Served in the third Crusade under King Richard I. His effigy in Merevale Gate House Church has been incorrectly identified as William Ferrers husband of Sibilla Marshall.
Mr. Attilio Louis Ferreri-unit 2-22 Chambers street-Coburg-305-Victoria -Australia 4th March 2007
To Whomever may be concerned.
Reference-: Identity of stone effigy of Ferrers-Knight in the Gate-Church of Our Lady of Merevale Abbey.
Dear Madam/Sir or as applicable in the case Titles are concerned,
I visited the church in June 2004 admitted by the most genteel Rector, Reverend Janet Gasper, when on a pilgrimage and modest historical research for a book I am writing about the Clan of the de Ferrariis to which the Ferrers belong.
While leafing through The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain compiled by C. A. Stothard, I have come across the drawing of a knight-effigy wrongly identified by Stothard as belonging to Sir Geffrey de Magnaville which is almost a copy of the one at Merevale's. I have become certain that the knight-effigy at Merevale's represents a Member of the Order of the Knights Templars who had taken vows (a Crusading Knight) to fight Infidels in the Holy Land, owing to characteristic symbolic features of the carving of this effigy which were at the times this was made, within the Order of the Templars, the distinction accorded to its crusading
1. The fact that these are represented in a walking stance
2 .The right-hand-side hand over the heart.
3. The sword carried on the right hand side.
4. When laid in their original position the effigies would be probably gazing with the walking-stance oriented toward the East.
Examples of these are shown by five effigies shown at page 1 of the section of the mentioned book devoted to the Knights Templars.
Allow me to quote from page 2 of the same section-:
Stow speaks of "eleven monuments of noblemen in the round of the Church [in Fleet street London, built in 1240 A.D. upon the foundations of a pre-existing Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary by Patriarch Eraclius]; eight of them, images of armed knights, five being cross-legged as men vowed to the Holy Land against the infidels and unbelieving Jews; the other three straight-legged; the rest are coaped stones all of grey marble................ "
Further on, Stothard relates the carrying of the sword preferentially, if unusually on the right-hand side by Templars destined for service in the Middle East. This practice may have been adopted in order to facilitate the riding of the same horse by two knights in crisis (Templars always fought as a pair), to balance the weight of the shields, to remove the long scabbard from the blind side and to place it on the sword-side in order to negate the possibility to an opponent grabbing it, usually from behind, in a melee.
I have found evidence that the Sir Geoffrey de Magnaville, wrongly mentioned by Stothard in his Book and Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville, the correct identifier of the Knight-effigy at The Temple Court-Church in London, are two different, although blood-related characters.
The list of the Magneville/Mandeville is in fact-:
(i) Sir Geffrey de Magneville coeval with the Conqueror(1066-1087), see Dugdale's "Antiquities of Warwickshire", page 424.-
( ii ) Sir William de Magneville, son of the ancient Geffrey, who married Margaret, daughter of Eudo Dapifer or Stewartd of William II, 1087-1100. Note Stothard wrongly refers to William I ( 1066-1087) .
( iii ) Sir Geffrey de Magneville, the first Earl of Essex, Stothard wrongly assigns as the identity of the Knight-effigy at the Temple Court in London, and speaks about in the article in his Book, who lived in the times of King Stephen (5th Stephen, 1140) and Empress Matilda.
( iv ) Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville, the second Earl of Essex, mentioned by, among other historians, Thomas B. Costain's, volume I "The Conquering Family", page 310, who is in my opinion the correct identifier.
Sir Geffrey de Magneville, the first Earl of Essex died of wounds in the days of King Stephen ( 1135-1154), while Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville, the second Earl of Essex, his son, although having served in the same Crusade as Sir William Ferrers, the 5th Earl of Derby, returned to England continuing the struggles for Magna Charta having fully participated in these since the times of King John, and died after Sir William Ferrers, the fifth Earl of Derby, who had died in 1197 at the siege of Acre while serving King Richard I in the 3rd Crusade.
Sir Geffrey de Magneville, their ancient ancestor who is coeval with William the Conqueror and Baron Henry de Ferrariis, is in fact mentioned in Dugdale, op.cit. as owning one house in a list of owners of 261 houses in Warwick, that also included William the Conqueror as the owner of 130 and Baron Henry de Ferrariis who owned two of these houses. The de Magneville who was the father of Geoffrey de Mandeville, both holding the title of Earl of Essex, was made a Templar in exchange for a large bequest made to the Order, just before dying of a wound received during his private war against King Stephen. He never participated in a Crusade and was actually under a sentence of excommunication for having plundered the treasures of the Abbey of Ramsey during the war-activities against King Stephen in support of Empress Matilda, when he died, so that he could not be buried and was suspended by the Templars from the "branches of a tree in the Temple Court in London, enveloped in a sealed lead-wrapping until his sentence of excornmunication was lifted by Pope Alexander the Third, upon the request from the Order of the Templars.
His son, Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville, was a Knight-Templar who led, together with the Saire de Quincy (1134-1218-9) the struggle of the British/Norman Barons for Magna Carta against King John. He lived at the same time as Sir William Ferrers, Lord Tutbury, the 5th Earl of Derby, whose knight-effigy, strikingly similar to Mandeville's, probably made by the same artist, is located at the Gate-Church of Our Lady of Merevale. Sir William died between 1194 and 1197 in the siege-operations around Acre, in the Holy Land, serving under King Richard the Lion Heart.
