Clarvaile : or Claville

One of the Barons of Domesday. "Which of the places in Normandy called Claville gave name to this family has not been discovered, but there is a village of that name in the Campagne de Neubourg, a little to the west of Evreux, from which it is rather more probable they sprung than from Claville Motteville in the arrondissement of Rouen, mentioned as their original seat, because a great majority of the followers of the Conqueror were drawn from that part of the Duchy that lies Southwards of the river Seine."—Hutchins' Dorset. Walter de Claville, in 1086, held of the King Burlescomb, Legh, Lomene, &c.—thirty manors in all—in Devonshire; and East Morden, since known as Morden-Maltravers, with four other lordships, in Dorsetshire. One branch of his descendants—probably the elder—settled on the larger estate in Devonshire (Morden being the only Dorsetshire manor they retained); and had their caput baronies at Burlescomb, near Tiverton, where another Walter de Claville—no doubt the grandson of the first—founded the Priory of Canon's Legh 1161-73. He held twelve fees of the Earl of Gloucester (Lib. Niger), whose feudatories the Claviles appear to have been, and was followed by six generations of descendants. Of these, "Sir Roger Clavell died sans issue, whom William, his brother's son, succeeded, whose grandchild John Clavell was slain the next day after his marriage, coming from London to these parts, but his wife was found with child and brought a son, who had Lomen Clavell and other his father's inheritance, and left them unto William his son in the time of King Edward III.; from which family Beare of Huntsham is descended by the heir-general, and there was great contention between Sir Henry Percehaye and Thomas Beare about the inheritance of William Clavell after his death, as appeareth on record."—Risdon's Survey of Devon. Sir William Pole confirms this account of the dispute between the two claimants to Lomen Clavell. Yet it does not tally with the pedigree given by Hutchins, and derived from the cartulary of Canon's Legh, which states that on the death of the last heir, about 1374, the next in blood was a remote cousin, John Aysshlyn; and it is certain that this John inherited Morden. The hamlet of Lomen-Clavell, "the ancient inheritance of Clavell from the Conquest," and Bukinton Clavell, retain the name in Devonshire.

In Dorsetshire "the family of Clavell could boast an antiquity not to be equalled in this county and very rarely in any other," for it was carried on in the male line till the latter half of the last century. Four of the manors held by Walter de Claville in Domesday "seem to have passed at a very early period to a younger son—perhaps before the time of Henry II. Robert de Clavile held a fee in 'Porbica' in the time of Henry I., of which two hides were given to the Abbot of Tewkesbury, probably about 1106, soon after the Monastery of Cranborne became a priory dependent upon the former house. The gift was conferred by charter of King Henry I. In 12 Hen. II., Radulphus de Clavill held one fee in Dorset of Alured de Lincoln, of the new feoffment, and Robert de Clavile held another of Gerbert de Perci, of the old feoffment."—Ibid.

This family, like most others, was split up into various divisions. A branch held West Holme, one of the original Domesday manors, till the time of Edward I., when Margaret de Clavile conveyed it to John Russell of Tyneham. Two others were seated in the Isle of Purbeck, one, the Claviles of Quarr, in the parish of Worth Maltravers, ended under Henry VIII. with an heiress married to Thomas Daccomb; the other, of Leston in Langton-Maltravers, was carried on through a cadet till 1774. He had acquired Smedmore, Barneston and other property in the Isle of Purbeck through his wife, Johanna Wyot, in the reign of Henry VI.; and Smedmore continued to the last the home of his posterity. In the time of Queen Elizabeth, Sir William Clavell, Knight Banneret, "built a little newe house at Smedmore, and beautified it with pleasant gardens." This Sir William was "a great but unfortunate projector," who, as the result of his speculations, was forced to sell or mortgage the best part of his estate. The remainder, with Smedmore, he devised to a distant kinsman, Roger Clavell of Winfrith, passing over his brother's son John, who, as next of blood, was his heir apparent. For this, it must be admitted that he had a sufficient excuse. The graceless nephew had fallen into evil courses and evil companionship very early in life, and at the beginning of Charles the First's reign was apprehended, convicted, and condemned for highway robbery. The Queen, it is said, interposed in his behalf, and he received a pardon; but remained long enough in prison to write a whole quarto volume of poems. Some of these effusions are addressed to the King; some to the Queen, the nobles, the judges, &c.; and one is entitled "A Recantation of an ill Life," dated "From my lonely, sad, and unfrequented prison in the King's Bench, October, 1627." When he regained his liberty, he lost no time in presenting a poetical address to "his ever dear and well approved good uncle Sir William Clavell," craving his forgiveness, and promising never to return to his former course of life. If he did—

"O then for ever disinherit me!" He kept his word, and men marvelled at

his "most singular reformation;" but Sir William was obdurate, and Smedmore passed to the distant kinsman. The last heir, George Clavell, bequeathed it to his nephew William Richards, on condition that he took the name of Clavell; but it once more perished with him, and its next bearer—his brother—died childless and intestate in 1833. There remain, however, representatives of a family formerly seated in the Isle of Wight, who, "though they have hitherto failed in establishing the connecting link, there can be no doubt are descended from the Claviles of Purbeck."—Ibid.

Clavelshay, or Clavelsleigh, now called Classey, in Somersetshire, took its name from some Clavilles who had considerable possessions in that neighbourhood. But their allusive coat Or three keys Gules, has no analogy with that of the Dorsetshire house, Argent, on a chevron Sable three chapeaux Or.

-- Cleveland

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