The Sire "d'Alnei" mentioned by Wace (Rom. de Rou, 1. 13,775) receives but little attention from either the French or the English commentators of the Norman poet, and they have made no attempt to identify him. There are several communes of that name in Normandy, one of which, Aulnay l'Abbaye, near Caen, belonged in the twelfth century to the family of Say, a member of which was present at Senlac; Monsieur de Gerville mentions also a Laulne near Lessay, latinised de Alno, but I find no conclusive evidence as to the fief or locality from which the Sire d'Alnei of Wace derived his appellation.
The continuator of Guillaume de Jumièges, however, enlightens us as to his parentage; a point of more importance. As I have already stated, page 47 of this volume, he tells us that Fulk de Aneio (de Alneto, de Aneto, d'Anet, for it is spelt all manner of ways) was the son of Osmund de Centumville (i.e. Cotenville) by a niece of the Duchess Gonnor or Gunnora, and, according to the same authority, uncle of a Baldwill de Redvers. Osmundo de Centumville was Vicomte de Vernon, and a Hugh de Redvers, also called Hugh de Vernon, another uncle of the same Baldwin, made grants to Brumore in 1089. That members of the latter family were indifferently called De Rivieres and De Vernon many proofs could be adduced, showing that they were of the same stock, assuming the names of their own fiefs for distinction, as in the instance of the sons of Baudry le Teuton, to the great confusion of the genealogist and mystification of the readers of history.
That Vernon was the general name of the descendants of Osmund, can, I think, bc scarcely doubted. William de Vernon possesscd the town and Castle of Vernon in 1052, a fief which had been held by Guy of Burgundy, on whom, in his youth, Duke William had bestowed it together with Brionne, but who lost both by his defeat at Val-ès-Dunes in 1047. Brionne, we see, was given to Baldwin de Meules on the marriage of William and Matilda, and Vernon probably bestowed it on Osmund de Centumville when he became the husband of a niece of the fortunate Gonnor, Duchess of Normandy. William, probably his son, who was Sire de Vernon in 1052, had two sons, Walter and Richard de Vernon, both of whom arc stated to have followed Duke William to England. (The French catalogues add "Huard" to Vernon, a namo hitherto unknown.) That the name of Vernon appears in the Roll of Battle, in the list printed by Duchesne, and the rhyming one of Leland, would be no corroboration of that statement; but there is evidence enough that Richard de Vernon was one of the barons created by Hugh d'Avranches, Earl of Chester, by the title of Shipbroke, and a holder of large estates at the time of the general survey. There is consequently proof that, if not actually in the invading army, he was a distinguished Norman at that period, and is probably the Sire de Neahou whom Wace says was in the battle, as that fief, Neel's Hou or Holm, in the arrondissement of Valognes, passed from the Vicomtes de St.-Sauveur to that of Reviers-Vernon, and in the red book of the Exchequer a Richard de Vernon is returned as holding the honour of Nehou by the service of ten knights, and having the custody of the Castle of Vernon.
I will not pretend to decide upon the exact relationship of Fulk d'Aulnay to William de Vernon, but that they were very near connections, if not brothers, I think cannot be well disputed.
From a similarity of names, Fulk d'Aulnay has been confounded constantly with Fulk d'Aunou, of whom I have already discoursed (p. 132, ante). Even M. le Prévost has been partially misled by it.
Beyond his presence in the battle, I have no information to give. Genealogy and history are both silent about him as far as I know. The name of De Alneto is of frequent occurrence in charters of the subsequent century. A Berenger d'Alneto subscribes the foundation charter of the Abbey of Aumale in 1115. Hubert de Alneto witnesses two charters of Henry I, and Roger de Alneto appears to be a relation of Gundred de Gournay, wife of Nigel de Albini; but no link is discoverable between either of these and Fulk. Was he amongst the hundreds of unrecorded slain? Did he fall in the fight for the standard, or was he slaughtered in the slough of the Malefosse? A Simon d'Aneti or de Aneio, recorded in the red book aforesaid, is asserted by the authors of the "Recherches sur le Domesday" to be the recognized descendant of "Foulques d'Anet," but they have not favoured us with the materials for such recognition.
I have said so much about the Vernons in this notice of one of the family that I shall not appropriate a separate article to them, as I could only repeat my suggestion, that if a De Vernon was present at Senlac, he was probably alluded to by Wace as the Sire de Nehou, a portion of which fief was certainly held by Richard de Vernon when Wace wrote, and might have been held by him, under the Viscount of Saint-Sauveur, by military service at the time of the invasion, if indeed Nehou was restored to Neel after its forfeiture in 1047, at which period it was probably given to Baldwin de Redvers who has been so frequently confounded with Baldwin de Meules, as I have instanced in my memoir of him (page 40, ante).