Nielsen Hayden genealogy

William Bonville

Male 1391 - 1461  (69 years)


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  • Name William Bonville  [1
    Born 12 Aug 1391  Shute, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Gender Male 
    Alternate birth 1392  [3
    Alternate birth 12 Aug 1392  Shute, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Alternate birth 31 Aug 1392  Shute, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 4
    Alternate birth 13 Aug 1393  [5
    Alternate birth 30 Aug 1393  [6
    Died 18 Feb 1461  St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 5, 6
    Alternate death 19 Feb 1461  [3
    Person ID I8732  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TNH
    Last Modified 7 Jan 2018 

    Father John Bonville,   b. Abt 1371, of Chewton, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Oct 1396  (Age ~ 25 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Fitz Roger,   b. 15 Aug 1370, of Chewton, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Apr 1414  (Age 43 years) 
    Married Bef 18 Oct 1377  [2, 5
    Family ID F2625  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Elizabeth Kirkby 
    Children 
    +1. John Bonville,   b. of Comberleigh, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 May 1499
    Last Modified 4 Mar 2017 
    Family ID F8162  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Margaret Grey,   b. Abt 1399,   d. Aft May 1426  (Age ~ 27 years) 
    Married Aft 12 Dec 1414  [2, 5
    Children 
    +1. Elizabeth Bonville,   d. 14 Feb 1491
    +2. William Bonville,   d. 31 Dec 1460, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 11 May 2019 
    Family ID F885  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 3 Elizabeth Courtenay,   d. 28 Oct 1471 
    Married Bef 9 Oct 1427  [2
    Last Modified 4 Mar 2017 
    Family ID F8163  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From Wikipedia:

      Bonville was knighted before 1417 during the campaigns in France of King Henry V. He was Knight of the shire for Somerset in 1421, and for Devon in 1422, 1425 and 1427. In 1423 he was appointed by the king as Sheriff of Devon. He was Seneschal of Aquitaine at various times from 1442 to 1453, and Governor of Exeter Castle from 1453–61. In 1443 Bonville was retained to serve King Henry VI for a one-year term and in 1449 was retained to serve the King at sea. He was summoned to Parliament from 10 March 1449 to 30 July 1460 by writs directed, for the most part, Willelmo Bonville domino Bonville et de Chuton ("To William Bonville, lord of Bonville and Chewton"), by which he is held to have become Baron Bonville. On 8 February 1461 he was nominated to the Order of the Garter.

      In 1441 riots resulted from a dispute over the Duchy of Cornwall between Bonville and Thomas Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon, and on 14 December 1455 the two sides fought the Battle of Clyst Heath near Exeter, which resulted in the defeat of Bonville, the sacking of Shute and injury to a number of persons.

      Bonville was to all outward appearances loyal to King Henry VI during the Wars of the Roses until he joined the Yorkist side at the Battle of Northampton in July 1460. Both his son, William Bonville, and his grandson, William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington, were slain at the Battle of Wakefield on 31 December 1460.

      Less than two months later in 1460 the Yorkists suffered another defeat at the Second Battle of St Albans, where Lord Bonville and another Yorkist, Sir Thomas Kyriel, were taken prisoner by the victorious Lancastrians. The two men had kept guard over King Henry VI during the battle to see that he came to no harm. The King had been held in captivity by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, and transported in the train of the latter's army, but had been abandoned on the battlefield. In return for their gallantry the King promised the two men immunity. However Queen Margaret, who was present at the battle, remembered that Lord Bonville had been one of the men who had held King Henry in custody after the Battle of Northampton in July 1460, and wanted revenge. Disregarding the King's promise of immunity, she gave orders for the beheading of Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriel the next day, 18 February 1461. It is alleged that she put the men on trial and appointed as presiding judge her seven-year-old son, Prince Edward. "Fair son", Margaret is said to have inquired, "what death shall these knights die?" The young prince replied that they were to have their heads cut off, an act which was swiftly carried out, despite the King's pleas for mercy.

