William Longsword: His Life in Medieval Age and His American Descendants

He was the illegitimate son of Henry II and Ida de Tony and lived from about 1167 to 1226. This post has a complete list of the American gateway ancestors that descend from him.

He is not as well known as other servants and descendants of royalty, like William Marshal, the greatest knight. But William Longespée was the half-brother to three kings and served two of them. He also served his half-nephew Henry III.

Marshall Fam Tree and Longsword

Above, William Marshall is considered the “Greatest Knight.” William Longespee or Longsword is related to him by marriage and served next to him. (Source: Asbridge)


Above, William Longespee or Longsword was in Richard I’s coronation ceremony. William was Richard I’s illegitimate half-brother. (Source: Ramsay)

Longsword Bovines Charge

Above, William was in the Battle of Bovines. (Source: Ramsay)


Source: Wikipedia


  1. William Longsword was born around 1167, illegitimate son of Henry II Plantagenet and his mistress Ida. Douglas Richardson in Plantagenet Ancestry says that he was therefore the half-brother of three kings: Young Henry, the joint-king with Henry II; Richard I; and John. Henry II was their father.
  2. The French version of his name is Longespée. Long = Long, and Espée = Épée = sword.
  3. William was about the same age as King John and was a reputed military commander; he was a close friend to John and spent many hours at the gaming table with him.
  4. William Longsword was also related to William Marshall, “the greatest knight.” Walter of Salisbury produced daughter Sybil, and she married John Marshall. They had William Marshall.
  5. Walter of Salisbury had Patrick (d. 1168), and Patrick had William, Earl of Salisbury. This earl had Ela the heiress, and she married William Longsword.
  6. Using arrows as links in a chain from one generation to the next, it works out like this: Walter of Salisbury → Patrick Earl of Salisbury (d. 1168) → William Earl of Salisbury (d. 1196) → Ela the heiress m. William Longsword.
  7. Walter → Sybil m. John Marshall → William Marshall.
  8. As the name implies, William Longsword was a distinguished knight who had fought in Normandy through the 1190s alongside King Richard Lionheart. He was a leading military commander. He won numerous knightly tournaments.
  9. In 1191 he was granted the manor of Kirton, Lincolnshire by his brother King Richard I.
  10. The William Earl of Salisbury died in 1196, while Longsword was betrothed to Ela, then six years old and the heiress.
  11. Before Sep 1197 he married Ela. She was born around 1191 (they consummated marriage much later).
  12. Longsword was titled Earl of Salisbury and duly assumed control of the prestigious Wiltshire lordship.
  13. During King John’s reign Longsword served alongside Marshall. His career paralleled Marshall’s.
  14. He participated in the progress at Richard’s coronation and anointing on September 3, 1189. Members of the procession: the lesser clergy and the Holy Water, Cross, Tapers and Thurible; the abbots and bishops;
  15. William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury was on the right (from the front view), carrying the Rod Virga; Robert of Beaumont III, Early of Leicester carried the Sword of State.
  16. In the center was John, Earl of Mortain and Gloucester, carrying the Sword of State “curtana.” On the left was the greatest knight, William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, carrying the Scepter. David Earl of Huntingdon carried another Sword of State.
  17. Six barons carried the chequer board with regalia and robes.
  18. William of Mandeville Earl of Essex and Earl of Aumale had the honor of carrying the crown.
  19. Reginald bishop of Bath; Richard was in the center under a canopy of silk supported by lances by four barons of the Cinque Ports; and on the left was Hugh bishop of Durham.
  20. In 1199 he participated in his brother King John’s coronation.
  21. In 1200 he witnessed William the Lion, King of Scotland’s homage to King John at Lincoln.
  22. In 1202 Longsword and William Marshall defended the royal castle of Arques in eastern Normandy. In June they expend a lot of money, 1,600 Angevin pounds, drawn from the crown treasury, building up its fortifications and strengthening its garrison.
