The first Earls of Lincoln

It seems that the very first Earl of Lincoln was a certain William de Albini who had married Henry I's widow, and was afterwards granted the title by king Stephen in 1139. However this decision appears not to have been to the liking of Ranulf de Gernon, the 2nd Earl of Chester and his half brother William de Roumare who combined forces to defeat Stephen at the battle of Lincoln.

Stephen then seems to have agreed to recognise William de Roumare as Earl of Lincoln in order to placate the powerful Earl of Chester and his kin. This decision only lasted until 1147 when Stephen dismissed William and gave the earldom to a Gilbert de Gant instead. Of course, given the uncertain state of Stephen's control of the country, whether Gilbert de Gant was able to actually dispossess William de Roumare is uncertain.

(Some sources claim that Gilbert de Gant 'succeeded' to the title through his marriage to a daughter of the aforementioned William de Roumare. Other sources disagree, saying that his wife was rather Rohese de Clare, daughter of Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare, the 1st Earl of Hertford, and in any case William de Roumare lived until 1161 and was succeeded by a grandson also named William who was around until 1198, and so the daughter of the first William was in no position to be an heiress during the life of her husband.)

This Gilbert de Gant died in 1156 without any male issue, but his daughter Alice Gant married Simon de Senlis, Earl of Northampton, and later of Huntingdon as well. Therefore there are sources that place Simon de Senlis as Earl of Lincoln in 1156. It is very likely that he laid claim to the earldom although to what extent his claim was officially recognised before his death in 1184 is uncertain.

There is also a William de Roumare, grandson of the Earl dispossessed in 1147 also laid claim to the earldom. His date of birth is not known, but it is likely that he was not of age to take any action when his grandfather died in 1161, but he was clearly a man of some wealth as he was responsible for the foundation of Cleeve Abbey in Somerset between 1186 and 1191. Some sources place him as Earl of Lincoln, possibly as a successor to Simon de Senlis who died in 1184. This William de Roumare died in 1198 after which it seems that the earldom was left vacant.

Louis of France gave the earldom to Robert nephew of Gilbert de Gant in 1217; but that appointment didn't last long as Louis was defeated and driven out of England before the end of the year.

All of which may be very confusing but illustrates that there were a number of competing claims to the earldom of Lincoln, and that who may or may not have been earl at any one point in time was less a matter of inheritance and more a matter of power politics.

De Meschines, de Lacy and Plantagenet

Henry III unquestionably created Ranulf of Blundeville the 4th Earl of Chester as Earl of Lincoln 23rd May 1217, in recognition of his support in removing the aforementioned Louis of France from England and in particular his participation in the victory at the battle of Lincoln Fair earlier in that same year. Ranulf of Blundeville died in 1232 without male heirs and his various estates were divided between his four surviving sisters as co-heirs. His earldom of Chester went to one of his sisters (or to be more exact her husband) but the earldom of Lincoln followed a different path.

John de Lacy was son of Roger de Lacy of Halton and Pontefract, the Constable of Chester, who married Margaret, grand-daughter of Hugh of Cyfeiliog, the 3rd de Meschines Earl of Chester, by which family connection he claimed the earldom of Lincoln after the death of the last de Meschines earl. Actually John de Lacy wasn't actually a 'real' de Lacy at all, as his grandfather John Fitz Richard of Halton, similarly Constable of Chester adopted the surname de Lacy when he inherited the barony of Pontefract (long associated with the actual de Lacy family) through his wife.

He was succeeded by his son Edmund de Lacy, who married Alice of Saluces, daughter of Manfredo, the Marchese di Saluzzo and their son Henry de Lacy duly became the 3rd Earl in 1258. Henry married Margaret daughter of William de Longespee, the 3rd Earl of Salisbury, and consequently also gained the earldom of Salisbury on the death of his father-in-law in 1257. The marriage however did not produce the necessary male heirs, and on Henry's death in 1311, everything went to his daughter Alice de Lacy.

Alice de Lacy married a total of three husbands, each of whom claimed the title of Earl of Lincoln. Firstly Thomas 'the Martyr' Plantagenet who was also Earl of Lancaster amongst other things, who held the title until his execution for treason in 1322; secondly to a gentleman named Eubold le Strange and lastly to a Hugh de Frenes who died in 1337. Alice herself died in 1348, and despite her three marriages she had no children, and the dignity of Lincoln became extinct.

