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

                      ~Barnsdale and an Origin for the Geste ~
                                          'Robyn stode in Bernesdale' - A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode
                                          'My name is Robyn Hood of Barnesdale' - Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne.
                                          'The wooddi and famous forest of Barnesdale,
                                          wher they say Robyn Hudde lyvid like an outlaw'
  - John Leyland's Collectanea, Itinerary c. 1540.

Looking in the time of Roger de Laci we find a family living at Skelbrooke manor called Butler. Their pedigree provides a  vertical column of detail, over a sustained time in a fixed geographic area which came to be known by travellers of the Great North Road as 'Barnsdale'. They are probably descended from Herewig [Hervey or Herveus] who held lands in Skelbrooke in D.B from Ilbert de Laci and lands at Great and Little Haseley and three other manors in Oxfordshire from Odo the Bishop of Bayeaux. These latter properties became part of the De Laci fee after Odo's banishment.
From Herewig probably descended Thomas de Armthorpe [nr. Doncaster] born ~ 1125. According to a analysis of the genealogy by W.P. Baildon [1926], Thomas produced two sons  :
1. Alan born ~ 1150 d. by 1202
2. Robert d. by 1202
According to Baildon, Alan's son was Hugh Pincerna [i.e. Butler] of Skelbrooke, Armthorpe and [Parva or Kirk] Sandal. He was born about 1175 and was of age in 1202. According to Holmes he had tenure of office as seneschal/butler 1211 to 1216. This person is believed to have been the butler to the De Lacis of Pontefract during the first five years of John II de Laci, Constable of Chester's time. He is described by Holmes for the year 1216 as the "aged Hugh Butler, seneschal of Pontefract." [although the Pontefract Chartulary is much devoid of dateable charters so this is suspect].

From Joseph Hunter in his South Yorkshire, p. 457, Theobald Butler, Henry II's butler in Ireland was a grandson of Hervey. As such this would connect the Irish Butler family to that of the Butlers of Skelbrooke. Also see Barnsdale Gallery.

Butlers of Skelbrooke, Barnsdale [by W.P. Baildon
1, A.S. Ellis2, Holmes, modified with additions]

                                      Herewig+============?                   D.B. 1086 "In Herewig has [it] from Ilbert".
                                      of D.B. 1086    |
                                                           /?/  - 
                      |                                                              |
               Robert &                                         Thomas de Armthorpe*==========?
               b~1125                                                       b~1125                        |
           ________________________________________________________________ _______ ?_______ ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___ ?  ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___
          |                                                                                                                           |                                             |                                                 |
       Alan========?                                                                                                  Robert
======               Roger de Skelbrooke               Theobald Butler=====1=====Maud ===2 ===Fulk III
    b~1150                                                                                                                  d. by 1202                        active Galloway                    Henry II's butler in Ireland       le Vavasour         FitzWarin    
   d. by 1202     |       
R.H. has been predicted active 1180's- 90's                                              |                            1186                                 Matilda (Maud) le Vavasour and Fulk III FitzWarin 
                                                                                          |                                                    are often likened to the later tales of Robyn and Marian   

Hugh Pincerna# [Le Boteler or Butler] =============Avice de Savile                           John de Armthorpe
          Of Skelbrooke, steward/seneschal/butler to              of Savile Hall, Dodworth              liv. 1200-1212
          De Lacis of Pontefract  1211-1216              |          d. of  heiress of Golcar
          b.~1175, of age by 1202 d~1246                            liv.1246
                           |                                                         |                                                        |                                        |
                   Richard=====?                              William**===?                               Idonia==Michael                       Dionisia
Pincerna/Sevile/Sevilla                  son of Hugh Pincerna                               de Doncaster++              d~1240-6
         b~1200  d~1240-6                                    b~1200  ?dsp 1240-6                                  d. 1240-6
                                |                                                                |                                           |                                         |     
               Richard=====Agnes                                            Robert====Constance                Ralph de Savile                Gerard de Savile
               Le Botiller/Butler                                                               |  of Spaldington
                b~1225 d 1267-68                                                                  E. Yorks.
                             |                                                                           |
                      Hugh Butler======Isabel                         Robert le Botiler====~1269===Agnes§
                       b~1250                  liv 1287                                   d. 1299                      ?FitzWilliam
                       liv 1302                                                                                       |
                                                |                                                                          |                                                                               |
                              Robert III Butler
===Constance or Christian         Edmund Butler^ ======Agnes ##                                William Butler
                               b~1275                                                                  ?murdered ~1330       |     ? de Langthwaite                     d. 1336
                              charged for robbery, theft, rape and homicide         Seneschal of Pontefract
                               provided names but would not plead                      in Henri de Laci's time   
                               pressed to death 1294 in the
                               time of his mother, father & wife                                                            |
                                                ?dsp                           ___________________________________________________
                                                                                 |                                                                                                      |
                             Joan========1========= John Butler§======2======Agnes                                                    William
                             de Sutton of                          b~1300                   |                                                                           d~ 1354
                             Sutton Holderness                 d. by 1346                         
                                                                          Roi de Bruant         |
                                                                                              Agnes Butler======1334=======Thomas de la Hay of Spaldington, E.R.Y. 
                                                                                               liv. 1336                                      Gained Skelbrooke by marriage.

+  Herewig [Herveus, Harvey or  Hervey Walter] was possibly a Breton who lived in the reign of William The Conqueror. He held lands at Great and Little Haseley besides others in Oxfordshire which he held of  Odo the Bishop of Bayeaux. These manors became part of  the Laci fee after Odo's banishment. Herewig also held Skelbrooke under Ilbert de Laci in 1086. Herewig's successors or descendants were styled Pincerna or Le Boteler [Butlers to the de Laci family of Pontefract]. This Herewig or Hervey I Walter also appears to be the father of Hervey II Walter of East and West Dereham, Norfolk who  produced six sons. One of these sons was  Hubert  Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury and another, Theobald, was lord of Preston, sheriff of Lancashire and Henry II's [r. 1154-1189] butler in Ireland. In 1177 he was created hereditary chief butler of Ireland, and was granted Baggot Rath, Co.Dublin, and lands along the Stein River near what is now Trinity College Dublin. As early as 1199 he was styled 'Theobald Butler' and retained his position during the reigns of Richard I  [r:  1180-1199] dying at Arklow, co. Wicklow in February 1206 during  the reign of King John [r: 1199-1216]. Thus there is a distinct possibility that Herewig [Herveus, Hervey Walter I] of Skelbrooke, the progenitor of the  Butlers of Skelbrooke is also the progenitor of the Butlers earls of Ormonde, Ireland. Indeed, Hunter in his South Yorkshire [vol. II, p. 457] says that Theobald was the grandson of Haarvey of D.B. The genealogical relationship needs to be confirmed but the heraldic arms of the Butlers of Skelbrooke are identical to those of the Butlers earls of Ormonde. Despite this, Hunter declares that the Butlers of Skelbrooke and those of Ireland were of a 'different race'. [Ibid.] Theobald 'FitzWalter' [Botiller or Butler], as lord of Preston &c. married Matilda le Vavasour of Edlington, South Yorkshire, who thus became Baroness Butler or Matilda  'FitzWalter'. After Theobald's death in 1206 she returned from Ireland and married  Fulk FitzWarin of Whittington, Shropshire. Some have tried to equate Fulk FitzWarin with the ballad hero Robyn Hode and Matilda FitzWalter with the 'Maid Marian' of folk tales. Anthony Munday in his plays [1599, 1600 Robert erle of Huntington], probably used the fact that Fulk was outlawed under King John whilst Matlda le Vavasour was cast as Munday's 'Matlida FitzWalter' whose forest name was 'Marian'. The association of these two personalities in history with Munday's muddlings have confused the issues if we are to try to identify who was the historical origin for the ballad character Robyn Hode.  Although these associations are tempting, they are wishful thinking on the part of a Tudor script writer, no more accurate than the filmic depictions of 'Robin Hood' of modern day script writers. The Vavasours make another appearance in 1298 when 'Robert le Vavasur' of Norton near Burghwallis, son of William the seneschal of Ponteract  was on the 1297-8 Flanders campaign 'for robberies, larcenies and other trespasses, and of his outlawry for the same.' [C.P.R. 1292-1301, p. 330.]
Armthorpe is to the east of Doncaster near 'Sandal Parva' [now Long Sandall] and Kirk Sandal other early lands of the Butler line.
According to Holmes in his Pontefract Chartulary [p. 360] his tenure of office as steward [seneschal] was 1211 - 1216 [i.e. during  the time of John II de Laci, constable of Chester's]. Sir
Hugh ['Hugone Pincerna tunc senescallo de Pontefracto' in the Pontefract Chartulary] replaced Robert Wallensis of Burghwallis who had previously been Roger de Laci's seneschal from 1195 - 1211. Hugh held Skelbrooke and Armthorpe in King John's time for on  the 6th January 1215/1216 King John ordered the then sheriff of Yorkshire to give a Master  Robert Talebot [Talbot]  full seisin of the land of Hugh Pincerna in Armthorpe and Skelbrooke, Hugh had fallen foul of King John. This coincides with the end of Pincerna's tenure as seneschal of Pontefract. Sir Hugh Pincerna [the butler] is mentioned as a witness to a grant of the millhouses at Darfield to Roche Abbey.  [Walker, J.W.,  The Chartulary of Monkbretton Priory, reprinted C.U.P, 2013, p. 77. ] 'Hugh le butteiller' is also referred to as steward of Doncaster, [Ibid. p. 103.]
**  He paid yearly a pair of white gloves at Christmas for his lands.[elements of Gilbert Withondes or Gilbert of the White hand?] Probably the person who held lands of his ancestor, Herewig.
++  Elements of the name ''Roger de Doncaster'? the prioress of Kirklees lover.
§ This appears to be John le Botiler who forfeited houses in Pontefract on the 28th October 1322 probably after supporting Thomas of Lancaster. The houses were granted to William de Morley, "King of the North", a minstrel king of Edward II.
John le Botiler was known as Roi de Bruant or King of Bruant/ King Brownhead or King of the Sparrows., a former King of the Minstrels. Thus he may have been Thomas Earl of Lancaster and Alice de Laci's 'King of the Minstrels for the North'. [ Ph.D by George Rastall 1968, p.38.] In 1334 the manor of Skelbrooke with 5 acres of land and 8 acres of meadow at Burghwallis and Skellow passed from his father to his mother Agnes with remainder to John and his wife Joan.25
##  In 1336 Agnes, the widow of Edmund  founded a chantry in the newly built Skelbrooke Chapel on the north side of  the church. This was dedicated on 4th June 1338. [J.W. Walker, Y.A.J. vol. 36, 1944.] but it was destroyed during the Reformation. There is a glass window in the church of the mid 1300's with the image of a young man with a foliate background [the 'Greenman' , St. John the Evangelist or a representation of her husband's brother. Skelbrooke Chapel was first built, probably by the Butler family, in the 1100's. Only a few extant fragments remain from this time.  The original dedication of the church is not known but when the chantry was founded in 1336 the church was already dedicated to St John the Evangelist, the church was rededicated  as St. Michael's and All Angels after a fire in 1870 which necessitated a rebuild two years later.
^  Edmund Butler [Edmund le Butiller] was probably named after one of the sons of the Lord of Pontefract, Henry de Laci [ 3rd earl Lincoln and earl of Salisbury d. 1311]. Edmund Butler was a younger brother to Robert III Butler. Edmund was also a  steward [Fr: seneschal] to Henry de Laci at Pontefract Castle and following his father's  death, became Lord of Skelbrooke. In 1311 Edmund  Butler was granted a free warren in Skelbroc and Slephull [Sleephill] and he had a road enclosed in Skelbrooke which led under his house toward the north pasture called 'Skelbrocthornes' [1326]. Thus Edmund benefited greatly from his elder brother's demise, which leads us to question whether Edmund had a hand in the capture of his brother. Edmund  was later Thomas earl of Lancaster's steward31 as Edmund did not die until ~1330.

3rd April 1330 at Woodstock -
'Commission of oyer and terminer to Richard de Willughby, Adam de Everyngham, and Thomas Deyvill touching the murder of Edmund le Botiller, at Pontefract, co. York. By K.' [C.P.R. Edward II,  1327-1330, p.558.]

 In 1333, Henry de Percy, John de Eland et. al. were justices who outlawed three persons [Edmund and brother Hugh Brearley and William Hebble, outlawed for not appearing 4th July 1333]23 for the death of Edmund Butler. John de Eland's relative, Margaret de Savile, was a prioress of Kirklees 1350-1360. See Prioress
§ It could be speculated that Agnes, mother of Robert III Butler was Agnes FitzWilliam d < 12 May 1303, grand daughter of Adela Plantagenet. Adela was the daughter of  Hamelyn Plantagenet of Conisbrough Castle, illegitimate half brother of Henry II and Isabel de Warrene of Surrey and the Wakefield Manor &c.. This would make Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke of the illegitimate Anglo-Norman royal bloodline! I rarely use exclamation marks, the pedigree looks like this :

   |                            |                                        |
William III         Ada======Henry     Ela [Adela]===Sir William                  Empress ==== Geoffrey ====concubine

de Warrene      de Warrene  earl of Huntingdon    |   FitzWilliam                 Matilda         |   of  Anjou   |     Adelaide    
                                                                                            Lord of Emley                                                                de Angers?

