The Most Noble Order of the Garter.
The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most prestigious order of chivalry in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1348, it is the highest order of chivalry existing in England and is dedicated to the image and arms of St. George as England’s patron saint. After peerages (and after the Victoria Cross and George Cross), it is the pinnacle of the honours system in the United Kingdom.
It is personally bestowed by the monarch on recipients from British and other Commonwealth realms. Membership in the order is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and no more than twenty-four members, or Companions. The order also includes supernumerary knights and ladies (e.g., members of the British Royal Family and foreign monarchs).
The order’s insignia- emblem (above), is a garter with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (Middle French) “shame upon him who thinks evil upon it” in gold lettering. Members of the order wear such a garter on ceremonial occasions.
New appointments to the Order of the Garter are always announced on St George’s Day, 23 April, as Saint George is the patron saint of England.
King Edward III founded the Order of the Garter around the time of his claim to the French throne. The foundation year is usually presumed to be 1348, however, the Complete Peerage, under “The Founders of the Order of the Garter”, states the order was first instituted on 23 April 1344, listing each founding member as knighted in 1344, including Sir Sanchet D’Abrichecourt who died on 20 October 1345. Other dates from 1344 to 1351 have also been proposed. The King’s wardrobe account shows Garter habits first issued in the autumn of 1348; its original statutes required that each member already be a knight (what would now be referred to as a knight bachelor) and some of the initial members were only knighted that year. The concept was followed over the next century or so with other European monarchs founding their own prestigious orders of chivalry.
Thomas de Beauchamp 11th Earl of Warwick
(Carolyn Booths – 20th Great Grand Father)
Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, KG (c.14 February 1313 – 13 November 1369) was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years’ War. In 1348 he became one of the founders and the Third Knight of the Order of the Garter.
He was born at Warwick Castle, Warwickshire, England to Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick and Alice de Toeni. He served in Scotland frequently during the 1330s, being captain of the army against the Scots in 1337. He was hereditary High Sheriff of Worcestershire from 1333 until his death (in 1369). In 1344 he was also made High Sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire for life.
Thomas Beauchamp fought in all the French wars of King Edward III: commanded at the Battle of Crecy: was guardian of the sixteen-year-old Black Prince: fought at Poitiers in 1356 and at the Siege of Calais (1346). He began the rebuilding of the Collegiate Church of Saint Mary, in Warwick out of money received from the ransom of a French Archbishop. He died of plague in Calais on 13 November 1369.
John de Beauchamp -1st Baron de Warwick
(Carolyn Booths – 20th Great Grand Uncle)
John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp de Warwick KG (c. 1316 – 2 December 1360) was the third son of Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, and brother of Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, with whom he became a founder and the Tenth Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348.
He attended King Edward III into Flanders in 1338, was in the array at Vironfosse in 1339, and shared the glory of the great naval victory off Sluys in 1340. He carried the Royal Standard at the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and was present at the siege and surrender of Calais, of which town he was appointed captain in 1348. He also held the posts of Admiral of the Fleet, Constable of the Tower of London and Warden of the Cinque Ports. He was summoned to Parliament as a Baron in 1350.
He died without issue when his barony expired. His remains were interred, between two pillars, before the image of the Virgin, on the south side of the nave of Old St. Paul’s Cathedral, where there was a monument to his memory, incorrectly later known as Duke Humphrey’s Tomb.
Ralph de Stafford – 1st Earl of Stafford
(Carolyn Booths – 20th Great Grandfather)
Ralph de Stafford, 2nd Baron Stafford, 1st Earl of Stafford, KG (24 September 1301 – 31 August 1372) was an English nobleman and notable soldier during the Hundred Years War against France. He became a founder and the Fifth Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348.
Stafford was made a Knight banneret in 1327 and was fighting the Scots shortly afterwards. He supported the plot to free Edward III of England from the control of Roger Mortimer, which earned the king’s gratitude. By the summer of 1332, he was a commissioner of the peace in Staffordshire and had served abroad on royal business, accompanying Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester. He was also still fighting the Scots, commanding archers at the Battle of Dupplin Moor on 11 Aug 1332 and on three further Scottish campaigns.
He was first summoned to Parliament by writ as Lord Stafford on 29 November 1336 and continued to attend until 1350.
His military career continued, accompanying King Edward to France in 1338 as an advisor and being present at the naval battle of Sluys on 24 June 1340. He also fought at the relief of Brest and the siege of Morlaix. He was captured at Vannes but was exchanged in time to negotiate a truce at Malestroit.