In 1349 Henry of Grosmont, Earl and later Duke of Lancaster, who was a nephew of the aforementioned Thomas, was created Earl of Lincoln; the title later passed on his death in 1361 to his son-in-law and fellow Plantagenet John of Gaunt. From John the title passed to his son Henry who became king Henry IV in 1399 at which point the title merged in the crown.

De la Pole and Brandon

John de la Pole was the eldest son of another John de la Pole the 2nd Duke of Suffolk and Elizabeth Plantagenet sister of king Edward IV. He was created Earl of Lincoln by Edward IV on the 13th March 1467. The younger John de la Pole was a keen supporter of Richard III (and recognized by Richard as his heir presumptive) but nevertheless initially accepted the rule of Henry VII. He later changed his mind and threw his weight behind Lambert Simnel as pretender for Edward V, led an invading army from Ireland and was killed at the battle of Stoke in 1487, after which the title became extinct.

Henry Brandon was the son of Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk and was created Earl of Lincoln in 1525 at the age of ten. Henry however died in 1534 without leaving any heirs and the earldom of Lincoln lapsed again.

Clinton

Edward Clinton, was the 9th Lord Clinton and married Elizabeth Blount former mistress of king Henry VIII (and mother of Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond). He was successful naval officer and was appointed to the office of Lord High Admiral in 1551, and later rewarded with the grant of the title Earl of Lincoln in 1572.

After his death on the 16th January 1585 he was succeeded by his son Henry Clinton who served as one of the commissioners for the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots. He died in 1616 and was succeeded by his son Thomas Clinton who was in turn followed in turn by his son Theophilus Clinton, the 4th Earl.

The 4th Earl was succeeded by his grandson Edward who died without heirs and the title passed to a cousin Francis Clinton, a descendant of a younger son of the 2nd Earl, who duly became the 6th Earl. The 6th Earl was followed by his son Henry Clinton and thence by his grandson George Clinton, the 8th Earl. The 8th Earl died without male issue in 1730 and the title passed to his brother Henry Clinton who became the 9th Earl. In 1768 the 9th Earl inherited the title of Duke of Newcastle from his uncle Thomas Pelham; after which the title of Earl of Lincoln became a courtesy title of the eldest son of the Duke of Newcastle.

That was indeed the case until the death of Edward Charles, the 10th Duke in 1988 when the title of Duke of Newcastle became extinct due to the lack of any male descendants of any previous holders of that title. But as far as the much older title of the Earl of Lincoln was concerned, there were some descendants of a third of the 2nd Earl still around.

Which is why a 75 year old retired welder, whose father had emigrated from England to Australia in 1912 was telephoned by an English journalist at his home in Western Australia informing him that he was now the Earl of Lincoln. 'Ted' Fiennes-Clinton made one brief visit to London for the purposes of formally claiming his title and later died at the age of 88 in 2001. He was succeeded by his grandson Robert Edward Fiennes-Clinton who is the current Earl of Lincoln and the 19th Earl of the Clinton line.


THE EARLS OF LINCOLN

THE FIRST EARLS

MESCHINES

DE LACY

Earls by right of marriage to Alice de Lacy

PLANTAGENET

DE LA POLE

BRANDON

CLINTON

See Duke of Newcastle for the 10th to 17th Earls of Lincoln.


SOURCES

  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for LINCOLN, EARLS OF
    See http://1911encyclopedia.org/index.htm
  • William de Roumare from The Conqueror and His Companions by J.R. PlanchĂ©, Somerset Herald. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1874. http://www.patpnyc.com/conq/roumare.shtml
  • Cistercian Abbeys: CLEEVE http://cistercians.shef.ac.uk/abbeys/cleeve.php
  • Lacy genealogy at http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/ll/lacy1.htm
  • Clinton genealogy www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/cc4aq/clinton02.htm
  • Pole, English noble family The Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition, 2001) http://www.bartleby.com/65/po/Pole.html
  • The obituary of the 18th Earl of Lincoln from the The Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2001 reproduced at
    http://www.lincolnshire-web.co.uk/lincolnshire-illustrious/obituary.htm
  • Inforation on the 19th Earl from Burke's Peerage at
    http://www.burkes-peerage.net/sites/Contents/book/UK/FHP/Peerage/fhp-LINCOLN.asp

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