Saher de Quincy

Richard Thomson:  An Historical Essay on the Magna Charta of King John, London, 1829
(reprinted 2000, Pages 276 – 278)

    Saher De Quincy was, according to Brooke, created Earl of Winchester by King John; and bore that title in 1207, the 8th year of his reign: but Dugdale states, that in 1210, his 10th year, he gave the King a courser, and "a good pied brache, having then the title of Earl of Winchester, but not before, for aught that I have seen." Matthew Paris relates, that in 1203, being Governor of the Castle of Ruil in Normandy, he observed that King John and the Nobles then at Caen, and about that country, "minded nothing but feasting, luxury, and lying in bed till dinner-time," which encouraged the King of France to enter his territory with an army, and, after capturing various places, upon the approach of some of his forces before the Castle of Ruil, it was surrendered to them without any resistance. He opposed the King's concession to the Pope's Legate, because Matthew Paris assigns that as the cause of John's great hatred to him and some others; but in 1214 he was employed, under Letters of Safe-Conduct, to pass between the Barons and the King, with terms of accommodation. He was also joined in commission with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, to see that all those going to London, about the Feast of the Epiphany, immediately following the relaxation of the Papal Interdict; or to Northampton, to petition John for a redress of grievances, should have safe conduct until Easter. But though the King made him, in 1215, Governor of Mountsorell Castle, he was one of the Barons to whom the City and Tower of London were resigned; and elected of the 25 who were to govern the Kingdom, being excommunicated with the rest in the following year. He was also seat with Robert Fitz-Walter, to invite the Dauphin of France to assume the crown of England; and even after the death of King John, he kept a strong garrison in Mountsorell Castle, on the behalf of Prince Louis. The fortress being besieged, and nearly captured, by the troops of Henry III., the Earl of Winchester and Louis gathered a large force in London; and having raised the siege, marched to Lincoln, then also surrounded by the King’s army.

    In the battle which followed, the Barons were speedily defeated, and Saher de Quincy, with numerous others, made prisoners. In the following October, his immense forfeited estates were restored upon his submission; and in 1218, he went with the Earls of Chester, Arundel, &c. to Palestine: but, after having been present at the siege of Damietta, he died in 1219, on his farther journey towards Jerusalem. He married Margaret, youngest sister and co-heiress of Robert Fitz-Parnell, Earl of Leicester, by whom he acquired a very considerable in heritance: since in 1204, the 6th of John, he gave 1000 marks, £666 13s. 4d., to have custody of his English lands on the death of the Earl, with certain exceptions. In 1205 he paid a fine of 5000 marks, £3333 6s. 8d. for the Honour of Grantmesnil ; in 1206 he received certain other lands and rents in the County of Leicester; and in 1208 he gave the King three Coursers for livery of a part of the suburb of Leicester.

Arms of Saher de Quincy    The Arms of this Baron are commonly blazoned Argent, but sometimes Or., a Fesse Azure, and a File of eleven points Gules; but the last two colours are occasionally transposed. The File in chief also, does not appear to have had any certain number of points; since Pine makes them 12, on the escutcheon on the obverse of his seal there are 8, on the caparisons of the flanks of his horse there are 9, on those of the forepart there are 5, and on the shield on the reverse of the seal there are 7. Saher de Quincy was succeeded in his Earldom by his son Roger, on whose death in 1264, his estates were divided; but the Earldom does not appear to have been revived until 1322, when it was conferred on Hugh Despencer. In 1473 it was held by Louis de Bruges, a native of Burgundy, who surrendered it in 1499; and in 1551 William Paulett was made first Marquess of Winchester, with whose descendants the title still remains. It is probable that the singular christian name of Saher, or Saier, borne by the ancient Earl of Winchester, is a corruption either from the Hebrew Zair, affliction; or the Saxon Segher, Sigher, or Seagar, a Conqueror. The latter yet exists in the names Sayer and Segar.

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