William I de Cantilupe

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Seal of William I de Cantilupe showing on an escutcheon his arms 3 fleurs de lys. Original full legend probably: SIGILLUM WILLELMI DE CANTILUPO (Seal of William de Cantilupe). His seal was on occasion used to authenticate the letters of the young King Henry III.[1] The arms of his descendants evolved in the late 13th century to 3 leopard's faces jessant-de-lys
Arms of William I de Cantilupe: Gules, three fleurs-de-lys or ("Cantilupe Ancient"). These arms changed in the late 13th century to jessant-de-lys

William I de Cantilupe (died 7 April 1239) (anciently Cantelow, Cantelou, Canteloupe, etc, Latinised to de Cantilupo) [2] was an Anglo-Norman baron and royal administrator.


Cantilupe was born c. 1159 in Buckinghamshire,[citation needed] the son of Walter de Cantilupe, recorded in 1166 as a minor landowner in Essex and Lincolnshire, who was a younger brother of Fulk de Cantilupe (died 1217/18), Sheriff of Berkshire in 1200/1.[3] The family probably originated from the Norman manor which is now the small hamlet of Canteloup,[a] in Normandy, 11 miles east of Caen.

Career under King John[edit]

In 1198 he was Steward to John, Count of Mortain, the future King John(1199–1216), in which year his uncle Fulk de Cantilupe was also a member of the Count's household. From 1200 to 1204 he served as Sheriff of Worcestershire and in 1204 as Under-Sheriff of Herefordshire. In 1205 he took part in the ineffectual expedition to Poitou. In 1207, he was Sheriff of Worcestershire, serving until the end of the reign of King John in 1216. In 1209, following his appointment as Sheriff of Warwickshire and Sheriff of Leicestershire, his main residence became Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire.[4]

Role at the time of Magna Carta[edit]

Cantilupe was granted several manors formerly held by rebel barons during 1215-16, at the time of the signing of Magna Carta (1215). He was commissioned by King John to negotiate the return of such rebels to peaceable relations. He served as gaoler of baronial hostages, which action probably gained him the description by the contemporary chronicler Roger of Wendover (died 1236) as one of John's "evil counsellors".[5]

Granted Aston Cantlow[edit]

In 1204, he was granted the Warwickshire manor of Aston, to which as was usual, was appended his family name. The location now has a modern cartographical spelling as "Cantlow", one of the many ancient variants of the family name. This manor had previously been held by William the Chamberlain de Tankerville before it escheated to the crown.[6]

Granted Eaton Bray[edit]

In 1205, he was granted the manor of Eaton,[7] Bedfordshire, (from 16th-century "Eaton Bray") which became the caput of the Cantilupe feudal barony. The grant, for knight-service of one knight, was in exchange for the manor of Coxwell, Berkshire, which had been previously granted to him. Eaton had been held at the time of William the Conqueror by the latter's brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, but later escheated to the crown. At Eaton, Cantilupe built a castle.

Career under Henry III[edit]

Following the death of King John in 1216, many of his appointees to governorships of royal castles were reluctant to hand over their castles to the regency council which governed during the minority of his son, the future King Henry III (1216–1272). They believed themselves obliged to hold their castles until Henry should have achieved 14 years of age,[8] when he would be able to follow his own policy.[9] These many refusals met with a forceful response from the council.

In 1217, under the regency council, during which year he was a Baron of the Exchequer, Cantilupe was at the siege of Mountsorrel Castle, Leicestershire, which was razed to the ground, and was also at the Second Battle of Lincoln. He served the council at the siege of Bedford in 1224.[4] He later served in Wales (1228 and 1231) and Brittany (1230).

Manors held[edit]

Among the many manors held by William were:

  • Eaton, Bedfordshire.
  • Ipsley, Warwickshire, as tenants of which the Hubbard family took the later arms of Cantilupe ("Cantilupe modern"), 3 leopard's faces jessant-de-lys.
  • Brentingby, Leicestershire, as tenants of which the Woodforde family took the later arms of Cantilupe ("Cantilupe modern"), reversed.[10]
  • Calne, Wiltshire.
  • Calstone, Wiltshire.

Death and burial[edit]

He died on 7 April 1239[11] and was buried at Studley Priory, Warwickshire.


He had married Mazilia (or Marcelin) Braci, who had brought him lands in Kent, and was succeeded by his eldest son William II de Cantilupe (died 1251). His younger son Walter de Cantilupe(died 1266) became Bishop of Worcester, of which see William had had custody in 1208. A daughter, Isabel, married Stephen Devereux[12][13]


  1. ^ Modern French cartographic spelling, Michelin Road Atlas of France
  1. ^ Holden 2004b; John Nichols in his "History & Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire" (4 vols.), 1800, notes the existence of the seal of william I de Cantilupe in connection with a deed dated 1215 relating to his manor of Brentingby: "3 fleurs-de-lys circumscribed"
  2. ^ The spelling used by modern historians is "de Cantilupe", which is followed in this article
  3. ^ Holden 2004a.
  4. ^ a b Luard 1886.
  5. ^ ODNB, p. 961, quoting Mathew Paris's "Chronicles"
  6. ^ Sanders, p.40
  7. ^ Charter Rolls, vol.1, p.147; Annales Monastici, vol.3, p. 66, as quoted by Sanders, I.J. English Baronies, A Study of Their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Oxford, 1960, p.39, Eaton Bray
  8. ^ For 14 as royal age of majority see Carpenter, op.cit., e.g. p.124
  9. ^ Carpenter, David. The Minority of Henry III
  10. ^ "The Woodforde Family - Index Page". Woodforde.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  11. ^ Holden 2004b.
  12. ^ Lyte, HC Maxwell, ed. (1902). "Close Rolls, March 1228: membrane 11". Calendar of Close Rolls, Henry III (1227-1231). 1. British History Online. 
  13. ^ Sharp, J.E.E.S., ed. (1906). "George de Cantilupo, 4 Nov, 1 Edward I". Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem Edward I, File 2. 2. British History Online. pp. 11–23.