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A study of kinship and patronage: the rise of the House of Bek, Medieval Prosopography  2003; vol 24 : pp. 171-193.

The house of Bek [1] reached its zenith in the thirteenth century, largely as a result of the personal achievements of Anthony Bek, bishop palatine of Durham, titular Patriarch of Jerusalem, and friend of Edward I. A measure of this success was that in the wake of Anthony his brother Thomas, and two other members of the family, also received the bishop’s mitre. There seemed little reason to connect this Lincolnshire family with the earlier pre-eminence of the two  Domesday barons who bore the territorial appellation of Bec, both of whom died without male issue. Some minor twelfth century knights were known to carry the same name, but these might have sprung from one of several different seigneuries of Bec in Normandy. The apparent lack of any connection between early Bec families  in  Kent, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and elsewhere, was an obstacle to producing a coherent synthesis. An exploration of the kinship networks of these families has led to the surprising conclusion that  a subtle web not only  links these families together, but also connects them with the Domesday barons. The fortunes of the family might easily have faltered without the support of this powerful kinship network, and it is impossible to make any sense of the family without discerning its influence.

The antecedents of the two Domesday barons have long been a subject of fruitless enquiry. It seemed clear that  to be a member of that inner circle of  the Conqueror for which baronies were created required a noble lineage, usually through linkage to the ducal family, but how Bec fitted in has never been clear. Grimaldi, writing in 1832, grafted Bec onto the line of Gilbert I Crispin.[2] The link is spurious, but although no descent can be established of Bec from Crispin , a strong affinity between the two families is evident, the nature of which will be examined.

Of the two barons, Turstin son of Rolf (de Bec) and Geoffrey de Bec, the former presents the most fruitful subject for enquiry. He carried the papal banner at Hastings because Ralph de Tosny, the hereditary standard bearer of Normandy, declined the honour, although he was present at the battle. According to Wace, Duke William’s second choice, Walter Giffard, also declined, on grounds of age, but may well have suggested his protégé Turstin as a substitute.[3] The Domesday holdings of Turstin reveal some interesting patronage: he was a subtenant of  two of Walter Giffard’s manors in Buckinghamshire: Great Missenden and Burston; Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster, gave him two manors: Hasfield in Gloucestershire and Eckington in Worcestershire, while he shared Hardwick in Bucks with Miles Crispin;  Earl William Fitz Osbern gave him land at Dyrham and Alvington in Gloucestershire [4]; Fitz Osbern’s influence as Palatine earl of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire probably accounts for the nineteen and a half carucates which Turstin held in the frontier lands of Monmouthshire [5]; and finally, Humphrey the Chamberlain of Queen Matilda and Steward of the Count of Ponthieu gave him a hide at Knowle in Somerset. [6]

Turstin must have died  early in the reign of William Rufus, when his entire fief, including the subtenancies, went to Winebald de Ballon (before 1092, when Winebald gave Turstin’s manor of Upton in Berks to Bermondsey Abbey). [7]  It would not have been the king’s prerogative to give away the lands held only as subtenancies if the barony had escheated to the crown, and the implication of this is that Winebald had married a daughter and heiress of Turstin.

Fortunately, the village from whence Turstin came was recorded by Wace: it was  Le Bec-aux-Cauchois, now a tiny hamlet adjacent to Valmont, in the hinterland of Fécamp.[8] A pre Conquest charter  concerning the abbey  of St Georges Boscherville, Rouen, connects the seigneurs of Bec with the tithes of Crasville-la-Mallet. [9] Guy and his brother Turstin son of Rolf gave their share of the tithes, witnessed by Ralph Hastenc. [10] Walter de Bec likewise gave his share of the tithes of Crasville, together with  5 acres of land there, and a bordar in Abbetot [11]. There is little reason to doubt that Turstin and Walter de Bec were brothers. Walter, the only Bec Domesday landholder known to have descendents, was like his brother, a tenant of Walter Giffard in Buckinghamshire.[12]

Geoffrey de Bec was the lesser of the two Domesday barons, with estates in only a single county: Hertfordshire. After his death the barony was divided, but the majority of the manors came into the possession of Gilbert de Clare; three went to Ralph Pincerna, and two to the family of  Mallet.[13] Four charters which Geoffrey signed at the Abbey of Holy Trinity, Rouen, link him with the family of Warenne, with the Caux, the Vexin, and Evreux. He signed two charters which recorded gifts by vassals of Rodulf II de Warenne: William, son of Ansger de Saussay, gave 20 acres at Emanville in 1062; and Osmund de Boos, gave a tenth of his allodium in 1066. [14] The third charter was that of  Richard count of Evreux, who gave the church of Gravigny on the outskirts of Evreux. [15] The fourth charter contained various donations by  Richard and Roger, the sons of Herluin the seneschal from the environs of the Crispin seigneuries of Etrepagny and Dangu in the Vexin. [16] From these charters it can be stated with certainty that Geoffrey de Bec was a landholder somewhere near Rouen, and  that he was probably a vassal of Rodulf de Warenne.

                Two members of the clan who did not appear in the Domesday survey were still  active in Normandy when it was being compiled; they were William and Rodulf de Bec. The existence of the former  is key to piecing together the story of the house during the reign of William Rufus. William de Bec’s brother Matthew de Mortagne was a tenant in chief in six counties in England, as well as being  the lord of Bec de Mortagne, which lies close to William’s seigneury of Bec-aux-Cauchois, and to Fécamp. Matthew, being childless, designated  his nephew Robert, son of William, as his heir, and Robert probably received the lordship of Bec de Mortagne during Matthew’s lifetime. [17] During the struggle for supremacy between William Rufus and his brother Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, this Robert de Mortagne built a castle on land which he held from the abbey of Fécamp, in defiance of Robert Curthose, some time between 1088 and 1091. [18]  Curthose subsequently  burnt the castle and restored the land to Fécamp. This incident seems to demonstrate  support by the family for William Rufus, the strength of which may have influenced Curthose’s grant of Fécamp and its territories to Rufus in February 1091. [19]

