Saturday 14 May 2022

Part 2- Ancestral Origins of Theobald Walter: possible candidates for the Walter surname named ‘Walter’ in the Domesday Book


NB. clicking on an image will open a higher resolution image


Introduction: Explanation of land tenure after the Conquest, and in particular lands held by the Malet family in Counties Suffolk and Norfolk as tenants-in-chief in the Domesday Book

 Ancestral candidates named Walter in Co. Suffolk in the Domesday Book

(A) Walter ‘who held of this manor’

(B) Walter the crossbowman

(C) Walter de Caen

(D) Walter fitzGrip

(E) Others named ‘Walter’ who held lands in East Anglia in Domesday:

 The Malet Family

Kilkenny Castle, seat of the Butlers of Ireland

The previous blog chapter concentrated on the evidence available on the immediate family of Theobald Walter 1st  Butler of Ireland who was the ancestor of the Ormond Butlers and the other Irish Butler aristocratic lines such as Barons Dunboyne, Viscounts Mountgarrett, Earls of Carrick, Viscounts Galmoy, Baronets of Cloughgrennan, Barons Cahir, etc., and many Butlers of Irish descent. However, while the Butler surname in Ireland developed from the hereditary title of Butler of Ireland, Theobald’s surname was Walter, and this chapter explores the possible Norman origins and ancestry of this Walter family.

As discussed in the previous blog chapter, Theobald’s father, brothers, uncle and cousin, and possibly grandfather (in one record) all carried the unusual surname of ‘Walter’, as evidenced in all records of this family. No-one in this extended family was ever referred to as ‘FitzWalter’ in the records which as most unusual for that period of time.

To determine which of the many ‘Walters’ named in the Domesday survey could be relevant to our quest, we can only look at the lands, possibly ancestral, held by the ‘Walter’ family in co. Suffolk in the 1100’s which correspond with the lands held by a Norman land-holder named ‘Walter’ in Domesday.

While this is not an accurate method, it is the only approach available to us, given the lack of records for that period of time.


Authors, Pollock and Maitland in their History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I’ (vol.1. pp.164-65, 1903), discuss the archbishop of Canterbury Hubert Walter’s name: ‘Now the name ‘Hubertus Walteri’ was not merely an uncommon name, it was a name of exceedingly uncommon kind. ‘Hubertus filius Walteri’ would of course be a name of the commonest kind, but the omission of the ‘filius’ is, among men of gentle birth, an almost distinctive mark of a particular family, that to which the great archbishop belonged.’

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB- biography of Hubert Walter, by Robert C. Stacey, 2004) makes the statement that ‘Hervey Walter was a Norfolk knight of middling status’. In other words, Hervey’s Norman ancestor was not related to the royal family of the Conqueror and therefore did not hold high status, but was probably one of the lesser ranked knights who accompanied William at the conquest in 1066, or was one of the numerous Norman settlers who followed soon after the Conquest, and possibly held lands under one of the tenants-in-chief granted lands in the Domesday survey. Their rise in status in the late 12th century was due to their relationship with Rannulf de Glanville Chief Justiciar of England and his close association with King Henry II and his sons and heirs, Richard and John. They must have held sufficient status for Theobald de Valoines, Lord of Parham, to grant the hand of one of his daughters to Hervey Walter. The de Valoines, the de Glanvilles and the Walters appear to have been of the same social level in Suffolk in the early 1100’s. And therefore, the Walter ancestor must have held lands in Suffolk/Norfolk in Domesday just as the Valoines and Glanville ancestors held lands in Suffolk/Norfolk under tenants-in-chief such as Robert Malet and Count Alan of Brittany.

The origin of the surname Walter remains the prime question.

How did this family acquire this singular surname, and from whom did the surname Walter originate?

Why did it differ to the normal form of ‘filius Walter’ or fitzWalter?    

Was it taken from the paternal or maternal line?

Was it a case of the name coming from a wife of superior status who was an heiress, or was the name taken as a younger son to differentiate from the senior line?

Or was it adopted to differentiate from other lines of FitzWalters of whom there were several, including the eldest son of Walter de Caen named Robert fitzWalter, and the fitzWalter brothers, sons of Walter fitzOtho Castellan of Windsor and tenant-in-chief of 21 manors in Domesday; and the later Robert fitzWalter of Dunmow Castle (descendant of the de Clare family), one of the leaders of the baronial opposition against King John?

The interesting point is that surnames in that era were fluid and often changed with each new generation to reflect their father’s name, or by taking the names of their estates as family appellatives, yet every member of this extended family for at least three generations used the same singular surname of Walter. One would think that this must have been in honour of their forebear, and the family’s desire to differentiate their family line from descendant lines from different ancestors named Walter, a common Norman name at that time. Notably, while there were several unrelated families of fitzWalters, this particular family was the only faily that held the singular surname of Walter in Norman England.

One of the few surviving records of the 11th century was William the Conqueror’s magnificent survey of all landholders in England pre and post Conquest, called the Domesday Book. The lands in co. Suffolk belonging to Walter family members in the 12th century may be of importance in determining their ancestry, namely at WINGFIELD, INSTEAD (part of Weybread), and possibly STRADBROKE (the unidentified ‘Sikebro’ in Hervey’s charter to Butley Priory) all held by Hervey Walter, and at FRESSINGFIELD belonging to the junior Walter line (viz. Hubert Walter the elder and his son Peter Walter whose manor of Snapeshall was in Fressingfield). They were all located in the small area in the Hundred of Bishop in north Suffolk, near EYE and belonging to the Honour of Eye held by tenant-in-chief Robert Malet until c.1106, then held by the Crown, and from c.1115 by Stephen Count of Mortain, nephew and heir to King Henry I. These lands will be examined in detail, the importance of which will become apparent as we look at the Domesday Book records for these lands, and determine who held them.


Map of East Suffolk showing close proximity of these lands held by the Walter family

The documentary evidence of Hervey Walter’s Suffolk lands occurs in the Butley Priory Cartulary –

The Cartulary of Leiston Abbey and Butler Priory Charters, ed R.H. Mortimer, 1979, p.151- Charter No. 146; dated c.1171-77:

Contemporary endorsement: ‘Hervey Walter of his fee in Wingfield’

In Charter No. 147 in the same cartulary, a Gilbert de Hawkdon granted 6d rent in Instead to Butley Priory ‘by the will of my lord Theobald Walter’, confirming that Theobald held Instead in his lifetime. The charter was witnessed by Peter Walter who donated rent from his mill at Instead to West Dereham Abbey founded by his cousin Hubert Walter (viz. son of Hervey Walter).

Peter Walter’s Fressingfield lands were inherited from his father Hubert Walter the elder, and as he personally stated in a charter, his ‘predecessors’, the tithes of which were donated to Eye Priory.

Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters, I, ed. V. Brown, 1994, p.231

Charter No.319- Peter Walter

Date: c.1180’s:

One of several Eye Priory confirmation charters referring to Peter’s father Hubert Walter’s land in Fressingfield, named Snapeshall, from which he donated the tithe to Eye Priory:

(Eye Cart., pp.43-44)

Charter No.40- Bishop of Norwich

Date: c.1155-61:

A suit in 1209 between Peter Walter son of Hubert Walter ('Peter filius Hubert'), and the abbot of West Dereham Abbey confirmed that Peter held land in Instead and in Weybread that he held from his ancestors (under recognition of ‘mort d’ancestor’ = death of an ancestor), the rents of which he had donated to his cousin Hubert Walter’s foundation charter of Dereham in the 1190’s. Notably, this suit occurred after the deaths of Theobald and his brother Hubert, and it would also appear, the deaths of their brothers Roger and Hamon, which would explain the inheritance of their mutual ancestor's (viz. Hervey's) lands by Peter Walter.


Final concord at St Edmunds, 19 April 1209.

Between Peter son of Hubert (Petrum filium Huberti), the claimant, and Henry abbot of Dereham, the holder of 20 acres with appurtenances in Ysted/Instead and three shillings worth of rent in Weybread, under the recognition of ‘mort d’ancestor’.

(Feet of Fines for the County of Norfolk for the reign of King John 1201-1215, and for the County of Suffolk 1199-1214, ed. Barbara Dodwell, London 1958 (p.238 No. 497 [Case 154, File 30, No. 435])

What we don’t know is in what period of time these adjacent lands in the Hundred of Bishops/Hoxne were acquired by the Walter family, whether inherited from a Norman settler or granted by Stephen Count of Mortain at the time he granted them the fee of Weeton in Lancaster. Due to lack of records, this question will not be resolved, but as Peter Walter confirmed the donation of the tithes of his demesne lands in Fressingfield as the ‘gift of his predecessors’ which implies more than just his father Hubert, we should explore the possibility that the Suffolk lands and their ‘Walter’ surname were inherited from a Norman settler. Plus, the fact that the de Glanvilles and the de Valoines inherited their lands in Suffolk and Norfolk from their ancestors who held lands in the Domesday Book. 


King William established his favoured followers as barons by enfeoffing them as tenants-in-chief with great fiefdoms. Lands forming a barony were often located in several different counties, but usually a more concentrated cluster existed in a specific county. The name of such a barony is generally deemed to be the name of the chief manor within it, generally assumed to have been the seat or chief residence of the first baron. The feudal obligation imposed by the grant of a barony was set as a quota of knights to be provided for the king’s service. Commonly, he found these knights by splitting his barony into several fiefs, into each of which he would sub-enfeoff one knight, by the tenure of knight-service. This tenure gave the knight use of the fief and all its revenues, on condition that he should provide to the baron, now his overlord, 40 days of military service, complete with retinue of esquires, horses and armour. The fief so allotted is known as a knight’s fee. Scutage was a medieval tax levied on holders of knight’s fees, whereby the knights were allowed to ‘buy-out’ of the military service, and first existed under the reigns of Henry I and Stephen.

If the barony contained a significant castle and was especially large, consisting of more than 20 knight’s fees, then it was termed an ‘honour’, with the castle giving its name to the honour and serving as its administrative headquarters. (Wikipedia)

The main landholders listed in the Domesday Book were tenants-in-chief, either King William himself, or one of around 1400 people who held land directly from the Crown, mostly higher status Norman knights and lords, and in turn, the tenants-in-chief granted many of these lands to a second tenant, in return for tax and military service, and they were the immediate lord over the peasants and freemen working the farms. They were often connected to the tenant-in-chief through familial connections or from the same region in Normandy or Brittany as vassals. 

At the time of the Domesday survey, the sub-tenants, or vassals of a tenant-in-chief to whom they paid homage and swore fealty, owed military service to their lord for their fiefs which they held ‘freehold’, ie. held for life and was heritable by their heirs. The Norman kings eventually imposed on all freemen who occupied a tenement, a duty of fealty to the crown rather than to their immediate lord who had enfeoffed them, to prevent barons raising their own armies against the king.

The Malets as tenant-in-chief

The most powerful lord in Norfolk and Suffolk with huge land holdings in Domesday Book was named Robert Malet who accompanied the Conqueror with his father William Malet who held substantial property in Normandy with a castle in Graville-Sainte-Honorine (now in Le Havre), as well as lands near Caen. Another relation was Durand Malet who may have been a brother of William, or a second son, brother of Robert.

William Malet’s mother was an Englishwoman, thought to be the possible daughter of Leofric Earl of Mercia and Godgifu the supposed sister of Thorold the Sheriff in the time of Edward the Confessor, and it has been conjectured that Malet’s grandfather was probably one of the men who accompanied Emma of Normandy to England in 1002 for her marriage with Aethelred.

William Malet was appointed high sheriff of Yorkshire in the 3rd year of William the Conqueror’s reign. He and his wife, Esilia/Hesilia, and younger children were captured by the invading Danes who slew 3000 Normans when they captured York, and were ransomed. This was followed by the infamous ‘harrying of the north’ resulting in widescale destruction and famine. After William’s release, he was appointed sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, granted the barony of Eye, building a castle at Eye as his military and administrative headquarters and starting a market. William died c.1171 and his extensive landholdings were inherited by his eldest son Robert who was granted the Honour of Eye, consisting of a widely scattered grouping of manors and land holdings spread over eight counties and was one of the largest estates in England after the Conquest. The bulk of the properties were in Suffolk and Norfolk. Robert’s seat was Eye Castle, where he built and endowed a monastery of Benedictine monks.

In the Domesday survey of 1086, Robert held, as tenant-in-chief, 34 lordships in Yorkshire, 5 in Essex, 1 in Surrey, 1 in Rutland, 2 in Nottinghamshire, 8 in Lincolnshire, and 27 in Norfolk and 173 in Suffolk whereof Eye was the chief.

Most of Malet’s estates in East Anglia had been granted as successor to the pre-1086 lord, Eadric of Laxfield, a wealthy and influential Saxon who was the third largest landholder in Suffolk. The total land area of the Honour of Eye is estimated at least 75,000 acres of which 47,000 were located in Suffolk, making Robert Malet the second largest landholder in Suffolk after the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds.

Robert Malet’s largest land-holding sub-tenants in Suffolk and Norfolk were:

Malet’s mother Esilia (42 manors); Walter de Caen (31 attributed- 4 as ‘W. de Caen’, and 14+ as just 'Walter'), Walter filius Albrici/fitzAubrey, (11+ possibly some attributed to just ‘Walter’); Humphrey filius Robert (28); Hubert de MonteCanisy (24 attributed- several just as ‘Hubert’); William Gulafre (19 attributed- 4 just as ‘William’); Robert de Glanville (17); Gilbert (17- possibly Robert Malet’s younger brother named Gilbert, or Gilbert the crossbowman, or Gilbert Blund, or Gilbert de Wissant, or Gilbert de Coleville); Gilbert Blunt/Blund (10); Walter (10 - see Walter de Caen where 14 other lands in name of ‘Walter’ attributed to de Caen); Walter fitzGrip (9); Gilbert de Wissant (6); Loernic (5); Walter the crossbowman (4 attributed- 2 near Eye just named as ‘Walter’- see ‘Walter’ and Walter de Caen above); Northmann the sheriff (4- also lived in England pre Conquest); Gilbert de Coleville (4); Fulcred (5) and Robert son of Fulcred (4); Walter de Risboil (3 - in and near Parham); and 22 other sub-tenants with less than 3 lands.

One of Malet’s most favoured sub-tenants was Walter de Caen who is said to have come to England with Robert Malet, and it has been suggested by some historians that they may have been related, although unsubstantiated. There is division amongst historians on whether Walter de Caen was also another Domesday tenant named Walter fitzAubrey (further discussion later).

A similar suggestion is made by some historians that Hubert de MonteCanisy was possibly related to Robert Malet through marriage. MonteCanisy near Deauville in Normandy was very near the Malet’s seat at Graville-Ste-Honorine (near Le Havre). Hubert de MonteCanisy was also a donor and prime witness to Malet’s foundation charter to Eye Priory, and was appointed seneschal of Eye Priory after Malet’s death in c.1106, a position inherited by his son of the same name.

Robert Malet’s foundation charter to Eye Priory c.1103-05

Of these sub-tenants of Malet, the following made donations and/or witnessed Robert Malet’s foundation charter to Eye Priory, and all held lands close to Eye Priory:

Robert filius  Walter de Caen (witness, indicating that Walter must have been deceased before 1103); Roger filius Walter de Huntingfield (fitzAubrey (donor and witness); Hubert de MonteCanisy (donor and 1st witness); Humphrey filius Robert; William Gulafre (donor and witness); Hervey de Glanville an heir of Robert de Glanville, and the father of Rannulf de Glanville (donor and witness); Walter fitzGrip; Jordan of Wilby the heir of Loernic; Fulcred of Peasenhall; and, Walter the crossbowman (donor and witness).

The Benedictine Priory dedicated to St. Peter in the town of Eye, a cell of the abbey of Bernay in Normandy, was supposedly founded by Robert Malet in the latter period of the reign of the Conqueror, after the Domesday survey in 1086. The new community must have still been in its early stages of development when King William died in 1087. Malet begins his charter: Foundation charter of Robert Malet whereby he announces that, with the assent of his lord king William, for his soul and that of his wife, queen Mathilda, for his own soul and for the souls of his father William Malet, of his mother Hesilia, and of his ancestors and kin, he is constructing a monastery at Eye and installing a community of monks therein.

However, historians generally accept that the contents and donations therein of his foundation charter, the original having been lost, is dated c.1103-05 under the reign of Henry I, as Malet lost the Honour of Eye under the reign of William Rufus, granted to Roger the Poitevan, and the Honour was not reinstated to Malet until the succession of Henry I in 1100. Also taking into account the donors and witnesses to the charter, including the sons of Walter de Caen (who, personally, is missing from the charter), and Malet’s mother (who is also missing), both presumed deceased, plus the ages of Walter de Caen’s sons, points to the later date.

The text of Malet’s charter in the Eye Priory Cartulary dates back to c.1260, and contains the details of Malet’s charter donations from himself and from his sub-tenants and local knights, and the Eye Priory Cartulary includes a large number of confirmation charters in the early to mid-12th century by various monarchs, popes and bishops, including the confirmation of the donation of Peter and Hubert Walter’s land in Fressingfield which was not included in the original charter, but first appeared in the confirmation charter of King Henry I.

(Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters, 2 vols, ed. Vivien Brown, 1992)

The witness list for Malet’s Charter contains many names of this small area of Suffolk that will become familiar, notably, Hubert de MonteCanisy, Roger filius Walter de Huntingfield (second son of Walter de Caen), Robert filius Walter (eldest son of Walter de Caen), Hervey de Glanville (father of Rannulf de Glanville Chief Justiciar), Walter Arbalestarius (the crossbowman) and William Gulafre:

The donations in Malet’s charter are divided into two sections.

The first section: “For their maintenance he confers upon them (viz. the monks at Eye) and confirms to them from his own lands, churches and tithes the following”.

He then lists a large number of churches with their lands and tithes; then a few bequests of tithes and lands held from him by Norman knights and barons, such as “at the request of Osbert de Cunteville all the land which he held in Occold; with the assent of Walter fitzGrip all the land which he had in Fresingfield with the mill; the tithe of Oyn Compayn of Instead; the grant of Walter the arblaster (crossbowman) of his tithe of Halegestowe and of Gosewolde and the church of St Margaret with its land; the tithe of Humphrey of Playford with the church of that vill with its lands and tithes”;

Followed by:all the tithes of the following manors of his (Malet’s) demesne: Eye, Stradbroke, Redlington, Dennington, Tannington, Badingham, Kelton, Hollesley, Leiston, Laxfield, Barrowby (Lincs), Sedgebrook (Lincs.), Welbourne (Lincs.), Wakes Colne (Essex), and South Cave (Yorks);

They are to hold all their possessions free and quit of all exaction and to have soke and sake and toll and team and infangenetheof in Eye, in Dunwich and in all places where they have lands, and have all the other liberties which my lord William king of England granted me when he gave me my honour.”

It is possible that the first section was part of the original charter made in the time of King William I, with the original donors listed, including Malet's own personal donations from his Honour of Eye.

Notably, in the succeeding confirmation charters of various monarchs, popes and bishops in the Eye Priory Cartulary, Hubert Walter’s tithe donation is placed in the list of Malet’s ‘manors of his demesne’, between Badingham and Kelton, rather than as a separate donation in the second section of the charter, implying that Hubert Walter’s lands were located in Malet’s own demesne. which raises questions on the basis of this unique entry and why it was included in the first section of the charter, as opposed to the majority of donations in the second section. 

Was this to prevent the land being taken from the priory by the reigning monarch at the time, such as King Stephen who did not acknowledge this entry of Hubert's in his confirmation charter?

 Also, notably, Wingfield is not included in the above list of Malet's manors, maybe because it was a berewick of Stradbroke in Domesday, and neither is Fressingfield (partly held by Walter fitzGrip) or Chippenhall (which encompassed Fressingfield in Domesday).

While Instead is listed in the charter under the name of ‘Oyn Campayn’ who donated his tithe, nothing more is known of him, and Instead was originally held by William Malet, as part of his fief before his death 1171, later held by his son Robert in Domesday with one freeman (maybe Campayne) commended by the Bishop of Hoxne.

The second section of the charter list of donations begins: 

In addition, he grants and confirms the gifts which his barons and knights made to them with his consent, namely, the tithes of: Roger de Huntingfield of Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng (son of Walter fitzAubrey); Richard Hovel of Wyverstone; William Gulafre of Okenhill (son of Roger Gulafre); Oger de Pucher of Bedingfield; Ernald fitzRoger of Whittingham (in Fressingfield) and Hasketon (son of Roger filius Ernald); Ralph Grossus of Creeting St Peter; William de Roville of Glemham and Clakestorp; the tithe of 30 acres in Glemham of the fee of [Alan] the count of Brittany (d.1093); Hugh d’ Aviliers of Brome and Shelfanger; Odo de Charun of Gislingham and Roydon; Godard of Gislingham; Hubert of Rickenhall (de Montecanisy); Randulf de Glanville (of the hospital at Yaxley- possible father, or grandfather of Hervey de Glanville); Hubert de MonteCanisy (of the hospital at Yaxley; with Malet giving the church of Yaxley with all its appurtenances); Robert Malus Nepos of Huntingfield (Huntingfield wholly held by Walter fitzAubrey from Malet in Domesday- a charter witness named Hubert Malus Nepos); Jocelin (Rocelin) of Hollesley (Hollesley held by Robert de Glanville from Malet in Domesday); Geoffrey of Braiseworth; Fulcred of Peasenhall (held by Fulcred in Domesday); and the tithe of Humphrey fitzUnuey.

Many of these named barons and knights were the sons of those named in the Domesday Book, and were living well into the 12th century. This implies that these donations were made after Malet regained the Honour of Eye after the succession of Henry I in 1100.

Malet concludes: to the other men, knights and sokemen of his jurisdiction he grants and commands that they shall make gifts to his monastery of Eye according to their resources. All of these things with the consent of witnesses, Robert Malet has offered to the church of his monks upon the altar of St Peter’s of Eye and has confirmed for ever by this charter.

Robert Malet died c.1106, and although his Honour of Eye reverted back to the Crown until awarded to Stephen Count of Mortain c.1113 (Henry I’s heir), many of his lands in East Anglia were inherited by his sub-tenants’ descendants who continued to live there, on condition of loyalty to the Crown. The close association of many of Malet’s subtenants’ descendants continued throughout the 12th century, as knights and barons of the county of Suffolk and of the Honour of Eye, and some intermarriages to consolidate the lands held by their ancestors.

Durand Malet who shared land with 'Walter'

Durand Malet was thought to be either a brother of William Malet or younger brother of Robert Malet.

There are several questions relating to a man named Durand, and Durand Malet, and his possible relationship to the Walter family. However, there were also several entries in Domesday which had just 'Durand' and it is unknown whether any of these were also Durand Malet.

A Walter shared ownership with Durand of 26 acres at Marham in Norfolk in 1070, which was still in Walter’s hands in 1086.

In Domesday, the lands of Hugh de Montfort (who saved William Malet’s life at the Battle of Hastings) shows that Walter continued to hold the land of Marham in 1086, but no longer with Durand:

In Marham, there are 26 sokemen whom Walter holds. St AEthelthyrth held them TRE in soke. There were 8 bordars, now 9, Then 5 ploughs, now 4, 6 acres of Meadow. Then it was worth 80s, afterwards 60s, now 40s. He received this land in exchange and it has been measured in the return of St Aethelthryth (viz. Ely Abbey, Cambridgeshire).

Was this ‘Walter’ referring to Walter de Caen who held a close relationship with the Malet family, or another Walter?  The most likely candidate is Walter de Caen.

Was this the same Durand who held Ickleton from Hardwin de Scales?  

Ickleton was the estate of the Walter family inhabited by Hamon Walter, and donated by Hubert, Theobald and Hamon to West Dereham Abbey following Hubert’s foundation charter to the abbey. Notably, the grandson of Hardwin of Scales, Domesday holder of Ickleton, was a witness to Hubert’s Charter. Whether this is relevant is unknown. The estate called ‘Durhams manor’, was assessed at 1 hide, c.1235.

Domesday entry: In Ickleton, Durand holds half a hide from Hardwin (of Scales). There is land for 4 oxen. It is worth 32d; when received 12d. TRE 5s. Eastraed held this under Earl Ǣfgar and he could sell it.

Count Eustace also held 19 hides at Ickleton which became part of the Honour of Boulgone, and later held by Roger de Lucy.

It is unknown when the Walter family attained their smaller portion, but the W. Dereham donation indicated the manor was held by younger son Hamon, and another document, outlining a suit ‘about the land of Hervey Walter in the town of Ickleton disputed by the canons of W. Dereham and the convent of Ickleton’ indicates that the land originally belonged to his father Hervey Walter (possibly in his marriage settlement with the Valoines family).(Papal Judges delegate in the Province of Canterbury 1198-1254: A Study in the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Administration’ by Jane E. Sayers, Oxford Uni Press, 1971. p.xxv) 

Was this ‘Durand’ named in the Domesday entries for Marham and Ickleton, also Durand Malet?

'Durand Malet’ held, as tenant-in-chief in 1086, 22 lands in Lincolnshire, 3 in Leicestershire and 1 in Nottinghampshire’.

Cyril Hart, ‘William Malet and his Family’ (Anglo-Norman Studies XIX: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1996, p.145):

Hart speculated on whether Durand Malet, either Robert Malet’s brother or uncle, was the same Durand who held, as an undertenant, seven lands in Cambridgeshire, as well as a couple of lands in Norfolk and one in Suffolk (viz. Cransford held by Robert Malet).

‘The Durand who in 1072-5 shared ownership with one Walter (as undertenants of Hugh II de Montfort-sur-Risle, the Conqueror’s constable) of 26 sokemen on 26 acres at Marham on the edge of the Norfolk marshland may have been the same person as the Durand who held a number of estates in Cambridgeshire in 1086 as an undertenant of Hardwin de Scales, a despoiler of Ely, including half a hide at Ickleton*.

Hart also stated that,this holding at Marham had been seized by Hugh from Ely after the fenland uprising of 1070-1’ (during which William Malet was killed). It is not impossible that Durand was given all these under-tenancies after the mission of William Malet which followed the uprising. For two different Durands to be holding estates in the eastern counties would be a most odd coincidence. A pedigree constructed a century ago by the Malet family places Durand Malet as William’s brother. This is plausible, but unsupported by conclusive evidence.

Prof. Katherine Keats Rohan suggested that the links between Durand’s land and those of Alfred of Lincoln (related by marriage) indicates that Durand was probably a younger brother of Robert Malet. (‘Domesday Book and the Malets’ 1996, printed in Nottingham Medieval Studies 41)

It is unknown whether this information on Durand Malet has any relevance to this quest.



