Excerpt from Feudal England

by John Horace Round, 1895

Like many other older sources at the NY Public Library, this book is crumbling. I have hand-copied a few pages and will try to add a little more. Many thanks to Chris Phillips (see his own terrific site) for supplying all the parts I couldn't read. Note that Footnotes are hyperlinked (so, click on them). This excerpt starts at page 468.


In his detailed examination of all the evidence bearing on the death of William Rufus, the late Mr. Freeman carefully collected the few facts that are known relative to Walter Tirel. They are, however, so few, that he could add nothing to what Lappenberg had set forth (ii. 207) in 1834. He was, however, less confident than his predecessor as to the identity of Walter Tirel with the Essex tenant of that name in Domesday. I hope now to establish the facts beyond dispute, to restore the identity of Walter Tirel, and also to show for the first time who his wife really was.

The three passages we have first to consider are these:

Adelidam filiam Ricardi de sublimi prosapia Gifardorum conjugem habuit; quæ Hugonem de Pice, strenuissimum militem, marito suo peperit (Ord. Vit.).
Laingaham tenet Walterus Tirelde R. quod tenuit Phin dacus pro ii. hidis et dimidia et pro uno manerio (Domesday, ii. 41).
Adeliz uxor Walteri Tirelli reddit compotum de x. marcis argenti de eisdem placitis de La Wingeham (Rot. Pip., 31 Hen. I).

Dealing first with the Domesday entry, which comes, as Mr. Freeman observed, "among the estates of Richard of Clare," I would point out that though Ellis (who misled Mr. Freeman) thought that "Tirelde" was the name, the right reading is "tenet Walterus Tirel de R[icardo]," two words (as is not unusual) being written as one. Turning next to the words of Orderic, we find that Lappenberg renders them as "Adelaide, Tochter des Richard Giffard," and Mr. Freeman

p. 469: The Clares and the Giffards

as "a wife Adelaide by name, of the great line of Giffard." But there is no trace of a Richard Giffard, nor can "Adelida" herself be identified among the Giffards. The explanation of the mystery, I hold, is that she was the daughter, not of a Giffard, but of Richard de Clare, by his wife Rohese, daughter of Walter Giffard the elder. It is noteworthy that Orderic employs a precisely similar expression in the case of another Adeliza, the daughter of Robert de Grentmesnil. He terms her "soror Hugonis de Grentemaisnil de clara stirpe Geroianorum," though she was only descended from the famous Geroy through her mother. Richard's daughter was sufficiently described as "Adelida filia Ricardi," just as her brothers were known as "Gilbertus filius Ricardi," "Rogerus filius Ricardi," etc. The position of that mighty family was such that this description was enough, and they were even known collectively as the "Ricardi," or "Richardenses" (Mon. Ang., iv. 609). This is well illustrated by the passage in the Ely writer, describing Adeliza's brother Richard, Abbot of Ely, as

parentum undique grege vallatus, quorum familiam ex Ricardis et Gifardis constare totat Anglia et novit et sensit. Ricardi enim et Gifardi, duæ scilicet ex propinquo venientes familiæ, virtutis fama et generis copia illustres effecerat.

The above forms are curious, but not without parallel. Thus the descendants of Urse d'Abetot are spoken of as "Ursini" in Heming's Cartulary. Æthelred of Rievaulx speaks of "Poncii" and "Morini" as present at the battle of the Standard; Gerald, in a well-known passage (v. 335), speaks of the "Giraldidæ" and "Stephanidæ," and Orderic, we have seen, of the "Geroiani."

The doubly influential character of this descent is well illustrated in this passage (quantum valeat) from the chronicle of St. John's Abbey, Colchester.

Parcebatur tamen Eudoni, propter genus uxoris ipsius Rohaisæ: erat enim hæ de genere nobilissimo Normannorum, filia scilicet Ricardi, quo fuit filius Gilberti Comitis, duxitque Rohaisam uxorem,

p. 470: Walter Tirel and His Wife

quæ erat soror Willelmi Giffard, Episcopi Wintoniæ. Itaque, cum fratres et propinqui junioris Rohaiesæ quoslibet motus machinaturi putarentur, si contra maritum ipsius aliquid durius decerneretur, sic factum est ut interventu predicti Episcopi," etc., etc.