The importance of these events is that they demonstrate firstly a link between  Bec and Giffard on both sides of the English Channel, and secondly that the same family held two of the Bec seigneuries: Bec-aux-Cauchois and Bec de Mortagne were both fiefs of the ducal domain of Fécamp, and were fermed by the bailiff of Caux, which was a Giffard prerogative. [20]  Walter II Giffard  was the leading magnate in the pays de Caux, who aided Rufus against Robert Curthose, and forfeited his castles as a consequence. [21] It was not long after these events that Bec-aux-Cauchois sank into obscurity whilst the castle of Valmont took over as the local seat of power under the  Estoutevilles, who were supporters of Curthose. [22] Both William and Rodulf  were first documented in England in the immediate aftermath of the conflict in Normandy.

 Rodulf de Bec made his first appearance in England early in Anselm’s primacy as a knight of the Archbishop. The list of Canterbury knights dates either to the Archiepiscopal interregnum under William Rufus, or more probably to the early primacy of Anselm, 1093-96. [23] More importantly, through his links to Normandy, he can be connected with Walter de Bec.  In 1091 Rodulf restored to Holy Trinity, Rouen,  the tithes of Amfreville-la-Mie-Voie which he had appropriated, in a charter witnessed among others by his brother Roger, Ralph de Blosseville ( Blovilla), and Gilbert Crispin.[24] His contemporary, Mabel de Bec, daughter of Walter I, had an eldest son called Walter  de Amfreville. [25] A Jordan de Blosseville witnessed a charter of Mabel de Bec dating from 1149. [26] There is  good reason to believe that Mabel’s witness was from the same village of Blosseville as Rodulf’s, because  the allodium of William de Warenne’s father Rodulf was in that village, and de Warenne was Mabel’s overlord. [27] All of which makes it highly probable that Rodulf de Bec was a near relation of Mabel, most likely her uncle. Geoffrey of Bec was also linked to the environs of Amfreville and Blosseville through his witnessing of the charter of Osmund de Boos, another vassal of Rodulf de Warenne.

William de Bec introduces an additional kinship link which casts light on the family’s allegiances during the reign of Henry I. His arrival in England was in the context of an association with Manasser I Arsic, as a witness both of his foundation charter of  Cogges Priory in Oxon in 1103 [28],and his gift in 1107 of the abbey to Fécamp. [29] The donation to Fécamp was apparently made in recompense for having pillaged the abbey’s English lands prior to 1101, an  attack which may well have been prompted by Curthose’s forced return of the Bec patrimony to the abbey. [30]  The Arsic barony of Cogges included lands in Kent and Lincolnshire, and the knights of the barony performed castleguard at Dover. [31]The Bec family were later in possession of a carucate in Cogges, and the most likely explanation for their acquisition of a farm here was the affinity between Manasser and William de Bec. [32] In Kent, Manasser Arsic was connected to the family which held the Barony of Folkestone, which counted the Becs as prominent tenants: he witnessed the second lord of Folkestone, Nigel de Monville’s, donation to Bermondsey Abbey, and in turn, Manasser’s gift to Cogges in 1107 was witnessed by de Monville’s brother-in-law William de Tancarville. [33]

The affinity between the families of Bec and Arsic was maintained over subsequent decades   in Lincolnshire, where they shared  Fulstow. Manasser Arsic did not possess Fulstow at the time of the Lindsey survey (1115-18), but he did hold the adjacent  village of North Cotes. His grandson Roger was based at Fulstow by 1166, whilst Walter III de Bec was by 1160  the acknowledged heir to his father-in-law Hugh son of Pinco, who held Fulstow from the Bishop of Durham.[34] In 1230 the brothers  John and William (sons of Ralph de Bec of Kent), exchanged land in the parish of Woodland, Kent, which was in close proximity to the lands of Arsic, and the charter was, perhaps significantly, deposited at Lincoln. [35]

The involvement of Manasser Arsic in the Bec kinship network offers the opportunity learn more about his mysterious origins. His  gift to Fécamp points to a Norman origin,[36] his unusual Christian name raises the possibility of a maternal link to “the Boulonnais”[37], and his cognomen is unhelpful because it is clearly a nickname: he was never styled “of Arsic”, and there is no likely place of origin for such a territorial name either in Normandy or in the territories under the suzerainty of Flanders. There is one very good Norman candidate, namely Manasses, the son of William Crispin I by Eve de Montfort, and brother of Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster. He was described as Manasses, brother of William Crispin the younger in a charter of the Archbishop of Rouen from 1105.[38] He may have come to England in the wake of another land-hungry kinsman, Miles Crispin, favoured by William Rufus and Henry I. Both men acted  as  pledges for Henry I in his treaty with Robert of Flanders of March 1101. This was Manasser’s first recorded presence in England, although the barony which he received had been confiscated from Wadard in 1088, and  William Rufus must have urgently needed men in Kent whom he could trust following the treachery of its earl: Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. [39] The  association of Turstin son of Rolf with Miles and Gilbert Crispin, and  of Rodulf de Bec with Gilbert Crispin, support the identification of Manasser Arsic as one of Crispin clan. Furthermore, the same Ralph and Agnes de Bec who sold the land at Cogges in 1253 sold land in Beddington, Surrey in 1254/5 which belonged to Miles Crispin at Domesday.[40]

