Hugh Kevelioc, Earl of Chester

Randle de Gernon The Great Seal of Hugh Kevelioc Hugh Kevelioc

Randle de Gernon

The Great Seal of Hugh Kevelioc

Hugh Kevelioc

Hugh of Kevelioc de Meschines was born in 1147 in Kevelioc, Merionethshire, Wales.

His father, Ranulph de Meschines (surnamed de Gernons, from being born in Gernon Castle, in Normandy), Viscount Bayeaux, was a leading military character. In 1139, King Stephen made Henry the son of King David of Scotland Earl of Northumberland and gave him Carlisle and Cumberland. This so incensed Ranulph that he took up arms against King Stephen along with the Empress Maud, and the young Prince Henry

In alliance with his father-in-law Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the king was defeated made prisoner at the battle of Lincoln on Candlemas day 1141. They committed him to the castle of Bristol where he remained until 1143.

Ranulph subsequently however changed sides and fought with the King. This rebounded on him and finally, distrusted by all, he died under excommunication on 16 Dec 1153. It is suspected that he was poisoned by William Peverell, Lord of Nottingham, who, in turn is said to have turned monk in order to avoid punishment. His body was interred at St Werburgh Abbey in Chester (now Chester Cathedral)

StWerburgAbbeyCoin920.gif
St Werburgh Abbey on a coin of c. 920
The entrance to Chester Castle from an 18th century painting
The entrance to Chester Castle
from an 18th century painting

In 1141, the earl married Maude, daughter of Robert, surnamed the Consul, Earl of Gloucester, natural son of King Henry I. They had three children : Hugh , Richard and Beatrix. Maude survived him and died on 29 July 1189

Hugh Kevelioc de Meschines, Earl of Chester, was surnamed from the place of his birth. He joined in the rebellion of the Earl of Leicester and the King of Scots, against King Henry II, and in support of that monarch's son, Prince Henry's pretensions to the crown. He was taken prisoner, with the Earl of Leicester, at Alnwick, but obtained his freedom soon afterwards upon the king's reconciliation with the young prince.

Again, however, hoisting the banner of revolt, both in England and in Normandy, with as little success. he was again seized, and then detained a prisoner for some years. He eventually, however, obtained his liberty and restoration of his lands, when public tranquillity became completely re-established some time about the 23rd year of the king's reign.

Hugh married Bertred of Evereux, daughter of Simon, Earl of Evereux, in Normandy. They had the following children :

  • Ranulph (Randle) Keveliok, his successor. He died without issue and his inheritance was shared between his sisters
  • Maud Keveliok, who married David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William, King of Scotland. He took the title for her issue and held title to her brotherís lands in North Wales.
  • My wife Margaretís ancestor, Mabel Keveliok, who married William de Albini, Earl of Arundel. Hugh de Albany, Earl of Arundel, son of Mabel and William, inherited from his late uncle, Ranulph, Coventry, as his chief seat, with the manors of Campden, in Gloucestershire; Diney, in Buckinghamshire; and Leeds, in Yorkshire. Mabel inherited the manor of Barow in Leicestershire from her brother
  • My ancestor, Agnes Keveliok, Countess of Derby, married William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby. She and her husband had the castle and manor of Chartley, in Staffordshire, and inherited from her late brother all the lands which lay between the rivers Ribble and Merse, together with a manor in Northamptonshire, and another in Lincolnshire. She also inherited the county of Powys
  • Hawise Keveliok, who married Robert de Quincy, son of Saier de Quincy, Earl of Winchester. She and her husband had the castle and manor of Bolingbroke, co. Lincoln, and other large estates in that shire. Their relative Margaret de Quincy subsequently married William Ferrers in 1258. I am also descended from them. Hawise subsequently gave the Earldom of Lincoln to John Lacy

The Earl had another daughter, Amicia, whose legitimacy is questioned. She married Ralph de Mesnilwarin, justice of Chester, "a person," says Dugdale, "of very ancient family," from which union the Mainwarings, of Over Peover, in the co. Chester, derive. Dugdale considers Amicia to be a dau. of the earl by a former wife. But Sir Peter Leicester, in his Antiquities of Chester, totally denies her legitimacy. "I cannot but mislike," says he, "the boldness and ignorance of that herald who gave to Mainwaring (late of Peover), the elder, the quartering of the Earl of Chester's arms; for if he ought of right to quarter that coat, then must the be descended from a co-heir to the Earl of Chester; but he was not; for the co-heirs of Earl Hugh married four of the greatest peers in the kingdom." My wife is also descended from Amicia via another line.

Hugh died at Leeke, in Staffordshire, in 1181.


The remains of the archway into St Mary's Nunnery

The remains of the archway into the Nunnery

St. Mary's Nunnery :
The earliest charter connected with the nunnery we know of dates from about the year 1150, though it is known the nuns were in Chester before that date, possibly at another site. It says:
"Randulph, Earl of Chester, etc., grants to God and St. Mary and the nuns of Chester, those crofts which Hugh, son of Oliver, held of the demesne of the grantor, with the goodwill of the said Hugh, who has quit-claimed them before grantor and his Countess, etc., towards the building there of a church in honour of God and Saint Mary, for the remission of grantor's sins, etc., and for the founding of their building. Witnesses: John and Roger, chaplains, Matilda the Countess, Hugh the Earl's son, Fulk de Brichsard, Ralph Mansell, Richard the butler; at Chester."


The walls of Chester at Newgate In 1069, Chester was the last remaining great town in England to fall to the Conqueror's sword during the final stages of the Harrying of the North in 1069-70, fully three years after the Battle of Hastings. Numerous rumours had long been circulating about the difficult roads, the position of the city (surrounded as it was by marshes and great forests), of its numerous inhabitants- and of their obstinate courage: "Locorum asperitatum et hostium terribilem ferocitatem". Many of William's nobles, worn out by the struggles in the North, and alarmed at these rumours, demanded their discharge. Some actually retired to Normandy, abandoning the lands with which they had already been rewarded; but the persuasive powers of Duke William prevailed- he promised them great rewards, and, as the conquest of Chester was the last of his projects, they would find rest after their victory. As it turned out, as the Norman army drew near, the city (whose citizens had doubtless heard equally terrifying rumours regarding the approaching foe) surrendered without opposition. William granted the Earldom of Chester first to Walter de Gherbaud- who, however soon returned to Normandy- and then to his nephew, Hugh of Avranches- know as 'Lupus' (the wolf) and, in later life, 'Hugh the Fat'- "To hold to him and his heirs as freely by the sword as the King holds the Crown of England". The Earldom became very powerful and virtually independent of the Crown, the Earl having his own Parliament consisting of eight of his chosen Barons and their tenants, and they were in no way bound by any laws passed by the English Parliament with the exception of treason. The Castle was rebuilt and greatly enlarged and strengthened (becoming the 'caput' of the Earldom)- as were the City Walls.


Some of the photos and information are taken from Steve Howes' excellent website on the city of Chester which is gratefully acknowledged. There is a link to this site on the useful links page on this site.
The information on this site is prepared from public records and from verbatum evidence provided by third parties. I am placing it in the public domain in good faith and to the best of my belief all statements made are truthful. However, no warranty as to accuracy is either given or implied and interested parties should perform their own validations.

Copyright © 2003, Charles Crane