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Sir John Petyt
Yorkshire Petits
Southern Petits
The Helligan Connection

Twentieth Generation Sir John Petyt   


John Le Petyt married Laure
Sir John Petyt married Isabella Heegan
John Petyt Lord of Treverth married Joanna de Carminow

         This Sir John Petyt, father of John Petyt, Lord of Treverth, was the son of John Le Petit and Laure. He had two sisters Joanna and Amice who were given lands in Trelewerth near Treloy by their father John le Petit. These lands were only held for the duration of their lives by Joanna and Amice and they seem to have been quite a lot older than John Petyt. John appears to have been ‘underage in 1302, which means that he was under the age of twenty-five, and was therefore not old enough o inherit his mothers lands. His mother Laure appears to have brought the manors of Trelearth near Treloy to the Petyt family, and she appears to have died by 1302 when Joanna and Amice Petyt defended their rights to be tenants of these manors, by gift of their father and Laure’s husband John le Petit.

            John Petyt married Isabella Helegan, the daughter and co-heir of Richard Helegan. He was a Member of Parliament for Cornwall in the thirteenth year of the reign of Edward III, 1339, and he was Sheriff of Cornwall in 1334. In his youth this John may have been involved in events in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Petits

              In Yorkshire, there are no Petyts or Petits in the Poll Tax of 1381 in Bolton Abbey, but it is interesting that one action in Hazelwood does involve the Petits. On 11 October 1317, a John le Petit and Elias his brother attacked the manor of John de Rither at Hazelwood [1] . Although there is a manor called Hazelwood near Tadcaster, it is fairly certain that the manor mentioned is the Hazelwood near Storithes in the vicinity of Bolton Abbey. The Rither family had taken their name from the Ryther knight’s fee they held about 6 miles NE of Selby, but they also held lands of the Lucy fee, and the Lucy family claimed Skipton as heirs of Aveline de Fors, Countess of Aumale, in 1274 [2] . The Rithers also had connections with Bolton Abbey as one Gilbert Rither made a grant of all lands in the manor and advowson of Ryther to the Bolton Priory in 1313-17. The Hazelwood attacked by John and Elias Petit was probably the Hazelwood in the vicinity of Bolton Abbey.

John de Rither, described as the King’s yeoman, held the manor of Hazelwood briefly from 1318-23 during the minority of his nephew William. The family had obviously been split by the recent tensions between the greater magnates in the run up to Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion against King Edward. John de Rither’s older brother Robert de Rither had fought against Edward II at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1321 and had been imprisoned in York castle upon Edward’s victory.  Robert was eventually released from York castle with various other prisoners for a fine of 400 marks in 1322. An attack on the manor of Hazelwood during John’s tenure indicates that the Petits probably sided with the rebel Henry of Lancaster.

       There is no doubt that John de Rither was one of the Kings yeomen and it is perhaps significant that the damage done to the estate was, quite frankly, malicious. John and Elias Petit broke the gates and timber at Hazelwood manor, felled trees and trampled hay [3] . It is quite likely that this action was one of retaliation in some minor feud over land, or rights or boundaries. However it illustrates the tensions in Yorkshire between the ‘Kings’ men’ and Lancaster’s men before the final conflict at Boroughbridge. Tensions must have been high with one group trying to out-manoeuvre another. The rivalry between the great lords also acted as a prime excuse for local feuds and rivalries to be pursued under the semblance of a greater cause. John le Petit and his brother Elias were reprimanded by the King in a writ in January 1319. It is not certain what happened to the unruly pair.

       It may be about this time, in the early fourteenth century that the Petit family first gained lands in Yorkshire. It seems that they were mainly based in the East of Yorkshire rather than West Yorkshire. In the Patent Rolls of the reign of Edward II a Gregory Petit of Fivelle is recorded transferring lands in Ledbriston to the Priory of Bridlington in 1312, and Stephen Petyt, a chaplain, gave a messuage and three acres of land in Upleatham, held of Lord Fauconberg, to the Priory of Guisborough. Although these priories are based in the East of Yorkshire this does not preclude them having landed interests in the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1317, a Robert Petit of Pickering accompanied Eustace de Codesbache to Scotland during the Scottish campaigns, which may mean that he took part in the campaigns. However, on the other side a Richard Petit abducted an Agnes de Beyghale, wife of John, at Ferrybridge and was fined for the crime. In the Yorkshire lay Subsidies of 1297 a Thomas Petit, in Besingby in the parish of Bridlington, and Robert Petit, in Twenge, are taxed at a rate of 5 shillings and 16 shillings respectively [4] . In Birdsall in the same year, a Thomas Petit paid 2 shillings and a Joanna Petite paid 2 shillings and a penny. Another Robert Petit assigned his messuage with appurtanenances in Beverley to the archbishop ‘for arrears due’ and was left ‘with nothing in his hand’ in 1289-90 [5] .

Southern Petits

            Other Petits active in Shorne, Kent and Westminster at this time are probably related to the Petits of Thanet rather than the Petyts of Cornwall and Yorkshire. In 1312 a John Petit of Westminster was master of the King’s ship the ‘la James’, and given a safe conduct to Calais in 1313, by the king. That this John was pardoned in 1314 for his services in Scotland indicates that he was involved as a victualler carrying important supplies for the troops in Scotland. He was a member of the King’s household involved in a brawl in Oxford in April 1315 where he was assaulted and imprisoned, but in October of the same year he was fined for mutinying and taking goods from one of the kings ships. This probably implies that he had not been given wages. By 1316 John was the master of the Kings ship ‘la Michelle’ traveling again to Berwick on Tweed, laden with corn. On his return in 1317, the ship was driven into the Norfolk coast and the locals plundered the goods aboard including arms and armour.  In 1322, John Petit was involved in attacking the Inns of the scholars and masters of the University of Cambridge and killed Walter Shelton parson of the church of Shelton, etc. with a large body of other men [6] . John seems to have become part of the establishment in 1344 as in 1344, in Osprey in Kent, John Petyt held lands at Shamelsforde worth half a fee of forty shillings a year. It is interesting that John Petit had such an important naval role to play in Edwards’s campaigns against the Scots. The seamanship skills shown may also have been gained from a youth spent on the Cornish coast. This is unproven but there may be a connection between this Petit and the Petyts in Cornwall.

