THE "MALPAS" FAMILY IN CHESHIRE
By Darrell Wolcott
A number of 11th to 13th century
men are cited as Lord or Baron of Malpas in Cheshire, beginning with a Sir William de Malpas born c. 1030. In the 1086
Domesday Book, the lands are described as "2 leagues long and 1 league wide", about 18 square miles. This tract lies
near the northern border of Shropshire and about 6 miles southeast of Holt in Maelor. Several citations deduce the
pre-1066 family there from a "Miles" ap Gruffudd ap Owain and call that Owain "Lord of Holt". The latest of those
manuscripts (17th and 18th century) identify this Owain as a son of Iago ap Idwal Foel.
Our analysis of the subsequent
family suggests the man called "Miles" in those pedigrees was probably the same "Sir William le Belward" found at Malpas.
When the Welsh citations are correlated with those found in the 1580 Visitation of Cheshire (the latter admittedly internally
contradictory), and when we learn that in 1086 the lands of Milpas were held by Robert, base son of Earl Hugh the Fat....having
formerly been held by Earl Edwin of Mercia, a likely scenerio can be put forward to explain how a Gwynedd family ended
up in Chester.
During the late
10th century wars for control of Gwynedd between the sons and grandsons of Idwal Foel, Iago ap Idwal Foel had been expelled
from Gwynedd in 974 by his nephew Hywel ap Ieuaf. Iago took his sons, Custinnen and Owain, and fled to Chester.
Iago was nearing age 60 and his sons were then about 22 and 14 respectively. They were received by Leofwine I,
Earl of Mercia, to whom Iago gave his oath of fealty, preferring that his sons grow up to fight real enemies
rather than their own kin. But in 980 after Iago died , young Custinnen had come of full age for Welsh
kingship; he forsook the safety of Mercia and joined up with the viking Godfrey Haroldsson to ravage Llyn and Anglesey.
His cousin, Gwynedd king Hywel ap Ieuaf, met the raiders in battle and killed Custinnen.  Back in Chester, the young
orphaned Owain ap Iago had become a ward of the Earl of Mercia. When Leofwine I died and was succeeded as Earl
by Leofwine II, Owain was about 30 and serving as a captain in his army. He was given a Saxon lady for
his wife, together with a small manor in Holt. These were probably rewards for being a such a loyal
ward of the Earl, and indeed he and his descendants were long remembered as "le bel ward" (the nice ward).
His grandson, William, is often cited in pedigrees as William le Belward as though that were his surname.
Holt is usually thought of as being
located on the west shore of the Dee in Welsh Maelor, but in those days this portion of the present Maelor was a part
of Mercia, soon to become part of the Norman county of Chester. It was not until the reign of Stephen that Welsh
Maelor assumed its present boundries, expanding a bit north and east to encompass lands which had been granted to Welshmen.
About 995, Owain ap Iago ap Idwal
Foel had a son he named Gruffudd. Nothing is known of his career, but his son William born c. 1030 saw military
service under Earl Aelfgar. William likely fought beside Aelfgar and his Welsh ally, Gruffudd ap Llewelyn,
in their battles with the Godwin clan. He is remembered as a professional soldier who, in some pedigrees, appears simply
as "Miles". In others, he is called Sir William le Belward. About 1060, he was granted a tract of land called
Malpas located some 6 miles southeast of Holt. Shortly afterwards, Earl Aelfgar died and left his realm to eldest
son Edwin, a man scarcely 20 years old.
A few short
years later, the Normans invaded England and set about replacing all the Saxon Earldoms with their own men. We
are told that after securing Chester about 1070, King William I installed a Flemish ally, Gerbod, as the new Earl of
Chester.  This man was unable to maintain his position against assaults by the sons of Aelfgar and their Welsh allies,
and found reasons why his presence was required in Flanders. He never returned to England, so in 1071 Hugh the
Fat, aka Hugh Lupus, was made the Earl of Chester. Sir William of Malpas was then about 40 years old and had 3 sons
yet minors; we suggest he continued to serve his new Norman lord just as he had served the Saxon Earls and now held Malpas
as a tenant of Earl Hugh.
