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                                 De Kyme, Ferrers, Plumpton
Fulk FitzWarin Associations

                                                                     Robyn and Marion
Having observed who could have been the major contributor towards the authorship of  the Geste, Stephen II le Waleys, we might examine his in-laws to determine if any filial inspiration was applied to the ballad.

1. Stephen II le Waleys 2nd baron of Burgh Wallis married firstly, Annora Umfreville. Like the Waleys [Wallace] family the Umfrevilles were of Norman-Scottish lineage.

2. Annora's mother was Lucy De Kyme, the daughter of Sir Philip De Kyme first baron Kyme and Joan Bigod. Looking at the De Kyme pedigree, which has been closely studied by Jim Lees and his nephew Robert Henshaw, we find that the person who they suspect to be 'Robin Hood' was Robert de Kyme. Robert De Kyme was Annora Umfreville's grandfather's brother.
In the Plea Rolls for 1327, a land dispute arose between Sir Richard II Le Waleys of 'Helagh' [Healaugh near Tadcaster], son of Sir Stephen I Le Waleys, and John Mauleverer of Allerton Mauleverer near Wetherby. The land in question is that of Upper and Lower Dunsforth, part of the Bruce Fee, near Boroughbridge, just inside the West Yorkshire boundary which here follows the River Swale:
"Ebor. - John Mauleverer [held land at Allerton Mauleverer adjacent to Waleys land at Dunsforth] sued Richard,[II] son of Stephen [I] Walays, [Waleys] of Helagh [Healaugh], for eighteen messuages, two [?water] mills [?on the River Swale], and twenty-four bovates of land, etc., in Nether Dunsford [now Lower Dunsforth] and Over Dunsford."[now Upper Dunsforth] - my parentheses

Another record of  the 26th August 1327 also refers to this land dispute and what appears to be Stephen and Annora's marriage agreement7:
"Enrolment of indenture made between Sir William de Kyme [b.1277 d.1338 was Annora De Umfreville's uncle]
and Sir Richard  [II] Waleys at York, on 17 August, 1 Edward III, witnessing that whereas Richard [Sir Richard II Le Waleys] has made two recognisances to William in chancery, one for 400l.[400 libre = £400] and the other for 300l., [£300] William grants that the recognisance for the former sum shall be cancelled if Richard enfeoff Stephen, his son and heir, and Annora (Anore), [nee De Umfreville] daughter of Richard [?Robert] de Umframvill, late earl of Anegos [Angus], of the manor of Burghwaleys [Burghwallis] before Christmas next [Christmas 1327], to have to them and the heirs of their bodies, with reversion to Richard and his heirs, and if Richard [Sir Richard II Le Waleys] do not alienate the manors of Neuton Waleys,[Newton Wallis] Over Dunsford, [now Upper Dunsforth] and Nether Dunsford, [now Lower Dunsforth] and do not divest himself of the manors hereafter, whereby Stephen [Stephen II Le Waleys] and Annora [De Umfreville] or the heirs of their bodies shall be disturbed after Richard's death from entering and holding the said manors as of Stephen's inheritance. William [De Kyme] also grants that the other recognisance shall be annulled if Richard pay to him the 200 marks that he received for the marriage of Stephen and Annora within a year after Annora's death, in case she die within a year of the making of this indenture.[she married in Aug 1327 and died in 1339] Richard agrees that the recognisances shall remain in effect if he do not fulfill the conditions aforesaid. [This sounds like a marriage payment agreement for Annora and Stephen II Le Waleys].- my parentheses
Also in a memorandum :
"that William
[De Kyme] and Richard [Le Waleys] came into chancery at York, on the said day, and acknowledge the above deed." - my parentheses

