Walter Espec


  • Richest of the Rich position: 183
  • Birth/Death: died 1158
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £3,000
  • Net National Income: £900,000
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.33%
  • In Today’s Money: £3.662 billion

A second generation Anglo-Norman landowner, Walter Espec inherited land in Bedfordshire, but later acquired substantial property in Yorkshire centred on the castles of Wark and Helmsley. From his Yorkshire base, Espec proved to be one of Henry I’s most loyal followers in what was a potentially subversive region. Not only was he a royal justice for many northern counties but he collected royal taxes in Yorkshire and Durham.

Espec proved his real worth during the Scottish invasion of 1138, three years after Henry’s death. His castle at Wark had to withstand a vigorous siege, and he later organised and rallied the northern barons in their victory over the Scots at the Battle of The Standard in the same year.

He died in the mid 1150s with no surviving children, but his wealth went to found a priory, a monastery and two Cistercian houses. In total his wealth was around £3,000, around £3.6bn in today’s money.

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