Monday, December 07, 2009

Question from Rosa - Wardship of orphans

In the 1520's, if a child of a knight was orphaned, would that child become a royal ward? And if so, who would have control over her wardship? Was it automatically the King or could the child be a ward to a noble associated with her family?

[Related thread linked below - Lara]


Anonymous said...

I am not an expert on this, but it seems if the child was heir to anything worth money, it became a royal ward. The King would then sell the wardship to any noble who wanted it and was willing to pay for it. As long as the child was still a minor the ward had access to it's inheritance and got money out of it. This is what happened when Katherine Willoughby's father died. Her wardship got sold by the king to Charles Brandon, even though her mother was still alive. Women did not usually get wardship of their own children it seems (though Katherine herself got wardship of her own sons years later).

I don't know if something similar would happen to the child of a knight, who is not heir to any great inheritance worth a lot of money.

Anonymous said...

There was a difference between the heir to a peerage, who would automatically be a royal ward, and others. For example Robert Devereux 2nd Earl of Essex was a royal ward, whereas his younger siblings had a guardian under their father's will, but were not wards of the Crown. In feudal law, possibly every heir to a fief would be a royal ward, at least theoretically. The child's mother would normally be unable to be a guardian, if only because she was a woman.

kb said...

There was a difference in the management of wardships between the 1520's and the Elizabethan era when Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex was a ward. Significantly, the establishment of the Court of Wards in the 1540's.

During the Elizabethan era the Court of Wards was managed primarily by Cecil. Wardships could be bought and sold. Several women were able to buy wardships although mothers were rarely the successful purchasers. Control of a ward's income-generating lands and their marriage was a significant source of revenue. William Cecil exerted enormous control over this court. He kept several lucrative and important wardships for himself and raised several of the young men in his household or under his direct supervision. Sort of like his personal 'school for the future nobility'.

The 1520's I know less about.

Rosa said...

So, would the gentry-rank child just become a ward to someone her father named in their will? Or would it still have to go through the process of the King selling the rights to the wardship? Let's say that the gentry-rank child in question had an older sister who was married and an estate/home?