Rodulf and William de Bec,  and Manasser Arsic, probably came to England early in the reign of William Rufus as part of an interconnected  group who had already demonstrated their loyalty to Rufus in Normandy. The Bec overlords Walter II Giffard and William de Warenne ( son of Rodulf II de Warenne) were staunch supporters of Rufus, who rewarded the latter with the title of earl: sadly for Warenne he died soon afterwards of injuries sustained fighting the rebels at Pevensey in 1088. [41] The location of the lands granted to Bec in south-east England is a matter of some importance in establishing local loyalties. They clearly held at an early date from the barony of Folkestone, which in 1086 was in the hands of William de Arques, the nephew of Walter I Giffard, [42] already identified as the patron of Walter I de Bec and Tursten son of Rolf. William of Arques was  also the great uncle of William de Roumare, the patron of Walter II de Bec in Lincolnshire, while de Roumare was in turn the cousin by marriage to Nigel de Monville, the second baron of Folkestone ( circa 1094 to circa 1103). [43]

The earliest surviving documentary proof of the Bec-Folkestone connection is from 1166, when Ralph de Bec shared half of a fee, later known as Bekeshurst, from the barony. [44] The descent of this fee cannot be completely reconstructed, but it remained connected with the Bec serjeanty of Livingsbourne, and circa  1201-12  Robert of Hurst shared the serjeanty with William de Bec and his son Robert. [45] Stephen de Bec son of William held Hurst in 1242.[46] Around 1253  Stephen’s nephew William gave it to the abbey of St Radegunds Bradsole. [47] Apart from Hurst, there were extensive family holdings throughout the Folkestone barony, some of them in close proximity to Folkestone Castle, at Paddlesworth, Alkham , Hawkinge, Lydden, Lyminge, Romney and Hythe.[48]

 Walter I de Bec also seems to have prospered  during the reign of William Rufus, receiving an additional  knight’s fee in capite in Norfolk which was subenfeudated to his daughter Lady Mabel de Bec during the reign of Henry I, presumably as a dowry. [49] Blomfield identified this fee as Bec in Billingford. [50] He married the daughter of Hugh de Grandcourt, another knight from the Caux whose family were vassals of Giffard and Warenne. Walter de Grandcourt held the fee of Harpley in Norfolk  from  William de Warenne, and gave the church to his overlord’s  foundation of St Pancras of Lewes, Sussex, in around 1090.[51] Walter de Grandcourt  died without issue and the fee descended through his brother Hugh to his sons Ralph and Humphrey. [52] Mabel de Bec in 1149  granted land in Harpley, which   “came from her ancestors” to Holy Trinity Norwich, with the consent of her husband, Stephen de Chameys, and her sons.[53] Walter II de Bec, Mabel’s brother, gave the tithes of his fee in Harpley to St Pancras of Lewes,[54] and with his brother Robert, and their uncle Ralph de Grandcourt, witnessed the gift of the church of Hesmy by Walter II Giffard and his wife Agnes, to the abbey of  Tréport. [55]  In 1166, the heir of Mabel de Bec for another fee in Norfolk was Robert son of Humphrey.[56]

Evidence of an ongoing patronage of Bec in Norfolk by Giffard and Warenne comes from the foundation in 1224 of the Hospital of Bec in Norfolk by Walter de Bec’s descendent William. Four  of the manors given belonged in the previous century to Walter Giffard. [57]  Another Norfolk  manor  associated with the family from the early twelfth century was Wood Dalling, which was held jointly at the time of Domesday between  Giffard and Warenne. [58]  Through Giffard there was a link to the  Clares: in 1113 Walter de Bec, probably the second of that name, witnessed the gift of the manor of St Neots by Rose, widow of Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare ( and daughter of Walter I Giffard ) to St Mary of Bec. [59]

The provision of Rodulf de Bec  with a knight’s fee from the estates of Canterbury by Archbishop Anselm warrants explanation. Rodulf may have come to the attention of Anselm through the family of Crispin, with whom the priest was on intimate terms, because of the strong link between the Crispins and the Abbey of Bec. The location of the fee has never been established, but there are some  clues as to its likely location: later charters seem to indicate a presence of  the Becs somewhere within the extensive Sussex estates of South Malling. In 1148-50  Hugh,  William and Ralph de Bec witnessed  Archbishop Theobald’s grant of tithes from his manor of South Malling to the Canons there.[60] Subsequent to this, but also no later than 1150, Ralph witnessed another charter of Theobald confirming the gift by Philip, Canon of Malling, of the church of Glynde to the Abbey of Bec. [61]  Hugh will be identified as the son of Walter II de Bec, and  his two kinsmen were possibly his brothers. William de Bec  was excommunicated by Thomas Becket in May 1169, almost certainly for accepting land from the king which belonged to the Archbishop. [62]

It is possible that  the family originally received the entire manor of South Malling, worth £90 a year,  in farm from  Lanfranc, another Crispin intimate. The Domesday tenant was a certain  Godfrey of Malling, alias Godfrey the steward and Godfrey of Thanington. [63] He was a knight of the bishop of Rochester, steward to the Archbishop, and “ the greatest of the knight farmers of Canterbury”. The six knight’s fees which he later held from Anselm made him the joint second largest holder of fees from the see of Canterbury. [64] In the light of the later Bec connection with Malling, it is tempting to equate him with the  Godfrey de Bec who witnessed, with Archbishop Anselm, the restoration by Gilbert fitz Richard de Clare of Rotherfield church in Sussex (and a gift of lands in the Lowy of Tonbridge), to Rochester Cathedral Priory. [65] Godfrey’s fief in Malling and Thanington descended by the reign of Henry II to Richard le Waleys, who married Godfrey’s heiress Denise. [66]

Before dealing with subsequent developments in in the south-east, it will be instructive to elucidate the allegiances of Bec during the civil war of Stephen’s reign.  Walter II de Bec was linked to two magnates who were strongly associated with the Angevin party. He still held the Giffard fee at Singleborough in Bucks, where he was pardoned Danegeld in 1129-30: [67] Walter II Giffard led the submission of the magnates of the Pays de Caux to Geoffrey of Anjou in 1143.  Walter de Bec first became connected with Lincolnshire  in the entourage of  William de Roumare, afterwards earl of Lincs, signing a charter of circa 1135 concerning Bolingbrook. [68]   Roumare was  a lesser magnate  in the Caux, who had joined the opposition to Stephen in  Normandy  by 1147. [69]