      Bonville was not attainted, as within three weeks of his death the Yorkist King Edward IV came to the throne. Bonville's widow, Elizabeth, was assigned a substantial dower in recognition of his services to the Yorkist cause.

      From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

      While his extensive and complex inheritances led to some violent disputes with neighbours during these years, these were on nothing like the scale of disorder that was to characterize Bonville's notorious conflict with the Courtenays during the 1440s and 1450s.

      This power struggle was triggered by the appointment of Bonville in 1437 as royal steward in Cornwall for life. This was seen by the young Thomas Courtenay, thirteenth earl of Devon, recently come of age and in possession of a severely reduced inheritance, as a serious challenge to his own regional authority. The bitterness of the strife that grew from this was symptomatic of a change in the local balance of power and wealth that had over a generation tilted against the Courtenay earls (the traditional leaders of west-country society) in favour of a small group of powerful gentry among whom Bonville was pre-eminent.

      Violence reached an alarming level during the summers of 1439 and 1440, and the situation was worsened by a serious blunder on the part of the government--the appointment of the earl to the stewardship of the duchy of Cornwall, a post so similar to that held by Bonville as to be hardly distinguishable from it. Urgent attempts at even-handedness and arbitration failed, and the dispute was only temporarily resolved by the appointment of Bonville as seneschal of Gascony in December 1442, thereby removing him temporarily from the scene (he sailed from Plymouth in March 1443 but was back in Devon by April 1445). Even though the government, coming increasingly under the influence of the duke of Suffolk, was careful not to antagonize the earl of Devon, the latter was clearly seen to be the principal culprit. Bonville's connection with Suffolk grew stronger. He was a member of Suffolk's entourage at Margaret of Anjou's betrothal ceremonies at Rouen in May 1444, and married his daughter Elizabeth to one of Suffolk's henchmen, Sir William Tailboys. This development culminated in the parliament of 1449, when Bonville was raised to the peerage as Baron Bonville of Chewton.

      Antagonisms hardened after the fall of Suffolk in 1450. The earl of Devon attached himself to the duke of York, and felt confident enough in the summer of 1451 to risk an encounter in the field with Bonville (and his ally, James Butler, earl of Wiltshire). Despite much plunder and violence, a major showdown was avoided when York's unexpected arrival in the west country persuaded the earl of Devon to lift the siege of Taunton Castle, which Bonville had made his headquarters. Although temporarily imprisoned (as were Devon and the other principal malcontents), Bonville was soon able to exploit the dramatically changed political situation that followed the humiliating submission of York and Devon to the king at Dartford on 3 March 1452.

      Between 1452 and 1455 Bonville became the dominant force in west-country politics [...] and the king personally reinforced his position by staying at Bonville's house at Shute on his progress through the west country in the summer of 1452. Bonville was confirmed as steward of the duchy of Cornwall in 1452 (the post that had triggered the violence in 1439), and appointed constable of Exeter Castle in 1453, both posts to be held for life. [...]

      These partisan appointments of Bonville to positions within the earl of Devon's traditional zone of influence forced the earl to take increasingly desperate measures [...] [T]he enmities that had grown over more than twenty years proved irresolvable. The death in 1458 of Bonville's old adversary afforded him little comfort. The new earl of Devon [...] quickly gained favour with Queen Margaret, and this presented enormous risks for Bonville and his family.

  • Sources 
    1. [S1378] The Royal Descents of the Fosters of Moulton and the Mathesons of Shinness & Lochalsh by William Edward Foster. London: Phillimore and Company, 1912.

    2. [S142] Royal Ancestry, by Douglas Richardson. Kimball G. Everingham, ed. 2013.

    3. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-ongoing).

    4. [S47] The History of Parliament. Some citations point to entries from the printed volumes not yet added to the online site.

    5. [S145] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700, by Frederick Lewis Weis and Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. 8th edition, William R. Beall & Kaleen E. Beall, eds. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004, 2006, 2008.

    6. [S128] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant. Full citation details here.