John de Argentein
(-After 1170)
Reginald de Argentein of Wymondley
(1144-Bef 1203)
Richard de Argentein of Wymondley
(Abt 1175-Bef 1247)


Family Links

1. Emma de Broy

2. Cassandra de Insula
3. Joan

Richard de Argentein of Wymondley 1

  • Born: Abt 1175
  • Marriage (1): Emma de Broy before 1200
  • Marriage (2): Cassandra de Insula about 1203-1204
  • Marriage (3): Joan before 1228
  • Died: Bef 9 Jan 1247 1 2

   Another name for Richard was Richard de de Argentom.

  General Notes:

Reginald's successor was his son and heir Richard. His public career was distinguished and extremely long; so long, in fact, that we might suspect there were two Richards in succession. But on closer examination this is clearly not the case.

Richard began by marrying a Bedfordshire heiress, Emma, apparently the daughter of Robert de Broy of Bletsoe. We know that they were married by 1200, when the couple were involved in a dispute over a mill at Sharnbrook which Robert had given Emma as a marriage gift. By 1203, Emma seems to have died, leaving Richard with an infant daughter Margaret, who became the object of a dispute between her father and grandfather. Robert kept possession of Margaret, arguing that she was his only heir, that she had been born in his chamber, and that he had raised her. The following year, Robert failed to produce the child as he had been ordered to, claiming that she was too weak. However, the dispute was eventually settled by agreement, Robert promising to restore the child to her father, and Richard agreeing not to marry her without consulting Robert (Curia Regis Rolls). When she did marry, Margaret carried her grandfather's estate at Bletsoe into the Patteshull family, by her marriage to Walter de Patteshull.

Richard's second wife, Cassandra, the daughter of Robert de Insula (or de Lisle), does not appear to have been an heiress. However, at their marriage her father made a generous settlement, consisting of the land in Newmarket and Exning, to be held from the de Insula family. The marriage seems to have taken place in 1203 or 1204 - in the former year land at Exning appears under the name of Robert de Insula, and in the latter, under that of Richard 'de Argentoem'. Cassandra was clearly the mother of Richard's heir Giles, who at his death in 1282, held Ixninge and Newmarket in free socage of Robert de Insula.

Richard apparently married a third time, before 1228, to Joan, the widow of Roger de Lenham, and Richard was made guardian of Roger's son and heir, John. The couple were involved in several legal disputes concerning Joan's dower estates in Norfolk, Suffolk and Buckinghamshire between 1228 and 1231. By 1241, Richard's son Giles was jointly guardian of Nicholas de Lenham, Roger's heir (John having presumably died). Some of Joan's dower property was in Redenhall, in Norfolk, and curiously, Giles in 1280 held land in Redenhall and Thirning. It looks as if either Richard or Giles may have profited by their guardianship of the Lenham estates, to gain possession of part of the property (Curia Regis Rolls).

Richard was notable among the Argenteins as a founder of a priory and a hospital, and the builder of a chapel at Melbourn, and as a Crusader who seems to have twice fought against the Muslims.

Between 1216 and 1218, he founded the priory of Little Wymondley, and endowed it with property in the Wymondleys and elsewhere, including the church of Little Wymondley. He also founded the Hospital of St John and St James, on the south side of Baldock Street in Royston. In 1227, he was given permission to build a chapel in his manor at Melbourn and to keep a chaplain there; the chapel was finished by 1229 (Palmer, pp.27,72, citing MS M, Bishop's muniment room at Ely).

Richard joined the Crusade of 1218, which in November 1219 succeeded in capturing the port of Damietta, in Egypt. A letter written by Richard to his kinsman, the abbot of Bury St Edmunds the following year gives us a striking glimpse of medieval religious attitudes. It seems that after its capture, the Crusaders were quick to convert the town's mosques into churches. Richard founded a handsomely adorned church, dedicated to St Edmund, whom he calls his patron saint ('advocatus meus'), and established there three chaplains, with clerks. He had a painted statue of the saint erected there, which attracted the hostile attention of a Flemish servant who visited the church. But as he left the church after hurling abuse at the martyred saint, a beam of wood miraculously fell on his head and hurt him badly, as Richard triumphantly relates to the abbot.

By 1224 Richard was back in England, being made in January sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, and also of Hertfordshire and Essex (Calendar of Patent Rolls). At the same time he was made constable of Hertford Castle, an office he held until August 1228 (Calendar of Patent Rolls). He was in military action again at the siege of Bedford Castle in the Summer of 1224, in support of Henry III against the rebellious Falkes de Breaute (Ralph of Coggeshall). The siege lasted for eight weeks, and those outside the castle suffered heavy casualties. Richard himself was severely wounded 'in the stomach below the navel', despite being in armour.

After this, Richard seems (deservedly!) to have continued in royal favour. In February 1225 he was among the witnesses of Henry III's Great Charter (Burton Annals). He witnessed another royal charter at Windsor in June 1226. Then, between January and November 1227, he witnessed a string of charters as one of the two royal stewards.

In April 1230 there is a note that the king has taken Richard's lands under his protection because he has gone overseas in the king's service, accompanied by Giles de Wachesham, whose family were tenants of the Argenteins in Huntingdonshire. In September of the same year, (Richard's son) Giles de Argentein was also overseas in the king's service (Close Roll). The Argenteins' journeys were presumably connected with the military expedition which Henry undertook that Summer, in an attempt to regain Normandy from France.

In 1331, two of Richard's sons (one of them his heir, Giles) were captured by the Welsh in an expedition against Prince Llewellyn, but Richard himself is not mentioned in the accounts of the action.

