FOREWORD: The early 15th century alabaster tomb and effigies of Sir Robert Goushill and his wife Elizabeth Fitz-Alan Duchess of Norfolk are found at the parish church of the village of Hoveringham in Nottinghamshire, England. The tomb is located just to the right as you enter the church. The original medieval St. Michael church at Hoveringham was razed in 1865, and the present plain, small brick church (above left) was erected in it's place. The above copyright photographs were taken during a visit to Hoveringham in 1991 by Bruce Morrison of Lexington, Kentucky, a descendant of Robert Goushill and Elizabeth Fitz-Alan.
THE TOMB & EFFIGIES: The effigies show effects of earlier vandalism and mutilation incurred during earlier centuries. The right arms of both effigies are broken and missing--they originally were holding hands. Some damage also occured when the monumemt was relocated when the present church was erected. The figures are of alabaster with Sir Robert Goushill shown wearing a camail and hawberk and plate armor on his arms and legs. His feet rest upon the figure of a dog, and his collar shows the badge of his Lancastrian loyalty. He wears a Bacinet on his head with a wreath which rests on a crowned Saracen's head. The Saracen's head was derived from the Goushill family crest. The Goushill of Hoveringham coat of arms was a barry of six or and gules with a canton ermine. The figure of Elizabeth Fitz-Alan is shown wearing a peeress gown with a coronet on her head emblematic of her rank as a duchess. The tomb was created after Sir Robert Goushill's tragic death in 1403, probably by the design of his widow Elizabeth Fitz-Alan who lived to 1425. It is likely that she was also buried in the tomb, but no definitive proof or evidence exists. Robert Thoroton's description of the tomb in the 17th century states that about the fair tomb were the arms of Leek, Longford, Babington, Chaworth impaling Caltofts, Remptons, and divers others. These are long lost as well as the tomb of Sir Nicholas Goushill, the son of Sir Thomas Goushill, who died in 1393. This stone was in the south isle of the original St. Michael Church. The lower base portion of the Goushill Fitz-Alan tomb is decorated by a series of shields on all sides which were probably the location of the large number of now lost coats of arms described in Thoroton's History.
ROBERT GOUSHILL: Sir Robet Goushill was knighted by King Henry IV at the battle of Shrewsbury on July 21,1403. At the Battle of Shrewsbury the loyalist forces of Henry IV were opposed by the rebel army of Henry Percy (Hotspur). The army of King Henry IV won the day with the killing of Hotspur during the conflict. Casulties on both sides were high with estimates of 3000 killed or wounded on each side. Sir Robert Goushill was knighted the day of the battle for his gallantry, but was badly wounded in the side. Found lying wounded by his servant on the eve of the battle, Goushill asked that his armor be removed and a note sent to his wife Elizabeth in case of his death. The servant then stabbed and murdered Sir Robert Goushill and made off with his purse and ring. Another wounded man lying nearby recognized the servant, and he was later caught and hanged for the crime. The arms of Sir Robert Goushill would be placed in the Shrewsbury Battlefield Church by King Henry IV.
Robert Goushill was the son and heir of Sir Nicholas Goushill of Hoveringham. The date of his birth is unknown, but can be estimated to be circa 1360-1365. Likewise, the name of his mother also remains unknown. The Goushill family had held extensive lands in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire since the 13th century. Walter Goushill, an early ancestor in the direct line, gained a number of these considerable holdings for the Goushills through his marriage to Maud (Matilda) Hathersage, the co-heiress of Mathew Hathersage in Derbyshire. (The early pedigree of the Goushill family of Hoveringham can be found in the History of Nottinghamshire by Dr. Robert Thoroton). In the calendar of patent rolls of Richard II on March 12, 1386, the King orders the arrest of Sir Nicholas Goushill the elder and his son Robert Goushill to answer the suit brought by William Birkes accusing the Goushills of threatning him with the loss of life and limb that he dare go about his business. On July 16, 1385, Sir Nicholas Goushill received the King's pardon. During 1387, Nicholas Goushill knight of Hoveringham and his son Robert Goushill are found in the chancery records to owe a debt of 22 pounds to Robert Wells of London. The next mention of Robert Goushill occurs in 1390 when he receives the King's pardon for alleged outlawry and other felonies through the supplication of Thomas Mowbray. Thomas Mowbray was at that time Earl of Nottingham and later would become the Duke of Norfolk. This evidences that Robert Goushill was already a supporter of Thomas Mowbray of whom he would be an employee of for the next decade. Elizabeth Fitz-Alan, the future wife of Robert Goushill, had been the wife of Mowbray since 1384.
During the 1390's, Robert Goushill would be in the retinue of Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, Marshal of England, and Duke of Norfolk, serving as Mowbray's esquire and attorney. When Thomas Mowbray received his ducal elevation in 1397, he gave to his esquire Robert Goushill a 20 pound annuity for life from his manor at Willington. This grant was confirmed by Henry IV in November of 1399. In 1398, after the Duke of Norfolk was banished by Richard II, Robert Goushill was appointed one of the attorneys for Mowbray. At the coronation of King Edward IV on October 13, 1399, Robert Goushill would make a plea for the return of the banished Duke of Norfolk as Earl Marshall, not knowing Mowbray had already died of the plague in Venice, Italy on September 22, 1399. In the mid 1390's, Robert Goushill had married as a first wife Joan Bracebrugge, who was the widow of Sir Ralph Bracebrugge of Kingsbury, Warwickshire. Joan (maiden name unknown) had married Ralph Bracebrugge in 1380 and his death occured in August, 1395. The marriage of Robert Goushill and Joan Bracebrugge likely was in 1396, and Joan would die early in the year 1400. (IPM Henry IV, 1-6). In 1397 Richard II appointed Sir William Bagot and Robert Goushill to seize into his hands the goods and chattels of Thomas the late Earl of Warwick. (Goushill served as Warwickshire sheriff in 1396/97). After Richard II was deposed, the new King Henry IV made a grant on Feb. 23, 1400 to his kinswoman Elizabeth, the wife of the late Duke of Norfolk, of the remaining goods of the late Duke as well as clearing the debts that the Duke had owed to the deposed Richard II. Others to share in the remaining goods of the deceased Duke of Norfolk included Robert Goushill.
