The King’s Champion came from the family home at Fontenay-au-Marmion near the Conqueror’s birthplace of Falaise. It is known that William the Conqueror and Marmion were both descended from Rollo the Ganger, an early Duke of Normandy.

Robert Marmion of Tamworth had two wives and each bore him children. The eldest sons were both called Robert. The younger one inherited the Tanfield Estate which passed after his death to his son William who was eventually laid to rest in Tanfield Church circa 1230.

William’s son John inherited and on 24 September 1314 obtained a licence to crenelate his dwelling place called ‘The Hermitage’ in a field called Magdalen in his woods at West Tanfield. Several years ago a sculptured stone was found among the ruins, it is a squared block of sandstone carved on two side with representations of animal forms. This along with a similar stone is in the Church.

John Marmion was in due course (1322) succeeded by his son John who married Maud the daughter of Lord Furnival. It was to honour her that her daughter Avice founded three chantries in West Tanfield.

Robert was the last true heir of the Marmions, traditionally of an infirm constitution and without children, he arranged for his sister Avice to marry as the 2nd wife of Lord Grey of Rotherfield and to take over the Marmion estates on condition that their descendents should bear the Marmion name.

There were two sons John and Robert, John took the name Marmion and Robert the name Grey. They married Elizabeth and Lora daughters and co-heirs of Herbert St. Quintin.

John Marmion married Elizabeth St. Quintin, they had no children so that when John died in Spain fighting for his Lord, John of Gaunt on 25 February 1386/7 an Inquisito Post Mortem taken on 19 July 1387 declared that Elizabeth Grey, daughter of Robert Grey, Chevalier, brother of John is the next heir and is aged 21 years and more.

The tomb in the church is dedicated to John Marmion and his wife Elizabeth, although as he died abroad it is doubtful that he is laid to rest there. The tomb is unique it has round it a free standing wrought iron hearse with 7 prickets for candles and is believed to be the only one in the country.

Elizabeth inherited all that was her Uncle’s and Father’s and married Sir Henry Fitzhugh circa 1400, with her marriage the Marmion name died in West Tanfield.

But in marrying her Sir Henry regained the manor lost to his family when Avice Fitzhugh married Robert Marmion, fourth Lord Marmion of Tamworth paying Henry111 – 350 marks and 5 palfreys for leave to do so.

Thanks to: The Early Families of Tamworth by Christine Smith, N.Y.C.R.O., Major A.T. Bourne-Arton.

J. M. Coates, 2013