Thinking about the early years of the Plantagenet/de Morlaix/Perkins clan in England, I got to wondering where they lived and why they moved around. So I began by trying to find the Oxfordshire estate where Pierre de Morlaix was said to have been the Seneschal of Hugh DeSpencer. I am now deep in a morass arising, or spreading out from, the interface of Ancestry and the Middle Ages, abetted by my distant cousins taste for fame and adventure in retelling the family history.
First, Hugh DeSpencer. There was a father and a son, both named Hugh, both favorites of the King of England, Edward I for the father, and Edward II for the son. Hugh the Elder was made a knight and given lands. Hugh the Younger married Eleanor de Clare, whose grandfather was Edward I. She was the payment for a debt King Edward I owed the Elder DeSpencer. Ah, the good old days. Her older brother died and she inherited the Gloucester lands. So her husband, Hugh the Younger, owned the following castles, according to Wikipedia
Hugh le Despenser the younger was knight of Hanley Castle, Worcestershire, King’s Chamberlain, Constable of Odiham Castle, Keeper of the castle and town of Portchester, Keeper of the castle, town and barton of Bristol and, in Wales, Keeper of the castle and town of Dryslwyn, and the region of Cantref Mawr, Carmarthenshire.
Wallingford is the only one in Oxfordshire, which is where someone on Ancestry said Pierre de Morlaix was in service to DeSpencer. But the plethora of possessions explains why someone in his service moved around.
But then, we find a major setback in the family (the Despencers and my ancestors) fortunes. King Edward II made Hugh such a favorite, and perhaps a lover, that the Queen and many at the court hated him. He was said to be cruel and greedy. In fact, in 2006, the BBC declared him the “worst Briton of the 14th century”, which is going some. He was drawn, quartered, and beheaded in 1326 in the course of the rebellion led by King Edward II wife, Queen Isabella. When their son Edward III became king in 1328, Hugh DeSpenser’s wife Eleanor was released from the Tower and restored to her lands.
Somewhere in all this, the Perkins family managed to survive and actually prosper. It will take more digging and guesswork to figure out how. But their fortunes follow the slow progress of the change from a society where your allegiance was to the local lord to a time when England became a country with a King and Parliament. Several centuries left to go, but perhaps some of the steps will show up in the Perkins history.