Robert Goushill would marry the widowed Elizabeth Fitz-Alan, Duchess of Norfolk, in the latter part of 1400 or early 1401 without license. On August 19, 1401, King Henry IV seized the lands of Elizabeth, late widow of Thomas Mowbray, for marrying Robert Goushill without license. On September 28, 1401, Henry IV would pardon Robert Goushill esquire and Elizabeth, late wife of Thomas, duke of Norfolk, for their trespass for inter-marrying without license and that they shall have restitution of all lands assigned to her in dower with the issues from the time of their marriage. Joan Goushill, the 1st daughter of Robert and Elizabeth, would be born in 1401, and a 2nd daughter Elizabeth Goushill would be born in 1402. Many present day descendants of these two daughters trace their ancestry to the Plantagenet Kings of England through Joan Goushill who married Sir Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley, and Elizabeth Goushill who married Sir Robert Wingfield of Letheringham, Suffolk. (My own descent is through the Goushill-Wingfield marriage). A 3rd daughter named Joyce is now credited to Robert and Elizabeth. She was found in a 1407 lawsuit being named after older daughters Joan and Elizabeth. As she is not named in Robert Goushill's Inq. Post Mortum of 1403, she would certainly seem to have been born after Robert Goushill's death. No futher trace of Joyce Goushill has been found. After the tragic death of Sir Robert Goushill at the battle of Shrewsbury on July 21, 1403, his Inquisition Post Mortum was held August 6, 1403. His heirs are given as his daughters Joan and Elizabeth, aged two years and one year respectively. A final thought regarding the pedigree of the Goushill family of Hoveringham as given by Thoroton: the pedigree lists the Sir Nicholas Goushill dying in 1393 as the grandfather of Robert Goushill and Robert's father as another Nicholas Goushill. This 2nd Nicholas Goushill listed in the pedigree was very likely confused with the Sir Nicholas Goushill of Barlborough, Derbyshire who was also at the battle of Shrewsbury. He was certainly a relative and contemporary of Robert Goushill and either brother or first cousin, but not his father. The first 1380's records that mention Robert Goushill appear with Sir Nicholas Goushill the ELDER given as the father of Robert Goushill. I believe the evidence stongly suggests that the father of Robert Goushill was the Sir Nicholas Goushill who died in 1393 and was buried at St. Michael's church Hoveringham.
ELIZABETH FITZ-ALAN: Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of Richard Fitz-Alan the 11th Earl of Arundel and his wife Elizabeth de Bohun. Both the Fitz-Alan and Bohun family lines were among the highest in the peerage of medieval England. Elizabeth Fitz-Alan had a double line of direct descent from the Plantagenet Kings of England. Through her mother's Bohun line she was a direct descendant of King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, and through her Fitz-Alan ancestry a direct descendant of King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. She was also related by cousinship to both King Henry IV and to his first wife Mary Bohun. Elizabeth was born before 1372, (in 1415 she was given as aged 40 or more), and a best estimate would be closer to 1367. By December of 1378 she would be married to her first husband William de Montagu, son of the Earl of Salisbury. This marriage for Elizabeth would certainly have been in her childhood. William de Montagu was killed in a tilting match at Windsor in 1382. Elizabeth Fitz-Alan would marry as her 2nd husband Thomas Mowbray, the Earl of Nottingham and later the Duke of Norfolk, in July of 1384. This marriage would last for 15 years until Thomas Mowbray's death in Venice on September 22, 1399. Elizabeth would have 2 sons and 2 daughters during her marriage with Thomas Mowbray. The sons were Thomas Mowbray 1385-1405 and John Mowbray 1390-1432, (both of these sons would assume the title Earl of Nottingham), the 2 daughters were Margaret who married Sir Robert Howard, and Isabel who married Henry Ferrers. In 1397 Thomas Mowbray was among those who accused and condemed Elizabeth's father Richard Fitz-Alan, the Earl of Arundel. Richard Fitz-Alan was found guilty of treason and be-headed at Cheapside on September 21, 1397. One apocryphal rumor even had Thomas Mowbray as the actual executioner of his father-in-law Richard Fitz-Alan. The now twice widowed Duchess of Norfolk would next marry Sir Robert Goushill as previously discussed in length. After the death of Sir Robert Goushill at Shrewsbury in 1403, she would marry Sir Gerald Usflete of Yorkshire as her fourth husband before April 18, 1411. Sir Gerald Usflete was the steward of the Duchy of Lancaster in Lincolnshire. Elizabeth Fitz-Alan would become a co-heiress of her brother Thomas, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, in 1415. (Thomas had died sans progeny on October 13, 1415, and his sisters had become his heirs). Sir Gerald Usflete died by Feb. 1420/21, having written his will on September 13, 1420. No children were born to Elizabeth Fitz-Alan and Gerald Usflete.
Elizabeth Fitz-Alan would live on after the death of her fourth husband Gerald Usflete until her own death on July 8, 1425. It is believed that she returned to Hoveringham in her final years. Born in the reign of King Edward III, she would live through the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and into the reign of Henry VI. Through blood and marriage, Elizabeth Fitz-Alan would be closely touched by nearly all of the events in this period of turbulence, violence, and political turmoil in English history.