Now any student of the Geste can tell us that 'Sir Richard at the Lee' had to repay £400 to the abbot of St. Mary's Abbey in York, yet here we have the father of Stephen II Le Waleys having to pay one sum, the larger, of £400, into the Chancery, an ecclesiastical court in York. 'Sir Richard at the Lee' was accompanied by his second in command 'Little John' but here we have the father of Stephen, Sir Richard II Le Waleys being accompanied to York by the uncle [William De Kyme] of Annora De Umfreville who in the same month of August 1327 married Sir Richard's son, Stephen II Le Waleys.
It also appears that because Annora's father had died in 1324-5, William being the uncle of Annora had been her guardian and demanded payment  for the marriage as well as assurance that she and her husband would inherit the three estates [Dunforth, Newton Wallis and Burghwallis] of the Le Waleys family intact should Richard Le Waleys die.
The year 1327 was also when the young Edward III under the control of his mother Isabella and Roger Mortimer , cancelled a fine of 2000 marks imposed by Edward II. This fine had occurred in 1322 because Richard had supported his lord, Thomas Plantagenet of the Honour of Pontefract, in the rebellion which culminated in the Battle of Boroughbridge in the same year. Coincidentally this battle was fought  near to Richard Le Waleys estate of Dunsforth. A few years earlier in 1319, the 'White Battle' had also been fought nearby at Mytton-on-Swale.
If this is part of the inspiration for writing the early fyttes of the Geste in which the 'poor knyght' is dined and  then accompanied toYork with Robin's £400 then we might make two conclusions:
a. The Geste was written after the marriage of Stephen and Annora [August 1327]
b. Stephen II Le Waleys wrote the early fyttes of the Geste.

3. Stephen II Le Waleys had in his wife's family tree, stories of outlawry, for Robert De Kyme is known to have been outlawed in 1226.

4. Lucy De Ros was born at Ingmanthorpe, one mile north east of Wetherby and 6 miles south of Allerton MaulevererYorkshire, she  married William III De Kyme. Newton Kyme lies four and a half miles south east of Wetherby and was part of the De Kyme lands.

5. Sir Philip De Kyme, through his mother Lucy De Ros, was related to another member of the landed class, Earl Robert De Ferrers, Lord of Loxley in Staffordshire who was outlawed in 1264.  It might be noted here that two years earlier, William Le Fevere had been recorded as 'William Robehod, fugitive', the first recorded use of an epithet for an outlaw. In 1266 Robert De Ferrer's lands were forfeited to Edmund, Henry III's son. Robert also forfeited the earldom of Derby. He was unable to raise a huge sum, £50,000 in silver, in order to recover his lands. Lucy De Ros's husband's brother, Simon IV De Kyme married Maud De Ferrers, brother to Robert De Ferrers, the outlaw. Thus again their is likely to have been knowledge of noble outlawry in the associated families. Although Loxley does not appear in the Geste or early ballads, it appears much later in Tudor times in the ballad Robin Hood and Queen Katherine also mentioned in the 'Sloane manuscript' [~1600] and Mundays Plays [~1600]. Loxley in Staffordshire with its strong association of balladry and May Games at Tutbury seems to have been conflated with Loxley in Yorkshire. This may have occurred because Lord Robert Dore of Wadsley near Loxley, South Yorkshire, was declared an outlaw. He was later pardoned by the King Richard II, but had been given the epithet 'Robert Hode' in 1382.1 This local tradition may have begun from that point in time.

                                            Kyme, De Ros, Ferrers, Waleys connexions:

                              Phillip=====~1174=======Agnes [FitzAlan]                     Sibyl======William III====================Margaret
                               de Kyme                     |            
Welles [le Walleys]             Marshall    |      de Ferrers                            |                 de Quincy
                               of Kyme, Lincs & Newton Kyme, Yorks.  
                                             |                                                                               |                         |                                                     |             
Rohese ====<1=== William III =====>2===Lucy#                              Sir Simon======Maud======William*         Robert

de Tamworth          de Kyme                          de Ros                            de Kyme           de Ferrers          de Forz        de Ferrers b~1239
                          |          d 1259                      |        b~1222                            dsp  1248                                                              outlawed 1264                                                                                                                                     
                   Robert                                 Sir Phillip===Joan                      
                 de Kyme                              de Kyme     Bigod
                b~1210                                            |
               outlawed 1226                                     Lucy=========Robert IV
                                                                            de Kyme             Umfreville
                                           Stephen II====1327=====Annora
                                            le Wallis                            Umfreville

                                            d. 1347              |
                              Sir Robert ==1347== Annora le Waleys
                             de Swillington

