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Brookfield Ancestor Project - Surety Barons

Magna Charta Baron Page
Geoffrey De Saye
A feudal baron in Sussex

Saye Shield

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WURTS’ MAGNA CHARTA provided a brief accounting of the feudal headquarters of some of the Magna Charta Barons. Some of the castles have been badly damaged. Some have disappeared entirely. Often we can learn of them through Medieval and Renaissance accounts, and some of them require the discerning eye of the archeologist. Others await the evidence brought out with a shovel and pick, by the trained archeological historian.

A portion of the information concerning Surety Baron GEOFFREY de SAYE is as follows:

GEOFFREY de SAYE, the Surety, was in arms with the other Barons against the King, and consequently his extensive lands and possessions in ten counties were seized. These were given to Peter de Crohim. Six of the counties we can name: Northampton, Cambridge, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincoln, but we cannot be sure of what Castles in those areas were Geoffrey's, or which other four counties he could claim.

While William d'Albini and his companions were holding Rochester Castle, they had been assured that other Baronial leaders would relieve them if the Castle were to be besieged by King John. Such a rescue would not have been easy unless the Royal guards were lax in watching the bridge over the Medway. If this bridge were under guard, a march to Rochester from London along the Dover Road would prove impossible, the company then being forced to detour and approach Rochester from Maidstone. Nevertheless, on 26 October, they moved in as far as Dover, where they soon heard that the King was on his way to meet them. They promptly returned to London, leaving the Rochester garrison to do the best it could.

Perhaps the march on Rochester was a sop to the Barons' consciences. Had it been a serious move, it would have been an extraordinarily foolish one. The only other attempt to save Rochester was negotiatory. On 9 November King John issued letters of conduct for Richard de Clare, Robert FitzWalter, Geoffrey de Saye and the Mayor of London, to confer with the Royal emissaries: Peter de Roches, Hubert de Burgh and the Earls of Arundel and Warren. There is no certainty that these men ever met. If indeed they did, nothing came of it. We suspect that the meeting was originally planned with the hope that a proposal would be accepted, and it is not unlikely that the proposal would have been a willingness to surrender Rochester Castle to the King if the garrison could go free, but no such move resulted. Yet despite the futility of the meeting, at least we see Geoffrey de Saye connected, if lightly, with Rochester Castle. And this is the only Castle with which we are able to link his name.

Geoffrey de Saye returned to the Royalist party when the civil war was over, and sided with King Henry III, thereby regaining his lost lands after the expulsion of the Dauphin. He died 24 October 1230 leaving a son, William, as his heir, by Alice, daughter of William de Cheney.

Appreciation is expressed to Reed M. W. Wurts, one of the Heralds of the Society for furnishing the Baron’s Shield on this page.

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