Anglicized Grandison. The French Grandsons have the punning motto: "A petite cloche grand son." Stretton Gransham or Grandison keeps the name in Herefordshire. "William de Grandison, the son of a Burgundian noble (the ruins of whose castle on the lake of Neufchatel are familiar to the Swiss tourist), obtained a grant of land in Herefordshire from Edward I., and added largely to it by his marriage with the wealthy heiress of John de Tregoz. In the year 1292 he had license from the King 'to crenellate his mansion at Asperton' (Ashperton), and was summoned to Parliament from the twenty-seventh year of Edward I. to the nineteenth year of Edward II., inclusive. The date of his death is unknown, but Leland states that both he and his wife Sibil were buried at Dore Abbey. Three of the children of William de Grandison achieved considerable distinction in their day. The best known of them, John de Grandison, is said to have been born at Ashperton, which was presumably the birth-place of his brothers also.

"John de Grandison [1] probably owed some of his success in life to his great-uncle Bishop Cantilupe, 'St. Thomas of Hereford,' or rather to his venerated memory. He was made Bishop of Exeter in 1327, and has been compared to the present occupant of the see" (this was written before 1869) "in respect of the extraordinary duration of his episcopate (forty-two years), the extent of his acquirements, and what Fuller calls his 'Stout Stomach,' shown especially in resisting Archbishop Meopham, vi et armis, when he came to visit his diocese. He founded the Collegiate Church of St. Mary Ottery in Devonshire, and contributed largely to the embellishment of his own Cathedral. (Fuller's Worthies.)

"The Bishop's elder brother Sir Peter was summoned to the first three Parliaments of Edward III., and died in the thirtieth year of that reign. He lies buried in Hereford Cathedral, and his monument, long supposed to commemorate one of the Bohuns, is a beautiful piece of sculpture, and will be found on the north side of the Lady Chapel. Four of the figures with which it is enriched, viz. St. Ethelbert, St. John the Baptist, and the two English St. Thomases, were recovered by Mr. Cottingham, the architect, from behind the choir-screen where they were concealed among rubbish and fragments of stone.

"Sir Otho Grandison, a younger brother, was a statesman as well as a warrior, and was sent by Edward II., in the first year of his reign, as ambassador to the Pope. He died in 1359, and in his will 'entreats that no armed horse nor armed men be allowed to go before his body on his burial day, nor that his body be covered with any cloth painted in gilt or signed with his arms; but that it be only of white cloth marked with a cross.'"—(Nicolas Test. Vetusta.)

"The Castle of the Grandisons has wholly disappeared. The site on which it stood was planted about the close of the last century, when the foundations were grubbed up, but the moat still exists and is full of water."—Castles of Herefordshire and their Lords, by C. J. Robinson.

It will be seen that this account omits all mention of William de Grandison's elder brother, Otho, beyond all question the foremost man of the family. He had gone to the Holy Land in 1270 with Prince Edward, who, soon after his accession to the throne, appointed him Governor of the Channel Islands, and later on his secretary. It is clear that he was much in the King's confidence, and benefited very largely by his munificence. He was sent Ambassador to Rome in 1288; in 1295 employed to negotiate for peace with France; the next year again in treaty with the Envoys sent over by the King of the Romans and King of France; and in 1298 summoned to parliament among the barons of the realm. Besides his Kentish estates he had vast grants in Ireland, including the towns of Tipperary and Clomme, and the castle, cantred, and territory of Hokenath; all of which he made over to his brother in 1289. The coveted feudal privilege of a weekly market and yearly fair was accorded to him in no fewer than four of his manors; namely, De La Sele, near Kemsing, Farnborough, and Chelsfield in Kent, and Attonach in Ireland. "When he died," says Dugdale, "I cannot certainly find; but in 12 Edw. II., all those Castles, Manors, and Lands, which he had in Ireland, for life, were given by the King to Prince Edward (his eldest Son) and to his Heires Kings of England." There is no record of his ever having been married.

His brother William, who was summoned to parliament within a few months of the same time, had served three times in the wars of Gascony, and four times in Scotland. Dugdale calls him "a menial servant to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster," by which I suppose it is meant that he was of the prince's household; and in 1281 he received for "his faithful service" two manors in Gloucestershire. Besides these, he had (as we have seen) grants from Edw. I., and his heiress wife, Sibill de Tregoz, brought him Lydiard-Tregoz and Norton-Scudamore, in Wiltshire, Burnham, in Somersetshire, and Eton, in Herefordshire. They had six children; Peter, John, Otho, Mabel, Katherine, and Agnes; yet these three sons only carried on the line for one generation more.

Peter, Lord Grandison, the eldest of them, a banneret in the French wars, had been heavily fined for taking part with the Earl of Lancaster, and died in 1358, leaving no issue by his wife, Blanche de Mortimer, daughter of the Earl of March.

John, Bishop of Exeter, the second son, succeeded him at the age of sixty, and survived his younger, as well as his elder, brother.

Otho, the third, was a soldier of some distinction, who was sent by Edward II. as Ambassador to the Pope, and followed Edward III. to France and Flanders. He died in the same year as Peter, seized of the Kentish manors of Chelsfield, Kemsing, and La Sele, which had belonged to his uncle, Otho I. He had married Beatrix, daughter and co-heir of Nicholas de Malmains, and left besides a daughter Elizabeth (mentioned in his will), an only son, Sir Thomas, who succeeded as fourth Lord Grandison, but died s. p. in 1375.

The three daughters of the first Lord Grandison had, on the other hand, no lack of descendants. Mabel married Sir John Pateshull; Katherine, William de Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, and Agnes, Sir John de Northwood. So numerous was their progeny, that when the late Sir Henry Paxton Bedingfield claimed the barony of Grandison in right of his descent from Mabel, it was adjudged to be in abeyance between thirteen different families. No aspirant has since been intrepid enough to enter the list.

This long extinct name is still borne by the manors of Stretton-Grandison, in Herefordshire, and Okeley-Grandison, in Gloucestershire.

  1. "John de Grandison, a Burgundian, Bishop of Exeter, foreseeing what might happen in after-times, built a very fine house at Bishop's Teignmouth (upon account of a sanctuary in it), that his successors might have where to lay their heads, in case their Temporalities were at any time seiz'd into the King's hands. Yet so far was this from answering his design, that his successors are now depriv'd of this house, and almost all the rest."—Camden's Britannia.

-- Cleveland

Return to Main Index