                                                                                        |      d 1148                                            |                       |
          Avicia de Tani===== Sir William FitzWilliam=====Albreda de Lizours        Henry II        Hamelyn ===Isabel                                                                                  
                                                      de Clairfait                               of Sprotbrough  
                      Plantagenet  Warrene
                                             Lord of Emley and Hampole*  |                                                                  [illegit.]     |
                                                                    Sir William FitzWilliam                                                                           |
                                            Lord of Emley, Hampole and Sprotbrough=======================Adela Plantagenet
                                                                             b 1174 d >1218

                                                                                                        Sir Thomas FitzWilliam=========Agnes Bertram
                                                                                                                b 1209 Emley

                                                             Robert II Butler=====~1269====== Agnes ?FitzWilliam** d >12 May 1303

                                              of Skelbrooke^                  |
                                                                                           Robert III Butler
                                                                                           of Skelbrooke d 1294

Yorks Arch Journal * William 'Clairfait' established Hampole priory as a nunnery with his wife Avicia de Tani [?Tanfield], the date varies but between 115011-1170.
** Agnes FitzWilliam's older  sister, Albreda FitzWilliam married Richard le Waleys of Burghwallis [marriage settlement 1250-1260] so there is evidence of  the FitzWilliam daughters marrying locally. Agnes FitzWilliam had land close by regranted by her nephew at Adwick -Le-Street in 1303. The FitzWilliam lands at Sprotbrough adjoined those of the Butlers of Skelbrooke at Scawsby. As well the Skelbrooke lands abutted the Hampole lands, the latter held by the FitzWilliams since the time Sir William FitzWilliam de Clairfait [d. 1148] was Lord of Hampole. Robert II Butler's second son was Edmund as with  the second son of Sir William FitzWilliam of Emley and Sprotbrough, [nephew of Agnes, d.  by 1342] and Robert II's third known son was named  William which is naturally a common name in the FitzWilliam line.
^ Gained lands at Spaldington [East Yorkshire] from his mother Constance : "1269, Trinity Term. - Fine between Robert le Butiler junior [here Robert II] and Agnes [FitzWilliam?] his wife, plaintiffs, and Robert le Butiler senior and Constance his wife, deforciants, of 12 bovates of land in Spaldington. The deforciants admit the property to be the right of Robert junior and Agnes by the gift of Robert senior and Constance; Robert junior and Agnes grant to Robert senior and Constance for life, to hold of Robert junior and Agnes and the heirs of their bodies, paying yearly 1d. at Pentecost for all service; reversion to Robert junior and Agnes and the heirs of their bodies, to hold of the chief lords; remainder to the right heirs of Constance, quit of any other heirs of Agnes (Feet of Fines, Yorks., case 266, file 53, no. 43)." W.P. Baildon [1929] Parentheses my addition - T.M. Spaldington is 13 miles west of Hotham [Hode in the D.B.]

Does this give credence to the idea that Robin was of noble blood? John Major first proposed Robin Hood was a noble outlaw [1521] and it was Henry VIII's antiquarian, John Leyland [Collecteanea 1540] who also suggested that Robin Hood was of nobility 'Kirkley monasterium monialium ubi Ro. Hood nobilis ille exlex sepultus'. Leyland had visited Barnsdale in the early 1500's on his fact finding travels about the country and had obviously been impressed. Note the presence of Prince Henry of Scotland as an earl of Huntingdon associated with the descending FitzWilliam line. Later a daughter and heiress of William Clinton [Fiennes] of Climpton Oxon. married into the FitzWilliam line. William Clinton had been made an Earl of Huntingdon by the young Henry III in 1337 for he had been one of Edward's followers, who in 1330 entered Nottingham Castle and arrested Roger Mortimer. The association may have been enough for Anthony Munday to introduce  the legendary hero as  the 'Earl of Huntington' into his plays.
See Nottingham Coup.
The connection between Robert III Butler and Agnes FitzWilliam needs proving but the filial and geographical associations surrounding the families of Butler and FitzWilliam are very  compelling. The Huntingdon theme makes a late appearance in the late 1500's but one other way the Huntingdon idea may have entered the Robin Hood tales into Munday's works is through another sometime resident of the Barndale area, John I de Hastings who held Fenwick from his mother Joan de Canteloupe. John's grandmother was the Scottish Ada Ceann mhor [Canmore] daughter of David earl of Huntingdon. For this connection to the Royal Scottish House of Dunkeld  he claimed the crown of Scotland in 1292 under Edward I. However over the twelve other 'Competitors' he was not successful, the prize going to the soon to be vassal king, John Balliol.

If we also trace back the genealogy we have predicted for Robert III Butler, from Sir William FitzWilliam de Clairfait we can take the pedigree back to Charlemagne, King of France from whom the Capetian kings descended and all the 'noble' families of Europe and through Adelle de Vermandois to King Alfred The Great, King of England :
Charlemagne Charlemagne-----> 
Louis I The Pious de Aquitane, King of France + Judith----->
Adelaide de Aquitane + King Robert I of France----->
Hugh Magnus de Neustria Count of Paris + Hedwige of Saxony----->
Hugh Capet, King of France + Adelaide of Poitou----->
Robert II Capet The Pious, King of France + Constance of Toulouse------>
Henri I Capet, King of France + Anna Agnesa Yarovlavna of Kiev----->
Hugh Capet Magnus + Adelle de Vermandois*----->
Isabella Capet de Vermandois de Crepi [second marriage] + William II de Warrene------>
Ela [Adela] de Warrene Sir William FitzWillam, Lord of Emley----->
Sir William FitzWilliam de Clairfait, Lord of Emley and Hampole [Gt x3 grandfather of Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke].
< A bust of Charlemagne in the grounds of Highclere House, Hampshire.

* A descendant of Alfred The Great, King of England --------->
   Edward The Elder, King of England------->
   Edgina + Henri third Count de Vermandois------>
   Hubert fourth Count de Vermandois--------->
   Adelle de Vermandois

During Alan's [son of Thomas de Armthorpe d. by 1202] time and before Hugh's stewardship a 'Roger de Scelboc' is known to have departed Skelbrooke in the De Laci lands and become a vassal knight of Duncan, son of Gilbert of Galloway*. It would appear that this Roger was either a member of the Butler family of Skelbrooke [e.g. Alan's brother] or had married into it for we find the lands of Herewig in the hands of a William de Scalebroc [probably the William in the above genealogy, son of Hugh Pincerna] in Henry III's time which were by then a parcel of the De Laci lands.  *And probably also for Gilbert of Galloway.
Gilbert of Galloway had his brother Uchtred murdered in order to gain control of Galloway. This murder set the stage for Uchtred's son Roland of Galloway to oust Duncan in battle on 5th July 1185. Whilst this was occurring, Henri Curtmantle was pleased to see William the Lyon, then King of Scotland, being otherwise engaged in his own country instead of trying to regain the three northern English counties lost by his brother, Malcolm IV. Henri had been encouraging this approach since he released King William from Falaise Castle in 1175, when the Galwegians again, as in 1160 under Malcolm, revolted and even Hugh de Morville, Constable of Scotland had to abandon his lands here at this time when every Anglo-Norman the Galwegians could find was killed.
Now Roger de Laci's daughter who died in 1209 [name not known, perhaps Helen or Alice, sister of John Constable of Chester later, earl of Lincoln] is referred to by Stringer as having married Alan of Galloway. Alan was the son of Roland. This indicates that the De Laci's were trying to make cross-border ties and were very familiar with the Lords of Galloway.
We might ask what was a knight, probably a member of the Butlers of Skelbrooke, strongly associated with the De Laci household, doing in Galloway assisting Duncan? Duncan's line eventually lost Galloway whilst later the De Lacis tried to develop this connection with the Pictish enclave through marriage to Duncan's opposing Galwegian line in Alan of Galloway [his  first or second marriage with no issue].

In 1186 Roger de Scalebroc is recorded as having built a ring structured castle at Greenan west of Ayr which was then in Northern Galloway. Duncan was defeated in 1186, and presumably so was his tenant and vassal Roger de Scelbroc. Duncan made peace, renouncing claims to Southern Galloway and was awarded the earldom and lordship of Carrick [the northern part of Galloway, i.e. basically Ayrshire]. His descendant Marjorie of Carrick married Robert VI Bruce who produced King Robert Bruce. Roger may have had a daughter, Maria [Marie] de Scalebroc who married Henry Livingston of Livingstoun

What was going on here between Galloway and the De Lacis? Was king Henry trying to encourage bonds with Galloway to undermine the Scots under William The Lyon? The answer would have to be a resounding yes, for these cross-border marriages were a regular strategy of the Norman kings to reduce the chances of the Scots massing into Northern England.
How does this relate to our investigation of who we think Robin Hood was?  If Robin was resident in Barnsdale in the 1180's he could very easily have been drawn to Roger de Skelbrooke's cause, to fight for the Pictish Galwegians against the Scots, William the Lion and David earl of Huntingdon and all their progeny. This would suit Robin's cause as well as that of Roger de Skelbrooke's, Robert Le Waleys [a Galwegian descendant], Roger de Laci's and King Henry's. Does this help to explain why we have reports of Robin Hood in Cumberland*, the English county adjacent to Southern Galloway, his appearance in references to Carlisle and Inglewood? Was Galloway an early exploit before he was declared an outlaw in the 1190's?
*Written by the Scotsman Andrew de Wyntoun, a cannon of St. Andrew's and prior of St. Serf's Inch on Loch Leven. He wrote  under the patronage of  Sir John  Macduff of  Wemyss 3rd earl of Fife [d. 1428] who moved his residence from 'Macduff's Castle' to West Wemyss, Fife. John Fordun continued de Wyntoun's work in the 1440's. Mentions that R.H. and Little John had been outlaws in Inglewood and Barnsdale c. 1283. De Wyntoun was the only writer to mention Inglewood, which is in Cumberland.

Associations with A Lyttel Geste of Robyn Hode
In addition, our columnar history of the Butler family of Skelbrooke exhibits elements found in the narrative A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode. We have a small church or chapel built here in the 1100's which associates itself with Robin Hood's wish to return to Barnsdale to build a chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. The author of the Geste clearly had in mind Monk Bretton Priory or 'Monachorum' 'near Barnsley, which was dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

                                            I made a chapell in Bernysdale
                                            That semely is to see
                                            It is of Mary Magdaleyne
                                            And thereto wolde I be

                                           - Geste D text

This church appears to have been attached to St,. Mary Magdalene's priory at Monk Bretton. Certainly the priory had some lands in Skelbrook and gained the advowson of the church. In 1878 Richard Holmes stated that "All Saint' Skelbrook, in the parish of South Kirkby, which we have seen good grounds for attributing to the renowned Robin Hood, and to have been the 'chapel in Barnisdale' to which, while at the royal court..........the three cups, the arms of that priory, were till lately to be seen as a finial to the hood-moulding of the tower, a comparatively recent addition to the Robin Hood Church, which was originally without a tower. They have now been shifted to the south porch of a new church built upon the site of the ancient structure, the tower alone remaining of what was standing six years* ago. * i.e. the new church replaced the old chapel about 1872.When Joseph Hunter published his 'South Yorkshire' in 1823, the church he describes at Skelbrook had not been burnt down so his description is closer to the original church.

 Source: Google Earth

Aerial view of Monachorum or Monk Bretton Priory. 

KEY: A = Priory Entrance. B = Gatehouse. C = Cellar. D = Kitchen. E = Refectory.  F = Guest House. G= Infirmary. H = Warming House. I = Chapter House.               

William, son of Hugh Pincerna and all his heirs were provided with a token peppercorn rent of a pair of white gloves for tenancy of his lands each year [which may explain the appearance in the Geste of Gilbert Withondes or Gilbert of the White hand]. The surname 'De Doncaster' is evident conjoining with the Butler family in the early 1200's.The disagreement and resulting fight between Little John and the Sheriff's butler in the Geste is well matched and Little John invites the butler to join the band of outlaws, the connection with butlers will not go amiss either.

In verse 91 of the Geste the exclamation 'By God and Saint Richard"' is probably St. Richard of Chichester who was canonised in 1262 [Dobson & Taylor], this suggests that the Geste was compiled after this date. The meeting with 'Edward our Cumly King' of the Geste which Hunter shows is most likely Edward II [r.1307-1327] is seen as evidence of the earliest time that the compiler of the Geste could have been active although Childs sees this as the least likely scenario to be historically based. After abortive attempts in Scotland, Edward II was in York by April 1323. After a progress through North Yorkshire King Edward moved onto Lancashire [the only time he visited this county] to Liverpool, a very young town then, and to Nottingham where he stayed [9th - 23rd November,1323] and hunted in Sherwood. These time frames would indicate that the Geste was compiled between 1323 and 1377 [the latter from the Piers Plowman reference]. As P.V. Harris points out, Ranulf, Earl of Chester [presumably  De Blondeville] has been assumed to be coeval with Robin Hood in Piers Plowman, but this may not be the case. This compilation is thus predicted to be near the end of Edward II's reign [1327] or in the early years of Edward III's reign [1327-1377]*. Dobson and Taylor [1976] suggest that the compiler of the Geste was accomplished, he fused perhaps two stories one from Barnsdale and one from Sherwood into the one narrative. We find the later fyttes of the Geste are more related to Sherwood than Barnsdale.
* Between 1327 when Edward II was deposed and the accession of Edward III, the kingdom was effectively ruled by Queen Isabella, widow of Edward II, and her paramour, Roger Mortimer for three years 1327-1330. See Nottingham Coup.

