Nicolaa de la Haye

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Nicholaa de la Haye (between 1150 and 1156 to 1230) inherited the office of castellan of Lincoln Castle. She was briefly Sheriff of Lincolnshire. The eldest daughter and co-heiress of Richard de la Haye (died 1169), a Lincolnshire lord, she was also a descendant of the pre-Conquest Lord Colswain of Lincolnshire.


Nicholaa's first husband was William fitz Erneis (died 1178). Before 1185 she married Gerard de Camville, son and heir of the royal official Richard de Camville, who was admiral of the fleet of King Richard I when he sailed to the Holy Land on the Third Crusade. She inherited the office of castellan of Lincoln Castle and, while her husbands generally carried out the duties of that office by her right, she was directly in charge of the castle on certain occasions. Most notably in 1191, when Gerard was with Prince John at Nottingham, Nicholaa held out against a month-long siege, and in 1215–17, she directed the defence of Lincoln against the rebel barons in 1217. William Marshal and William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury came to her aid in the latter endeavour. She also served as sheriff of Lincolnshire[1] for five months in 1216 by the appointment of King John of England.[2]

Reign of King John[edit]

King John came to Lincoln several times during Nicholaa's tenure as castellan, the last visit occurring in 1215, when he personally inspected the castle's defences. Sixty years later, elderly men of Lincoln told royal commissioners of that visit:

And once it happened that after the war King John came to Lincoln and the said Lady Nichola went out of the eastern gate of the castle carrying the keys of the castle in her hand and met the king and offered the keys to him as her lord and said she was a woman of great age and was unable to bear such fatigue any longer. And he besought her saying, "My beloved Nichola, I will that you keep the castle as hitherto until I shall order otherwise." And she retained it as long as King John lived and after his decease she still kept it under King Henry, father of the king that now is.[3]


Nicholaa de la Haye had at least one daughter by William fitz Erneis. By Gerard de Camville she had at least three, probably four, children:

  • Richard de Camville – married Eustachia, a widow. Their daughter Idonea married William II Longespee, Earl of Salisbury, and inherited the de la Haye and Camville estates.
  • Thomas – quitclaimed land to Elstow Abbey in 1222.[4]
  • Matilda
  • Nicolaa (also called Amabila)


Her father had stated that his barony had 20 knights’ fees in chief in 1166. After 1172 the heirs were only charged for 16 fees, making this a relatively minor barony.[5]

In fiction[edit]

Nicholaa de la Haye was part of the inspiration for the character of Isabella of Gisborne in the 2006 BBC TV series Robin Hood.[citation needed] A highly fictionalized version of her features as a villainess in Marsha Canham's 1991 historical romance novel Through a Dark Mist. With her husband, Gerard de Camville, Nicholaa is a recurring character in Maureen Ash's Templar Knight Mysteries.


  1. ^ Carpenter, David (1990), "The Government of the Regent, 1217-19: The restoration of government, October–November 1217", in Carpenter, David, The minority of Henry III, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 66–67, ISBN 9780520072398, Unfortunately for Salisbury, Nicola de Haye would not die.. she came before the October great council, protested at Salisbury's conduct and begged that her right to Lincoln castle be respected. As a result, Salisbury was ordered to surrender both the castle and the sheriffdom to her... In December, Salisbury recovered the sheriffdom... 
  2. ^ Wilkinson, Lousie (2007) Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire, Woodbridge: Royal Historical Society, Boydell Press; chapter 1. ISBN 0861932854
  3. ^ Source: Rotuli Hundredorum temp. Hen. III & Edw. I (Record Commission, 1812-1818), I, p. 309a. Translation from: Gladwin, Irene (1974); The Sheriff: The Man and his Office, Victor Gollancz Ltd. ISBN 0575017198[page needed]
  4. ^ English Episcopal Acta: Lincoln, 1186-1206, p. 44.
  5. ^ Sanders, Ivor John (1960) English baronies: A study of their origin and descent, 1086-1327, Clarendon Press, p. 109
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sheriff of Lincolnshire
with Philip Marc

Succeeded by