De Mandeville the second Earl of Essex has been confused by Stothard in "The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain " and is being confused by many present historians with his father Sir Geffrey de Magneville, the first Earl of Essex.
The first and ancient Geffrey de Magneville was coeval with William I the Conqueror(1066-1087) and probably also with William II (1087-1100). His name is mentioned at page 424 of Dugdale's "Antiquities o fWarwickshire" with this spelling while the modern translator of Domesday Book where de Magnaville is mentioned as holding lands in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, etc. uses the English spelling de Mandeville, the ancient one being de Magneville. The ancient Geffrey had a son William de Magneville who married Margaret, the daughter of Eudo Dapifer or stewart of William II (1087-1100). Another Sir Geffrey de Magneville was born of this marriage, and inherited from his parents in 1140, acquiring the title of Earl of Essex by a Charter of King Stephen and Empress Matilda. He must have lived in the days of both King Henry I (1100-1135) and Stephen (1135-1154). He eventually rebelled against King Stephen who made him a prisoner in 1144. Eventually he was mortally wounded warring against Stephen, having incurred excommunication for looting and destroying church-property. He became a Templar before dying by donating land to the Templar Order, being promised the intercession by some Templars who attended him at the point of death, for the purpose of having his excommunication removed and absolution obtained for his sins, as the body of an excommunicate could not be buried in blessed land. The Templars obtained all this from Pope Alexander III and had him buried. I am relating this in order to show how de Magneville could not be given the honour and privilege the knight-effigy assigned the person represented by it, a privilege his son would earn by his participation in the 3rd Crusade. Both effigies, de Mandeville's and de Ferrers' represent in fact a Crusading Templar. In fact, only three of the effigies located at the Temple in London signify such an honour by the walking stance toward the East and the right hand on the heart; and only de Mandeville's effigy is almost the same as the de Ferrers'one at Merevale, by also having the sword on the right-hand-side in the ancient, classic, or oriental manner.
Both King Richard and de Mandeville returned from the 3rd Crusade. Richard died in 1199. Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville and the Saire ( Saher) de Quincey (1134-1199) led the War of the Barons against King John and won the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede.
The two effigies are strikingly similar, the one of Mandeville being a later copy made of the Ferrers' one, the latter's being however superior in the carving of the mantling and exhuding a more stately personality.The only difference, between the two is the carving of the Templars' eight-armed Carbuncle on Mandeville's shield, strictly a deviation from the Templars' rule that a Crusading knight should show no heraldic distinction. However perhaps the Rule applied only to those who died on Crusade like Sir William, the Rule becoming sealed by death. Perhaps Mandeville's exception to the rule was the result of his having enjoyed a special rank in the Order, as the Carbuncle is a Templar's symbol. The information leaflet issued at the Gate-Church, states that the effigy came from Merevale-Abbey's Church, gives the name of an art-critic of the past called Pevsner who praised the sculpture's quality, and suggests the possibility it may be of a William Ferrers, the seventh Earl of Derby (1200-1254), see included photograph of the sign exhibited at the Church, however according to my research, this Earl was not a professed Templar and never participated in a Crusade. On the other hand we know William, the fifth Earl of Derby, had joined Richard Lion-Heart in his Crusade to Palestine and died at the siege of Acre in 8 Richard I, ca. 1197 A.D. It appears therefore that if this effigy is of a Ferrers' knight, as it must be since it was originally located in Merevale-Abbey's Church destroyed by orders of King Henry VIII, it must represent with the greatest probability the crusading William Lord Ferrers, the fifth Earl of Derby. [Henry II (reigned ca.1154-1189); Richard l (reigned ca. 1189-1199).]
I believe that, in spite of all possible uncertainties, my identification is more constructive than the one used at present and should in all justice be adopted, granting me recognition of my discovery.
Further evidence that the Ferrers had ties with the Templars at the time this effigy was carved is evidenced by the Syon Cope ( in the V.& A. Museum ) commemorating the times of King Edward I, 1272-BA7 (i.e., Spanish Royal Coat of Arms in relation to his wife Eleanor, sister of King Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon, who married Edward in 1209) in which the Templars' Arms (i.e. A Paschal Lamb..........) are embroidered together with those of Lord Robert Ferrers (1241-1279) the eighth and last Earl of Derby, the second great rebel in this family, possibly also including a funereal commemorative COA for the fifth Earl, and of other influential families of the Midlands.
I personally would like to see this effigy restored (given a new head and feet) and sent to the Temple dedicated to the Templars' Order at Fleet- street London, where some of his crusading brothers and mates are? since it would then be available for visitation to a greater number of people, Merevale being rather isolated and difficult to locate and reach for the average visitor, i.e. It is not even on the present AA Road Maps for Nuneaton. !!!!. Considering the little respect, care, love and understanding local people have for this great and most noble family, this would also be the honourable solution. I would however finally abide by the Rector of the Gate Church at Merevale's wishes with regard to the location of this effigy, since it had originally been located at Merevale's Abbey, provided it is given honourable heraldic and descriptive recognition and identity in the Chrnch at Merevale.
Hoping to have contributed something to history, civilisation, Great Britain (implicitly to Australia and the Commonwealth), the European De Ferrariis and the Ferrers, one of their branches, I remain,