On 6 January 1341, he was made Steward of the Royal Household but resigned that post on 29 March 1345 having assumed the office of Seneschal of Aquitaine, an English possession in France, where he stayed for about a year. Further battles included the battle of Auberoche, the siege of Aiguillon, from where he escaped prior to its lifting, a raid on Barfleur and the English victory at the Battle of Crecy, on 26 August 1346. He became one of the twenty-six founding members and the fifth Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348.
In November 1347, his wife’s father died; they were able to take possession of his estates without paying the king’s homage, an indication of the relationship between them. Ralph was now a very wealthy man, from his estates and from the many prizes from the French war.
Edward III created a number of new peerage titles to honour his war captains and to mark his jubilee year. Ralph was created the 1st Earl of Stafford on 5 March 1350, with an annuity of 1000 marks. He now replaced Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster as the king’s lieutenant in Gascony, he committed to serve with 200 men at his expense with the expectation of this being doubled in March 1353 at the king’s expense. The campaigns provided several captives that were ransomed, but were ultimately unsuccessful, leading to the appointment of Edward, Prince of Wales to command.
Even at the age of sixty, Stafford continued to command troops and act as a royal envoy, both in France and in Ireland in 1361, accompanying Lionel of Antwerp to try and restore English control.
Around 1326, Stafford married his first wife, Katherine Hastang (also known as Katherine Hastings). Katherine was the daughter of Sir John de Hastang, Knight, of Chebsey, Staffordshire. Ralph and Katherine had two daughters:
- Margaret, married Sir John of Bramshall (or Wickham) de Stafford, Knight.
- Joan, married Sir Nicholas de Beke, Knight.
He later sensationally abducted Margaret de Audley, 2nd Baroness Audley, daughter of Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester and Margaret de Clare, who was worth at least £2314 a year, more than ten times his own estates. Her parents filed a complaint with King Edward III of England, but the King supported Stafford’s actions. In compensation, the King appeased Hugh and Margaret by creating Hugh the 1st Earl of Gloucester. Margaret de Audley and Stafford married before 6 July 1336 and they subsequently had two sons and four daughters:
- Ralph de Stafford (d. 1347), married Maud of Lancaster, daughter of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Isabel de Beaumont in 1344.
- Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford, born circa 1336 in Staffordshire, England, married Philippa de Beauchamp; they were the ancestors of the Dukes of Buckingham (1444 creation).
- Elizabeth de Stafford, born circa 1340 in Staffordshire, England, died 7 August 1376, married firstly Fulk le Strange; married secondly, John de Ferrers, 3rd Baron Ferrers of Chartley; married thirdly Reginald de Cobham, 2nd Baron Cobham.
- Beatrice de Stafford, born circa 1341 in Staffordshire, England, died 1415, married firstly, in 1350, Maurice FitzGerald, 2nd Earl of Desmond (d. June 1358); married secondly, Thomas de Ros, 4th Baron de Ros, of Helmsley; married thirdly Sir Richard Burley, Knt.
- Joan de Stafford, born in 1344 in Staffordshire, England, died 1397, married firstly, John Charleton, 3rd Baron Cherleton; married secondly Gilbert Talbot, 3rd Baron Talbot.
- Katherine de Stafford, born circa 1348 in Staffordshire, England and died in December 1361. On 25 December 1357, she married Sir John de Sutton III (1339 – c. 1370 or 1376), Knight, Master of Dudley Castle, Staffordshire. They were parents of Sir John de Sutton IV, hence grandparents of Sir John de Sutton V.
He died on 31 August 1372 at Tonbridge Castle, Kent, England. He was buried at Tonbridge Priory, next to his second wife and her parents.
Sir Miles Stapleton of Bedale
(Carolyn Booths – 19th Great Grandfather)
Sir Miles Stapleton of Bedale (or of Cotherstone) KG (1320?–1364) was an English knight, He became a founder and the Sixteenth Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348. He was the eldest son of Gilbert de Stapleton, knt. (d. 1321), and the grandson of Miles de Stapleton (d. 1314). His mother was Matilda (b. 1298), also called Agnes, elder daughter and coheiress of Brian FitzAlan, lord of Bedale, Askham Bryan, and Cotherstone.
Through his paternal line, he was a great-grandson of Dervorguilla of Galloway, mother of John Balliol, King of Scotland, and a descendant of the Bruces by Laderia, daughter of Peter III de Brus of Skelton and grandmother of Sir Gilbert. Sir Miles Stapleton of Bedale should not be confused with Sir Miles Stapleton of Haddlesey (ca. 1318–1372), occasionally identified as le seigneur.