  23. When the French King Philip Augustus marched on the castle in July, Marshall and Longsword pull back westward. They launch skirmishing attacks on French forces invading Arques. Sound strategy, but the King Philip’s forces are too numerous to be defeated.
  24. In 1204 he escorted Llywellyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, to the king.
  25. Then King John of England captured the Duke of Brittany, Arthur, son of Geoffrey, son of Henry II (Henry II’s grandson) and other nobles. Marshall and Longsword withdrew to Rouen, France, and enjoyed a lavish feast in celebration. Much expensive wine flowed.
  26. Arthur disappeared; he was probably killed, maybe by King John in a drunken rage. He was never heard of again. King John’s reign is deteriorating.
  27. In 1203 nobles were defecting to the Capetian side (Capet is the family name of France’s kings). But a defense of John’s meager realm in France was mounted. Longsword was ordered to hold the western frontier against the Bretons. But the French prevailed, and Normandy was lost.
  28. In 1205 King John prepares for an invasion of France. One fleet would beach on the Norman coast and reconquer the duchy from the west, and another fleet land at Poitou. William Longsword commanded the latter force.
  29. He was in the escort of King William the Lion, King of Scotland, to meet King John at York, in 1206.
  30. Over a dispute about appointing the archbishop of Canterbury. Pope Innocent III preferred Stephen Langton, but John was suspicious of him. In March 1208 England was placed under papal interdict. Church bells remained silent; no burials on consecrated grounds; no Sunday Mass.
  31. He led an embassy to the prelates and princes of Germany on behalf of the King’s nephew Otto, King of the Romans, in 1209.
  32. In 1212 Ela initiated a suit in the king’s court against Ela kinsman, Henry de Bohun, for the barony of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, Henry chief fief. The king took control of the honor.
  33. The first great naval victory for England took place on May 30, 1213. William Longsword commanded five hundred ships that crossed the channel and raided the Norman coast. The Earl of Salisbury reached the Flanders coast and found a French fleet of about 1700 ships being fitted out with supplies and purposed to invade England, though the fleet was poorly guarded. Salisbury and his men destroyed the fleet after taking valuables.
  34. In early spring of 1213, Pope Innocent authorized Captian Philip Augustus to invade England and depose John. William Longsword and William Marshall were called to defend the realm. They marshaled a large army.
  35. However, after a meeting with the papal legate on May 15 near Dover, peace was restored. Stephen Langton was appointed archbishop. King Philip was angry because he had spent 60,000 marks (a mark was two-thirds of a pound) preparing for war. John swore his allegiance to Innocent as his liege-lord and promised to send 1,000 marks annually. The interdict was lifted.
  36. In 1214, he was marshal of the King of England and commanded forces that recovered nearly all of Flanders for the Count.
  37. In late 1213 and early 1214, John planned to invade France to reclaim his territory he had lost to King Philip. William Longsword was to lead the attack from the north, through Normandy. He mustered the ranks of England’s northern allied. The King invaded Aquitaine. William Marshall remained behind to protect against a Welsh counterattack.
  38. On July 27, a pitched battle took place at Bouvine, just south of Lille in northeastern France. At first John’s armies succeeded. Near Bouvines the English rallied around the Earl of Salisbury’s blue banners with yellow lions rampant on them.
  39. From the left the Earl of Salisbury led the cavalry charge, but instead of going straight ahead, he swung to the right to attack the count of Dreux’s position.
  40. However, the Capetians gained the upper hand. Longsword was taken captive, as were the Counts of Boulogne and Flanders (two of England’s established trading partners).
  41. In October John returned to England broken and broke.
  42. Eventually William Longsword was ransomed.
