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IN WHICH IS GIVEN
THE VARIOUS CHANGES IN THE FAMILIES IN ENGLAND, SINCE THE NORMAN CONQUEST,
The great Care paid by the Nobility and Gentry of England, in every Thing relative to their Descent.-To which they were instigated by every
Motive which could influence the human Mind.
S the duty of our heralds was in a great measure to watch over, and preserve the genealogies of these families, this Preliminary Dissertation cannot be foreign to the subject of this work, the History of the College at Armis and its Members.
It is in vain to search into the records of time for the history of any family much before the eleventh century, especially in England. Previous to that period, the nation had undergone such vast convulsions by Danes, and Normans. We have, indeed, but a few scanty annals of history prior to that time; these are filled with extravagant legends, and the very little which remains, relates to the succession of our sovereigns, their wars, the battles they fought, the places they took, or destroyed. The monks, it must be allowed, in later ages, often collected all they could learn of the families of the founders, endowers, and benefactors of their monasteries; but these seldom go up so high as the reign of the first Norman king, and scarce ever beyond. There are no records in England before the reign of the Conqueror, which can throw any light upon the subject, and if there were any in Normandy, they have been long hidden from us, and must, by the dreadful outrages which have lately happened, have been effectually destroyed.
As it is therefore impossible to trace our ancestors higher than the Norman conquest, and as the principal families in England are chiefly descended from the victorious invaders, it will be expedient to see how far that event changed the situation of the nobility and gentry of this
kingdom. The Normans found the Anglo-Saxons a brave and virtuous people, but much weakened by the preceding ravages of the cruel Danes, and dispirited by the total defeat at Hastings. Their good qualities did not prevent their falling into the most marked contempt. It must be confessed, that their enslavers were far more enlightened, excelling them in every art, coining of money excepted: their native simplicity, viewed by prejudice, was mistaken for barbarism: every attempt to shake off a galling yoke was construed rebellion. A despotic empire succeeded. The customs, and even language of the English, were changed for those of Normandy, by the successful invaders. Canute, to conciliate the affections of his new subjects, gave them a decided preference to the Danes : coming here an untutored pagan, he learnt civilization by the people he subdued. William came hither the most enlightened and elegant prince in Europe.
With sentiments so ungenerously entertained by the Normans, nộ moderation was kept; the unhappy English were driven to despair, that they might revolt, to afford the best pretence to divide their estates, to pay needy adventurers. The landed property experienced almost a total change; the feudal system, little known, and probably as little liked by the English, was established by the stern inflexible William in all its rigor, as the best mean of securing his conquests, and rewarding his followers. The royal domain of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs, with what Harold enjoyed as his paternal estates, as well as his treasure, we may presume fell to William; the lands of the earldormen, thanes, and gentry, who had been at the field of Hastings, or had joined many of the subsequent revolts, fell to the share of the officers of the ducal army as a reward for their valour, or as a remuneration for the expenses they had contributed towards the expedition. These together comprized almost the whole of the kingdom. England was therefore parcelled out amongst the victors; whole provinces were given to individuals, who were appointed hereditary governors, holding their estate only by the service of assisting the sovereign in his wars. These chieftans again divided their principalities amongst their friends and followers, upon the same condition, so that this kingdom consisted of several estates acknowledging one head, representing, in this respect, Germany and France. If William was obliged to pay homage, suit, and service, as Duke of Normandy, his great feudatories
feudatories paid him the same, as King of England. Some of these great peers had their barons and parliaments. Every individual held of some other; for all estates were held either immediately under the sovereign, or of some barony. The smaller gentry were lords of manors, who also had others holding of them, so that there was a regular and gradual gradation, from the monarch to the lowest proprietor of land, and these estates were unalienable; the ancient tenures of gavelkind and tanistry disappearing, except in some peculiar districts*.
The Anglo-Saxon grandees, many of whom were allied to, or descended from the ancient Kings of the island, either fell in battle, were cut off by the Conqueror, or fled into Scotland, Ireland, or Denmark. This happened, also, to many of the thanes and gentry: never was a greater dispersion of families. Malcolm, the Scottish sovereign, gave protection to the English exiles, so that his dominions were filled with Englishmen, and maidens of that nation; they were," says Simeon of Durham, "to be met with in my time in all the farm-houses, and even in the cottages t." Such of the English of the higher orders who remained, were suffered to enjoy some small part of their lands under base tenures, and the common people were, as they always had been, fixed to the soil, and became part of the live stock upon their masters' estates, so that their condition was not materially affected.