The Normans brought the name ‘Walter’ to England as a given name, and they were numerous which makes our task difficult. Notably, in the Domesday Book there are 159 properties listed to ‘Walters’, with 55x ‘Walters’ with a ‘descriptive surname’ such as topographical [‘of a place’ - eg. de Caen/de Cadomo, de Huntingfield]; occupational [eg. Walter the Deacon/Galteri diaconi; Walter the crossbowman/Walteri arbalastari]; or, a patronymic name [‘son of’ - eg. Walter filius Alberic; Walter filius Grip]; and, under just the single name ‘Walter’ there are a further 71 separate entries listed from all counties. Many of these probably consisted of multiple entries for the same ‘Walter’, and one can also speculate that some should have had an appellation which was omitted through clerical error or carelessness, or because of multiple successive entries for the same person, eg. on a few entries it has been proven through later documents that Walter de Caen (also named as Walter fitzAubrey), Walter the crossbowman, Walter fitzGrip and Walter the Deacon were just named as ‘Walter’ in the survey, which makes it difficult to pinpoint which other Domesday entries could also fall into that category.

In several entries, once the full name was used for one entry, the successive entries in the same ‘Hundred’ of a county, held by the same person, often only used the first name without repeating the appellation, some entries saying “the same Walter holds”. This became confusing when there were several Walters holding land in the same or adjacent areas.

Looking at the lands in Suffolk held by the Walter family, namely parts of Wingfield, Instead/Weybread, ‘Sikibro’ (unidentified but possibly Stradbroke/Stetebroc), and the manor of Snapeshall a part of Fressingfield, all in the Hundred* of Bishops or Hoxne, there were several Normans named Walter who could be candidates for the origin of the ‘Walter’ surname, who held lands in this area in the Domesday book as sub-tenants of Robert Malet- Walter de Caen, Walter filius Aubrey, Walter the crossbowman, Walter fitzGrip, possibly Walter de Glanville, and a man just named ‘Walter’. We will look at these Walters to try and determine which could be the most likely forebear of this family.

* Hundred= a division of an English shire for administrative, military and judicial purposes under the common law, consisting of 100 hides/enough land to sustain approximately 100 households.


The Walter fee in Bishop's Hundred

Bishop’s Hundred also known as the Hundred of Hoxne, named after the nearby village of Hoxne, the site of St Edmund’s martyrdom in 870A.D. at the hands of the Vikings. A church and small priory were situated in Hoxne from before the Norman Conquest. 

Map of Hundreds of Suffolk, showing Hundreds of Hoxne/Bishop’s and Hartismere


Within the short distance of about 20 kms from Eye to Huntingfield, in this northern area of Suffolk bordering Norfolk, these five sub-tenants of Robert Malet named ‘Walter’, held land in the Domesday Book including the lands later held by the Walter family. Sorting which of these Walter’s could be the ancestor of the Walter family is the difficulty.

Maps of the Bishop's Hundred showing the close proximity of the lands held by the Walter family

NB. In Domesday, Fressingfield in Bishops Hundred was not specifically named, but is considered by Domesday researchers to have been part of the adjacent lands of Chippenhall. A small holding of 6 acres namedFressingfield’ was listed in the neighbouring Hundred of Hartismere held only by Robert Malet. There is no place currently named Fressingfield in Hartismere, so its placement there may have been a clerical error, or the place did not exist for long. Fressingfield near Chippenhall encompasses a much larger area than the 6 acres indicated in that Domesday entry, so is considered likely to have been part of the Chippenhall entry in Domesday, held by Robert Malet (value £6), the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds (value £3.2s) and Hervey de Bourges (value £1), including 56 households (of freemen, small holders and villagers) and land for 20 plough teams*, 24 acres of meadow, and woodland for 403 pigs. In later times, the small hamlet of Chippenhall was part of the parish of Fressingfield.

*a plough team= area of land needed for an 8-oxen plough team to work it; often called a ‘carucate’ of land, thought to be about 120 acres.

Instead is a small hamlet or manor containing a mill near the river Waverney, which is considered to be part of Weybread.

Domesday Book: ‘In Instead, 1 free man with 10 ½ acres and the fourth part of a mill. It is worth 2s. William Malet held this; afterwards Robert his son held it, thinking it belonged to his father’s fief’.


The first possible, and most likely candidate is the sub-tenant holding lands from tenant-in-chief Robert Malet in the Domesday Book, just named ‘Walter’ and in several entries as ‘Walter who held from this manor’, who also held all of the lands that subsequently were held by Hervey Walter and Peter Walter in this same area of Suffolk- viz. the Wingfield fee held by Hervey Walter, Weybread/Instead mill held by Hervey Walter and Theobald and Peter Walter, as well as part of Fressingfield held by Hubert Walter (the elder) and his son Peter Walter, and Stradbroke, adjacent to Wingfield, which is possibly the unidentified ‘Sikebro’ in Hervey Walter’s Butley charter, all situated in the Hundred of Bishop or Hoxne in northern Suffolk.

The entries for these lands in the Domesday Book need to be explored in detail to see how Walter is connected.

Butler historian Theobald Blake Butler also identified ‘Sikebro’ as Stradbroke in his ‘Origins of the Butlers of Ireland’ article, but this conclusion is unproven. (Theobald Blake Butler, ‘The Origin of the Butlers of Ireland’, The Irish Genealogist, v.1. No.5, April 1939, pp.147-157)

In the Domesday Book, Wingfield is listed as a ‘berewick’ of Stradbroke in Malet’s list of lands. berewick [als. ‘barton’] defined as a detached portion of farmland that belonged to a medieval manor, reserved for the lord’s own use, often a monastic institution or other major landowner.)

Stradbroke possibly also Sedgebrook ‘Sechebroc’ in Lincolnshire, held by Robert Malet in Domesday, but unlikely. It is also possible ‘Sikebro’ (‘bro’ a contraction of brook) was the name of a small manor in the same area of Wingfield, like Peter Walter’s ‘Snapeshall’ was a manor in Fressingfield. 


Map of the Hundred of Bishop (Hoxne Bishops), and neighbouring Hundred of Hartismere to the west, centred around Eye.

(The Norfolk border partly follows the Waverney River between Mendham, Needham to Diss)

‘Domesday Book: A Complete Translation’, eds. Dr Ann Williams, Prof. G.H. Martin, 1992, 2002, pp.1219-20 (TRE means value pre-Conquest 1066):

The Domesday Book entries for this small area of Suffolk known as the Hundred of Bishop:

ie. Laxfield, Badingham, Bedfield, Stradbroke and berewick of Wingfield, Horham (1st), Wilby, Chippenhall (ie. including lands of Fressingfield), Weybread (x3 entries), Horham (2nd), Chickering, Bedingfield.

Of the above lands held by Malet in the Hundred of Bishop's or Hoxne: 

Laxfield consisted of 6 carucates of land and 80 acres, worth £8 (TRE=£15).

Stradbroke/Wingfield consisted of 5 ½ carucates of land worth £16 (TRE=£14)

Badingham held 9 carucates of land, worth £10 (TRE=£15)

Chippenhall held 2 ½ carucates of land worth £6 (TRE=100s)

Weybread held, in three parcels: 2 carucates + 6acs meadow + 2.8 mills, ½ a church, worth £4.11s.2p. (TRE £1.10s.); 72 acres + 4 acs meadow + 1 mill, worth £1.10s (TRE £1.5s.); 90 acs + 4ac meadow, 1 mill, worth £1.5s. (TRE 15s.)

All of the other lands named were much smaller and valued well below £1

All of these lands were held by six sub-tenants of Malet: Walter, Walter filius Grip, Robert de Glanville, Humphrey filius Robert, Loernic, and Malet’s mother Esilia

(It should be noted that, while Robert Malet was by far the largest land holding tenant-in-chief in this area, there were other tenants-in-chief who also held some lands in this area apart from Malet- ie. Roger de Poitou, the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, Bishop William of Thetford, Hervey de Bourges, and King William.)

Original pages in the Domesday Little Book: Suffolk- Robert Malet's Lands-

Bishop’s Hundred, beginning with Laxfelda/Laxfield and Badincha/Badingham[1]; Stradbroke/Stetebroc and Winebga/Wingfield near bottom of 1st page. Cibbehala/Chippenhall end of 2nd page

NB. several held by ‘Walter or Galter de hoc manerio’/of this manor:

[1] Domesday Book, or the Great Survey of England of William the Conqueror, AD 1086, Suffolk, Col. Sir H. James Director, 1868, pp.xccvi-xcix

Translation pages:

Summary of lands held by ‘Walter’ in Bishops Hundred, co. Suffolk (Parish of Hoxne) from tenant-in-chief Robert Malet in ‘Little Domesday: Lands of Robert Malet’ in 1086


TRE= Tempore Regis Edwardi- in the time of King Edward; pre-Conquest 1066)

Sokeman: A sokeman belonged to a class of tenants found chiefly in the eastern counties, especially the Danelaw, occupying an intermediate position between the free tenants and the bond tenants in that they owned and paid taxes on their land themselves. Forming between 30% and 50% of the countryside, they could buy and sell their land, but owed service to their lord's soke, court, or jurisdiction

Villan: a peasant of higher economic status than a Bordar and living in a village. Notionally unfree because subject to the manorial court.

Bordar: a cottager; a peasant of lower economic status than a villan

Carucate of land- notional area of land able to be farmed in a year by a team of 8 oxen pulling a carruca plough, usually reckoned at about 120 acres.

Acre- an amount of land tillable by one man behind one ox in one day. Traditional acres were long and narrow due to the difficulty in turning the plough.

A Hide- amount of land needed to support one peasant family; In 12-13th centuries, the hide commonly appeared as 120 acres of arable land, but was in fact a measure of value and tax assessment.

A Hundred- a sub-division of the shire or county used for administrative purposes (larger than a parish), each having its own representative body from local villages. Nominally 100 hides to sustain approximately 100 households, but in practice the size of a Hundred varied widely from place to place.


Antecessor of Robert Malet pre-Conquest (TRE) was Eadric of Laxfield (ie. predecessor or previous landholder from whom the 1086 holder might claim legal title):

1)Badingham- Walter holds of this manor 100 acres, 2 villans and 6 bordars, worth 30s.

(also, Loernic 40 acs.; Robert [? de Glanville] 40 acs)

2) Laxfield- Walter holds of this manor, 3 villans with 50 acres worth 20s.

(also, Loernic 40 acs. Worth 10s.)

NB. In his charter to Eye Priory, Robert Malet donated the church of Badingham and all its lands and tithes and one carucate of land in that vill, and the church of Laxfield with all its lands and tithes, and his demesne manors of Badingham and Laxfield to the monks of Eye Priory.

3) Stradbroke and it’s berewick Wingfield- Walter holds from this manor 2 sokemen with 40 acres worth 8s.

(also Robert de Glanville held 4 sokemen with 20acs worth 5s; Walter fitzGrip held 1 sokeman with 15 acs. worth 30d.; Loernic 1 sokeman with 20 acs worth 3s)

Notably the original has a later inclusion, by the same cleric, in the section on Stradbroke/Stetebroc: And Wingfield [‘Winebga’] to wit a berewick in the same account and valuation’, (berewick= an outlying estate)

4) Chippenhall (includes the land of Fressingfield)- Of this manor Walter holds 4 sokemen with 1 carucate of land (about 120 acres) worth 30s.

(also, Humphrey 1 sokeman with 20 acres worth 5s; Walter fitzGrip 1 freeman, 120 acs. worth 40s; Malet’s mother 3 sokemen and 80 acs worth 45s.)

5) Weybread- Humphrey [filius Robert] holds 5 sokemen and Walter 1 sokeman worth 10s; 72 acres and 5 bordars, 1 plough and 4 ½ acres of meadow; woodland for 14 pigs. Then as now 1 mill. It is worth 17s. (NB. This was only one parcel of land of three held by Hunphrey in Weybread- see below)

Instead- In Instead, 1 freeman, over whom Bishop Ǣthelmar had the commendation TRE, with 10 ½ acres and the fourth part of a mill. 1 bordar. Then half a plough, now 2 oxen. It is worth 2s. William Malet held this; afterwards Robert his son [held it], thinking it belonged to his father’s fief. (Evidence at the Great Inquest of 1086 was given by the Freemen in the King's hand about who held Instead TRE- "Domesday book and the Law", by Robin Fleming, 1998, p.434, Case No. 3195: Instead)

Humphrey also held another large part of Weybread from Malet- In Weybread, 1 freeman with 2 carucates of land which Humphrey holds as a manor with 10 bordars. I freeman holds 20 acres- the same Humphrey holds this. In the same vill, Humphrey holds 3 freemen with 91 acres and 17 bordars, one mill and 3 parts of another, etc. Worth 40s.


Humphrey filius Robert

The sub-tenant named Walter shared lands of Robert Malet in Weybread and Chippenhall/Fressingfield with Humphrey filius Robert, one of Malet’s largest sub-tenants in Domesday. Humphrey also held Mendham (and his descendants held Withersdale [not included in Domesday], between Mendham and Weybread).

Looking at the map above, it appears that Humphrey and his heirs held the lands east of ‘Weybread Street’ (joining Weybread to Fressingfield)- ie. Weybread to Mendham, Withersdale to Chippenhall/Fressingfield, while ‘Walter’, and subsequently the ‘Walter’ family, held the lands west of this same ‘Weybread Street’- ie. Stradbroke to Wingfield, to part of Fressingfield (known as Snapeshall manor, just north of Fressingfield), to Instead/Weybread.

Humphrey’s ancestry is unknown, nor his obviously close relationship to the Malets. He held Playford from Malet in Domesday and the tithes of Playford and the church of that vill were donated to Eye Priory in Malet’s Charter to Eye in c.1103-05, which his two sons confirmed, so it would appear that Humphrey was deceased before then. And there appears to have been an ongoing relationship between Humphrey’s descendants and the ‘Walter’ family and the de Glanville family.

Humphrey’s sons were his eldest Adelm who died without issue before 1125, his fees inherited by his brothers Fulcher of Playford, and Peter of Playford whose son was Hervei filius Peter of Playford.

According to Vivien Brown (Eye Cart, II, p.75), apart from two small holdings, all of Humphrey filius Robert’s Suffolk manors including Playford, parts of Fressingfield, Weybread, and Withersdale, were held by Alan II of Withersdale (d.bef.1241), in the early 13th century. Alan II, son of William of Withersdale (d.1194-1200), son of Alan I (d.1184) who inherited ten fees of Fulcher (relationship not clear) son of Humphrey filius Robert. Alan I is known from a plea in 1194 between his son William and Hervey filius Peter, wherein William stated that his father Alan had pledged land in Playford to Hervey (Rolls of King’s Court 1194-5, 50). Alan I is also mentioned in a fine of 1213 in which Alan II disputed the advowson of Weybread church with the prior of Butley (Feet of Fines, No. 556). Alan I of Withersdale is recorded, along with Gutha de Glanville (sister of Rannulf; children of Hervey de Glanville), as having donated the church of Weybread, as found in the 14th Century Rent Roll of Butley Priory (East Anglian: Notes and Queries... counties of Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex & Norfolk, v.11, Jan 1906, ed. C.H. Evelyn-White, p.46: An Unpublished Fourteenth-Century rent Roll of the Priory of Butley, Suffolk):

The rent of half a mark in the town of Playford was the gift of Hervey filius Peter of Playford to Hubert Walter’s foundation charter to West Dereham Abbey. (His gift statement in the charter mentioned the homage of Alan son of Thurstan with his whole tenement which he held of Hervey in Playford- whether this is the same Alan is unclear.) (Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. Wm Dugdale, 1846, v.6ii, Abbey of West Dereham, Charter No.II, p.900)

Peter Walter was custodian of Alan II de Withersdale during his minority after father William’s death c.1195-1200, until his majority before 1204, as stated by Alan in a record of an assize of ‘darrein presentment’ to the church of Playford, the advowson of which the prior of Eye claimed against the bishop of Norwich and Alan of Withersdale dated 1227. (Eye Cart. II, p.117, No.391)

Withersdale is adjacent to Weybread and just north of Fressingfield, and was not listed in Domesday.

(See Eye Cart., Charter Nos. 346 and 347, re. Adelm and Fulcher and his witness Roger de Glanville; Eye Cart II, p.75 re Playford; p.117 No.391; Three Rolls of the Kings Court in reign of Richard I, A.D.1194-95, p.50 re Alan and William of Withersdale and Playford)

Peter Walter was also connected with another two of Malet’s larger sub-tenants in Bishops Hundred and both donors and witnesses to Malet’s Eye charter-firstly, William Gulafre of Okenhill in Badingham, whose son Roger Gulafre of Okenhill was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. In 1200, Peter Walter bargained with the king on behalf of his son Hubert, for the marriage of Philippa Gulafre (widow of Robert Brito) who was daughter of William, son of Roger Gulafre (son of William Gulafre), for which Peter promised to pay 60 marks, although the sum of 120 marks and a palfrey were ultimately given for the marriage. (Rotuli de oblatis et finibus in turri Londinensi asservali, tempore Regis Johaniis, 1835 pp.42, 70; V. Brown, Eye Cartulary II, pp.58-60)

In Domesday, William Gulafre often shared lands with Walter de Caen as subtenants of Malet.

And secondly, Peter Walter was close to Roger II de Huntingfield son of William de Huntingfield, son of Roger I de Huntingfield. Peter’s relationship with this family will be explored in detail, below, in the section of Walter filius Aubrey.

Also notable is that Loernic also held lands in Laxfield, Badingham and Wingfield/Stradbroke, as well as neighbouring Wilby whereLoernic held 20 acres which Aelfric had held TRE’. Loernic’s successor Jordan granted his tithes of Wilby to Malet’s charter. The name ‘Loernic’ is not Norman in origin, but Anglo-Saxon, as was ‘Eadric’, indicating that Loernic probably lived in this area pre-Conquest and held some status maybe as the son of a Saxon lord. Notably, Robert Malet’s father William Malet’s mother was Anglo-Saxon, but whether there is a connection is unknown.


EYE in the Hundred of Hartismere (adjacent to the Hundred of Bishop)

Robert Malet held the Honour of Eye, with his seat and administrative centre at Eye Castle, where he also built and endowed a monastery of Benedictine monks. His father William had built the castle and granted the barony of Eye by King William, who then granted Robert the Honour of Eye on his father’s death.

The Domesday Book entry on Eye states that Robert Malet holds it in demesne. A demesne is described as “all the land retained and managed by the lord of the manor under the feudal system for his own use, occupation or support”.

A small select  number of knights and close associates of Malet were granted lands from his demesne lands viz. Malet’s mother Esilia, Walter, Walter the crossbowman, Walter de Caen and Herbert were the only people so honoured, which is probably an indication of their clsoe relationship to Malet.

(As there are no records of a ‘Herbert’ in Suffolk, presumably it refers to Hubert, the first prior of Eye Priory in the time of William the Conqueror and Henry I)


Eye (in the Hundred of Hartismere, adjacent to Bishops Hundred)- Lands of Robert Malet:

Eadric held Eye with 12 carucates of land TRE; now Robert Malet holds it in demesne, and his mother holds 100 acres, worth £21 (TRE= £15)

To this manor belong 48 sokemen with 121 acres of land. Of these sokemen 37 are in demesne. Herbert holds 9 with 20 acres and Walter 1 with 5 acres and Walter the crossbowman 1 with 16 acres. All this is worth 9s. Then 4 ploughs, now 3, and 1 acres of meadow. Then it was worth £15, now £21. Eadric had soke and sake of the bishopric. There belong also to this manor 9 free men with 110 acres of land in the soke and commendation of Eadric TRE (names 9 Saxon free men).

In the same vill 1 freeman, Wulfric commended to Eadric (of Laxfield, TRE) held 30 acres as one manor TRE; now Walter de Caen holds it from Robert (Malet). Then as now 2 bordars, worth 20s.etc

(ref: Domesday Book: A Complete Translation, pp. 1213, 1219-1220)

Comment: The entry for Eye specifically named the ‘Walter who held 1 [sokeman] with 5 acres’ and ‘Walter the crossbowman who held 1 [sokeman] with 16 acres. The difficulty is identifying the man named ‘Walter’. The wording clearly makes a distinction between ‘Walter’ and Walter the crossbowman. It could refer to Walter de Caen, however, it is odd that he should just be named Walter in this paragraph, then given the full name Walter de Caen in the following paragraph. It could also be Walter fitzAubrey as he is named in the preceding paragraph for the lands of Loudham (although in a different Hundred viz. of Wilford), and this seems to be the most logical choice.

The original page in Domesday for 'H[undred] of Hartismere, Eye ('eiam')
preceded by W[alter] filius Albrici (for Loudham)

Walter filius Aubrey/Albrici held Huntingfield & Linstead; Walter the crossbowman held Thrandeston & Brome; Walter de Caen held Horham and land just north of Thrandeston in Norfolk; 'Walter' held Stradbroke/Wingfield, Fressingfield/Chippenhall, Weybread, Laxfield & Badingham

It would appear to suggest that there were three knights named Walter granted lands out of Malet’s demesne of Eye, and the fact they were the only ones to be granted lands out of the Malet's seat of Eye, suggests a very close relationship between the Malets and these particular sub-tenants who all held lands close to Eye.

The question is whether the Walter who held 5 acres at Eye was the same Walter who held lands in Stradbroke and its berewick of Wingfield, Weybread, Chippenhall (Fressingfield), Laxfield and Badingham, or/and whether ti was referring to walter de Caen or walter filius Aubrey.

In his Charter to Eye Priory, Robert Malet donated the church of Eye with all its lands and tithes, and the tithe of the market of Eye, and part of his 'burgage in Eye with one fishpond'.

Domesday Book entry for EYE:

'Walter' spelt Galt[er], Galt[er] arbal[ester], Galt[er de cadomo (Caen)


The point that is most noticeable in the Domesday entries on Bishops Hundred is the uniqueness of the entries pertaining to this ‘Walter’ who is the only sub-tenant in the Domesday book who is described as ‘holding of this manor’ in several lands in Bishops Hundred. According to the Domesday Book, in the entry for Chippenhall (including Fressingfield), lands of Robert Malet, “the soke [of these lands] is in Hoxne, but Eadric [of Laxfield] held half from Bishop Aelmar. Of this manor Walter holds 4 freemen with 1 carucate of land, worth 30s. and it is in the same valuation of £6.”

Similar wording appears for Wingfield/Stradbroke- ‘Of these, the soke and sake is in Hoxne, the bishop’s manor and Eadric held half from the bishop. Then it was worth £14, now £16. Walter holds from this manor 2 sokemen with 40 acres worth 8s in the same valuation, etc.” 

Similarly, with the wording for the lands in Laxfield and Badingham. While there are several other lords holding lands from Robert Malet in these same lands, ‘Walter’ is listed firstly, and as he is listed under the lands held by Robert Malet not Bishop William of Thetford who held the manor of Hoxne (predecessor Bishop Ǣlmar) in Domesday, the lands of the manor must refer to the half portion held by Eadric of Laxfield from the Bishop, which in turn became Robert Malet’s and became part of his demesne attached to Eye.

On what basis Walter held this particular group of lands from the manor and from Robert Malet’s demesne lands, is the mystery. It may explain why the cartulary entry for Hubert Walter (the elder) who donated his tithes of his manor of Snapeshall in Fressingfield to Eye Priory, was placed in amongst the list of Malet’s ‘manors of his demesne’ which he personally donated to the Priory, rather than a separate entry of a donation as with all other contributors.

The manor of Hoxne was a residential episcopal manor, the seat of the bishopric at the time of the Confessor, and Bishop Ǣlmar held 9 carucates of land in Hoxne Bishops in 1066. This was granted to Bishop William of Thetford in 1086, and, as stated, Eadric held half of the manor’s lands from Bishop Ǣlmar, which was then granted to Malet.

The following example shows how the land portions of the different sub-tenants’ of Malet were expressed in the Little Domesday Book entry, ‘Lands of Robert Malet’, and in each case, Walter is named firstly:

In Chippenhall, 9 free men by commendation [held] 2 ½ carucates of land. Then as now 17 bordars. And 10 ploughs and 12 acres of meadow. Woodland for 300 pigs. Then it was worth 100s., now £6. Half a church with 20 acres and 1 plough. It is 2 leagues long and 1 broad. 15d in geld. The soke is in Hoxne [manor], but Eadric held half from Bishop Ǣlmar. Of this manor Walter holds 4 [freemen] with 1 carucate of land [It is worth] 30s. and it is in the same valuation of £6. The mother of Robert Malet [holds] 3 [freemen] with 80 acres [worth] 45s. in the same valuation. Humphrey [holds] 1 [freeman] with 20 acres. It is worth 5s. in the same valuation. Walter fitzGrip [holds] 1 free man, 120 acres and it is worth 40s. in the same valuation.


Eadric held Stradbroke pre-Conquest [TRE] with 5 ½ acres of land. And Wingfield to wit a berewick in the same account and valuation. Then and afterwards 10 villans, now 11. Then 11 bordars now 30. Then 11 ploughs in demesne, afterwards 6 now 5. Then and afterwards 12 ploughs belonging to the men, now 5. Altogether 20 acres of meadow. Woodland for 400 pigs. Then 3 horses. Then 16 pigs, now 30 and 30 sheep. 2 churches with 40 acres and half a plough. 17 sokemen with 1 carucate of land and 3 ploughs. Woodland for 40 pigs. 5 acres of meadow. Of these, the soke and sake is in Hoxne, the bishop’s manor, and Eadric held half from the bishop. Then it was worth £14 now £16. Walter holds from this manor 2 sokemen with 40 acres. worth 8s. in the same valuation. Robert de Glanville [holds] 4 [sokemen] with 20 acres [worth] 5s. in the same valuation. Walter fitzGrip [holds] 1 with 15 acres [worth] 30d. in the same valuation. Loernic 1 with 20 acres worth 3s. in the same valuation. Eadric had the soke and sake. It is 2 leagues long and 1 leagues broad. 14 1/2d. in geld. Others hold [land] there.


Demesne- all the land retained by a lord of the manor for his own use and occupation, or management.

Soke and Sake- used to denote the judicial and dominical rights associated with the possession of land. Right of jurisdiction enjoyed by a Lord over specified places and personnel.

Domesday: Laxfield and Badingham- Lands of Robert Malet

Eadric held Laxfield with 6 carucates of land and 80 acres. etc… Then it was worth £15, now £8. It is 1½ leagues long and 1 league broad. 6½ d. in geld. Walter holds of this manor 3 villans with 50 acres. It is worth 20s. in the same valuation. Loernic holds 40 acres worth 10s. in the same valuation.

The same Eadric held Badingham with 9 carucates of land etc…. Then it was worth £15 now £10. It is 1 league and 6 furlongs long and 1 league broad. 10d. in geld. Walter holds of this manor 100 acres and 2 villans and 6 bordars, worth 30s. It is in the same valuation of £10. Loernic holds 40 acres in the same valuation. Robert holds 40 acres in the same valuation. Eadric had the soke and sake.