  43. The barons pushed for concessions from the king. The royal coffers were empty and he had been humiliated in France, with no victories to boast of. But William Marshall and the king’s half-brother, William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, remained loyal to their king.
  44. John was so weak and the barons so rebellious they issued the Great Charter or Magna Carta, but John wouldn’t sign it at first.
  45. Three weeks into May, and Longsword made a dash for London, on behalf of the king, while the rebel barons did too, but they got there first. The rich city favored the rebels. Guards loyal to the rebels manned the gates, while the rebels ordered clerks to issue invitations to all earls, barons and knights loyal to John to join the rebels.
  46. On 15 June 1215, no one signed the first version of the Magna Carta, but it was affixed with King John’s great seal. William Marshall was given a prominent position in the text, along with William Longsword.
  47. Further, John was so weak by corruption and bad dealings with his subjects that barons encouraged the King of France Philip’s son Prince Louis to invade England and take the crown. Prince Louis landed in Kent on May 22, 1216. Instead of meeting him in a battle, John retreated. He wasn’t sure his mercenaries would support him, since many of them were French.
  48. So which side would Longsword support? The Capetians (the French) or John the corrupt? Longsword deserted John on pragmatic grounds. He calculated that John’s days were done. Also, one chronicler says that during Longsword’s captivity after the Battle of Bouvine, John seduced Longsword’s wife, Ela of Salisbury. No confirmation. William Marshall’s son, William II or the younger,, also defected.
  49. John gathered forces to confront Prince Louis, but John caught a fever and died on October 18, 1216. So now whom would Longsword support? The king’s son Henry? Most considered the king’s cause to be hopeless. William Marshall still supported the king’s son. Now what about Longsword?
  50. A coronation was hurriedly arranged on October 28, 1216: the nine-year-old is now King Henry III.
  51. Marshall and the papal legate (a kind of ambassador) updated the Magna Carta in Henry III’s name on November 12, 1216, to entice the rebellious nobles to return to the royalist side—Henry III’s cause. Marshall was following the course of reconciliation, not revenge.
  52. William Longsword returned to the royalist side, his desertion over. Wise move. It’s better to fight for King and country than foreign invaders.
  53. Prince Louis divided his army and laid siege to the town Lincoln. This was Marshall’s chance to even the sides, since Louis outnumbered the English and their allies.
  54. On May 20, 1217, the battle was joined. William Marshall led the charge on Louis’s troops. Longsword was with him.
  55. Longsword was wounded. During the charge, a baron, one of King John’s former knights who now sided with Louis, struck Longsword with a “savage” lance-blow to his body, but his armor protected him. William Marshall rode up and struck the baron between the shoulders and almost knocked him to the ground. The baron crawled away to a house and hid out in an upper room. William Longsword was in the thick of the victory.
  56. The royalist side routed the rebel barons. Prince Louis abandoned his plan to take the English crown. The Battle of Lincoln was yet another turning point in English history.
  57. In 1217 he was granted the manor of Aldbourne, Wiltshire, by the king.
  58. In 1222 he gave the manor of Heythrop, Gloucester to mons and brethren of the Carthusian order and assigned part of the revenue to build the monastery.
  59. Henry III reign was established.
  60. In 1223, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, Henry III’s younger brother, led an expedition to relieve Gascony, but the Earl of Salisbury led him. Salisbury found that he couldn’t take Poitous in a single campaign, but he did secure Gascony.
  61. On February 16 and 16, 1225, orders were sent out to every county sheriff to observe the charters and resurvey the royal forests and raise taxes.
  62. On 7 Mar 1225/6 he died at Salisbury Castle, Wiltshire and was buried in Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire.

