Did Francis, Viscount Lovell have children?

Or: is it possible to be a descendant of the Lovells of Titchmarsh?

Since I created my website about the Lovells of Titchmarsh, I have received a number of e-mails from people who asked me to help them to find out if or confirm that they were descendants of Francis Lovell in particular or of the Lovells of Titchmarsh in general. Since this is an intriguing question, I have decided to write up my thoughts about this question.

The Lovells of Titchmarsh

Titchmarsh Castle

Minster Lovell Hall

Old Wardour Castle

Other Lovell Castles
Is it possible then to be a descendant of the Lovells of Titchmarsh?

To start with, the answer is, unfortunately, no. Not in the male line at least, which would be necessary for transferring the name. As I pointed out elsewhere, there were a large number of families called Lovell in the Middle Ages, and they were not all descendent from a common stock. To show that there were no male descendants of the family, it is probably best to go backwards, starting with the last, and most famous, Lovell, then looking at earlier, male members of the family, and finally and briefly at the Lovell daughters.

Francis, Viscount Lovell and Sir Thomas Lovell

The Great Lord Lovell? The Lovells of Titchmarsh died out in the male line when Henry Lovell, Lord Morley was killed in the battle of Dixmunde on 13 June 1489. He and his wife, Elizabeth de la Pole, did not have any children. His much more famous cousin, Francis Lovell, had disappeared after the battle of Stoke on 16 June 1487. Francis Lovell and his wife, Anne FitzHugh, likewise did not have any children.

How do we know Francis Lovell had no children?

Let's start with the fact that Francis Lovell was an extremely rich man. In these days a truly rich man, a man of his position within the aristocracy, held a large amount of land. Land was the basis of power. It gave a nobleman or noblewoman, control over the people living and working on it, and from there all other forms of riches and power derived.

The late Middle Ages are a very well documented period of time. The royal administration was very meticulous in keeping track of what people owed the government in terms of taxes, reliefs and so on. Though there are gaps, sometimes infuriating gaps, in the documentation, people, particularly rich people, did not simply disappear from the records.1

Francis Lovell held enormous estates spread over the length and breadth of England. His grandfather, William Lovell III, already had a landed income of £1,000 p.a., more than the 1,000 marks which was thought to be the prerequisite for elevation to an earldom.2 This sum did not yet include the whole Deincourt and Grey of Rotherfield barony that Francis inherited from his grandmother.

As is well known, Francis Lovell was convicted of treason and his lands declared forfeit after the battle of Bosworth. The crown granted them in turn to supporters of Henry VII, including Henry VII's uncle Jasper Tudor and Thomas Lovell (no relation).

If Francis Lovell had had any children, they would appear in the government's records. First of all, since they would have been still be underage when their father disappeared, they would become wards of a nobleman or courtier. These hypothetical children may have had no immediate expectations of large amounts of lands coming into their hands, but for one forfeitures were not always or even most of the time for ever. Secondly, there were always other relatives that might die and leave them their estates. Francis Lovell's relatives, his wife and mother-in-law would have looked after the children's interests as well.3

If Francis Lovell theoretical children had grown to majority, they would have tried to regain their father's estates. They may not have been successful immediately and they would probably not have regained all of Francis Lovell's estates, but they would have done their best and that would have been recorded. A comparable case is that of John Holland, Duke of Exeter (1395-1447), whose father, John Holland, was killed during the Epiphany Rising in 1400 and his lands were confiscated. The younger John Holland served with distinction in Henry V's campaigns and was able to regain considerable parts his father's estates. Francis Lovell's hypothetical children would also have benefited from Henry Lovell's untimely death in 1489 and they would have inherited the estates of their uncle William, Viscount Beaumont in 1507. But in both cases, it was other relatives who were the heirs, Henry Lovell's sister, Alice, and Francis Lovell's sisters.

Francis, Viscount Lovell definitely had no children. Given his status and the fact that they would have attempted to regain at least part of his estates, would have ensured that there are plenty of records left for us to find out about them.

What about the earlier generations of Lovells? Younger sons would start their own families and they would also be called Lovell, after all.

