24. ROUS

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Fay Sampson’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

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 JOHN ROUS. The Rous family were lords of Harescombe, a village 5 miles south of Gloucester.

“The greater portion of it lies in the plain immediately at the base of the outliers of the Cotteswolde Hills, and the remainder on their slopes… The church, which is situated at the southern extremity of the parish, is at the foot of the well-known range of the Cotteswoldes called the Haresfield Beacon, and Broadbarrow Green, the site of ancient British and Roman encampments.”[1]

Sir John was the son of Sir Roger le Rous and Alianore de Avenbury. He was one of at least five children.

With the death of his father, he became a feudal lord. His father died in 1294, while serving as Sheriff of Herefordshire. John acted for his father for the rest of that term.

His was a family of some means. In 1302 Alexander de Pavely, and Simon de Wick, of Berkshire were found to owe John Rous of Gloucester £96.

As well as Harescombe, the Rouses owned other manors, with the right to appoint the rector. In 1304, John le Rous presented John de Abyndon as priest to the church of Duntisbourne Militis, also known as Duntisbourne Rouse. This lies between Gloucester and Cirencester.

The vacancy came about through the resignation of the last rector, Roger le Rous, who we believe to be John’s brother.


HAWISE. We know only the baptismal name of John’s wife, not her surname or birthplace.

They were married by 1305.

The earliest mention of Hawise is in a document of 1305, in the closing years of Edward I’s reign.

In that year, Hugh de Alnaby and Isabella Tirbot acknowledged the manors of Duntesborne and Harescombe with their appurtenance and the advowsons of their churches to be the right of John le Rus and Hawisia his wife, for which acknowledgement John and Hawisia gave the said Hugh and Isabella £200 sterling.

£200 was a considerable sum of money in the 14th century.

An advowson is the right to present a priest to the benefice of the church.

We know of two children of John and Hawise: John the younger, who was heir to their manors, and Johanna, who became a nun at Amesbury. This was a Benedictine abbey in Wiltshire, 8 m north of Salisbury She took the veil on Ascension Day in 1327, and died in 1375.

The early 14th century saw a dispute between the unpopular King Edward II, who came to the throne in 1307, and his barons. The latter objected to the powers granted to Edward’s favourites, most notably Piers Gaveston. At their insistence, Gaveston was exiled in 1308, but Edward brought him back the following year. In 1311, the newly-appointed Lords Ordainers insisted that he be returned to exile and never allowed to come back. Yet he was back in England next January, with Edward declaring that his exile had been unlawful. Civil war broke out. Gaveston surrendered, with a promise of safe conduct, but while in the custody of the earl of Warwick, he was seized and put in a dungeon. The earls of Lancaster and Warwick decided he must die. He was taken out of prison, run through with a sword, beheaded, and his body left to rot, though it was later rescued.

John le Rous’s overlord was de Bohun, earl of Hereford, who was an adherent of the Earl of Lancaster. As his liege man, John was evidently involved in what happened. In 1313, he obtained a pardon for participating in Piers Gaveston’s death, wrung from an unwilling king.

In 1312, he was a justice overseeing the case in which the Prior and Convent of St Oswald, Gloucester, sought justice against John le Botiller and William Torel. They had overturned a ruling by the justices, including John le Rous, and seized the convent’s estates, leaving them with no income to carry their work.

In 1314 he was returned to Parliament as Knight of the Shire for Gloucestershire. For this, he received the usual payment of 4s a day, with expenses for going and returning.

Also in that year we find him rebuilding the church at Harescombe. It was dedicated to St John the Baptist in 1315.

It stands at the bottom end of the parish, which slopes steeply down from the Cotswolds edge. The exterior is little changed from John’s time, except for the addition of a vestry.

The small octagonal tower has only two bells. One of these dates from 1180, more than a century before the church was rebuilt, and is the oldest bell in Gloucestershire.

St John the Baptist, Harescombe[2]

A number of online family trees give John’s death date as 1311, but we know that he and Hawise were still alive in 1320 and it is likely that he lived considerably longer.

In 1320 he, with his wife Hawisia, went to court with John, rector of the church at Avenbury. The case concerned the manor of Avenbury, excepting 1 messuage and 1 carucate of land in the manor, and excepting the advowson of the church. John le Rous acknowledged the manor to be the right of John the parson as the gift of John le Rous. For this, John the parson granted the manor to John le Rus and Hawise his wife, to hold of the chief lords for the lives of John and Hawise. After their decease, the manor should pass to John, son of John and Hawise, and his heirs.

Avenbury had come to the Rous family through John’s mother, Alianore de Avenbury.

Avenbury, of which only the deconsecrated church and a few farms remain, was on the River Frome, near Bromyard, 11 m NE of Hereford.

There were two more cases heard at Westminster in June 1320.

One was a plea of covenant between John Paynot, querent, and John le Rous, deforciant. The property consisted of 3 messuages, 66 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow and a moiety of 1 acre of pasture and 8 acres of wood in Avenbury and la Fenne by Avenbury.
John Paynot acknowledged the tenements to be the right of John le Rous, as those which the same John had of the gift of John Paynot.

