Richard de Redvers, who died in 1107 (thirty years before Richard Fitz Baldwin), and was buried at Monteburgh, an abbey in Normandy, of which he appears to have been one of the earliest benefactors, if not the founder, by permission of William the Conqueror, in 1080. The top of his stone coffin was preserved from destruction by M. de Gerville, and the epithet "Fundator" was said to have been then visible upon it.
But I am burying the man before I have brought him into existence! Let us try, therefore, to discover his parentage, as it is quite clear that he was not the son of Baldwin de Meules and Albreda, as till recently he has been recorded.
The late Mr. Stapleton, in his Addenda to the second volume of his "Illustrations of the Norman Rolls of the Exchequer," appears to assert (for I confess I cannot clearly understand the passage) that he was the son of a William de Redvers; but unfortunately does not print the charter on which he seems to found his opinion. In the grant of Lodres, in Dorsetshire, to the Abbey of Monteburgh, Richard de Redvers certainly gives "also the land which William de Redvers had in Monteburgh" (Gallic Christiana, vol. xi.), but he does not call him his father, or allude in any way to his relationship. In another charter printed by Mr. Stapleton, he speaks of his father and mother, but without naming them.
In the cartulary of Carisbrook he is called the nephew of William Fitz Osbern, and the grant of the Isle of Wight to him after the death of Roger de Breteuil, Earl of Hereford, certainly gives some support to the assertion. William Fitz Osbern had at least one other daughter besides the unfortunate Countess of Norfolk, of whom we learn no more than that she became the mother of Raynold de Cracci. Her daughter may have been the wife of Richard de Redvers, which would justify the expression "nepos," used indifferently for nephew or grandson.
The continuafor of Guillaume de Jumiéges tells us that one of Gunnora's nieces married Osmund de Centumville (i.e. Cotenville), Vicomte de Vernon, and had by him Fulk de Aneio (a companion of the Conqueror of whom I shall have to speak) and several daughters, one of whom was the mother of the first Baldwin de Redvers: "qua una mater fuit primi Baldwini de Revers" (cap. xxxvii.). Some have considered this to apply to Baldwin de Brionne or de Meules, and others to the first Baldwin de Redvers, Earl of Devon, but the foundation charter to Monteburgh appears to me to solve this riddle. Richard de Redvers (the founder) signs before Earl Simon and Earl Eustace, and following their signatures were those of "Baldwin, son of Richard de Redvers," and of Willermi (William) brother of the same Baldwin. Here we have a Baldwin de Redvers and a William his brother, giving credibility to the assertion that their grandfather might have been a William de Redvers, according to Mr. Stapleton. (In both the French lists we find a William as well as a Richard.) At the same time it is probable that he was the first Baldwin de Redvers, and father of the Richard who was "the Sire de Reviers" at Hastings, and died in 1107, having been one of the principal counsellors and champions of Prince Henry in his conflicts with his brother, Robert Court-heuse, and who shortly after his accession to the throne in 1100, rewarded his friend's service by the gift of Tiverton and Plympton, and the third penny of the pleas of the county of Devon.
Mr. Stapleton in his '"Addenda," above mentioned, denies that this Richard de Redvers was ever Earl of Devon; but if it be true that he had the third penny of the pleas, the gift of tertium denarium would carry with it the earldom, though the ceremony of girding with the sword (generally supposed not to have been practised before the reign of John) might not have been performed.
The argument that we do not find him styled Earl in contemporary documents is of no great value, as such omission is common in ancient charters; but that his wife Adeliza thought him an earl is clear from her charter to Twinham, in which she gives to the Church of the Holy Trinity her Church of Thorlei for the health of the souls of her Lord Richard, Earl of Redvers, and of her son, Earl Baldwin; the grant being made with the consent of "Earl Richard, my grandson and heir." Here you will observe that she styles her husband, her son, and her grandson all earls, but not of Devon, though the two latter were so beyond question. Therefore the omission cannot be used as an argument against the first.
This Lady Adeliza was a daughter of William Peverel of Nottingham and his wife Adelina of Lancaster, and her family by Richard de Redvers consisted of three sons, Baldwin, Earl of Devon, William, surnamed De Vernon, and Robert of St. Mary Church, and one daughter, Hawisia, wife of William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln. Baldwin and William must both have been very young at the time they witnessed the charter to Monteburgh, as the former did not die till 1155. His mother survived him, but how long is not certain. She was dead before 1165, and must, if these dates can be relied on, have been nearly a centenarian. But for the precise information contained in her charter to Twinham, I should be inclined to believe with Dr. Oliver that a generation had been omitted in the pedigree.
Also on this site: Charles Worthy on the REDVERS Family