This passage is, I believe, the sole evidence for the real parentage of Bishop William. It was clearly unknown to Canon Venables, who wrote the Bishop's life for the Dictionary of National Biography.

Like most of these "foundation" histories, this document is in part untrustworthy. But is is Dugdale who has misread it, and not the document itself that is responsible for the grave error (Baronage, i. 110) that Eudo's wife was "Rohese, daughter of Walter Giffard, Earl of Buckingham." Here again, as in the Tirel case, the daughter of a Clare, by a Giffard, is converted into a Giffard. The error arose from referring the "qui" to Eudo instead of to his father-in-law, Richard. The "Historia" is perfectly consistent throughout in its identification of the younger Rohese, of whom it states that "commorata est marito annis triginta duobus, cui ante habiles annos nupta est" (iv. 609).

In asserting under "Clare" (Baronage, i. 208) that Eudo married the widow (not the daughter) of Richard, Dugdale relied on another and more inaccurate document (Mon. Ang., v. 269) which actually does speak of

Rohesia una sororum Walteri [Giffard secundi] -- duas plures enum habuit -- conjuncta in matrimonio Ricard filio Gilberti, qui in re militari, tempore Conquestoris, omnes sui temporis magnates præcessit--

as marrying Eudo Dapifer after her husband's death. But we must decide in favour of the Colchester narrative: Eudo's wife was her daughter and namesake.

We see then that Walter Tirel was son-in-law to Richard de Clare, who had enfeoffed him in "Laingaham" before 1086. Now this "Laingaham" was Langham in Essex, just north of Colchester, which gives us an important clue, Walter's widow "Adeliz" was in possession in 1130 (Rot.

p. 471: Hugh Tirel sells Langham

Pip., Hen. 1.) because, as we have seen, it was probably given her by her father "in maritagio." But her son Hugh held it under Stephen, and Anstis saw among the muniments of the Duchy of Lancaster a mortgage of it by Hugh to Gervase "Justiciar of London." I have not yet identified this "mortgage," but the confirmation of it to Gervase de Cornhill by Earl Gilbert de Clare, as chief lord of the fee, is extant,1 and its first witness is Earl Gilbert of Pembroke, so that it cannot be later than 1148, or earlier than 1138 (or 1139). Moreover in yet another quarter (Lansdown MS. 203, 15 dors.) we find a copy of a charter of this latter Earl Gilbert, belonging to the same occasion which runs as follows:—

Com. Gilb. de Penbroc omnibus hominibus Francis et Anglis sal. Sciatis me concessisse illam convencionem et vendicio nem quam Hugo Tirell fecit Gervasio de Chorhella de manerio suo de Laingham parte mea. Nam Comes de Clara, ex parte sua illud idem concessit, de cuius feodo predictum manerium movet.

Both charters contain the curious "movet" formula, in England so rare that I think I have not met with any other instance. It is, of course, equivalent to the regular French phrase: "sous sa mouvance." This mortgage or sale was probably effected as a preliminary to the crusade of 1147 in which Hugh Tirel is known to have taken part. Now the above Gervase, as I have shown in my Geoffrey de Mandeville was no other than Gervase de Cornhill, and after hisdeath we find Langham duly in the possession of his son Henry de Cornhill. 2 The chain of evidence is thus complete, and the identity of the Tirels and of their Manor placed beyond question.

p. 472: Walter Tirel and his Wife

But returning to the parentage of Walter's wife, we find that it raises a curious question by the family circle to which it introduces us. For we now learn that Gilbert and Roger, sons of Richard de Clare, who were present at Brockenhurst when the King was killed, were brothers-in-law of Walter Tirel, while Richard, another brother-in-law, was promptly selected to be Abbot of Ely by Henry I, who further gave the see of Winchester, as his first act, to William Giffard, another member of the same powerful family circle.3 Moreover, the members of the house of Clare were in constant attendance at Henry's court, and "Eudo Dapifer," whose wife was a Clare, was one of his favourites. I do not say that all this points to some secret conspiracy, to which Henry was privy, but it shows at least that he was on excellent terms with Walter Tirel's relatives.