If we consider Laurence Minot's 1339 poem, with reference to Edward III, during his invasion of France, as 'oure cumly king' [ line 1 of Poem IV] then we must place at least one compilation of the Geste after 1330. We might also consider the possibility of the Geste being written down in English during this time. French was used as the language of the judicial courts until after the great pestilence of 1349 during the reign of Edward III when English was permitted. Was the original scribe for the Geste a cleric associated with criminals? He was certainly well accomplished in conveying imagery through rhyming verse and it can be argued in also creating historically inaccurate metaphorical descriptions.
We may recall from the above pedigree that Edmund Butler of Skelbrooke was murdered by three assailants and Sir John de Eland outlawed these persons. If  the compiler of the Geste was using Sir John's relative+, Margaret de Savile, as a model for the prioress of Kirklees whose tenure was perhaps from 1350-1360 then this places the compilation after 1350-60 and before 1377. It is worth noting that Sir John de Eland, who appears to be a bullying tyrant for John de Warrene was living in the time of Margaret de Savile's tenure.
+ It would appear  from Baildon's work that she was the sister of Sir John de Savile [d. 1405] who married Isabel de Eland daughter of Thomas de Eland second son of Sir John de Eland, High steward of the Wakefield manor [d.1253], a relationship by marriage viz :

            Sir John de Eland=========1=========Alice de Latham
                High Steward of
                Wakefield manor                     |
                Sheriff of Yorkshire  d. 1353*                         
                |                                                                              |
                Sir  John de Eland  d.s.p.1353          Thomas de Eland====Joane
                                                                                                                 |                                                        |                                            |
                                                                                                 Isabel de Eland====<Trinity 1353===Sir John de Savile                 Margaret
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     de Savile
Prioress of Kirklees
                                                                                                                                                                                                        tenure prob. 1350-60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   d. >1360

* Old pedigrees give death date as 20th October 1350.                                                                                                                   
Verse 451 of the Geste tells us that 'The pryoresse of Kyrkesly that nye was of his kin', suggests a filial relationship between Robin and the prioress of Kirklees. We do in fact find a relationship between Robert Butler and Margaret de Savile. The Butlers after Hugh Pincerna's marriage to Avice de Savile sometimes referred to themselves, or were referred to by their relatives in records as  'De Savile' e.g. Richard the son of Hugh Pincerna and Richard's son Ralph. The connection between Robert Butler and the prioress of Kirklees is traced but not recognised by W.P. Baildon [1929] this deriving from a common ancestor in Sir Henry de Savile [d.1231?] as follows :

             The heiress of Golcar*====1====Sir Henry de Savile ====2====?
                                                                                             d. 1231?

                                                                   |                                                       |
     Hugh Pincerna=========Avice d
e Savile                   Sir John de Savile=====Agnes
                                                                                                                   b~1200 d 1250

                                      |                                                                                             |
                Richard Butler [
de Sevile/Savile]====?                         John de Savile===?
                                                                                                                b 1225 d 1278
                                                                  |                                                                          |
                                              Robert I Butler====Constance                   Peter  de Savile*=====Maud       * 14 Ed. I - Inq. showed Peter who held Skelbrooke to be an idiot. [Hunter J. South Yorkshire]
                                                                                                                        b 1250 d 1308

                                                                            |                                                                          |
                                                        Robert II Butler====Agnes                         John de Savile===Margery
                                                                   d 1299                                                    b 1275 d1336          Rishworth

                                                                                             |                                                            |
                                                         Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke                  John de Savile ===Margery Wood   d. 1294
                                                                                        |                                                                                       |
                                                                  Sir  John de Savile===Isabel de Eland**             
Margaret de Savile
Prioress of Kirklees
                                                                                                                                                        tenure prob. 1350-1360

* Golcar is between Elland and Huddersfield
, Golcar passed to Peter de Savile. This removed these lands from the Butler line [dispossession by the male Savile line?]
** Grand-daughter of Sir John de Eland, chief steward [seneschal to John de Warrene earl of Surrey Lord of Wakefield], Sheriff of Yorkshire who outlawed the murderers of  Edmund Butler of Skelbrooke of the De Laci camp.
However from the period of  Margaret de Savile's tenure and Robert Butler's death date it would not appear that she had any direct effect upon his demise. The assumption is that he did die as a result of 'pressing'. But did he? The Geste was apparently compiled during or after the prioress's tenure as mentioned above. But there is a connection between the Kirklees nunnery and Robert Butler of Skelbrooke. This relationship bears considered analysis.
Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke apparently died in 1294 from the effects of  torture by the Yorkshire ecclesiastical courts. These courts were held in the Chapter House which was probably built under the instruction of John Le Romeyn, Archbishop of York.

Early York Minster
                                The early York Minster with its Chapter House

yellow = 1220-1260
blue    =  1280-1350
The chapter house was completed in 1286, it was and still is used as the meeting and discussion  place for the Dean and chapter of the clergy/college of canons. New canons are also installed here and in the past ecclesiastical courts were held to determine the fate of heretics and fallen clerics. In 1296, Edward I even held a parliament here.
The octagonal plan unlike many other chapter houses has no central column to support the roof, but a very intricately designed vaulted structure. The chapter house provides six seats on each wall, there being seven walls for this purpose. The walls display some of the Minster's finest carvings, mostly made between 1270-1280.
   These carvings include depictions of  grimacing faces, hounds, monkeys and other grotesque animals, a woman being attacked by an eagle, a king with a pig on his head and green men with leaves sprouting from their mouths. The green men represent the pinnacle of a stonemasons skill, combining the intricacies of the carving of the greenwood leaves and the features of the human face. The eighth side of the octagon is taken up by the entrance doorway leading from the vestibule and north transept. It would have been here, in the chapter house, that Robert Butler would have been brought in 1294, perhaps to stand in the centre whilst his inquisitors and superiors determined his punishment and fate. This has vague correlations with the 'Poor Knight' being arraigned in the prescence of the abbot of St. Mary's Abbey, a short distance from the Minster, a little creative licence by the author of the Geste.                                           .
.     Greenman from York Cathedral               Greenman in the chapter house of York minster
                                         Green men in York Cathedral

Listen to the stirring music of Charles-Marie Widor's 'Toccata from Symphonie V opus 42, No. 1' played in Paris. On 4th June 2011 during an afternoon wedding ceremony this work was played at York Minster when four major pieces of the Robyn Hode jigsaw were discovered at the cathedral. All to be revealed in a forthcoming publication. This is the real link to the Masons, not the often misleadingly speculated Roslin Chapel.

Widor's opus 42 has been played as recessional music at the royal weddings of :

Antony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret, 6 May 1960 at Westminster Abbey.
Prince Edward,* Duke of Kent and Katharine Worsley, 8 June 1961 at York Minster.
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey, 14 November 1973.
Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones, 19 June 1999 at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. And the latest .....
Prince William and Catherine Middleton, 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey.

* Since 1967 Prince Edward has been Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.

We should recognise that the Archbishop of York at the time of Robert III Butler's torture [d.1294] was in fact John Le Romeyn [elected 29thMicklegate ca. 1855 October 1285, tenure 1286-1296] a natural son of John Le Romeyn the elder, treasurer of York. It was during the later1200's that Kirklees nunnery, which was under the control of its mother house at Rievaulx, first came under the control of the Archbishop of York and thence until the dissolution. At this time there were rumours of fraternisation with the laity and as a consequence, a concern for the spiritual health of the nuns was raised. It is recorded for 1287 that Le Romeyn asked the prior of St. Oswald's of Oswaldkirk to visit Kirklees nunnery where he was required to hear the confessions of the nuns and ensure that they were leading worthy lives. If Robert was tortured under John Le Romeyn's authority then in some way the prioress in waiting, Margaret de Savile, who by the time the Geste was composed, was the prioress of Kirklees, became connected by association. She was also connected  to Sir John de Eland [d. 1253], the cruel seneschal of a dissolute master, John de Warrene earl of Surrey, Lord of the Wakefield Manor. This man was at the forefront of  the 'Elland Feud' a running sore between two contiguous manors, Wakefield and Pontefract. This feud may have appeared as long ago as Hugh Pincerna's time when in 1303, it is recorded that 'Simon de Wakefeld complained about Hugh Le Butiler [Pincerna] of Skelbroke and William de Wakefeld [Simon's relative?] for assaulting him at York on Tuesday after the close of Easter, 30 Edw. I [1302]. They denied it. The jury found that Hugh did beat and wound Simon, by order (per preceptum) of the said William, and assessed the damages at £40 '.
Pontefract Castle Keep Above all other similarities with the narrative of the Geste in Barnsdale is the case of the above Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke [d.1294], the pebble in the millpond, who appears as an alleged criminal of the worst type. No alias here, just a
thief, robber, rapist and murderer, at least those are allegations levelled. In Robert Butler's gaol* delivery record for 1293 we find  "William the man of William del Sayles living in Skelbrooke...." this has undoubted associations with Saylis of the Geste, a place we recognise here as Sales Wood in the valley of the Skell. The similarity of the name Robert with the diminutive Robin, cannot be misconstrued by anyone who has heard the Robin Hood tales.
* The gaol in the "Wapentake of Osgoldcross", Liberty of Pontefract, may have been at Pontefract Castle where the dungeons of the castle keep can still be found. Robert III Butler's brother, Edmund [possibly murdered 1333-4] was the seneschal of Pontefract castle during Henry de Laci's lifetime [d. 1311] and may well have had a hand in the capture of his brother.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Micklegate, York,  about 1855


                        The basement to Pontefract Keep
                                         The base of the north tower of the Pontefract keep
                                           housing the windowless dungeons [Donjon]

Baldwin describes how Pontefract Castle in 24 Edward I (~1296) had a great chamber within the castle walls, another chamber named the ‘Nichole Chamber’,* a wardrobe then being repaired, an armoury filled with artillery and a treasury where counting of money took place and records were stored.28
One of the chambers is afterwards named the Nichole* Chamber. 29
*In various other sources this word 'Nichole' translates as 'Lincoln' for Henry de Lacy was earl of Lincoln.

Map of Pontefract Keep
                                Map of Pontefract Keep, also known as the Donjon Tower or Round Tower.
Pontefract Keep 1560 This cleaned image of Pontefract keep drawn about 1560-2 shows the final three levels above the dungeons on each tower with intervening corbels. John of Lancaster [Gaunt] had the keep raised in 1374 and added the corbelling which was noted by John Leland ~1530 who described the keep as 'cast into 6 roundelles, 3 bigge and 3 smaull'.17 The 1560  drawing however appears to show a fourth or northern tower which would make the original keep quatrefoil rather than trefoil in plan, similar to Clifford's tower in York. We also can see the addition of Tudor chimney pots, somewhat similar to some of those seen today at Hampton Court which the trust is trying to preserve. At the end of August 1541 Henry VIII did stay at Pontefract Castle on his royal progress of the North, following the 'Pilgrimage of Grace'. He was accompanied by Katherine Howard, a very young wife. Katherine appointed her former lover, Francis Dereham as her personal secretary whilst at the castle. The sheriff of Nottingham at this time was Sir Gervase Clifton who had been visited at his home in Hodsock by King Henry on the king's northern progress following their mutual appearance at a Robin Hood shooting contest at Finsbury Park. How did Robin Hood of 'Loxly'*  become linked into the ballad Robin Hood and Queen Katherine?
Bellamy [1985] suggests this ballad could have been written by Richard Darrington who from 1542 was a footman and Keeper of the Royal Mastiffs for King Henry VIII. In the first few stanzas of Queen Katherine, a Richard Parrin[g]ton or Patrington is mentioned as Queen Katherines 'trusted page'.
    The queen is to her chamber gon  
    As fast as she can wend,  
    She calls to her her lovely page,  
    His name was Patrington

Darrington is also a place-name near  Pontefract, thus it could be speculated that Richard Darrington originated from the village of Darrington, exactly two miles south-east of Pontefract Castle  and that he was hired by the king on his progress north. Did this person, Darrington, carry the place-name, 'Loxly' to King Henry VIII’s Court in the ballad Robin Hood and Queen Katherine? This author thinks that he did.

* The accepted wisdom is that the first mention of Robin being connected to Locksley (Loxley) in Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire appears in the Sloane MS. of  about 1600 which also states that Robin haunted around Barnsdale Forest. However if we take the ballad of Robin Hood and Queen Katherine as being penned by  Darrington, a footman of  Henry VIII's household then the Sloane likely borrows from it. The Sloane seems to borrow from John Leyland's Collectanea [1540] which suggested that Robyn and his followers hid out in 'Barnsdale Forest'. However, there never was a Barnsdale Forest, suggesting that this was either creative hypothesising or inaccurate local hearsay committed to print.

Alice daughter of Henry [d.1311] de Laci of Pontefract would have been about 11 or 12 years of age in 1296
two years after her marriage to Thomas Earl of Lancaster, the question which may arise is: Was Alice de Laci living in an  upper level of Pontefract keep whilst Robert Butler was incarcerated below in the dungeons? Edmund Le Botillier, Lord of Skelbrooke, younger brother of Robert III Butler was Henry de Laci's steward [Fr: seneschal] and was later steward for Thomas Earl of Lancaster at Pontefract and Alice de Laci, for Edmund did not die until 1333.

La Piene Robert Butler would not plead and although he provided the court with names of accomplices,* his lack of plea led the court to dispense with him by an extreme form of punishment intended to extract such a plea, la peine forte et dure ['strong and hard punishment'] or basically pressing, often to death with as much force as could be applied. This method was introduced under Edward I's Chancellor, who was also a churchman and was also used during Edward I's reign upon William Wallace, the Scots thorn in the Anglo-Norman heel. At least Robert Butler and William Wallace had one thing in common but William was not Robert as some have speculated. Such a form of torture was not abolished in Britain until 1772 following the last case to employ such a method at the Cambridge Assizes of 1741.

