Thursday, June 7, 2007

William March

William March (de Marisco)

Son of the Justiciar of Ireland, Geoffrey de Marisco (d.1245).

William married the Matilda, niece Henry of London, Archbishop of Dublin (issue from marriage).

Lundy Island had been in the possession of the de Mariscos since the reign of King Stephen of England. King Henry II attempted to take possession of Lundy (1155) in order to give it to the Knights Templar. It is known that the de Mariscos were fined (c.1195) for retaining the Island of Lundy against the wishes of King Henry and against the rights of the Knights Templar.

Already at this stage, the family maintained Lundy as a base from which to control shipping in the Bristol Channel. However, the Island soon became a base for pirates and other criminal types. The de Mariscos built a strong castle, with nine-foot (2.74 m) thick walls that safeguarded both the family and their 'subjects' for seventeen years. The coastline was also fortified and defended.

William de Marisco obtained a post at the court of King Henry III. However, William was implicated in the murder of Henry Clement, King's Messenger and Envoy of Maurice FitzGerland, Justiciar of Ireland (1135). William was accused of slitting Clement's throat. William fled to the safety of Lundy where, despite being outlawed, he was relatively safe from arrest.

William joined the rest of the de Marisco family in a plot to assassinate King Henry III (1138). Henry III had seized de Marisco lands in Somerset - the de Mariscos retaliated.

But by now Henry III had had enough. William ruled Lundy like a King; he kidnapped and ransomed merchants; and embarked upon all acts of piracy. Henry III sent a force of hand-picked men to Lundy. This small Royal force concluded a successful assault upon the Island (1242). Eventually William and sixteen of his close followers were captured - alive.

William was tried, and hanged, drawn and quartered. Lundy Island was removed from the possession of the de Marisco family.

~~~ Melisende (first pub: 2/3/2007)

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