The two lands of Laxfield and Badingham belonged to Eadric of Laxfield TRE, and subsequently, his successor Robert Malet, not the bishops of Hoxne. Once again, Walter ‘held of this manor’, and it would appear that in this case, it refers to Eadric’s manor, as Eadric had the soke and sake of both lands, and Laxfield was the demesne manor of Eadric pre-Conquest.

The fact that Walter was the first listed in each entry, and that he ‘held of the manor’ in each case, would seem to indicate that he either had some prior association with Eadric of Laxfield, or, with Robert Malet or his father William Malet, who were granted all of Eadric’s properties, as Malet appears to have shown particular favour to this Walter and enfeoffed large parcels of Eadric’s demesne lands to him.

The lands held by this Walter from Malet, at Laxfield and Badingham, were granted to Eye Priory by Malet as part of his list of demesne manors, implying the holder was then deceased and the lands returned to Malet's sole ownership. (Part of Badingham: Okenhall Manor held by William Gulafre from Malet; and the manor of Coleston held by Hervey de Bourges as well as part of Chippenhall as tenant-in-chief.)

Notably, this original list of Malet’s demesne manors in his charter did not include Wingfield or Weybread, or Snapeshall in Fressingfield, but did include Stradbroke:

Malet’s Charter to Eye Priory:


(Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters, i, p.13 ed V. Browne)

However, the later Eye Priory confirmation charters of various monarchs, popes and bishops, place Hubert’s tithe donation of his land in Snapeshall in Fressingfield in this same list of Malet’s manors of his demesne.

Eg. Charter of Pope Alexander III in 1168 (no.56, p.60):

And, Charter of Henry I, c.1123-1134 (no.3, p.18)

Of all of Malet’s list of donors to his charter, the placement of this particular entry, albeit in later confirmation charters, is unique.


An article abut Eadric of Laxfield written by Andrew Wareham:

In Suffolk all of the estates which were under the personal management of Eadric of Laxfield in the lordship of Eye, valued at £198 pre-Conquest, became the demesne manors held by the Malet family (viz. William, his wife Hesilia, and son Robert). In Norfolk, the Malet family only retained one third of Eadric’s estates. Around four fifths of the honor of Eye had descended from Eadric of Laxfield, while around a quarter of his estates passed to lords other than the Malet family. The consequence of these descents was that the honour of Eye was more closely focused upon Suffolk than the lordship of Eye had been.

(Lords and Communities in Early Medieval East Anglia, by Andrew Wareham, Institute of Historical Research, Chapter: The Formation of Lordships and Economic Transformations, p.105)

The author of ‘Domesday Book and the Law’, Robin Fleming (p.81) wrote:

William Malet had been the beneficiary of some early celebrity forfeitures- the most important of which was his succession in East Anglia to the lands of Eadric of Laxfield, one of the richest men and greatest lords in the Confessor’s England.

Eadric/Edric of Laxfield is thought by some researchers, to have been the falconer to King Edward the Confessor, and a thane/thegn or nobleman of the first rank. There are several Edrics named in the Domesday Book, including ‘Edric the falconer’ who held part of Shelfanger, and several other lands nearby in the Hundred of Diss near the Suffolk border, pre-Conquest, and in 1086 as tenant-in-chief of Shelfanger (other parts held by King William, Bury St Edmunds, and Count Alan of Brittany, sub-tenanted in Shelfanger by Hervey de Ispania/ Epaignes/Espaine [in Normandy, dept. Eure, who also held several lands of Count Alan in Essex]).(Domesday A Complete Translation p.1178-9). Whether this is the same man is debatable.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, by Ann Williams (2004) on ‘Eadric of Laxfield’:

Eadric’s name is one of the commonest in 11th century England, and only where Little Domesday gives him the distinctive toponymic from his estate at Laxfield, or refers to him as the antecessor of Robert Malet, can he be securely identified. All that is known of him comes from Little Domesday Book, the return of the Domesday commissioners for the East Anglian circuit, which reveals that he had held some 123 carucates of land in Suffolk and Norfolk. He had also attracted the commendation of large numbers of lesser thegns and free men (a minimum of 82 named individuals can be identified).

Little Domesday also records the outlawry of Eadric at some time in Edward the Confessor’s reign, though the reason is unspecified. His lands were confiscated by the king and his men sought other lords. When he was subsequently pardoned and reinstated, Edward issued a writ and seal permitting Eadric’s men to return to their allegiance, if their lord wished it. This was the cause of several disputes after 1066, when Eadric’s lands were redistributed among the incoming Normans.

Anglo-Norman Studies XIX: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1996, edited by Christopher Harper-Bill:

William Malet was given a huge fief in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. It was by far the largest to be granted out by the Conqueror in East Anglia, and the most concentrated of all the Norman fiefs in England. How was room made for him? Was Eadric of Laxfield, his antecessor, who must have been of the greatest landholders in England towards the end of the Confessor’s reign, deprived by the Conqueror of his vast East Anglian holdings in order that William Malet could be endowed with them, or did Eadric die conveniently without heirs, just at the right moment?

Several historians, including Blomefield (History of Norfolk, 1810, v.10, p.433), Augustine Page (History of Suffolk, p.180) and Richard Rawlinson (MS Oxon Bod. Library 78-80), all suggested that Walter de Caen was married to the daughter of Eadric of Laxfield, on what basis is unknown, as there are no records to confirm this theory, Augustine Page describing Walter de Cademo’s grandson William’s donation to Sibton Priory of ‘Friers manor at Shelfanger, formerly the possession of Edric the falconer, his great grandsire, with which Robert Lord Malet, enfeoffed his brother Walter de Cademo.’.

As stated, it is unknown how these historians arrived at this theory of marriage, but, if there is some unidentified evidence, one could also make the suggestion that the same theory could apply to the subtenant named ‘Walter’ who seemed to have a close association with the lands of the demesne of Eadric of Laxfield in this Hundred of Bishop, several held by Eadric from the Bishop of Hoxne, subsequently granted to the Malets post-Conquest, with Walter holding his lands ‘of this manor’, maybe due to a marriage to Eadric’s daughter (speculation only).



Walter could be an individual who just held the singular name of Walter, one of numerous knights named as such in the Domesday Book.

Walter could be Walter fitzAubrey who held Huntingfield and Linstead in Domesday, a short distance east of Laxfield and Chippenhall. Some historians have concluded that Walter de Caen and Walter fitzAubrey were the same man, although disputed by others due to lack of evidence, however, as they both appear with entries on the same pages of the Domesday Book, it would seem unlikely they were the same man. This will be discussed in detail later.

There is also a suit in 1202 in the ‘Feet of Fines for Suffolk’, in which two descendants of Walter fitzAubrey argue ownership of 300 acres of Wingfield held through recognitio de morte antecessoris, ie. ‘in recognition of the death of an ancestor’, which suggests that Walter fitzAubrey may have been the ’Walter’ who held part of the manor of Wingfield, a berewick of Stradbroke. (Feet of Fines for the County of Suffolk for the reign of King John 1199-1214, ed. Barbara Dodwell, 1958 p.155, No.311)

Theobald Blake Butler suggested this ‘Walter’ could also be Walter de Caen who held numerous lands as sub-tenant of tenant-in-chief Robert Malet, including lands surrounding those held by the Walters. At neighbouring Horham, Walter de Caen held 3 freemen by commendation with 60 acres and 2 bordars, worth 12s. He also held lands at Eye, and Sibton (east of Laxfield and south of Huntingfield), and several manors just over the border in Norfolk, inherited by his son and heir Robert fitzWalter.

Theobald Blake Butler initially thought that this ‘Walter’ was the most likely candidate as ancestor of the Walter family, and he later came to hold the view that the ‘Walter’ who held these lands was probably Walter de Caen. but it is not certain that he knew of the other candidates.

Just north of the border with Norfolk, at Thelveton, Burston, Semere and Roydon which were held by Robert Malet, his subtenant was named as ‘Walter’, which have been attributed to Walter de Caen by Domesday historians.

Diss Half Hundred- Robert Malet:

In Roydon, [near Diss] 1 freeman of Eadric’s by commendation held 20 acres; now Walter holds them.

In Thelveton, there are 2 free men of the same by commendation with 8 acres of land; and Walter holds them.

The argument against this theory of Walter's identity as Walter de Caen, in relation to the Walter family ancestor, is that Hervey Walter held close ties with the extended de Glanville family and his wife’s de Valoines family, as shown in the witness list to his charter to Butley Priory, yet there was no association with the descendants of Walter de Caen, as would be expected if they were closely related, and who one would expect to have witnessed Hervey’s Charter to Butley, if they were close relations. However, in contrast, Robert fitzRoscelin of Linstead, a probable descendant of Walter fitzAubrey witnessed Hervey Walter’s charter to Butley Priory, and also Rannulf de Glanville’s foundation charter to Butley. Peter Walter also held a close relationship with the third generation of the de Huntingfield family, descendants of Walter fitzAubrey. However, these close relationships could be due to the clsoe proximity of thier respective demesne manors.

Another likely candidate for this ‘Walter’ is Walter Arbalista/the crossbowman who held lands in Eye, as well as two lands nearby at Thrandeston and Brome where notably he was only named as ‘Walter’ in Domesday but identified as the crossbowman by his donation to Malet’s charter to Eye Priory of a manor situated in these lands (named ‘Gosewolde’), and the second adjacent to Shottisham (named ‘Halegestowe’- held in Domesday by Malet’s mother from Robert Malet, who must have given it to the bowman after his mother’s death), plus the church of St Margaret in Shottisham held by Walter the crossbowman. He was also a witness to Malet’s charter, indicating a close association with Malet, in which case, one would expect him to have held more lands from Malet than just those few attributed to him. So, therefore, the nearby lands in Bishops Hundred were quite possibly also held by him.

As will be explored in the following section on Walter the crossbowman, there is a possibility that he was also Walter de Glanville, which would explain the close association between the Walter family and the extended de Glanville family.

The last, less likely candidate who held lands in this same area from Robert Malet, including Stradbroke, Wingfield, and Chippenhall (Fressingfield), Horham and Chickering, was named Walter fitzGrip, however, he cannot be the same man named ‘Walter’ in several Domesday entries, as ‘Walter’ is listed firstly and separately to Walter fitzGrip, holding adjacent portions in some of the same entries and the way it is worded indicates two different individuals, which therefore increases the likelihood that ‘Walter’ is either Walter filius Aubrey, Walter de Caen or ‘Walter the crossbowman’ (possibly Walter de Glanville).

 Eg. Stradbroke/Wingfield: “Walter holds from this manor 2 sokemen with 40 acres worth 8s in the same valuation. Robert de Glanville holds 4 with 20 acres 5s in the same valuation. Walter fitzGrip 1 with 15 acres, 30d. in the same valuation”.

However, again, an individual just named ‘Walter’, closely associated with either Malet or Eadric of Laxfield pre-Conquest, should also remain in consideration.

This map showing the Domesday Book lands of Robert Malet held by his sub-tenants, ‘Walter’, Walter de Caen, Walter fitzAlbrici (marked with ‘*’), Walter the crossbowman, and Walter fitzGrip, as well as Robert de Glanville (possibly also Robert the crossbowman), gives weight to the argument that the lands held by ‘Walter’ were possibly held by either Walter the crossbowman or Walter de Caen or Walter fitzAubrey, given that the lands held by ‘Walter’ in Bishops Hundred were surrounded by lands held by de Caen, fitzAubrey and the bowman. However, again we should emphasise that he could be just a knight named Walter.
NB. On the map, Halgestou near Shottisham (held by the bowman) was held by Malet’s mother in Domesday, but donated by Walter the crossbowman to Eye Priory in Malet’s charter.


A man named ‘Walter’ features as a sub-tenant of Robert Malet in the area around Eye, named Walter Arbalista, an Anglicization of the Norman word meaning a Crossbowman, the derivation taken from the Latin “arcuballistarius”, a compound of “arcus”, bow, and “ballista”, a catapult.

Ralph Payne-Gallwey in his book, ‘The Book of The Crossbow’ (New York, 2019, p.3) explains that the crossbowmen were variously known as, “Arbalista, Arbalistarius, Arbalistator, Balistarius, etc. The crossbow was, probably, introduced into England as a military and sporting arm by the Norman invaders in 1066. Early in the 12th century, the construction of this weapon, the bow of which was not yet formed of steel, was so much improved that it became very popular in both English and Continental armies. The wounds caused by a crossbow in warfare were, however, considered so barbarous, that its use, except against infidels, was interdicted by the second Lateran Council, in 1139, under penalty of an anathema, as a weapon hateful to God and unfit for Christians. This prohibition was confirmed, at the close of the same century, by Pope Innocent III. The employment of crossbowmen, nevertheless, again became common in English and Continental armies in the reign of Richard I, and the death of this king, which was caused by a bolt from a crossbow, in France in 1199, was thought to be a judgement from heaven inflicted upon him for his disobedience and impiety in permitting crossbowmen to enter his service. Richard was an expert with the weapon.”

In 1075, there was an uprising against the Conqueror by Earl Ralph Wader of East Anglia and Roger Earl of Hereford and Waltheof Earl of Northumberland. Robert Malet’s role in this appears in a letter of Lanfranc to the Conqueror announcing the surrender of Norwich Castle. It was occupied by Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances, William de Warren and Robert Malet, together with 300 men-at-arms, ‘supported by ballistarii’ and many engineers. It is evident that Robert, the sheriff and largest landholder loyal to the king, must have played a key part in the suppression of the revolt. He acquired some of Ralph’s holdings. From this time onwards he was an intimate of the king, often at court and witnessing many of his charters. (Anglo-Norman Studies XIX: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1996, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill- article ‘William Malet and his Family’, by Cyril Hart, p.153-54)

Out of the 1400 tenants-in-chief named in the Domesday survey, thirteen were crossbowmen, indicating that they held quite high status in the Norman hierarchy. Four bowmen held lands as tenant-in-chief in Norfolk/Suffolk: Ralph held 5; Gilbert held 8; Berner held 10, and Robert held only one, however the location of the three lands he sub-tenanted indicate he was possibly Robert de Glanville who held a large number of lands as sub-tenant of Robert Malet.

The other crossbowmen who held as tenant-in-chief in other parts of England: Odo held 27 lands in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire; Nicholas held 14 in Devon and Warwickshire; Godebold held 16 in Devon; Heppo held 13 in Lincolnshire; Fulcher held 7 in Devon; Odard held 2 in Surrey; Hugh held one in Sussex and one in Derbyshire; Warin held one in Wiltshire; and Reginald held one in Essex albeit a valuable manor.


In the Domesday survey, the name of ‘Walter the crossbowman’ is listed as holding four lands as tenant-in-chief in Gloucestershire, and as sub-tenant of one land (Combwich) in Somerset from a prominent Domesday landholder Ralph de Limsey (in Normandy).

Walter the crossbowman’ also held the four lands in Suffolk from Robert Malet.

In comparison with the other crossbowmen listed in Domesday who held their lands in one county or adjacent counties, the distance between Gloucestershire and Suffolk in this instance would seem to suggest they were two distinct individuals, also taking into account the name of ‘Walter’ was so prolific in Domesday.

The fact that Walter held one of his lands in Somerset from Ralph de Limsey, and Suffolk from Robert Malet, may also support this argument. Walter the crossbowman in Suffolk held a close association with Robert Malet, as indicated by his donation to Eye Priory in Malet’s foundation charter which Walter also witnessed, however, Malet had no association with Somerset, which also appears to confirm that the Suffolk bowman was a different individual to that in Gloucestershire and Somerset. 


Walterus Balistari held the four lands in Gloucestershire, at Bulley (Westbury), Ruddle (Westbury) and Ruddle (Bledisloe), and Frampton [Cotterell] (Langley) as tenant-in-chief, with much of the hundred of Westbury laying within the boundaries of the Forest of Dean. These lands appear to have reverted to the Crown at his death indicating he died without issue or he only had daughters, as there are no records of his issue continuing to hold his Gloucester lands. No records of the Westbury hundred court have been found and Westbury hundred belonged to the Crown, with the sheriff accounting for the profits of courts in 1169 with an income of 20s. received from the court. (Pipe Roll, 15 Henry II, 1168-69, p.117)

The lands of Walter the crossbowman in Gloucestershire-
Bulley, Ruddle in Westbury and Ruddle in Beldisloe
(Frampton [Cotterell] was further south towards Bristol)

Domesday entry for Gloucestershire- Lands of Walterius Balistari

In the Gloucestershire entries he was listed as Walteri Balistarius, in comparison with the entries for the Suffolk lands where he was either listed as Walter/Galter Arbalestarius, or just ‘Walter’.



In Domesday, Walterus Arbalestarius/ the crossbowman, held lands in Suffolk under Robert Malet, at Eye, Thrandeston and Brome in the Hundred of Hartismere, as well as at Shottisham in the Hundred of Wilford. Although the lands at Thrandeston and Brome only name him as ‘Walter’, Domesday historians have attributed the lands to the crossbowman.

Domesday entry for Eye in Suffolk- Galt[er] arbal.

Domesday entry for Shottisham in Suffolk- Walterus arbalastarius- Shottisham tenet Walterus arbalastarius de R. Malet’

Walteri Arbalestarius granted 2/3rds of his tithes of Halgestou (near Shottisham) and ‘Goseweld’ (between Thrandeston and Brome), plus the church of St Margaret (Shottisham) with its land, to Malet’s Charter to which he was also named as a witness, indicating a close association with Robert Malet.

Domesday entries for Thrandeston (x2) and Brome- Galter [Walter]

 Domesday- translation

“In Thrandeston, Alweard, a freeman commended to Eadric held 36 acres as a manor TRE. Then and afterwards 1 plough, now 2 oxen 1 acre of meadow. It is worth 5s. The same Alweard holds from Malet. The king and the earl have the soke. In the same place 2 freemen, Godric and Leofstan commended to Eadric held 15 acres. It is worth 26d. Walter holds it from Robert.

In Brome, two free men commended to Eadric (of Laxfield) held 4 acres in the king’s soke worth 8d. The same Walter holds this (as Walter who holds Thrandeston).

In Thrandeston the same Walter holds 2 villans with 24 acres of the demesne of Eye, worth 4s.”

Domesday Book: A Complete Translation, pp.1214 Arbalestarius gave 2/3rds of his tithes of Halgestou (near Shottisham) and ‘Goseweld’ (in Thrandeston), plus the church of St Margaret (Shottisham) with its land, to Malet’s Charter to which he was also named as a witness, which would appear to indicate a close association with Robert Malet.

Gosewould [Hall] * between Thrandeston and Brome/Broome, and near Eye and Yaxley
(Copyright permission notice: "This map is based on data provided through and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth". Ordnance 1st Survey Sheet 49)

Halgestou near Shottisham (including St Margaret’s Church)

In Domesday, Shottisham held by Walter the bowman;

Halgestou and Culeslea held by Malet's mother;

Sutton held by Walter de Caen & Walter filius Aubrey; Laneburc held by 'Walter'

Alderton, Hollesley and Bawdsey held by Robert de Glanville

(Bawdsey became the seat of Hervey de Glanville)

Halgestou, adjacent to Shottisham, was held in Domesday by Robert Malet’s mother from her son, so Robert Malet may have granted this to Walter after his mother’s death. Vivien Brown (Eye Cart. p.65) suggests that it is possible that Walter may have held this land of William Malet and subsequently of his widow. Malet’s mother also held a part of the lands of Eye and at nearby Yaxley from her son along with Hubert de Montecanisy, and rannulphus de Glanville (pre-Domesday survey) both of whom donated their hospice in Yaxley to Malet's charter to Eye priory.

Malet’s mother held 19 lands in total in the Hundred of Hartismere, her husband and son’s seat of power based at Eye, (along with a further two lands in Bishops Hundred, and ten in other Suffolk hundreds).

Bishop William (of Thetford) de Beaufour/Beaufeu (near Glanville in Normandy) also held land, as tenant-in-chief, at Yaxley, Brome and Thrandeston, as well as several lands in Bishop’s Hundred including Weybread, Wingfield, Hoxne and Horam, part of 105 lands held by him in Norfolk and Suffolk.; consecrated bishop 1086 and died 1091.

Walter the crossbowman in Suffolk donated lands and tithes he held in Suffolk from Robert Malet, at Halgestou, Gosewolde and the church at Shottisham, to Malet’s Foundation Charter to Eye Priory c.1103, to which he was also a signatory.

In several later confirmation charters the gift is referred to as the ‘tithe of Walter the arblaster’ without specifying a location (Eye cart., Nos.15,40,55), the church being listed separately.

‘Goseweld’ or Gosewould (Hall) is between Thrandeston and Brome. In Domesday, Thrandeston and Brome, near Eye, were held by a Walterandthe same Walter’ from Malet- they have been attributed by scholars to Walter the bowman due to his donation of Gosewold to Malet’s charter:

Eye Priory Charter No.1:

Witness to the charter to Eye:

(Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters, 1, ed. V. Brown, pp.12-14)

Domesday Book

The entry for Shottisham in Domesday (Robert Malet as tenant-in-chief) (Domesday Book: A Complete Translation, pp.1214, 1216, 1212):

“Shottisham held by Walter the crossbowman from Robert Malet, which Osmund, a free man commended to Eadric (of Laxfield) held TRE with 44 acres as a manor and 1 bordar. Then 1 plough, now a half, 2 acres of meadow. Then it was worth 20s. now 10s. It is 7 furlongs long and 4 broad, 1 church with 13 acres worth 32d. In the same place, 12 free men commended to Eadric and 3 commended to Godric of Peyton held 80 acres. Then 3 ploughs now 1 ½; 1 acre of meadow. Then it was worth 16s, now 20s. Walter the crossbowman holds this from Robert Malet.”


Domesday: “Halgestou is held by Malet’s mother which Godric, Eadric’s sokeman, held. 1 carucate of land and 20 acres. 1 mill. Then as now worth 17s.4d.” (She also held adjacent Culeslea.)


Notably the surrounding lands of Hollesley, Bawdsey and part of Alderton (see map above) were held by Robert de Glanville, and the other part of Alderton and most of Sutton (just north of Shottisham) were held by Walter de Caen, all held from Robert Malet.

‘Laneburc’, east of Sutton (held by ‘Walter’) and north of Shottisham, was a small holding of 5 acres worth 12d., which ‘Walter holds in demesne’. (This cannot be assigned to a particular Walter, but probably de Caen.)

Domesday Book (: A Complete Translation, p.1213) - EYE: 

“Eadric held Eye with 12 carucates of land held TRE: now Robert Malet holds it in demesne and his mother holds 100 acres. To this manor belong 48 sokemen with 121 acres of land. Of these sokemen 37 are in demesne. Herbert (viz. Hubert, 1st prior of Eye Priory) holds 9 with 20 acres, and Walter 1 with 5 acres and Walter the crossbowman 1 with 16 acres. All this is worth 9s. In the same vill 1 freemen Wulfric commended to Eadric held 30 acres as one manor TRE: now Walter de Caen holds it from Robert.”

Eye:  Galt[er], and Galt[er] arbat

Eye: Galt[er] de cadomo (Caen)

Eye was the seat of the Malet family, having been originally established by Robert’s father William Malet who built his castle there. The fact that the only vassals of Malet who were honoured with land directly located within the demesne seat of Eye, were ‘Walter’, Walter the crossbowman and Walter de Caen, which is an important indicator of the close relationship between these men and the Malet family. One would presume that this close relationship dates back to their families in Normandy.

The important point of the Domesday entry of Eye, is that there is a definite distinction between Walter who held 5 acres and Walter the crossbowman who held 16 acres, meaning they were not the same man. However, the reference to ‘Walter’ could refer to Walter filius Aubrey or Walter de Caen- the inconsistency being, why he is named only as ‘Walter’ in the first section and his full name of Walter de Caen in the second section- one would expect the reverse. Walter filius Aubrey held the land in the previous paragraph to Eye, so the ‘Walter’ could refer to him. However, he could also just be ‘Walter’.

Given Walter the bowman’s close association with the Malet family, as evidenced by his donation to Malet’s charter which he also witnessed, it would seem most likely that Malet would have granted him more lands than just the four attributed to him, so it could be highly likely he was the ‘Walter’ who held lands at Wingfield/Stradbroke, Weybread and Chippenhall/Fressingfield, Laxfield, Badingham, etc, all part of Malet’s Honour of Eye, and close to the other lands held by the bowman. And as is found in the entries for Wingfield etc, Walter the crossbowman was just listed as ‘Walter’ in Thrandston and Brome.  

Archers in the Conquest- Bayeux Tapestry

Matthew Paris was an English chronicler and Benedictine monk at St Albans (c.1200-c.1259)

Map of lands held by ‘Walter’ and by ‘Walter the bowman’ including Thrandeston and Brome which were held by 'Walter' but identified as the bowman

Vivien Browne in her Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters II (p.65) wrote about Walter the arbalister and the lands in Suffolk:

p.71-72: Gosewolde in Thrandeston. Walter the arblaster gave two thirds of his tithe in Gosewolde. In 1086, he held one freeman with 16 acres belonging to the manor of Eye, and Gossewold Wood or Goosewood is listed as a parcel of the manor of Eye in 17th century surveys. The tithe was confirmed by bishop Ralegh in 1242 (Charter 42) and in 1254 and 1291 the tithe, worth 5s., was listed in the parish of Thrandeston and pertained to the sacristan. The 1308 list includes the tithe of bracken, pannage and agistment of cattle in Gosewolde (No.396) the name is preserved to the present day in Goswold Hall, Thrandeston.

p.49: Shottisham, St Margaret. Walter the arblaster gave the church of St Margaret with its land. Usually referred to in general confirmations as in ‘Halegestowe’, the confirmation of archbishop Theobald of c.1150-60 (No. 52) and that of bishop William Ralegh of 1242 (No. 41) refer to it as being in Shottisham, which manor Walter held in 1086. Despite the wording of the foundation charter, there is no evidence that the monks ever enjoyed any rights in the advowson, which later presentations show pertained to the manor, their portion in the mid 12th century being merely the offering of candles on the feast of St Margaret (44). In 1254, the portion was valued at 1m, in 1291 at 10s. 

While the lands donated to Eye Priory, such as Thrandeston and Shottisham would probably have remained with the priory, the lands Walter the bowman may have held in Bishops Hundred would probably have stayed in the family as inheritances, and, as alluded to, he may well have been the source of the surname ‘Walter’.

Walter the crossbowman was obviously still alive in the early 12th century as evidenced by his witnessing Malet’s charter c.1103-05, but may have died shortly after. As a vassal of Malet he owed him the provision of knight’s service, and may have joined Robert Malet in support of Henry I against the Norman army of Henry’s elder brother Robert Curthose. It is thought that Malet died at the Battle of Tinchebrai in Normandy on 28 September 1106 between an invading force led by Henry, and the Norman army of his brother Robert, resulting in a decisive victory for Henry’s knights and the capture of Robert Curthose. Walter may have died in the same battle.

The following theory could provide a possible link between Walter the crossbowman and a member of the de Glanville family, supposedly named Walter, but solid evidence is lacking and therefore remains speculation.



