The FitzWalter family

Robert FitzRichard de Clare was the fourth son of Richard de Brionne, Lord of Clare in Norfolk and Tonbridge in Kent, and his wife Rohese Giffard. Robert received Little Dunmow, Essex, from king Henry I and was the 1st Lord FitzWalter of Little Dunmow. Robert married Maud or Matilda de Senlis in 1112 and they had three children: Walter FitzRobert, Simon FitzRobert and Matilda. Walter married Matilda de Lucy as his first wife, and they had Robert FitzWalter of Woodham Walter, Alice and other children. It was this Robert FitzWalter who became one of the Sureties for the barons when Magna Carta was signed in 1215.

As early as 1203, Robert had already fallen out with king John. He had been given the castle of Ruil in France to hold with Saire de Quncey for John. Instead they surrendered it to Philip, the king of France, possibly for a false bribe, but more likely because they were part of a general baronial conspiracy against John. In 1212, John feared the Canons of St Paul’s were also involved, who were known to be intimates of exchequer officials and hence endangering the exchequer seal. It was also alleged that John had seduced Robert’s daughter, “Matilda the Fair”, from his first marriage to Gunnor de Valognes. Matilda, also called “Maid Marion”, was said to have been poisoned by John.

For whatever reason, king John accused Robert of “treasonable practices” and he fled with his family to France. The following year, 1213, he was persuaded to return and together with the other barons was reconciled with the king. This did not last long, however, and on discovering that Robert was still plotting against him, John reduced his residence in London, the castle of Baynard, and seized his lands. Robert was selected as one of the Sureties for the barons and subsequently elected their leader and “Marshal of the Army of God and the Holy Church”.

Following John’s failure to keep his promises, Robert and the barons invited the French Dauphin to accept the English throne. He, with the other Sureties, William de Mandeville and William de Huntingfield, reduced the counties of Essex and Suffolk. Ironically, it was the staunch defence of Dover and John’s authority by Hubert de Burgh that defeated the barons and the Dauphin. Upon the accession of king Henry III in October 1216, and whilst still the king’s prisoners, the majority of the barons withdrew their support for the Dauphin and he returned to France. Still a prisoner, Henry allowed Robert to take up the Cross and join a crusade in 1218. He participated in the siege of Damietta. After returning home he lived until 1234 and was buried before the High Altar of Dunmow Priory.

Although it is recorded that Robert had a son with his first wife, Gunnor, it was Walter FitzRobert, his only child with his second wife, Rohese, who inherited much of the extensive estate that had survived his enmity to king John and king Henry III. Walter married Ida de Longspee and they had four children, of whom Robert FitzWalter was the only son. This Robert became the first Baron FitzWalter in 1295. He married Devorguilla de Burgh, who brought with her those portions of John de Burgh’s lands she shared with her sisters.

Surprisingly, given Hubert de Burgh’s defence of the same kings against the barons, his son John married Hawise, the daughter of William (III) de Lanvalei, and one of the Sureties. John’s granddaughter Devorguilla subsequently married Robert the grandson of Robert FitzWalter, another Surety. Not only that, but Raymond de Burgh, Hubert’s nephew’s son, was the second husband of Christine FitzWalter, Robert’s daughter by his first wife, Gunnor. And Robert’s half-brother, Simon FitzWalter, married Thomas de Burgh, quite possibly Hubert’s second son. Intermarriage between the two families clearly was not affected by the dispute between the barons and kings John and Henry III.

Robert, the first Baron Fitzwalter, and Devorguilla de Burgh had two children. Walter FitzRobert married Joan Engaine, and their only son, Robert FitzWalter, died young. Their daughter was Christian FitzWalter, who married William Marshal of Hingham, Norfolk. He became the 1st Baron Marshal in 1309 and was killed at the battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 generations
Richard de Brionne, Lord of Clare and Tonbridge m. Rohese Giffard
Robert FitzRichard de Clare of Little Dunmow, Essex (-1134)
m. 1112, Maud de Senlis (-before 1163), dau. of Simon de Senlis, Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton, and
Matilda [Maud] of Huntingdon
Walter FitzRobert of Little Dunmow, Woodham Walter, etc. (-1198)
m. (2) after 1163, Matilda de Bohun (1140/43-1196), dau. of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford,
and Margaret of Hereford
Simon FitzWalter (-1218) m. Sarah, widow of Thomas de Burgh
Walter FitzSimon (-after 1234)
Matilda (-after 1216)
m. (1) Matilda de Lucy, Lady of Diss, Norfolk, dau. of Richard de Lucy, Justiciar of England
Alice (-1213 or after) m. Gilbert Pecche (-1212), son of Hamon Pecche and Alice Peverel
Matilda m. after 1212, William (II) de Lanvalei
other issue
Robert FitzWalter of Woodham Walter, Essex (-1235)
m. (1) between 1194 and 1199, Gunnor de Valognes (-after 1208), widow of Durand de Ostill, dau. of Robert de
Valognes and Hawise
Matilda (-1212) m. Geoffrey de Mandeville (-1216), 5th Earl of Essex, son of Geoffrey FitzPiers
and his first wife, Beatrice de Say
Christine (-1232)
m. (1) before 18 Nov 1220, William de Mandeville (-1227), 6th Earl of Essex, son of Geoffrey
FitzPiers and his first wife, Beatrice de Say
m. (2) 1227, Raymond de Burgh of Dartford, Kent (-1230), possible son of Thomas de Burgh
Unknown son
m. (2) Dec 1207, Rohese (-c.1256)
Walter FitzRobert of Woodham Walter, Essex (-1258)
m. before 1247, Ida de Longespee (-1262), dau. of William Longespee, Earl of Salisbury, and Ela
FitzPatrick, suo jure Countess of Salisbury
Catherine, nun
Lorica, nun
Ela m. William de Oddingseles, Kt., of Solihull, Warwickshire
Robert FitzWalter of Woodham Walter, Essex (1247-1326), Baron FitzWalter (1295)
m. (2) Mar. 1290, Eleanor Ferris (-1308), dau. of Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, and Eleanor
de Bohun
Robert FitzRobert, Kt.
Ida m. (1) Robert de la Warde, Lord of de la Warde
m. (2) Hugh de Neville, Kt., of Essex
m. (1) Devorguilla de Burgh (1255-1284), dau. of John de Burgh of Wakerley, Northants,
and Cecilia Balliol
Walter FitzRobert (1275-1293)
m. 1286 Joan Engaine (-1315) dau. of Sir John Engaine of Laxton and
Blatherwycke, Northants, and Joan de Greinville of Hallaton, Leicestershire
Robert FitzWalter (1291-young)
Christian (de Burgh) (-1315)
m. William Marshal of Hingham, Norfolk (1277-Bannockburn 1314),
1st Baron Marshal (1309), son of John Marshal, Kt., and Hawise

The blazon of Robert FitzWalter, reproduced with permission (copyright Runnymede Borough Council).