The Lordship Title of Halford – Come take a stroll with us through its history

The first recorded reference of a Lordship for Halford is to a William Giffard, who held two knight’s fees worth of land in the manor. These were granted to him by the Earl of Warwick, who will have been Giffard’s overlord. And at this point, we feel we should explain a little more about this set up…

What’s with knight’s fees and lordships?

A knight’s fee was a measure of land that was deemed enough to support a knight. Created by the king or one of his tenants-in-chief, it was an area that was separated off from the overlord’s demesne (land held in-hand) via a process called subinfeudation. A new manor (and all that went with that, including the role of Lord of the Manor) would be established. And the knight would then pay homage and fealty to his new boss via his loyalty, alongside an undertaking to perform a specific service; usually of a military nature. The measure, therefore, wasn’t so much a matter of acreage, for the fertility and productiveness of land pockets varied significantly. But it was meant to be enough to sustain a knight, his family, esquires and servants, and also provide him and his retinue with horses and armour. Put simply, it had to be enough to enable the man to perform his feudal duties to his overlord.

And so, to the Manor of Halford…

When William died, he left Halford to his nephew, Andrew Giffard – the Feudal Baron of Funtell. Andrew, however, had resigned from his Barony by 1218 in favour of his three heirs – Robert Mandeville, Robert Mauduit, and William Comin. Mandeville is recorded as having a half fee in Halford in 1235. And further reference to the Lordship is noted in 1242, but it’s not clear who this is denoting. However, when Comin died in 1279 he left his knight’s fee in Halford to either his daughter or his grandson.

A significant strand to pursue…

Of course, with the knight’s fee having been distributed to three heirs, records of different strands do pop up at this point. However, the line running from Comin is clear. Comin’s heirs passed the knight’s fee to Alan la Zouche. It then passed to Sir Robert de Burdet on behalf of Alan. Alan’s daughter then inherited it and it was assigned to her and her husband, Sir Robert de Holand.
Things then got a bit lively for a while, for in 1315 de Holand – who was the chief retainer for the Earl of Lancaster – then played his part in dealing with the Banastre Rebellion. His loyalty, however, was a little precarious and batted forwards and backwards. Assisting Edward II against a Lancastrian rebellion initially, de Holand then betrayed the king to fight alongside them at the Battle of Boroughbridge. He’d picked the wrong side, however, and they were defeated. De Holand swiftly found himself imprisoned and his lands confiscated, including the Manor of Halford.

Switching of allegiances; it ran in the family…

Of course, as was the way, de Holand was then released, re-imprisoned, moved to another castle jail, escaped, was pardoned, and eventually then had Halford and his other lands returned to him. All in a couple of years’ medieval work, really. And it comes as no surprise to learn that he then died. Though it’s probably more accurate to say he’s likely to have been murdered/beheaded, with his body being sent to Preston for burial and his noggin heading off to the Earl of Lancaster as a trophy.
In the meantime, his stalwart wife, Maud, took on his estate, before marrying Sir John Lovel; who was a baron. The allegiance switching was contagious. Sir John, who became a Member of Parliament in 1375, did homage to Richard II at his coronation. And by 1394 he’d been made a commissioner to commandeer the shipping for the king’s service and had been retained to stay with the king for life. Five years on from this, however, and his had coat turned, for he switched to support the imprisonment of Richard II. Unsurprisingly, the switch served him well and he was charged with the important responsibility of surveying and fortifying Southampton. It’s unclear what happened to Sir John after that, but Maud outlived him until 1422 and her estate passed to her grandson William, 7th Baron Lovel… Who also took on the barony of Holand too.

Respectability is returned…

William is the last directly named individual associated with the Lordship of Halford. He pursued a prestigious calling, so in some ways it’s nice that the named trail ends on such a high note. From 1432, he pursued a successful career as a Member of Parliament. He commanded 29 men and 80 archers in 1429 in the French wars. He was made a Justice of the Peace in 1441. And was unusually exempted from coming to Parliament and King’s Councils in recognition of his service to kings, past and then present. He was appointed Constable of Wallingford Castle, and Steward of the Wallingford Honour in 1450. And he died in 1455, his reputation intact.
After William, Halford Manor remained under the overlordship of the Earl of Warwick, but was thereafter only referenced in association with the Manor of Snitterfield. Jumping forward to 1824, an unnamed gamekeeper is recorded as having a portion of Halford, but details are not clear as to who or what or why.

Lordship of Halford

To the present day…

And so, the Lordship of Halford then fell into disuse as a title for 194 years. But now we, at Manorial Counsel, have uncovered its meandering path. A path which is deeply embedded in English feudal history and one that traces back to a gem of a title.
Can you see yourself becoming the next stepping stone in its journey? Would your heirs in the future enjoy playing their part too?

If you’d like to find out more about how you could be the next Lord/Lady of Halford, give us a call… Owning such a title is a unique way of carrying England’s historical past into the future! 

View the Lordship Title of Halford