Name: Hugh de Morville
Death: 1204 in Holy Land
Burial: In the porch of the church of the Templars (afterwards the Mosque el Aksa), Jerusalem. The tomb is now inside the buildingg.
Occupation: Co-murderer of Thomas Beckett
MEM: Church of the Templars (afterwards the Mosque el Aksa), Jerusalem: tomb now inside building
Change Date: 22 AUG 2005
Hugh de Morville, d. 1204, one of the murderers of St. Thomas of Canterbury, was most probably the son of Hugh de Morville, who held the barony of Burgh-by-Sands, Cumberland, and several other estates in the northern shires, in succession to his mother, Ada, daughter of William de Engaine(1). He must be distinguished from Hugh de Morville (d. 1162) son of Richard de Morville (d. 1189) and from Hugh de Morville (d. 1200). Hugh's mother was licentious and treacherous (2), he ?was of a viper's brood.? From the beginning of the reign of Henry II he was attached to the court, and is constantly mentioned as witnessing charters. His name occurs also as a witness to the Constitutions of Clarendon. He married Helwis de Stuteville, and thus became possessor of the castle of Knaresborough.
He was forester of Cumberland, and itinerant justice for Cumberland and Northumberland in 1170, and he held the manor of Westmereland. He had been one of Becket's men when he was chancellor; but he had always been of the king's party, and he was easily stirred by the king's bitter words to avenge him on the archbishop. In the verbal contest which preceded the murder he asked St. Thomas ?why, if the king's men had in aught offended him or his, he did not complain to the king before he took the law into his own hands and excommunicated them?(3) While the others were smiting the saint he kept back with his sword the crowd which was pouring into the transept from the nave, ?and so it happened that with his own hand he did not strike him?(3). After all was over he fled with the other knights to Saltwood, thence to South Malling, later to Scotland; but he was finally forced to flee to his own castle of Knaresborough, where he sheltered his fellow-criminals(4). There they remained, though they were accounted vile by all men of that shire. All shunned converse with them, nor would any eat or drink with them(4).
Finally a penance of service in the Holy Land was given by the pope, but the murderers soon regained the royal favour. In 1200 Hugh de Morville paid fifteen marks and three good horses to hold his court with the rights of tol and theam, infangenetheof, and the ordeal of iron and of water, so long as his wife, in whose right he held it, should retain the secular habit. He obtained also license to hold a market at Kirkoswald, Cumberland, on Thursdays, and a fair on the feast of St. Oswald(5). He died shortly afterwards (1204), leaving two daughters: Ada, married in 1200 to Richard de Lucy, son of Reginald of Egremont, and afterwards to Thomas de Multon, and Joan, married to Richard de Gernum, nephew of William Brewer, who had been appointed her guardian.
Legends soon attached to his sword, as to the sword of Tracy. It was said to have been long preserved in Carlisle Cathedral, and a sword, with a much later inscription, now at Brayton Castle, is supposed to be the one which he wore on the day of the murder. This is the most probable account of his last years. But it may be that he was the Morville who was Richard I's hostage in 1194, in which case he would be noteworthy as having lent Ulrich of Zatzikoven the Anglo-Norman poem which Ulrich made the basis of his ?Lanzelet.? Tradition also states that he died in the Holy Land, and was buried in the porch outside the church of the Templars (afterwards the Mosque el Aksa) at Jerusalem. The tomb is now inside the building.
(1)WILLIAM OF CANTERBURY in "Materials for Life of Becket, i. 128; RICHARD OF HEXHAM, Chron. Stephen, &c., Rolls Ser. iii. 178).
(2)WILLIAM OF CANTERBURY, ib.
(3)ROGER OF PONTIGNY Materials, iv. 73.
(4)BENEDICT OF PETERBOROUGH, Rolls Ser., i. 13)
(5)LYSONS, Cumberland, p. 127)
Materials for the Hist. of Becket (Rolls Ser.), vols. i-iv.; William of Newburgh, lib. ii. cap. 25 (Rolls Ser. Chronicles Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I, i. 161-5); Benedict of Peterborough, Rolls Ser. i. 13; Garnier, ed. Hippeau, pp. 178-200; Pipe Rolls (Pipe Roll Soc.), 5 Henry II p. 29, 6 Henry II p. 14, 7 Henry II p. 35, 8 Henry II p. 51, 9 Henry II p. 57, 10 Henry II p. 11, 11 Henry II p. 47, 12 Henry II p. 35, 13 Henry II p. 78, 14 Henry II p. 79, 15 Henry II p. 31; Thómas Saga, ed. Magnússon, Rolls Ser. i. 514; Foss's Judges of England, i. 279, 280; Stanley's Memorials of Canterbury, 4th edit. pp. 70, 107, 196; Lysons's Cumberland, p. 127; Eyton's Itinerary of Henry II, pp. 33, 53, 68, 78, 145, 150, 152; Robertson's Life of Becket, pp. 266 sqq.; Morris's St. Thomas Becket pp. 137, 407 sqq.; Norgate's Angevin Kings, ii. 78, 432 note n; Gent. Mag. 1856, i. 380-2
Contributor W. H. H. PUBLISHED 1894 ©Oxford University Press 1995
Father: Hugh De Morville b: in Burgh-by-Sands, Cumberland
Mother: Beatrice Beauchamp
Helwis de Stuteville
- Ada de Morville
- Joan de Morville