The Corbett One Name Study


Feet of Fines for Cornwall A.D. 1262
(with additional notes) 

Feet of Fines were a final judgement regarding land after legal action had been taken. 
They were frequently collusive and provided a record of title, often after purchase.
Many family history researchers are unaware of the existence of these documents.

The words in brackets have been added by the translator as an aid to the reader. 
Numbers have been assigned to names which occur for more than one person.


'At Lancaveton (Launceston), 3 weeks from the day of St Michael, in the 46th ye King Henry (20 Oct 1262). Before Robert de Briwes, Richard de Middelton and William de Staunton, justices itinerate, and other liegemen of our lord the King then there present. Between Thomas Corbet & Isabella his wife; claimants, and Walter Derewyn & Orguyllosa his wife, deforciants; as to ploughland in CADEBYRE (Cadson Bury in St Ive). Walter & Orguyllosa acknowledged the land to be the right of Isabella & gave up the same to her at the Court & remitted & quit-claimed for themselves & the heirs of Orguyllosa to Thomas & Isabella & the heirs of Isabella for ever. For this Thomas & Isabella gave to Walter & Orguyllosa 1 score sparrow hawk.'

On 28 April 1241 William de Englefeld was a claimant and Alan Basset the opponent regarding land at Shiplake in Oxford. Alan acknowledged the moiety to be the right of William. 'To have and to hold to William & his heirs of Alan & his heirs for ever. Tendering therefor yearly 1 pair of white gloves or 1d at Easter at Ippeden. (Ipsden in Oxfordshire.) William in return gave land in Tehidy in Illogan, Cornwall which he had by inheritance from Alan de Dunstanville.

Included were those lands held in dower by Alan de Dunstanville's widow, Isabella, his second wife. [The note with these F of F state that these de Dunstanville's were not connected with Reginald de Dunstanville, Earl of Cornwall, the son of Henry I and Sibyl Corbet. Nor were they connected to the mother (a de Dunstanville) of this Alan Basset. This repetition of names frequently causes considerable confusion.]

Isabella de Dunstanville was the daughter of Reginald de Valletort (who married secondly Thomas Corbet, according to Meisel, before 1198).

(Further study of the notes with the Feet of Fines for Cornwall finds Lysons saying that 'A Peter Corbet married Isabel, daughter of Roger de Valletort! To say that such matters cause confusion is understating the problem.)

As a result of this marriage Thomas received three manors, one in Cornwall and two in Devon. Meisel makes it clear that she believes this to be Thomas, 6th Baron of Caus, (who died 1274) the son of Robert Corbet and Emma Pantulf, born before 1177 and not Thomas of Morton Corbet.

The Manor and Castle of Trematon (Trematon in St Stephens-by-Saltash) was the cause of a court case on 16 February 1270. Richard Plantagenet, (created Earl of Cornwall 1226) the son of King John was the claimant and Roger de Valle Torta the opponent regarding this land and 60 knights fees in Devon and Cornwall and the Manor of Calstock. The land was said to 'be the right of the said king as those which he had by Roger's gift.'

Following the endorsement of this feet of fine it says: And Henry de la Pomerai and Peter Corbet (1) put in their claim. This was saying that they did not agree with this decision and were lodging notice of their rights to the land. The argument was to continue for many years.

Additional details appear in the Fine Rolls Vol. 1 1272-1307 order, in 1274, the executors of Thomas's will were ordered to deliver to Peter Corbet (1), son and heir of Thomas Corbet, deceased, the lands which had belonged to his father. Peter (2) was born in 1298, the son of Peter (1), who died in 1300, and his first wife, Joan Mortimer.

Edward II became king in 1307 and was not a popular one. He was idle and incompetent and favoured syncophants such as Piers Gaveston who was created Earl of Cornwall and was eventually executed in 1312. The king then turned to the Despencers and attempted a conquest of Scotland in 1314 which ended in the English defeat of Bannockburn by Robert Bruce.

A page note in the Feet of Fines confirms that Peter Corbet (2) was the grandson of Isabella Corbet (formerly Valletort). This Peter (2) in 1315, was to petition Parliament for the recovery of the Trematon estate, alleging that when Roger de Valletort made a deed of gift in favour of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, he was non compos mentis.

Both Peter (2) and his half brother John fought for the Edward II at Boroughbridge against the Barons. Once more showing their loyalty to the Crown. Despite their continuing attempt to regain the Valletort lands in Devon and Cornwall which the Crown had claimed they were still summoned to levy men from these lands for military service!

Peter (2) died a very short time after the Battle of Boroughbridge and was succeeded by his younger half brother John.

Despite their loyalty to the Crown since William I invaded in 1066 the Corbets of Caus were gradually losing their power. Part of their land had been lost as described but other lands may have been lost by other means.

It seems possible, and some deeds confirm this, that Peter's (1) and (2) assigned various lands to different members of their family. John received Leighton in Wales (Leigh) from his father and Roger received Caus from his uncle. Although an inquisition found that John had inherited the Caus estates.

The Calendar of Fine Rolls Vol. III 1319-1327 shows that on 22 January 1322-3 orders were given to the sheriff of Salop and Stafford to seize the lands, goods and chattels of Roger Corbet of Caus (along with that of various others including William de Stafford kt.).

Many of the Corbet estates held by John, including Caus, passed into the hands of two of his aunts, Alice who had married Robert, Baron of Stafford and Emma, wife of Brian de Brampton, knight. Perhaps they took advantage of the confusion feeling that their brother's son by a second wife had less call upon inheritance than they.

When Edward III mounted the throne in 1326-7 John (with Pomeroy) unsuccesfully revived the claim regarding the de Valletort estates.

John's successor was his son Roger of 'Legh juxta Caus' (Leigh) and the Sundorne Corbets are descended from this line. A E Corbet, however, takes an entirely different tack, despite the evidence of her own words, 'Peter the Baron calls Roger "his beloved nephew". She tries to persuade us that 'cousin' was really meant and says John (who died 1347) was the last Baron of Caus and that he died without issue. She assigns the Leigh line to be descended from a brother of Thomas who married Isobel Valletort, William. She shows that from this William are also descended the Chaddesley Corbett and Hope lines.

The real cause for the loss of the Caus estates may never be known. For over 52 years the Corbets of Caus tried to prove that the Valletort Cornish and Devon lands were theirs. Four generations had battled to regain through the courts since 1270 land that had, at one time, been handed on a plate to Piers Gaveston when he was created Earl of Cornwall. The Barons rebellion in 1322 might have seemed the ideal opportunity to show once more their loyalty to the king and possibly regain these lost lands, even if only as a reward for that loyalty.