"He was stripped, laid on his back on the bare ground, and as much iron and weights as he could bear, et plus, were placed on him, so that he could not rise; he was given to eat of the worst bread that could be found, and to drink of the water nearest to the gaol, except running water; he had nothing to drink on the day that he ate, and nothing to eat on the day that he drank. This was kept up until he either pleaded or died. The object of the prisoner was to avoid forfeiture, which followed on a conviction for felony; by refusing to plead, he could not be tried, and consequently could not be convicted."-W.P. Baildon [1929]
* These 22  who indicate a large network of criminals as accomplices and receivers in the Barnsdale area are provided by Dr. David Hepworth : Alice Hotty of Skelagh [Skellow] and her sister Matilda, Colle of Burgh Walleys [Burghwallis] the man of Richard Tyes [Le Tyas probably after Farnley Tyas although Richard is also known to have held land in Burghwallis and Skellow in 1284 and 1319], Thomas son of Sybil of Skelagh [Skellow], William the man of William del Sayles living in Skelbrook, John son of Sen' of Doncaster, Thomas chaplain of Skelagh [Skellow] formerly living at Doncaster, William Luggeto sergeant of Armethorp [this is one of the Butler families earliest estates, east of Doncaster], Adam le Waleys [Wallace] of Skelagh [Skellow], Geoffrey le Mouner [Miller] of Skelbrook, Adam Alman, Benedict son of Thomas of Slepyl  [Sleephill] living at Kekelton [?Kirkheaton], William son of Stephen of Burgh Waleys [this may be an unknown son of Sir Stephen Le Waleys], Robin son of Walter Walschef of Elmsale [Elmshall], William Smith of Leicester and his wife, John Skyllare of Lancaster, William Curry of Tickhill, John the Goldsmith of Doncaster, Robert le Mouner [Miller] of Paynel Hoton [Hooton Pagnell] and William Maureward.
It is noteworthy that a cleric, the chaplain of Skellow is included,  perhaps a prelude to the introduction of 'Friar Tuck' in much later ballads. The name Robin makes its appearance at this time and place in Robin  'Walschef' probably of Elmshall [Robin was a diminutive of Robert more common in the 1200's, according to Dobson and Taylor  than Robert]. The reference to a goldsmith indicates the direction any contraband gold would have travelled and this destination appears to be Doncaster rather than Pontefract. The place-names provide us with the geographical distribution of the persons involved. 'Walter Walschef of Elshale' would have been 'a man of' John de Wentworth of Elmshall who married Joan daughter of Richard Le Tyas of Burghwallis who is mentioned above in relation to 'Colle of Burgh Walleys the man of Richard Tyas'. Richard Tyas married one of two heiresses of Tankersley, Alice de Tankersley and thereby gained part of the Tankersley estates along with Hugh de Eland who married the other heiress Joan.  Joan Tankersley's marriage to the High Steward of Wakefield the manor and High Sheriff of Yorkshire, Sir John de Eland made him the nephew of Alice de Tankersley. This Alice de Tankersley who married Richard Tyas of Burgh Wallis had a daughter Joan who married John de Wentworth of Elmshall, this appears to be a close network of local landowners and their criminal subculture. Is this the band of outlaws which provided the compiler of the Geste with further inspiration for the original ballad, at least the earlier fyttes, of Robin Hood?

Robert III Butler claimed some immunity from the king's civil courts as a clerk of the Church. According to court records Robert possessed no chattels, he admitted his guilt, ostensibly outside the court, and allegedly under torture whilst in custody. However, the custodian denied, under oath, that any torture had occurred. Robert Butler would have succeed to his father's lands at Skelbrooke if he had not been convicted, but if he were to plead, be tried and convicted then he and his heirs would lose the claim to his father's lands [dispossession]. The justices ordered the sheriff of the time to take Robert back to prison. A priest pleaded for Robert as a member of the clergy, the justices handed Robert to the Archbishop of York for trial by ordeal [pressing]. Again similarities arise, for the court that dispensed the punishment was an ecclesiastical court at York. This may remind us of the abbot of St. Mary's court at York who was visited by Sir Richard at the Lee and perhaps the York county assizes where historically a Rob. Hode was declared a fugitive in 1230.3
Ostensibly, Robert Butler was killed in 1294 by the method of 'pressing', but his trial is exactly 100 years after John Major claimed that Robin Hood had been outlawed [1193-4]. Hunter gave Robin Hood's age at his death as 77 years, subtraction from the oft quoted death date of 1347 that provides a birth year of about 1270, approximating to that of Robert Le Botiller of ~1275 [according to Baildon] whose parents married ~ 1269. If there were folk tales about shortly after the death of Robert III Butler then there would have been 25 years or less in which to name Robin Crosse* in Derbyshire and 150 years or less, plenty of time, to name Robin Hood's Stone in the Skell valley, first recorded 1422. Local folklore today tells us that Robyn and his men watered their horses in the Skell and grazed their horses in a field above Wrangbrook House located in the 'Lynges of Slepil'.27  Wrangbrook and the area of Slephill ('Stephill' in Burton's Monasticon Eboracense, 1758, p. 305.) is where the monks of Monk Bretton (dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene) worked the land.*Three miles S.W. of Hathersage, a medieval wayside cross on the moors, one mile east of Bradwell in Hazlebadge parish. The base of the cross was still extant in the 1970's and recorded as 'Robin Crosse' in 1399. Later this became known as 'Robin Hood's Cross'.

How could Robert Butler become known as 'Robyn Hode'? There had already been a number of miscreants with a similar name. Robert Hode of the York Assizes of 1225 for example. Between 30 Edward I [1302] and 10 Edward III [1336] a period of less than forty years, there were no less than six 'Robyn Hodes' identified by Childs such as Robert Hood of Bitchill, Wakefield [1316], originally noted by Hunter, Robert Robyn Houd of Hastings, Sussex [1332], Robyn Hode, one of Edward II's valets de chambre* [1324], also noted by Hunter and Robert Hod a common councillor for Vintry Ward, London [1325]. These may all have been legitimate names rather than epithets. By 1400 a manuscript from Lincoln Cathedral had wriiten on it 'Robyn hod in Scherewod, stode' which mimics the Geste ['Robyn stode in Bernesdale'] which in turn seems mimiced by a legal maxim which appeared in the English court of 1429 'Robin Hode en Barnsdale stode'. His name seems to come entirely from the Geste so popular was its movement through the halls and fairs of England and Scotland.*Hunter's account [1852] of  a Robyn Hode as one of the King Edward II's hirelings centred upon a correlation with  Robert Hood, who lived in Wakefield, with the person 'Robyn Hode' mentioned in the king's accounts. Hunter's researches indicated that this person was in the King's service from  March  1324 to November 1324. However subsequent ultraviolet analysis  of the account documents showed that Robyn Hode was in the King's service in July 1323 which is before the King travelled North.16

The Sheriff of Yorkshire was John de Meux in 1292 and 1293 but just prior to Meux the sheriff of Yorkshire for six years had been Gervase de Clifton [tenure 1286-1292] . We also find  that a Sir Gervase Clifton was a Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in 1279 and 1290, this would obviate the removal of any barrier to the sheriff of Nottingham and Derbyshires operating in Yorkshire. Is this the sheriff that Robyn [actuality the compiler] reminds his band of men to keep high in their minds? The compiler of the Geste could have been writing about a Sir Gervase de Clifton [d.1377] who was the sheriff of Nottingham in 1345, the similarity of name and descendancy would not have gone amiss. A Sheriff of Nottinghamshire who followed the tenure of Gervase [d.1377] was John Walleys [1350] who may have been a descendant of the Le Waleys of Burghwallis.
Much later a Gervase Clifton 1st baronet of Hodsock [b.1581] is recognised here as being a great influence in popularising the Robin Hood-Nottingham connection. Hodsock is just over the county boundary in Nottinghamshire and was visited by Henry VIII with his wife Queen Katherine [Howard]. Katherine had a short tenure as queen as a result of her dalliances whilst on Henry's perambulation of the North. This royal progress evolved after the 'Pilgrimage of Grace' when Catholics in the north revolted but were crushed after Henry broke his vow. Hodsock was granted originally by Roger de Busli to his kinsman Torald de Lizours whilst Torald's likely brother, Fulk de Lizours was granted Sprotborough. Sprotborough then descended to the FitzWilliams when Sir William FitzWilliam de Clairfait, Lord of Emley and Hampole advantageously married Albreda [Aubrey] de Lizours.

We also find that the Butlers held lands at Scawsby adjacent to Sprotbrough lands [FitzWilliam country] where Scawsby Lees, like the Butler's Skelbrooke lands, straddled the old Roman Ridge, and which further north becomes 'Watling Strete' through 'Barnsdale'. To the N.E. probably still in the Butler lands stands a motte and bailey , 'Castle Hills' which could conceivably have been a residence of the Butler family.

                                   .South Yorkshire 1200's-1300's
                                     Key :      ..... Lands belonging to the Butlers    
Lands belonging to the FitzWilliams

Upon these lands at Scawsby Lees on the 26th October 1536 Robert Aske with 30,000 troops camped during the rebellion against Henry VIII's repressive regime led by the Duke of Norfolk.  Were the troops, 'the flower of the North' aware of the significance of this site as they faced Henry's troops across the rapidly flooding River Don.? If so, how much would tales of Robin Hood be regaled around the troop's camp fires.

It is also interesting to note that Katherine Howard prior to Henry's travels north instigated an archery match at Finsbury Circus outside the London city walls.7 Sir Gervase of Hodsock ['Gentle Sir Gervase' b.1516, grandfather of the 1st baronet] played the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Was it here a member of the Stanhopes played 'Little John' which gave rise to the story attached to 'Little John's bow' which used to hang at Hathersage and then Cawthorne Hall, South Yorkshire?  
Gervase Clifton 1st baronet was somewhat of a serial groom for he married seven times. The first was to Penelope Rich of the Wakefield Manor [wherein lies Kirklees priory] the seventh and last was to Alice Hastings, daughter of the 5th earl of Huntingdon which honour Henry VIII had revived in George Hastings. Both these marriages provide strings with which to draw some of the other stories together.

We find similarities between the Butlers of Skelbrooke and the Paston's of Norfolk. Sir John  Paston's letter to his brother William Paston dated 16th April 1473 states that John's servant had deserted him 'to pleye Seynt Jorge and Robyn Hode and the Shryff of Nottingham' and had 'goon to Bernysdale'.15 The Paston's were patrons of  minstrels and balladeers, albeit the letter was written about one hundred and eighty years after Robert Butler's death. Recent findings indicate that the copy of Robin Hood and the Potter in Cambridge University Library, another early ballad, belonged to John Paston's bailliff, Richard Calle. A complex set of circumstances surrounds the family and its involvement as patrons to the art of minstrelsy and balladry.

What could a ballad-muse/minstrel in Skelbrooke/Burghwallis  not do with this story of Robert Butler! A story of a man perhaps nineteen to twenty-one years old, ostensibly from a well connected family in Barnsdale, who at the end of the 1200's was made to look a criminal to all and sundry. He certainly appears from the list of his accomplices names to be of a higher social status and thus may have been respected as a leader. Would it not be a literary incongruity to paint a robber from a landed family as a friend to all yeomen and knights but an enemy of the clerics and sheriff. A man who would be hero, a man who would be moulded in the image of a local robber who had perhaps lived a hundred years before in the same geographic location. This sounds like cunning literature, for which the English have become well known. A tongue in cheek approach, irony and paradox rollicking together, some elements of truth, some of fiction, but above all a roaring good tale told by the fireside in a lord's hall with a pint of ale; the primeval beginnings of the Geste.
Robbery seems to have been a favourite occupation in Barnsdale for a long time, even after the example the judiciary made of Robert Butler. Joseph Hunter showed that Barnsdale was rife with robbers in 1306.26 The Bishop's of St. Andrews [William de Lamberton] and Glasgow [Robert Wishart] and the Henry the abbot of Scone journeyed from Scotland to Winchester where on some sections of the journey [in southern England] they had no guard of archers; at others they had a guard of eight or twelve men but from Pontefract to Tickhill the guard was increased to twenty, the reason given was propter Barnsdale [because or on account of of Barnsdale]. Twenty-two years later the situation was palpably unchanged when it was recorded in the C.P.R.24 for 23rd June 1329 at a parliament at Rochester -

'Commission of oyer and terminer to John Travers, Thomas Deyvill*, and Adam de Hoperton on complaint  by William de Felton that William Frere of Doncaster, William le Taverner of Doncaster, Thomas Frere, John Frere, Nicholas de Tykhull, Matilda de Clayton, John le Carter and others assaulted him at Skelbrook, co. York,
and carried away his goods. By p.s.' *keeper of the contrariants property at Sandal etc.1322.

In the Geste Little John notified Robin that the monk[s] waylaid in Barnsdale had fifty two men with them whereas Robin's band is described as numbering  'seven score [140] of whyte young men'. Was the instruction given by Robin to 'bete and bynde ... these bisshoppes and these archebishoppes' a salvo at the ecclesiastics, particularly of York after Robert III Butler's cruel death?
If the monetary value of £ 800, given in the Geste is any guide to the amount of money taken from the monks on the road North, then this equates today to an amount of over £ 4 million, a not insubstantial sum13. If Robert Butler had been involved in the robbery of such wealth from the monks of St. Mary's, York then the Chuch and archbishop would have approached Robert's sentencing most severely.