Only an infant at the death of his father, he was at the Siege of Tournai (1340) with his younger brother Brian Stapleton, and then fought in Brittany during the War of Breton Succession. He was probably at the siege of Calais in 1347. He participated in three tournaments between October 1347 and January 1348, at Bury St Edmunds, Eltham, and Windsor, after which he was described as a knight of the chamber in the Wardrobe accounts.
In October 1351 Stapleton joined the newly knighted William Latimer abroad. In 1354 he participated in an embassy to Pope Innocent VI requesting intervention in the Anglo-French war. Stapleton joined Henry Lancaster’s raid across Normandy in 1356 in support of Philippe de Navarre, whom he served in 1358 as a messenger. In June 1361 he received an annuity of 100l. from the exchequer for his ‘unwearied labours and laudable services. He may have been the Miles Stapleton who was one of the witnesses to the treaty of Brétigny in 1360. In March 1361 and August 1362 he served on commissions of peace with the Earl of Suffolk. In January 1363 Stapleton was one of a group of English knights recorded as borrowing money from local merchants at Thorn in Poland, most likely during a Prussian crusade.
He died in December of 1364, possibly, as the family historian conjectures, of wounds received in the Battle of Auray (29 September 1364).
He was twice married. By his first wife he had a son John, who died in 1355. He married his second wife in 1350. This lady was Joan, daughter and coheiress of Oliver de Ingham in Norfolk, and widow of Roger Lestrange of Nockin. Henceforward Stapleton is as often described as ‘of Ingham’ as of ‘Bedale’, and became a considerable proprietor in Norfolk. Stapleton’s eldest son John died before him, and he was succeeded at Ingham as well as Bedale by Miles, his son by the heiress of Ingham. Their only other issue was a daughter Joan, married to Sir John Plays. Another three generations in the male line succeeded Stapleton and Ingleton, after which the property was divided among coheiresses.
St. Georges Chapel – Windsor Castle
St George’s Chapel is the place of worship at Windsor Castle in England, United Kingdom. It is both a royal peculiar and the chapel of the Order of the Garter. The chapel is governed by the Dean and Canons of Windsor.
The chapel is located in the Lower Ward of the castle, which is one of the principal residences of Queen Elizabeth II.
The day to day running of the chapel is the responsibility of the religious College of St George, which is directed by a chapter of the dean and four canons, assisted by a clerk, virger (traditional spelling of verger) and other staffers. The Society of the Friends of St George’s and Descendants of the Knights of the Garter, a registered charity, was established in 1931 to assist the College in maintaining the chapel.
List of Founder Knights
The 26 Founder Knights of the Order of the Garter are as follows, listed in ascending order of Garter-Stall number in St. George’s Chapel:
- Edward, Prince of Wales (1330–1376)
- Henry of Grosmont, 4th Earl of Lancaster (c. 1310–1361)
- Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick (d.1369)
- Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch (d.1377)
- Ralph de Stafford, 2nd Baron Stafford (1301–1372)
- William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury (1328–1397)
- Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March (1328–1360)
- John de Lisle, 2nd Baron Lisle (1318–1356)
- Bartholomew de Burghersh (d.1369)
- John de Beauchamp (d.1360)
- John de Mohun, 2nd Baron Mohun (c.1320–1376)
- Hugh de Courtenay (d.1349)
- Thomas Holland (d.1360)
- John de Grey (c.1300–1359)
- Richard Fitz-Simon (b.1295)
- Miles Stapleton (d.1364)
- Thomas Wale (d.1352)
- Hugh Wrottesley (d.1381)
- Nele Loring (d.1386)
- John Chandos (d.1369)
- James Audley (d.1369)
- Otho Holand (d.1359)
- Henry Eam (d. before 1360)
- Sanchet D’Abrichecourt (d.1345)
- Walter Paveley (d.1375)
Sources & References:
Illuminations (Images) Courtesy – Bruges Garter Book 15th century.
The Bruges Garter Book is a 15th-century illuminated manuscript containing portraits of the founder knights of the Order of the Garter. It was made to the order of William Bruges (c. 1375-1450), Garter King of Arms, and constitutes the first armorial covering members of the Order.
The cover is from after 1600, of brown leather tooled in gold-leaf with a floriated pattern, measuring 385 x 285 mm. The text is in Latin and written in a gothic and gothic cursive hand. It contains 27 full page miniatures in pen and watercolour, 26 pages each depicting the individual founding knight. Each knight standing displaying on a panel sitting on the ground to their right hand sides the heraldic escutcheons appertaining to their successors in the same Garter stall in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The remaining page depicts William Bruges himself in the dress of Garter King kneeling before St George, the patron of the Order.
Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
Wikipedia.com – Order of the Garter