Theobald Blake Butler finally came to the conclusion that Walter de Caen, also named Walter filius Alberic in some Domesday entries, was the most likely candidate as the ancestor of the Walter family, probably by a daughter. His original research on the ‘Origins of the Butlers of Ireland’, about which he which he gave a speech in 1939 that was published in ‘The Irish Genealogist’, (vol.1 No.5 p.147-158, April 1939), came to the conclusion that ‘Walter’ who held several lands from Robert Malet in Bishops Hundred in Suffolk in Domesday, was the ancestor of the Walter/Butler family. In January 1961, he wrote to Lord Dunboyne, saying:

‘So far, I have identified 16 lands of the Butlers of which 9 were held by Walter de Caen in Domesday (comment- unfortunately, he does not list those lands, and I have had difficulty associating nine de Caen held lands with the Walter family- he obviously assigned the lands of ‘Walter’, such as Wingfield etc, to de Caen).

There seems little doubt that Robert fitzWalter was the eldest son of Walter de Caen and inherited much of his father’s estate; also, that said Walter died before 1105 when Robert fitzWalter founded Horsham St Faith (Norfolk). A Hervey fitzWalter does not, so far as I have discovered, appear in any of the records of this time and if he was a younger brother of Robert fitzWalter, he is unlikely to have inherited much of his father’s property, so I am now working on the supposition that Hervey married a daughter of Walter de Caen and that the lands above mentioned came to the family by way of a marriage settlement.’ (Letters of Theobald Blake Butler to Patrick Lord Dunboyne, the Butler Society, p.53-54)

Certainly, Walter de Caen held vast lands as one of Robert Malet’s most favoured sub-tenants, and the close association of Robert Malet and Robert Malet’s mother Esilia (daughter of Gilbert I Crispin, castellan of Tillieres in the Norman Vexin) with Walter de Caen has led to speculation that Walter was the brother or half-brother or illegitimate brother of Malet, however, there is no evidence for such a conclusion. While he is not specifically named as the holder of the lands later held by the Walter family in Bishops Hundred, he does hold several neighbouring lands from Malet, and in several instances he has been proven to hold lands under just the name ‘Walter’, therefore this could be a case of sloppy record keeping by the recorder, so that he may be the ‘Walter who holds from the manor’. The maps below show the close proximity of ‘Walter’s’ lands to those held by Walter de Caen.

Comparison maps of the lands held by ‘Walter’ and Walter de Caen in Norfolk and Suffolk in the Domesday survey.

(NB. Halesworth is east of the lands of Bishops Hundred in Suffolk)

Walter de Caen/Walter fitzAlbrici is attributed as holding 25 lands in Suffolk, 10 in Norfolk, and 1 in Essex from Robert Malet, and one land in Suffolk from Richard de Clare, and 3 lands in Cambridgeshire from Walter Gifford. Several were shared with Robert de Glanville, as well as with Hubert de Montecanisy, and William Gulafre. Subsequent to the Domesday survey, Robert Malet gave Walter de Caen the lands of Horsford and Horsham St Faith in Norfolk, which became the demesne lands of Walter’s eldest son Robert fitzWalter. He is also probably the ‘Walter’ in Norfolk who held lands from William de Warren, Godric the steward, Hugh de Montfort and Roger Bigod.

Theobald Blake Butler wrote:

The Domesday survey gives a clear picture of Walter’s importance in East Anglia; though never a tenant-in-chief, his holdings are such as to throw into the shadow many a man whose name appears in the Survey as holding direct from the Crown. The manors with which he is credited in Domesday are as follows: 25(?) in Norfolk, 54(?) in Suffolk, 1 in Essex, and he is probably that Walter who held one carucate of land in Leyland (? in Lancashire). In addition, he held one lordship in Norfolk direct as undertenant of the King and one of the 50 houses in Norwich “of which the King has not the custom”. ie. freehold.

(NB. Comment- Blake Butler makes a lot of unsubstantiated assumptions here on which lands Walter de Caen held, including many of the lands held by sub-tenants just named ‘Walter’; and the carucate of land in Leyland, near Amounderness in Lancashire, held by a knight named ‘Walter’ is pure speculation that he was Walter de Caen, that cannot be substantiated).

Of the manors in East Anglia, out of a total of 81 manors held by Walter, no less than 64 were held by Robert Malet, whose own holding was 223 in East Anglia, and they were held for the most part of the Honour of Eye which had been created before Domesday by William Malet, Robert’s father. It is impossible to be quite certain that every entry either under Walter de Caen or Walter, definitely refers to him but there is no doubt that the great majority do, and from this fact it transpires that he was by far the largest of Robert Malet’s tenants. This in itself show that Walter held a prominent position under the Malets either by reason of his service or relationship or more likely both. In considering the 17 manors in Norfolk and Suffolk which were held by Walter from other tenants-in-chief, it must be remembered that it is difficult and often impossible to find contemporary evidence to elaborate the facts found in Domesday and that consequently there is the possibility that all the entries that have been gathered do not refer to Walter de Caen, and this difficulty is increased by the difference of opinion show by the various translators of this part of Domesday, some transcribing entries simply as ‘Walter’ while others write ‘Walter de Caen’, when dealing with the same manor. He appears to have married the daughter of Edric the Falconer of Shelfanger in Norfolk (Rawlinson MS Bod. Oxon B 78-80) who appears to have been identical with “Edricus liber homo Edrico de Laxfelda”.

(Comment- again, there is no evidence for this theory, only supposition.)

Some of the manors held by a ‘Walter’ in East Anglia also referred to Walter the Crossbowman, Walter fitzGrip and Walter the Deacon, according to some Domesday researchers.)

Domesday lands (39) attributed as being held by Walter de Caen/Walter filius Albrici (Aubrey) in the Domesday book (Domesday online-, and ‘Domesday Book: A Complete Translation’):

Map of lands held by Walter de Caen in Suffolk and south Norfolk

The lands recorded in Domesday as being held by ‘Walter filius Albrici [Aubrey]’:

Huntingfield and Linstead [in Blything Hundred]; Capel (St Andrew) and Loudham [in Wilford Hundred]; Butley [in Loose Hundred], Parham [Parham Hundred], and Chilton [Babergh Hundred].

Historians have concluded that de Caen and fitzAubrey were the same man. Confirmation charters to Eye Priory by Popes Adrian and Alexander, list “the tithe of Roger son of Walter in Huntingfield, Byng and Linstead”. In Domesday, Huntingfield and Linstead were held from Robert Malet by ‘Walter fitzAlberic’, while Byng/Bing was held by ‘Walter de Caen’, indicating they were one and the same.


List of Lands in Suffolk/Norfolk held by just ‘Walter’ in Domesday, and which tenant-in-chief they were held from.

It is unclear which of these can be attributed to Walter de Caen.

In the Domesday survey, there are several entries in Suffolk and Norfolk that have been attributed to Walter de Caen by historians, but were only entered as ‘Walter’. Whether all of these lands of ‘Walter’ attributed to Walter de Caen, were correct, is unknown. Some may have been held by the ‘Walter’ of Bishops Hundred, and also may have referred to Walter the crossbowman, and/or Walter fitzGrip, but, given Walter de Caen’s close relationship to the Malets, many of them probably do refer to him.


Lands held by ‘Walter’ from Robert Malet, attributed to Walter de Caen:

In Suffolk: Cransford (held by ‘Walter, Robert, Gilbert and Durand’, the last two possibly Malet’s brothers), Eye, Gissing (held by ‘Walter and William’, attributed to Walter de Caen and William Gulafre), Great Glemham, Linstead, Thorpe [Hall], ‘Laneburc’;

Snape, also held by ‘Walter’, but attributed to Walter fitzGrip.

In Norfolk: Burston, Roydon (Diss), Fersfield (Diss), Semere (Earsham), Shotesham, Thelveton (Diss), Saxlingham and Woodton

‘Laneburc’ in Suffolk was near Shottisham held by Walter the crossbowman, and also near Sutton held by ‘W. de Caen’.

Thorpe [Hall] in Clayton Hundred was just south of the lands of Bishops Hundred, consisted of 16 acres worth 3s., and ‘is in the manor of Bedingfield’ held by Malet’s mother of the queen’s fief’. Bedingfield was part of Bishop’s Hundred held by the Malets. Thorpe Hall, was held by Walter, William Gulafre, Gilbert and Tigier from Robert Malet.

In Essex: Colne [Engaine] from Rob Malet (attributed to de Caen)

Other lands in East Anglia held by a ‘Walter’, all held from William de Warenne, Godric the Steward and Roger Bigod, probably Walter de Caen:

In Norfolk: Fersfield (Diss), Colney (Humbleyard), East Carleton (Humbleyard), Hetherset (Humbleyard), Holkham (Greenhoe), Marham (Clackclose), Methwold (Grimshoe), Ottering [Hithe] (Grimshoe), Santon (Grimshoe), Swanton (Depwade), Tochestorp (Forehoe), and a house in Norwich City

(NB. the three lands in Grimshoe were just south of West Dereham- all held from William de Warenne)

In Suffolk: Poslingford (Risbridge) from Ralph Baynard, Long Melford (Babergh) from Abbey of Bury St Edmunds

In Essex: 14 lands (held from Geoffrey de Mandeville and Swein of Essex)

In Cambridgeshire, Walter de Caen held 3 lands from Walter Gifford (Barrington, Harlton, Orwell).

A ‘William de Caen’ ('Willm de cada') held land from Malet in Thrandeston (along with Walter [the bowman] and William Gulafre), and it is unknown whether Walter de Caen and William de Caen were related, or whether this was a clerical error.

Walter de Caen’s ancestry:

Caen was the ducal centre of Normandy, in the Calvados department, near which the Malets also held lands (their demesne lands being at Graville-Sainte-Honorine [Le Havre] in the Pays-de-Caux) held by the beginning of the 11th century. Much of their Norman honour was held by the Gifford family of Bolbec and Longueville. Walter de Caen held 3 lands in Cambridgeshire from Walter Gifford.

Dr. Katherine Keats-Rohan, researcher and Associate Member of the Faculty of History, Linacre College, Oxford University, who specializes in prosopography, and who has made a thorough study of all of the people named in the Domesday book, and published several books, including ‘Domesday People, A Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents 1066-1166’, (Boydell Press 1999), p.449, wrote about Walter de Caen also listed as Walter fitzAlberic (fitzAubrey) in Domesday, and his eldest son Robert fitzWalter:

Walter de Cadomo

Walter fitzAlberic de Cadomo [Caen], a Norman from Caen (in Calvados). Important Domesday tenant of Robert Malet. According to a foundation narrative of Sibton Abbey (Cart. No. 470), in 1066 Walter came to England with Robert Malet “Walterus de Cadomo venit in Angliam cum Roberto Malet”, and afterwards held the barony of Horsford (co. Norfolk) under Robert. Horsford was but a manor held under the Honour of Eye by Walter’s descendants, but the word reflects the importance of Walter’s holdings from Robert. Walter fitzAlberic attested a gift of land to the abbey of Montivilliers made by Robert fitzTheobald of Epouville with the consent of Walter Giffard, c.1065-76 (Jean-Michel Bouvris, App. No 28).

Father of three sons, Robert (ancestor of the de Chesny family), Ralph (ancestor of the de Peyton family), and Roger (ancestor of the de Huntingfield family).

 See C.P. Lewis, “The King and Eye”, EHR (English Historical Review), 103 (1989), 577-8;

KSB Keats-Rohan, ‘Domesday Book and the Malets’, Nottingham Medieval Studies xli (1997), 13-151. Etc.

The following is the entire reference to Walter de Caen accompanying Robert Malet, found in the Sibton Abbey Cartulary, concerning the foundation of the Abbey by his descendants (it should be noted that it does not specify that they were at the Battle of Hastings, just that they came at that time):

Anno Domini millesimo sexagesimo sexto Willelmus dux Normannorum venit in Angliam et occiso Haroldo tempore conquestus coronatus in regem, quo tempore quidam Walterus de Cadomo vnit cum Roberto Malet comite Cornubie


In the year of the Lord in the sixty-sixth William the leader of the Normans came to England to kill Harold at time of the conquest crowned king, at which time a certain Walter of Caen came with Robert Malet count of Cornwall (erroneously called Count of Cornwall- The honour of Eye was first attached to the Earldom of Cornwall in 1221).

(Brown, Philippa, ed. ‘Sibton Abbey Cartularies and Charters’. Vol. III. p.2, No. 470, Suffolk Charter Series [Vol. 9], Woodbridge: Boydell for Suffolk Records Society, 1985. 2004.)

Notably, Walter de Caen had died before Robert Malet’s foundation charter to Eye Priory c.1103-05. Walter’s two sons, Robertus filius Walteri and Rogerus filius Walteri de Huntingfield witnessed Malet’s charter and Roger donated tithes from his demesne of Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng to Eye Priory, and they were therefore adults (viz. born c.1070’s).


1.Robert fitzWalter -eldest son of Walter de Caen

Katherine Keats-Rohan, Domesday People, A Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents 1066-1166’, (Boydell Press 1999), p.449:

 Robert fitzWalter de Cadomo, son of Walter fitz Alberic of Caen. He married Sibil, daughter (and heiress) of Ralph de Chesney, by whom he had issue Margaret, wife of Haimo de St. Clair, Simon, Roger, John, and William surnamed de Chesney. Founder with his wife of the priory of Horsham St. Faith, a cell of the abbey of Conques.

He married secondly Avelina, daughter and co-heiress of Ernulf I de Hesdin, by whom he had further issue Peter and Helias.

Brown, Eye Priory Cartulary (1992-94), no. 1; Brown, Sibton Abbey Cartularies and Charters (1987), nos 470, 547; Cronne/Davis, RRAN III, nos 15,108, 152-56, 159, 289, 353-54, 418, 585, 752; Douglas, Feudal Documents from Bury St Edmunds, nos 36, 39-41, 50-53, 61, 108, 109, 125; Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicorum, III, p. 86, no. VII, p. 636, no. II, p. 637, no. III; Hart, Cartularium Monasterii de Ramseia, no. LXXXI; Pipe Roll 31 Henry I, 52-sr, 90-nfsf, 97-sf; Red Book of the Exchequer, ed. Hall (1897), p. 402; Stanton, English Feudalism, App., no.12.

This son named Robert, known as Robert fitzWalter, founded Horsford Abbey and Horsham St Faith in Norfolk (both lands held in Domesday by Robert Malet and subsequently gifted by Robert Malet to de Caen and his descendants) in the time of King Henry I, the sixth year of his raigne, and Sibton Abbey (Sibton came from de Caen’s Domesday holdings; Sibton Abbey Cartularies and Charters V.3 p.2), was founded by Robert’s son William de Chesney in 1150.

Robert was also sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk until Michaelmas 1129- he remained liable in 1130 for 22 marks from the profits of the county and hundreds-courts (Pipe Roll, 31 Henry I, pp.90,97 [Regesta Regum Anglo-Normann v.2, p.252]).

His youngest son, William, by his first wife took her surname ‘de Chesney’.

His second wife Avelina was married firstly to Alan fitzFlaad (their descendants were the Stewart Kings of Scotland, and FitzAlan Earls of Arundel). Alan FitzFlaad died c.1123, and Robert married his widow c.1126 (grant of their church at Chipping Norton to Gloucester Abbey- Regesta Regum V.2, p.296)

Robert’s two sons, John fitzRobert and William de Chesney succeeded him as sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk during the reign of King Stephen.

Note: The editor of the Sibton Cartularies and Charters, Phillipa Brown gives a different genealogy of Robert fitzWalter (to that of Katherine Keats-Rohan), in which she references her sources:

issue of Sibil: Roger dsp.; John fitzRobert/John de Chesney sheriff of Norfolk/Suffolk, d.1146 dsp.; William de Caisneto/Chesney Lord of Horsford, sheriff of Norfolk/Suffolk, b.c.1115 Horsford, d.1174 Colne Engaine Essex; Elias; and Peter

(NB. Colne Engaine, Essex, held by Walter de Caen in Domesday from Robert Malet)

issue of Avelina: Margaret and Simon

It would appear that Brown’s genealogy came from an interesting article written by JH Round, "The Origin of the Stewarts and their Chesney Connection", published in The Genealogist, NS, Vol.18, 1 (1902) (website 'Foundation for Medieval Genealogy'/fmg), which discusses the issue of Robert fitzWalter and confirms the above-named issue of each wife. He also produced the following family tree of Walter de Caen:

Round wrote: Alan fitzFlaald (ancestor of the Stewart kings) was survived by his widow Avelina, daughter of Ernulf de Hesdin, who became the wife of Robert fitz Walter, who joined with her in confirming to St. Peter’s Abbey, Gloucestershire in 1126, the church of (Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. Which had been given long before by her mother Emmeline, wife of Ernulf de Hesdin. Robert fitzWalter, the husband of Alan’s widow was a man of some consequence, who enjoyed the favour of Henry I. Robert fitzWalter’s lands can be traced back to 1086, when they were held of Robert Malet by his ancestor Walter de Caen (Cadomo) in the three eastern counties.

The cartularies of Castle Acre Priory and of St John’s Abbey, Colchester. The former contains a charter granted by William Bardulf* “pro anima Alani filio Flaaldi et pro anima (A) Roberti filii Walteri et (B) Johannis filii ejus et por anima (C) Willelmi de Chaineto” which is confirmed by “Willelmus filius Roberti filii Walteri. The Colchester cartulary contains mention of Robert Fitzwalter and Aveline, his wife.

Although William bore the name “de Chesney”, he derived it not from his father, but from his mother Sybil. That Robert fitzWalter had two wives, of whom Sybil (de Chesney) was the first and Avelina (widow of Alan fitzFlaald) the second is proved by an extract from the Thetford Register:

“Ego Robertus filius Walteri pro salute anime mee et uxor[um] meorum Sibillie et Aveline et infantum meorum” (Lansdowne, MS 229, fo.146)

In a charter in the Colchester Cartulary, dealing with the manor of Ling, to which William Bardulf* is the first witness, William “de Chaineto”, as he there styles himself, mentions his brothers John, Roger, Helyas (Elias) and William, as well as Margaret his sister. Again, as William “vicecomes de Norwico,” he mentions all four in a charter relating to his manor of “Hou” and among the witnesses to the charter is “Petrus frater meus.” In a further charter by his sister Margaret (married to Hamon de St Clare), the second witness was “Symon frater meus”, and as “Simon de Caisneto” he testified to Archbishop Theobald and the Biship of Norwich that his sister Margaret had given the manor in her last illness. Simon acquired “the Honour of Mileham” which had been held by Alan fitzFlaald.

(*William Bardulf, Lord of Bardulf (d.1174), son of Akaris fitzBardulf, of Ravensworth, brother of Hervey fitzAkaris and Walter fitzAkaris, was joint sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk (1169-1174) with Bartholomew de Glanville and Vinar Capellanus.)


The Sibton Abbey Cartularies and Charters, part I, (ed. Philippa Brown, 1985, p.7+ []) discusses the foundation of the abbey in 1150 by William de Chesney, grandson of Walter de Caen, and the issue of Robert filius Walter de Caen.

It is no easy task to uncover the line of William de Chesney, the founder of Sibton. The first recorded member of this family is Walter de Caen, Domesday under-tenant and paternal grandfather of William de Chesney. Unfortunately, however, little is known about him. According to Domesday Book, Walter de Caen, or Walter, was an important under-tenant of Robert Malet in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. (In Domesday, no tenant is recorded on Malet’s lands in Horsford and Horsham St Faith both of which were certainly held by Walter’s son, Robert. The lands held of the honour of Eye were afterwards called the barony of Horsford, where there is a castle, and consisted of ten knight’s fees which descended to Walter’s grandson William, and afterwards to William’s son-in-law Robert I son of Roger (second husband of William’s daughter Margaret. Walter was also a tenant of the honour of Clare at Helmingham in Suffolk, of which honour his grandson William was also a tenant. Nothing is known of Waler before the Conquest. As to his career afterwards, J.H. Round in an interesting footnote suggested ‘speculatively’ that the Walter at the Kentford gathering of the magnates of the adjacent counties in 1080, who was acting as a deputy for sheriffs Roger and Robert, might be none other than Walter de Caen. (Round, ‘The Early Sheriffs’, p488)

The only known child of Walter de Caen is Robert son of Walter, the founder’s father. Robert succeeded Walter after 1087 and lived on into Stephen’s reign since two writs of that king were addressed to him. In 1138 his son John witnessed a charter of Stephen to Eye when it is likely that Robert was dead. Robert son of Walter is the first member of his family to have certainly entered royal administrative service when he was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, establishing a precedent to be followed by his descendants. He may have become sheriff as early as 1111 and certainly not long after, and held the office until Michaelmas 1129. Afterwards Robert may possibly have served as an itinerant justice. He married twice. Sybil, his first wife, whom William de Chesney named as his mother in a charter to Horsham St Faith priory, came from a family of similar status to Robert’s own. She was the daughter of Ralph I de Chesney, Domesday under-tenant of William de Warenne in the counties of Norfolk and Sussex. Ralph came from le Quesnai near Sens, the fief from which the family took its name. This family were benefactors of the Warenne Cluniac foundation of Lewes in Sussex, and one of its members, William de Chesney, son of Ralph I de Chesney, founded an Augustinian priory at Rudham, Norfolk in 1140. This priory, better known as Coxford Priory, was moved to that place early in the reign of Henry III. The foundation was made for the health of the souls of the founder’s father and mother, his brother Ralph II and all his brothers and sisters.

Robert and Sybil were married in 1105 when jointly they founded the priory of Horsham St Faith in Norfolk. However, Sybil was dead by 1126 when Robert appears with his second wife Aveline confirming a grant to Gloucester abbey. Avelin was the daughter or Ernulph de Hesdin. Aveline was the widow of Alan fitzFlaald who had benefited from the favour of Henry I early in his reign and had risen suddenly as a result.

In association with his first wife Sybil, Robert made the first family foundation, the Benedictine priory of Horsham St Faith. According to the ‘Fundationis Historia’ of this house, Robert and Sybil went on pilgrimage to Rome in the 6th year of Henry I. On their way home they were set upon, robbed by thieves and finally imprisoned by brigands, until by a miracle, they were rescued from this fate by St Faith. Filled with gratitude they vowed to found a house on their manor of Horsford and dedicate it to the saint, as a cell to Conques, on their return home Presumably the first grant was made late in the year 1105.

A record survives of a grant of Robert to the Cluniac priory of Thetford for the souls of his two wives, Sybil and Aveline, and of his children. In the cartulary of the Benedictine priory of Earl’s Colne there are two references of a gift (presumably the same) by Robert of one acre in Colne Engaine, Essex.

From both marriages Robert had children. From his first marriage to Sybil de Chesney there were at least two other sons apart from William and possibly four. The first of these appears to have been Roger of whom little is known. The few references that there are of him speak as if he was the eldest son. The cartularies of Sibton mention him first and he is the only son actually named in the foundation charter of Horsham St Faith. He appears to have died without issue, and presumably before his father since there is no suggestion that he ever held the family lands. His brother William de Chesney made two grants to St John’s Colchester for his soul. Robert’s second son, John, is better documented. He first occurs before 1125 amongst those witnessing on behalf of his father in a charter of the abbot of St Benet’s of Hulme. He held the family lands from his father’s death until his own death which according to Thomas of Monmouth took place in 1146 or 1147. As his father had been, John was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and it seems that he held the office by 1140 when in a charter of Stephen to St Benet’s he was named as sheriff, and he was still sheriff at the time of his death which according to Thomas of Monmouth was ‘ a worthy punishment by God’ because of his protection of the Jews, the supposed murderers of the boy saint William, and his interference in the election of William de Turbe to the bishopric of Norwich. During his life John is said to have granted 60 acres of land at Horsford and Horsham to his parents’ foundation of Horsham St Faith and to have confirmed their grants. John is not known to have married and he died without issue.

Two other sons of Robert, Peter and Elias, may also have been children of his first marriage. The only mention of them occurs in charters of William de Chesney, their brother, by which he made grants to St. John’s, Colchester, for their welfare.

A reference to Margaret, daughter of Robert, is also to be found in a charter of William de Chesney in the Colchester cartulary. In a grant to this house, Margaret named her father as Robert, her mother as Aveline, her brothers as William and John, as well as another brother Simon. Margaret married Hamon de St Clair, sheriff of Essex in 1127, and bailiff of Colchester between 1128 and 1130 and quite possibly later. Margaret was Hamon’s second wife. She died shortly after making a grant to Colchester which was confirmed by her husband who also died c.1150. The same grant was also confirmed by Margaret’s brother Simon de Chesney whom Round showed to be the son of Robert son of Walter by his second wife Aveline and to be identical with Simon of Norfolk who appears in the Castle Acre cartulary holding the honour of Mileham in Stephen’s reign. In his charters to St John’s Colchester, William de Chesney also mentioned one other brother, another William, whose name implies that he was possibly another son of Robert’s second marriage. William took the name of Chesney from his mother’s family (as even more curiously did his half-brother, Simon son of Aveline, who was only related by marriage to the Chesney family). William also occurs under the guise of a variety of other names. He used his father’s name calling himself William son of Robert son of Walter. On other occasions he called himself William the sheriff or William of Norwich, which as Round pointed out was ‘parallel with the cases in which the capital of a county was used as a surname by the holders of more or less hereditary shrievalties. etc.

According to the tradition of Sibton Abbey, the foundation of a Cistercian house was the fulfilment of a vow William had made to his brother John as the latter lay on his death-bed as the atonement for John’s sins during peace-time when he was sheriff and during the war. William, the founder of Sibton Abbey, granted all his demesne in Sibton, Wrabton, Peasenhall and Stickingland with land in Dunwich. In Sibton, the founder’s grandfather (Walter) held a number of small manors at the time of the Domesday survey and another in Strickland. The grant was explicitly said to be free of all service, scutage and military service, castle -guard and all aids.

(The following family tree is then produced on p.8, Sibton Cartularies v.1):

Richard Mortimer in his Leiston and Butley Cartularies, discusses donors to Leiston Abbey:

Roger de Cheney or ‘Kedney’ granted Leiston some land in an unspecified village (Charter No. 59, before 1225), and agreed to rent land belonging to Middleton church in Charter No. 13 (Roger received 3 acres of ‘free land’ of Middleton church in Fordley for 12d annually c.1205-24). Perhaps he was related to the distinguished family of Chesney, or ‘de Caisneto’; if so, his connection with the Leiston area could stem from William de Kesneto/Chesney, alias William of Norwich, who held Blythburgh for the service of one knight by gift of Henry II. In 1211 Margaret of this family held Blythburgh; a Roger is found confirming to Blythburgh Priory the gifts of his mother Emma in Cove, and confirming and granting land in Darsham.

