The combatant at Senlac who with the Sire de Montfort saved the life of William Malet, as described in the preceding memoir, is named by Wace, who records the incident, "William." M. le Prévost says, authoritatively, that it was Robert de Vieuxpont, and he is followed by Mr. Taylor, who produces no evidence in corroboration of the assertion of the learned antiquary whose opinion he has adopted, and which appears to have been formed not upon any contemporary documents, but from the simple fact of a Robert de Vieuxpont, or Vipount, as it became anglicised, having been sent in 1073 to Normandy, to the assistance of Jean de la Flegrave;che, as stated by Orderic (lib. iv. cap. 13); but the existence of a Robert de Vieuxpont in 1073 does not convince me that there was not a William, lord of Vieuxpont, at Hastings in 1066. Wace, it is true, cannot be implicitly depended upon for the baptismal names of the personages he mentions as taking part in the great battle; and M. le Prévost has in two or three instances made some valuable corrections of his text on good and sufficient authority; but in this case he cites none in support of his assertion, and therefore, with great respect for his opinion, I venture to differ from him and accept Wace's account, which is uncontradicted by anything within my knowledge, and has great probability in its favour.
William and Robert were favourite names in the family, supposed to have its origin in Vieuxpont-enAnge, in the arrondissement of Lisieux; and in 1131 there was a William de Vipount, apparently a son of the Robert aforesaid, who claimed certain lands in Devonshire, and agreed that his right to them should be determined by a trial by battle. A Robert de Vieuxpont, probably his brother, was with the Crusaders at Sardonas, near Antioch, in 1111; and in the 4th of John (1203) we have another William obtaining the King's precept to the Steward of Normandy, to have a full possession of the lordship of Vipount in that duchy, as Robert de Vipount, his brother, had when he went into France after the war.
All these Williams and Roberts are mixed up together by Dugdale in the most inextricable confusion. It is not my duty here to attempt the task of identifying and affiliating them, and they are only mentioned in order to explain my reason for believing that the first Robert we hear of had a brother or perhaps a father named William, who was the companion of the Conqueror mentioned by Wace, a belief which does not preclude the possibility of Robert's presence at Hastings also.
As we hear no more of William after his rescue of William Malet, it is probable that he died previous to 1073, and may indeed have been killed at Senlac; for it is a singular fact that only three Normans of note are named as having fallen in that battle, although hundreds must have done so. That we have no list of the killed and wounded in the Saxon army is not surprising, but that none of the Norman writers should have thought fit to perpetuate the memories of the noble and gallant knights who perished in that memorable conflict is to me most surprising.
The first Robert is said by Orderic to have been killed at the siege of St. Suzanne in 1085; but M. le Prévost quotes a charter of Henry I in favour of the Abbey of St. Pierre-sur-Dive, which records his having become a monk in that house.
We hear nothing of the wives of the first Vipounts, nor by what means they became possessed of the lands they held in England, but great accessions of honours and estates were acquired in the reign of King John by a Robert de Vipount, who was high in favour with that sovereign, and had custody of the unfortunate Prince Arthur, taken prisoner in the battle of Miravelt, for his services in which Robert had a grant from the King of the castle and barony of Appleby; and, adhering strictly to John during the whole of his reign, is ranked by Matthew Paris, with a brother named Ivo, amongst the King's wicked counsellors.
This Robert's mother we find was Maude, daughter of Hugh de Moreville, of Kirk Anvald, county Cumberland, who gave divers lands in Westmoreland to the Abbey of Shap, but of which previous Robert or William she was the wife does not appear. Her son, the favourite of King John married Idonea, daughter of John de Builly, lord of the honor of Tickhill, of which, with all the lands and chattels of his father-inlaw, he had livery in 1114, and died in 1228 (12th of Henry III), being then -- notwithstanding his great revenues, the wealth he had amassed by rapine and plunder during the civil wars, and the emoluments derived from the various offices he held, amongst others those of a justice itinerant in the county of York and one of the justices of the Court of Common Pleas -- indebted to the King in the sum of £1997. 11s. 6d, besides five great horses of price for five tuns of wine, which debt was not paid off many years after.
The male line of these Vipounts terminated in the grandson of this Robert, who was slain, as it would seem, in the battle of Evesham, on the side of the rebellious barons under Simon de Montfort, A.D. 1261, when his lands were seized by the King, but were subsequently restored to his two daughters and co-heirs, Isabella and Idonea; the former of whom married Roger de Clifford and the latter Roger de Leybourne, after whose death she re-married with John de Cromwell. Through the match with Clifford the Castle of Appleby and other estates in Westmoreland and Cumberland passed into the family of the Tuftons, Earls of Thanet, and are at present in the possession of Sir Henry Tufton, Bart.
Added to this site through the courtesy of Michael Linton, who provided scanned text.