Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Nichole de la Haye

Female - 1230

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  • Name Nichole de la Haye  [1, 2
    Birth of Brattleby, Welton, Lincolnshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4
    Gender Female 
    Death 20 Nov 1230  Swaton, North Kesteven, Lincolnshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6, 7
    Alternate death Bef 1231  [8
    Person ID I9483  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of AP, Ancestor of DDB, Ancestor of DGH, Ancestor of DK, 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, Ancestor of XYZ
    Last Modified 2 Feb 2024 

    Father Richard de la Haye,   b. of Brattleby, Welton, Lincolnshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 1169 
    Mother Maud de Vernon 
    Family ID F5661  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 William fitz Erneis   d. Abt 1178 
    Family ID F23658  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 1 Feb 2024 

    Family 2 Gerard de Camville,   b. Abt 1150, of Brattleby, Welton, Lincolnshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Jan 1215 (Age ~ 65 years) 
    Marriage Bef 1185  [4, 6
    +1. Richard de Camville,   b. of Avington, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Mar 1217
    Family ID F4698  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 1 Feb 2024 

  • Notes 
    • "Acting as hereditary constable ('castellan') of Lincoln, she defended the city against the baronial opponents of King John under Earl William of Lincoln, 1216." [John P. Ravilious, citation details below, citing King John by W. L. Warren (Methuen, 1981).]

      From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (citation details below):

      The office of constable passed through her to each of her husbands, and in August 1189 she and Canville crossed to Barfleur, Normandy, to obtain a charter confirming their inheritance in both England and Normandy from King Richard. This included Lincoln Castle as it had been held by Nicola's father and grandfather. It is likely that the shrievalty of the county of Lincoln was also included in the grant, which cost Canville and Nicola 700 marks.

      In 1191 Nicola was besieged with her husband at Lincoln Castle when he quarrelled with William de Longchamp (d. 1197), the chancellor and justiciar of England in Richard's absence. In 1194 she fined for the sum of 300 marks with King Richard to marry her daughter, Matilda, according to her will, excepting one of the king's enemies. She continued to account for this debt until 1212, having renegotiated the amount with King John in 1200, and in 1201 she still owed £20, 40 marks, and one palfrey. Nicola enjoyed a cordial relationship with the fickle John. According to a later tradition recorded nearly sixty years after the events, Nicola had met John when he went to Lincoln in 1216. Her husband had recently died, and she went to meet the king leaving the castle by the eastern postern gate with its keys in her hand. She offered them to John saying that she was of great age and unable to continue with the office any longer. John sought her out and said, 'My beloved Nicola, I will that you keep the castle as hitherto, until I shall order otherwise' (Rotuli hundredorum, 1.315). The king granted the shrievalty of Lincoln to Nicola and Philip Marc a few hours before his death on 18 October 1216. The ageing widow was besieged at Lincoln by the rebels under the leadership of Louis of France, and she held the castle for the royalists until she was relieved in 1217. One source alleges that she had been entrusted with the castle 'in exchange for money' and that the castle was relieved since it would have been considered 'dishonourable not to help so brave a lady' (Historical Collections of Walter of Coventry, 2.237–8). The Histoire de Guillaume le Mare?chal narrates that, before the attack by the royalist forces, Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, penetrated the castle by a secret route and met Nicola to reassure her that the siege would shortly be raised. She was apparently delighted to hear the news, and it seems that her intransigent defence of the castle facilitated a successful attack by the royalists which saw the rout of the rebel forces. The battle at Lincoln on 20 May 1217 was one of two decisive battles that ended the claim of Louis to the throne of England. The ending of the siege was followed by looting and sacrilege. Despite her alleged earlier protestations of age and incompetence, Nicola determinedly held on to the office in the face of repeated attempts by William (II) Longespée, the husband of her granddaughter Idonea and son of the earl of Salisbury, to eject her from it. In 1219 she is recorded as holding dower in Swaton, Lincolnshire, worth £20 annually. Nicola resigned the office of castellan in 1226 and died in Swaton on 20 November 1230.

