Margaret de Bohun, Countess of Devon

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Margaret de Bohun
Countess of Devon
Margaret de Bohun , detail of her effigy (heavily restored)[1] situated next to that of her husband on a chest tomb in Exeter Cathedral
Born3 April 1311
Caldecote, Northampton
Died16 December 1391(1391-12-16) (aged 80)
BuriedExeter Cathedral
Noble familyBohun
Spouse(s)Hugh Courtenay, 10th Earl of Devon
Sir Hugh Courtenay, KG
Thomas Courtenay
Sir Edward Courtenay
Robert Courtenay
William Courtenay, Archbishop of Canterbury
Sir Philip Courtenay
Sir Peter Courtenay, KG
Humphrey Courtenay
Margaret Courtenay (the elder)
Elizabeth Courtenay
Katherine Courtenay
Anne Courtenay
Joan Courtenay
Margaret Courtenay (the younger)
______ Courtenay (7th daughter)
______ Courtenay (8th daughter)
______ Courtenay (9th daughter)
FatherHumphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford
MotherElizabeth of Rhuddlan
Effigies of Margaret de Bohun and her husband Hugh de Courtenay, 10th Earl of Devon, south transept, Exeter Cathedral. Two Bohun swans, the heraldic device of Bohun, are shown with their necks intertwined at Margaret's feet
Bohun heraldic swans collared and chained with necks inter-twined at feet of effigy of Margaret de Bohun.[2] The Bohun swan can be seen above the escutcheon on her father's seal formerly attached to the Barons' Letter, 1301. A lion serves as the footrest of her husband
Effigy of unknown female, situated under recessed alcove, north wall of chancel, Powderham Church, Devon. Generally assumed to be of Elizabeth of Rhuddlan,[3] the youngest daughter of King Edward I and mother of Margaret de Bohun, wife of Hugh de Courtenay, 10th Earl of Devon. Lysons, writing in 1822, stated this effigy then to be situated 'in a window of the north aisle'.[4]
Arms of Bohun: Azure, a bend argent cotised or between six lions rampant or. These arms can be seen (without tinctures) impaled by Courtenay on the monumental brass of Margaret's son Sir Peter Courtenay (d.1405) in Exeter Cathedral

Margaret de Bohun, Countess of Devon (3 April 1311 – 16 December 1391) was the granddaughter of King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, and the wife of Hugh Courtenay, 10th Earl of Devon (1303–1377). Her seventeen children included an Archbishop of Canterbury and six knights, of whom two were founder knights of the Order of the Garter. Unlike most women of her day, she received a classical education and was a lifelong scholar and collector of books.

Early life[edit]

Lady Margaret de Bohun was born on 3 April 1311 at Caldecote, Northamptonshire, the third daughter and seventh child of Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford, Lord Constable of England by his wife Elizabeth of Rhuddlan, the youngest daughter of King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. Her paternal grandparents were Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford and Maud de Fiennes. She was named after her maternal step-grandmother, Margaret of France, the second queen consort of Edward I.

Margaret was left an orphan shortly before her eleventh birthday. On 16 March 1322 at the Battle of Boroughbridge, her father was slain in an ambush by the Welsh. Her mother had died six years previously in childbirth.

Together with her siblings she received a classical education under a Sicilian Greek, Master Diogenes. As a result, Margaret became a lifelong scholar and avid book collector.[citation needed]

On 11 August 1325, at the age of fourteen, Lady Margaret married Hugh de Courtenay, the future 10th Earl of Devon, to whom she had been betrothed since 27 September 1314. Her dowry included the manor of Powderham near Exeter. The marriage agreement was formally made on 28 February 1315, when she was not quite four years old.[5] The first Earl of Devon promised that upon the marriage he would enfeoff his son and Margaret jointly with 400 marks worth of land, assessed at its true value, and in a suitable place.[6]

Margaret assumed the title of Countess of Devon on 23 December 1340.[7]

Her eldest brother John de Bohun (23 November 1306 – 20 January 1336) succeeded as 5th Earl of Hereford in 1326, having married Alice Fitzalan, daughter of the 9th Earl of Arundel in 1325. She had a younger brother William de Bohun (1312–1360), who was created 1st Earl of Northampton in 1337 by King Edward III. He married Elizabeth de Badlesmere, by whom he had two children. Margaret's elder sister Lady Eleanor de Bohun (17 October 1304 – 7 October 1363), married in 1327, her first husband, James Butler, 1st Earl of Ormonde. They were the ancestors of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr.

Hugh and Margaret had 17 known children, most of whom reached adulthood. Their descendants include members of the British royal family and former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.[8]

Their family chantry was expanded at Naish Priory in the family's manor of Coker in Somerset, at the end of the 14th century when it was owned by her most notable son, William Courtenay, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Margaret died on 16 December 1391 at the age of eighty. She is buried in Exeter Cathedral.