About 1085, Earl
Hugh settled the Lordship of Malpas (mostly a landlord's income stream, not actual possession of land) on his base son Robert-fitz-Hugh.
To mitigate this intrusion on the Baron of Malpas, Hugh gave one of his base daughters (Tanglust) as wife to William
II, the eldest son of Sir William of Malpas. The two families (Robert fitz Hugh and the son of Sir William) continued
their cordial relationship into the next generation, when a daughter (Mabel) of Robert married William III of Malpas :
1047 Earl Hugh Lupus Sir William "le Belward" 1030
1072 Robert 1075
Tanglust=======William II 1060
1100 Mabel===================William III
These dates appear
to be compatable with the pedigrees  which say that Ralph ap Einion ap Dafydd ap "Miles" married Beatrix, daughter of Earl
Ranulf and sister of Earl Hugh Cyfeiliog, the 4th and 5th Earls of Chester. A daughter of that marriage married William
le Belward, and had a son known both as "Dan David" and as "le clerc" who was High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1251/52:
1050 Margaret (a)
"Miles" (b) 1030
1070 Earl Ranulf I (c) Dafydd (d) 1060
1099 Earl Ranulf II Einion
1135 Beatrix (e)=========Ralph of Malpas 1125
1160 Beannan====William (f) 1150
Dan David the clerk 1185
(a) Sister of Hugh the Fat, 1st Earl of Chester
(b) Sir William "le belward" son of Gruffudd ap Owain
(c) 3rd Earl of Chester; the 2nd Earl was Richard son of Hugh the Fat
(d) A younger
brother of William II ap Sir William in CHART 1
(e) sister of Earl Hugh Cyfeiliog, 5th Earl of Chester
(f) William ap Richard ap William III ap William II ap Sir William
Another marriage found in the Malpas pedigree material  says that David ap William le
Belward married Margaret, daughter of Ralph of Malpas. That this was an earlier Ralph of Malpas can be seen when
we date the people in that pedigree:
1030 Sir William le belward
of Malpas William II 1060
With this marriage,
the line of Ralph became extinct and his one-third of Malpas passed to his son-in-law and nephew, David, and thence to his
daughter's son, the earliest of the "William ap David ap William" men in the family.
Yet another citation
 has David ap Ralph ap Einion, the brother of Beannan in Chart 2, marrying Constance, daughter of Owain Cyfeiliog of Powys.
This link to a well-known Welsh king confirms the timeline of the Malpas family:
(a) Owain Cyfeiliog
1150 David============Constance 1160
(a) The Ralph of CHART
2 who married Beatrix, daughter of Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester
we assemble all branches of the Malpas/le Belward family into a single chart, the cited marriages all fit into a single timeline:
960 Owain of Holt
1030 Sir William, miles aka le Belward
1060 William II David
l ____________l________ l
1100 Marged===David 1090 1090
William III Einion 1090
1120 William (a) 1120
Richard Ralph 1125
Dan David, the clerk
(a) Pedigrees identify him as holding
a moiety of Malpas, or one-half. He would have inheirited 1/3 from his mother, being Ralph's part, and 1/6 from his
father, being half of William II's part. His brother, William III held the other 1/6, which descended to Dan David.
The final 1/3 of Malpas was held by the line descended from David of 1060. The daughter of Ralph shown in our chart,
was not an heiress; she had a brother named David who inherited the final 1/3.