By 1333 Robert's brother, Edmund Butler, Lord of Skelbrooke had been murdered. The third brother, the last of the Butler male line,died in 1336. All that was left of this family in this year was Agnes Butler who appears to have had a chantry built into the chapel on the north side of the church in 1336. In this building is a window approximately dated to the mid 1300's, The window is a simple glass affair with the representation of a young man's face that stares dolefully out of a foliate background. Is this the face of the forest 'greenman' or the first representation of a Barnsdale robber imitating Robin Hood?

The Wallaces of Burghwallis
If we now turn our attention to the Wallaces [Le Waleys] of Burghwallis, the next village to Skelbrooke, in the honour of Pontefract, they seem related to the Wallaces of Ayrshire, one, Robert Le Waleys [Wallensis], as we have seen was a tandem sheriff of Yorkshire with Roger de Laci  in King John's reign, so the links to Carrick/Galloway seem strong at this time within Barnsdale.

Walter W. Skeat in his edition of English Dialects From the Eighth Century to the Present Day [e-book May 2005] gives as a heading in Chapter IV  "Lowland Scotch [sic] identical with the Yorkshire dialect of Hampole." Here Skeat rediscovers the works of earlier writers relating to the dialects of Northumbria A.D. 1300-1400. Specifically Skeat is exhuming  the works of the hermit Richard Rolle of Hampole, Barnsdale. Rolle wrote a poem about the year 1340 called The Pricke of Conscience.5 The language of this poem is very unlike the Geste although some have suggested, with little evidence that Rolle wrote the primal Geste. More than likely A Lyttel Geste of Robyn Hode and The Pricke of Conscience were later provided to the printer 'Wynken de Worde' in the same bundle of manuscripts from a source in Barnsdale, either Skelbrooke or Burghwallis Hall. In the1863 edition of a work by a Dr. Morris for the Philological Society there is an analysis  made of the grammar :

"I have now mentioned the chief authorities for the study of the Northern dialect from early times down to 1400. Examination of them leads directly to a result but little known, and one that is in direct contradiction to general uninstructed opinion; namely that, down to this date, the varieties of Northumbrian are much fewer and slighter than they afterwards became, and that the written documents are practically all in one and the same dialect, or very nearly so, from the Humber as far north as Aberdeen. The irrefragable results noted by Dr Murray will  probably come as a surprise to many, though they have now been before the public for more than forty years. The Durham dialect of the Cursor Mundi and the Aberdeen Scotch [sic] of Barbour are hardly distinguishable by grammatical or orthographical tests; and both bear a remarkable resemblance to the Yorkshire dialect as found in Hampole. What is now called Lowland Scotch [sic] is so nearly descended from the Old Northumbrian that the latter was invariably called “Ingliss” by the writers who employed it; and they reserved the name of “Scottish” to designate Gaelic or Erse, the tongue of the original “Scots,” who gave their name to the country.

"We should particularly notice Dr Murray’s statement, in his essay on The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland, at p. 29, that “Barbour at Aberdeen, and Richard Rolle de Hampole near Doncaster, wrote for their several countrymen in the same identical dialect.” The division between the English of the Scottish Lowlands and the English of Yorkshire was purely political, having no reference to race or speech, but solely to locality; and yet, as Dr Murray remarks, the struggle for supremacy “made every one either an Englishman or a Scotchman [sic], and made English and Scotch [sic] names of division and bitter enmity.” So strong, indeed, was the division thus created that it has continued to the present day; and it would be very difficult even now to convince a native of the Scottish Lowlands—unless he is a philologist—that he is likely to be of Anglian descent, and to have a better title to be called an “Englishman” than a native of Hampshire or Devon, who, after all, may be only a Saxon. And of course it is easy enough to show how widely the old “Northern” dialect varies from the difficult Southern English found in the Kentish Ayenbite of Inwyt, or even from the Midland of Chaucer’s poems.""To quote from Dr Murray once more (p. 41): “the facts are still far from being generally known, and I have repeatedly been amused, on reading passages from Cursor Mundi and Hampole to men of education, both English and Scotch [sic], to hear them all pronounce the dialect ‘Old Scotch.’ Great has been the surprise of the latter especially on being told that Richard the Hermit [i.e. of Hampole] wrote in the extreme south of Yorkshire, within a few miles of a locality so thoroughly English as Sherwood Forest, with its memories of Robin Hood. Such is the difficulty which people have in separating the natural and ethnological relations in which national names originate from the accidental values which they acquire through political complications and the fortunes of crowns and dynasties, that oftener than once the protest has been made—‘Then he must have been a Scotchman settled there!’”  The retort is obvious enough, that Barbour and Henry the Minstrel and Dunbar and Lyndesay have all recorded that their native language was “Inglis” or “Inglisch”; and it is interesting to note that, having regard to the pronunciation, they seem to have known, better than we do, how that name ought to be spelt

The conclusions to this linguistic study clearly indicates that even by the 1300's the dialect used in the Barnsdale area was little different from that used in Northumberland and lowland Scotland. Dobson and Taylor ponder  'why the Robin Hood legend should have struck such deep roots north of the border' and add 'this has never been satisfactorily explained'. Was it that the title 'Earl of Huntington', included later in Munday's plays, was held as the earldom of Huntingdon by various Scottish kings or was it that there were links with Barnsdale and Ayrshire? Both seem plausible.

                       Genealogy of the Le Waleys of Burghwallis and their Galwegian association

                      Henry I le Waleys============Agnes*
                          b~1133 Skellow            |                b~1135

                                            Robert le Waleys**=========Dionysia Poitevin
                                            [Wallensis]                        heiress of  Burgh [Wallis], Skellow, Frickley & Hooten Pagnell
                                             b~1158   d.1218          |             
                     1206-1211 Sheriff of Yorkshire
                                  |                                                                                                        |                                            |
                           Henry II ======Elizabeth                                                            Robert===?                     Elizabeth=====?
                         dsp 1210       |         de St. Mary µ                                                    succ. 1210  d.1247             
                                                        neice of the abbot                                                          
                                               |        of Kirkstall later                                                              
                                                       abbot for Fountains                                                        
                                               |         Abbey                                                                              
         Sir Richard I le Waleys+======Albreda FitzWilliam§ sister to Agnes FitzWilliam
                  b. <1226  d.1272                  |          d.of  Sir Thomas FitzWilliam of Elmley & Sprotbrough
 probable uncle to Robert III Butler             descendant illegitimate line from
                                                                |          Henri Curtmantle's father Geoffrey of Anjou

                                             Sir Stephen I¤======Alice?    Contemporaries of Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke.
                                             b~1245            |                             probable cousins to Robert III Butler

                    |                |                                                              |
              Nicole   Elizabeth====Sir William           Sir Richard II ====<2===Eleanor===<1===Robert VI Bruce==2>==Marjorie of
                                                      Nevile of Raby   Wallace of                                                   b~ 1240 d1304                        Carrick
                                                                                    Burgh Wallace#                                                                                |         descendant of
                                                                                       d  1301                 |                                                                                     Duncan of
                                                                                                                    |                                                                           |                         
                                                                                               Stephen II Le Waleys                                        King Robert The Bruce

                                                                  b 1305    d 1347 Healaugh Priory.
Key :
*    The name Agnes is French and is particularly popular in Ayrshire [originally part of Galloway]
** Gained Sibthorpe near Nottingham in the time of King John.
µ  Richard I Le Waleys' mother was Elizabeth de St. Mary, i.e. of St. Mary's, York. .She was the daughter of Jordan de St. Mary, who married Alice Haget sister to Ralph Haget Abbott of Fountains Abbey[1170-1190].
Emley Manor +  1253  Sir Richard I Le Waleys was appointed as the first rector of Burghwallis Church [St. Helen's]  when Burgh was first recorded as 'Burgh Wallis'. If we are looking for an early compiler[s] of the Geste then a member of the Le Waleys family could be the originator [s].  Stephen I Le Waleys[d <1301] appears to be a first cousin of Robert III Butler, a son of a knight  & rector who held Burghwallis manor, just as Robert III Butler was a son of  the owner of Skelbrooke manor. We might reasonably speculate that Robert and Stephen played together as children, in Skelbrooke and Burghwallis as well as their grandparents lands at Emley, Hampole and Sprotbrough. Sir Richard as a rector of Burghwallis and probably his son, were learned men, able to read and write in English and Latin. That Burghwallis Church [St. Helen's] may always have had a minstrel gallery also points in the direction of patronage of minstrels. The compiler of the Geste makes our hero a devout follower of the church as we assume the family of a rector might be. By his marriage, Sir Richard I was connected to the FitzWilliams[an illegitimate descendancy from Henry II's father, Geoffrey of Anjou] and from our speculation here his wife Albreda was sister of Agnes FitzWilliam who may be the Agnes who married  Robert II Butler of Skelbrooke. If this is the case then Robert III Butler's grandparents were the high profile FitzWilliam family residing at Emley, near Midgley and Sprotbrough castle whose woodlands, Robert Butler would have known as a child whilst visiting his grandparents, perhaps in companionship with his cousin Stephen. If this filiation and speculation holds true then Sir Richard  I Le Waleys would also have visited his parent in law's manor at Emley, perhaps with his son and young nephew, Robert at his side.
§ Sir Richard Le Waley's wife Albreda FitzWilliam had a marriage settlement dated 1250-1260. Albreda's great great grandmother was Albreda de Laci, ancestor of the Pontefract de Lacis. Her grandmother was Adela Plantagenet, daughter of Hamelyn Plantagenet, illegitimate half brother of Henry [II] Curtmantle, King of England.
¤ Sir Stephen I Le Waleys, it is speculated, was a cousin of Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke. We know that Sir Stephen was familiar with an Abbot of  St. Mary's, York [Simon de Warwick in 1276] for their names appear along with Roger FitzThomas [of Woodhall], and William FitzThomas both Robert III Butler's uncles:
                         ''Sir Roger fitzThomas [of Woodhall], witness (together with his brother Sir
) to grant of the manor of Langthwaite for life, dated at
                           Langthwaite, 2 Ides of Mar 1276:
                           Hugh de Langthewait, son and heir of Sir William de Langthewait,
                           to Sir Robert de Eueringham,[Everingham] then rector of the church of Berkyn.[Birkin, E. Yorks.]
                           The manor of Langthwaite with all appurtenances; all his land in
                           Adwick le Street; all his land and rent in Doncaster between
                           Chesewold Bridge and the mills bridge; all his land and rent in
                           Wheatley; ½ mark annual rent in Sprotborough which is owed by Sir
                           William fitzThomas. For term of life. Annual rent of 19s. 8d., of
                           which 5s. 4d. to the chief lord of the fee, Peter de Mallo Lacu,
                           13s. 4d. to the Abbot of St. Mary's, York, 1s.[Simon de Warwick in 1276] to Sir Stephen le
,[Stephen I Le Waleys] lord of Bourk[Burgh (Wallis)]; and suit of court to the Court of Sir Peter de Mallo Lacu at Doncaster.

                         Witnesses: Sir William fitzThomas [aka FitzWilliam d. 1295], Sir John de Romundby, Sir
                                            Roger fitzThomas,[of Woodhall] Sir Richard de Romundby, kts., Sir William de
                                            Veyley, rector of Owston, Sir Henry de Normanton, Henry chaplain of
                                            Adwick le Street, Ralph de Langthewait, Thomas de Scauceby [Scawsby], William
                                            de Newesum, Henry de Rockeleye, Adam de Langthewait, Adam Maldut
                                            and many others. " -
PRO, Sheffield Archives: Cooke of Wheatley Muniments, CWM/131[12]                               

# Sir Richard married Robert VI Bruce's widow, Robert had stong links to the Wallaces of Ayrshire and  secondly married  the Countess of Carrick.
Sir Richard II Le Waleys [Wallace] originally supported Thomas Earl of Lancaster against Edward II for in 1315 he was a member of an insurgent group who struck at supporters of the king in Lancashire, this was led by Adam Banastre and became known as the Banastre Rebellion. The Lane through Skelbrooke is called  Bannister [Banastre] Lane . Later Sir Richard II Le Waleys also supported Thomas Earl of Lancaster in his attempt to overthrow Edward II. As a result of the earl's loss at the Battle of Boroughbridge, Sir Richard forfeited Burghwallis after 1322 for a while. Earl Thomas's lands were held from 1322 until 1327, this may give us some indication of the time that elapsed during which Richard had his lands confiscated.22  1322 was the year  that Roi de Bruant, John Butler [Botiller], lost his holdings in Pontefract for also supporting Thomas.

Both Robert  le Waleys and Hugh Pincerna were contemporaries living on adjacent manors and held offices as consecutive seneschals of Pontefract. Their lands straddled 'Watling Street' in Barnsdale. In addition a decendant of Robert le Waleys, the sheriff in King John's reign, was the first marriage of Robert VI Bruce who later married Marjorie of  Carrick [northern Galloway] who was the mother of King Robert The Bruce.
There is no evidence as yet that Robert Butler took from the rich and gave to the poor. What sets Robyn aside from other outlaws in the Geste is his 'curtesye' but this appears to be a construct of the compiler later taken up by John Major [Mair] who added flesh to this solitary word from the ballad.:

 'He would allow no woman to suffer injustice, nor would he spoil the poor, but rather enriched them  from the plunder taken from the abbots'
-Historia Majoris Britannia.

