DROGO DE BREVERE
an undoubted companion of the Conqueror, whose name does not appear in the roll of Battle Abbey, but who is presumed to have been an ancestor of the De Brewers or Briweres, so powerful in the thirteenth century. According to the Book of Meaux and the Register of Fountains Abbey, which I have already quoted, this Drogo was a Fleming of approved valour, who came over to England with William, and received for his services the Isle of Holderness, on which he built the strong Castle of Skipsey, and other considerable estates in various counties, amongst them Bytham in Lincolnshire. By the same authorities he is said to have married a kinswoman of the King, -- how related to him, or how named, is not stated, nor whether her hand had been bestowed upon him as part of the guerdon he had merited. Whoever she was, Drogo killed her -- whether by accident or with malice prepense, does not appear in the indictment. His subsequent conduct, however, was that of a guilty man. He hastened to the King and pretended that he was desirous to take his wife to Flanders; but, not having sufficient money at command for the purpose, craved assistance from his royal connection. The King, not doubting his story, gave or lent to him the sum requested, with which Drogo wisely made the best of his way to the coast, and took ship for the Low Countries. The King on learning the truth sent orders for his arrest, but too late. Drogo was beyond his reach. He lost no time, however, in seizing his estates, some of which he appears to have bestowed on Odo of Champagne, who, according to the same writers, is said to have complained that the soil of Holderness was sterile and would grow nothing but oats; and his wife having presented him with a son, named Stephen, he prayed the Conqueror to give him some land on which he could grow wheat, that he might feed his (William's) nephew; whereupon the King gave him Bytham, another forfeited manor of Drogo's, and other places.
Now, if the story about Drogo be true, the slaying of his wife and flight to Flanders must have taken place late in 1086, for up to August in that year he was in possession of all his estates, and shortly afterwards William quitted England never to see it more. Drogo's personal interview with him must, therefore, have been during the few months that elapsed between the completion of the survey and the King's sailing for Normandy; either at the time of his holding his last great Witan at Salisbury (1st August), to which all the principal landholders in the kingdom were summoned, or while he was subsequently residing in the Isle of Wight, waiting the collection of the money extorted from all against whom he could bring any charge, whether by right or otherwise -- that final robbery of his English subjects, with the booty of which he departed, amid "curses not loud but deep," to die deserted, dishonoured, and despoiled in his native land.
The grant of Holderness to Odo has just the same narrow chance of having been made in England at that period, and the additional one of Bytham a few months later in Normandy, which shows how little reliance can be placed on the story that the complaint respecting the soil of Holderness was made to the King at Odo's request by "the same Archbishop" to whose good offices he had been indebted for the hand of his wife and the city or county of Aumale. Jean de Bayeux died 1079, seven years at least before the grant of Holderness to Odo. Bytham, originally held of the King by Drogo, was probably given to Odo at the same time or shortly afterwards, and was one of the many manors in England with which his son Stephen endowed the monastery of Aumale, he being the first who described himself as "Albemarlensis Comes," his father never assuming that title, but invariably granting or witnessing charters as "Odo de Campania," or "Odonis Comitis de Campania."
Of his step-daughter, the younger Adelaide or Adeliza, Countess of Aumale, we know nothing beyond her confirmation of the grants of her mother and father to the Abbey of St. Martin d'Auchi (or Aumale). She must, however, have died unmarried or without issue, when her rights and title devolved solely upon her half-brother Stephen.
It is most remarkable, considering the position and connections of Adeliza, sister of the Conqueror and Countess of Ponthieu, that the discovery of her triple marriage should have been left to reward the diligence of an English antiquary of the nineteenth century. Every previous account of her and her issue being, from the ignorance of that simple fact, full of errors and contradictions. The date of her death is still unknown; but she was living in 1080, when she witnessed a charter of her aunt Adeliza, sister of Duke Robert II, and died before 1085, her daughter the younger Countess Adeliza having then presumably succeeded to the suzerainty of Aumale, and being the tenant in Domesday.
Added to this site through the courtesy of Michael Linton, who provided scanned text.