The extant pedigrees all go awry following Dan
David. He actually had no sons, only daughters. But he has been confused with an earlier "David ap William" in
the family and assigned the family belonging to Dafydd of 1090 son of William II. This family should appear as:
1030 Sir William, miles
1060 William II (a)
1090 William III (c)
William (d) 1150
Dan David (e) 1185
(a) married a base daughter of Earl Hugh the Fat
(b) married his first-cousin, Margaret ferch Ralph
ap Sir William
(c) married Mabel daughter of Robert fitz
married Beannan, daughter of Ralph ap Einion ap David ap Sir William by Beatrix daughter of Earl Ranulf II of Chester, sister
of Hugh Cyfeiliog
(e) base son, called "the clerk", often
misidentified as the 1150 David ap William
(f) She held 1/4 of Malpas when she married
William Petrie/Patric c. 1260. He died c. 1275 and Beatrice remarried Rhodri ap Gruffudd, youngest brother of Llewelyn
the Last of Gwynedd. When she died in 1290, her lands went to her daughter by her first marriage. Rhodri died
landless before 1307
(g) She married Richard de Sutton and her
sons received her lands
In the Appendix following
the notes, we present and comment on various Malpas pedigree constructions assembled by others, who neither followed a chronological
timeline nor correctly distinquished several same-named men from others found in the family. The abundance of men named
William and David does not make the chore easy.
Most of our research into
this family was done to identify the widowed Beatrix who married Rhodri ap Gruffudd, youngest brother of Llewelyn ap Gruffudd,
the latter being Prince of Wales until 1282. Refer to our paper "Thomas ap Rhodri - Father of Owain Lawgoch" elsewhere
on this site. (The Rhodri who married Beatrix was NOT the same Rhodri who fathered Thomas, but Welsh academia continues
to claim he was.)
 Harl Ms 1974, 32; Peniarth Ms 139(1), 192; Golden Grove Ms, 1259
 see the Appendix below for a copy of part of that pedigree
 Domesday Book for Cheshire, 2, 4
 The last mention of Iago in the Brut is the 979 entry which says he was "captured
by the Saxons, and Hywel ap Ieuaf took possession of his territory", but the 974 entry earlier said Hywel ap Ieuaf had
expelled Iago from his kingdom". We doubt he returned when past age 60, but his son Custinnen did a year later, likely
after his father died
 Brut entry for 980
 For a discussion of certain lands held by the Earl of Chester being granted
to Welshmen and subsequently added to Welsh Maelor, see the paper "Sandde Hardd of Mortyn" elsewhere on this site
 The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, book iv of volume ii, 219.
In the translation by Marjorie Chibnall published in 1968, see Volume II, page 261
 Refer to the following Appendix for the citations from which we extracted
the marriage of William II to a base daughter of Earl Hugh the Fat; the marriage of William III to Mabel, daughter of Robert
fitz Hugh is cited in Ormerod's History of Cheshire, vol 2, p. 628
 Vis of Cheshire of 1580, 160 when combined with Harleian Ms 1977, 54 and
Pen. 139(1), 192
 Vis of Cheshire of 1590, 160 but see full discussion in the following Appendix
 Pen. 139(1), 192 and Harl. 1977, 54
APPENDIX - MALPAS PEDIGREE PROBLEMS:
1. Visitation of Cheshire, 1580
Belward (1) is a composite man. When combined with David (4), William (6), Beatrix (7), David (8) and Beatrix (10),
he was born c. 1120, the son of David ap William II ap Sir William of 1030. But when combined with David (4) who married
Margaret (5) daughter of Ralph (2) and Beatrix (3), he was born c. 1060 and is William II ap Sir William.
The Ralph of Malpas (2) is also a
composite man. When combined with David (4) and Margaret (5) and William (6), he was born c. 1065, a son of Sir William.
But when combined with Beatrix (3), David (8) and Constance (9), he was born c. 1125, the son of Einion ap David ap Sir William.
David (4) who married Margaret
(5) was not "le clerk" but the son of William II and father of William born c. 1120 whose son David of c. 1150 was the father
of William (6) who married Beatrix (7). They had a son David (8) who was the father of Beatrix (10). The David
(4) ap William (1) WAS "le clerk", born c. 1185. His father was William
ap Richard ap William III ap William II ap Sir William. David le clerk's wife is not known and he had only daughters.
