Geoffrey Fitz Peter, 1st Earl of Essex

Last updated

Geoffrey Fitz Peter
Chief Justiciar of England
In office
11 July 1198 14 October 1213
Monarch Richard I
Preceded by Hubert Walter
Succeeded by Peter des Roches
Justiciar of England
In office
1189 11 July 1198
Monarch Richard I
Sheriff of Northamptonshire
In office
Monarch Henry II
Personal details
Bornc 1162
Died14 October 1213
Spouse(s)(1) Beatrice de Say
(2) Aveline de Clare
Children Geoffrey de Mandeville
William de Mandeville
Henry, Dean of Wolverhampton
Maud Fitzgeoffrey
John Fitzgeoffrey
Cecily Fitzgeoffrey
Hawise Fitzgeoffrey
OccupationEarl of Essex

Geoffrey Fitz Peter, Earl of Essex (c. 1162–1213) was a prominent member of the government of England during the reigns of Richard I and John. The patronymic is sometimes rendered Fitz Piers, for he was the son of Piers de Lutegareshale (born 1134, Cherhill, Wiltshire, died 14 Jan 1179, Pleshy, Essex), a forester of Ludgershall & Maud de Manderville (1138, Rycott, Oxford, England).



He was from a modest landowning family that had a tradition of service in mid-ranking posts under Henry II. Geoffrey's elder brother Simon Fitz Peter was at various times High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire. Geoffrey, too, got his start in this way, as High Sheriff of Northamptonshire for the last five years of Henry II's reign.

Around this time Geoffrey married Beatrice de Say, daughter and eventual co-heiress of William de Say II. This William was the elder son of William de Say I and Beatrice, sister of Geoffrey de Mandeville, 1st Earl of Essex. This connection with the Mandeville family was later to prove unexpectedly important. In 1184 Geoffrey's father-in-law died, and he received a share of the de Say inheritance by right of his wife, co-heiress to her father. He also eventually gained the title of earl of Essex by right of his wife, becoming the 4th earl.

When Richard I left on crusade, he appointed Geoffrey one of the five judges of the king's court, and thus a principal advisor to Hugh de Puiset, Bishop of Durham, who, as Chief Justiciar, was one of the regents during the king's absence. Late in 1189, Geoffrey's wife's cousin William de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex died, leaving no direct heirs. His wife's inheritance was disputed between Geoffrey and Beatrice's uncle, Geoffrey de Say, but Geoffrey Fitz Peter used his political influence to eventually obtain the Mandeville lands (although not the earldom, which was left open) for himself.

He served as Constable of the Tower of London from 1198 to 1205.

He served as High Sheriff of Yorkshire from 1198 to 1201 and again in 1203 and as High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire from 1200 to 1205. [1] On 11 July 1198, King Richard appointed Geoffrey Chief Justiciar, which at that time effectively made him the king's principal minister. On his coronation day the new king ennobled Geoffrey as Earl of Essex.

King John granted Berkhamsted Castle to Geoffrey; the castle had previously been granted as a jointure palace to Queen Isabel prior to the annulment of the royal marriage. Geoffrey founded two hospitals in Berkhamsted, one dedicated to St John the Baptist and one to St John the Evangelist; the latter is still commemorated in the town with the name St John's Well Lane. [2]

After the accession of King John, Geoffrey continued in his capacity as the king's principal minister until his death on 14 October 1213. [3]

Marriage and issue


Children of Beatrice

Note that his sons by this marriage took the de Mandeville surname.

Children of Aveline

Geoffrey's first two sons died without male issue. The earldom had been associated with their mother's Mandeville heritage, and the earldom was next granted to the son of their sister Maud and her husband Henry De Bohun instead of their half-brother John.


  1. "Sheriffs of Buckinghamshire" . Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  2. Cobb, John Wolstenholme (1988) [originally published by Nichols & Sons, 1855 & 1883]. Two Lectures on the History and Antiquities of Berkhamsted. Biling & Sons. pp. 14, 72. ISBN   978-1-871372-03-8.
  3. Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 70

Related Research Articles

Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent

Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent was an English nobleman who served as Chief Justiciar of England and Ireland during the reigns of King John and of his infant son and successor King Henry III and, as a consequence, was one of the most influential and powerful men in English politics.

Earl of Essex Title in the Peerage of England

Earl of Essex is a title in the Peerage of England which was first created in the 12th century by King Stephen of England. The title has been recreated eight times from its original inception, beginning with a new first Earl upon each new creation. Possibly the most well-known Earls of Essex were Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII, and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565–1601), a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I who led the Earl of Essex Rebellion in 1601.