'Equally unlikely, from the relationships provided here, is the period of our hero occurring in the reign of King John as suggested by Major 'Robertyus Hudus Anglus et Parvus Johannes'. This denial flies in the face of widely and commonly held beliefs which may need to be rectified. Dobson and Taylor [1972] remind us that Major derived his positive belief in Robyn Hode from 'songs which were told all over Britain'.
Did Robert Butler plunder the abbots wealth as John Major suggested? One in particular, the bishop of Hereford? Here again we enter the grey area. There is little support for this other than a later ballad and folk tales. But the fact that Robert Butler was passed over to the ecclesiastical court at York indicates that, apart from being a clerk of the church perhaps under Richard Le Waleys, first rector of Burghwallis church, there was a serious score to settle. Certainly the church tortured Robert using a very recently devised method and for him there seems to have been little mercy. In reality what part, if any, did the prioress play in Robert's capture and why does she take such a defining part in the Geste? The speculation may revolve about the prioress representing the Church at York or just as plausibly this part of the Geste was added later, along with Robyn's exploits in Nottingham. There is little doubt that the pervading tenor of the Geste is anti-monasterial.
There are two possible reasons why  the Geste and later ballads were so popular, why the pebble in the millpond created such a huge wave. One is that the person they were based upon was a larger than life character as is often displayed in modern entertainment, or alternatively, and probably more realistically, he was an ordinary man-boy of whom larger than life things were written. There is little doubt that the Geste and later ballads gave ridiculously exaggerated abilities to both Robyn and his followers, such as jumping huge distances etc.
Is this the nucleus upon which was grown a crystal so large and brilliantly coloured that we have lost the original seed, that literary inspiration? Is Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke that seed? He was living at the epicentre for the setting of the earliest ballad and was associated with a large network of criminal accomplices who may have been but the tip of the iceberg. It would be interesting to hear the views of a criminologist on this one.

Roger de Laci - the Patron of Minstrels - a Conduit for Minstrelsy.
We now turn to what at first seems unrelated but bears direct relationships to Barnsdale and minstrelsy at the time of Roger de Laci. Ranulf de Blundeville, the earl of Chester took a force of men from the town of Chester and entered Wales. However, during their tour they found themselves outnumbered by the Welsh and decided to make haste to the safety of their nearest castle at Rhuddlan or 'Rothelan'  [Rhuddlan- 4km S. of Rhyl, North Wales 40 km west of Chester]. Whilst under siege, Ranulf sent word to his constable at Chester, Roger de Laci, Lord of Pontefract to come to their assistance. Roger had recently [1205] been released  from King Philip of France for a ransom of 1000 marks after his defiant, almost year long stand against overwhelming forces at Castle Galliard.
Roger set forth across the River Dee with mostly minstrels, thieves and vagabonds who were attending the Chester Fair that had originally given priviledges to these people "That they should not be apprehended for theft, or any other offence during the time of the fair, unless the crime was committed therein."

Roger raised the seige more by bluff than substance, for when the besiegers perceived the large host descending upon them with Roger's purple lion rampant banner at their head, they dispersed, thinking it was a large trained army approaching. As a reward Ranulf earl of Chester [he who is probably mentioned in Piers Plowman] conferred upon Roger and all his heirs the control and patronage of all the minstrels [as well as fiddlers, shoemakers and vagrants] in the county of Cheshire. This ostensibly gave rise to the exclamation "Roger, and by all the fiddlers of Chester!".
Roger then transferred this patronageof the minstrels to Hugh Dutton, his seneschal [chief steward] of Halton Castle [Dutton lies 5 km S.E, of Halton Castle]. This eventually led to the Dutton family taxing by licence, the musicians in the county which was carried out in the Dutton Court at Chester on  the feast day of Saint John the Baptist,  this jurisdiction continuing in the Dutton family until 1756 :

The Patronage bestowed upon Roger de Laci's Steward
"That, at the midsummer fair held at Chester, all the minstrels of that country, resorting to Chester, do attend the heir of Dutton, from his lodging to St. John's Church* (he being then accompanied by many gentlemen of the country, one of them walking before him in a surcoat of his arms depicted on taffeta, the rest of his fellows proceeding two and two, and playing on their several sorts of musical instruments."] When divine service terminates, the like attendance upon Dutton to his lodging, where a court being kept by his steward, and all the minstrels formally called, certain orders and laws are made for the government of the society of minstrels."
*Near the now half excavated Roman Amphitheatre at Chester.

If we now move this scenario to the other side of England, to the De Laci lands in the honour of Pontefract, we can envisage Roger de Laci's seneschals at Pontefract and perhaps Roger himself, patronising minstrels and fiddlers in order that they entertain them. Not only was the chief steward responsible for the food and wine, but also, with the supervision of Lady de Laci, the organisation of periodic entertainment, a social secretary of sorts.9   There can be little difficulty in visuallising Lady Matilda de Laci, [a lady of the great House of Clare formerly living at Tonbridge Castle, Kent], bringing the enjoyment of the minstrels to Pontefract Castle from Halton Castle where she would have often resided.. We should not be surprised if this cultural cross-pollination occurred between Cheshire and Yorkshire.
It would not be drawing a long bow to expect that this influence of minstrelsy, through direct contact of Roger with the minstrels of Chester Fair, would find its way to Burghwallis and Skelbrooke after 1205 where both manor houses were held by two consecutive seneschals of Pontefract. The minstrels would also have been brought to Burghwallis and Skelbrooke manors in Barnsdale where at least one of them seemingly absorbed the local stories of the 1180's and 1190's. This tradition would have been passed down the Le Waleys* and Butler lines for a number of generations, for contacts with fiddlers and minstrel bands, once made, would be maintained by demand, regular patronage and word of  mouth.
*St. Helen's Church, Burghwallis, may always have had a minstrel gallery.

Like Ranulf de Blundeville, Roger's de Laci's overlord, Roger had a major change of policy towards Prince John following his accession in 1199. From being his unrivalled enemy, and probably therefore an enemy of Ralph III Murdac, sheriff of the adjoining county, Nottinghamshire, he became after 1199, not quite a supplicant but a strong supporter of King John par excellence. He was the only baron in practice, to totally support John in his desire to retake his French possessions, evidenced by Roger's heroic but unsuccessful stand at Castle Galliard.

This would suggest that Roger's liegemen would have had to follow suite even though their lands had likely been ransacked along with De Laci's lands at Donnington near Nottingham about 1193 under Prince John's orders, the year before Roger came of age. If an earlier hero had been sheltered up to now by either Roger or his liegemen, Robert Le Waleys of Burghwallis, and/or the Butler family of Skelbrooke, he would now have to depart for Sherwood. Richard's general pardon of 1189 for all felons in England had long since expired, good will had run out.
Hugh  Pincerna of Skelbrooke operated under the aegis of John II de Laci from 1211 to 1216. It is easy to see that Robyn could have been sheltered or at least tolerated, particularly if the Butlers and Le Waleys were operating collusively with cutthroats and robbers. We can envisage perhaps Robin being employed as a huntsman in Burgh [Wallis] or Skelbrooke Park for the respective families with or without Roger or his son's knowledge or agreement*. Indeed verse 115 of the Geste mentions that Robin is residing in a [hunting] lodge when he sends Little John and Much [later, Midge] the Miller's son up to Saylis [Sales Wood, above the Skell valley and Skelbrooke]. *Roger seems to have been extremely confined to matters in Halton, Chester, Donnington, Nottingham, Wales, Normandy and Ireland, it must have left little time for his Pontefract concerns which he probably left in the hands of his seneschals.
                                                          They brought hym to the lodge door,
                                                          Whan Robyn hym gan see,
                                                          Full curtesly dyd of his hode
                                                          And sette hym on his knee.

It is difficult to imagine that Robert could have worked his 'trade' in such close quarters to the two manors of Skelbrooke and Burgh [Wallis] without  some connivance of the local landowners, even as heirs of the landowners. Indeed, Professor J.C. Holt notes,  'Extremely common for example, was the use of armed ambush as an instrument in local vendettas and disputes between landlords and their other tenants'.8 We might add no less between these landlords and the wealthy travellers, particularly the clergy. Landlords could endow themselves with some of the spoils of the highway robber, which would have supplemented their incomes and would have been particularly tempting stradddled as their lands were, across this part of the richly travelled great road north, their behaviour little different to the Cornish ship-wreckers. Indeed after Roger's de Laci's death in 1211, Robert Le Waleys had to produce a large sum of money which had apparently been detained from the sheriff's county profits.6 He and Roger de Laci had only declared half the profits made, Robert was obviously not averse to plundering even King John's income stream.

The original composer of the Geste narrative knew the locality of the Burgh [Wallis] and Skelbrooke environs well enough to include salient topographic features and human settlement patterns, but nowhere are Skelbrooke and Burgh  mentioned, just the generalisation 'Barnsdale' which seems vague enough to deflect any identification and targeting of local families involved. The question which arises here is was Robert Butler of Skelbrooke the inspiration, rather than the candidate for a medieval narrative based upon some associations with this family?


The seal of St. Mary Magdalena 

of Lund, Monk Bretton Priory 

commonly called Burton Abbey >
The chapel at Skelbrooke, originally built in the 1100's was undoubtedly patronised by the Butlers of Skelbrooke, is this the chapel in the Geste dedicated to Mary Magdalene which Robin said he wanted to [help] build, an excuse to leave the king's household?  If so then the compiler of the Geste was almost certainly residing in the area at the time this piece was written. The probable truth is that the author of the Geste used the name of the nearby Monk Bretton Priory. Unlike Hunter, perhaps we should not try to equate occurrences in the Geste with literal historical figures here, remembering that the primary purpose of a minstrel's verse sung was for the that of entertainment in order to make a living. Show business with the emphasis on 'business'. Ask any English folk balladeers today, who essentially sing about situations extremely close to themselves, we should not expect the literal truth but some entertaining version of it.  No one would suggest that 'the Scottish play' of Shakespeare was historically accurate yet there are elements of history within the play.

A vector for the narrative, 'A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode'
One other interesting connection occurs between a Gilbert Robynhod of Fletching, Sussex and Pontefract. This person was first noted by E. K. Chambers12 and later followed by Dobson & Taylor [1976]. J.C. Holt noted that this surname must have derived from the outlaw. Bellamy [p.32] states, "Gilbert Robynhod may have served in the household of Alice de Lacy [and Earl Thomas Plantagenet] and aquired the name by playing or reciting the tales which came from the northern Lacy estates". As J.C. Holt states [p.59] this is the first recording of the surname Robynhod. Gilbert appears as a tenant of the Liberty of Leicester, Sussex in a tax roll of 1296. In 1294, the year Robert III Butler presumably died, Alice de Laci, heiress to much of the De Laci estates, married the Earl of Lancaster, Thomas Plantagenet.

Until his death in 1311, Alice's father, Henry de Laci held the honours of Pontefract and Clitheroe. Thomas and Alice held the Liberty of Leicester in Sussex wherein lay the manor of Hungry Hatch in Fletching as well as the De Laci lands of Alice's father. This supports both Bellamy and Holt's suggestions that the ballad was known within the De Laci family into the time of Thomas Plantagenet a powerful man who held five earldoms.

One fact which Bellamy felt worked against Gilbert [introduced Withondes?] is that the period 1294 - 1296 is a very short time for Gilbert's new patronymic, 'Robynhod' [which it is suggested here is the result of telling the story of the Geste] to become commonly accepted. Holt details other people* in Sussex who appear later in records with the same surname, who were possibly descendants of Gilbert Robynhod.
* Robert Robynhoud at West Harting, Sussex, 1332, and Winchelsea, Sussex, 1381.

But we might now ask how quickly could a new, popular, ballad travel, carried by one person from the De Laci lands in South Yorkshire to Sussex? Very quickly, and the bearer, perhaps from Yorkshire, would equally have quickly aquired the surname, enough to be recorded in an official court document in 1296 at Fletching Sussex. If this is the case then Gilbert Robynhod gained his name from the telling of the Geste which was written and dispersed very quickly.

                                             De Laci Pedigree:

  Roger 'Helle' de Laci========
  Patron of Minstrels            |
Roger's seneschal : Robert Wallensis [Le Waleys] 1206-1211
                                  John II de Laci=========
                                  b 1192 d 1240        |
John's seneschals/stewards : Hugh Buticularius [i.e. Butler]  before 1211, Hugh Pincerna [Butler] 1211-1216, Sir Henry Le Waleys                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1216-1218+
                                                            Edmund de Laci=======Alice de Saluces [Saluzzo, NW Italy]
                                                            b 1230 d 1258                     d by 1311-1312
                                                        Const. of Chester       |
                                   1234+  Lord of Stanbury Manor
Edmund's seneschal : Walter de Ludham 1240-1246   |
                                                                                        Henry de Laci======Margaret Longespee
                                                    3rd Earl of Lincoln    b 1250  d 1311    |          Plantagenet
                  b 1250 d 1306-1310
                     Sir John de Hoderode [ d 1269-1272] is recorded           
                     as the seneschal/steward of Pontefract in 1252
                    during Henry III's and also Edward I's reigns.
                     1275 the steward was Peter de Santon  
Henry's seneschal : Oliver de Stansfield*
   Thomas Plantagenet==============1294 ==========Alice de Laci+ 
   Earl of Lancaster                                                      Countess of Lincoln & Salisbury
  executed 1322 Pontefract Castle                                  d 1348  died without issue.

 Held Fletching, Sussex. Stewards: 1314 -1315 - John Traves [Travers?]; August 1317 - William de Malghum; 1320 - John de Bucton; March 1322 - Geoffrey de Byngham.

The male line of de Laci ended with Henry and after the execution of Thomas Plantagenet, earl of Lancaster, the estates passed to the crown of Edward II.

