Sale to the Bryan family

Sutton Poyntz was owned by the Poyntz family from before 1212 until the death of Sir Nicholas Poyntz in 1311. In 1315, the manor was granted to Sir Nicholas's widow Maud as dowry on her re-marriage, to Sir Roger de Chaundos, a Hertfordshire land-owner. Sutton Poyntz was then owned by Roger & Maud Chaundos, until Maud's death in 1361.

Genealogy of Chandos and Bryan, showing relationship to Poyntz and Newburgh

In 1361, the ownership of Sutton Poyntz returned to the Poyntz family, to the grandson of Sir Nicholas, another Nicholas. He, however, took immediate steps to sell it. There is a sequence of Deeds, dated 1361 [17][18] and 1366 [19], which deal with the sale of Sutton Poyntz to Sir Guy de Bryan (Lord Bryan). Lord Bryan was an extremely influential person who held a number of important posts including Admiral of the Western Fleet, and was clearly a personal friend of the King. He was from a family that originated in Devon (Tor Bryan), but held other land (such as Hazelbury Bryan) in Dorset.


Alice Bryan and her daughters
Lady Alice de Bryan -
brass at Acton Church
(thanks to

Lord Bryan died in 1390 [20]. Two of his sons, Guy the younger and Philip, had pre-deceased him [21][22]; a third son, William [23], survived him but seems to have been estranged from his father and did not inherit Sir Guy's properties. Lord Bryan also had at least two daughters (one of whom married the grandson of Sir Roger and Maud de Chaundos), two of whom died childless. Sir Guy's extensive properties therefore passed to his only grandchildren, Philippa and Elizabeth, daughters of Guy the younger. Philippa and Elizabeth were both children, so the properties were effectively taken over by their mother, Alice [24]Alice de Bures, who was born at Bures in Suffolk, was an heiress in her own right, and became an extremely wealthy woman [25]. Very unusually for the time, she never remarried after the death of her first husband, although she lived on for a very long time, dying in 1435 [26].

At her death, Alice was shown as the owner of Sutton Poyntz [25]; in 1385/6 [27], Lord Bryan had vested the manor in himself and Alice, with remainder to the descendants of Alice and Guy the younger. Thus on Lord Bryan's death in 1390, Sutton Poyntz became Alice's personal property rather than going to her children as soon as they were of age.

Alice's older daughter, Philippa, married twice but died in 1406 [28] without having had any children. All the estates then went to the other daughter Elizabeth. An order in the Fine Rolls for 1435 [29] concerns the transfer of Sutton Poyntz from Alice, who had just died, to her daughter Elizabeth. For a time, this is the last definite record we have found of Sutton Poyntz, so the next few steps are currently conjectures.

Elizabeth Bryan and her family

At this point, as a result of the death of her older sister Philippa and of her mother Alice, Elizabeth owned all of the estates that had belonged to her grandfather Lord Bryan, and also the estates (mainly in Suffolk and Essex) belonging to her mother.

Elizabeth had married Sir Robert Lovell of Rampisham, the second son of John Lovell, 5th lord Lovell of Titchmarsh [see Victoria County History for Titchmarsh in Northamptonshire]. They had one daughter, Maud. Elizabeth died in 1437 [30], just two years after her mother. Unfortunately, the records [31] do not include an inquisition post mortem report on any lands belonging to Elizabeth in Dorset, so although we know she inherited Sutton Poyntz in 1435, there is no similar record in 1437.

Later, the Earldom of Arundel was inherited by the Howard family, Dukes of Norfolk, who took the family name FitzAlan-Howard. A younger son of the 5th Duke of Norfolk owned Sutton Poyntz.

Maud, the daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Lovell, married twice. Recent sources disagree about which marriage came first (and some even omit her marriage to Richard Stafford), but we are reasonably sure that Maud's first marriage was to a Wiltshire landowner called Sir Richard Stafford, son of Sir Humphrey Stafford of Hooke in Dorset. They had one daughter, Amicia. The other marriage was to John FitzAlan, 14th earl of Arundel. John's father, also John, had inherited the earldom in 1415 from a distant cousin, and had died in 1421. Maud had one son by John FitzAlan, Humphrey, who became the 15th earl in 1435 at the age of 6, on the death of his father.

Maud died in 1436 [32]. Her son Humphrey died at the age of 9 in 1438 [33], after which his uncle became the 16th earl of Arundel.


