A graphic of a blue unicorn.The Family of Kemmis

Edition 3.2 - 1 May 2010

Kemeys of Caldicot

Kemeys of Caldicot

Cladicot or Calecoyd is a parish on the Bristol Channel five miles S.W. from Chepstow; the living is a vicarage valued in the King's book at #6.0s. 7.5 endowed with #200 Royal bounty, now worth #180. a year; for a long time it was in the patronage of the Kemeys family and now is in the gift of Keble College, Oxford. The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, Coxe says "is not unworthy of notice, it consists of a nave, side aisle to the north, with a massive tower in the middle and a chancel. The style of the architecture is Gothic; the nave is separated from the aisle by five pointed arches or clustered piers; the windows are ornamental Gothic and contain several remains of painted glass, principally representing coats of arms." The tower is embattled and contains a clock and six bells. The parish register commences 1716.

In the parish are the ruins of Caldicot Castle, which are thus described by Coxe: "they stand at the extremity of the marshy plains called Caldicot Level ad are situated in the midst of a flat meadow to the N.E. of the village about a mile from the Bristol Channel .... a ridge of land, probably once fortified connects the western side of the castle with the village. The ground on the outside of the moat is quite marshy and appears to have been overflowed, perhaps by the tide, so that the Castle stood upon a peninsula. The marshy plain is traversed by the brook Nedern, which flows from Caerwent and winding round the eastern and southern sides of the Castle falls into the Severn at Cogan Pill. The Castle is surrounded by a moat and its first appearance seems to be of a quadrangle shape, but it is a irregular polygon. The area in its greatest length is 100 yards, it differs in breath, the greatest width is 75 yards .... the wall, the thickness of which varies from 5 to 9 feet, are formed with coarse materials, but the towers are faced with hewn grit-stone, the masonry of which is extremely neat and compact. The Castle seems to have been constructed and repaired at different periods, but on the whole bears a Norman character ... the principal entrance is in the south west, it is a grand arched gateway, which was strengthened with two portcullis and flanked with massive turrets .... at the northern angle is a high tower on a mound of earth encircled with a ditch: this was undoubtedly the keep or citadel and seems to have communicated with all the towers by means of galleries on the battlements; another tower on the south end is almost dilapidated .... between this tower and the gateway was probably the baronial hall .... The Castle appears to have been long in a state of dilapidation for at a Court held in 1613 the jury state, they doe present that there is an old ancient castle in Caldicot and that is ruinous and decayed; that the cause of the decay thereof they cannot present for it was before the memory of the jury and any of them by whom or to what value they know not."

"Caldicote maner" is mentioned in the inquisition post mortem, in 1273, of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Essex and "Caldecote castrum" in that of his son in 1302. The property remained in this family until the death of Henry de Bohun in 1372, when it passed with the earldom of Hereford, with his daughter Eleanor, to her husband Thomas de Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, 6th. son of Edward III., in whose inquisition in 1398 it is mentioned as "Caldecote castra cum membro suc de Neuton"; Eleanor's sister Mary married Henry of Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV. Mention is made of "Caldecote castr' et Neuton cum membris per servic' baronia" in the inquisitions of Johanna and Isabella, daughters of Eleanor and Thomas, Duke of Gloucester and subsequently another of their daughters, Anne, carried the property to her husband Edmund, Earl of Stafford, who did homage for it in 1402. Soon after the accession of Henry V. the possessions of Henry de Bohun were divided, by Act of Parliament, between the King, as heir of his mother Mary, above mentioned and Anne, dowager Countess of Stafford, when Caldicot fell to the Crown. Edward IV. granted it to Wm. Lord Herbert of Raglan, afterwards Earl of Pembroke, on whose death it reverted to the King: Richard III subsequently restored it to Henry, Duke of Buckingham lineally descended from Anne, Countess of Stafford. When, in 1521, the last Duke of Buckingham was beheaded and his possessions forfeited to the Crown, Henry VII., who, according to some had been born at Caldicot Castle, annexed it to the Duchy of Lancaster, since which time it has continued to belong to the Duchy and under it has been let on lease. During the reigns of Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I., it was leased to the Earls of Worcester at a yearly rent of #52.13.4d. In 1675 it was let to Wm. Wolseley for a term of 60 years and then to John Hanbury of Pontypoll, whose son Capel Hanbury Leigh held it in the time of Archdeacon Coxe. Prior to 1675 Hugh Herbert was lessee of the Castle, and his wife Katherine, widow of Wm. Kemeys of Kemeys in 1680 left by will a small annual rent charge for teaching poor children in the parish.

Rogers mentions a Priory House in Caldicot the property of Sir Charles Kemeys, in the reign of Charles II. Caldicot Mansion is a large house near the Church, which in 1881, with a considerable portion of the estate belonged to Henry Wise Esq. The Castle is now held of the Crown with the Manor of Caldicot cum Newton by Chas. Ed. Lewis, Esq. of St. Pierre.

XIV. Henry Kemeys: fifth son of Jevan ap Jenkin Kemeys (XIII) of Began (see which branch) by Christian his wife; of Caldicot: a free tenant in Wentloog in 1447. Father of, 1. Thomas. 2. John: Will, as John Kemys, dated 15th. November 1507 and proved in London the same year, in which he desired to be buried in the Church of St. Philip, Bristol; probably died s.p., as no children are mentioned in his will; married Margaret, daughter of ..... ; she was living in 1507. 3. Henry; of Bristol in 1498 (305); probably father of the Henry Kemys who held a "house on the further side of the church of Ganntz" (alias Billeswit) near Bristol in 1539 (305a) and whose will dated 15th. February 1541 was proved in London 1542, in which he desired to be buried in St. James' Church Bristol; married Elizabeth, daughter of .... , and was father of (a) William, Executor with his mother to his father's will, (b) Katherine. (c) Margaret.

XV. Thomas Kemeys: of Caldicot, living 1498 (305); married Margaret, daughter of .... Father of 1. Thomas. 2. Henry: of the parish of St. Philip and James, Bristol; Will dated 7th. October 1522 and proved in London 7th. February 1527; married first Joan, daughter of .... , second Ellen, daughter of .... , and widow of .... Lambe; her will was proved in London in 1528: father of, as it would appear, a daughter married to Philip Gibbon, who was apprenticed to a skinner in Bristol in 1549.

XVI. Thomas Kemeys: of Caldicot: father of Bridget, married first (306) Thomas Herbert of Magor and Caldicot, second Henry Lewis of St. Pierre (307), High Sheriff of Co. Monmouth 1544, who died 1547, he was 8th. in descent from Llewelyn-ap-Ivor (6th. descendant from Cadwor the Great) Lord of St. Clere, Caermarthenshire and also Lord of Tredegar by espousing Angharad, daughter of Sir Morgan Meredith (308).

Footnotes to Kemeys of Caldicot

(305) Thomas Kemeys of Caldicot and Henry Kemeys of Bristol, sons of Henry Kemeys of Caldicot, were parties to a deed dated 1498 - Wakeman.

(305a) Cal: Pat: Rolls, under Pension to John Colman Clerk.

(306) The Mansion and Estate of Caldicot went to the children of Bridget by her first husband and continued in the Herbert family for several generations. Rowland's "History of the Kemeys family".

(307) Bridget and her second husband were both living in 1536, when her son George by her first husband came of age - Wakeman.

(308) Cox's "Monmouthshire". Vol. 1. p. 6.


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John L. & Irene Kemmis
E-mail: john.kemmis@kemmisfamily.info

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