Sir Richard Whittington and Torrington


George M. Doe

Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 1:5, (1900) pp.143-144. [See also vol.1, p.189.]

Prepared by Michael Steer

The Fitzwarrens were related to the Zouche family who were Lords of the Manor of Black Torrington, and patrons of the clergy living there. Alice Fitzwarren, who married Richard Whittington (of pantomine fame), was a later descendant of the family. The Note’s author queries whether Whittington’s connection with Torrington, as asserted by Lysons, should rather refer to Black Torrington. The extract, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from  the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

111. SIR RICHARD WHITTINGTON AND TORRINGTON. The late Rev. Samuel Lysons, in a little pamphlet entitled "The Model Merchant of the Middle Ages," says that next to our establishing the truth of our biographies, an additional interest is given to them where we can connect the subject of the history with ourselves, our own country, our own county, our own town, or our own village, and the pamphlet in question has afforded me with a very good illustration of the aptness of the remark, for from a note on page 73, I discovered that the sub- ject of the paper the famous Sir Richard Whittington was, through his wife, connected with Torrington.
The note in question states that Sir Hugh Fitzwarren or Yvon Fitzwarren was of Torrington, in Devonshire, and from the will, and by the ordinances of his alms houses, the author points out we are informed, that his wife's name was Alice Fitzwarren, daughter to Sir Ivo Fitzwarren, and Dame Maude, or Matilda, his wife. He then refers in his note to the "Calendarium Inquisitionum Post Mortem" Vol. Ill, pp. 107-141, from which I have copied the entries in extenso:

 "Toryton quattuor messuag} 
 "due came' terr et 20 acre prati}DEVON
 40 acre bosci et 100s redditus.} 
Page 141."120 MATILDA UXOR IVONIS FITZWARYN (breve tantum).  
 "Toryton quattuor messuag}DEVON
 due caruc' terr et 20 acre prati.} 

The question then arose in my mind as to which Torrington was referred to, for there are no less than three in North Devon, viz. : Great Torrington, Little Torrington, and Black Torrington, but after some search I think I can claim for Great Torrington some connection with Ivo Fitzwarren, the father of Whittington's wife.

The family seat of the Fitzwarrens was undoubtedly Totley, Toteley or Totleigh, in Black Torrington, as is mentioned by Risdon (p. 254, Ed. 1811) ; Prince (p. 287, Ed. 1810) ; and Westcote (p. 318, Ed. 1845).

Strange to say in the "Note Book of Tristram Risdon" edited by Messrs. Jas. Dallas and H. G. Porter (1897, PP- 39> 316), we find that Fulk Fitzwarren temp. Edward III. and Richard II., who preceded Ivo Fitzwarren, held "manerium de Whitington in comitatu Salopie." In the same book the arms of Fitz Warren, of Toteley, are given as follows : "Gules, bezanty, a canton argent (p. 21).

In the Register of Stafford (Episcopal Registers, Exon. Hingeston- Randolph, p. 103), it is recorded that Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn, Knt., was patron of the R(ectory or Chapel) of St. James, in the Castle of "Chipyngtoryton," so that though the Fitzwarrens evidently had their residence at Totley, in Black Torrington, Sir Ivo Fitzwarren was connected with Great - or Chepyng - Torrington.

In conclusion I may state that Totley is now a farm house in the Parish of Black Torrington.                 GEORGE M. DOE.