William m. Ela of Salisbury and had these  children.

  1. William Longespee m. Idoine de Camville
  2. Stephen Longespee m. Emeline de Ridelisford
  3. Richard Longespee
  4. Nicholas Longespee by mistress he had these children:
  5. Ida Longespee m. (1) Ralph de Somery and (2) William de Beauchamp
  6. Mary Longespee m. unknown
  7. Isabel Longespee m. William de Vescy
  8. Ela Longespee m. (1) Thomas Newburgh of Warwick and (2) Philip Basset
  9. Ida Longespee m. Walter Fitzwalter

These five lists of gateway ancestors overlap, but they prove what a key figure William Longespee is for them and their descendants.

I. William → Stephen

These gateway ancestors are descendants of Stephen:

  1. Robert Abell
  2. Barbara Aubrey
  3. John Barclay
  4. John Baynard
  5. Dorothy Beresford
  6. John Bevan
  7. Essex Beville
  8. William Bladen
  9. Elizabeth Bosvile
  10. Thomas Bressy
  11. Obadiah Bruen
  12. Elizabeth, Martha, and Peter Bulkley
  13. Stephen Bull
  14. Charles Calvert
  15. Leger Codd
  16. Humphrey Davie
  17. Edward Digges
  18. Robert Drake
  19. Rowland Ellis
  20. Agatha, Alice, Eleanor, Jane, and Martha Eltonhead
  21. John Fenwick
  22. Henry Fleete
  23. Thomas Gerard
  24. Muriel Gurdon
  25. Mary Gye
  26. Elizabeth and John Harleston
  27. Warham Horsmanden
  28. Patrick Houston
  29. Anne Humphrey
  30. Olive Ingolsby
  31. Mary Launce
  32. Nathaniel Littleton
  33. Thomas Lloyd
  34. Gabriel, Roger, and Sarah Ludlow
  35. Thomas Lunsford
  36. Oliver Manwaring
  37. John and Margaret Nelson
  38. Philip and Thomas Nelson
  39. Thomas Owsley
  40. John Oxenbridge
  41. Herbert Pelham
  42. William and Elizabeth Pole
  43. Henry and William Randolph
  44. George Reade
  45. Thomas Rudyard
  46. Elizabeth St. John
  47. Katherine St. Leger
  48. Richard Saltonstall
  49. Mary Johanna Somerset
  50. John Stockman
  51. Rose Stoughton
  52. James Taylor
  53. Samuel and William Torrey
  54. John and Lawrence Washington
  55. Olive Welby
  56. John West
  57. Hawte Wyatt
  58. Amy Wyllys

II. William → Nicholas →

These gateway ancestors descend from Nicholas:

  1. Robert Abell
  2. Barbara Aubrey
  3. John Barclay
  4. John Baynard
  5. Dorothy Beresford
  6. John Bevan
  7. Essex Beville
  8. William Bladen
  9. Elizabeth Bosvile
  10. Thomas Bressy
  11. Obadiah Bruen
  12. Elizabeth, Martha, and Peter Bulkley
  13. Stephen Bull, Charles Calvert, St. Ledger Codd,
  14. Humphrey Davie
  15. Edward Digges
  16. Robert Drake
  17. Rowland Ellis
  18. Agatha, Alice, and Eleanor, Jane, Martha Eltonhead
  19. John Fenwick
  20. Henry Fleete
  21. Thomas Gerard
  22. Muriel Gurdon
  23. Mary Gye
  24. Elizabeth and John Harleston
  25. Warham Horsmansden
  26. Patrick Houston
  27. Anne Humphrey
  28. Olive Ingolsby
  29. Mary Launce
  30. Nathaniel Littleton
  31. Thomas Lloyd
  32. Gabriel, Roger, and Sarah Ludlow
  33. Thomas Lunsford
  34. Olivier Manwaring
  35. John and Margaret Nelson
  36. Philip and Thomas Nelson
  37. Thomas Owsley
  38. John Oxenbridge
  39. Robert Pelham
  40. William and Elizabeth Pole
  41. Henry and William Randolph
  42. George Reade
  43. Thomas Rudyard
  44. Elizabeth St. John
  45. Katherine St. Leger
  46. Richard Saltonstall
  47. Mary Johanna Somerset
  48. John Stockman
  49. Rose Stoughton
  50. James Taylor
  51. Samuel and William Torrey
  52. John and Lawrence Washington
  53. Olive Welby
  54. John West
  55. Hawte Wyatt
  56. Amy Wyllys

III. William → Ida m. (1) Ralph de Somery and (2) William de Beauchamp

These gateway ancestors descend from Ida:

