Wace records, as forming one of a troop or company of Norman knights who charged together, "fearing neither stake nor fosse, and overthrowing and killing may a good horse and man," a certain "Sire de Val de Saire." M. le Prévost rather too hastily observes in a note on this passage, "Our author takes Val de Saire for the name of a lordship, while it is that of a canton in the peninsular of the Cotentin. The mistake is still more extraordinary for him to have made, as that part of the province was well known to him."
The commentator has himself fallen into an error. He seems not to have been aware that there was a noble Norman family of the name of Ansneville, derived from, or given by them to a parish in Val de Saire, of which they were the lords.
The chronicle of the Abbey of St. Etienne at Caen, as well as the history of the Island of Guernsey, furnish us with the earliest information respecting the family of Ansneville. Previous to the year 1050, some pirates from the Bay of Biscay repeatedly ravaged the Island of Guernsey, at that time belonging to Normandy, and finally established themselves there. The inhabitants not being able to eject them, applied to their Duke, William, for assistance. He was at that time at his favourite residence at Valognes, and immediately sent a force under the command of Samson d'Ansneville, who destroyed the forts built by the pirates, and drove them out of the island, to which they never returned.
In 1061, according to an entry of that date in an Exchequer Roll at Rouen, Duke William gave to Samson d'Ansneville, "his esquire," and to the Abbey of Mont St. Michael, half of the Isle of Guernsey in equal portions, the said Samson d'Ansneville engaging for himself and his heirs to serve the Duke and his successors as esquires of the body whenever they came into the island, to pay ten livres for livery of the land, do homage, and perform all other services due to the Duke and the duchy.
In 1066, at the time of the Conquest, and during the regency of Queen Matilda, a Seigneur d'Ansneville was Governor of the Val de Saire, and in Domesday occur the names of William and Humphrey Ansneville subtenants, the former of Earl Roger de Montgomeri in Hampshire, and the latter of Eudo Dapifer in Hertfordshire.
The authors of Researches sur le Domesday assume that the Seigneur d'Ansneville, Governor of Val de Saire in 1066, was a brother of Samson, and that William and Humphrey were his sons, he Samson being deceased previous to the compilation of the Survey. Without speculating upon the relationship to each other of these personages, I will only point out that the connection of the family of Ansneville, Ansleville, Asneville, and Anneville, its latest form as now borne by the descendants in France, with the canton of Val de Saire would fully justify Master Wace in designating the particular member of it in the Duke's army as a "Sire" (he does not say "Seigneur") "de Val de Saire."
In a more corrupted form the family name may be recognised in the Roll of Battle Abbey in Andeville, while in Brompton's List, by the amalgamation of the "de" with it, it becomes Dandevile (d'Aundevyle), under which it is familiar to us in England.
Which of the Ansnevilles fought at Senlac I will not presume to guess; but Samson was a contemporary and a liegeman of the Duke, sworn to do him suit and service, and I have therefore placed his name at the head of this notice.
Added to this site through the courtesy of Michael Linton, who provided scanned text.