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Sir William Trussell (d. 1363)
Born: circa 1306
Constable of the Odiham Castle

Died: 20 July 1363 at Shottesbrooke, Berkshire

Sir William Trussell Junior was the second son of Sir William Trussell, of Kibblestone (near Oulton) in Staffordshire and Billesley, Warwickshire, and his wife, Maud, the daughter of Warin Mainwaring. The younger Trussell's biography is difficult to disentangle from that of his father.

William, like many ambitious younger sons, sought to make his fortune in Royal service. However, it was not always easy to know which horse to back during the many Royal squabbles of the era and the both Trussell junior and senior seem to have been particularly unwise in their choice of loyalties. They took up arms for Thomas of Lancaster against King Edward II at the Battle of Boroughbridge on 22nd March 1322. After Lancaster's overthrow, the two fled beyond the seas; but, like his father, William had probably returned by 1326, when he entered the household of Edward, Prince of Wales

It appears to have been the son who had to flee the country for a second time after King Edward II's murder in 1327 and stayed away at least for the first two years that Roger Mortimer remained in power; for the father acted as an ambassador and seems to have retained his escheatorship between the failure of Henry of Lancaster's movement of insurrection, at the end of 1328, and the fall of Mortimer in October 1330.

William Junior was, however, back in England in 1329, acting as an esquire of the Royal household before being promoted to Constable of the Odiham Castle in Hampshire. Soon afterwards, he was appointed to the Royal chamber and, for two years from 1333, served as receiver of that office. 1335 saw the commencement of his military adventures abroad, although his duties with the English army appear to have been largely administrative. He accompanied Edward III first on his big push into Scotland where he appears to have been knighted for his trouble Later, during the Hundred Years' War, he travelled with the Royal entourage to the Low Countries in 1338, and protections were issued in his favour the following year. In the Autumn of 1342, he was campaigning with King Edward in Brittany and, in 1346, he reached the peak of his career, taking part, with his brother, Warin, in the great Crécy campaign and the Siege of Calais where he commanded a company of four knights, nine esquires and eighteen archers.

At home in England, William Trussell had been appointed Admiral of the Fleet, west and north of the Thames, in 1339 and 1343; and he held his post at Odiham Castle for the best part of a quarter of a century. It is no surprise that King Edward III, whom he entertained there several times, called William his "beloved and faithful a servant". In January 1347, he became the custodian of the great Scottish warriors, William De Ramsey and Walter De Halyburton who had been captured by the English at the Battle of Neville's Cross the previous year. Their fellow prisoner, King David Bruce of the Scots was initially sent to the Tower of London, but by early 1355, he too was transferred to Odiham after the collapse of ransom negotiations. The monarch remained under William Trussell's charge for the next three years and lived in comfort, if not luxury, within the castle walls. The two appear to have become good friends, though William was not always in residence. He was often with the King's army in France, for example at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, where he was granted £40 a year for his services to the Black Prince. Trussell did accompany King David to London to address both the English and Scottish Royal Councils concerning his release and also attended King Edward at Ludgershall (Wilts) to discuss the matter. When David was finally set free, he specifically requested that the Constable of Odiham accompany him to the North. It appears that William was a little reluctant to travel so far, for the English King wrote to him insisting that he not only to go to Scotland, but first he was to journey to London and on pilgrimage to Canterbury. The party left for London on 8th September 1357 - stopping the night at William Trussell's manor at Shottesbrooke in Berkshire on the way. Following their pious detour, the journey to Berwick took just eleven days.

William was the step-son and chosen heir of King Edward II's old favourite, Oliver De Bordeaux, and it was through this man that he inherited his Berkshire estates. These were originally centred around the manor of Foliejon in Winkfield, very close to the Royal Court at Windsor. However, the King insisted he swap these for Eaton Hastings in the north of the county in order that he could extend the Great Deer Park. It was in 1335 that William purchased Shottesbrooke from a London Vintner and it is here that he mostly resided, along with his wife, Isabelle (died pre-1348), and two children, John (who predeceased his father) and Margaret, subsequently the wife of Sir Fulk Pembridge of Tong Castle (Shropshire) and her father's eventual heiress. William's nephew and namesake also appears to have moved south in order to gain preferment through his uncle's influence at court. However, he became quite an embarrassment to the family when, in 1347, he helped Sir John Dalton with the abduction of Lady de La Beche from Beaumys Castle in Swallowfield! William returned from Calais to find himself standing guarantor for his nephew's surrender, which, fortunately, occurred soon afterward.

Close Berkshire associates of William included the father and brother of his sister-in-law, both John, Lord St. Philibert, of Bray and Sulham; and Sir John Brocas,  a fellow knight of the Royal household who lived in nearby Clewer. It is not known what they thought of his nephew's tomfoolery, but they must have been considerably impressed when, in 1337, William had founded an ecclesiastical college at Shottesbrooke and built a church there for the attendant warden, five chaplains and two clerks. This survives completely intact to this day and a highly elaborate unmarked double-tomb there is said to be that of William and his first wife, though he did remarry in later life. He also appears to have been a patron of the church at Warfield, possibly in association with his mother's residence at adjoining Foliejon.

William had little connection with the family of his new wife, Ida, the sister and co-heiress of Edward, Lord Boteler of Wem; and it is generally supposed that the union was arranged by the King so that William might inherit a large part of the Boteler estates. In the event, however, Lord Boteler outlived Trussell by some eleven years and the latter never did acquire more than his three manors of Shottesbrooke, Eaton Hastings (both in Berkshire) and Brucebury (in Bedfordshire), despite holding others - like the vast estates of John Philibert's brother-in-law, Edmund Lord St. John of Basing - temporarily in wardship. At the time of his death in 1364, William's annual land income probably didn't exceed £200.


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