‘An Essay toward a topographical history of the co. of Norfolk’, V.10, by Francis Blomefield, (London 1808), pp.432-437 describes HORSFORD:

Robert Malet, baron of Eye in Suffolk, had a grant of this town [Horsford], for his eminent services to the Conqueror, on the deprivation of Edric (of Laxfield), lord of it in King Edward’s reign, when there were 2 carucates and an half, etc.

Robert Lord Malet, enfeoffed one of his knights, Walter de Cadomo who attended him into England at the Conquest, of this lordship, which was called the barony of Horsford, to be held of the honor of Eye; and here this Walter built a castle, whose ruins, Camden says in his Britannia, were then overgrown with bushes and briars, and laid a large park or chase around it, in some deeds called the forest of Horsford. Robert son of Walter, married Sybilla, daughter and heiress of Ralph de Chesney, and is often called Robert FitzWalter, and was founder of Horsham priory, etc.


‘Monasticon Anglicanum’, Vol III, p635- Priory of St Faith at Horsham in Norfolk:

The priory of St. Faith at Horsham was founded by Robert FitzWalter and Sibill de Caineto his wife, A.D.1105. The continuator of Blomefield calls him Robert de Cadomo or Caen, son of Walter de Cadomo lord of Horsford. An old English manuscript copied by Dugdale states that Robert FitzWalter and his wife, returning through France and Rome, where they had been in pilgrimage, were set upon by robbers and imprisoned, till by their prayers to God and St Faith the virgin they were miraculously delivered; after which, visiting the shrine of St Faith at the abbey of Conches in France, and being there kindly entertained, they vowed on their return into England to build a religious house. This vow they performed: edifying a small monastery at Horsham, and annexing it as a cell to the abbey of Conches. In 1163, this foundation was confirmed by a bull from Pope Alexander the Third. Other confirmations are also recorded from descendants of the founder. John son of Robert fitzWalter, by a deed, without date, gave 60 acres of land in Horsford and Horsham to this priory, confirming at the same time the grant of his father and mother. William, another of the founder’s sons, also confirmed the donations of his father and mother, in the time of King Stephen. William, the son of Robert and grandson of Walter, also gave them certain land in Helgetun, with the advowson of the church, and the advowsons of the churches of St Martin in the Bailey and St Michael in Iberstrete in Norwich.


Eye Priory, Charter No. 22- Precept of Stephen count of Boulogne and Mortain to Robert son of Walter/Roberto filio Walteri, to allow the prior and monks to hold their lands and property as they held them on the day when he last crossed the sea.

Dated 1125-1129.

(Notes: Robert son of Walter [de Caen] was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk until Michaelmas 1129 [see Sibton Cart, i, p9]

Roberto filio Walteri also witnessed Charter No. 16: Notification by King Stephen confirming to the church of Eye all the holding of Benedict the chaplain in Stoke Ash, signed at Cambridge 1136-c.1138. The editor noted that Robert son of Walter was probably dead by 1138 when his son John witnesses Charter No.15. (for Robert’s career, see Cartulary Sibton, 1, p.9)


Eye Priory Charter No. 15- Robert’s son John, Johanne filio Rotberti vicec(omitis), witnessed Stephen’s Confirmation Charter No. 15 to the monks of Eye of all their possessions, dated after Nov 1137.

Interestingly, in this charter, Hubert Walter’s tithe of Snapeshall in Fressingfield was not mentioned, but “3s worth of land which John son of Robert holds” was added to the donations (‘quas tenet Johannes filii Rotberti’), witnessed by Johanne filio Rotberti vicec(ometis)- ie. sheriff; also witnessed by William filio Rogeri (de Huntingfield), and Herv(eio) de Glanvilla;

with Note: In the witnessing of John son of Robert it is unclear whether the title sheriff refers to his father or whether John had succeeded his father and become sheriff by this date. He was certainly sheriff by 1140 (see Sibton Cart, I, p.12)

Whether this donation referred to the entry in the original charter to Eye, “his tithe at Huntingfield by Robert Malus nepos”, and witnessed by Robertus filius Walteri, is uncertain.


Robert fitzWalter elder son of de Caen, was sheriff of Norfolk/Suffolk from c.1115 until 1129, and it would appear from the above charter, again in 1136 (No. 16), as were his sons John and William who were successive sheriffs from 1137/38 and 1140, 1146 +

Refs: ‘Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1991’, ed. Marjorie Chibnall, p.99; Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum 1066-1154, iii, Nos 288,289 and 399; Eye Priory Cartulary, pt 1, pp.28-29, 31-32, Nos 15, 16, 22)


The following entry is in The Great Roll of the Pipe for the 31st year of the reign of King Henry I: Michaelmas 1130’, Edit. by Judith A. Green (Pipe Roll Society, London, 2012) p78:

Roger Gulafre renders account of 15 silver marks for breach of the peace. In pardon by the king’s writ to the same Roger 15 silver marks for love of the count of Mortain. (viz. future King Stephen). And he is quit.

And the same sheriff renders account of £25.15s of the lawmen of the county and the hundreds. In the treasury £4.8s.4d. And in pardon by the king’s writ to the bishop of Ely 10 silver marks of his men.

And he owes £14. 13s. 4d. And Robert son of Walter ought to pay.

(Roger Gulafre, son and heir of William Gulafre, of Okenhill in Badingham in Bishops Hundred, co Suffolk; Roger was seneschal of Eye, and sheriff late in Stephen’s reign, in the early 1150’s)


Brown (Eye Cart.) also discusses the Honour of Eye and of Lancaster, p23-25:

King Henry I held the honor of Eye for seven years and Stephen who first as count and afterwards as king held the same honor for 22 years. Robert Malet’s heir in Normandy was not allowed to succeed in England, giving a death of c.1106 for the passing of the honor to the Crown. Henry gave the honor of Eye to count Stephen in c.1113. He was in possession of the honor of Lancaster by 1115/16. In this period, the Sackville family, (their father having held lands of Eudo dapifer in various counties in 1186), possibly by gift of Henry I but more likely of count Stephen, were given fees both of the honor of Eye and of Lancaster. Similarly with the Blund family. The joint lordship of the lands of Eye with those of Lancaster in East Anglia in the late 11th and early 12th centuries resulted in a considerable body of fees, particularly in Suffolk, which added to the fortunes of several families. Ernald (Ruffus) the son of ‘Roger son of Ernald/Arnold’ the Domesday tenant of Roger the Poitevin, was given the fee-farm of the manor of Stradbroke by count Stephen. Roger of Huntingfield held one knight’s fee of Lancaster in Mendham, and his father Walter fitzAubrey [deCaen] had been a considerable tenant of Robert Malet.

Notes: though we can be certain Roger held Mendham from a confirmation of king Stephen to Roger’s son William, it is not possible to say whether the fee was given to the family by Roger the Poitevin (or Robert Malet who also held part of Mendham), Henry I or count Stephen. No tenant is recorded as holding of Roger the Poitevin in 1086 in Mendham. (NB. Two other parts of Mendham were held by Robert Malet in 1086, part held by Humphrey filius Robert as sub-tenant).


Notably, both of de Caen’s sons were granted fees after Domesday- Robert fitzWalter, the fee of Horsham St Faith and Horsford in Norfolk (held in Domesday by Robert Malet, and later granted to de Caen by Malet), while Roger de Huntingfield gained Mendham which was held in Domesday by Robert Malet and Roger the Poitevin. Both families founded priories at Horsham St Faith and Mendham.


‘The King and Eye: a study in Anglo-Norman politics’, by C.P. Lewis, (The English Historical Review No. CCCCXII- July 1989, Oxford Univ. Press) pp.577-580, 588, concerning Robert fitzWalter and Roger fitzWalter:

Charter of Roger the Poitevin and his wife Almodis, Count and Countess of La Marche, to the monastery of Charroux: …. Decimam quoque de omni terra quam Robertus filius Galteri habebat in Framilingaam et in Flemiorza, similiter decimam quam Rotgerius filius Galterii habebat in terra que dicitur Benga.

What is known of the careers of Robert Malet and Roger the Poitevin after 1087 shows that their fortunes mirrored one another. Malet was out of favour with William Rufus and in with Henry I; Count Roger was close to William Rufus but did not retain his position for long under Henry. Rufus took the honor of Eye away from Robert and gave it to Roger, while Henry I deprived Roger of Eye in order to restore it to Robert. The primary evidence comes from the church of Saint-Sauveur, Charroux, one of the most important monasteries in Roger the Poitevin’s wife’s county of La Marche. Count Roger’s grant is thought to date c.1094. Henry I’s confirmation charter dates c.1102, however it was only a partial confirmation of Roger the Poitevin’s grants to Charroux. He did not confirm the grants made out of the honor of Eye, presumably because they had already been restored with the honor to Robert Malet or directly to the priory.

None of the identified places, apart from one, had been Roger the Poitevin’s in 1086, but several were part of or associated with the Malet family’s honor of Eye. The churches of Barrowby and Segebrook (Lincs.) had been on demesne manors of Robert Malet. Robert fitzWalter’s/ Robertus filius Galterii’ tithes of Framalingaham and Flemworth (1 ½ miles SE of Eye, probably the 30 acres held by Walter de Caen in Eye, Suffolk) were derived from estates held of the honor by Robert’s father Walter de Caen. Roger fitzWalter’s/ Rotgerius filius Galterii tithes at Bing (Suffolk) were from another Eye manor which had belonged to his father Walter de Caen. Finally, Count Roger and his Countess Almodis’s charter to Charroux was issued at Stradbroke (Suffolk), one of Robert Malet’s largest demesne manors in 1086.

The honor of Eye was clearly back in Malet’s hands when he died, probably in 1106, and Roger the Poitevin’s grants to Charroux out of the priory’s endowment were back in the priory’s possession, probably under Henry I. Robert Malet was present at Henry I’s coronation and attested Henry’s coronation charter (Regesta,ii, no.488) within three days of William Rufus’ death in the New Forest in 1100, and was one of his closet counsellors during the rest of his own life. (Hollister, ‘Henry I and Robert Malet’, pp.115-20)

Robert fitzWalter, son of one of Malet’s barons (viz. Walter de Caen) evidently witnessed a charter of Count Roger in favour of Shrewsbury Abbey between 1093 and 1101 (Cartulary of Shrewsbury Abbey, ii, no.371 [1975])

Robert fitzWalter afterwards gave the tithes of Flemworth to his own priory of Horsham St Faith (Norfolk) usually said to have been founded in 1105, though the foundation charter can be dated 1111-1119.


Robert fitzWalter also founded the church of St Peter at Sibton in the time of William Rufus. The lands of Sibton were held by his father Walter de Caen from Robert Malet in Domesday:

In Sibton, Walter de Caen holds the manor with 25 acres, 1 bordar, half a plough in demesne. 1 acre of meadow. Worth 4s. 1 church. In the same vill 1 carucate of land and 20 acres as a manor, 4 villans, 10 bordars. 2 ploughs in demesne and 2 ploughs belonging to the men. Woodland from 60 pigs 4 acres of meadow. 2 horses and 7 head of cattle. 26 pigs. 50 sheep. Worth 40s. Walter de Caen holds this from Robert Malet. In the same vill 25 acres as a manor. 3 bordars, half a plough 1 acre of meadow, 1 horse. Worth 4s. Walter holds this from Malet. In the same vill, Eadric held 16 acres of land 1 bordar woodland for 12 pigs. 2 acres of meadow. Worth 3s. In the same vill, Aelfric held 60 acres TRE as a manor. 2 bordars. 2 ploughs in demesne 1 acre of meadow. 13 sheep 6 goats Worth 16s. Walter holds this from Malet.

When Robert died, his son John filius Robert (the sheriff) inherited the Barony of Horsford. After some time, when he was stricken with a grave illness, he bethought himself to construct a Cistercian abbey in atonement for his many evil deeds both in times pf peace and war. Knowing that he could not live long, he made his brother and heir William de Chesney (or de Cayneto) promise to perform what he had vowed, to complete and construct the Cistercian abbey. Then after John died, William held the barony, and after some time ruled the county as William vicecomes/sheriff. He, mindful of the welfare of his brother’s soul, fulfilled his promise and founded the abbey of St Mary of Sibton with the normal complement of 13 monks, granting his lands at Sibton and his charter of confirmation dated 1149. 

(Wikipedia, Monasticon Anglicanum, V, p.560, ‘Houses of Cistercian monks: Abbey of Sibton in W. Page (ed.) ‘A History of the County of Suffolk, V.2 (1975) pp.89-91 (British History online)


2.Roger de Huntingfield (Roger fitzWalter)- second son of Walter de Caen

In Domesday, Huntingfield and Linstead were held by ‘Walter fitzAubrey/Walterus filius Albrici’ from Robert Malet, while Bing was held by Walter de Caen/Walterus de cadam, again from Malet, and as all three manors were held by Walter’s son Roger de Huntingfield, it therefore appears to prove that Walter de Caen was also named Walter fitzAubrey.

Huntingfield held by Walter fil Albrici

Bing/Byng held by Walter de Caen

Walter fitzAubrey de Caen’s second son, Roger de Huntingfield was ancestor of the de Huntingfield family of Suffolk, whose lands, specifically Huntingfield and Linstead and Byng/Bing, were inherited from Walter de Caen’s/fitzAubrey’s Domesday holdings under Robert Malet. These were substantial holdings which became the demesne manor of the de Huntingfield family for generations. According to Katherine Keats Rohan, Roger married Emma (?) daughter of Guy de Craon, a Breton, and his wife the daughter of Hugh fitzBaldric.

De Huntingfield descendants founded Mendham Priory and Bing/Byng/Bungay Priory in Suffolk.

 As outlined above, Roger the Poitevin made a donation to the abbey of Charroux in 1091-1102 (c.1094), to which ‘Rotgerius filius Galterii’/ Roger fitzWalter donated the tithe of his land called Benga which is the tithe of the manor of Byng/Bing in Pettistree, recovered by Robert Malet from Roger de Poitevin after 1100. Roger fitzWalter’s brother ‘Robertus filius Galterii’/Robert fitzWalter also donated tithes in Framlingham and Flemworth (near Eye) to Charroux abbey.

 In Robert Malet’s charter to Eye Priory c.1103, Roger de Huntingfield/ ‘Rogerus filius Walteri de Huntingfield’ donated two thirds of his tithe of the demesne of Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng.

While the original Charter of Robert Malet to Eye Priory listed “his tithe of the demesne of Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng (in Pettestree) by Roger de Huntingfield” who witnessed the charter as Rogerus filius Walteri de Huntingefeud, later confirmation charters to Eye by Popes Adrian and Alexander, list the tithe of Roger son of Walter in Huntingfield, Byng and Linstead/ “decimam Rogeri filii Walteri de Huntingfeldia, decimam dominio de Benges et de Linestede”.

In King Stephen’s confirmation charter to Eye Priory c.1136 (Eye Cart. No. 15), he confirmed the donation of ‘Decimam quoque (the tithe of) Rogeri filii Walteri de Huntingefeld et de Benges, and introduced the new donation of ‘iii solidatas quas tenet Johnanes filii Rodberti (viz. 3 shillings that John son of Robert [fitzWalter de Caen] holds), which was then witnessed by Johanne filio Rotberti vicecomitis (ie. Sheriff), and Willelmo filio Rogeri (de Huntingfield). John had succeeded his father Robert filius Walter as sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Other witnesses included Henry nephew of King Stephen (future Henry II), William Martel (Stephen’s dapifer/steward), Robert fitzRichard (de Clare, of Little Dunmow, Essex- d.1136), John the Marshall, Hubert II de Montecanisy, Hervey de Glanville and Adam Belnaco.

According to Vivien Brown in the Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters II, p.72:

Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng were lands which the father of Roger, Walter, held of Robert Malet and which formed the bulk of the 7 knight’s fees held of the Honor of Eye by the Huntingfield family (Eye Fees Roll- ESRO, MS HD 1538/216/1).


Domesday Book: A Complete Translation (ed. Dr. Ann Williams & Prof. G.H. Martin, 2003, pp.1208,1216) - Huntingfield, Linstead and Bing in Suffolk:

Huntingfield and Linstead just east of Fressingfield

A Topographical and Genealogical History of the County of Suffolk: Huntingfield, (by Augustine Page 1847 p.242):

Soon after the conquest, Roger, lord of the manor of Huntingfield, assumed the name of his lordship, and devised the same to William de Huntingfield, his son and successor; founder of Mendham Priory, in King Stephen’s reign, about the year 1140, and who deceased in 1155.

Roger II de Huntingfield, William’s son and heir, flourished in the reign of Henry II; whose son William II [de Huntingfield], was one of the Barons who signed Magna Carta, in the 17th of King John, 1215. He was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and an accountant with Alberic de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and others, for the customs of those counties. In the 14th of King Henry III, Roger III de Huntingfield, his son and heir, purchased Huntingfield Hall in Norfolk, of John de Lacy. William III de Huntingfield was his son and heir; and in the 7th Edward I, an agreement was made between this William de Huntingfeld and John de Engaine, and enrolled, that Roger, eldest son of William should marry Joan, the eldest daughter of the said John. This William deceased about the 11th of the said King. Roger IV de Huntingfield his son succeeded. In 31 King Edward I, he held this manor of the King ‘in capite’ as of the honour of Eye, by the service of one Knight’s fee, and the fourth part of a Knight’s fee, and decease about that period. William IV de Huntingfield his son and heir succeeded, and deceased in the 7th King Edward II, leaving Roger V his son and heir about 8 years of age. When of age he was siezed of the manors of Huntingfield, Benges and harham and deceased in the 11th of King Edward III, leaving William V his son and heir aged 7 years. Whereupon, in the inquisition in the 50th year of Edward III, the feoffees of the said William Lord Huntingfield, long before his decease, became settled on William de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk for life.


‘The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk’, Volume 2, by Rev. Alfred Suckling, published in 1848, p404-409, discusses the land of Huntingfield, a manor held by Eadric of Laxfield, 6 carucates plus a further 255 acres valued at £10 in 1086:

Given to Robert Malet Lord of the Honour of Eye, whose under-tenant was Walter son of Albricus (de Caen).

Roger de Huntingfield (d.1301) son of William de Huntingfield (d.1283- descendants of Roger de Huntingfield I) was seized of the manor of Huntingfield in Suffolk, being held of the King, in capite as of the Honour of Eye, by the service of one knight’s fee, and the fourth part of a fee (Harl. MSS 708).

William de Huntingfield, his son and heir died 7th of Edward II and in the following year it was returned that he held of the manor of Huntingfield of the King, in capite, as of the Honour of Eye, by the service of 6 knight’s fees, and 8s. and 4p. for castle- ward of the castle of Eye. He was also seized of the manor of Mendham in Suffolk.

Roger de Huntingfield, his son and heir, aged 7 years, being then seized, inter alia, of the manors of Huntingfield, Benges and Horham, made proof of his age in 25th of Edward III (1242), had livery of his lands.

(meaning of ‘in capite’: an ancient tenure whereby a man held lands of the King immediately as of his Crown, whether by Knight’s Service, or socage.)


This is a significant and important example of lands held by successive generations of one family, held ‘in capite, as of the Honor of Eye, by the service of Knight’s fees’, probably granted by Stephen who held the Honor of Eye, yet of lands originally held by their ancestor Walter de Caen in Domesday.


Phillipa Brown in Sibton Cartularies (p.64), discusses contributors to Sibton:

‘Roger of Huntingfield’ who granted free drovage and transit in Huntingfield and Linstead. It is most likely he is Roger III, son and heir of William II of Huntingfield who in 1221 gave 100m for livery of his inheritance. He died in or before 10 July 1257 holding 2 ¾ fees in Lincolnshire of Petronilla de Vaux, another manor in that county, 1 fee in Mendham of the honour of Lancaster, and the manors of Byng and Huntingfield of the honour of Eye. His great grandfather William I of Huntingfield and founded Mendham priory. He is unusual in that, unlike other benefactors of Sibton, he had demonstrable interests in another Cistercian house since he was also a benefactor of Kirkstead Abbey, where his family had had interests since the early part of the reign of Henry II when his ancestor, a William son of Roger of Huntingfield, had also granted land in Lincolnshire to that house. Roger II was also a benefactor of Bungay nunnery.

(Notably, Brown does not indicate that the de Huntingfields were closely related to the Lords of Horsford, nor does she note that Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng were lands held by Walter de Caen in Domesday.)

Roger de Huntingfield (I)’s grandson, also named Roger de Huntingfield II (son of William de Huntingfield I), was a close associate of Peter Walter, a witness to three charters, Byng, Mendham, and Eye Priories (Cartulary Charter No. 31, ie. witness in 1199 with Wm de Huntingfield to a grant in free arms by Henry duke of Lotharingia, margrave of the roman empire and lord of the honor of Eye to the monks, of the land of Dosolf in Eye).

The following de Huntingfield family tree is given in Monasticon Anglicanum, v.5 p.56- Charter to Mendham, beginning with Roger’s son William de Huntingfield who founded Mendham Priory c.1140:

The fitzRocelin family of Linstead and Hollesley

In Robert Malet’s Charter to Eye, ‘Jocelin of Hollesley’ donated ‘the tithe of 100 acres in Huntingfield’. In a later confirmation of this Charter (No. 3 c.1123), it states: ‘the tithe of Rocelin in Huntingfield’, while  roger de Huntingfield gave two-thirds of his tithe of the demesne of Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng (in Pettistree) to Eye.

A Confirmation Charter by the bishop of Norwich in 1155 specified ‘the tithe of the demesne of Rocelin of Linstead (in Huntingfield)’.

Henry I’s confirmation charter (c.1125-35) states, “the tithe of Rocelin of Huntingfield”.

William Turbe bishop of Norwich’s confirmation charter of c.1155-65 stated: “the tithe of the demesne of Rocelin of Linstead”. And Pope Adrian IV (1155) also stated: “the tithe of Rocelin of Huntingfield”.

Both Huntingfield and Linstead, listed together in the Domesday Book as they are adjacent, were Walter de Caen holdings from Robert Malet, while Hollesley was held by Robert de Glanville from Malet in Domesday, but was held by Rocelin in Malet’s Eye Charters.

In later Charters associated with the de Huntingfields, witnesses include William and Robert, sons of Rocelin (Mendham Priory Ch. II & IV) along with Peter Walter.  

Whether Jocelin/Rocelin was another son of Walter de Caen, or a close relation of the de Huntingfields, is undetermined, but the fact that he had received part of the large Huntingfield estate which was wholly held by Walter de Caen from Malet, would suggest it is so.

V. Browne in the Eye Priory Cartulary, p55: Sutton- almost certainly Sutton near Hollesley, held of Robert Malet in 1086 by Walter de Caen and his descendants. The manor was held of the family by the fitzRocelins who gave the fee farm of it to the Hollesley family (see Leiston Cartulary No 73.)

Philippa Brown in Sibton Cartularies (Pt I,p.90+):

William II son of William son of Roscelin, who adopted the surname fitzRocelin, held one knight’s fee in Hainford, Norfolk, of William Blund of the honour of Lancaster, and land in east Anglia of Robert I son of Roger, second husband of Margaret de Cressy. A suit of 1207 between William and his lord, William Blund shows that they were also related since Alice, mother of the benefactor, had first married Gilbert Blund, brother of William Blund’s grandfather, another William. The paternal grandfather of William II was a Roscelin of Linstead from whom his descendants took their name.


Brown’s fitzRoscelin tree:

                            (NB does not include William’s brother Robert filius Rocelin)

William fitzRoscelin’s sister, Margaret married firstly Hubert de Ria who died in 1188 leaving two daughters, minors, as his heirs. Margaret married secondly Osbert son of Hervey [ie. Osbert fitzHervey of Dagworth- see first blog chapter] who, in 1198 answered for and paid £20 for taking her as his wife. Margaret and Osbert occur together in 1204. Osbert son of Hervey had a prominent career as judge from the last years of the 12th century, and he last occurs as such on 20 January 1206. Osbert was dead by 10 April 1206 when his lands, in Norfolk, Sussex and Essex, and his heir, were taken into custody. In the same year William II of Huntingfield answered from having the lands and heir of Osbert son of Hervey, and Osbert presumably had held 1 fee of Bury St Edmunds also in the custody of William of Huntingfield at this time. It seems that Margaret’s son, Richard of Dagworth, was her son by her second marriage. Richard, who was active by 1227-28 when he was party to a final concord concerning Dagworth (in Old Newton), was dead in 1234, when Isabel his widow held two parts of the manor of Doddinghurst, Essex, as her dower which her husband had held in socage tenure. In 1242-43 as Osbert (II) of Dagworth held 1 fee in Thrandeston of the abbot of Bury St Edmunds, and a ¼ fee in Dagworth of the fee of Henry of Essex. The probability that Osbert II was holding the same fee which Osbert son of Hervey and Richard of Dagworth had held before him, is confirmed by the findings of an inquisition following his death. This inquisition found that Osbert II had held the manors of Bradwell and Dagworth of the Filiol fee; in the time of King John, Osbert son of Hervey of Dagworth had held the manor of Dagworth from whom it descended to his son and heir Richard, a minor; the king gave the marriage and wardship to William of Huntingfield who married his daughter, Isabel, to Richard; Isabel held the manor of Dagworth in dower after Richard’s death, and died in September 1262; Osbert II, Richard’s son, was a minor when Richard died. Osbert II, not his grandfather, was a benefactor of Mendham Priory*.

From 1100, William II son of William son of Roscelin can be shown to have had close links with William de Chesney’s daughter Margaret, and her family. In this year, Robert I son of Roger, Margaret’s second husband, gave 300m for having the younger daughter of Hubert de Ria and marrying her to his nephew, Geoffrey of Chester.

William was living in 1230 but died in the same year when litigation began over his wife’s dower. He was succeeded by his son John. William and his family were associated with a number of local houses, and he confirmed to Blythburgh grants of rents made by his uncle Roger son of Roscelin, his mother Alice, and his sister Margaret. He also granted a rent of his own to Leiston Abbey (founded by Ranulf de Glanville c.1186), and a man in Wingfield to Bungay nunnery (founded by Countess Gundreda and her second husband Roger de Glanville, after 1177- Roger de Huntingfield also donated to Bungay/Byng nunnery, witnessed by Peter Walter and son Hubert, and William II de Huntingfield).

*Mendham Priory was founded by William I de Huntingfield. The foundation charter of William de Huntingfield to Mendham was witnessed by Willielmus filius Rocelini and Robertus frater eius.

A confirmation charter of William’s son and heir Roger II de Huntingfield to Mendham was witnessed by Willielmo filio Rocelini et Roberto filio Rocelini. Roger II de Huntingfield who died 1204, materially increased the endowments of Mendham in a second charter, by which he gave the monks the church of St Margaret Linstead, a moiety of the church of St Peter Linstead, and all his right in the church of Mendham, witnessed by Peter Walter, and Robert filio Rocelini(Monasticon Anglicanum, v.5. p.58)

All of the above, confirms the close relationship between the fitzRoscelin family of Linstead, and the de Huntingfield family (from Roger fitzWalter de Caen), and it would appear also the de Chesney family (from Robert fitzWalter de Caen).