I have explained in my article on the Clares in the Dictionary of National Biography that there has been much confusion as to the family history. As the errors are very persistent, it may perhaps be of some service, especially for identifying names, if I append a pedigree for the period of the Tirel connexion, which will distinguish the descendnts of Count Gilbert, "illustrious alike in his forefathers and his descendants."

Two charters will illustrate the attendance of the family at court in the early days of Henry I. An interesting charter belonging to Christmas, 1101, is attested by "-Gislebertus filius Ricardi et Robertus filius Baldwini et Ricardus frater ejus," while the attestations to one of 3rd September, 1101, comprise "G[islebertus] filius R[icardi] R[ogerus] (or R[obertus]) frater suus W[alterus] frater suus. . . . R[obertus] (or R[icardus]) filius B[aldwini]

Among the most persistent of errors are those which

p. 473: Pedigree of the Clares

identify Richard "filius Baldwini" with Richard de Redvers (who was of a different family and died long before him), and which make this compound Richard an Earl of Devon.

Planché endeavoured to slay the former of these errors, —which, originating in the Monasticon, is embalmed in Dugdale's Baronage, —as Taylor had previously done in his "Wace," and the Duchess of Cleveland has rightly observed in her Battle Abbey Roll (1889) that "there is not the slightest authority for assuming" the identity. But the necessity for again correcting the error is shown by its reappearance in Mr. Freeman's Exeter (1887) and by the life of Baldwin de Redvers, in the Dictionary of National Biography, by Mr. Hunt, which begins by stating that he was "the eldest son of Richard, Earl of Devon, the son of Baldwin de Moeles," whereas his father was not an Earl, and was not the son of Baldwin de Moeles.

I may also take this opportunity of pointing out that (as is shown in my Geoffrey de Mandeville) Richard fitz Gilbert (d. 1136) was not an earl, the earldom of Herts having been ante-dated like that of Devon.

Dugdale again has omitted, because he failed to identify, another daughter of the house of Clare, who made a most interesting match. This was "Adelidis de Tunbridge," wife of William de Percy, a niece and namesake, I confidently suggest, of Walter Tirel's wife. She seems to have brought into the Percy family the names of Richard and Walter. The charters which establish, I think, her identity are those of Sallay Abbey, in which Maud (widow of William, Earl of Warwick) and her sister Agnes (ancestress of the later Percies) speak of their mother as "Adelidis de Tunbridge" (Mon. Ang., v. 512-3). She can only, therefore, in my opinion, have been a daughter of Gilbert "de Tunbridge"; and with this conclusion the dates harmonize well. Yet another daughter was Margaret, wife of William de Montfichet, who brought into that family the names of Gilbert and Richard.

p. 474: Walter Tirel and his Wife

We have yet to deal with one more member of this historic house, Baldwin fitz Gilbert, or Baldwin de Clare, ancestor, through his daughter and heir, of the family of Wake. I had always suspected that Baldwin fitz Gilbert, the recognised grandfather of Baldwin Wac (1166), could be no other than Baldwin, son of Gilbert de Clare, a well-known man. But Dugdale, under "Wake" (i. 539) positively asserts that the former was "brother to Walter de Gant, father of Gilbert de Gant, the first Earl of Lincoln of that family." This proves, however, on enquiry, to be based on an almost incredible blunder. Dugdale actually relied on a charter,5 which includes Baldwin among the Clares, and which he himself under "Clare" rightly so interprets (Baronage, i. 207b). There is, therefore, no ground for deriving Baldwin from De Gant, or for rejecting his identity with that Baldwin de Clare, who addressed the troops on behalf of Stephen at the battle of Lincoln.6

Having made several additions to the pedigree of De Clare, I have also to make one deduction in Robert fitz Richard's alleged younger son "Simon, to whom he gave the Lordship of Daventry in Northamptonshire" (Baronage, i. 218). This erroneous statement is taken from a monastic genealogy (blundering as usual) in the Daventry Cartulary.7 The documents of that house show at once that Simon was the son of Robert fitz "Vitalis" (a benefactor to the house in 1109), not of Robert fitz Richard, and was not, therefore, a Clare. Nor was he lord of Daventry.