Henry de Bohun, 1st Earl of Hereford

Henry de Bohun, 1st Earl of Hereford of Pleshy Castle in Essex, was an Anglo-Norman nobleman who became Hereditary Constable of England from 1199.

William de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex was a loyal councillor of Henry II and Richard I of England.

William de Mandeville was an Anglo-Norman baron and Constable of the Tower of London.

Richard de Luci was first noted as High Sheriff of Essex, after which he was made Chief Justiciar of England.

Aubrey de Vere — also known as "Alberic[us] de Ver" and "Albericus regis camerarius" — was the second of that name in England after the Norman Conquest, being the eldest surviving son of Aubrey de Vere and his wife Beatrice.

Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford

Humphrey IV de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford, 1st Earl of Essex was Hereditary Constable of England.

William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester

William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester was the son and heir of Sir Robert de Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester, and Mabel FitzRobert of Gloucester, daughter of Robert Fitzhamon, and nephew of Empress Matilda.

Miles of Gloucester, 1st Earl of Hereford 12th-century Anglo-Norman nobleman and earl

Miles FitzWalter of Gloucester, 1st Earl of Hereford was a great magnate based in the west of England. He was hereditary Constable of England and Sheriff of Gloucestershire.

Pleshey Human settlement in England

Pleshey is a historic village and civil parish in the Chelmsford district, in the county of Essex, England, just to the northwest of Chelmsford. The Normans built a motte and bailey in the late 11th century; the motte is one of the largest of its kind in Great Britain. It was besieged several times during the Barons' Wars and rebellions in the 13th centuries.

Reginald de Dunstanville was an Anglo-Norman nobleman and an illegitimate son of King Henry I (1100–1135). He became Earl of Cornwall and High Sheriff of Devon.

John Fitzgeoffrey

John FitzGeoffrey, Lord of Shere and Justiciar of Ireland was an English nobleman.

Isabel de Clare, suo jure 4th Countess of Pembroke and Striguil, was a Welsh and Irish noblewoman and one of the wealthiest heiresses in Wales and Ireland. She was the wife of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who served four successive kings as Lord Marshal of England. Her marriage had been arranged by King Richard I.

Margaret of Huntingdon was a Scottish princess and Duchess of Brittany. She was the sister of Scottish kings Malcolm IV and William I, wife of Conan IV, Duke of Brittany, and the mother of Constance, Duchess of Brittany. Her second husband was Humphrey de Bohun, hereditary Constable of England. Following her second marriage, Margaret styled herself as the Countess of Hereford.

Maud FitzJohn, Countess of Warwick was an English noblewoman and the eldest daughter of John FitzGeoffrey, Lord of Shere. Her second husband was William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick, a celebrated soldier. Through her daughter, Isabella, Maud was the maternal grandmother of Hugh the younger Despenser, the unpopular favourite of King Edward II of England, who was executed in 1326.

William FitzGeoffrey de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex

William fitz Geoffrey de Mandeville was the third Earl of Essex of the second creation from 1216 to his death. He was the second son of Geoffrey Fitz Peter and Beatrice de Say and he succeeded his elder brother Geoffrey FitzGeoffrey as earl and inheritor of the Mandeville barony. He was married to Christina, one of Robert FitzWalter's daughters, but died on 8 January 1227, without heirs and the earldom became extinct.

Geoffrey FitzGeoffrey de Mandeville, 2nd Earl of Essex

Geoffrey de Mandeville, 2nd Earl of Essex and 4th Earl of Gloucester was an English peer. He was an opponent of King John and one of the Magna Carta sureties.

Walden Abbey

Walden Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in Saffron Walden, Essex, England founded by Geoffrey de Mandeville, 1st Earl of Essex between 1136 and 1143. Originally a priory, it was elevated to the status of an abbey in 1190.

The feudal barony of Gloucester or Honour of Gloucester was one of the largest of the mediaeval English feudal baronies, in 1166 comprising 279 knight's fees, or manors. The constituent landholdings were spread over many counties. The location of the caput at Gloucester is not certain as Gloucester Castle appears to have been a royal castle, but it is known that the baronial court was held at Bristol in Gloucestershire.


Political offices
Preceded by
Hubert Walter
Chief Justiciar
Succeeded by
Peter des Roches
Preceded by
William d'Aubigny
High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire
Succeeded by
Robert of Braybrooke
Robert Fitz Hemeri
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Essex
Succeeded by
Geoffrey FitzGeoffrey de Mandeville