The Angevin link probably explains the singular rise in the fortunes of  Bec following the accession of Henry II: In both Lincolnshire and in Kent/Sussex there were marriages to wealthy heiresses early in the reign. Walter III de Bec established a dynasty in Lincolnshire after he married  Agnes, daughter and heiress of Hugh son of Pinco. [70] He further  received a fee of the confiscated Honour of Peverell of Nottingham, and was made sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, where we find him in 1167 [71]. In 1173 he served the king with 22 men at arms. [72]

In Kent, Hugh de Bec was married to the equally wealthy heiress Hilary of Bourne, and thus acquired the hereditary  serjeanty of providing the royal cross channel service between Hastings and Normandy, the “ ministerium de esnecca”. His entry fine of 40s for Livingsbourne was recorded in the Pipe Roll for 1160-1.[73]  Hillary of Bourne was the  sister of Roger of Bourne who held the ministerium in the reign of Henry I.[74] This was the second time that the serjeanty had passed through marriage: Roger himself acquired it in the right of his wife Avis, daughter of Albert, as evidenced by a charter which can be dated with confidence to January 1155. [75]  The 1155 charter gave the ministerium  to Roger’s sons William and Nicholas,  who must have been killed in some tragedy before 1160. Roger’s own service was attached to  land not in Kent, but in Wallop, Hampshire and  Southampton. [76]

Of particular interest here is the fact that Hillary was an Anglo-Saxon heiress: her grandfather Godwin of Bourne, also known as Godwin of Hastings, had managed to keep at least some of his estates intact after the Conquest. Bourne was a name given in Domesday Book to several adjacent villages, including Patricksbourne and Livingsbourne (later Bekesbourne) ,in both of which Godwin was a landholder.[77] He lived into the reign of Henry I , but his son Robert held the held the advowson of Livingsbourne in the reign of Stephen, while his other son Walter  was the father of Roger and Hillary. [78] The chronology of the house of Godwin suggests the possibility that the patriarch was a Domesday tenant. In Kent and Sussex there was only one man of that name in the survey, a subtenant of four and a half hides at Cortesley which bordered Hastings. [79]

For Hugh de Bec to have been entrusted with taking the King across the Channel implies that he was an experienced seafaring man. His earlier links had been with Sussex, rather than Kent, and in the previous generation we have seen that Walter II was a benefactor of  Lewes in Sussex, which is very close to South Malling. It seems probable that the Bec family maintained its own ship at Hastings from an early date, and that it was at Hastings that they came to know the family of Godwin. The family may well have known Hastings before the Conquest, since Bec-aux-Cauchois was closely associated with Fécamp, an abbey  which had been given the huge manor of Rameslie around Hastings in Sussex by Cnut in 1017. [80]  Fécamp’s territory included the ports of Winchelsea, Rye, and part of Hastings itself. [81] The abbey  famously provided a ship with twenty knights for the Norman Conquest, ten of these knights being tenants of  theirs. The witnessing of the pre Conquest gift of Turstin son of Rolf to St Georges Boscherville, Rouen by a Ralph Hastenc is intriguing, in view of  the Bec  link to Fécamp. It may be evidence of a Norman tenant of Fécamp in Sussex before the Conquest. [82]

The  Norman family of Hastings, as holders of two and a half hides in Rameslie ( which totalled twenty hides) from Fécamp in 1086, were themselves indubitably linked to the abbey. The tenant at this time was Robert of Hastings, whose son William witnessed two charters of Henry I in favour of Fécamp, one of which concerned the Abbot’s rights in the forest of Fécamp. [83] Bec-aux-Cauchois and Bec de Mortagne both lay in the midst of this forest.[84]  Robert was  the son of Ralph of Hastings, a Domesday tenant in Essex, and possibly the same person as the Ralph Hastenc who witnessed Turstin’s charter. [85]  The Hastings family had the same Angevin  political affiliation as Bec: Ralph of Hastings, son of Robert, was with the Empress Maud at Devizes in 1146, and became steward to the queen from 1155 to 1158; while his brother William of Hastings was king’s dispenser from 1159. [86] Both would have been well placed to suggest Hugh de Bec as a suitable candidate for his serjeanty.

Hugh de Bec may himself have been a tenant of Fécamp in Rameslie. Knowledge of the exact territory of Rameslie has been lost to us, but Hugh’s land  in Sneilham lay adjacent to Brede, the caput of the manor, and was almost certainly part of it. [87] There were links also to Winchelsea and Rye, which definitely belonged to Fécamp: Hugh’s son William held land in in Walland Marsh, close to Rye, and gave rents in Winchelsea  to Battle Abbey in three undated charters. [88]

                Hugh’s son William  significantly inherited lands in Norfolk which  belonged to Walter II, and used them in his old age to found the hospital of Bec in Billingford. [89] Hugh’s great grandson Ralph inherited  Cogges in Oxfordshire and Beddington in Surrey, which perhaps descended from William de Bec, the associate of Manasser Arsic. Walter II had a son and namesake who remained active in Norfolk, to which the first William cannot be linked. In view of these facts it seems probable that  Walter II was the father both of Hugh and Walter III, and that the William and Rodulf de Bec who were linked earlier to Kent did not leave any male descendents in England. [90]

The conclusion that the English Becs were members of a single family simplifies the task of establishing  their antecedents in Normandy, a knowledge of whom might suggest  reasons for the patronage observed in England. The postulated noble descent of Turstin son of Rolf is supported by a contemporary description of his niece Mabel, daughter of Walter I, as a noblewoman. [91] A noble lineage in Normandy at that time usually meant a connection with the ducal family: some trace of  Turstin’s father Rodulf might be anticipated  in the early charters of the duchy. There are indications that this is indeed the case: a knight called Rodulf son of  Hugh (of Bardeville and Sorquainville) gave lands to Fécamp in a charter which was confirmed by Duke Robert I in 1032-35. [92] That he may be the elusive Rolf, the father of Turstin is made probable by the link with Fécamp, and the fact that  both Bardeville and Sorquainville are within five miles of Bec-aux-Cauchois. Furthermore, Bardeville-Ouainville was in the possession of Robert de Bec, the brother of Walter II, in 1087-97. [93]