But Dugdale's most unpardonable blunder is his identification of Maud "de St. Liz," wife of William de Albini Brito. He makes her sixty years old in 1186 (p. 113), and

p. 475: Some Errors of Dugdale

yet widow of Robert fitz Richard, wno died in 1134 (p. 218), finally stating that "she died in anno 1140" (Ib.)! Here, as in the case of Eudo Dapifer, William's wife was the daughter, not the widow. In both cases the lady was a Clare. The fact is certain from his own authority, the cartularies of St. Neot's.8 We have a grant from "Rob[ertus] filius Ric[ardi]" at fo. 79b, grants from "Matildis de Sancto Licio (al. 'Senliz') filia Roberti filii Ricardi" on the same fo., and on the preceding one (fo. 79) this conclusive one as to her husband:—

Ego Willelmus de Albineio Brito et Matild' uxor mea dedimus et concessimus ecclesiam de Cratefeld deo et ecclesie Sci. Neoti et monachis Beccensibus pro anima Roberti filii Ricardi et antecessorum meorum.

Then follows their son's confirmation, as "Willelmus de Albeneio filius Matillidis de Seint Liz." Next, "Willelmus de Albeneio filius Matild' de Senliz," gives land, "quam terram Domina Matild' Senliz mater mea eis prius concesserat," — her said grant of land in Cratfield duly following as from "Matild de Senliz filia Roberti filii Ricardi." Further, we have Walter fitz Robert (fitz Richard) confirming this grant by his sister Matildis. Finally, we learn that Cratfield belonged to her in "maritagio." Now (as "Cratafelda") it belonged in Domesday to Ralf Baignard. His honour, on his forfeiture, was given to Robert fitz Richard, who was thus able to give, Cratfield "in maritagio" to his daughter. Here then is independent proof of what her parentage really was, and further independent proof, if needed, is found in this entry (1185):—

Matillis de Sainliz que fuit filia Roberti filli Richardi, et mater Willelmi de Albeneio est de donatione Domini Regis et est lx. annorum (Rot. de Dominabus, p. I).

We thus learn that, as with Avicia "de Rumilly," daughter of William Meschin, it was possible for a woman

p 476: Walter Tirel and his Wife

to bear, strange though it may seem, the maiden name of her mother. Clearly, Maud was the widow of William de Albini, who sent in his carta (under Leicestershire) in 1166, and died, as I reckon, from the Pipe Rolls, in Nov., 1167. She was not, as alleged, the widow of the William who fought at the Battle of Tinchebray in 1106.

Lastly, we come to the parentage of Walter Tirel himself. Mr. Freeman wrote that this was "undoubted," that "Walter was one of a family of ten, seemingly the youngest of eight sons" of Fulc, Dean of Evreux, and that "he became, by whatever means, lord of Poix in Ponthieu and of Achères by the Seine" (W. Rufus, II. 322, 673)·9 But the mystery of his rise is not lessened by the fact that, as Mr. Freeman put it, most accounts "connect him with France rather than with Normandy." Closer investigation suggests that Orderic in no way identifies the Walter Tirel of 1100 with the son of Dean Fulc, and shows indeed that his French editors had specially declared the two to be distinct. In short, Walter had nothing to do with Dean Fulc or with Normandy, but was, as categorically stated, a Frenchman, the third of his name who occurs as Lord of Poix. Père Anselme identifies him with the second (who occurs in 1069), but he is probably identical with the third, who occurs in an agreement with the Count of Amiens, 1087, and who, with his wife "Adelice," founded the Priory of St. Denis de Poix,10 and built the Abbey of St. Pierre de Sélincourt. It was he who was father of Hugh the Crusader. 11

p. 477: The Tirels, Lords of Poix

Here may be mentioned another name by which Walter seems to have been known. I take it from the twelfth century chronicle of Abbot Simon in the "Chartularium Sithiense,"12 which appears to have eluded Mr. Freeman's researches when he made his collection of all the versions of the death of William Rufus:—