  1. Robert Abell
  2. Dannett Abney
  3. Samuel Argall
  4. William Asfordby
  5. Walter Aston
  6. Barbara Aubrey
  7. Charles Barham
  8. Audrey Barlow
  9. Marmaduke Beckwith
  10. Dorothy Beresford
  11. John Bevan
  12. Essex Beville
  13. Joseph Bickley
  14. William Bladen
  15. George and Nehemiah Blakiston
  16. Joseph Bolles
  17. Thomas Booth
  18. Elizabeth Bosvile
  19. George, Giles and Robert Brent
  20. Edward Bromfield
  21. Nathaniel Browne
  22. Stephen Bull
  23. Nathaniel Burrough
  24. Elizabeth, John, and Thomas Butler
  25. Charles and Leonard Calvert
  26. Edward Carleton
  27. Kenelm Cheseldine
  28. Grace Chetwode
  29. Jeremy Clarke
  30. William Clopton (our direct line)
  31. Leger Codd
  32. Henry Corbin
  33. James Cudworth
  34. Francis Dade
  35. Humphrey Davie
  36. Frances, Jane, and Katherine Deighton
  37. Anne Derebaugh
  38. Edward Digges
  39. George Elkington
  40. John Fenwick
  41. Henry Filmer
  42. Henry Fleete
  43. Edward Foliot
  44. William Goddard
  45. Muriel Gurdon
  46. Katherine Hamby
  47. Warham Horsmanden
  48. Anne Humphrey
  49. Edmund Jennings
  50. Edmund, Edward, Richard, and Matthew Kemp
  51. Mary Launce
  52. Hannah, Samuel, and Sarah Levis
  53. Thomas Ligon
  54. Nathaniel Littleton
  55. Thomas Lloyd
  56. Anne Lovelace
  57. Henry, Jane, Nicholas, and Vincent Lowe
  58. Percival Lowell
  59. Gabriel, Roger, and Sarah Ludlow
  60. Thomas Lunsford
  61. Anne, Elizabeth and John Mansfield
  62. Anne and Katherine Marbury
  63. Elizabeth Marshall
  64. Anne Mauleverer
  65. Richard More
  66. Joseph and Mary Need
  67. John and Margaret Nelson
  68. Philip and Thomas Nelson
  69. Thomas Owsley
  70. John Oxenbridge
  71. Herbert Pelham
  72. Henry and William Randolph
  73. George Reade
  74. Elizabeth St. John
  75. Katherine St. Leger
  76. Richard Saltonstall
  77. Diana and Grey Skipwith
  78. Mary Johanna Somerset
  79. John Stockman
  80. Rose Stoughton
  81. Samuel and William Torrey
  82. Margaret Touteville
  83. Jemima Waldegrave
  84. Olive Wleby
  85. John West
  86. Hawte Wyatt
  87. Amy Wyllys

IV. William → Ida

These gateway ancestors descend from Ida:

  1. Robert Abell
  2. Dannett Abney
  3. Elizabeth Alsop
  4. William Asfordby
  5. Walter Aston
  6. Christopher Batt
  7. Henry, Thomas, and William Batte
  8. Essex Beville
  9. William Bladen
  10. George and Nehemiah Blakiston
  11. Thomas Booth
  12. Elizabeth Bosvile
  13. Mary Bourchier
  14. George and Robert Brent
  15. Thomas Bressey
  16. Edward Bromfield
  17. Nathaniel Browne
  18. Obadiah Bruen
  19. Stephen Bull
  20. Elizabeth, John and Thomas Butler
  21. Charles Calvert
  22. Edward Carleton
  23. Kenelm Cheseldine
  24. Grace Chetwode
  25. Jeremy Clarke
  26. Matthew Clarkson
  27. Leger Codd
  28. Henry Corbin
  29. Francis Dade
  30. Humphrey Davie
  31. Frances, Jane, and Katherine Deighton
  32. Edward Digges
  33. Thomas Dudley
  34. William Farrer
  35. John Fenwick
  36. John Fisher
  37. Muriel Gurdon
  38. Katherine Hamby
  39. Elizabeth and John Harleston
  40. Warham Horsmanden
  41. Anne Humphrey
  42. Mary Launce
  43. Hannah, Samuel and Sarah Levis
  44. Nathaniel Littleton
  45. Henry, Jane, and Nicholas Lowe
  46. Symon Lynde
  47. Agnes Mackworth
  48. Roger and Thomas Mallory
  49. Anne, Elizabeth, and John Mansfield
  50. Anne and Katherine Marbury
  51. Anne Mauleverer
  52. Richard More
  53. Joseph and Mary Need
  54. John and Margaret Nelson
  55. Philip and Thomas Nelson
  56. Ellen Newton
  57. Thomas Owsley
  58. John Oxenbridge
  59. Herbert Pelham
  60. Robert Peyton
  61. George Reade
  62. Thomas Rudyard
  63. Katherine St. Leger
  64. Richard Saltonstall
  65. William Skepper
  66. Diana and Grey Skipwith
  67. Mary Johanna Somerset
  68. John Stratton
  69. James Taylor
  70. Samuel and William Torrey
  71. Margaret Touteville
  72. Olive Welby
  73. John West
  74. Thomas Yale