* Oliver de Stansfield or 'Stansfeud' of Heasandford or 'Heasanforth', 'Heysandforth' House now in Burnley, Lancashire, son of Jordan de Stansfield of Stansfield, Yorkshire, a descendant of Wyan Marmions who probably accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066. Oliver was widowed by 1292 when he was granted Worsthorne manor by Henry de Laci and subsequently Oliver became the founder of the Stansfields of Burnley. This grant was for a peppercorn rent of 1 penny per annum, presumably for his efforts as constable and receiver of Pontefract Castle. In 1311 he was called to parliament [ M.P.] as a knight. Oliver granted land to John, son of Gilbert de la Legh in 1306.  Bellamy tells us that the family named Legh 'was involved in administration of the Lancashire forests' but none of them were named Richard. Gilbert about 1322 was the stock manager for Ightenhill [now Gawthorpe], north of Burnley, eventually the de la Legh's became the Townleys of Townley manor south of Burnley. Oliver survived until about 1350 [23 Ed. III] when he was buried in the Stansfield Chapel, St. Peter's Church, Burnley, where his effigy resides.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
+ Alice de Laci entered a marriage contract with  Thomas of Lancaster when she was 9 or 10 years old in 1294. [this would make her born ~1285 but some genealogists have her birth year as 1281 which would make her ~ 13 years old at the time of the marriage contract]. It seems some did not approve of the marriage for one description has  'a wretched and disgraceful marriage attended with all kinds of scandals'.  Thomas argued with  his cousin, Edward II that the population were being over-taxed and had suffered a number of famines, antipathy grew between the two. By 1317 Alice seems to have been estranged from her husband and was allegedly abducted [others say she ran away of her own free will] from her castle at Canford, Dorset, which she had gained through her mother Margaret Longespee. The men  who 'abducted' Alice included Richard de St. Martin, a retainer of  John de Warrene, 8th earl Warrene, baron of Conisbrough and Sandal Magna castles. Eubolo Le Strange was earl Warrene's squire and it seems that Alice and Eubolo were adulterous before their marriage in 1324. This scenario was most probably encouraged with the connivance of Edward II. As a consequence, Thomas Earl of Lancaster laid siege and took  Sandal and Conisbrough Castles, burning Sandal to the ground. After his defeat at Boroughbridge in 1322 and his subsequent trial in the Great Hall at Pontefract Castle, Thomas was made to face Scotland before being beheaded under the orders of  King Edward II.
 See Elland Feud and The honour of Pontefract        

The Honour of Clitheroe as part of the Duchy of Lancaster possessed six manors :
Archer * Ightenhill Manor [now Gawthorpe Hall and Park]. Here a manor house was built in the 1100's-1200's which today exists only as a mound to the rear of Hill Farm [Manor House or Smith's Cottages]. In 1200 Geoffrey Towneley married a daughter of Roger 'Helle' de Laci, when Geoffrey was granted land at Burnley by Roger. Later the Towneley family of nearby Towneley Hall held Ightenhill Park lands until about 1580 when Richard Shuttleworth was granted a lease here. In 1290 Ightenhill had a corn mill constructed and by 1294 Henry de Laci [12th Lord of Clitheroe] had been granted, by his great personal friend, Edward I, a charter for a weekly Tuesday market and a three day annual fair both of which continue today. By 1296 a fulling mill, using local fuller's earth  had been established on the banks of the river Brun, this saw the beginning of cloth making in Lancashire. Henri de Laci's two sons died prematurely, one is reported to have fallen down the main well of Denbigh Castle and the second son to have fallen either from the parapet of Pontefract Castle or from a window at Ightenhill manor house. Henri's only surviving child and heiress, Alice de Laci married Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster in 1294. Thomas gained Ightenhill manor upon the death of Henri in 1311. But by 1322 Thomas had been executed for his open rebellion against Edward II. In October 1323 Edward II visited the manor and spent a number of days here where he busied himself with hearing pleas after the rebellion of Thomas of Lancaster. In 1333 Richard de Norton, one of King Edward III's archers was the keeper of Ightenhill Park. Ightenhill Manor was bounded by Colne and Accrington manors whose limits were marked with unusually shaped stone boundary markers, ditches and dykes.
* Accrington
* Colne
* Pendleton
* Tottington
* Chatburn
* Worston

was perhaps the most pre-eminent manor containing eight vills :
- granted to Oliver de Stansfield by Henry de Laci for his services rendered as constable of Pontefract Castle. Henry de Laci looked after Ightenhill in King Edward's name.
Burnley [Bruneley]
Little Marsden.

Bellamy discussing Holt's comments states 'Three names and incidents "seeped into a legend centred on South Yorkshire" through the Lacy families possession of the honour of Clitheroe, the Park of Ightenhill and various chases in Blackburnshire....there were long established links between the Lacy holdings in Lancashire and those in Yorkshire' and as Holt puts it, the two county holdings were connected by ' the road that never left the Lacy territory'.                                                                                           

An author for the Geste

Arms of Sir Richard Le Waleys of Burgh Wallis There is a reasonable speculation that one of the Waleys of Burghwallis and Newton Wallis was the author of the Geste. It is proposed that [Sir] Richard II Le Waleys of Burghwallis [first baron Waleys d. >1336 who married Eleanor, Robert Bruce's* widow i.e. King Robert Bruce's step mother] wrote at least the some of the fyttes of the Geste Later, Richard II Le Waleys son, Stephen II Le Waleys is considered to have added or compiled the Geste with the later fyttes concerning the prioress and Sir Roger de Doncastre being added by his son-in-law, Sir Robert de Swillington, steward to John of Gaunt at Pontefract Castle. The undying belief in the goodness of 'Robyn Hode' and his fidelity can really only be borne out of a personal knowledge of a person who modelled for the ballad hero. The first fytte is at great pains to repeat that Robyn was 'a good outlaw'.  That Robert Butler was a church clerk would also offer some support for the Geste's insistence that Robyn was dedicated to Mary Magdalene. The Magdalene name appears as the dedication in Campsall Church and the priory at Monk Bretton near Barnsley. The author seems to have borrowed the name from one or the other location. Thus what is proposed here is that the Geste in its early stages underwent an evolutionary process as the 'Robin Hood' tales still undergo today. As prof. J.C. Holt has noted, later fyttes seem to be grafted on. Evolution allows for survival. As with the living world, organisms that do not evolve or change to suit their surroundings become extinct. The stories of Robin Hood survived because they constantly changed or were added to, new adaptations produced an entirely different beast to the original concept.
The Waleys family also held Newton Wallis [Waleis] from 1159, a property with a moated manor house lying beside the water meadows of the left bank of the River Calder downstream from Castleford. The Waleys family had to travel between their two estates and to do this they passed from Newton Wallis by either of two routes :
1. Along Newton Lane towards where it connected with the Roman road, sometimes called Roman Ridge, between York and Doncaster. This Roman road has been given various names along its length. From Doncaster it was Roman Ridge, today, York Road, towards Barnsdale Bar, the Great North Road, from Barnsdale Bar it has been called Watling Street, today, Doncaster Road. From East Hardwick to the Aire meander it is Pontefract Road and then Lock Lane, a more modern name following the canalisation of the Aire. North beyond this point it becomes, anomalously, Barnsdale Road and continues with this name today as far north as the Allerton Bywater turnoff, beyond which it becomes Ridge Road. What is significant here is that it appears that the Waleys family were naming the road to their southern estate after the location of their Newton Wallis estate. This indicates that the family referred to their second estate in Burghwallis as 'Barnsdale', the very name which appears in the Geste.
2. A later route developed as a substantial highway after the late 1200's or early 1300's through Fairburn and Ferrybridge. As its name implies, Ferrybridge had been an early ferrying point downstream from the lowest fording point at Castleford. About the turn of the 13th century , the Waleys family could have taken the shorter and faster route by bridge across the Aire at Ferrybridge. The route would then follow this newly improved road through what is now Wentbridge, and which was probably only just developing as a hostelry/staging point, then on to Burghwallis in Barnsdale. The successor to the Waleys estates at the turn of the thirteenth century was none other than Sir Stephen I Le Waleys, cousin to Robert III Butler.
Ritson, in his Robin Hood makes a note regarding Leland's mention of Barnsdale [Itinerary, V.101]
    " Along on the left honde, III miles of betwixt Milburne and Feribridge, i saw the woodd and most famous forest of  Barnsdale, wher thay say that Robyn Hudde lyvid like an outlaw."
Now there is no place known by the name of  Milburne but looking on John Speed's map of 1612 we see Milforth which today is the same place as [South] Milford. It is possible that Leland travelling from Milforth to Fairburn has conflated the two names as Milburne. This then would make the wood referred to as "Barnsdale" an area on both sides of the A162 just north of Brotherton. Here, today, there is a place called "The Dales" and the area is still well wooded. This was where Newton Lane from Newton Wallis met the road to Ferrybridge and would have been one of the routes for the Le Waleys to take south.. By the mid 1800's the area north of Brotherton had been extensively quarried for limestone, changing its sylvan character. Thus, hearsay was providing more 'factoids' with which the Elizabethans were muddying the waters.


Site of Newton Wallis 'Abbey'[Fr: ab-bé, a house surrounded by
water]. It became known as such because it was a  fortified manor house lying within the backwaters of the river Calder.

Sir Stephen I was born ~1245 and died at Newton Wallis [Waleis] sometime before 1301. He was thus familiar with route1. to 'Barnsdale' and was just becoming familiar with the new route 2. when his life was cut short. Sir Stephen's son Richard II Le Waleys would have been far more familiar with route 2. than his father for he died about thirty years after his father. If Sir Richard II did amplify and add to the Geste then he could well have added references to Wentbridge. Sir Richard II Le Waleys had shown his alliance to Thomas earl of Lancaster by his involvement in the Banastre Rebellion in 1315, and later fell foul of Edward when in 1320 he supported Thomas Earl of Lancaster against the King. John Bellamy suggests that  King Edward II may have visited the nearby Campsall manor from the 5th to the 6th of November 1322 when Campsall was forfeited to the crown by Thomas earl of Lancaster.7, p80 If this is so then Edward may have also called in at Burghwallis, passing along the Great North Road, turning off at Skelbrooke for Burghwallis and Campsall. It was here at this turning that fairs with troubadours would gather for local festivities. We could perhaps envision the local populace merry-making at this junction with the procession of the king along the highway and local by-ways.
Thus for a while, Richard II Waleys lost Burghwallis, his precious 'Barnsdale'  from 1322. But at the accession of Edward III [1327] under Isabella and Mortimer he had the 2000 mark fine imposed by Edward II cancelled. Certainly as a possible compiler of the Geste he could have added the veneration of King Edward [his regal reality being King Edward III] as the 'comely king' at this point. Was it here that Richard II Waleys eventually regained his 'Barnsdale'- Burghwallis from the King, a pardon in 'Barnsdale', not Sherwood, written into the Geste as Robyn Hode?


It has been noted by others that the latter part of the Geste seems to be a later addition. Stephen II Le Waleys' son-in-law, Sir Robert de Swillington, steward to John of Gaunt at Pontefract Castle is the man with local knowledge at the right time to complete this. Robin's visits to Nottingham, Little John's stouch with the sheriff's butler and the death of Robin at the hands of the prioress of Kirklees are fyttes more concerned with places other than Barnsdale. The connection of the Waleys [Wallaces] to the Scots may explain why the Scottish also widely celebrated the ballads of Robyn Hode.

Stephen II was probably born about 1305 at Burghwallis and died 1347. This date will be familiar with Robin Hood researchers as the date given by Hunter and others for the death of Robin Hood. But was it the death year of the  author/compiler of the Geste? Did Sir Stephen II Le Waleys [highly speculative], the suspected author/compiler of the Geste, not Robyn Hode, die in 1347? As we will see Stephen II  had the opportunity to gain considerable material for the Geste from his wife's family as well as his own.It might also be noted here that  Richard I Le Waleys father, Robert is recorded as dying in 1247, this too will be recognised as an alternative death date for 'Robin hood' as offered by the Scottish chronicler, John Major but is likely to be nothing more than a coincidence.
As mentioned above, Richard Le Tyas was known to have held lands in Burghwallis and Skellow in 1284 and 1319. His caput however was at Lede [Lead] near Saxton only 6 miles north of Newton Wallis, the Waleys and Tyas families would have undoubtably been well known to each other. As touched on above, in 1327 Edward III as a king in his nonage, under the influence of Isabella and Mortimer, had a fine of 2000 marks cancelled against Stephen II's father, Sir Richard II, which had been imposed by Edward II for Sir Richard's involvement with Thomas the earl of Lancaster. Does this too explain the lauding of 'Edward our comly king' in the Geste ? Certainly Edward III was much more popular than his father.

In July 1306 Edward I granted a third of the manor at farm in Hatfield Broad Oak priory to Eleanor le Waleys* but in 1307, the year of his accession, Edward II granted the manor to Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex. [Calendar Close Rolls, 1307–13, pp. 386-387.]
However, Humphrey was one of the baronial leaders who fought against Edward II and lost his life at Boroughbridge in 1322. After this his lands were forfeited and not regained by his son John until 1326.
In the next reign, according to a writ issued at Wells on the 25th December 1331, the dower lands of Eleanor, Sir Richard's wife at Writtle and Hatfield Regis, Essex were given to John de Bohun son of Humprey the earl of Hereford who had died at Boroughbridge. [Calendar Fine Rolls, 1327-1337, p.292.] This writ of 1331 indicates that Sir Richard and Eleanor were possibly out of favour with the king and that Edward III now saw  fit for these lands to pass back into into the de Bohun family. * Eleanor had previously been the wife of Robert Bruce, father of King Robert Bruce, she was thus King Robert Bruce's stepmother..