                    A Walter Petyt is recorded in 1324 as having a house in the Parish of St Margaret in Southwark. Four men broke into his house and broke a chest belonging to John Balliol and carried away a letter promising two thousand two hundred and ninety two pounds and two shillings and a penny, as well as 5 silver cups, three golden brooches and two reliquaries [7] . Who this John Balliol was is not clear but there may be a connection between him and Edward Balliol, King of Scotland from 1332-1363. It is interesting why John Balliol had such [GPW1]  a large promissory note, but it may have been for trading purposes.

            An Alicia la Petite brought a petition to parliament in 1305 to recover a messuage and eight acres of land in ‘St Albano,’ next to ‘Coudreie’ which had bee forcibly taken by a group of men led by Yoruerth ap Wronow [8] . They had destroyed her house, taken her chattels worth twenty marks, and had forced Alice and her servants to flee. Alice was too frightened to return to her manor for fear of their menacing behaviour and appealed to the King from the court of the Priory of Goldecliffe for recompense.

King John 1189-1216
Isabella Le Blanche married
Sir Richard FitzYva
Richard FitzYva died 1281
Isabella FitzYva
died 4 April 1313
Sir Robert Helegan married
Maud Carminow
Sir William Helegan married
Margaret Dunstanville
Sir Belym Helegan
died 1312
Richard Helegan
died 1326
Isabella Helegan
married Sir John Petyt

The Helligan Connection

          John Petyt’s wife Isabel was the daughter and co-heir of Richard Helegan and Margaret, daughter of Roger Prideaux [9] . Richard Helegan was the son of Sir Belemus Hellegan and Isabel FitzYva [10] . This Isabel was the daughter of Richard FitzIve who died in 1281. This Richard FitzYva was the son of Sir Richard FitzYva and Isabella le Blanche daughter of King John, and sister to King Henry III [11] . King John did have a daughter Isabel, but she apparently married Frederick II (Hohenstaufen), Emperor of Germany [12] . It is possible that John had an illegitimate daughter named Isabel. I have found a reference to an illegitimate daughter named Isabel le Blanche, but her existence is doubtful [13] . However, there is another illegitimate son of King John, named Eudo, or Ivo Fitzroy, who was given lands in Cornwall and married an heiress. As FitzYva would mean ‘son of Yva’ or Ivo it is highly probable that it is the FitzYva line which is descended from King John. If this were so, then John Petit would be a relation by marriage to Henry III, son of King John. One of King John’s sons, Richard, was the Earl of Cornwall, and Emperor of Germany 1254-72. Richard’s son Edmund was also Earl of Cornwall in the 1270s. Both these Earls of Cornwall owned extensive estates outside the County of Cornwall, including the honour of Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Of King Johns daughters, one Joan, married King Alexander II of Scotland, and another, Eleanor, married firstly William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, and secondly Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. If John Petit did marry a great-great-grand-daughter or son, of King John, this was respected company. It is possible that the Petit fortunes were increased by such distant family links to the Earls of Cornwall and indeed the royal family.

            It is interesting to note that Isabel Helligan’s great-great-grandfather William Helegan had married a Maud Carminow, daughter of Roger Carminow [14] .  This was probably the Roger Carminow who was flourishing in the mid thirteenth century.



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[1] For the following information on the Rithers see Peerage vol. XI pp.8-11.

[2] See Peerage, Vol.VIII pp.248-253.

[3] See the Patent Rolls.

[4] For the following see Yorkshire Lay Subsidy, ed. William Brown, 1894 Yorkshire Archaeological Society Vol. XVI, p.140-51,144-45.

[5] Yorkshire Inquisitions p.89-90, 102-103.

[6] Patent Rolls 1322.

[7] Inquisitions 3 May 1317.

[8] See Records of the Parliament Holden at Westminster 1305, ed. F.W Maitland, 1893, p. 115-117.

[9] See Visitation of Cornwall p.276-278. The evidence given is College of Arms F I Fo.210 and ‘herald. & Geneal’ pt 39 p. 229 and Harl. 4031 fo.84.Margaret Helegan, nee Prideaux died in 1302. Richard Helegan died 1326.

[10] For the following see the Pedigree in Lake. See also Visitation of Cornwall pp. 276-278.Sir Belym or Belemus Helegan died in 1312. Isabel died in 4 April 1313.

[11] See Visitation of Cornwall, Sir Richard FitzIva died in 1207.

[12] Barlow ‘Feudal Britain, p.419.

[13] See The Royal bastards of Medieval England, by Chris Given-Wilson and Alice Curteis, Routledge, 1984, p. 127.

[14] Isabel Helegans father Richard Helegan died in 1326. His father Sir Belym died in 1312. Sir Belemus was the son of William Hellegan, who died in 1286. He married Margery Dunstanville, daughter of Sir William Dunstanville, Lord of Trehidy. Margery died in 1285. Sir William Helegans father Sir Robert Helegan died in 1272.   He was married Maud Carminow, daughter of Roger Carminow and sister of Gervaise Carminow. Maude Carminow died in 1276. See Pedigree.


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