agitated the county for many years, and was hardly settled by the death of one of the principal controversialists. Communicated to me by Mr. W. H. BLACK.

      A new Ballad, made of a high and mighty Controversy between two Cheshire Knights, 1673.

      (From the ASHMOLEAN MSS. No. 860, iii, art. 1, and No. 836, art. 183.)

      Two famous wights, both Cheshire Knights,
      Thomas yclep'd and Petre,
      A quarrel had, which was too bad
      As bad as is my metre.

      Neere kinsmen were they, yet had a great fray,
      Concerning things done quondam;
      I think as long since as Will Rufus was Prince,
      E'en about their Great-great-grandame.

      Sir Peter (good man) this quarell began:
      Whilst he tumbles ore ancient deedes,
      Old women can't have quiet rest in their graves,
      So loud he proclaims what he reades.

      When in reading he found (as he thought) good ground
      To judge his Grannam a bastard;
      Though he blemisht her name, yet it to proclaim
      He resolv'd hee'd be no dastard.

      But boldly durst say, that AMICIA
      Daughter of Hugh Earle of Chester
      For certaine was bore to him . . . .
      As sure as his name was Leycester.

      To this good intent he us'd much argument
      The which all such as are willing
      Fully to know, let them quickly bestow
      Upon his Booke sixteene shilling.

      His Grannam's his friend; yet truth hee'l defend
      And little dirt he throws on her,
      For as now, so then, among your great men,
      A bastard is small dishonour.

      Another grandchild, hearing this was stark wild,
      The affront he could not digest;
      But takes pen in hand, the same to withstand,
      As scorning to fowl his own nest.

      His Grannam hee'l right, against the erring Knight,
      That slander'd her without warrant:
      Who does not his best, to free ladies opprest,
      Is not a true Knight Errant.

      Hist'ry and lawes he cites for his cause,
      With Judges and Heraldes; what more?
      With these hee'l defy the scandalous lye
      That made him . . . . .

      They us'd not their swords, but their pens and fowl words,
      Which noyse with other folks laughter,
      Could not chuse to awake (to clere this mistake)
      The jolly old Earl and his daughter.

      Then up start[s] Earl Hughe, and sayes "Is it true--
      That I, brave Chester's Earle,
      Am summon'd to appear before Justices here,
      As charg'd with a by-blow girle?"

      Not another word, but clapt hand on his sword;
      While she (gentle AMICIA)
      For feare of some slaughter that might come after,
      Besought him in patience to stay.

      But she told her Grandson, "'Twas uncivilly done
      Such a hideous pudder to keep:
      Whilst he dreams that folks soules do snort in dark holes
      To awake us out of our sleep.

      "Should it have been true, that's suspected by you,
      Its father was able to nourish
      The barne he had got, and sure I should not
      Have been any charge to the parish.

      "But you, dear Sir Thomas, (much honor to your domus)
      That my cause you have so well defended;
      Henceforth leave AMICIA, both keepe Amicitia;
      And so let the quarell be ended."

      All this said, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography also notes that "[t]he feud, however, was not merely a dispute over genealogical and legal niceties, but reflected the division on the Cheshire bench between those like Leycester who sought a rigorous enforcement of the Act of Uniformity and the Conventicle Acts and those such as Mainwaring who opposed this policy."

  • Sources 
    1. [S142] Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families by Douglas Richardson. Salt Lake City, 2013.

    2. [S977] The Blackmans of Knight's Creek: Ancestors and Descendants of George and Maria (Smith) Blackman by Henry James Young. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: 1980.

    3. [S1016] Medieval English Ancestors of Robert Abell by Carl Boyer III. Santa Clarita, California, 2001.

    4. [S1117] County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire by James Croston. London: John Heywood, 1887.

    5. [S1118] Kay Allen, 30 Sep 1999, post to soc.genealogy.medieval.

    6. [S1526] The Ancestry of Dorothea Poyntz, Wife of Reverend John Owsley, Generations 1-15, Fourth Preliminary Edition, by Ronny O. Bodine and Bro. Thomas Spalding, Jr. 2013.

    7. [S3209] Ancestor Table: Hansen by Charles M. Hansen. Sausalito, California, 2017.