Warenne, William de (d.1240) (DNB00)
|←Warenne, William de (d.1148)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
Warenne, William de (d.1240)
WARENNE, WILLIAM de, Earl of Warenne or Surrey (d. 1240), was the son of Earl Hamelin de Warenne [q. v.] and of his wife Isabella, the heiress of the elder line of earls of Warenne. His parents were married in 1163 or 1164, and he was already of sufficient age to consent to and witness charters in the early part of the reign of Richard I (Hearne, Liber Niger Scaccarii, i. 371). He was therefore much over age when his father's death, in April 1202, put him in possession of both title and estates. His earlier acts are liable to be confused with those of William Warenne of Wormegay, justice of the Jews and justice of the curia regis, who died about 1209 [see under Warenne, William de, d. 1138].
Warenne had livery of his lands on 12 May 1202 (Rot. Lit. Pat. p. 10). The loss of Normandy in 1204 deprived him of Bellencombre and his other ancestral estates in that duchy. However, his English interests were much greater than his Norman ones, and he remained faithful to John. On 19 April 1205 he received from John, as a recompense for his fidelity, a grant of Grantham and Stamford to be held until John reconquered Normandy or made Warenne a competent exchange for it (Rot. Lit. Claus. p. 28). The right of tallaging Stamford, save by royal precept, was expressly withheld, but on 9 June John allowed him to exact a tallage from that town (Rot. Lit. Claus. p. 37). In February 1206 he was one of those escorting William, king of Scotland, on his visit to England (Rot. Lit. Pat. p. 56). In 1206 Warenne was in France with the king (ib. p. 74). On 20 Aug. 1212 he and two others received the custody of the castles of Bamborough and Newcastle-on-Tyne, and of the bailiwick of the county of Northumberland during pleasure (Rot. Lit. Pat. p. 94). He had to purge himself of a suspicion of treason before he was allowed possession (ib. p. 94 b). In September 1212 he took charge of Geoffrey, son of Geoffrey de Say, whom John held as a hostage (Rot. Lit. Claus. p. 124). In the troubles of John, first with the pope and then with his barons, Warenne was one of the little group of nobles closely related to the royal house which adhered to the king as long as was possible. He was one of the four barons who, at Dover on 13 May 1213, swore by the king's soul that John would observe his promise of submission to Innocent III and Archbishop Langton (Rog. Wend. iii. 249, Engl. Hist. Soc.), and on 15 May he attested John's resignation of his crown into Pandulf's hands (ib. iii. 254). He was one of those directed by Innocent III, on 31 Oct. 1213, to complete and keep the peace between John and the English church (Rot. Lit. Pat. p. 39). On 21 Nov. 1214 he attested John's charter of freedom of election to the churches (Select Charters, p. 289). On the same day the king allowed him to take twenty deer in the royal forests in Essex (Rot. Lit. Claus. p. 178). On 15 Jan. 1215 he was granted a house in the London Jewry by the king (Rot. Cartarum, p. 203). In the final struggle for Magna Carta he was one of the few magnates who adhered to John until the defection of London (Rog. Wend. iii. 300). Even after that he did not join the confederates in the capital; and on 15 June was present at Runnymede (ib. iii. 302), though most of his knights deserted him for the popular cause (Ralph Coggeshall, p. 171). He was one of the king's ‘fideles’ by whose council Magna Carta was issued (ib. p. 296). He was one of the ‘obsecutores et observatores’ of the charter, who swore to obey the mandates of the twenty-five executors (Matt. Paris, ii. 605). In November 1215 he was among the king's representatives at a conference with the Londoners in Erith church to treat of peace (Rot. Lit. Pat. p. 158). In January 1216, however, he seems to have wavered in his fidelity, and some of his lands were taken into the king's hands (ib. p. 246). Yet he soon came back to the king, who on 15 Jan. gave him all the lands of the king's enemies in Norfolk among his own sub-tenants (ib. p. 245), and on 26 Jan. directed his officers to keep his lands in peace and restore any that had been taken from him (ib. p. 246). On 26 May he was made warden of the Cinque ports ‘because the king does not want to put a foreigner over them’ (Rot. Lit. Pat. p. 184); while on 1 June John empowered him to receive the rebels back to their allegiance (ib. p. 185). By this time, however, Louis of France had been received in London, and Warenne at last deserted the king he had served so long (Rog. Wend. iii. 369); though so late as 17 Oct. John's order to Falkes de Breauté to release the men of Earl Warenne whom his servants had captured suggests that the king had hopes of bringing him back to his side (Rot. Lit. Claus. p. 291).