Looking back a further generation, Count Rodulf d’Ivry had a  son called Hugh who became Bishop of Bayeux in 1015, but this Hugh’s descendents did not include a Rodulf. This is not  the end of the story, because Rodulf actually had two sons of that name, as evidenced by a charter of 1015 in which Duke Richard II confirmed the gift by Dudo of St Quentin of two churches in the Pays de Caux to the Abbey of St Quentin. [94] This charter was sponsored by Dudo’s friend Count Rodulf, who was prominent within the witness list, followed by his sons Turstin and Hugh, then by Bishop Hugh, son of Rodulf.  There is at least one other well attested example of a Norman knight having two sons of the same name in the eleventh century, and Rodulf d’ Ivry is known to have had at least two wives. [95]

Most of the places associated with the Becs in Normandy were in the most ancient areas of ducal demesne, near  Fécamp and Rouen. This tends to confirm a noble lineage. These were also areas where  Rodulf d’ Ivry, the half brother of Duke Richard I, is known to have been a substantial landowner. Rodulf not only possessed immense wealth and power, but he may also have been in his day the largest landowner in the Caux.[96]

                Although the Norman nobility were closely bound by blood ties, the extent to which the Bec associates formed a tangible extended family group would be remarkable unless Bec was a noble family and a part of that network. A knight might expect his overlord in Normandy to reward him for faithful service with lands in England, but an ordinary knightly family could not expect to receive the largesse of many different barons. William fitz Osbern, Walter Giffard, William de Warenne, William of Arques and William de Roumare were all descended from sisters of Duchess Gunnor, the sister-in-law of Rodulf d’Ivry. [97] Rodulf himself had many sisters, none of whom has been identified, but many are said to have married nobles within the duchy. [98] Osbern, nephew of Duchess Gunnor,  received extensive estates from his father-in-law ( and uncle) Count Rodulf d’ Ivry, including  many villages in close proximity to Rouen, so close that in fact some are now part of the city. [99] Intermixed with these villages are  two associated with the Becs: Blosseville ( now Bonsecours) and Amfreville-la-Mie-Voie.[100] Rodulf’s father Esperleng was a very wealthy man from Pîtres, which lies five miles from  Amfreville-la-Mie-Voie. Osbern was the father of William fitz Osbern, who grew up with the Conqueror and became his most trusted friend. If Turstin son of Rolf was the great grandson of Rodulf d’ Ivry then he and William Fitz Osbern would have been cousins. William fitz Osbern’s  grandson married a member of the family of Ballon, the same family to which Turstin’s barony descended. Winebald de Ballon, friend of William Rufus, and possessor of Turstin’s lands, later in life married the widow of Miles Crispin.

If my suppostion about the Bec descent from Count Rodulf is correct, then most of the patronage they received in England could be explained in terms of genealogy. An affinity in both England and Normandy between Crispin ( to which house Manasser Arsic probably belonged) and the family of  Bec points  to another family connection. The Crispin link might explain the generosity of two successive Archbishops of Canterbury towards the Becs: Lanfranc and Anselm were both on intimate terms with the Crispin clan.    


Curiously, in the thirteenth century, the Becs believed themselves to have a Flemish descent.

In the cartulary of Alvingham Priory, Lincolnshire, a Gilbertine House  much patronised by the family, in the margin of a charter of Walter III de Bec, someone added the following note in a late thirteenth century hand : “ this Walter Bec was the first, he came with the Conqueror, and had an inheritance in Flanders. He had from the king Eresby, and many other manors”.[101] Clearly Walter III was not the first of that name, but he  was the first to hold Eresby. The note should not be lightly dismissed because  in the very period when it was written  a sister of Sir John Bek, Lord of Eresby, was a nun at the convent, so there can be little doubt that it records an authentic family tradition. The  information within it is all verifiable, apart from the connection with Flanders. The progenitor was indeed called Walter, and he was a Domesday tenant. I believe that the scribe, or his informant,  must have conflated two separate pieces of information concerning two men with the same name. He entered that information purposefully beside the first Walter Bec mentioned in the register.[102] The note aroused the interest of a family member of the next generation: Anthony Bek, Bishop of Norwich (1279-1343), who copied it verbatim into his personal record book. [103] It may be as a result of some link with Flanders that in 1274 Edward I employed Sir John Bek of Eresby  to arbitrate claims of compensation from Flemish merchants.[104]

                The possiblity that  Walter I de Bec and Turstin son of Rolf might have had a Flemish ancestress is of some interest because there were various marriage alliances between Flanders and the families associated with Bec at Domesday. Walter II Giffard  married a daughter of Anselm II of Ribemont, a famous warrior who died in the First Crusade in 1099, and whose brother Clarebold was butler of Flanders in 1066. [105]  William de Warenne  obtained lands in Flanders through his marriage to a Flemish noblewoman called Gundred. [106] His brother-in-law Gerbod Earl of Chester personally killed Count Arnulf III of Flanders at the battle of Cassel in 1071. [107] William fitz Osbern’s command of  the men of Picardy and the Boullonais  at the battle of Hastings might have stemmed from a personal link to these regions. [108] Much later in life he was betrothed  to Countess Richildis of Flanders after the death of her husband, Baldwin V, only to be but  killed at Cassel fighting on  behalf of her son Arnulf  against her brother-in-law, Robert the Frisian.