For this John le Rous granted to John Paynot the tenements, excepting the wood, and rendered them to him in the court, to hold to John Paynot, of John le Rous and his heirs for the life of John Paynot, rendering yearly 1 rose at the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, and doing to the chief lords all other services. And after the decease of John the tenements shall revert to John le Rous and his heirs, quit of the heirs of John Paynot, to hold together with the wood of the chief lords for ever.

The other was a plea of covenant concerning a garden in Avenbury and the advowson of the church of the same vill. John acknowledged the garden and advowson to be the right of the abbot and his church of the blessed Mary of Dore, as those which the abbot had of his gift, to hold to the abbot and his successors and their church, of the chief lords for ever.

For this the abbot gave him 100 pounds sterling.

This agreement was made by the command of the lord king.

Abbey Dore was a Cistercian house in the Golden Valley of Herefordshire, 9 m SW of Hereford.

On 20 Oct 1320, the subject of the plea of covenant was the manors of Allensmore and Treget.

It was between John le Rous, querent, and John, the parson of the church of Harsecombe, deforciant.

John le Rous acknowledged the manors to be the right of John the parson.

For this, John the parson granted to John le Rous the manor of Treget and rendered it to him in the court, to hold to John le Rous, of the chief lords for the life of John le Rous. And besides John the parson granted for himself and his heirs that the manor of Aleynesmore – which Eleanor, who was the wife of Roger le Rous, held in dower of the inheritance of John the parson on the day the agreement was made, and which after the decease of Eleanor ought to revert to John the parson and his heirs – after the decease of Eleanor shall remain to John le Rous, to hold together with the manor of Treget of the chief lords for the life of John le Rous. And after the decease of John the manors shall remain to John, son of the same John le Rous, and the heirs of his body, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, remainder to the right heirs of the aforesaid John le Rous.

Eleanor was John’s mother, Alianore of Avenbury.

Allensmore is a village 3 m SW of Hereford. It derived its name from John’s ancestor, Alan Fitz Mayn.

Trouble with King Edward II broke out again the following year. The barons, supported by the minor gentry, pursued their quarrel with King Edward’s favourites. This time, their target was Hugh le Despenser the Younger.

John the elder may be the John le Rous who, in 1321, obtained a pardon for all the felonies committed in pursuit of the Despensers. He does not appear to have taken part in the fighting which followed.

But John the younger did.

Matters came to a head with the battle of Boroughbridge, north of Harrogate in Yorkshire, where the rebels were soundly beaten and many killed. John and Hawise must have feared for the life of their son.

John the younger survived, but was attainted, and his lands forfeited until the accession of Edward III in 1327. The principal manor confiscated was Duntisbourne Rouse, SE of Gloucester. John the elder and Hawise may have given him this as a marriage gift.

Although he was not directly involved, there is no doubt which side John the elder would have supported.

The Rouses they would still have suffered the effects of the war. Gloucestershire was the English county most badly affected. It was the scene of much fighting. Not only did this cause damage, but the troops on both sides ruthlessly plundered for food.

In 1322, an Inquisition found that John le Rous held the manor of Harsecombe by the service of half a knight’s fee, and that the manor was worth £20 yearly.

Between 1322 and the end of Edward II’s reign in 1327, we can be sure that any property deeds refer to John le Rous the elder, since the younger John had forfeited his estates.

In 1325-6 John Rouse was seized of a messuage and half a yard land at Harscombe/

John may have been opposed to King Edward II, but he was held in high regard by his contemporaries. In 1324, the Sheriffs of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire both returned Sir John le Rous to the Great Council held in Westminster.

In 1325-6 an inquisition was held into the lands of Richard de Munsterworth in Harsecombe. It found that Richard held these lands of John le Rous, not of the king, for a tenth part of a knight’s service, and for 7s 8d a year, and this had been so from the time of their ancestors.

As feudal lords, the Rouses were accustomed to take an ox as “heriot”, a payment after the death of each Munsterworth tenant. This was the customary practice, the heriot traditionally being the tenant’s “best beast”. An ox might well be the most valuable animal the Munsterworths possessed.

John stood up against injustice where he perceived it, but was unable to see the injustice inherent in the feudal laws.

Apparently, in this case, the king sent bailiffs to claim the heriot from John. They “had grievously distrained the said John and did not desist from day to day”. He protested that he held Harescombe by knight’s service, and not from the king or his forebears. The Inquisition found in his favour.

John the elder’s death date, and that of Hawise, remain unclear. The last document that mentions Hawise is dated 1320.

In view of the lack of evidence, it is difficult to decide whether references to John le Rous after 1330 are to the elder or the younger. It may well be the younger John who is the John le Rous, Miles (Knight), who represented Herefordshire in six successive Parliaments between 1330 and 1343. It may also be the son who was a patron of the Abbey of Dore in 1338-9.

If so, then it would imply that John le Rous the elder died in the 1330s.


[1] Rev. John Melland Hall, “Harescombe: “Fragments of Parochial History”, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1885.
[2] Wikipedia. Harescombe Church.




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