Marriage and issue[edit]

On 11 August 1325, in accordance with a marriage agreement dated 27 September 1314, she married Hugh Courtenay, 10th Earl of Devon (1303-1377), by whom she had eight sons and nine daughters:[9][10][11]



  1. ^ Lysons described the effigies in 1822 as "much mutilated" (Magna Britannia, vol. 6, pp.323-345)
  2. ^ Heavily restored. Lysons described the swans in 1822 as "the remains of two birds" (Magna Britannia, vol. 6, pp.323-345)
  3. ^ Pevsner, N., Buildings of England: Devon, p.692, illustrates the typical confusion concerning this female effigy, whom he describes as: "Elizabeth de Bohun (d.1378?) (sic) whose daughter married the third (sic) Earl of Devon. Effigy with the queer headgear of that period". Clearly he is incorrect in two of his details, namely the date of her death, which he places 62 years too late, and the identity of her husband
  4. ^ Lysons, Samuel, Magna Britannia
  5. ^ Note:This agreement, written in French, is from the Public Record Office, London DL27/13
  6. ^ Jennifer C. Ward, Women of the English Nobility and Gentry, 1066-1500, pp. 29-30, Google Books, retrieved on 4 November 2009
  7. ^
  8. ^ Cleaveland, E. A Genealogical History of the Noble and Illustrious Family of Courtenay. (1735): pp. 151-153. (author states, "Hugh Courtenay, third Baron of Okehampton and second Earl of Devonshire ... he had by his Countess six sons and five daughters, saith Sir William Dugdale; but Sir Peter Ball, Sir William Pole, and Mr. Westcot do say, he had eight sons and nine daughters.") [It appears that the majority of British Antiquaries concurred that Sir Hugh Courtenay, 2nd Earl of Devon and Margaret de Bohun had 17 known children.].
  9. ^ Cokayne 1916, p. 324.
  10. ^ Richardson I 2011, p. 540.
  11. ^ According to Cokayne, she had nine daughters.
  12. ^ Richardson I 2011, pp. 542–3.
  13. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p. 244, pedigree of Courtenay
  14. ^ a b Richardson I 2011, p. 543.
  15. ^ Vivian, p. 244, regnal year 51 Edward III
  16. ^ Richardson I 2011, pp. 546–47; Lodge 1789, pp. 72–3.
  17. ^ Richardson I 2011, pp. 546–47; Richardson IV 2011, p. 41.
  18. ^ Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 2, (2013), p. 326. (author states, “HUGH DE COURTENAY, Knt., 10th Earl of Devon, 2nd Lord Courtenay . . . . He married 11 August 1325 (by marriage agreement dated 27 Sept. 1314) MARGARET DE BOHUN . . . . They had eight sons, Hugh, K.G., Thomas [Canon of Crediton and Exeter], Edward, Knt., Robert, [Master] William [Bishop of Hereford and London, Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor of England], Philip, Knt., Peter, K.G., and Humprey . . .”)
  19. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 28.
  20. ^ Richardson I 2011, pp. 544–5.
  21. ^ a b c d e Richardson I 2011, p. 545.
  22. ^ Richardson IV 2011, p. 268.
  23. ^ Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vol. 2, (2013), p. 326.
  24. ^ Vivian, J. L. The Visitations of Cornwall of 1530, 1573, & 1620. (1887): p. 190 (Grenvile ped.), (author states, "Sr. Theobald Grenvile, Kt., temp. Rich II. = Margaret, da. of Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon.").
  25. ^ Roskell. The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1386–1421. Vol. 2. (1992): (biog. of Sir John Grenville (d. 1412), of Stow in Kilkhampton, Cornw. and Bideford, Devon): "s. and h. of Sir Theobald Grenville of Stow and Bideford by Margaret, da. of Hugh Courtenay, earl of Devon, and Margaret de Bohun …" [Roskell identifies Margaret Courtenay, wife of Sir Theobald Grenville, as the daughter of Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon and Margaret de Bohun.].
  26. ^ Duffy, Eamon. The voices of Morebath: Reformation and rebellion in an English village. (New Haven, 2001): p. 14. [Duffy states that name-sharing was more likely to have occurred in large families or where the pool of available names was restricted. Duffy’s study of the Devon parish of Morebath showed that it was common practice to give the same name to living siblings, citing examples as late as the early 16th century.].
  27. ^ Burls, Robin J. Society, economy and lordship in Devon in the age of the first two Courtenay earls, c. 1297-1377. Dphil. (University of Oxford, 2002): p. 133 (author states, "Sir Edward Courtenay (d. c. 1371) married Emmeline Dauney, daughter and sole heiress of a Cornish knight, while his sister, Margaret (d. 1385), took as a husband Sir Theobald Grenville, the head of a north Devon family whose members were already well entrenched in the Courtenay affinity.").


  • Cokayne, George Edward (1916). The Complete Peerage, edited by H.A. Doubleday. IV. London: St. Catherine Press.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. I (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City.
  • Tristram Risdon, The Chorographical Description or Survey of the County of Devon, pp. 357–360, Google Books, retrieved on 4 November 2009