Red- outlawed landed gentry.
Lt. blue- A possible contributor towards the authorship of  the Geste.
* William de Forz held large areas of Holderness, he also married Christina, Alan of Galloway's dtr.
Lucy de Ros' brother, Sir William the 'Competitor' held Ingmanthorpe manor, near Wetherby, whilst  the Kyme manor in Lincolnshire descended to the eldest son, Sir Philip de Kyme. Lucy's husband's brother, Simon IV de Kyme married Maud de Ferrers whose brother was Robert De Ferrers, Earl of Derby and outlaw. Sir William Ros, the 'Competitor' had two daughters, one another Lucy married Robert De Plumpton of Plumpton.
Robert de Ferrers was the 6th Earl of Derby and Lord of Loxley but he lost the title and lands in 1266 for siding with Simon de Montfort and the barons against Henry III. He held lands at Chartley, Southoe and Keystone, all manors within the honour of Huntingdon which was spread over 7-9 counties.
µ Sir Robert de Swillington, steward of Pontefract Castle for John of Gaunt. He is mentioned in 41 Ed III  [1368] as having land at Gerford. Between 1350-1372 he was the presenter of the rectors of Burgh Wallis and an inquisition at Burgh Wallis in 1393 showed that he held this manor for his life. Robert held Swillington which today lies in close proximity to the townships of John o' Gaunt's and Robin Hood.

6. Lucy de Ros' brother, William de Ros of Ingmanthorpe, near Wetherby, was one of the thirteen 'Competitors' for Scotland He had two daughters, one of whom was another Lucy De Ros. She married Robert de Plumpton kt.of Plumpton, Yorkshire, not unexpected, for Plumpton and Ingmanthorpe are less than four miles apart as-the-crow-flies. Their son Sir William married Alice de Swillington.
                       |                                        |                                                                                
              Lucy de Ros                   William de Ros ================Eustacie FitzHugh              
               b~1222                          of Ingmanthorpe
                                                      'Competitor' b~1244
                                                           |                                                                    |
                                                       Ivetta                    Robert de Plumpton====Lucy de Ros
                                                                                    d 1325                            b~1270
                                                                                                   Sir William de Plumpton====Alice de Swillington

Plumpton appears in a later ballad, whilst Ingmanthorpe manor lying just outside Wetherby is the locale for another outlaw, Robert of Wetherby, who some have tried to equate with the Rob. Hode of the York Assizes who was made a fugitive in 1226. 
We might question whether 'Robert of Wetherby' was another name for Robert
de Kyme.
Robert could have inherited Kyme in Lincolnshire and Newton Kyme near Wetherby, but they were held by the second son of William III , Phillip, Robert's half brother. Because Robert was outlawed in 1226 and disowned by his father it appears he did not inherit or lost the manor, but it is likely that he had frequented the area. Dr. David Crook has tentatively equated  Rob. Hode of the York Assizes [fugitive 1226] with 'Robert of Wetherby', thus we note with a definite statement that all three were named Robert and all three were outlaws at about the same time.

                          'Robert of Wetherby'  =?=  Robert de Kyme*  =???=  Robert Hode [Hobbehod]
                             outlawed 1226                  outlawed 1226                       fugitive 1225
*= Associated with the manorial affix of  Newton Kyme near Wetherby. Newton Kyme was an important castle in the 1200's-1300's controlling the travellers on Rudgate, the Great North Road, crossing the River Wharfe.

7. Lucy de Ros, who married William de Kyme, was the great grand-daughter of William Cean mhor [The 'Lion of Scotland'] who accepted the honour and title, Earl of Huntingdon from Henry II but in 1185 passed it immediately* to his brother David who became Earl of Huntingdon. Of course this title never appeared in the Geste or in any ballad until Robin Hood and Queen Katherine was written probably in Tudor times, then taken further by Anthony Munday ~1600, who included the title in his plays. *William still held out and hoped for, the earldom of Northumberland.