Willelmus, prioris Willelmi regis Angliæ filius, eodem anno a Waltero de Bekam, ex improviso, interficitur. Qui, cum rege in saitu venatum iens, dum sagitta cervum appeteret, eadem divinitus retorta rex occiditur. Cujus interitus sancte recordationis viro Hugoni, abbati Cluniacensi est præostensus, etc., etc.

The testimony of a St. Omer writer on the deed of the Lord of Poix is, even if traditionary, worth noting; but I do not profess to explain the "Bekam."13

If we now turn to the French writers, we find that the special work on the family is that of Mr. Cuvillier-Morel-d'Acy, "Archiviste-Généalogiste."14 It savours, however, of Peerage rather than of History, and relies for its expansion of Père Anselme's somewhat jejune narrative15 on private MS. collections instead of original authorities. This work was followed by an elaborate monograph on "Poix et ses Seigneurs" by M. l'Abbé Delgove,16 who accepts the former writer's genealogy without question, though dealing more critically with the charters of foun-

p. 478: Walter Tirel and his Wife

dation for the Priory of St. Denis de Poix. He admits that these charters are not authentic in their present form, but accepts their contents as genuine. Now the endowment of St. Denis, according to them, included two marcs out of the tithes "de Lavingaham en Angleterre." Here, though these writers knew it not, we have again our Essex Langham, the "Lawingeham" of the Pipe Roll. Is this the reason why Walter required the consent of his wife "Adeline" and son Hugh to the grant?

Neither of these writers knew of the English evidence, nor did they solve the mystery of Walter Tirel's wife, whom they, like Lappenberg, imagined to be the daughter of a Richard Giffard. This tends to diminish our trust in the pedigree they give. They took a Walter Tirel to England at the Conquest, but only because Wace mentions the "Pohiers," or men of Poix, and because the name of Tirel is found in the Battle Roll. In their view, Hugh Tirel, Lord of Poix, the crusader of 1147, was grandson of the famous Walter. Now Orderic, whose evidence on the point they ignore, says, as we have seen, he was the son; and as the chronicler was contemporary both with father and son, we cannot think him mistaken. Moreover, the Pipe Roll of 1130 cannot be harmonized with their pedigree. Adeliz, wife (? widow) of Walter Tirel, then answered for Langham, and. could not be "Adeline dame de Ribecourt," who was dead, according to both writers, before 1128 (or 1127), and who could not, in any case, have aught to do with Langham.

But there is other evidence, unknown to these French writers, which proves that the version they give must be utterly wrong. Among the archives at Evreux there is a charter of Hugh Tirel to the Abbey of Bee, granting "decem marcas argenti in manerio quod dicitur Lavigaham" to its daughter-house of Conflans, where, he says, his mother had taken the religious"habit," and retired to die. The Priors of Conflans and [St. Denis of] Poix are among the witnesses; and we read of the charter's date:—

p. 479: Langham and Conflans

Hoc concessum est apud piccium castrum anno M. cxxxviii. ab incarnatione dominica viii. idus martii.

Even if we make this date to be 1139, we here find Hugh in possession of Poix and Langham at that date, whereas the French writers tell us that he only succeeded in 1145, and that his father died in that year.17 The above charter, moreover, points to his mother having survived his father, and died at Conflans as a widow. Until, therefore, evidence is produced in support of the French version, we must reject it in toto.