This fitzRoscelin family also appear to be close to the de Glanville and the Walter family, as shown in the witness lists of various monastic charters, including Hervey Walter’s charter to Butley Priory in which Roberto filio Rocelin was a prominent witness:

Similarly, Roberto filio Rocelin also witnessed Rannulf de Glanville’s charter to Butley Priory c.1171.

And William filius William filii Rocelini made a charter before 1221 (No.73) donating tithes from his land at Sutton (another Walter de Caen manor) to Leiston Abbey (founded by Rannulf de Glanville c.1186) and mentioned Roger of Holesley and his heirs.

It is possible that the William filio Robert who is named in several of Peter Walter’s documents, including the Mendham charter, and the 14th Century Butley Priory Rent Roll ( naming Hervey Walter, Peter Walter and William filio Robert as donating Belaugh) could be the son of Robert filio Rocelini. However, he could also have been the son of Robert, second son of Roger de Huntingfield (II).

Malus Nepos’

A third entry that only occurs in the original foundation charter by Malet, had “his tithe at Huntingfield by Robert Malus Nepos”. It should be pointed out again, that the whole estate of Huntingfield was held by Walter fitz Aubrey (de Caen) from Robert Malet. This tithe held by Robert Malus Nepos has not been explained, but maybe a reference to Walter de Caen’s son Robert’s inherited part of Huntingfield- the ‘Malus’ could be a corruption of Malets/Maletus, and ‘nepos’ possibly referring to a close relationship with Malet such as ‘nephew’. A signatory to the Charter to Eye was Robertus filius Walteri as was his brother Rogeris filius Walteri de Huntingefeud, yet, of Walter de Caen’s two elder sons, only the donated tithes of Roger’s lands in Huntingfield and of this Robert Malus Nepos of Huntingfield, are recorded in the charter.

However, in King Stephen’s charter of confirmation to the monks of Eye of all their possessions as they held in the time of Robert Malet and of Stephen before he became king, dated c. Dec 1137 (Charter No. 15, Eye Cartulary, I), Robert Malus Nepos of Huntingfield is not mentioned, but instead, included in the list:

3s. worth of land which John son of Robert holds (“iii solidatas quas tenet Johannes filii Rotberti”), also witnessed by Johanne filio Rotberti vicec(omitis)/sheriff (viz. John fitzRobert fitzWalter de Caen), as well as repeating the “tithe of Roger son of Walter (de Huntingfield) in Huntingfield and Byng”.

By this time, Robert fitzWalter, sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, was based at Horsford in Norfolk, as were his sons who in turn became sheriff, so it would be interesting to know from which lands he donated the 3s.

Another charter signatory was Hubertus Malus Nepos, as well as Hubertus de Monte Kenesi/Canisy- whether related is also unknown. Hubert of Rickinghall gave two thirds of his tithe of Rickinghall Superior to Malet’s charter, and Rickinghall was held by Hubert de Montecanisy in Domesday. Hubert de Montecanisy also donated his hospice at Yaxley, and was the first signatory to Malet’s charter. In King Stephen’s confirmation charter, it just has “the tithe of Rickenhall (Superior)” and “the land of Godemann in Yaxley”.

Vivien Brown in the Eye Cartulary, p72, explains her view of the close relationship between the de Huntingfield and fitzRocelin families and ‘Malus Nepos’:

The foundation charter lists the gifts by Robert Malus Nepos of his tithe in Huntingfield and by Jocelin of Hollesley of the tithe of 100 acres in Huntingfield. Nothing is known of either donor, but below the entries of Walter fitzAubrey’s (de Caen) holdings in Huntingfield and Linstead in Domesday refers to 200 acres and 40 acres which pertain to the manor of Huntingfield. The other general confirmations, in addition to the tithe of Roger of Huntingfield, list the tithe of Rocelin of Huntingfield or Linstead as he was variously called. While the exact link between Rocelin and Jocelin of Hollesley cannot be established it seems certain that the tithe is the same. Conceivably Jocelin was a mistake for Rocelin. Rocelin’s grandson, William II, granted 10s a year to the abbey of Leiston and 30s a year to Sibton from the farm of Sutton which was held of him by Roger of Hollesley. Sutton is next to Hollesley and land here was held by the Huntingfield family. Rocelin’s dates are unknown, but his son and heir William I, together with another son Robert, witnessed William of Huntingfield’s foundation charter of his priory at Mendham before 1155. William was dead by 1185 when his wife Alice of Hainford was a widow, William being her second husband. In the later 12th century the tithes of the manors of Huntingfield and Byng, of the land of Rocelin and of Alice the wife of William fitzRocelin were leased to the priory of Mendham for 2m a year.

Note 202: a Hubert Malus Nepos witnessed the foundation charter of Eye, and a William Malus-nepos also witnessed the foundation charter of Mendham Priory of William son of Roger de Huntingfield before 1155 (in King Stephen’s reign). (this would seem to indicate that the ‘Malus-nepos’ referred to a separate family, close to the de Huntingfields; or, William took the ‘surname’ from his father).

This reference to Robert and Hubert Malus Nepos remains unresolved.


Peter Walter- As recounted previously, Peter Walter appears to have had a close relationship to Roger de Huntingfield II, possibly due to the close proximity of their estates and that they were both knights of the county of Suffolk. Peter and his son Hubert were witnesses, along with Roger de Huntingfield and Robert son of Rocelini to a charter of the priory of Mendham acknowledging payment to Eye. And also, a second charter to Mendham of a donation by Roger de Huntingfield was witnessed by Peter Walter and Robert son of Rocelin of Linstead. Peter and son Hubert were also witnesses to Roger de Huntingfield II’s confirmation of a grant to Byng Convent, along with Roger’s sons William and Robert de Huntingfield. And Peter Walter also witnessed a notification of enfeoffment to Roger son of William de Huntingfield.

Curiously, in the Leiston and Butley Cartularies (ed. Richard Mortimer), Charter No. 148, dated before 1212, is discussed on p.11 by Mortimer:

Richard de Caen (de Cadomo) granted to Butley an acre of his fee at Instead, between Weybread and Wingfield which William Cubald was holding, over which he had sued the canons. In addition, he granted half an acre in Instead by a bridge called ‘Anhand’; if the amount cannot be made on one side of the bridge, he will complete it on the other, which seems to imply that Richard did not know how much meadow he held there. The de Caen family appear as Malet tenants in Domesday Book. Richard first occurs in 1184 and last in 1203 (Pipe Roll 30 Henry II, 12; PR 5 John, 239). In all probability he was dead by 1216, when Walter de Caen junior gave Richard his brother, both of whom occur in the charter witness list, as a hostage.

The identity of this Richard de Caen is unknown, but the link with Instead is an interesting coincidence.


3.? Ralph or Reginald fitzWalter de Peyton- third son of Walter de Caen (?)

Katherine Keats-Rohan in her ‘Domesday People’ names a third son of Walter de Caen as ‘Ralph de Peyton’ whereas the early historian and antiquarian Peter le Neve (1661-1729), names the son of Walter de Caen as ‘Reginald de Peyton’ of Suffolk. (Recounted in ‘The English Baronetage’- see below)  

Little is known about Reginald de Peyton except he was dapifer to Hugh Bigod.

(It should be noted that the name ‘Reginald’ was variously spelt ‘Reynold’ and ‘Reinald’.)

However, this theory of a third son is questionable, as there is no irrefutable evidence to corroborate this theory.

The first of the family by the name of Peyton upon record, was Reginald de Peyton a great benefactor to Thetford priory which was founded by Roger Bigod in 1104 and completed in 1114.

Monasticon Anglicanum, v.5, ed. William Dugdale, p.141-144- Priory of Thetford in Norfolk

Introduction: “Blomfield and Martin have investigated the history of Thetford Priory closely. Martin gives the following list of benefactors to the priory from the manuscript in the Cottonian collection formerly marked Vitellius F.iv. but which was burnt in the fire of 1731.”


And on p.144

(NB. unable to find this reference in Liber Niger Scacciari, ed. Thomas Hearne)

According to historian Peter le Neve, this was quickly followed by his death, for ‘in 1136* King Stephen addressed a writ from Eye to the Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, commanding that John, son of Reginald de Peyton, have his whole land of Peyton ([Peter] le Neve’s Mss, National Archives UK):

Translation: Stephen King of England Justice. Sheriffs of Norfolk and Suffolk greeting. I order that John the son of Reginald hold his land from Peyton so well and in peace with his soco and sace and human liberties, as his predecessors held &c.   Witness: Adam de Belnaco, at Eye. (undated)

The difficulty is establishing where le Neve found this document, as it is not included in King Stephen’s charters in the ‘Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum 1066-1154- v.3, Regesta Regis Stephani…. 1135-1154’ (ed. H.A. Cronne and R.H.C. David, 1913), a most comprehensive collection of Stephen’s writs.

*The given dates of 1135 and 1136 are problematic. The Mon. Angl. section on Thetford Abbey quotes the historian ‘Martin’ for chronicling the date of ‘1135’ that Reginald de Peyton was a benefactor.

Le Neve specifically dates King Stephen’s charter to John fitzReginald as ‘1136’, yet Cronne, the editor of the Regesta, in his Preface, noted that “Anglo Norman charters cannot usually be dated with precision. For Stephen’s reign, a chronological arrangement of the charters proved quite impossible because of the number of charters with wide limits of date.”

The term ‘charter’ represents official documents, often written or issued by a religious, lay or royal institution which typically provides evidence of the transfer of landed or movable property (ie. grants, leases and agreements) and the rights which govern them. It was very rare to find dated charters, and historians date these documents within a certain time frame using information gathered on the witnesses eg. from the monarch’s years of reign and known itinerary; the period the witnesses were active in office as bishop, justice, sheriff etc.; reference to a datable event; contextual clues; Latin language patterns and the usage of particular phrases and vocabulary which changed over time etc.

Between the time of the Conquest in 1066 and about the start of the reign of Edward I in 1307, of the estimated one million charters that have survived over that 240 year period, over 90% of charters do not bear dates, and very few charters survive before 1160. William I introduced into the royal chancery the then-current Norman custom of issuing charters without dates or other chronological markers. This custom continued until the reign of King Richard I, when, for the first time, documents issued from the royal chancery began regularly to include a date, probably during Hubert Walter’s term as justiciar.

Some survived as originals, but most as copies in cartularies, which were produced periodically during the 11th to 15th centuries, and which would occasionally introduce transcriptional or other changes and inaccuracies, and sometimes forgeries ‘to alter past intent’. Another difficulty is that multiple and legitimate rewritings of documents have been made by scribes who may have modernized or slightly altered the language and punctuation of the documents being transcribed which can completely alter the meaning and intent of the document.

(ref: Dating Medieval English Charters, by G.Tilahun, A. Feuerverger & M. Gervers, The Annals of Applied Statistics, Dec 2012, v.6, No.4, pp.1615-1640- JSTOR)

As these charters were written well before the reign of Richard, and particularly before 1160, one can assume that any specific year date attached to any of these documents, is highly suspect.

This charter of King Stephen to John fitzReginald of Peyton appears to be genuine, although now probably lost, and the witness, Adam de Belnaco, an itinerant justice, was a frequent witness to Stephen’s charters in the late 1130’s and throughout the 1140’s. In the Regesta, the dates given for charters witnessed by Belnaco are given as ‘1136-1147’, therefore, the precise date of ‘1136’ in which year Le Neve stated that John received his father Reginald’s land, is not supportable, but would be between 1136 and the late 1140’s.

The second and most important charter to identifying this family, involves William de Chesney, third son of Robert filius Walter de Caen. William adopted the surname of his mother’s father Ralph de Chesney. This charter, which links the family of de Peyton with the family of Robert filius Walter de Caen, appears in Le Neve’s Mss and is quoted in the following. However, Le Neve’s identification of this William is not as clear as it would appear:

The English Baronetage: Containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of all the English Baronets now Existing, etc. V.1, by Arthur Collins [1741], pp23-24, quotes Le Neve:

Mr Le Neve says thus (in his Mss of the Baronets, v.1. p52):

The first of whom we find by the name of Peyton was Reignold de Peyton, second son to Walter lord of Sibton, in Suffolk, younger brother to Mallet, sheriff of Yorkshire, and lord of the honour of Eye in Suffolk. This Reignold held the lordships of Peyton-Hall in Ramshold and Boxford in Suffolk, of Hugh de Bigod; he was sewer (ie. steward of the household, als. dapifer) to Roger* Bigod (? d.1107), Earl of Norfolk (*Hugh was cr.1st earl of Norfolk, not his father Roger- a mistake?), and gave much lands to the monks of Thetford to pray for the soul of Hugh Bigod, and had two sons, William and John. William who held certain lands in Boxford, of the fee of the abbey of St Edmundsbury, as appears by charter of his nephew John.

The other son, John de Peyton, to whom King Stephen, and his cousin german William de Cassineto, baron of Horsford, granted all his lands in Peyton, well, peaceably, and rightly, with soc and sac, with all liberties and apurtenances to hold as his ancestors before held the same, and that he should have warren &c. (as above). The baron of Horsford’s charter begins thus:

‘Willielmus, filius Roberti filii Walteri, Dapifer suo & omnibus amicis & hominibus, &c. granting to John son of Reginald (John filius Reginald) his cousin, the service of Robert de Rameshot, in fee and inheritance &c.’

This John fitzReginald had 4 sons- John de Peyton knt who served in the parliament held at Westminster 29th Edward I as one of the knights of the shore for Suffolk soon after which he died. Robert who was lord justice of Ireland temp. Henry III and Edward I- he was Lord of Ufford in Suffolk and assumed the surname of Ufford therefrom; Peter, lord of Peyton Hall, who held lands in Ramsholt and Peyton, in the time of King John; John the younger who sold to John his eldest brother all the lands which he had in Boxford of the fee of the abbey of St Edmund’s and Stoke Neyland which their father John de Peyton and William their uncle, formerly possessed. As we learn from Mr Weever who has transmitted to us their memorial in the parish church in Stoke-Neyland in these words: ‘At the upper end, in the north side of this church next to the chancel, John de Peyton, the son of Reginald, lieth interr’d under the marble stone; about the verge whereof these few French words following are only remaining; __ Jena de Peytona___ Mercye___ l’ame Crifr___’.”

Much of this information is repeated in John and Sir Bernard Burke’s ‘A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies’ (1844- p.408), including the unsupportable statements that ‘the de Peytons have a progenitor in William Mallet, a Norman baron who was sheriff of Yorkshire in the 3rd of William I and obtained grants of sundry lordships and manors from the Crown’, and that ‘Reginald de Peyton, second son of Walter Lord of Sibton, younger brother of Mallet sheriff of Yorkshire’, so presumably the Burkes used Le Neve’s original Mss as their source of information.

Unfortunately, le Neve appears to have mixed up the wording of the two separate writs to John fitzReginald, writing: “John de Peyton, to whom King Stephen, and his cousin german William de Cassineto, baron of Horsford, granted all his lands in Peyton”- there are two separate charters described in the same sentence, one from the king confirming John’s inheritance of Peyton, and the second by his cousin William granting the service of ‘Robert de Rameshot’.

He also did not give us the full wording of the writ including the address, so we do not know what preceded the words, ‘Willielmus filius Robert’, except that he says it was a charter of King Stephen.

In comparison, another writ to Eye Priory dated 1136-54 (Regesta No.289) begins:

‘Stephanus rex Angliorum episcopo Norwicensi et justicie et omnibu baronibus de Norfolch et Suffolch salutem, which is the usual address of most of Stephen’s charters.

In this particular case, the words ‘his dapifer’/dapifer suo’ in the address would probably refer to William Martel, Stephen’s steward and one of his closest advisors, but that is not made clear.  

Another of Stephen’s unrelated writs confirms a gift made by a father to his son William, and the wording is:

Noveritis me concessisse et confimrasse Willelmo … donationem quam pater suus illi fecit, et omnia tenementa sua etc. = ‘You will know that I have granted and confirmed to William … the gift which his father made to him, and all his tenements’, etc, so the above writ would have been similarly written.

The Latin wording of the writ, only names him as Willielmus, filius Roberti filii Walteri, not as ‘de Chesney’ or as ‘Lord of Horsford’, which appear to have been added by le Neve who assumed it referred to the Norfolk de Chesney family descended from Walter de Caen’s eldest son Robert, thereby concluding that Reginald was brother to Robert.

There were at least two candidates that held this same name at that time;

1). William de Chesney d.1174- third son of Robert fitzWalter, son of Walter de Caen; after the death of his brother John filius Robert sheriff who took over c.1129 from his father Robert filius Walter vicomte/sheriff, William inherited the position of sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in the late 1140’s to 1150’s and again from 1156 until 1163; sometimes known as William of Norwich, and William fitzRobert.

He is the person Le Neve has chosen as the grantor in this charter. William was known as a loyal supporter of King Stephen.

In the first two charters in the Regesta Reges Stephani, he was named as Willelmo de Caisneto (Chesney), the name he also used when witnessing several of Stephen’s charters:

And in the following writ, confirming his grant of his demesne of Sibton in Suffolk, he was addressed as Willelmus filius Roberti fillii Walteri, the same as in the writ quoted by Le Neve. This grant must have occurred after the death of his elder brother John filius Robert c.1146-47 d.s.p. (according to Thomas of Monmouth) who was sheriff of Norfolk/Suffolk in the 1140’s, succeeded by his brother William de Chesney in the 1150’s and 60’s.

The following charter of a grant in 1157-58 by William de Chesney to Blythburgh Priory (Blythburgh Priory Cartulary Pt 1, p.46 No 42, addresses his name as ‘Willelmus de Chineto filius Roberti filii Walteri’, indicating that the usage of his name was fluid.

And the second candidate:

2). William filius Robert filius Walter [fitz Other], also known as ‘William fitzRobert de Windsor, lord of Little Easton in Essex’ (d.1162), as in one of Stephen’s charters (Regista regis Stephani… p.355)

According to historian Katherine Keats-Rohan, Walter fitzOther, constable of Windsor from 1078 and Keeper of the Forest, who held 21 lands in Berkshire, Buckinghampshire, Surrey and Hampshire in Domesday as tenant-in-chief, married the daughter (Beatrice?) of Walter the Deacon (diaconus) who held 18 lands in Suffolk (including 5 houses in Ipswich) as well as nine in Essex (including Great and Little Easton in Dunmow hundred in Essex) and a couple in Gloucestershire and Dorset, as tenant-in-chief in the Domesday Book, and held several from the Queen’s fief.

Both men (viz. named Walter) were of a much higher social status than William de Chesney of Horsford and his grandfather Walter de Caen.

As Le Neve made the unsupportable assumption that Walter de Caen was brother to “Mallett sheriff of Yorkshire”, he may have also have made a second unsupportable assumption that ‘Willielmus, filius Roberti filii Walteri’ was ‘William de Cassineto, baron of Horsford’, and ‘cousin’ to John de Peyton.

The William fitzRobert fitzWalter in the document could have equally been either of the two that held that name.

According to J. Horace Round (The Origin of the Fitzgeralds II in The Ancestor, No. II July 1902 [] pp.91-98), Walter fitzOther had several sons, William fitzWalter Constable of Windsor; Walter de Windsor; Robert fitzWalter de Windsor who inherited the Domesday fief of Walter the Deacon including Little Easton in Essex; Maurice de Windsor dapifer of St Edmund’s under Henry I, living in 1136, Ob.s.p.; Reinald [Reginald] de Windsor dapifer, living in 1136; and Gerald de Windsor married Nesta of Wales, ancestor of the fitzGeralds.

Of Reinald, Round wrote: “We are indebted to Mr Rokewode’s preface to ‘Jocelyn de Brakelond’ for the text of some important charters relating to the great abbey of Bury St Edmund’s. Among them is one (p.118) of Abbot Albold, belonging to the years 1115-9, in which he grants to Maurice ‘de Windleshore’ [ie. Windsor] the stewardship of the abbey with its curious privileges, together with the land of the previous steward Ralph (ie.dapifer- ‘totam terram quam Radulfus Dapifer predecessor suus tenuit de Sancto Edmundo et totam dapiferatum de tota terra Sancti Edmundi… Cum vero Mauricius prenominatus ierit longe aut proprie in servicium meum ad custum meum ire debet honorifice sicut dapifer’.), amounting to three knight’s fees, which were increased by the addition of two others to five. Among the witnesses to this charter are ‘Robertus de Wyndeleshore and Reinaldus de Wyndeleshore’ (ie. Windsor)

Chronica Jocelini de Brakelond: de rebus gestis Samsonis abbatis monasterii Sancti Edmundi, by John Gage Rokewode, 1840 (, p.118-119

Another of these charters (p.119) contains King Stephen’s confirmation to Maurice of all his land and his office etc, as he held them in the time of Henry I. Maurice is mentioned in several charters relating to the abbey; a writ of Henry I issued during a vacancy is addressed to ‘Eadnoth the monk and Maurice the steward (dapifer)… and all the barons of St Edmund’s Honour’. etc. Maurice was clearly in office or in favour with Henry I, for we find him excused his Danegeld on the Pipe Roll of 1130, and thus learnt that he held land in no fewer than eight counties: Dorset, Exxex, Northants, Norfolk, Suffolk, Beds, Berks, and Middlesex. The fact that Maurice de Windsor died without issue is proved by the succession of his nephew Ralf (de Hastings viz. Maurice’s wife’s nephew) as his heir in land and office. We saw above that among the witnesses to Abbot Albold’s charter to Maurice was a Reinald de ‘Wyndeleshore’ [Windsor]. Mr H.J. Ellis (of the British Museum) has kindly drawn my attention to the Reading Abbey Charters in which he occurs as a witness. Queen Adeliza (widow of Henry I) granted a rentcharge at Stanton, Oxon, to the abbey (1136), her charter having as a witness ‘Reginaldo de Wind’r (Archaeological Journal, xx, 287-8); She issued a writ relating to Stanton, ‘teste Reinaldo de Wind’r, apud Arondelle (in 1139-40); and her husband William earl of Arundel (or of Lincoln) confirmed her gift of a Hertfordshire manor, his charter including as a witness ‘Reginaldo de Windleshores’ (Ibid, xxii, 153).

Queen Adeliza’s original charter to Reading Abbey in 1136, witnessed by Reginald de Windsor

Mr Ellis ingeniously suggests that he was the queen’s dapifer, who witnesses two of the charters, as Rainald or Reginald ‘dapifer’. Here then we have not only another member of the family, but another who was a dapifer.”

Queen Adeliza was 2nd wife to Henry I who died in 1135 (no issue). Three years later, she remarried to William d’Aubigney 1st Earl of Arundel and had seven issue. She died in 1151.

While Round and Ellis came to the conclusion that Reginald de Windsor may have been dapifer to Queen Adeliza, they may have missed that he could also have been dapifer to Hugh Bigod who was a close advisor to King Henry and Queen Adeliza, and, who himself inherited his brother’s office of royal steward/dapifer following his elder brother’s death in the ‘White Ship’ disaster in 1120 in which Henry I’s son and heir also drowned. As queen dowager, Adeliza spent three years based in a convent before marrying William d’Aubigny, the son of William d ‘Aubigny and Maud Bigod, sister to Hugh Bigod. She and her husband supported Empress Matilda in her struggle against Stephen for the throne, briefly hosting the Empress when she landed in England in 1139, beginning a civil war. It is unlikely that Reginald de Windsor would have been dapifer to Adeliza during this period of civil unrest, so the documents witnessed above must have occurred in the period between 1136 and 1140.

Meanwhile Hugh was a supporter of Stephen at first, even claiming that Henry had intended for Stephen to become king at the expense of his daughter Matilda. Hugh Bigod was created Earl of Norfolk/Suffolk in 1141. Hugh’s loyalties to Stephen vacillated over the following years, and he assumed a position of armed neutrality during the period of ‘General Anarchy’. In 1153, when Matilda’s son Henry of Anjou (soon to be King Henry II) landed in England to assert his claim to the throne, Bigod vested his interests with Henry and held out against Stephen’s forces. Negotiations began between the two parties, and on Henry’s accession in December 1154, Bigod at once received confirmation of the possession of his earldom and stewardship by charter the following month.

Although Martin (Monasticon Anglicanum) claimed ‘Reginald de Peyton’ was dapifer to Hugh Bigod by 1135, the date remains questionable as monastic charters were very rarely dated, unless the donation was linked with the datable event of the king’s death in December 1135. As time passed and he was granted lands of his own, Reginald de Windsor would no longer be known by that name, as the younger sons of Walter fitz Other were no longer castellans of Windsor Castle (the position inherited by the eldest son William fitz Walter de Windsor who died in 1130), just as his brother Robert de Windsor would become known as Robert Lord of Little Easton and his son William fitz Robert Lord of Little Easton, and therefore it is feasible that Reginald de Windsor dapifer became known as Reginald de Peyton dapifer. There are no further records of ‘Reginald de Windsor’ after c.1139, nor of a marriage or issue, unlike his brothers.

Similarly, William de Caisneto was variously known in the records as William de Chesney vicomte (sheriff), William fitzRobert Lord of Horsford and Sibton, William of Norwich, and in at least one charter, William fitz Robert fitz Walter.

Notably, Reinald/Reginald was the brother of Robert fitzWalter Lord of Little Easton, as well as to Maurice dapifer to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

Robert fitz Walter [fitz Other] of Windsor died by 1128 when Henry I notified his men that he had rendered the lands of Robertus filio Walteri de Wyndesora/Windsor to his son Willelmo filio Roberti [filio Walteri], dated Christmas 1128 at Archentan, France, a witness Mauricio de Windesora. (Calendar Charter Rolls, ii, p.137; An Outline Itinerary of King Henry the First, by Wm Farrer, 1919, p.124, No.579) This was ratified by Queen Matilda (as above).

                                        Calendar Charter Rolls entry

Outline Itinerary of Henry I

If Reginald de Windsor, dapifer, was also known as Reginald de Peyton, dapifer, that would make Reginald’s son John fitz Reginald de Peyton cousin german to William fitz Robert fitz Walter (fitz Other).

The fact that Reginald de Windsor’s brother Maurice was dapifer to Bury St Edmunds who was granted the privileges and lands of the previous dapifer ‘Ralph/Ranulfus’ whose relict Edith, Maurice married, could explain how he gained the land of Ramsholt which was held by ‘Ralph’ from Robert Malet in Domesday.

The key property in this mystery is ‘Peyton Hall in Ramsholt in Wilford’, held by Reginald de Peyton, ‘the first of this family of de Peyton’. He also held Boxford and Stoke by Nayland which were inherited by eldest son William.

According to le Neve, all four properties were held by Reginald from Hugh Bigod 1st Earl of Norfolk, son of Roger Bigod who travelled to England in the Conquest and held great power in East Anglia, holding 6 lordships in Essex, 117 in Suffolk and 187 in Norfolk. However, he did not explain how Hugh Bigod held these lands which were not held by Roger Bigod in Domesday.