Swillington Tower ~1560, Pontefract Castle 8. Stephen II Le Waleys and Annora's daughter was also named Annora, she married Sir Robert de Swillington [b. ~1324 d.1391 at Pontefract Castle]. Robert was  known to have been the steward [seneschal] for John of Gaunt [d.1399] at Pontefract Castle. There is a tower named after his family on the North side of the castle. It is an isolated tower over-looking the now lost, St. John's Cluniac Priory, beyond All-Saints Church. It was built sometime after the death of John of Gaunt2 and Robert and Annora Swillington [d.1391 & 1368 respectively]. Robert was described as '...a leading member of the household of John of Gaunt'.9
The building of the tower is usually ascribed to the years 1399-1405. It is an unusual tower in that it seems to have been isolated to the North of the castle away from the curtain wall unlike any of the other towers at Pontefract. All the towers except the keep are based upon a rectangular plan and the Swillington Tower is no exception.

These types of tower were undermined relatively easily by army mining engineers, much more so than the round towers. The other unusual aspect is that it is very ornate [see diagram above, drawn about 1560]. For defensive purposes it seems 'a foolish tower', a folly, until we realise what it was used for. We can imagine the Swillingtons and Gascoigne family [seneschals] members walking from their chambers in the upper levels of the keep along the battlements past  the Piper and Gascoigne Towers to go and view from this tower. The geographic proximity of the township of Swillington to the townships of  John O' Gaunt and Robin Hood northwest of Pontefract also bear consideration. From here on the Swillington Tower, the descendants of Robert and Annora  [Thomas de Swillington and the Gascoigne family] would have been able to survey these lands to the north, masters of all they surveyed.We have mentioned elsewhere that John of Gaunt is likely to have been a benefactor of balladeers from the Honour of Pontefract [and Tutbury] and the conduit for this may have been the continuance of the tradition of Robyn Hode ballads through the Le Waleys, Swillington and Gascoigne families.
A Robert de Swillington is recorded as a presenter at All Saints Church, Stanton-on-the Wolds, Notts. in 1377 and previously in 1349 Sir Gervase Clifton was also presenter. It has been noticed elsewhere that this area of Nottinghamshire contained  lands held by the Butler and Le Waleys families as well as that of the Cliftons of Nottingham. Henry Rich's daughter who held the Manor of Wakefield, married Sir Gervase Clifton of Clifton, Nottinghamshire Baronet who was the descendant of the Gervase the presenter..

                                                  .The Towers of Pontefract Castle

  The tower names changed over time. The names shown are at the time of the civil War. In fact the King's and Queen's Towers exchanged names between 1537 and 1538. The Swillington Tower [1649] was called the 'New Tower' from 1399-1412.


One other remarkable family relationship exists between Stephen II Le Waleys and the historical figure, Fulk FitzWarine. Fulk has long been suspected of being a major influence upon the Robin Hood ballads, both from an historical aspect and a more romantic and poetic one.
Stephen II Le Waleys' aunt, Nichole Le Waleys married William Vavasour of Hazelwood Castle near Aberford. William had accompanied Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lincoln to Wales in 1277 and 1282 and had the added kudos of being Keeper of Pontefract Castle until 27th May 1311 when he was ordered to deliver it up to Earl Thomas following the death of his wife's [Alice m: 1294] father, Henry de Laci. William's father was Sir John Vavasour whose sister Maud Vavasour married firstly Theobald Butler [FitzWalter], first butler of Ireland and Lord of Preston, Lancashire, and secondly Fulk FitzWarine! Maud Vavasour was called FitzWalter after her husband's surname at the time she was widowed and was married to FulkFitzWarine on the 1st October 1207. Fulk was outlawed in King John's reign..