                The links between Normandy and Flanders naturally spread across the intervening counties of Picardy, especially Ponthieu. Frederic, the other Flemish brother-in-law of William de Warenne, was linked to Ponthieu, where he was a patron  of the abbey of St Riquier. Lands which he gave to that abbey in Norfolk were later held by William de Warenne.[109]  Turstin son of Rolf, it will be recalled, held from Humphrey, Steward of Ponthieu in Somerset. The Kentish Becs probably retained links with Ponthieu into the thirteenth century:  Robert de Bec held property at  Rue on the coast of Ponthieu in May 1219.[110] This may well have been Robert de Bec, the eldest grandson of Hugh de Bec, Lord of Livingsbourne. 

                To summarise, Walter de Bec  and Turstin son of Rolf were brothers who came from Bec-aux-Cauchois, where their overlord was  Walter Giffard, who also became their most important patron in England. Their ancestry can be tentatively traced back to Rodulf d’Ivry, through whom they inherited lands from the ducal domain.Walter I de Bec expanded his territory from Buckinghamshire into Norfolk, where he married into the family of Grandcourt, whose patron was William de Warenne. Geoffrey de Bec, also linked to Warenne and the Caux, was probably a member of the same family. Walter or his kinsmen may have held property  in the Rape of Hastings from an early period, benefitting from a  close relationship with the abbey of Fécamp, and with the family of Hastings. The port  was unfortunately missed out of the Domesday survey. [111] In Kent, Godfrey and Rodulf de Bec were both connected with Archbishop Anselm. Godfrey may have been none other than Godfrey of Malling, who as Archbishop’s steward must have been a confidant of  Lanfranc. Rodulf  and William de Bec made their first appearance in England following the conflict between William Rufus and his brother Robert, in which they took the side of Rufus. They received patronage from a number of sources, including Manasser Arsic, Nigel de Monville and Archbishop Anselm. Both Lanfranc and Anselm enjoyed close personal ties with the Crispins and their kin through the abbey of Bec. Members of the Bec family at various times witnessed two separate gifts to the abbey of Bec, and dedicated their own foundation in Norfolk to St Paul of Bec.

Rodulf was still closely connected with the family’s Norman possessions in 1091, and through Amfreville and Blosseville he can be linked to Walter: they were probably brothers. William de Bec is logically the same whose son Robert de Moritania rebelled against Robert Curthose in 1089-91. He left descendents in Normandy who never took up their English possessions. In England, lands which he probably obtained from Arsic passed to the descendents of Walter de Bec.

Walter the second’s holding from William de Warenne in Norfolk brought him into contact with his lord’s foundation at Lewes, but his main centre of gravity remained with Giffard, and through Giffard he was linked to the cause of the Empress Maud during the civil war of Stephen’s reign. He was introduced to Lincolnshire as an associate of William de Roumare, a kinsman of Giffard and of William d’Arques, lord of Folkestone. His sons, Walter III and Hugh, later reaped the reward of their father’s support for the Angevin cause. The family connection with Sussex established in Hastings, Lewes and South Malling helped Hugh to gain him the serjeanty of the royal esnecca. His line also came into possession of  land in Cogges and Norfolk. Walter III was equally successful, becoming a baron with lands in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and elsewhere. Thus the family recaptured the baronial status which had been lost on the death of Turstin fitz Rolf, which would ultimately result in them reaching a pinnacle of power and influence in the thirteenth century.




[1] I use here the spelling adopted by the family in the thirteenth century, to avoid confusion with the abbey of Bec Hellouin.

[2] Gentleman’s Magazine (London,  Jan 1832), pp 26-30. The house of Grimaldi from circa 1300  bore the same arms as those of Crispin, but no link between the families has ever been proven. Charles Tilstone Beke attempted the first serious study of the origins of Bek : “Observations on the pedigree of Beke of Eresby”, Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica ( London, 1837) vol iv, pp 331-45. He was hampered by having little source material from Normandy.

[3] Wace. Roman de Rou, ed AJ Holden (Paris, 1971), pp 167-8. ( hereafter cited as Wace). Wace had the elderly Giffard saying ( to use the English translation by Edgar Taylor, 1837) “The standard should be borne by one who can endure long labour.” After the Duke had finished speaking to Giffard “  he called out a knight whom he had heard much praised, Tostein fitz Rou le blanc, by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To him he delivered the gonfanon, and Tostein took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly.”

[4] Domesday Book ( hereafter, DB) Gloucestershire, ed John Moore ( Chichester, 1982) no 35.2 for Dyrham. Turstin was actually a sub-tenant of William son of Guy, but the entry specifically states that it was given to him by Fitz Osbern. Turstin was tenant in chief at Alvington, but it was confiscated from from Fitz Osbern’s son in 1075, and perhaps Turstin had been the undertenant: see VCH County of Gloucester  vol 5 , ed N.H.Herbert ( London, 1996), p 7.

[5] DB Gloucestershire, nos E36, EVK400, W18. See also: W.E. Wightman. “The Palatine earldom of William fitz Osbern in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire” in English Historical Review ( hereafter, EHR) vol lxxvii (London, 1962) pp 6-17.

[6] DB Somerset, ed Caroline & Frank Thorn ( Chichester, 1980), no 45.12. For more on Humphrey, see Katharine Keats-Rohan, Domesday People: vol 1. Domesday Book (Woodbridge, 1999) p 274.

( hereafter Dom. People)

[7] VCH Berkshire vol 3, ed W. Page & P.H.Ditchfield ( London, 1923),p 283.

[8] Wace, pp 208-9. “He who bore the gonfanon that day-Tostein fitz Rou le blanc by name, born at Bec near Fécamp, was a brave and renowned knight.”

[9] Marie Fauroux. Recueil des actes des ducs de Normandie de 911 à 1066 (Caen, 1961) no 197 p 382. ( hereafter, Fauroux). The charter  dated  after 1050.

[10]  Turstin had no cognomen in this charter, but the inspeximus of Henry I gave the additional information that he was  Turstin Fitz Rol, see C.Johnson & H.A.Cronne, Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum vol 2 (Oxford, 1966) , p 325 ( hereafter, RRAN 2).

