William Beauchamp was the 3rd surviving son of the 11th Earl of Warwick and his wife Katherine Mortimer, a daughter of Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. William’s eldest brother Guy died in battle, his second brother became the 12th earl. Another brother died young. William who had been destined for the church found his career path changing. Ordinarily if not a clerical career he might have been expected to make his own way in the world either as a warrior or by a judicious marriage to an heiress. He served during the Hundred Years War when younger sons could bag considerable amounts of booty as well as establishing a reputation up on the field. By 1383 he was the Captain of Calais. And then his first cousin once removed died – conveniently.
John Hastings, 3rd Earl of Pembroke died at the end of December 1389. This earl had been married as a child to John of Gaunt’s daughter, Elizabeth. She had been seventeen at the time and decided that marriage to a child was not for her, was seduced by Richard II’s half brother John Holland and John of Gaunt had to unravel the marriage so that his daughter could marry her lover. Hastings, despite the embarrassment was something of a catch so ended up married to Philippa Mortimer who was the daughter of the 3rd Earl of March (making Philippa the great great grand daughter of the treasonous 1st earl). When Hastings was seventeen he took part in a joust and was struck by his opponents lance. He died from his injuries.
The earldom of Pembroke was allocated elsewhere but the baronage of Abergavenny had come into the Hastings family via the Cantilupe family. William de Cantaloupe died in 1254 and his claim to the barony was by right of his wife Eva de Braose. Hastings in his turn claimed the barony from his childless uncle’s estate, by right of his mother Joan. No clearer? Well if nothing else it shows that following the female line demonstrates the way families and power bases were knitted together throughout the medieval period.
But back to the Beauchamps. Young John Hastings grandmother was Agnes Mortimer, a sister of William’s mother Katherine. So there’s the relationship – 1st cousin, once removed. Parliament named him Baron Bergavenny by writ in 1392.
William made his healthy marriage to Joan FitzAlan the daughter of the executed Earl of Arundel in 1392. Like the Earl of Warwick, Arundel was a Lord Appellant. The groom was more than 30 years older than the bride. Joan was her brother’s co-heiress, when he died without children Joan received a substantial share of the estate.
When her husband died Joan retained dower rights to Abergavenny throughout her life time. Her son was never recognised as Baron Bergavenny in her lifetime. She died in November 1435.
Right – I think I need a strong coffee after all that!