                Robert Le Vavasour of Hazlewood Castle, Yorkshire
                A sheriff of Nottinghamshire 1235-6, 1240, 1252 & 1260.
                                       Lord of Bilborough, Notts.
                              |                                                          |
   Theobald==1==Maud ==2==Fulk                     Sir John===Alice Cockfield/Rookfield
   FitzWalter       Vavasour       FitzWarine           Vavasour
   le Botiler                          b 1170  acc.1197                     |
                                         outlawed 1200-1203                                ________________
                                                     d 1256                            |            |                               |
                                                                                     William=====Nichole                 Richard II====Eleanor*
                                                                                     Vavasour        le Waleys            le Waleys
                                                                                                                                                     Stephen II
                                                                                                                                                     le Waleys
  * Eleanor/Alianore was the widow of Robert VI Bruce of Annandale, father to King Robert 'The Bruce'.                                                                               
We note here again, the Butler family of Ireland is associated with the pedigrees and there is no some evidence that the Butlers of Ireland were related to the Butlers of Skelbrooke, possessing the same devices upon their arms [three cups covered]. The Le Waleys family also appear in Kilkenny at the time the Butlers of Kilkenny were resident. Under Edward II, Richard II Le Waleys appears to have been in Ireland in 1318 prior to the Battle of Boroughbridge and again in 1323 after this decisive battle. Four years later, with the accession of Edward III under the control of Mortimer and Isabella, Stephen's father, Richard, had a 2000 mark fine cancelled. 'Edward our cumly king' seems an appropriate accolade and addition to the Geste for a king so young and magnanimous. The suspicion is that the Waleys of Burgh Wallis and the Butlers of Skelbrooke were somehow related to those of their respective families in Kilkenny, Ireland. Again Stephen II was at the genealogical crossroads of  family history and one suspects he drew upon family stories and history to compose the Geste.
Thus we may see that elements of  Stephen II Le Waleys and Annora de Umfreville's genealogical histories could have been included into Stephen's story A Lyttel Geste of Robyn Hode a blend of at least four characters and their exploits, Fulk FitzWarine [from an earlier ballad and an historical character], Robert Butler of Skelbrooke, Robert de Kyme [=Robert of Wetherby?] and the noblest of them all, Earl Robert de Ferrers of Loxley, Staffordshire, outlawed in 1264.
Thus there is not one inspiration for Robyn Hode of the Geste but four, three of them named Robert, all linked through the filial funnel of Stephen II Le Waleys of Burgh Wallis.
The Norman French phonetic rendering of Robert is 'rober' which when Anglicised phonetically is 'Robin'. That three persons who could have inspired the characterisation and exploits of the Geste are named Robert seems now of  no coincidence. The search for an historical Robyn Hode proves a frustrating and nebulous one, but a search for the author of an anonymously written ballad seems far more productive. A ballad which celebrates the blossoming of English medieval literature so long suppressed by the Norman hierarchy and their use of Latin.

It was during Edward III's reign that English was permitted in the courts and parliament, the English language was being written down by those who spoke English. Robyn Hode owes much of his fame to the Geste not the reverse, although it is recognised here that there were earlier outlaws who were colloquially called by variations of this name. We see this in the epithet for William Lefevere in 1261 as 'William Robehod' and the Statute of Winchester [1285] wherein criminals were being described  as 'Roberdsmen', when the county sheriffs were exhorted to take up a 'hue and cry' against the increasing numbers of roaming criminals. It was during the early 1260's that the poetic romance Fulk Le Fitz Waryn was probably written, which coincides with the first appearance of an epithet for an outlaw.


  1. Robert Lynley & David Pilling, 2005.
  2. Pontefract Castle WYAS Whiteley Press, 1990, p21.
  3. De Kyme genealogy I.G.I.
  4. De Ros genealogy I.G.I.
  5. De Ferrers genealogy I.G.I.
  6. De Banco, Mich., 20 E. II,. m. 195.
  7. Calendar of Close Rolls, 1327.
  8. Calendar of Close Rolls,  I Ed. III [1327-1330],  p.220. memorandum 15d.
  9. Fox, Levi. Leicester Forest. Percy Russell.
10. Roberts, Ian. Pontefract Casle. West Yorks. Arch Service. 1990.


© Copyright Tim Midgley 2007, links revised July 2023.


Robin Hood search for the Truth | Robin Hood Places | Hood surname statistics | Robin Hood of Wakefield | Robert Hood of Newton | The Pinder of Wakefield Marian | Friars | Loxley and 'Huntington' | Myriads of Robin Hoods | Ballads of Robin Hood | Kirklees | The Armytages of Kirklees | Little John | Roger De Doncaster | The Penurious Knyght | Our Comly King  | Shire Reeve | Priory of Kirklees | Wakefield Rolls | Saylis of the Geste- a new site | Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke | Barnsdale and the Geste | De Lacis of PontefractAlice De Laci and John of GauntBarnsdale Gallery | A suspected compiler of the Geste | Images of Robyn Hode