There is little indication of any further official duties in the next few years. Indeed, Richard suffered in the factional struggles in Henry's court in the early 1230s. It seems that he was one of a number of courtiers who lost favour after the fall of Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, who was supplanted in July 1232 by his rival, Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester (Carpenter, Maddicott). In December 1232, Peter des Rivaux, the bishop's nephew, was ordered to hand over the Hertfordshire manors of Lilley and Willian to Pain de Chaworth - the king had previously given these manors, near Great Wymondley, to Richard de Argentein after they had been forfeited by Pain (Close Roll).

Although he never recovered Lilley and Willian, it was not long before Richard had his revenge. Peter des Roches in his turn fell from favour in May 1234. In the following month king demanded the return of a number of castles held by his nephew, Peter des Rivaux, and Richard de Argentein was chosen as the messenger to convey the king's letters to him. Peter refused to reply, and judgment was passed against him by 25 magnates, including Richard de Argentein. The constable of Pevensey Castle, one of those held by Peter, was ordered to deliver it to the Earl of Hereford and to Richard de Argentein, and on the 5 July they were thanked and permitted to return home (Curia Regis Roll).

Later in July Richard was present when Peter des Rivaux was summoned to Westminster to explain his conduct. Over the next few months, Richard, restored to royal favour, seems to have travelled with the king, attesting a number of royal charters. His final appearance is at a Council which took place in October (Curia Regis Roll).

Little more is heard of Richard in the next ten years. The dispute with Pain de Chaworth over Lilley and Willian continues to be mentioned between 1234 and 1236 (Giles being made Richard's attorney in April 1235) (Curia Regis Rolls), and in May 1235 certain Jews to whom Richard owed money were ordered to appear at Westminster and give evidence about the debts (Close Roll). Beyond this, we have only the formal records of Richard's land holdings in the feudal returns of 1235-6 and 1242-3 (Book of Fees).

Some of Richard's estates seem to have been settled on his son Giles at about this time. Giles appears to have held the estate at Melbourn in both returns (VCH Cambridgeshire). He also appears, as the king's attorney, in a renewed attempt to recover the manors of Lilley and Willian in 1241 (Curia Regis Rolls). In the same year, Giles is mentioned, together with the master of the Hospital of St Thomas of Acon of London, as having custody of (his step-brother) Nicholas, son and heir of Roger de Lenham.

It seems that Richard had again gone on Crusade, probably with one of the English parties which departed in the Summer of 1240. According to the Dunstable Chronicle, when the Turks entered Jerusalem (in July 1244), only Richard de Argentein with 20 knights in the Tower of David (the citadel) held out. Eventually (in late August) the defenders were allowed to leave the city under a flag of truce.

Richard must have returned to England after the fall of Jerusalem, as in 1246 Matthew Paris records his death among those of 'certain nobles in England', describing him as a 'an energetic knight who in the Holy Land had fought faithfully for God for a long time'.

[Medieval English Genealogy]


Within the manor of PIDLEY were certain large freeholds held of the Bishops of Ely as parcel of their soke of Somersham, but whether they were manors is doubtful. The earliest mention of Pidley is in a confirmation of a charter (1225-8) of Bishop Geoffrey to Master William de Argentein of 100 acres in the manor of Somersham at a place called Strode (probably now Stroud Hill), adjoining the bishop's demesne in Pidley. As early as 1210-12 Richard de Argentein was holding a knight's fee in Somersham. He was succeeded on his death in 1246 by his son Giles, who in 1242 claimed rights in Warboys Fen in respect of his freehold tenement in Pidley and Fenton. Giles, as a rebel, suffered forfeiture after the Battle of Evesham when his lands in Pidley were seized, but in 1279 he was holding a messuage containing an acre, and 25 acres of land with a grove of 1 acre. Giles died in 1282 leaving a son and heir Reginald, aged forty years, and other sons Richard (ob. s.p.), William, and Giles (ob. s.p.). John son of Reginald died in 1318 seised of a messuage and 80 acres of arable land and 3 acres of meadow in Pidley held in socage of the Bishop of Ely. He left a son John, aged half a year, whose wardship was granted to William de Bereford. After the death of William de Bereford in 1326 the wardship was given to Simon de Bereford who forfeited for rebellion in 1330. The property seems to have passed to the bishop, but owing to forfeitures and a long minority it is uncertain how heacquired it.

From: 'Parishes: Pidley with Fenton', A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2 (1932), pp. 185-187. URL: liam bereford Date accessed: 31 March 2012.


Inquisition, 9 Jan 1247. 2 93. Richard de Angentein alias Dargentein.

Writ to the sheriff of Hertford, 9 Jan. 31 Hen. III. Inq. (undated.)

Giles Dargentein is his heir. Hertford. Magna Wylemundeleg', 1 carucate land held of the king in chief by service of serving with a cup at the king's chief feasts when directed by the king's steward.

C. Hen. III. File 5. (12.)

Richard married Emma de Broy, daughter of Robert de Broy of Bletsoe and Unknown, before 1200. (Emma de Broy was born about 1175 and died before 1203.)

Richard next married Cassandra de Insula, daughter of Robert [II] de Insula of Rampton, Cambridgeshire and Unknown, about 1203-1204.

Richard next married Joan before 1228.


1 Victoria County History of Huntingdonshire, vol 2, pp. 185-7.

2 J E E S Sharp and A E Stamp, <i>Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem </i> (London: n.p., n.d.), 1 Henry III: 19-23.

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