In Domesday, Ramsholt was held by ‘Ralph’ (possibly dapifer to Bury St Edmunds) from Robert Malet tenant-in-chief (also partly held by Ralph de Beaufour as a tenant-in-chief).

Peyton was wholly held by Swein of Essex High Sheriff of Essex (held by Godric of Peyton and Earl Harold pre-Conquest).

Swein of Essex also wholly held Stoke by Nayland, held pre-Conquest by Swein’s father Robert fitz Wimarch sheriff of Essex, a kinsman of both Edward the Confessor and William of Normandy, and one of four councilors at the death bed of Edward; also called Robert the staller of the royal palace (‘regalis palatii stabilitor’- ie. holding a permanent office in the king’s hall without specific duties).

Notably, Robert son of Swein of Essex married Gunnor Bigod, sister of Hugh Bigod (children of Roger Bigod), -issue Henry de Essex, sheriff of Essex. Gunnor married secondly Hamon St Clair.

Whether the land was acquired by Hugh Bigod through this marriage of Gunnor Bigod to Robert fitzSwein is unknown.

Boxford was not listed in Domesday, but there is a reference to it in the Domesday Book via an entry for the Manor of Coddenham which lay in what is now the Parish of Boxford- “Coddenham [in Boxford] Hundred of Babergh held by Ralph de Limesy (NB. A second place named Coddenham in Bosmere Hundred).

However, several lands surrounding Boxford, viz. Aveley, Nayland, Stoke by Nayland, Polstead and Withermarsh were also held by Swein and his father Robert fitzWimarch before him, who also held Groton pre-Conquest.

So, the common denominator appears to be Swein of Essex, but how Reginald held these lands in unknown.

Map of Peyton and Ramsholt

Boxford and Stoke by Nayland (west of Ipswich)

Map of lands held by Swein and his father Robert fitzWimarch, surrounding Boxford, marked with red dots

 The following Peyton Pedigree is from the’ Genealogical Memoirs of the Extinct Family of Chester of Chicheley’, by Robert E. C. Waters, v.1 1878, p.244 (NB. dates are questionable; also, “Peyton Hall in Boxford”):

Although there are several documentary links between the first two sons of Walter de Caen, namely Robert of Sibton and Horsford and Roger de Huntingfield, there are no such documentary links between the two brothers and Reginald de Peyton.

Katherine Keats-Rohan, in her ‘Domesday People, A Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents 1066-1166’, (Boydell Press 1999), p.449, wrote about Walter de Cadomo (de Caen):

Walter fitzAlberic de Cadomo [Caen], a Norman from Caen (in Calvados). Important Domesday tenant of Robert Malet…..

Father of three sons, Robert (ancestor of the de Chesny family), Ralph (ancestor of the de Peyton family), and Roger (ancestor of the de Huntingfield family).

She did not elaborate on her claim of a third son named Ralph, except he was ancestor of the Peyton family, nor did she give any references for such a claim. Notably she is the only one who claims the ancestor as ‘Ralph’, not Reginald- she may have thought that Reginald was the son of ‘Ralph’ who held Ramsholt from Robert Malet in Domesday, but as a son of Walter de Caen, he would not have held lands at the same time as his father, so that theory is unlikely.


So, in my opinion, based on this one ambiguous document linking William fitz Robert fitz Walter with ‘his cousin’ John fitz Reginald de Peyton, there is equal unconfirmed evidence for the descent of the de Peyton family from either the Walter de Caen family or the Walter fitz Other family.


Conclusion about Walter de Caen

Prior to the Conquest, Walter de Caen held a very close relationship with Robert Malet and his mother, as evidenced by the large number of holdings (viz. 35) Walter held from Robert Malet in Suffolk and Norfolk. Robert Malet’s father William Malet fought at the Battle of Hastings, and was handsomely rewarded. There has been much speculation about how close this relationship was, with many websites describing them as brothers, but there is no actual evidence for this assertion. Whether there were marital ties between them is also pure speculation, but quite possible.

Whether Walter de Caen is the ‘Walter who held from this manor’, can only be speculated upon, however, it is a likely possibility, given the close relationship with Malet, and the location of the lands in question.

If so, how this connects with the Walter family is also speculation.

One possibility that should be kept in mind is that Hervey may have married a daughter of Walter de Caen, and the lands of Snapeshall in Fressingfield, Wingfield, ‘Sikibro’ and Instead/Weybread were possibly granted to Hervey and his wife as a marriage portion, which in turn were inherited by their sons Hervey Walter and Hubert Walter, as Theobald Blake Butler suggested, and the family took the surname of ‘Walter’ in honour of this marital association. That theory also depends on whether the original patriarch Hervey was actually named ‘Hervey Walter grandfather of Theobald’ (as in Theobald’s concord with William Hervey in 1195), in which case the link would be with the generation before Hervey.

If Hervey had been a younger son of Walter de Caen, considering the number of lands and manors held by Walter de Caen from Malet in Domesday, one would think that the Hervey would have been granted more than the few relatively small manors in Bishops’ Hundred. But, as pointed out, the fact that there are no records (such as witnesses in monastic records) linking Hervey Walter and his family with the known sons and grandsons of Walter de Caen, in contrast to Hervey and his family’s close relationship with marital relations, the Valoine and Glanville extended families, does seem to discount this theory. The indirect links with the de Huntingfields and the fitzRocelins could be explained by the close proximity of their manors, as well as being knights of the county of Suffolk.

So, in my opinion, one of the first two Walters discussed (ie. ‘Walter’ who held the relevant lands in Bishops Hundred, and Walter the crossbowman) is far more likely to be the Norman ancestor of the Walter family, and the source of their family surname.



The fourth Walter who held lands in Bishops Hundred including some of the lands later held by the Walter family was Walter fillius Grip [Walter fitzGrip], however, as he was not known to have had any issue, and his estates held from Robert Malet were inherited by his nephew, William Martel (butler to King Henry I and steward to King Stephen), he is an unlikely candidate as an ancestor. However, Walter should be explored due to the lands he held, particularly a large part of the lands of Fressingfield of which, a manor was later held by Hubert Walter (the elder) and his heir Peter Walter. Fressingfield was subject to several ownership disputes with the monks of Eye Priory.

Walter fitzGrip was closely related to many of the aristocratic families of France/Normandy, and also closely associated with the Malets through the wife of his brother Hugh fitzGrip sheriff of Dorset who was granted a large landholding as tenant-in-chief by William I in Dorset after the Conquest. They were brothers to Geoffrey Martel who held several lands in Essex under Geoffrey de Mandeville, and one in Hertfordshire under Robert d’Oilly in 1086. 

Walter is not known to have actually participated in the Conquest, but followed soon after.

Hugh fitzGrip was married to Hawise, daughter of Nicholas de Bacqueville in Normandy, thought to have been related to the Dukes of Normandy and the de Clares. Bacqueville is in the Norman Vexin, the home of the Crispin family (of William Malet’s wife, Esilia). In the Dorset Domesday survey, the abbey of Montivilliers holds the manor of Waddon as the gift of Hugh fitzGrip. Hawise’s Montivilliers charter, printed in Gallia Christiana’, shows that Hadwidis, daughter of Nicholas de Baschelvilla, wife of Hugh de Varham (Wareham), son of Gripon, gave the manor of Waldune (the adjoining manor of Waddon), with the advice and consent of her husband, to the church of the Monastery of Saint Mary Villarensis for the health of her own soul and that of her husband and of her friends, the great King William assenting, before his barons, including Jeffrey Martel, brother of Hugh fitzGrip.

According to Orderic Vitalis, Nicholas de Bacqueville was one of the six sons of Baudri/Baldric the German by a niece of Gilbert of Brionne (de Clares). Among Baudrey’s other sons were Fulk of Aunou and Robert of Courcy. The Miraculum gives the wife of Gilbert I Crispin as Gunnor, sister of Fulk senior of Aunou. Robert of Torigny says in his interpolations of William of Jumieges that Nicholas de Bacqueville married a niece of the duchess Gunnor (wife of Duke Richard I of Normandy).

Geoffrey Martel was the brother of Hugh fitzGrip, Hawise of Bacqueville’s first husband. The Martels are known to have held the fee of Bacqueville-en-Caux. A confirmation for Jumieges issued by William the Conqueror between 1060 and 1066 ends with the gifts of two parts of a tithe in Vuinemeruilla by Ralph and Geoffrey sons of Grip, with the consent of ‘Roberti militis as quem pertinent’. The place can be identified as Vinnemerville, a commune near Angerville-la-Martel; the knight may have been Robert Malet. In Geoffrey fitzGrip we have Geoffrey Martel, brother of Hugh fitzGrip.

The family of Hugh fitzGrip of Wareham, former sheriff of Dorset, and dead by 1085-6, can be associated with Robert Malet, through the latter’s tenant Walter fitzGrip, Hugh’s brother.’

(Domesday Book and the Malets, by Katherine Keats-Rohan, 1996, Nottingham Medieval Studies)

Hugh fitzGrip was dead by 1086, but at the Domesday survey, the Commissioners returned Hawise as holding 47 manors or parcels of land, plus she held other lands as subtenant.

Researchers suggest that Hugh’s widow Hawise de Bacqueville or their daughter, married Alfred of Lincoln, closely related to the wife of Ivo de Tailibois, Lucy Countess of Chester, daughter of Turold and his wife who was daughter of William Malet. The lands held by Hugh FitzGrip’s widow in Dorset were transferred to Alfred following her death.

Hugh and Walter fitzGrip’s brother was named Geoffrey Martel of the Martels of Bacqueville. Geoffrey Martel is thought to have taken part in the Conquest, and held some lands as sub-tenant in Essex and one in Hertfordshire. His son and heir, William Martel, began as butler to Henry I and then steward to King Stephen, and claimed that he was ‘nephew to Walter fitzGrip’ (Eye Priory Cartulary, No. 24), and inherited some of the Suffolk lands of Walter fitzGrip which he subsequently granted to his foundation of Snape Priory in Suffolk. William Martel was lord of Bacqueville-en-Caux in the early twelfth century. In the year 1133, William Martel, Lord of Bacqueville, granted to the Abbey de Tyron, by and with the consent of Albreda his wife, Eudo his brother, and Geoffrey and Roger his sons, all his right and title to the Priory of St Mary de Bacqueville. (The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 94, Part 2). Having been a loyal supporter and close advisor of King Stephen, after the death of the king and the succession of Henry II, William returned to Normandy and died after 1162 in Bacqueville-en-Caux, Normandy.

Walter fitzGrip held nine lands in Suffolk under Robert Malet, including Chippenhall (Fressingfield), Chickering, Horham, and Stradbroke/ Wingfield in Bishops Hundred, and Aldeburgh, Snape and Sternfield in Hundred of Plomesgate, and Boyton in Risbidge, with the Fressingfield and Wingfield lands being of particular relevance.

In Robert Malet’s Charter (No.1) to Eye Priory in c.1103, one of the specific donations, states:

xvi. with the assent of Walter fitzGrip, all the land which he had in Fressingfield with the mill


Confirmation Charter No. 24, in the Eye Priory Cartulary:

Grant by William Martel steward of king Stephen to the monks c.1141-1154 (and nephew of Walter fitzGrip):

“Quin etiam concede et confirm donationem quam walterus fitzGrip avunculus meus eidem monasterio de Fresingef, ita ut a modo ego vel nullus heredum meorum versus monachos quicquam in ea reclamabimus.”

TranslationIn addition, he confirms the gift of Fressingfield which Walter son of Grip, his uncle, made them.

The translation of the last part appears to say so as a way, I or none of the heirs of my line can reclaim it from the monks.


Charter No. 9: Precept by Henry I to Herbert bishop of Norwich, Robert Malet and Ralph de Belfou that the monks shall hold their land at Fressingfield and Thornham Magna (in Domesday, held by Malet’s mother, as did part of Fressingfield) as they did on the day when the king’s father (William I) was alive and dead (ie.1086) Dated: c.1101-1106. This implies that some lands of Malet’s mother were promised to the monks of Eye as early as 1086.


Charter No. 11 by Henry I, c.1113-1123, probably 1120-23, specifies ‘Fressingfield’ which seems to suggest a property dispute:

Precept of Henry I to [Stephen] count of Mortain and all his ministers, that the prior and monks shall have all their lands, churches and property specifically at Fressingfield, as they held them on the days when William I and Robert Malet were alive and dead.

A further confirmation Charter (No.3) by Henry I, c.1123-35, specifies the tithe of Hubert Walter in a list of the Bishops Hundred land tithes originally donated by Robert Malet.

Confirmation Charters further specify this as Snapeshall in Fressingfield, which is listed separately to the tithes of Fressingfield donated by Walter fitzGrip. Later charters indicate that Snapeshall (later Launceshall) is a small holding within the Parish of Fressingfield, just north of the village of Fressingfield, and therefore may have been held separately to the rest of Fressingfield.

The previous two Charters would appear to indicate that Walter fitzGrip gifted his Fressingfield land to the Eye Priory on or just prior to his death, before Robert’s Charter but which was confirmed in his Charter, and that there was some dispute over ownership.

In Vivien Brown’s Eye Priory Cartulary Part II, p24-27, she discusses William Martel’s Charter No.24:

Snape Priory was founded by William Martel as a cell of the abbey of St Johns Colchester in 1155. The Charter of Snape gave the manors of Snape and Aldeburgh which William gave to found the priory and formed part of the fees he and his family held of the honour of Eye. He confirms the gift made by his uncle Walter fitzGrip of land in Fressingfield to Eye Priory. It is clear that William’s branch of the Martel family succeeded Walter fitzGrip in some or all of the fees he held of Robert Malet in 1086, their holding being, in c.1210, 7 ½ fees. In this part of the charter William may be said to be acting as the heir of the former tenant of the honour.

It should be noted that in Domesday, Fressingfield was not specifically listed but was part of Chippenhall in Bishops Hundred, which was variously held by tenants-in chief, Hervey de Bourges; and Robert Malet (whose sub-tenants were Malet’s mother; Walter; Walter fitzGrip; and Humphrey); and Bury St Edmunds Abbey.


Domesday Book: A Complete Translation (p.1211)

Lands of Robert Malet: Hundred of Plumesgate, co. Suffolk:

“Walter holds Snape from Robert Malet which Edric of Laxfield held as a manor with 4 carucates of land before the Conquest. Then as now 8 villans and 16 bordars. Then in demesne 5 ploughs now none but there could be. Then 8 ploughs belonging to the men, now 4. Woodland for 6 pigs. 6 acres of meadow. I mill. Then 2 horses. Then 6 head of cattle, now 2. Then 24 pigs. Then 160 sheep. Then as now £6. It is 3 leagues long and 4 furlongs broad. 40d in geld. Robert Malet has the soke. Also in the same vill 25 free men commended to Edric of Laxfield with 108 acres. Then between them 6 ploughs, now 4. Then it was worth 23s., now 20s.

In Aldeburgh, Wulfric, a sokeman of Eadric held TRE 80 acres as a manor and 3 bordars… In the same place 1 free man Arnketil commended to Eadric with 30 acres…In Sternfield 1 sokeman with 30 acres and 1 acre of meadow. In Boyton 1 freeman commended to Eadric with 24 acres... In the same place 30 acres of demesne and half a plough worth 5. Walter fitzGrip held all this”.


The Priory of Snape

About the year 1155, William Martel, in conjunction with Albreda his wife, and Geoffrey their son, gave the manors of Snape and Aldeburgh to the abbot and convent of the Benedictine house of St. John, Colchester. The founders intended that a prior and monks should be established at Snape subject to St. John's, Colchester, and this was speedily accomplished. The priory, by the foundation charter, was to pay the abbey annually half a mark of silver as an acknowledgement of its submission. The monks of Snape were to say two masses every week, one of the Holy Spirit and the other of our Lady, for the weal of William and Albreda, and after their death masses for the departed. The abbot of Colchester was to visit the cell twice a year, with twelve horses, and to tarry for four days.

('Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Snape', in A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, ed. William Page [London, 1975], pp. 79-80.) 


Charter to Colchester (Suffolk Institute): “Grant by William Martel, Albreda his wife and Geoffrey Martel their son and heir, in frank almoin, to the abbot and Monastery of Colchester of their manors of Snape and Aldeburc (Suffolk), the abbot and Chapter of Colchester placing there a prior and monks according to the possibility of the place under their obedience, who shall pay them half a mare yearly, and say two masses weekly for the grantors. The abbot of Colchester shall visit the priory twice yearly with twelve horses, and others. Witnesses etc. (National Archives UK, E 40/3262)

Therefore, the lands of Walter fitzGrip in the Hundred of Plomesgate, were inherited by his nephew William Martel and donated to Colchester Abbey, and as Walter’s nephew, he confirmed his uncle’s donation of Fressingfield to Eye priory.

There are no records of Martel holding Walter fitzGrip’s lands in Wingfield/Stradbroke, Horham or Chickering, so these may have reverted back to the Crown upon his death, and as he did not witness Malet’s Charter of c.1103, it is likely that he was deceased, or had returned to Normandy. His promised donation of Fressingfield (‘with the assent of Walter fitzGrip, all the land which he had in Fressingfield with the mill’) was probably granted in Malet’s original foundation of the priory in the time of William I, before the succession of William II in 1187 when Malet temporarily lost his lands to Roger de Poitou, until the succession of Henry I in 1100 when his lands were reinstated.


The fact that Martel inherited some of fitzGrip’s lands would indicate that Walter fitzGrip did not leave any male heirs. Whether he had a daughter who was granted lands in Bishops Hundred as her marriage portion before his death, is unknown.

The FitzGrip/Martel family were of a much higher social status than the Walter family whose rise in status was entirely due to their uncle Rannulf de Glanville, and Hubert Walter’s promotion to Chief Justiciar and Archbishop of Canterbury by King Richard I.

Although Walter fitzGrip held lands in Fressingfield (not specifically Snapeshall) and parts of Stradbroke/Wingfield, and could also possibly be the ‘Walter’ who held part of Weybread with Humphrey, as he shared some of these lands with another man named ‘Walter’, the possibility of him being the ancestor of the Walter family is unlikely and can be discounted.

 5.Others named ‘Walter’ who held lands in East Anglia in Domesday:

(A)Walter the Deacon/Diaconi, held 29 lands in Suffolk and Essex as tenant-in-chief and 21 as sub-tenant, including Bacton in Hartismere and ‘Caldecota’ and ‘Cotton’ in Hartismere, and Dagworth in Stowmarket (later held by Osbert fitzHervey of Dagworth), Suffolk, and Little Easton in Essex.

According to historian Katherine Keats-Rohan, Walter fitzOther, constable of Windsor from 1078 and Keeper of the Forest, who held 21 lands in Berkshire, Buckinghampshire, Surrey and Hampshire in Domesday as tenant-in-chief, married the daughter (Beatrice?) of Walter the Deacon (diaconus). They had several sons including Robert de Windsor, Lord of Little Easton in Essex.

Walter’s brother Theoderic de Bacton married Muriel de Valognes, daughter of Peter de Valognes (unrelated to the Valoines of Parham). She married secondly Hubert de Montecanisy. Theoderic or Tedric was described in Domesday sometimes as both Walter’s ‘predecessor’ and as ‘his brother’. There are several references to Walter holding land in ‘Tedric’s fee’, including Babergh said to be ‘his brother Tedric’s fee’.

There is no known link with the Walter family, and none of his lands were inherited by the Walter family. And, he held a close relationship to Queen Matilda and held several lands from ‘the Queen’s fee’, and was of a higher social status than the Walter family.


(B)Walter de Risbou/Risboil, held 3 lands as subtenant of Robert Malet: Brutge in Parham, Clachestorp and [Earl] Soham both in Loose, Suffolk. Nothing more is known about him. None of the three lands he held were later held by the Walter family.


(C)Walter de Dol- Theobald Blake Butler discussed this theory in his ‘Origins of the Family of Butler (The Irish Genealogist): Another ancestry which has come under my notice is that which claims for the house of Ormond a descent from one, Hervey Butelarius, who witnessed three or four charters of Alan, the Seneschall, at Dol, in Brittany, about 1086. This origin is suggested by Mr. A. S. Ellis in " Notes and Queries," ninth series, Vol. 6, p. 161, and Mr. J. H. Round in his " Origin of the Stuarts " in his Peerage and Family History, 1901, when dealing with a small group of Dol families who settled in England at the end of the reign of William the Conqueror, has the following footnote : " It would no doubt be rash to conjecture that the Hervey Butelarius of these charters was the ancestor of those Herveys from whom the Butlers of Ireland descended. But, if it should eventually prove to be no mere coincidence, the Butlership of Ireland would have an origin curiously parallel with the Stuartship of Scotland." In support of the above, I may mention that Walter of Dol, who was of this family, forfeited some time before Domesday, eight manors in Suffolk, and that three of these (?*) are held in the Survey by that Walter who is the undoubted ancestor of our Butlers. On the other hand, as I will show later, this Walter held lands in Norfolk certainly in the year 1071, and probably before. So that if a descent is to be proved from one of the Dol families, it will be necessary to show that the individual in question, who is claimed as an ancestor, came into England considerably before the end of the reign of William the Conqueror.

In Lord Dunboyne’s “Happy Families" file Q.2 (Butler Journal 1#1), he attempts to answer the question “Who is the earliest known forefather of the Butlers of Ireland?”:

He was named Hervey and must have lived in the first half of the 12th century. We need to know more about him…. Our Hervey may be the Hervey, son of Hubert, who with his father attested a charter of Baderon to the nunnery of St. Georges at Rennes c. 1080/90 (Genealogist, N.S. xviii, 1). Again, he or his ancestor may have been the 'Herveus pincerna' or 'Herveus botellarius' who, with other officers and tenants of the castle of Dol in Brittany, attested two charters to the abbey of St. Florent, one bearing the date 1086 (Calendar of Documents, France, 416)…. Etc.

This theory needs further explanation, as it could relate to Walter de Dol who held lands in East Anglia prior to the Domesday Book. No other candidates from Dol in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany (about 20 kms SE of Mont Saint-Michel), named either Hervey or Hubert, held lands in East Anglia after the Conquest.

J.H. Round’s reference to Hervius Pincerna, and the 'Herveus son of Hubert' occurs in his article “Origin of the Stewarts and their Chesney Connection”, in The Genealogist, NS, v.18, 1:

“Since the publication in my last book of the paper on “The Origin of the Stewarts”, certain additional facts have come or been brought to my notice. The chief novelty produced in my paper was the appearance of a “Float filius Alani dapiferi”, as a “baron” of William fitzBaderon, the Breton Lord of Monmouth, together with the explanation that I offered for their appearing in conjunction. I showed that the Lords of Monmouth came from the two adjoining ‘communes’ of Epiniae and La Boussac, close to Dol, while the family of Alan fitzFlaald were ‘dapiferi’ of Dol, and that the two families are found, in England, as beneficiaries to the Abbey of St Florent de Saumur, which had enlisted the sympathies of the Lords of Dol. It was at the dedication of Monmouth Priory as a cell of that abbey that William fitz Baderon and “Float filius Alani dapiferi” appear in conjunction.

(Calendar of Documents preserved in France, A.D.918-1206, v.1, ed. J. Horace Round [1899] p.408)

It will be observed that William fitzBaderon, the Domesday Baron, gives his consent to his father’s donation, and that those in whose presence it is made are the Lords of Dol, and of (Pleine) Fougères in the north-east corner of Brittany.

Further, among the charters I selected, when in France, as throwing light on the origin of the Stewarts, we have one, which I date circa 1080, concerning tithes at Pleine Fougères, which has among its witnesses “Badero; Guillelmo (sic) filius ejus; …. Herveus pincerna, while another, which is actually dated 23 December 1086, is witnessed by “Radulphus de Filgeriis; Alanus dapifer; Herveus botellarius. Yet another, which I also date circa 1080, has for its first two witnesses “Alanus siniscallus; Badero”.

(NB. Herveus pincerna/botellarius witnesses both charters)

(Ref: Calendar of Documents Preserved in France, pp.408,416, Nos. 1136, 1153, 1154 )

Now a charter relating to the nunnery of St George of Rennes, which was granted by William’s father Baderon, has “Alanus filius Flaaldi” for its first witness. Here then we have not only the two families brought into conjunction in Brittany as in England, but, it would seem, the respective fathers of the men named in the Monmouth charter.

(ref: Société Archéologique d’Ille et Vilaine, vol. xi, pp.251-2)

NB. The charter of William filii Baderon is witnessed by Alanus filius Flaaldi; Herveus pincerna; Hubertus; Herveus filius Huberti

Although the editor of the above charter gave its date as 1040, he did not mention from what source this date was derived, and putting together the evidence I have given, we shall be strongly disposed to date it as c. 1080-1090. But the all-important question is- Who was its “Alanus filius Flaaldi?” I am forced to the conclusion that he must have been the man whom I placed at the head of the pedigree as ‘Alan dapifer (Dolensis). If I am right in this conjecture, he was the grandfather and namesake of the well-known Alan fitzFlaald temp. Henry I, and the name of his father carries the pedigree a generation further back.

 Alan fitzFlaald (ancestor of the Stewart kings) was survived by his widow Avelina, daughter of Ernulf de Hesdin, who became the wife of Robert fitz Walter, who joined with her in confirming to St. Peter’s Abbey, Gloucestershire in 1126, the church of (Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. Which had been given long before by her mother Emmeline, wife of Ernulf de Hesdin. Robert fitzWalter, the husband of Alan’s widow was a man of some consequence, who enjoyed the favour of Henry I. Robert fitzWalter’s lands can be traced back to 1086, when they were held of Robert Malet by his ancestor Walter de Caen (Cadomo) in the three eastern counties. 


*The lands mentioned by Blake Butler, as being forfeited by Walter de Dol, were listed in Domesday Book and The Law” by Robin Fleming, (Cambridge Uni. Press 1998- Nos. 2268-70, 2809, 2850-1, 2942, 2962, 3053):

Shropham, Seething, Fundenhall in Norfolk, and,

Middleton, “Caldecota” near Bacton (possible Cotton), Thornham Magna, Stoke Ash, Ashfield, and Rushmere (near Lowestoft) in Suffolk.


No. 2809- Middleton: 80 acres of land “Cyneric and Grim were the men of Eadric son of Ingeld, and were commended to Robert Malet’s antecessor Eadric (of Laxfield). He (Robert) loaned them to Walter de Caen after Walter de Dol forfeited. Now Roger Bigot holds them from Earl Hugh’s fee.” Middleton was later held by Roger de Glanville.

No. 2850-‘Caldecota’: TRE 6 freemen commended to Leofwine of Bacton held 74 ac. Of land in Caldecota. On the day he forfeited, Walter de Dol was seised of 2- Wulfgifa and her son. Now Robert Malet holds this.

