Essays on the Nobility of Medieval Scotland

By K. J. Stringer | Go to book overview

5
THE FAMILIA OF ROGER DE QUINCY, EARL OF
WINCHESTER AND CONSTABLE OF SCOTLAND

Grant G. Simpson

Roger1 de Quincy, who died in 1264, belonged to a family of French origin, whose founder in England was Saher de Quincy I, a tenant about 1124–9 of land at Long Buckby (Northants) held of Anselm de Chokes.2 It is virtually certain that Saher took his name from Cuinchy (cant. Cambrin, arr. Bethune, dep. Pas-de-Calais), on what later became the border of Artois and Flanders, as this place is less than sixteen kilometres from Chocques, the original home of his Northamptonshire overlord. Saher's second son, Robert de Quincy I, settled about 1165 in Scotland, then well known as a land of opportunity.3 His advancement was evidently assisted by King Malcolm IV and King William I, who were his cousins: Robert's grandmother, Maud de Senlis the elder, had married as her second husband King David I, grandfather of Malcolm and William. Like many members of his family, Robert made a 'good marriage' by wedding an heiress, Orabile, daughter of Nes son of William, who brought to him extensive properties, mainly in Fife. The senior line of the family died out about 1191 and Robert himself died in 1197, after a distinguished career in Scotland which included a period from about 1170 to about 1178 as a royal justiciar of Lothian.4 His son, Saher IV, also made a striking match by marrying, perhaps about 1190, Margaret de Beaumont, sister and co-heir of Robert 'Fitz Pernel', fourth earl of Leicester. Saher thus acquired considerable estates, particularly in the English Midlands, and a social position which led him into a busy and important public life. He served both Richard I and John, and as a reward was raised to the peerage as earl of Winchester about 1206–7. Earl Saher became a crusader, but fell ill and died at Damietta in 1219.

The family into which Roger was born, about 1195, as second son of Saher IV, was French in origin and background, although its Anglo-Scottish members presumably did not continue to hold French lands after the loss of Normandy in 1204. French influence was strengthened by Saher's marriage to one of the Beaumonts, who were among the greatest of Anglo-Norman families. French names such as Robert and Orabile are prominent in the Quincy family tree and the family was probably still French-speaking, although most of its members by Roger's time may also have known English. Yet although its roots were French, the family had become essentially Anglo-Scottish, and in assessing the influence of each of the three countries, we must give due weight to Scotland, since it provided the opening which enabled Robert I to raise the family into a position of some prominence. England was important since it gave them an initial impetus and since a family tradition of service to the kings of England quickly grew up and flourished. When Saher succeeded to part of the earldom of Leicester lands, the family's English

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