I close this study with an extract from that interesting charter by which Richard I empowered Henry de Cornhill to enclose and impark his woods at Langham, the same day (6th Dec., 1189) on which he empowered his neighbours the burgesses of Colchester to hunt the fox, the hare and the "cat" within their borders. The words are: --

Sciatis nos dedisse et concessisse Henrico de Cornhell' licentiam includendi boscum suum in Lahingeham et faciendi sibi ibidem parcum, et ut liceat illi habere omnes bestias quos poterit ibi includere.18

Thus did the wealthy Londoner become a country squire seven centuries ago. Nor is it irrelevant to observe that the "Langham Lodge coverts" are familiar to this day to those who hunt with the Essex and Suffolk.


  1. 1. Duchy of Lancaster: Grants in boxes, A, 157. It is there described as " conventionem et venditionem quam Hugo Tirell' fecit Gervasio de Cornhella de manerio suo de lauhingeham," which implies an actual sale rather than a mortgage. The seal of Earl Gilbert, with the three chevrons on his shield, is, I claim, an earlier instance, by far, of coat-armour on a seal than any hitherto known (see my paper in Arch. Journ., li. 46).
  2. Duchy of Lancaster: Royal Charters, No. 42.
  3. A metrical epitaph, preserved by Rudborne, claims for him a descent from Charlemagne, :which implies that he, like Walter's wife, was "de sublimi prosapia Gifardorum" (see p. 468 supra).
  4. See also Geoffrey de Mandeville, p. 329.
  5. Old Monasticon, i. 245b; and vide infra, p. 522. A curious sketch of the above scene in a MS. of Henry of Huntingdon (Arundel MS. 148) depicts Baldwin with two of the Clare chevrons on his shield, and a marginal note, almost illegible, duly describes him as grandfather of Baldwin Wac. This sketch is overlooked in the Brit. Mus. catalogue of drawings.
  6. See also Rot. Pip. 31 Hen. I, and my Geoffrey de Mandeville.
  7. Mon. Ang. v. 178.
  8. Cott. MS. Faustina A. iv. See also Addenda.
  9. Mr. Freeman rendered Walter Map's "Achaza" by "Achères." But as the Tirels always styled themselves "Sires de Poix et Vicomtes d'Equesnes" it is probable that the latter was meant.
  10. His gift was confirmed by Geoffrey, Bishop of Amiens, who died in 1116.
  11. The essential reference occurs in the charter of 1069 grantedby Ralf, Count of Amiens, which mentions "Symon filius meus et Gualterus Gualteri Tirelli natus" (Archives depart. de la Somme: Cartulaire de N.D. d'Amiens, No. I, fo. 91). These were the first and second known bearers of the name. The latter occurs in a St. Riquier charter of 1058. Poix was some fifteen miles from Amiens, and its lordship was of considerable importance. A charter of 1030 to Rouen Cathedral is said to contain the name "Galtero Tyrello, domino de Piceio."
  12. Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de St. Bertin (Documents Inédits), pp. 267-8.
  13. I find entered in the Cartulary of Hesdin (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) on fo. 29, a notification "quia Walterus Tireel et filius eius Hugo hospitem unum eum omni mansione . . . apud villam Verton concesserunt," and that they have granted freedom from toll "apud Belram . . . coram militibus suis." Could "Bekam" possibly be a misprint for "Belram" [Beaurain] ?
  14. Histoire Généalogique et Héraldique de la Maison des Tyrel, Sires, puis Princes de Poix, etc., etc. (2nd Ed.) 1869.
  15. Vol. vii., pp. 820 et seq.
  16. Mémoires de la Société d'Antiquaires de Picardie (1876), xxv. 287 et sq.
  17. M. Abbé Delgove produces (p. 369) a precisely similar case, in which a deed of 1315 proves John Tirel to have been already in possession of Poix, although, according to the family history, he did not die till 1315. This throws doubts, he admits, on M. Cuvillier-Morel-d'Acy's chronology.
  18. Duchy of Lancaster, Royal Charter, No. 42. Supra, p. 471.

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