[11] Crasville: Seine-Inferieure, cant Cany-Barville; Saint-Jean d’Abbetot: Seine-Inferieure, cant St Romain-de-Colbosc. See figure 2.

[12] He held held  six hides at Singleborough.

[13] Victoria  History of the counties of England ( hereafter, VCH) County of Hertford ( London, 1902-23), vol 3, ed W. Pye : for the manors which passed to de Clare, pp 317, 410, 465, 468, 472, 478, 507; for those which passed to Malet, pp 37, 177; and for those which passed to Ralph Pincerna, pp 417, 426, 473.

[14] A. Deville, Chartularium Monasterii Sanctae Trinitatis de Monte Rothomagi ( hereafter, Deville), this being an appendix of B. Guerard,  Cartulaire de Saint Bertin ( Paris, 1841), no 34, pp 439-40, and no 57, pp 451-2. The two charters are linked in that  Alvered de Brueria, the first to sign the 1066 charter, held from Rodulf de Warenne at Emanville (and Motteville, see no 33, p 439, and figure 2) in the Caux, and land at  Emanville was given in the 1062 charter.  Boos is south-east of Rouen, next to the Bec connected village of Amfreville-la-Mie-Voie ( see below).

[15] Deville, no 23, p 433. Richard was son of Robert, Archbishop of Rouen ( 989-1037) and grandson of Duke Richard I. He was first cousin of Count Gilbert of Brionne, one of whose sons was Richard fitz Gilbert ( de Clare).

[16] Deville, no 46, p 445. The charter is undated, but was signed by Duke William and Duchess Matilda. The places mentioned included Authevernes and Guernay ( both dep Eure, cant Gisors), and Gamaches-en-Vexin ( dep Eure, cant Etrepagny).

[17] Robert never paid the large entry fine for Matthew’s English holdings, which was still outstanding in   the Pipe Roll of 31 Henry I. His son William de Mortagne gave the church of St Martin de Bec ( de Mortagne) to the Canons of St Mary of Rouen in 1155-62 with the assent of his son Robert, and in the presence of Henry II. Robert de Mortagne and his brother Richard gave 60 acres at Lieury (arr. Pont-Audemer, Eure) to St Mary of Bec in 1181-9. See Leopold Delisle, Recueil des actes de Henri II, roi d’Angleterre et duc de Normandie ( Paris, 1894-7) vol 1, p 576 and vol 2, p 378, and Thomas Stapleton, Magni rotuli scacarii Normanniae (London, 1890), vol 1, p. cv ( hereafter, Stapleton).

[18]John Horace Round, Calendar of documents preserved in France (London, 1899), no 117, p. 39.

( hereafter, CDF). The incident undoubtedly took place during the conflict between Rufus and Curthose in 1089-91.

[19] Frank Barlow, William Rufus (London, 1983), p 281.( hereafter, Barlow)

[20] Stapleton  vol 1 pp ciii, cv., and Le Maho, “L’apparition des seigneuries châtelaines dans le Grand-Caux à l’ époque ducale”, in Archéologie Médiévale ( Paris, 1976), vol 6, p 13 and fig 1.( hereafter, Le Maho)

[21] Katharine Keats-Rohan . “Domesday Book and the Malets: Patrimony and the private history of public lives”. Nottingham Medieval Studies ( Nottingham, 1997) vol xli, p 42.( hereafter, NMS 1997)

[22]A. Lesguilliez, Valmont et Angerville-la-Martel ( Paris, 1860), pp 76-7.

[23] David  Douglas, The Domesday Monachorum of Christ Church Canterbury (London, 1944), p 105, and for the dating, p 64 ( hereafter, Dom Mon)

[24] H.W.C.Davis, RRAN vol 1 (Oxford, 1913), no 317. Blosseville, cant Boos, now Bonsecours, a suburb of Rouen, lies close to Amfreville.

[25] Norfolk Record Office MS DCN 40/5, folios 46, 46v, 55 ( modern pagination), one of these charters survives as an original in DCN 44/50/2.

[26] Francis Blomfield, An essay towards a topographical history of Norfolk, ( 2nd ed, Norwich,1805-10), vol 8, p 457 ( hereafter, Blomfield),cites this charter but a printing error makes the date 1109. The charter was enrolled in Register V of the Cathedral Priory :Norfolk Record Office MS DCN 40/5, folio 46v ( modern pagination).  Mabel was described as daughter of Walter de Bec in a related charter of similar date on folio 55.

[27] Deville, no 27, pp 435-6.

[28] William Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, revised ed.( London, 1817-30), vol vi, pg 1003.

[29] CDF, p 40, no 120.

[30] Le Maho, p 99.

[31] G. Andrews Moriarty.  “The Barony of Cogges”. Proceedings of the Oxfordshire Archaeological Society. 1929, vol 74, pp 309-25.

[32] In 1253 Ralph de Bec and his wife Agnes, linked to Kent and Surrey, sold the farm in Cogges to Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York for 200 marks. See  H.E.Salter, Oxford Feet of Fines 1195-1291, Oxfordshire Record Society vol 12, ( Oxford, 1930), p 167. Walter de Grey was, coincidentally, the uncle by marriage of Walter V de Bec of Eresby, Lincs.  Joan Arsic sold her moiety in Cogges to Walter de Grey in 1241. Ralph was son of Ralph and grandson of William de Bec, Lord of Livingsbourne in Kent. In 1258 this Ralph gave a third of a messuage and 49 acres to St Radegund’s Abbey near Dover: see Sir Edward Dering’s extracts from the lost cartulary of this abbey, Lambeth Palace Library, document TT1 no 499.

[33] Nigel de Monville came from William d’Arques’ village of Montville, cant Clères, north of Rouen, see Dom Mon, pp 42-3. Nigel witnessed a charter of Henry I to Tewkesbury with Milo Crispin in 1101, see RRAN 2, no 497, p 3.