In the time of Stephen I Waleys,1288, it was recorded that "his ancestors were seised from the time of King John of lands at Sibthorpe in Nottinghamshire". This would be lands granted to Robert Walensis, the seneschal of Pontefract and one time tandem sheriff of Yorkshire with Roger 'Helle' de Laci. The position of these lands to the east of Nottingham, the Fosse Way and Sherwood may explain why Nottingham was introduced into the Geste. Sir Stephen was, it seems, also familiar with this part of the medieval world. We find some eight miles SSW of Sibthorpe a village called Cropwell Butler. This manorial affix suggests that the Butler's of Skelbrooke also held lands east of Nottingham in the same area as the Waleys family. Six miles to the SE of Cropwell Butler lies Clipston where the king's of England had a hunting lodge within the forest of Sherwwod from at least the reign of King John *Clipston lies near the Fosse Way  sometimes also called 'Watling Strete' between Leicester and Lincoln six miles to the south-east of Nottingham.

In 1330 Edward [later III] attacked his mother, Isabella and her lover, Roger de Mortimer whilst in their chambers at Nottingham Castle, when Edward seized power and took the throne for himself. Following this coup, Edward met with his supporters in the castle .We do know that later, in December 1345, Edward III did  hunt at Clipston, his favourite residence in Nottinghamshire and that he took Sibthorpe Chapel under his special protection. If the compiler for the seventh fytte which mentions the meeting of Robyn with our 'comly king' was aware of this he may have replaced King Richard with Edward III. Local east Nottinghamshire folk tales would have circulated about meeting King Richard in Sherwood and thus this scene made an appearance in the Geste, but with King Edward III taking the place of King Richard. Edward III [r.1327-1377] was the king reigning in the latter half of Sir Stephen's life when we have suggested, from other relationships, that the Geste was first compiled. We are left with the thought that the Geste may have been substantially written by Sir Stephen II Le Waleys in memory of his predecessors childhood friend and cousin, Robert Butler of Skelbrooke and as we will see at least three other persons being  an inspiration for the ballad.
The sceptic's evidence would lead us to think that the meeting of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest never occurred and was but a romanticised folkloric invention which later came to be associated with the title of earl of Huntingdon through associations of the tale with persons who held that title.
Cropwell Butler, meaning 'Rounded hill', between the Vale of Belvoir and Nottingham, is named after a peaked or copped hill south of the village. In the Domesday Book it is recorded  as Crophille [1086] and by 1265  Croppill Boteiller, the manorial addition is from the possession by the Butler family from the 1100's [A.D. Mills.]. A mile south of Cropwell Butler is strangely, Cropwell Bishop or Bishopcroppehill mentioned in 1280, the manorial affix is from the possession by the Archbishop of York! [A.D. Mills].Crophill Bishop being amongst the manors of the Archbishop of York, later given to Southwell Church and Lenton priory, raises the the possibility of a seed of antipathy between the two manors that would have developed from the 'pressing' of Robert Butler under orders from the Archbishop of York. It is possible that the Archbishop gained the manor from the Butlers as compensation for church losses after Robert Butler's death.

Sir Richard at the Lee

The first and second fyttes of the Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode concern the knight who, we are later told, is Sir Richard at the Lee.Various authors have tried to identify this ballad character with a real person. If we follow J.C. Holt's assurance that the Geste was essentially based upon intense geographic localisation, then we should not cast too far afield for a candidate or an inspiration. There are eight fyttes in the Geste, the fifth fytte reintroduces Sir Richard who provides shelter for Robyn and his men at his castle 'doubleditched about'. This is mirrored in a parrallel and real local occurence which occurred in 1272. Sir Richard Foliot at this time held Fenwick manor, which is a little to the east of 'Barnsdale'. Here a number of roguish rebels, namely Roger Godberd, Walter Ewyas and John D'Eyvile were pursued by the sheriff of Yorkshire's men to Sir Richard's castle at Fenwick. Foliot gave them shelter but was forced to surrender and gave his son [probably Jordan II Foliot] with assurances, that he would 'give himself up as a prisoner at York on an agreed date' [Bellamy p.33]. This, J.C. Holt notes, is similar to the goings on in fyttes five and six. But there is little to recommend this correlation until we realise that in real life Richard Foliot had a second residence, Jordan Castle near Grimston and Wellow, Nottinghamshire which Henry III permitted to be crenellated in 1264. Today, Grimston is marked on maps only as "Grimston Hill", east of Wellow. In Nottinghamshire Sir Richard was known as 'Lord of Grimston and Wellow' J.C. Holt sees it as significant that the Foliots who held Fenwick, [Walden] Stubbs and Norton [Went Valley], before the Hastings family, had these other holdings on the eastern margin of Sherwood Forest  thus linking Sherwood with Barnsdale. By about 1320 the heiress of Fenwick, Margery Foliot, had married Sir Hugh Hastings, son of the Scottish Competitor. Thus if the author for this part of the Geste were writing in or after this time he would be intimating the Foliot residence at Grimston.
Thus the Foliots married into the Hastings and thereby Fenwick came into the hands of Sir Hugh Hastings d.1347. Sir Hugh was the son of  one of the thirteen Competitors for the Scottish Crown, John I Hastings, who the great-great grandson of Ada Ceann mhor de Huntingdon, third and youngest daughter of Earl David de Huntingdon.

In the Geste it seems that the author here has transposed the activities at Fenwick to somewhere nearer Nottingham, perhaps Jordan Castle. Jordan Castle was rebuilt in stone in the 1200's and it is likely that an earlier wooden castle was sited here with a motte and bailey. The manor castle is now ploughed under and little remains but there is likely to have been this small motte and bailey castle on the hill above Wellow. What we find at Wellow is another 'ditch' which was erected by the residents around the village. A very unusual structure for a civil settlement in the Middle Ages. This may suggest a double ditched arrangement if Jordan Castle also possessed a moat. An embankment and ditch running through the present day village called George Dyke was erected by the villagers for protection. The bank and dyke at Wellow were built sometime after 1145-7 when the monks of  the Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire purchased the land for Rufforth Abbey nearby, whereafter the people so displaced established Wellow. For this reason Wellow does not appear in the Domesday Book. As a result of the land aquisitions the monks of Rufforth Abbey became unpopular with the villagers, somewhat reminiscent of the Geste's "These bisshoppes and these archebishoppes, Ye shall them bete and bynde". The likelihood remains that the two dykes or ditches, one at the castle and one at the village represent the 'double ditch' of  Sir Richard's castle in the Geste.
There is a large difference between the two scenarios in terms of outcome. The Geste version has Robyn, and Sir Richard seeing off the Sheriff of Nottingham whilst the Fenwick conflict has Sir Richard Foliot and his 'guests' having to surrender to the Sheriff of Yorkshire [Roger de Estraneus]. In terms of literary borrowing there is no difference.

Foliot Arms In reality Sir Richard II Foliot held lands at Cowesby [N. Yorks.] and as a tenant of the Delaci family, Fenwick, Yorkshire [Holt p.98] and Grimston, Nottinghamshire. In 1252 a Robert Foliot [a relative] et. al. was a witness to a charter for John de Savile in Kirk Smeaton and for rent at Skelbrooke. In 1268 Henry III granted him a charter to hold a fair at Wellow [Wellhaugh]. Henry III also granted him a coat of arms: "de goulz ung bend d'argent" [Roll of Arms Henry III] i.e. Gules a bend argent. Sir Richard was a patron to St. Peter's Church, Kirk Smeaton 1238-9, 1270-71 and 1289.
By 1272 it was obvious that by sheltering Godberd, Ewyas and D'eyvile, supporters of the rebel Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, that Sir Richard had changed his allegiance.
One other challenge the Geste has provided is that of the whereabouts of Sir Richard's lands, described as 'Verysdale'. If we can accept that Jordan castle near Wellow, was the scene for Sir Richard's Castle and the repulsion of the sheriff, then it might well be the phonetic, Wellhaughsdale [Wellowsdale] a name that would be used by the monks of nearby Rufford Abbey, as the nuns of Hampole called Barnsdale or the monks of Fountains Abbey called Fountainsdale. Independently, Jeffrey Stafford in an unpublished work has found a reference to a 'Ferresdale' in the Rufford Charters vol. 3 which he suggests is a phonetic variant of the 'Verysdale' in the Geste. Jeffrey includes the statement that this is found on the western bounds of Boughton, on the main road from Blyth to Nottingham and about a mile to the N.W. of Jordan's Castle. see Jeff Stafford's notes at :  

Butler of Skelbrooke In 1535, just before the reformation, the religious building at Skelbrooke was listed as a 'chapel'. In 1336 Skelbrooke Chapel on the north side of the church, then dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, had a chantry built. A window on the south side portrays a man's face from the mid 1300's perhaps constructed well after the death of Robert Butler and shortly after the murder, in 1333, of Edmund Butler*. The window thus appears in the  time of Edmund's widow Agnes of Skelbrooke manor who is recorded as founding the chantry. Is this a representation of the 'Green man' or the earliest representation of Robin Hood's face, set within a circlet surrounded by a swathe of greenwood leaves imitating St. John the Evangelist? *court case presided over by by Henry de Percy and John de Eland.  Sir John de Eland was sheriff of Yorkshire in 1341 and steward of the Warrene estates in the manor of Wakefield but was himself murdered during the 'Elland Feud' at Brookfoot.

In 1332 social glue was stretched and smeared in this part of the world when 'contrariants' escaped from Edward II's forces at Boroughbridge and entered the Barnsdale area. Prior to the 'pestilence' in 1346 the 'Battle of Neville's Cross had been fought and won by he English army under the control of Henry III's wife Phillipa of Hainault, lives were lost no doubt many from the North leading to disruption in society. Between 1347 and 1352 and particularly in England in 1348 and 1349, there was a serious loss of life from the bubonic plague, no less in the Barnsdale area. The orignal real person behind the Geste was lost, links were broken, families and society in general  were disrupted, at least one local plague pit has been found. This lies in an area near the church of Mary Magdalene, Campsall. Local tradition says Robin married 'Maid Marion' in this church at Campsall. Of course no such person as Marion appears in the Geste, she appears to be a much later graft to the tales of Robin Hood, but we note that Robert  III Butler [Robert Le Botiller] was married to Constance and that their likely place of marriage would have been at the family chapel of Skelbrooke or the larger Campsall Church.
If we can envisage the Geste being read in the household of the Wallaces of Burgh [Wallis] and the Butlers of Skelbrooke Hall during the 1300's [by which time Wentbridge and Edward II could be rolled into the narrative] then we are probably on the route to understanding the origins of the tales of Robin Hood which appeared in print by the middle of the 1400's.

  1. Baildon, W. P. Notes on the Early Saville Pedigree and the Butlers of Skellbrook and Kirk Sandal. Yorks. Arch. J. vol. 29, (1929)
     HTML version by Chris Phillips additional notes by Dr. David Hepworth
  2. Ellis A.S. Domesday Tenants Yorks. Arch. Journal, vol. v, p. 309; Pontefract Chartulary (Record Series, vol. 25)
  3. Dobson R.B. & Taylor J. Rhymes of Robin Hood. University Pittsburgh Press.1976.
  4. Harris P.V. The Truth About Robin Hood. Linneys. Mansfield.1952.
  5. Rolle, Richard. The Pricke of Conscience (Stimulus Conscientiae), A. Asher & Co., Berlin.1863.
  6. Gladwin, Irene. The Sheriff. Gollancz, London, 1974.p.108
  7. Bellamy, John. Robin Hood an Historical Enquiry. Indiana Press, Bloomington.1985.
  8. Holt J.C. Robin Hood. Thames & Hudson, London.1982.
  9. Ibid. p.108
10. Listen to a modern English folk balladeer-supremo-Richard Thompson.
11. Whiting C.E. Rev. Prof., Excavations at Hampole Priory, 1937,Vol XXXIV part 2, Part 134 Yorkshire Arch. Journ. MCMXXIV, pp. 204-212.
12. Chambers, E.K. English Literature at the close of the Middle Ages. O.U.P. 1945.
13. The National Archives Currency Converter.
16. Hobsbawm, E.J. Bandits.Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969, ch III.
17. Roberts, Ian. Pontefract Castle. West Yorks. Arch. Soc. 1990. p13.
      Rufford Charters Vol 3. spelling given as Feresdale and Ferysdale.
19. 2000 Years of York : The Archaeological Story. York Archaeological Trust. Thornton & Pearson. 1999.
20. Phillips, D. and Heywood, B., Excavations at York Minster 1 : From Roman Fortress to Norman Cathedral. HMSO, London. 1995.
21. Harte, Jeremy. The Greenman. Pitkin Guide. Jarrold Publishing, 2005.
22. Butler, Lawrence. Sandal Castle Wakefield. Wakefield Historical Publications,1991, p.24.
23. Close Roll, 7 Edw. III, part 1, m 6d.
24. C.P.R. Edward III,1327-1330, p. 432.
25. Yorkshire Feet of Fines, 1327-1347, p. 74. 

26. Hunter, Joseph. The Ballad Hero, Robin Hood, London, 1852, p. 14.

27. Pers. comm. January 2013 with David Hemingway of Wrangbrook House.

28. Baldwin, J. F. The Household Administration of Henry Lacy and Thomas of Lancaster. The English Historical Review, Vol. 42, No. 166 (Apr., 1927), p. 186.
29. Ibid, n. 4.

30.Holmes, Richard. Pontefract, Its name, its lords and its castle. (1878). p.99. 
31. TNA SC 8/72/3574.


                                                           'HISTORY IS A SET OF LIES AGREED UPON' - NAPOLEON BONAPARTE



                                                                                        STONE OF ROBIN HOOD                                      

 © Copyright Tim Midgley 2006, revised 5th February 2024.

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