Orderic has supplied us with plenty of material for a memoir of the family of St. Valeri, indifferently written Waleri and Galeri, so many of which were benefactors to his beloved Abbey of Ouche, otherwise St. Evroult, and, as the fleet of Duke William sailed from the port of St. Valery-sur-Somme, the bourg from which they took their name, it would be strange indeed if a "Sire de St. Galeri" had not been found in Wace's catalogue of the companions of the Conqueror.
They did not, however, hold the fief of St. Valeri in their own right, but as hereditary advocates of the abbey, founded there by Lothaire in 613, in which the lordship was vested. To the devotion of the Duke and his barons to its patron saint, the Merovingian Walleric, and the solemn procession of the abbot and monks bearing the shrine which contained his holy relics, was attributed the favourable change of the wind for which William had so long waited.
The Sires of St. Valeri were also connected by marriage with the ducal family, and could claim cousinship by blood with the Conqueror. Gilbert, the Advocate of St. Valeri, married Papia, daughter of Richard II. Duke of Normandy, by his wife, more Danico, of that name. She bore to him two sons, Bernard and Richard. Of Richard I shall speak hereafter. It is with his elder brother that we have first to deal, as he has been unhesitatingly named by M. le Prévost as the "Sire de Galeri" of the Norman poet, though upon what authority I have not been able to discover. Certainly not upon that of Orderic, who, provokingly enough, while most liberal in his information respecting Richard and his descendants, tells us nothing about Bernard except that he was the father of Walter de St.Valery, who was probably the Walter of Domesday, possessing at the time of its compilation, amongst other estates, the extensive manor of Isleworth, in the county of Middlesex, but whether as the heir of his father, on whom they might have been bestowed by the Conqueror, or acquired by himself, either as a reward for service rendered to his sovereign or through some fortunate marriage, we are left to conjecture.
If Bernard was really the companion of the Conqueror at Hastings and Senlac, the former solution of the question is most reasonable, and the possession of the domains by his son Walter has probably been the chief ground for Le Prévost's statement, which Mr. Taylor copies without observation, as well as for that of MM. de Magny and Delisle. Still it is rather extraordinary that the historian of the family should record the military services, the marriages and issue of Richard and his sons, and make no mention of so interesting a fact as the presence of the elder brother Bernard in the expedition which sailed from his own port, and the famous victory in which it resulted.
We must therefore content ourselves perforce with the assurance of Wace, that the Lord of St. Valeri, and those he rode with, demeaned themselves like brave men, and sorely handled all whom their weapons could reach. We hear nothing of him after the Conquest, and he was probably dead when Walter de St. Valery was found seized of the manor of Isleworth. The latter was living in 1097, when, with his son Bernard, he was in the Holy Land, and fought under the banners of Bohemond in the great battle of Dorylaeum.
But Walter de St. Valery was not the only one of the name who held lands in England at the time of the survey.
A Ranulf de St. Walerie was Lord of Randely, Stamtone, Refan, Stratone, Burgrede, and Scotome, in Lincolnshire, but how related to Walter does not appear. "What came of him or his posterity," says Dugdale, "if he had any, I know not, for those in the succeeding ages had not any lands in that county." "Those" being the issue of Reginald, son of Guy de St. Valerie, who held Hazeldine, in Gloucestershire, of which he was deprived by King Stephen, being a partizan of Henry Fitz Empress, but recovered it again on the accession of the latter, and who was one of the persons sent by him with letters to the King of France, requesting him not to give any reception or protection to the fugitive Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas à Becket.
That this Reginald was a lineal descendant of Bernard and Walter is obvious from the fact that, on the death of his grandson Thomas, in 1219 (3 Henry III), all his hereditary estates passed with Annora, sole child of Thomas, to her first husband, Robert Comte do Dreux, to whom at the same time she brought the manor of Isleworth, which Walter held in the reign of the Conqueror, and of which the Comte de Dreux was found seized in right of his wife in 1220. *[Annora married secondly Henry de Sullie, but had no issue by either husband. Orderic makes no mention of Ranulf, Guy, or Reginald in his account of the family.]
Let us, however, before leaving this subject, hear what Orderic has to say respecting Richard de St. Valery and his descendants. This second son of Gilbert and Papia was "long employed in the military service of his uncle, Richard Duke of Normandy, from whom he received in marriage Ada, widow of the elder Herleuin de Heugleville, with all her inheritance." Hence it appears he assumed, according to custom, the name of Heugleville, and built a town at a place formerly called Isnelville, on the river Sie, naming it from the hill which rose above it covered with beech trees, Aufay (Alfagium), thus acquiring a third appellation as the Lord of Aufay. He was distinguished for his military abilities and his great liberality -- a formidable foe and a faithful friend. During the minority of Duke William, when William of Arques revolted against him, and he was deserted by nearly all the Lords of Talou, Richard alone held his castle near the Church of St. Aubin against the rebels, and exerted himself to defend the loyal inhabitants of the country from the inroads of the garrison of Arques.
Now this Richard de Heugleville, Lord of Aufay, had a son named, as usual after his grandfather, Gilbert, who married Beatrice, daughter of Christian de Valenciennes, "an illustrious captain." This lady, Orderic tells us, was a cousin of Queen Matilda, and bore to her husband two sons and one daughter. Gilbert d'Aufay, as he was called from his patrimonial estates, was also, by his grandmother Papia, a kinsman of Duke William, and the same author affirms that "he fought by the Duke's side at the head of his vassals in all the principal actions during the English War."
That he included the most important of all is, I think, evident from the passage which follows: "But when William became King, and peace was established, Gilbert returned to Normandy, notwithstanding William offered him ample domains in England, for with innate honesty of character he refused to participate in the fruits of rapine. Content with his patrimonial estates, he declined those of others, and piously devoted his son Hugh to a monastic life under Abbot Mainer, in the Abbey of St. Evroult."
The name of St.Valery is only to be found in Brompton and the modern lists, and that of Aufay nowhere. In deference to M. le Prévost, who may have had grounds for his opinion which he has omitted to cite, I have headed this memoir with the name of Bernard as the "Sire de St. Galeri" mentioned by Wace; but it is quite possible that the Lord of Aufay may have been designated by his original patronymic, and he is the only member of the family of St. Valery who appears indubitably to have been a companion of the Conqueror.
Added to this site through the courtesy of Michael Linton, who provided scanned text.