Gaunt, Maurice de (DNB00)

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GAUNT, or GANT, or Paynell, MAURICE de (1184?–1230), baron of Leeds, Yorkshire, son of Robert Fitzharding by Alicia, daughter of Robert de Gaunt or Gant by Alicia Paganell or Paynell, was a minor at the death of his father in 1194–5, when his wardship was granted to William de S. Mariæ Ecclesia, afterwards bishop of London. He was of full age in 1205, when he instituted a suit to divest the prior of Holy Trinity of his rights over the church of Leeds, and the emoluments issuing therefrom. If, as is likely, he took these proceedings as soon as he was legally capable of so doing, the date of his birth would not be earlier than 1184. In 1207–8 he succeeded to the inheritance of his mother, and assumed her name. On 10 Nov. 1208 he granted a charter to the burgesses of Leeds, thus taking the first step towards the establishment of a municipal corporation there. The charter is preserved among the archives of the corporation of Leeds, and a translation may be read in Wardell's ‘Municipal History of Leeds,’ App. ii. On the levy of scutage for the Scotch war in 1212, he was assessed in respect of twelve and a half knights' fees in Yorkshire, which constituted the barony of Paganell or Paynell, besides which he held the castle of Leeds and that of Beverstone in Gloucestershire, which had descended to him from his father, and the ruins of which still attest its ancient grandeur, though of the castle of Leeds not one stone remains upon another. He followed King John to the continent in 1214, but in the following year joined the assembly of the insurgent barons at Stamford. He was accordingly excommunicated pursuant to a brief of Innocent III early in 1216, and his estates were confiscated, the major portion of them being granted to Philip de Albini. He fought on the side of Lewis of France at the battle of Lincoln on 20 May 1217, and was taken prisoner by Ranulph, earl of Chester, but effected his release by the surrender of his manors of Leeds and Bingley, Yorkshire. By the following November he had returned to his allegiance, and his estates, except the manors of Leeds and Bingley, were restored to him. Henceforth he was steady in his loyalty, and grew in power and opulence. On the levy of scutage for the Welsh war in 1223, he was assessed in respect of estates in the counties of York, Berks, Lincoln, Somerset, Oxford, Surrey, Gloucester, and Leicester. In 1225 he was sent into Wales to assist William, earl of Pembroke, the earl marshal, in fortifying a castle there. Having without authority set about strengthening the fortifications of his own castle of Beverstone, he was called to account by the king in 1227, but obtained the royal license to continue the work (26 March). On 13 Aug. following he was appointed justice itinerant for the counties of Hereford, Stafford, Salop, Devon, Hants, and Berks. On 30 April 1230 he embarked with Henry for Brittany, but died in the following August. He married twice: first, by royal license (in return for which he pledged himself to serve the king with nineteen knights wherever he should require for the term of a year), Matilda, daughter of Henry de Oilli, who held the barony of Hook Norton, Oxfordshire; secondly, Margaret, widow of Ralph de Someri, who survived him. He left no issue. Before sailing for France he had surrendered to the king his manors of Weston Beverstone and Albricton in Gloucestershire. His nephew, Robert, son of his half-sister, Eva, wife of Thomas de Harpetre, succeeded to his manors in Somersetshire, doing homage for them on 6 Nov. following, and afterwards had a grant of the Gloucestershire and other estates from the king. The manor of Irneham with others in Lincolnshire, which had also belonged to Gaunt, were successfully claimed by Andrew Lutterell, a descendant of the Paganells, about the same time.

[Dugdale's Baronage, i. 402; Rot. de Obl. et Fin. (John), pp. 427, 469; Rot. Pat. p. 198; Rot. Claus. i. 232, 238, 246, 368, 376, ii. 59, 79, 180, 213; Excerpta e Rot. Fin. i. 201, 205, 207, 212; Matt. Paris (Rolls Ser.), ii. 585, 644; Collins's Peerage (Brydges), iii. 593–4; Taylor's Biog. Leodiensis, p. 61; Plot's Nat. Hist. of Oxfordshire; Foss's Lives of the Judges.]

J. M. R.