2. Pedigree from Ormerod's History
of Cheshire, vol 2, 598:
Neither David in this pedigree is the man called "le Clerk". The man at the top is David of c. 1150 ap William ap David
ap William II ap Sir William. The first William in the chart was born c. 1180 and did marry Beatrix, daughter of Robert
de Montalt. This Robert de Montalt was descended from the family of seneschals who served the Earls of Chester, being
born c. 1160 and the son of the elder Robert de Montalt, the latter being a son of Ralph fitz Norman.
Their son David was neither
"le clerk" nor "the Bastard", both of those being earlier men named David in the Malpas family. Since his daughter Beatrix
is known to have inherited one-fourth of Malpas, we may safely assume her father was a legitimate heir of his father.
One of the men named William in this David's ancestry had a brother named Phillip Goch, so the half-interest in Malpas originally
held by this line of the family had been further halved by the time we reach Beatrix. It was not the William in this
chart who held a moiety (1/2) of the barony of Malpas, but the William ap David of c. 1120 who was also the father of the
David at the top of the chart.
Since there were 3 sons
of the c. 1030 Sir William of Malpas, this chart shows how a great-grandson managed to hold 1/2:
1030 Sir William (100% of Malpas)
II (1/3) 1065 Ralph (1/3) 1060 David (1/3)
1090 William III 1090 David=====Margaret
1090 Einion (1/3)
(1/6) (1/6) l
1120 William (1/2)
William of c. 1120 had
a son David (the man at the top of Ormerod's chart) who had sons William and and Phillip Goch, between whom his 1/2 of Malpas
was divided. Thus all the generations (after David at the top) in Ormerod's chart held 1/4 of Malpas. The
line "daughtered-out" with Beatrix; her 1/4 of Malpas went to her daughter Isabella, thence to that lady's son by Richard
3. Other pedigree
a. Burke's Dictionary of the Peerage & Baronetage claims that "William le Belward, baron of Malpas, married
Beatrix, illegitimate daughter of Hugh, Earl of Chester
b. County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire claims that "William le Belward married Tanglust a natural daughter
of Hugh Cyfeiliog, Earl of Chester.
c. The 1580 Visitation of Cheshire claims that Ralph, Baron of Malpas, married Beatrix sister of Hugh Cyfeiliog.
item (c) above is chronologocally possible as the citations read. Hugh Cyfeiliog, 5th Earl of Chester, was born about
1147. His sister, Beatrix, could have been born c. 1135/40 and married Ralph ap Einion of c. 1125. Any daughter
of Hugh Cyfeiliog would not have been born until c. 1175/80; the only William in the entire Malpas family who might have married
such a lady is the one who married Beatrix Montalt, the seneschal of the Chester Earls.
Beatrix of item (a) was actually the daughter of Robert de Montalt, while the Tanglust of item (b) was a base
daughter of Hugh the Fat, Earl of Chester. If item (a) had called the lady Tanglust instead of confusing her
with Beatrix the sister of Hugh Cyfeiliog, then we'd have the very earliest marriage....that of the c. 1060 William II of
When we correctly identify the people named in the 3 citations, we would have:
a. William II son of Sir William le Belward, born c. 1060, married Tanglust born c. 1075, a base daughter of Hugh
the Fat, Earl of Chester
b. Ralph ap Einion ap Dafydd ap Sir William, born c. 1125, married Beatrix, born c. 1135, a daughter of Ranulf de Gernon,
4th Earl of Chester, and sister of Hugh Cyfeiliog.
c. William ap David ap William ap David ap William II ap Sir William, born c. 1180, married Beatrix, daughter of Robert
de Montalt, seneschal to the Earl of Chester.
None of the Malpas men married a daughter of Hugh Cyfeiliog, but one did marry Hugh's sister.