On 17 Jan. 1216–17 Warenne was commanded by Honorius III to return to the allegiance of Henry III (Cal. Papal Letters, 1198–1304, p. 43). In April 1217 he made a truce for eight days with the regent Pembroke (Fœdera, i. 146), and subsequently abandoned Louis for the service of the little Henry III (Rog. Wend. iv. 12). He was rewarded with various grants of lands. On 24 Aug., according to one manuscript of Matthew Paris, he was present at the sea fight with Eustace the Monk off Dover (Matt. Paris, iii. 28–9). Between 1217 and 1226 he was sheriff of Surrey, William de Mara acting as his deputy (List of Sheriffs, p. 135). In March 1220 he excused his attendance at Henry III's coronation on the plea of a severe illness (Fœdera, i. 160). At Whitsuntide 1220 he was ordered to escort Alexander, king of Scots, from Berwick to York (Rot. Lit. Claus. p. 436). On the fall of Falkes de Breauté in 1224, Warenne received the custody of his wife (Rog. Wend. iv. 99); and after the order for Falkes's banishment was issued, Warenne conducted him to his ship (ib. iv. 103; see Breauté, Falkes de). On 11 Feb. 1225 he witnessed the confirmation of Magna Carta and the issue of the charter of the forest (Burton Annals, pp. 232, 236). On 11 July 1226 he was among those of the king's council urged by the pope to labour for the reconciliation of Falkes de Breauté (Cal. Papal Letters, 1198–1304, p. 112). In 1227 Warenne joined Richard, earl of Cornwall [q. v.], when that noble quarrelled with his brother, Henry III. A great meeting of Richard's party was held at Warenne's town of Stamford (ib. iv. 143). In May 1230, when Henry III went abroad, Warenne was one of the three justices who acted as regents during his absence (Tewkesbury Annals, p. 74). He was friendly with the justiciar, Hubert de Burgh, and several letters between them are printed in Shirley's ‘Royal Letters’ (i. 15, 42, 112, &c.). In June 1230 he was appointed to carry out the assize of arms in Surrey and Sussex (Royal Letters, i. 373). When Hubert de Burgh fell in 1232, Warenne joined with Richard of Cornwall and the Earls Marshal and Ferrars in acting as sureties for the disgraced justiciar, who was confined at Devizes Castle under the charge of four knights of the above four earls (Rog. Wend. iv. 258; Tewkesbury Annals, p. 88; Royal Letters, i. 410). He witnessed the reissue of the charter on 28 Jan. 1236 (Tewkesbury Annals, p. 104). In January 1236 he acted as chief butler at the coronation of Queen Eleanor, in place of his son-in-law, Hugh de Albini, earl of Arundel or Sussex, a minor (Matt. Paris, iii. 338), and in 1237 was one of the opposition leaders who were made members of the royal council (ib. iii. 383). In 1238 he was sent by the king to Oxford with an armed force to save the legate Otho and his followers from the violence of the Oxford scholars. He imprisoned Odo of Kilkenny and three other masters in Wallingford Castle (ib. iii. 483–4). He was one of the four barons made treasurers of the thirtieth without whose approval the king could not spend it (Matt. Paris, iv. 186). He died on 27 May 1240 at London (ib. iv. 12), and was buried at Lewes priory.
Warenne was the founder of a small priory of Austin canons at Reigate (Monasticon, vi. 517–18). He confirmed old and made new grants to Lewes priory, and made grants to Roche Abbey, Yorkshire. Watson summarises most of these and other benefactions. He had serious difficulties in his dealings with Lewes priory and the abbot of Cluny, its alien chief (Cal. Papal Letters, 1198–1304, pp. 119, 186). In 1238 Warenne was cited before Bishop Grosseteste for permitting mass to be celebrated indecorously in the hall of his manor at Grantham (Grosseteste, Epistolæ, pp. 171–3, Rolls Ser.). He was no friend of the Jews, arresting some of his Jewish burgesses at Grantham in 1222 on the charge of making a game in ridicule of the Christian faith. However, he released them under bail (Rot. Lit. Claus. p. 491).
Warenne is said to have married, as his first wife, Matilda, daughter of William of Albini, earl of Sussex, who died in 1215 without issue, and was buried at Lewes (Dugdale, i. 77; Watson, i. 208). If so, she may have been the Countess of Warenne who was imprisoned in 1203 and found sureties, one of whom was William of Albini (Rot. Lit. Pat. p. 29). Otherwise it was William's aged mother. He certainly married in 1225 Matilda, the eldest daughter and subsequently coheiress of William Marshal, earl of Pembroke (d. 1219) [q. v.] Matilda was the widow of Hugh Bigod, third earl of Norfolk, who died in February 1225. She married her second husband ‘immediately’ (Dunstable Annals, p. 94), certainly by October 1225. By her Warenne was the father of John de Warenne (1231?–1304) [q. v.], his successor. Their daughter Isabella married Hugh de Albini, earl of Sussex, who died in 1243. Isabella survived him nearly forty years. It was not until after her death in 1282 that her brother, John de Warenne, began to be styled Earl of Sussex as well as of Surrey. William's more usual title was ‘Comes de Warenne.’ Watson, though not apparently on good authority, assigns to William an illegitimate son, Griffin de Warenne, and a daughter, who was King John's mistress and the mother of Richard, the king's son, who killed Eustace the Monk.[Rotuli Literarum Clausarum, Rotuli Literarum Patentium, Rotuli Cartarum, Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. (all in Record Comm.); Calendar of Papal Letters, 1198–1304; Stubbs's Select Charters; Roger of Wendover (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Gervase of Canterbury, Ralph Coggeshall, Matthew Paris's Chron. Majora, Tewkesbury and Dunstaple Annals, in Annales Monastici (all in Rolls Ser.); Dugdale's Baronage, i. 76–7; Watson's Memoirs of the Earls of Warren and Sussex, i. 174–224, elaborate but uncritical; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage, vii. 327; Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 470–71.]