As far as it is possible to determine from the records, by the time the main line was extinct in the male line in 1489, there were no other Lovell descendants of the Lovells of Titchmarsh in the male line. Only one of Francis Lovell's three uncles, William Lovell, Lord Morley, had any children. Of John Lovell VII's three younger sons only one, Robert, is known to have had any children, a daughter Maud. Ralph was a canon at Salisbury, Thomas did not seem to have married. John Lovell III's had two younger sons, William and Gilbert. The latter was rector of Titchmarsh. William Lovell married Sybil, but the manor he had received from his father, Docking, was in the hands of John Lovell VII, so William or a son of his died without heirs. Thomas Lovell, younger son of John Lovell II (which takes us back to the second half of the thirteenth century) established the longest lasting cadet branch, the Lovells of Titchwell, but they became extinct in the male line in 1415 with the death of William Lovell of Titchwell at the battle of Agincourt. John Lovell II had also an illegitimate son, John Lovell of Snorscombe, but if he had children, I have not found them. Even earlier, John Lovell I's younger son, Fulk, was a cleric. William Lovell II's younger son, Philip, was married to lady, whose name has not been recorded. They had three sons, but since the manor he held, Snorscombe, was later held by the illegitimate son of his nephew, they must have died without children of their own. With William Lovell I, who divided his lands between his elder son, Waleran d'Ivry, who inherited the family's French lands, and William Lovell II, who inherited the English estates, we have reached the beginning of the Lovell family.

It is difficult to trace younger sons, and it is only if they held lands that they appear in records (and even then not always). Of course, it is impossible to be absolutely certain that none of the Lovells had sons that left no trace in the records or cannot be identified as belonging to this particular family. But according to my research, the Lovells of Titchmarsh did manage to completely die out in the male line.

What about the Lovell daughters?

Turning to the female line, the daughters of the family, now researching them really problematic. In the fifteenth century we are on pretty firm ground, thanks both to better records and the Lovell's greater wealth. We know that Frideswide and Joan Lovell, Francis Lovell's sisters, married Edward Norris and Brian Stapleton, respectively. Alice Lovell, sister of Henry Lovell, Lord Morley married first William Parker and secondly Edward Howard, son of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. All three women had children. William Lovell III had a daughter (no name known) who probably married Andrew Ogard. This is known, because William Lovell III left his granddaughter Anne Ogard some money in his will. John Lovell VII had three daughters, two of whom were nuns, one, Philippa, married twice but had no children. In the fourteenth century, however, it becomes almost impossible to find out any details about the daughters of the family. Elizabeth, daughter of John Lovell V, married Robert of London but not much more is known of her. John Lovell IV had a daughter named Joan, who was his heiress when he died (his son was born posthumously), but what happened to her is unknown. Maud Lovell, daughter of John Lovell III and his first wife Isabel du Bois, married William de la Zouche of Harringworth. There may have been more daughters that we know nothing of. Like younger sons they almost only appear in the records when they inherited land. If John Lovell V had been born earlier, the existence of his sister Joan would not have left any traces in the records.

While from the perspective of the fifteenth century (an attitude generally taken in most modern research as well, including my thesis) the Lovells of Titchmarsh did die out. But if one takes into account the female line, they did not and it is definitely possible to be a descendant of one of the Lovell daughters. If you can trace your family back to Anne Ogard, Henry Parker, or John Norris for example.

[1] That may sound quite incongruous considering that Francis Lovell did disappear after the Battle of Stoke, but he does not vanish from the government records. That he is not mentioned again, except for a mysterious note that places him in Scotland, indicates strongly that he died shortly after the Battle of Stoke.
[2] H.L. Gray, ‘Incomes from Land in England in 1436’, EHR 49 (1934), p. 615. The sum was probably an underestimation as this is a survey for tax purposes, and people then as now are not that keen on paying more taxes than necessary.
[3] That his mother-in-law was interested in his welfare and that of her daughter can be seen by the fact that she had sent Edward Frank to search for him after the Battle of Stoke but to no avail.

For references see my thesis, Monika E. Simon, 'The Lovells of Titchmarsh. A Late Medieval Baronial Family (1297-148?)', (unpubl. DPhil Thesis, University of York, 1999), and all my other unpublished works.

e-mail: info@monikasimon.eu
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