William's paternal relations had so often conspired against his person and government, that it had been his policy to ruin, them, to prevent their machinations against him; on the contrary, he raised up the relations of his mother to the highest honors and riches; this accounts for none of the former coming with him into England, and the settlement of several of his maternal relations in those dominions he had acquired by his sword. To Robert, Earl of Mortaigne, his half-brother, was granted the earldom B 2
Gavelkind is still known in Kent. Tanistry, which was a division by the chieftan of the estate amongst the sons or nearest relations, whether legitimate or not, was long practised in Wales, and was not laid aside in Ireland until the year 1614. Neither manors, nor copyholds, are known in that kingdom, nor in the principality of Wales.
It is probable, that from the above circumstance the Anglo-Saxon language was spread through Scotland, especially as it was the native tongue of the Queen, and the King must have been well grounded in it, from having received his education in the English court, and spent the first years of his life in it.
of Cornwall, with near three hundred manors, and between five and six hundred more in other parts of England: to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, his other uterine brother, he gave the county of Kent, which he erected into a palatinate for him, with near two hundred manors in it, besides two hundred and fifty-five in other counties; he also declared him chief justiciary of England: to Hugh Lupus, son of his sister Emma, by Richard, Count of Avranches in Normandy, he presented the county of Chester, which was also erected into a palatinate, and held only by fealty. Alan, Earl of Bretaigne, his son-in-law, obtained all the estates of Earl Edwin, and with equal privileges as Hugh Lupus did Chester. William de Warren, another of his sons-in-law, had the earldom of Surrey. His nephew Stephen, son of Odo, Earl of Blois, had HolderWilliam de Severel, his natural son, was created Earl of Nottingham and Derby; Roger de Montgomery obtained those of Arundel and Shrewsbury, with the county of Salop; Walter de Giffard, Buckinghamshire; Ralph de Guarder, a Briton, the carldoms of Norfolk and Suffolk, with the lordship of Norwich; Simon de Size, the earldoms of Huntington and Northampton; Robert de Mowbray, that of Northumberland, with two hundred and eighty villages; a gentleman of the name of Beavois, Southampton; Henry de Newburgh, Warwickshire; Ursus de Abtol, the earldom of Worcester; Henry de Ferrarijs, or Ferrers, Tutbury castle, with one hundred and seventy lordships; William, Bishop of Constance, in France, received two hundred and eighty fiefs, which came, upon his death, to his nephew, Robert Mowbray. These great families were treated by the sovereigns with much respect, and as many of them were related to the Norman Kings, it became customary to honor earls with the appellation of cousin.
Those who served under these commanders were, in like manner, liberally rewarded; and there was an absolute necessity for it, because they looked upon the Anglo-Saxons as barbarians, and had no wish to settle amongst them, nor could they have been prevailed upon to have done it, unless the reward had been, in their opinion, a full compensation for the disagreeableness of remaining in England and without these supports, how was William to have kept an high spirited people, who panted for freedom, in subjection? especially when they so justly regarded him as their tyrant and enslaver. Besides, too, they had seen
many of their fellow adventurers cut off by surprizals, by the enraged natives, and they night dread equal violence; add to these considerations, the natural love they bore to their own country, and the repeated and most earnest solicitations of their wives, and even threats, that unless they returned, they should think they had a right to marry again, as having become free, from being deserted and abandoned by those whom they had selected as their protectors and defenders.
Thus did the property of the nation intirely change, and with it all the customs and manners of the Anglo-Saxons: those of Normandy became the standard of taste. Such who had fought under the ducal banners took every possible mean to have their names well known and remembered by future ages, not only because they and their descendants would by it be enabled to plead for favors from the reigning family, and an assuring to themselves the estates they had gained, but also from the pride inherent in human nature, as founders of families in a country they had won by their prowess. For these reasons, the names of every person of any consideration were written upon a roll, and hung up in the Abbey of Battle. As the persons there mentioned were the patriarchs of most of the English gentry for many ages, and of many of our greatest nobility at this day, it will not be improper to examine into the authenticity of this roll of names; for different authors have given some a greater, some a less number. As to the orthography it is of little consequence; the spelling of names was at that time, and for many ages afterwards, not fixed, every one writing them as he pleased.
Grafton, in his Chronicle, has given very many names, which he received from Clarenceux, king at arms, and out of John Harding's Chronicle, with others. Holingshed mentions upwards of six hundred; Stow, in his Chronicle, only four hundred and seven: Thomas Scriven, Esq. still fewer. Fuller, in his Church History, has copied them, but he does not mention who Mr. Scriven was, nor from whence that gentleman took them. Fox, in his Acts and Monuments, has also given in a list of the names of William I.'s officers and great men; but these Fuller thinks were not collected by Fox: this catalogue of names, however, is valuable, because the initials of the christian names are given. The great difference made in these collections of names naturally leads us to suspect, that many omissions are made in some, and that numbers of