Earl of Ormond

Humphrey's half sister Amicia now became the sole heir to the de Bryan and de Bures estates. Amicia, the great-granddaughter of Alice de Bures, was now the only living descendant of Lord Bryan, who had bought Sutton Poyntz. At this point, in 1438, Amicia had lost her half-brother, her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother, all within the space of three years. Some sort of record (not the sort one wants to match)!

We can confidently infer that Amicia was under age when she inherited the family estates, but we have not yet found any record of who was appointed as her guardian. At some point (date not known), Amicia married James Butler, earl of Wilts, who later became the 5th earl of Ormond.

The next record we have of Sutton Poyntz, which clearly shows that Sutton Poyntz was now owned by James and Amicia Butler, was a rather curious one. In 1447, a court arbitrated [34] on a dispute over the ownership of Sutton Poyntz, between James and Amicia Butler, on the one hand, and John Newburgh on the other. This record is lodged in the Dorset History Centre. The result of the arbitration was that Sutton was awarded to James and Amicia and to "the heirs of their body" (i.e. any direct descendants of Amicia and/or of James), with remainder, should both James and Amicia die without children, to John Newburgh. Subsequent court records [35] document the formal enshrinement of this agreement.

Amicia died in 1456 [36]. James, the earl of Ormonde, was executed in 1461 after the Battle of Towton, in which he fought on the losing side. They had no children; therefore, under the agreement reached in 1447, the manor of Sutton Poyntz passed to John Newburgh.

What was John Newburgh's claim to Sutton Poyntz? Contemporary documents do not show, and we have not been able to find any relationship between the Newburgh's and the Chaundos's or Bryan's. Two other documents may be relevant. One, dated 1409 [37], seems to show that the families of the two last Poyntz daughters were questioning Alice de Bryen's right to Sutton Poyntz, but they agreed to leave Alice as owner for her lifetime. A second, dated 1428 [38], refers back to a much earlier (1330) Poyntz family deed which granted the manor effectively to the heirs of the last Nicholas Poyntz, and challenges the then occupants of the manor to show why John Newburgh (as Nicholas Poyntz's heir) should not be the rightful owner. But we cannot see any reason why the later sale of Sutton Poyntz to Lord Bryan should not have extinguished any rights contained in that 1330 deed. At the moment, we would greatly welcome any suggestions of what the Newburgh claim might have been.


1. Towards the end of the life of Guy Bryan the older, he laid two charges against his only remaining son, William Bryan. The charges were: (a) that William had caused the terms of leases of some of Guy's property to be changed, against Guy's wishes, so that, in the absence of any male-line grandchildren of Guy's, the properties would be inherited by William's heirs, rather than by Guy's heirs; and (b) that William had stolen various documents relating to properties owned by Guy. The effect of the changes to the leases was subtle, but could have led to the property passing to William's daughters, if he had any, rather than the two daughters of Guy's oldest son, Guy the younger, and his wife Alice. In practice, we do not believe William had any children, so it would not have mattered; but the charges led to William being arrested, and seems to have led to him being cut out of Guy's inheritance.

2. There is a beautiful church brass showing Lady Alice de Bryan at All Saints Church, Acton, in Suffolk. From documentary evidence contained in our list of sources, Alice de Bryan was born Alice de Bures, daughter of Sir Robert de Bures (c1334-1361). Sir Robert de Bures's parents were Sir Andrew de Bures (died 1360) and Alice de Raydon. Probably, Sir Andrew's father was another Sir Robert de Bures, the subject of another brass in Acton Church, said to be the third oldest brass in the country.

Alice's mother was Joan (probably born Joan de Sutton), who subsequently married Sir Richard Waldegrave M.P., Speaker of the House of Commons. Sir Richard's will speaks of Alice de Bryan as his 'sister', although actually she was his step-daughter. Sir Richard was evidently a close confidant and colleague to Lord Bryan, leading to Alice's marriage to Lord Bryan's oldest son Guy.

3. When James Butler, Earl of Ormond, was executed and attanted (losing his lands), several families made claims to be heirs to the Bryan family estates (see also a history of Kingsdon in Somerset for more information). One of these families was the Percy family, Dukes of Northumberland, who are still patrons of Hazelbury Bryan church. His, and various other claimants, based their claim on descent from Elizabeth Bryan, who they believed was a daughter of Lord Bryan; this belief was clearly accepted as the Duke of Northumberland was recognised as the chief heir. However, some more modern genealogies, starting with Cockayne's Complete Peerage, have Elizabeth as a sister to Lord Bryan rather than a daughter, which (if true) would have left most of the claimants with no claim whatever to much of the land.