Sunday, September 29, 2013

No Less Distinguished In The Field~

                                                Cill Mhaighneann c. 700AD

Per the book The Judges in Ireland , a knight, Sir Walter L'Enfant, no less distinguished on the field than in council was appointed  the first Justice to hold the pleas in 1290 AD. Four years later he was superseded by another knight Sir Walter de la Haye who also served four years and retired. L'Enfant was reappointed in 1298 and served until 1309 assisted with the help of deputies. 

The same book indicates that he was probably a son of Walter L'Enfant , who held property in Ireland, and entered the King's service in 1270.He served as keeper of the castle of Kildare in 1302 and was  granted protection in Ireland for going beyond the seas in 1210. He left a widow, Elizabeth who married William de Welleslegh, Constable of Kildare Castle. She may not have been his first wife.

Dr. Beth Hartland, in her study of these household knights, believes his son also served the  King at this time. It seems more likely to me that the reference to " Walter the Younger, deputized to deliver seisin of  lands to Edward I" could have been  this Walter as his sons may have been younger.

So this,found in the Close Roll 48 Edward III in 1274 : "John s. of John L'enfaunt petitions that he was seised of certain tenements in Ardscoll in fee, of which John s. of Walter L'enfaunt disseised him, of which disseisin the said John s. of John after the death of the said John s. of Walter brought a writ of novel disseisin against Walter, son and heir of John s. of Walter, as tenant of the said tenements, and recovered same. John s. of Walter was outlawed and the sheriff distrained John s. of John for his debts. He prays remedy, ORDER to do what is required of right and according to the law and custom of Ireland.", may indicate his descendants and  kinfolk in Kildare.

The Journal of Kildare's interpretation of  a Walter L'enfant as Prior of the Hospital of St.John of Jerusalem at Kilmainham in 1288 must also be a misinterpretation of  the records. I think, rather it means that Walter, then a Justice Itinerant, inspected the Priory at that time.

It seems likely to me that the elder Walter would have been born about 1220 or earlier and could possibly have been one of the first in his family to hold land in Ireland. There was a Nicholas le Enfaunt who served  in Gascony as a knight of Henry III in 1253 with Ralph le Bigot ( Bigod), John de Burgo and many others. It would make perfect sense for this to be brother to Walter the Elder.
The entered into the retinue of this family surely with King John or before.
We can pretty surely place this family in Ireland by 1250,and in the service of the Plantagenet Kings possibly before that. As late as 1600s Nicholas and Patrick Ffant have lands both in Limerick and Kildare. The extensive studies of the Close Rolls of the Kings indicate that the family did not hold land in England at that time. This quote is quite specific," getting close to the English court, a more pressing problem in the case of knights like Walter who lacked English land.

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