The Passage to Power


How did Nicholaa and Matilda find their way to becoming the office holders of two of the most important appointments in England? The answer lies in ‘inheritance and marriage.

Two of the most useful factors in the gathering of land, wealth, and power were found in marrying well and inheriting the accumulations of ones parents. It was almost an unstoppable force, and not dissimilar to the situation that exists today.

Examine the families below to see how Nicholaa and Matilda found themselves at the centre of power in England at one and the same time with the doubtful bonus of a civil war to make things more interesting.


Nicholaa de la Haye

Parents: Richard, baron de La Haye du Puits (1125-1169) and Matilda de Vernon (1125-1209)

Richard rose from being a minor Lincolnshire lord to become the castellan of Lincoln castle and Warden of the King’s Forests in Lincolnshire. He died in 1169, his wife Matilda followed him in 1209 whereupon their eldest daughter, Nicholaa, inherited the lands and titles.


Nicholaa de la Haye Birthdate: circa 1151

Birthplace: Brattleby, Lincolnshire, England


Death: Died 1230 in Sussex

Wife of: Firstly William fitzErneis, and secondly Gerard de Camville.

Mother of: Elisabeth Deincourt; Richard de Camville IV; Nicholaa de Camville; Thomas de Camville; and Matilda de Camville.

Lincoln castle sits inside the upper town walls and above the lower town.

Illustration under collective commons license, with respect to the late David Vale MBE, artist.


Matilda and the Manor of Laxton

The manor was held by the Saxon lord, Tochi, son of Outi, until the Norman invasion, then granted to: Geoffrey Alselin who married Amica. Geoffrey also held extensive estates including Brampton, near Chesterfield, as well as Laxton. When Geoffrey died Amica remarried, Robert I de Caux (b. 1046) who came from a family based in Brampton, near Chesterfield. Robert I became Lord of Laxton and Warden of the King’s Forests in Nottinghamshire, (Sherwood,) and part of Derbyshire.

Then Amica died and Robert married Basilea de Normanville. They had children, namely, their first son, Robert II (b 1106) who married Isabel de Ferrieres, but died before he could inherit his father’s holdings

The second son, Robert III (b. 1135) married Sybil de Basset (b. 1135) by now the appointments have become hereditary and the holdings were inherited by their only daughter, Matilda (b. 1170) when Robert III died in 1186, aged 51. Matilda inherited not only the lands but also the titles.

Matilda married: Firstly Adam de Birkin (1136-1185) then Ralph fitzStephen, Chamberlain to King John, who died, 25th July 1202/4.

In 1204 Richard de Lexington was given the job of supervising Matilda, but in 1207 he fell foul of King John for misappropriation of funds and was sacked. Brian de Lisle was appointed to the mentoring position from 1207-1215, but by then Matilda the widow seemed to be firmly in control of the forest, except that her relations with Philip Marc, High Sheriff of Nottingham, were somewhat strained. Then Marc got a special mention in the 1215 Magna Carta, i.e ” You’re sacked.” And that left Matilda in sole control.



12th century Laxton – By Ray Straw, with permission of Nottinghamshire Librarys.