      From Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire (citation details below):

      Significantly, in spite of her legal subordination to her husband, Nicholaa was actively involved in the management of her estates during this marriage. The strongest image of her working in partnership with Gerard can be found in the chronicle of Richard of Devizes and concerns the events of 1191. During the king's absence on crusade, Gerard de Camville became entangled in the violent dispute between the royal chancellor and John, count of Mortain. According to Richard of Devizes, while Gerard was with John, helping him to secure the castles of Nottingham and Tickhill, 'his wife, Nicholaa, not thinking about anything womanly, defended the castle manfully' ('uxor eius Nicolaa nichil femineum cogitans, castellum viriliter custodiebat') against the chancellor's forces. Richard's sympathetic description of Nicholaa's actions contrasts strongly with his less complimentary treatment of her husband: he had characterised Gerard de Camville earlier in his narrative as a 'factious man, prodigal of his allegiance' ('homo factiosus et fidei prodigus'). Richard's choice of language to describe Nicholaa's qualities as a military leader clearly implies that, although the role which she adopted was unusual for a woman, her performance in the author's eyes was all the more praiseworthy because of her sex. Yet it might also have been intended to highlight the less satisfactory conduct of Nicholaa's husband. It was certainly a wise move by Gerard to place Nicholaa, the living focus for loyalties to the la Haye family, in charge of Lincoln castle at a time when their standing in the locality was of paramount importance. Gerard's decision to leave Nicholaa, rather than a male deputy, in command of the garrison on this occasion indicates that she played an important role in the day-to-day running of her inheritance under more stable conditions. Lincoln was, after all, a particularly large and strategically significant castle, situated on a high ridge that looked out to the west over the Trent valley. The pipe roll for 1191 reveals that mercenary soldiers were employed for forty days on the siege of Lincoln castle. It was no mean feat on Nicholaa's part to withstand a siege for over a month. [...]

      It was both a measure of Nicholaa's high esteem in [King] John's eyes and a sign of the desperate circumstances in which he found himself that on 18 October 1216, presumably just hours before his death, Nicholaa was appointed joint sheriff of Lincolnshire with Philip Mark. This appointment of a woman as a sheriff was unprecedented and needs explanation. Although Round found a near-contemporary case in Norfolk where a woman, Margaret de Caisneto, had apparently carried her late father's claim to the shrievalty to her second husband, there is no evidence that she ever held or exercised the duties associated with this office in her own right. Nicholaa's appointment might, however, have helped to set a precedent. Ela, the widowed countess of Salisbury, served as sheriff of Wiltshire in 1227-8 and 1231-7, and even appeared at the exchequer in person at Michaelmas 1236 to render account. The reasoning behind King John's apparent disregard for convention in Nicholaa's case emerges from the political conditions in Lincolnshire in 1216. William Morris, commenting on the immediate aftermath of Magna Carta, observed, 'To hold the counties at such a time required strong men'. Many of the men who might otherwise have been appointed sheriff under more peaceful conditions either were or recently had been in rebellion against the king. Thomas of Moulton, Gerard de Camville's successor to the shrievalty in 1205, was one example, and Alexander of Pointon, who accounted as sheriff to the exchequer at Michaelmas 1213, was another. Simon III of Kyme, a similarly experienced former royal administrator, also opposed John. Although Nicholaa's son and heir, Richard, was still alive in 1216 and had attained his majority, his untimely death in early March 1217 suggests that he was already suffering from poor health which prevented his emergence as a viable candidate. In any case, Richard had already forged a career in Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, administering his inheritance from his father and the estates of his wife, Eustachia Basset. Nicholaa was a woman but at least she possessed an association with the shrievalty of Lincolnshire through her second husband, Gerard, and had enjoyed an opportunity to observe the workings of the office at first hand. The combination of Nicholaa's experience in managing and defending Lincoln castle, and the autonomy that she enjoyed as a widow, also made her a viable appointee. Hence her description by the 'Barnwell' chronicler as a 'matron' ('matrona'), a term that reflected both Nicholaa's standing and maturity.

  • Sources 
    1. [S336] The Victoria County History of Northamptonshire. Portions online, linked from

    2. [S128] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant ed. Vicary Gibbs, H. A. Doubleday, Duncan Warrand, Howard de Walden, Geoffrey H. White and R. S. Lea. 2nd edition. 14 volumes (1-13, but volume 12 spanned two books), London, The St. Catherine Press, 1910-1959. Volume 14, "Addenda & Corrigenda," ed. Peter W. Hammond, Gloucestershire, Sutton Publishing, 1998.

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

    4. [S7287] Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire by Louise J. Wilkinson. Woodbridge, Suffolk: A Royal Historical Society Publication, published by the Boydell Press, 2007.

    5. [S1185] John P. Ravilious, 18 May 2006, post to soc.genealogy.medieval., year only.

    6. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004-ongoing.

    7. [S7287] Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire by Louise J. Wilkinson. Woodbridge, Suffolk: A Royal Historical Society Publication, published by the Boydell Press, 2007., year and place only.

    8. [S789] The Wallop Family and Their Ancestry by Vernon James Watney. Oxford, 1928.