Richard de Courci

Loch Doon Castle
Loch Doon Castle, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Photo © Ann Cook, Sep 2004

Robert de Courci was one of six sons of Baldric the German, Lord of Bacquerville-en-Caux, who held the office of Archearius under Duke William. He married a niece of Gilbert Comte de Brionne, grandson of Richard, first duke of Normandy, by whom he had six sons and two daughters.

The eldest son Nicholas was called Nicholas de Bacquerville.
The second son Fulk was called Fulk d’Anou.
The fourth son Richard was called Richard Nevil.
The fifth son Baldric was called Baldric de Bagenzais.
The daughter Hawise was the wife of Robert Fitz Ermies.
The daughter Elizabeth married Fulk de Boneval.

It was Richard de Courci, the fourth son of Robert de Courci, that accompanied the Conqueror at Hastings and was said to have killed many English that day. For his services he received the barony of Stoke in the county of Somerset and the manors of Newham, Setenden and Foxcote in Oxfordshire. Richard remained loyally to the King and to William Rufus in the following years.

Richard married a lady named Guadelmodis and it was their son William, from whom descended the famous John de Courci, Earl of Ulster, and the present Lord Kingsale, who enjoyed the enviable privilege of wearing his hat in the presence of his sovereign, traditionally granted by King John to the said Earl of Ulster in reward for the following service.

Philip Augustus, King of France, having proposed to King John to settle the difference between the Crowns of England and France respecting their pretensions to the Duchy of Normandy by single combat, had appointed on his side a champion. King John, who had unwarily fixed the day, could find no one of sufficient strength or prowess to oppose the Frenchman but the Earl of Ulster, who, at the instigation of Hugh de Lacy, had been dispossessed of his estates, and was a prisoner in the Tower. Having accepted the challenge for the honour of his country, he appeared in the lists on the appointed day, and so terrified the French champion by his gigantic form and warlike demeanour that, on the third sounding of the trumpets, he wheeled about, broke through the lists, and galloping to the coast took ship for Spain, leaving De Courci victor without a blow. To gratify King Philip, who desired an exhibition of his extraordinary strength, the Earl directed a massive suit of mail surmounted by a helmet to be placed on a block, and at one stroke he cleft armour and helmet asunder, his sword entering so deep into the wood that no one present could pull it out with both hands, but he did in an instant with one. King John being well satisfied with his extraordinary service restored him to his titles and estates, and bade him ask besides anything it was in his power to grant, to which the Earl replied, that he had titles and estates enough, but desired that he and his successors, the heirs-male of his family, might have the privilege, their first obeisance being paid, to remain covered in the presence of him and his successors the Kings of England, which was granted accordingly.

The King of France, Philip Augustus, never set foot in England. William II, King of Scotland, never saw King John, save on the one occasion when he did homage to him at Lincoln. De Courci was never restored to his estates by John, and no one knows when a privilege, as worthless as it is unmannerly, was conferred, or by whom or on what authority it was first claimed and exercised.

Almericus, the twenty-third Baron Kingsale, astonished King William III by presenting himself with his hat on, but had the good taste to reverse the custom by remaining uncovered after the first assertion of his privilege.

George II good-humouredly observed to Gerald, cousin and successor of Almericus, that, although his lordship had a right to wear his hat before him, he had no right to do so before ladies. -- Planche

The name 'de Courci' was the original spelling but was replaced by 'de Corrie' sometime between 1124 and 1153. Robert de Courci married Rohese de Grentemesnil in1092. Their son Hugh married the daughter of an English noble and settling in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, they became the hereditary keepers of the castle of Loch Doon. In 1218 Hugh de Corrie was made Sherrif of Lancaster.

Return to Main Index