V. William → William → Ela

These gateway ancestors descend from William’s granddaughter Ela:

  1. Robert Abell
  2. Dannett Abney
  3. Elizaberth Alsop
  4. William Asfordby
  5. Barbara Aubrey
  6. Charles Barnes
  7. Dorothy Beresford
  8. Richard and William Bernard
  9. John Bevan
  10. William Bladen
  11. George and Nehemiah Blakiston
  12. Thomas Booth
  13. Elizabeth Bosvile
  14. George, Giles, and Robert Brent
  15. Thomas Bressey
  16. Nathaniel Browne
  17. Charles Calvert
  18. Edward Carleton
  19. Grace Chetwode
  20. Leger Codd
  21. James Cudworth
  22. Francis Dade
  23. Humphrey Davie
  24. Frances, Jane, and Katherine Deighton
  25. Edward Digges
  26. Robert Drake
  27. Thomas Dudley
  28. William Farrer
  29. John Fenwick
  30. Henry Fleete
  31. Edward Foliot
  32. Muriel Gurdon
  33. Elizabeth and John Harleston
  34. Edmund Hawes
  35. Warham Horsmandem
  36. Mary Launce
  37. Hannah, Samuel, and Sarah Levis
  38. Thomas Ligon
  39. Nathaniel Littleton
  40. Thomas Lloyd
  41. Henry, Jane, and Nicholas Lowe
  42. Percival Lowell
  43. Thomas Lunsford
  44. Agnes Mackworth
  45. Anne, Elizabeth and John Mansfield
  46. Anne and Katherine Marbury
  47. Anne Mauleverer
  48. Richard More
  49. Jhn and Margaret Nelson
  50. Philip and Thomas Nelson
  51. Thomas Owsley
  52. Robert Peyton
  53. Henry and William Randolph
  54. George Reade
  55. William Rodney
  56. Thomas Rudyard
  57. Katherine St. Leger
  58. Richard Saltonstall
  59. William Skepper
  60. Mary Johanna Somerset
  61. Samuel and William Torrey
  62. Margaret Toutevile
  63. Olive Welby
  64. Hawte Wyatt
  65. Amy Wyllys

Those five lists prove that the wealthy and the aristocrats stuck together and intermarried over the generations.


Henry II

King John

Edward I

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Royal gateway ancestors of the Northeast

Royal gateway ancestors of the Middle Colonies

Royal gateway ancestors of Virginia

William Clopton and Our Royal Heritage (royal gateway ancestor)


Thomas Asbridge, the Greatest Knight: the Remarkable Life of William Marshall, the Power behind Five English Thrones (New York: Ecco, an Imprint of HarperCollins, 2104).

Dan Jones, the Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England (New York: 2014).

James H. Ramsay, the Angevin Empire or the Three Reigns of Henry II, Richard I, and John (A.D. 1154-1216), (London: Swan Sonnenschein and New York: Macmillan, 1903)

Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd ed.,vol. 2, (privately published, 2011)

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