No. 2852- Thornham Magna: When he forfeited, Walter de Dol was seised of half of Brunagar one of 4 freemen with 108 acres of land. Now Robert Malet holds all of this.

No. 2942- Stoke Ash: land from the King’s manor of Mendlesham. Walter de Dol held it when he forfeited. Now held by Bury St Edmunds.

No. 2962- Ashfield: TRE Swaerling the Priest a freeman in the soke and commendation of the abbot, held 30 acres of land in Ashfield. Walter de Dol had been seised of this priest when Walter forfeited his land.

No. 3053-Rushmere (near Lowestoft): Walter de Dol was seised of 4 freemen on the day he forfeited and later Earl Hugh was. Hugh de Montfort’s men say that Walter himself held them from Hugh.


Shropham and Seething: lands of Earl Hugh (of Chester)Richard holds Shropham. The soke was the king's in Buckenham (near Attleborough) TRE and always until Walter de Dol had it of the gift of Ralph*, as Godric says. In Seething, were 9 freemen and 4 halves belonging to Stigand TRE and Walter de Dol removed them and added them to Hedenham.

Fundenhall: Lands of Earl HughTo this manor Walter de Dol added 2 freemen who are in Hapton etc. In Hapton there is a church with 15 acres. Of the whole of this Walter de Dol made 1 manor and the whole together is worth  £9. Roger Bigod holds of the earl.

*Walter de Dol was a supporter of Ralph de Gael, Earl of East Anglia, (also Ralph the Staller) who was the leading figure in the 'Revolt of the Earls'.  In 1075, the king's refusal to sanction a marriage between two powerful families caused a revolt in his absence. The leaders were Ralph, his brother-in-law Roger de Breteuil 2nd Earl of Hereford, and Waltheof 1st Earl of Northumberland. Waltheof was later executed. The Archbishop of Canterbury urged Earl Roger to return to his allegiance. Ralph sailed to Denmark and returned to England with a fleet of 200 ships under Cnut and Hakon which failed to do anything effective. Ralph and his wife, who had held out at Norwich until she obtained terms for herself and her followers, including Walter de Dol, who were deprived of their lands and allowed 40 days to leave the realm, retired to her estate in Brittany. Ralph was deprived of all his lands and of his earldom, with most of his lands handed to Earl Hugh of Chester, and some to Robert Malet.  In 1076, having plotted against Hoel II Duke of Brittany, Ralph was besieged at Dol, and King William came to Hoel's aid. 

Again, none of the lands named as held by Walter de Dol were later held by the Walter family. And only one of the above named lands was held, briefly, by Walter de Caen.

And there is no evidence of a connection of the Walter family with the Breton Lords of Monmouth.

And most importantly, as Walter de Dol returned to Brittany in 1075 after ‘The Revolt of the Earls’, there is no explanation for the birth of Hervey c.1080-90, unless he arrived in East Anglia in the early 12th century as an adult, but that does not explain the Walter family holding lands in Bishops Hundred in the Honour of Eye.


NB. Highly recommended article written by Dr. Katherine S. B. Keats-Rohan, ‘Domesday Book and the Malets: patrimony and the private histories of public lives’, (Printed Nottingham Medieval Studies 41, 1997 pp.13-56- online) for an understanding of the complex personal and regional relationships between the Malets, William the Conqueror and his close associates and family connections in Normandy, pre and post conquest.

Also highly recommended ‘The King and Eye: A Study in Anglo-Norman Politics’, by C.P. Lewis (The English Historical Review, Vol. 104, No. 412 [Jul 1989], pp.569-589, Oxford Uni. Press- online at JSTOR)

Most of these Norman lords and knights in Suffolk were linked with the most powerful lord in Norfolk and Suffolk with huge land holdings in Domesday Book, named Robert Malet who accompanied the Conqueror with his father William Malet. Legend has it that William Malet was charged with burying the body of King Harold on the beach after the Battle of Hastings (account described by William Poitiers, chaplain of Duke William of Normandy when chronicling the Norman Conquest of England). He was also nearly killed at Hastings when his horse was killed beneath him, but was saved by Sire de Montfort and lord William de Vez-Pont, and remounted on a fresh horse.

The original Battle Roll of names of the Conqueror’s companions at the Battle of Hastings, compiled on the orders of William, was hung up by the monks in Battle Abbey built in the years after the Conquest. Of the history of the Roll subsequently to the dissolution of the monastery, nothing certain is known but presumed to have perished by fire in 1793. A number of historians claimed to have copied the names on the Roll before its disappearance, but they vary widely in the names included in the lists.

The 16th century work by Protestant English historian John Foxe, ‘Acts and Monuments’ covers the period of history from the beginning of Christianity to the reign of Queen Elizbeth I, and Volume 2 covers the period of the Conquest of England by William Duke of Normandy, and gives a list of William’s officers at the Conquest and other great Norman lords who supported him. The following are the pages from Foxe’s Battle Roll in his ‘Acts and Monuments’, v.2.

‘The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe’, v.II, [written 16th century], edited by the Rev. George Townsend, [London, 1849] p.136-138

NB. William Malet’s son Robert Malet is listed in several of the Battle Roll lists compiled by various historians.

Walter de Caen accompanied Robert Malet as indicated in the Sibton Abbey Charters:

Anno Domini millesimo sexagesimo sexto Willelmus dux Normannorum venit in Angliam et occiso Haroldo tempore conquestus coronatus in regem, quo tempore quidam Walterus de Cadomo vnit cum Roberto Malet comite Cornubie


In the year of the Lord in the sixty-sixth William the leader of the Normans came to England to kill Harold at time of the conquest crowned king, at which time a certain Walter of Caen came with Robert Malet count of Cornwall (? erroneously called Count of Cornwall- the honour of Eye was first attached to the Earldom of Cornwall in 1221, so presumably the statement in the charter was written after 1221. Sibton Abbey was founded by William de Chesney, grandson of Walter de Caen, in 1150). (Brown, Philippa, ed. ‘Sibton Abbey Cartularies and Charters’. Vol. III. p.2, No. 470, Suffolk Charter Series [Vol. 9], Woodbridge: Boydell for Suffolk Records Society, 1985. 2004.)

William Malet’s mother was an Englishwoman (Guy of Amiens described Malet as half Norman and half English), and it has been conjectured that his grandfather was probably one of the men who accompanied Emma of Normandy to England in 1002 for her marriage with Aetherlred. Emma of Normandy, daughter of Duke Richard I, became queen of England by marrying Ǣtheread the Unready in 1002, by whom she had sons Alfred Aetheling and Edward (the Confessor). After her husband’s death she married Cnut the Great in 1017 and had a son Hardecnut.

 William Malet was lord of Graville-Ste-Honorine, near Le Havre in the Norman Pays-de Caux. The Malets also held land near the ducal centre at Caen in the department of Calvados which stretched eastwards to join the Pays-de Caux. 

Map of area between Caen and Le Havre in Normandy

*The Malets were lords of Graville-Ste-Honorine; Walter (fitzAlbrici) de Caen of Caen; the de Glanvilles of Glanville; Hubert de MonteCanisy of Deauville, and William of Beaufour Bishop of Thetford.

Map of northern France- NB area between Caen and Le Havre

The Malets were the only Norman family of any significance to have had associations with both Normandy and England throughout the 11th century. William Malet attested a gift made c.1050-66 by one Adeloya of Beaumont to the abbey of Montivilliers, north of Graville. Sometime between 1060 and 1070, William Malet and his son Robert attested a ducal confirmation (ie. William Duke of Normandy) for the abbey of Jumièges. This places Robert Malet’s birth in the 1040’s.

Note- while the charter is dated ‘before 1079’, the date must predate 1070 when William Malet was killed in the Fenland revolt.

(Chartes de l'Abbaye de Jumièges, ed J.J. Vernier, 1916, pp.86-89-



Viz. Signatories: ‘William Mallet, Robert his son’

William was married to Esilia/Hesilia, the daughter of Gilbert I Crispin de Tillières and Gunnora d’Aunou, and had issue Robert, Gilbert and Beatrice, and possibly Durand Malet(?). Lanfranc incorrectly states that Hesilia, sister of the two Crispans who fought at Hastings, was the ‘mother’ (a clerical mistake) of William Malet.

It is thought that the family’s lands in Lincolnshire, held by William and son Robert, and Durand Malet (William’s brother or son), may have been inherited from his mother’s family.

William Malet was appointed high sheriff of Yorkshire in the 3rd year of William’s reign. He and his wife and younger children were captured by the invading Danes who slew 3000 Normans when they captured York, but were ransomed. This was followed by the infamous ‘harrying of the north’ resulting in the huge scale destruction and widespread famine. William was released and he was then appointed sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. William Malet died c.1171 during the Fenland revolt and his extensive land-holdings in Suffolk and Norfolk, and Lincolnshire and elsewhere, were inherited by his eldest son Robert who was granted the Honor of Eye. In the Domesday survey of 1086, Robert held, as tenant-in-chief, 32 lordships in Yorkshire, 3 in Essex, 1 in Hampshire, 2 in Nottinghamshire, 8 in Lincolnshire and 221 in Suffolk/Norfolk whereof Eye was the chief. Most of Malet’s estates, particularly in East Anglia, had been granted as successor to the pre-1086 lord, Eadric of Laxfield, falconer to King Edward the Confessor.

(Tenant-in-chief: all land was ultimately owned by the Crown, but held by lords who provided military resources, or tax in return. The main landholders listed in Domesday Book in 1086 were the ‘tenants-in-chief’, either King William himself or one of around 1400 people who held land directly from the Crown, mostly Norman knights. In turn, the tenants-in-chief sometimes granted these lands to a second lord or tenant, usually Norman, in return for tax, and they were the immediate lord over the peasants and freemen working the farms. They were often connected to the tenant-in-chief through familial connections or from the same region in Normandy.)

Robert appears to have lost his land-holdings during the reign of William Rufus, most likely after the rebellion of 1088. His lands, and those of Durand Malet in Lincolnshire were granted to royal favourite, Roger the Poitevin, son of lord Roger of Montgomery earl of Shrewsbury, one of the Conqueror’s closest companions. Following King William II’s death in 1100, and the succession of his brother, Henry I, several magnates in control of substantial lordships became involved in the opposition, supporting his elder brother Robert Curthose Duke of Normandy, and suffered the confiscation of their estates for their trouble, including the Montgomery brothers. However, Robert Malet reappeared in the public record three days after the death of William as a witness to Henry I’s coronation charter, and became Henry’s chamberlain and one of his closest counsellors. He regained those lands of the Honor of Eye in Suffolk (held by Roger the Poitevin under Rufus), as an intimate of Henry I, before his death c.1105-6, with some historians suggesting he died at the Battle of Tinchebray on 28 September 1106 as part of King Henry’s invading force against his brother Robert Curthose. Robert Malet’s heir, William Malet II, returned to his estates in Normandy after being banished from England in 1109, with the Malet lands in England going back to the Crown. However, it is notable that those lords who held lands from Robert Malet, such as the sons of Walter de Caen and Hubert de MonteCanisy and William Gulafre, were not disinherited from those inherited lands, and continued to hold them from the Crown as tenants-in-chief.

Professor Robin Fleming in her “Kings and Lords in Conquest England” (1991), Ch 5, explained the settlement of these lands: The estates of William Malet the sheriff of Yorkshire, who was dead by 1071, had been granted his estates by ‘antecessor’. In the first seven years of the Conqueror’s reign, the lands of individual or small groups of Anglo-Scandinavian lords which became available through death or disgrace were bestowed in their entirely upon Norman lords, designated as ‘successors’. By c.1073, the supply of great Anglo-Scandinavian antecessors had been exhausted, which led to granting of lands by ‘Hundred’ to his most powerful and trusted magnates. All the estates within hundreds, nor already incorporated within the demesne, belonging to the church, or acquired by secular lords from antecessors, were bestowed in their entirety upon individual Norman tenants-in-chief, thus creating a series of compact lordships made up of the estates, or portions of estates of several pre-conquest landlords.

Few tenants-in-chief could hope to govern all their estates directly. The establishment of Norman tenants on the ground was therefore an essential element in the imposition of Norman authority. By 1135, the Normans had largely succeeded in establishing the structure of tenant settlement that was to endure for the next 200 years.

(Fleming’s article recounted in thesis of Paul Dalton, 1990, ‘Feudal Politics in Yorkshire 1066-1154’ p36, 80+)

(Prof. Robin Fleming also wrote “Domesday Book and the Law: Society and legal custom in early medieval England”, 1998, a valuable resource for researchers of the Domesday Book)


Dr. Katherine Keats-Rohan in her article on the Malets: Domesday Book and the Malets: patrimony and the private histories of public lives” (1996, printed Nottingham Medieval Studies), p.4:

It is likely that William Malet held a small estate in Lincolnshire before 1066, and his Lincolnshire estates were the lands regarded by his descendants as ancestral lands, which they held for at least the next two centuries, in stark contrast to the Suffolk lands which they held only until 1110 at the latest.

Durand Malet, who also held lands in Lincolnshire was clearly a relative of William and Robert, probably a younger brother of Robert.

Robert Malet made a charter to Eye Priory which was founded in the period 1080’s-1102 by Robert, as a cell of the abbey of Bernay in Normandy, and was the first house of Benedicine monks to be established in Suffolk after the Norman conquest in the centre of a feudal lordship or ‘honor’, with the fief of Eye having been given by William the Conqueror to Robert’s father William Malet with permission to found a priory.

But the date at which it was built and endowed is likely to have been between 1100 and 1105 after Henry I succeeded William Rufus under whose reign Robert Malet was banished to Normandy. Robert’s preamble mentions the intended spiritual benefits for the king (William I, d.1086), the queen (Matilda d.1083), his parents William and Esilia, and all his relatives living and dead. Notably, no mention is made of his wife. According to Prof. Katherine Keats Rohan, there is some evidence that, before 1086, Robert had a wife named Matilda who was probably a close relative of his tenant Hubert de Montecanisy. The marriage probably occurred sometime before the death, in 1071, of his father. His second marriage to Emmelina, if she was indeed the daughter of Hugh de Montfort, had occurred before the Domesday survey. We may suppose that by 1100 Robert Malet had, by two wives, at least three legitimate sons, one of whom was old enough to attest the king’s charters from c.1100/01 onwards. His heir was named William II. Robert’s intended foundation of Eye priory received a charter of assent from his sister Beatrice (wife of Robert’s Suffolk tenant William of Arques, also lord of Folkestone in Kent, d.1090) who mentioned also their brother Gilbert.

The fee of Herve Bituricensis is noted for the high level of association of its lands and men with William Malet of his predecessor Eadric. Parts of 23 of the 33 manors held by Herve were held by Robert Malet in 1086. In 16 of them William Malet or Eadric of Laxfield were named as Herve’s predecessor. In one case the land had been held by Robert Malet in succession to his father William; in another, Robert Malet claimed a man held by Herve. Very many of Herve’s manors were also mentioned in connection with the past or present jurisdiction of Ely Abbey. Much of Herve’s land passed to a daughter Esilia, wife of William Pecche and bearer of the same name as Robert’s mother. The simplest explanation for the composition of much of Herve’s fief is that his wife was another of Robert’s sisters, whose name occurs in a Bury St Edmund’s charter as Ieuita, doubtless a corrupt form of Judith, comparable with the hypocoristic form Jueta.

(Domesday Book and the Malets: patrimony and the private histories of public lives, 1996, by Katherine Keats-Rohan, Nottingham Medieval Studies)


Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters II (ed. Vivien Brown), p.10:

As to Robert Malet’s immediate family, there is only one certain reference to his wife. A charter in the secular Goldingham cartulary, grant of Robert to Hugh of Goldingham of lands in Bulmer and Little Belstead, names Robert’s wife as Mathilda and says that it is at her request that he receives Hugh’s homage (Hugh is referred to as Robert’s ‘good knight’ who does homage in Robert’s ‘court’ at Eye, and the charter is sealed at Robert’s request with his great seal.  The charter is entered twice in an early 14th century hand and in an early 15th century hand. The whole language of the charter mitigates against it as a genuine document in its extant form.) Robert held a manor in Belstead and Goldingham Hall in Bulmer in 1086. The association of Robert’s wife with the gift may imply relationship to the Goldingham family or possibly to the Montchensy/MonteCanisy family. The two manors were held of Robert in 1086 by Hubert de Montecanisy/de Montchensy who became seneschal of Eye after Robert’s death, and the Montchensy’s held these fees in the 13th century.


The Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters show the struggle of the priory to keep intact the gifts made by Robert Malet and his tenants after Robert died shortly after his foundation.

Malet’s Charter to Eye Priory did not survive in its original form. The text of the charter, probably written in its present form as late as 1120, some ten years after the disgrace and banishment of Robert’s successor William Malet II, and is a summary of gifts made to the priory by Robert and others between the date of its foundation and 1106 the year that Robert either died or left England for the last time.

A long document listing numerous donors, the Charter has been summarized and translated from Latin, in the “Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters”, Part One, edited by Vivien Brown (Boydell Press, Suffolk Records Society, 1992)


Translation in the Eye Cartulary of the Key Points of Charter One:

Foundation charter of Robert Malet whereby he announces that, with the assent of his lord King William (I), for his soul and that of his wife, queen Mathilda, for his own soul and for the souls of his father William Malet, of his mother Helsilia, and of his ancestors and kin, he is constructing a monastery at Eye, and installing a community of monks therein. For their maintenance he confers upon them and confirms to them from his own lands, churches and tithes of the following:

i. the church of Eye, founded in honour of St Peter with all its lands and tithes.

ii. part of his burgage in Eye with one fishpond

iii. the tithe of the market of Eye

iv. all the churches of Dunwich built or to be built etc.

v. the church of Laxfield with all its lands and tithes

vi. the church of Badingham with its lands and tithes and one carucate of land in that vill.

vii. the church of Bawdsey (Norf) with all its lands, tithes and other possessions

vii. the church of Benhall with lands, tithes and appurtenances

ix. the church of Barrowby (Lincs) with its chapels, lands, tithes and other possessions

x. the church of Sedgebrook/Seckebroc (Lincs) with its chapels, lands and tithes.

xi. the church of Welbourn (Lincs) with its chapel and tithes

xii. from Robert’s own lands the vill of Stoke Ash as a whole ie. the church with its lands and tithes and other possessions, together with the entire tenement which Benedict, Robert’s chaplain, held of him

xiii. at the request of Osbert de Conteville, all the land which he held in Occold

xiv. the church of Thorndon with all its lands and tithes

xv. the vill called Bedfield with its church

xvi. with the assent of Walter fitzGrip, all the land which he had in Fressingfield with the mill

xvii. the tithe of Playford with the church of that vill with its lands and tithes, and Alfric de Fen with all his land (later confirmed by the two sons of Humphrey filius Robert who held Playford in Domesday)

xviii. the tithe of Oyn Compayn of Instead (Weybread)

xix. the grant of Walter the arblaster (crossbowman), namely two-thirds of his tithe of Halegestowe and of Gosewolde (in Thrandeston) and the church of St Margaret (Shottisham) with its land

xx. the church of Hollesley with its land, tithe and other possessions

xxi. the church of Dennington with its lands and tithes

xxii. the churches of Brundish and Tannington with their lands, tithes and possessions

xxiii. the church of Sutton with appurtenances

xxiv. the churches of Stradbroke and Wingfield with their lands and tithes

xxv. all the fisheries of Welles and in Elyn and the whole tithe of pannage of his woodes both of money and pigs, of sheaves and lambs or calves, and the tithes of all his forests and assarts, of cheeses and fleeces, and all other tithes

xxvi. all the tithe of the following manors of his demesne: Eye, Stradbroke, Redlingfield, Dennington, Tannington, Badingham, Kelton, Hollesley, Leiston, Laxfield, Barrowby (Lincs), Sedgebrook (Lincs-‘Seckebroc’), Welbourn (Lincs), Wakes Colne (Essex), and South Cave (Yorks.) (NB. this section of relevance to Hubert Walter the elder, in later confirmation charters)

xxvii. they are to hold all their possessions free and quit of all exaction and to have soke and sake and toll and team and infangenetheof in Eye, in Dunwich, and in all places where they have lands, and have all the liberties ‘which my lord William king of England granted me when he gave me my honour’.

Robert Malet also gives them:

xxviii. the church of Thornham Magna (Pelecoch) with its lands and appurtenances.

xxix. the church of Thornham Parva and Mellis with their lands and tithes.

In addition, he grants and confirms the gifts which his barons and knights made to them with his consent namely:

xxx. two thirds of his tithe of the demesne of Huntingfield, Linstead and Byng (in Pettestree) by Roger de Huntingfield

xxxi. two thirds of his tithe in Wyverstone by Richard Hovel

xxxii. two thirds of his tithe of Okenhill (in Badingham) by William Gulafre

xxxiii. two thirds of his tithe in Bedingfield and of his land in Framlingham by Oger (de Pucher of Bedingfield)

xxxiv. two thirds of his tithe of Whittingham (in Fressingfield) and Hasketon by Ernald son of Roger

xxxv. two thirds of his tithe of Creeting St Peter by Ralph Grossus

xxxvi. the church of St Botulph’s, Iken, with its appurtenances; two thirds of his tithe of Clakestorp (in Eyke) and Glemham, and a certain sokeman in Pettaugh by William de Roville

xxxvii. two thirds of his tithe of Brome and Shelfanger (Norf), and of that which Alwin the priest held of him in Beria (Bourn Hall in Wherstead) and the church of that vill with its lands and tithes by Hugh de Avilers

xxxix. the tithe of 30 acres of the fee of the count of Brittany (in Glemham)

xl. two thirds of his tithe of Gislingham and Roydon (Norf) by Odo de Charun’

xli. half the church of Gislingham with the land and all else pertaining to that half by Godard (le Kayli) of Gislingham and his wife

xlii. two thirds of his tithe of Rickenhall (Superior) by Hubert of Rickenhall (probably Hubert MonteCanisy who held Rickinghall Superior in Domesday, from Malet)

xliii. his hospice in Yaxley by Hubert de Montchensy/MonteCanisy

xliv. his hospice at Yaxley by Randulf de Glanville (ie. Randulf the elder- possible brother of Robert de Glanville, and father (?) of Hervey de Glanville and grandfather of Rannulf de Glanville chief justiciar)

xlv. his tithe at Huntingfield by Robert Malus Nepos

xlvi. his tithe of 100 acres in Huntingfield by Jocelin of Hollesley (?Rocelin of Linstead and Hollesley?)

xlvii. the church of Braiseworth with its free land, together with the tithe pertaining to his own house by Geoffrey of Braiseworth

xlviii. two thirds of his tithe (in Peasenhall) by Fulcred of Peasenhall

xlix. the tithe of Humphrey son of Unuey

l. Robert Malet gives the church of Yaxley with all its appurtenances

lii. two thirds of his tithe in Wilby and the church of that vill with its lands and tithes by Jordan (possibly related to Loernic who held Wilby in Domesday)

lii. Robert Mallet gives all the churches and all the tithes of his own manors pertaining to the castle of Eye, and to the other men, knights and sokemen of his jurisdiction he grants and commands that they shall make gifts to his monastery of eye according to their resources.

liii. he commands that the fair which he has granted to the monks shall be held for 4 days from 1 August, and that those going and returning during those 4 days shall have his peace and the protection of his lord king William and no one shall harm them under penalty of £10.

All these things with the consent of witnesses (listed) Robert Malet has offered to the church of his monks upon the alter of St Peter’s of Eye and has confirmed for ever by this charter.


Hubertus de MonteCanisy, Rogerus filius Walter de Huntingefeud, Willemus de Rovillis, William Gulafre’, Robertus filius Walteri, Robertus filius Erefridi, Odo de Charun’, Herveus de Glanvill’, Osbertus de Cunteville’, Benedictus capellanus, Judikellus capellanus, Galfridus filius Urselli, Arnulphus de Wydrevill’, Walterus de Conovill’, Egg’ prepositus, Fulcredus de Pesenhal’, Hubertus Malus Nepos, Robertus Rocator, Godebertus de Witsand, Walterus Arbalestarius (crossbowman),

(Printed Monasticon Anglicanuam, iii, 404-5; Eye Priory Cartulary and Charters, Part One, ed. Vivien Brown (Boydell Press, Suffolk Records Society, 1992, pp.12-16)


NB. The signatories included de Caen’s sons Robert filius Walter, and Roger filius Walter de Huntingfield, and Hervey de Glanville, Hubert de MonteCanisy, and Walter the crossbowman. 

The curious names in the charter are Robert Malus nepos of Huntingfield, and Hubert Malus nepos.

‘Nepos’ has various meanings, undefined close relationships including nephew, grandson, close relation.  And considering that the charter liststhe tithe at Huntingfield of Robert Malus nepos’ associating him with Huntingfield which was de Caen’s land, it is difficult to make sense of.

In Domesday, Robert Malet held the lands of EYE, and his subtenants in Eye were:

Herbert (Hubert, Prior of Eye?), Robert Malet, Robert Malet’s mother (Esilia), Walter de Caen, ‘Walter’ (possibly de Caen?), and Walter the bowman (Arbalestarius).

It is thought that Robert Malet died at the Battle of Tinchebray, Normandy, on 28 September 1106, between an invading force led by Henry I and the Norman army of his brother, Robert Curthose Duke of Normandy, resulting in a decisive victory for Henry’s knights and the capture of Robert Curthose, although evidence is lacking. In 1107, William Malet, presumably Robert's heir, was signatory to a charter of Roger Bigod. In 1110, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle records that William Malet (II), thought to be Robert’s eldest son, was deprived of his lands in England by King Henry I, and returned to his estates in Normandy. William was one of Duke Robert of Normandy’s companions on the First Crusade in 1096, where he is rated among the Knight’s Banneret.

Three entries in “An Outline Itinerary of King Henry the First” by William Farrer, 1919:

p.10- 1101A.D.- ordination of monks at Norwich confirmed by Henry and his queen- signatories, included Robert Malet and son William Malet:

p.45- 1107A.D.- William Malet signatory to a charter of Roger Bigod to Thetford (also Mon. Ang. v.5, p148)

p. 56- 1110A.D.- William Malet expelled by Henry

The next blog chapter will analyse the various theories of the ancestors of the Walter family by numerous historians down through the centuries.


Email contact: butler1802      @      hotmail.   com (no spaces)

Links to chapters in this blog, published in 2022: 

Part 1: The Ancestral Origins of Theobald Walter, Ancestor of the Butlers of Ireland (Chapter 1):

Part 2: Possible candidates for the walter surname named 'Walter' in the Domesday Book

Part 3: Analysis of the various theories of the origins of the Walter family

Part 4: Lands of the Walter family

Chapters of the earlier blog on the Butler History, published in 2013:


History of the Butlers, Earls of Ormond and Chief Butlers of Ireland (Chapter 1):


Butler Pedigree (Chapter 2):


History of Irish Butlers- various Butler Branches (Chapter 3):

History of the MacRichard Line (Chapter 4):