[34] In a charter dated 1150-60 Walter countersigned a concession by Hugh son of Pinco concerning Southorpe. See Frank Stenton, Documents illustrative of the social and economic history of the Danelaw, ( British Academy, London, 1920), p 112, no 167 ( hereafter, Stenton’s Danelaw).

[35] Registrum Antiquissimum of Lincoln Cathedral vol 3, ed C.W.Foster,Lincoln Record Soc vol 29

( Horncastle, 1935), pg 209. Woodland is now part of West Kingsdown parish, near Wrotham. The nearby manor of Maplescombe is also now in West Kingsdown, but was then a separate parish, which belonged to Odo, who gave half to Wadard, and was thus received by Manasser Arsic as part of his barony.

[36] Alexander Arsic, perhaps the grandson of Manasser, gave the church of Bléville, a fee which he held from the Giffard barony of Bolbec, to the priory of Bolbec in 1166, see Le Maho, p 40.

[37] The spread of the name Manasses is of some interest, and its progress is usefully charted by Feuchère in “Les origines du comté de Saint-Pol”, Revue du Nord, vol 35 ( Lille, 1953), pp 125-41, with ref to

p 129. The name was not used in the north of what is now France before the eleventh century, when there was a son of the Count of St Pol of that name. It is postulated that the name came to St Pol by descent from the Counts of Dammartin. It then became a family name of the Counts of Guines, who were descended from the house of St Pol, and spread amongst the nobility of Guines. For instance, Ernulf de Ardres of Guines, a Domesday baron, had a son called Manasses who died without issue in the Crusades. The name remained extremely rare in Normandy and Flanders proper ( Guines being under Flemish suzerainty) during the eleventh century. The remarriage of the widow of Nigel de Monville ( a friend of Manasser Arsic), to Manasses Count of Guines is an interesting coincidence.

[38] Mordecai Crispin & Léonce Macary, The Falaise Roll. ( London, 1938) charter no 12, pp 172-3.  The charter is reproduced in facsimile.

[39] Odo’s rebellion on behalf of the king’s brother took place in the spring and summer of 1088. After the rebellion collapsed, many of Odo’s followers reportedly gave up their estates and went abroad, and the king rewarded his loyal subjects with their lands. See Barlow, pp 71-93.

[40] Surrey Fines, ed F.B. Lewis, Surrey Arch Soc, extra vol 1, (Guildford, 1894), p 35.

[41] Barlow, p 93.

[42] Elizabeth Van Houts, The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis and Robert of Torigni, vol 2. (Oxford,1995), p 269.( hereafter Van Houts).

[43] NMS 1997,  p 53 for a family tree. William de Roumare was also great great grandson of Gilbert Crispin I .

[44] The Red Book of the Exchequer. ed Hubert Hall (London, 1896), vol 1, p 192 ( hereafter, Red Book).

[45] Red Book, vol 1, p 136.

[46] Book of Fees, (Public Record Office, London, 1923), vol 2, pp 658-9. This was the an eighth of a fee which he held from William de Avranches.

[47] Lambeth Palace Library, document TT1,charter no 507.

[48] British Library ( hereafter BL) MS Add  29437 folio 180v has a charter of William de Crevecoeur of 1277 which confirmed to St Radegund’s Abbey all the lands which the brothers William and Stephen de Bek had given of the barony of Folkestone.

[49] Charter of Walter de Bec, in Red Book, vol 1, p 401

[50] Blomfield, vol 8, p 189. This became the location of the hospital founded by William de Bec in 1224.

[51]J.H. Bullock, The Norfolk portion of the chartulary of St Pancras of Lewes. Norfolk Rec Soc vol 12,

(Norwich, 1939): no 68. The gift was witnessed by William II de Warenne.

[52] The descent of the manor of Harpley through the family of Grandcourt was  recorded in 1259 in the Curia Regis Hillary 43 Hen 3, memb 17.  See The Genealogist, vol 21 ( London, 1905), pg 20.

[53] See ref 26.

[54] Christopher Harper-Bill, English Episcopal Acta VI, Norwich 1070-1214 (Oxford, 1990), pp 91-3: an inspeximus charter of 1161-73 reviewing the gifts of Warenne and their associates to Lewes.

[55] P. Laffleur, Cartulaire de l’abbeye de St Michel du Tréport ( Paris, 1880),p 236. Walter II Giffard died in 1102

[56] Red Book, vol 1 p 401. Humphrey was most probably Mabel’s first cousin, once removed, i.e. Humphrey de Grandcourt.

[57] Bintree, Foulsham, Guist, and Wood Norton. Various Norfolk fees went to the Honour of Clare when  Walter III Giffard dsp in 1164. The hospital of Bec was to house pilgrims on the way to Walsingham. Its dedication was to St Thomas of Canterbury and St Paul of Bec.

[58] Richard de Bec witnessed a charter of Roger de Dalling confirming a gift of Roger’s father Ralph to Binham Priory temp Henry I: see Blomfield, vol 8, pg 318. In 1198 William de Bec was in dispute concerning land in Wood Dalling: see Norfolk Feet of Fines, ed Barbara Dodwell, Pipe Roll Soc vol 65 (London, 1952), no 174, pg 84.

[59] RRAN  2 ,no 1015a. The  gift  was later confirmed by William de Tancarville and Manasses Count of Guisnes.

[60] C.R.Cheney & Bridgett Jones. English Episcopal Acta III. Canterbury 1193-1205. ( British Academy, London, 1986), no 537, p 196. For the dating of this charter, see next ref.

[61] Marjorie Chibnall, Documents relating to the English lands of the Abbey of Bec, Camden Soc vol 73 (London, 1951), p 1. The church was given with the consent of Canon Philip’s brother William, and William’s son Godfrey.  The charter cannot be later than 1150, when Theobald became Papal Legate.

[62] R.W. Eyton, Court, Household and itinerary of King Henry II (London, 1878), p 122n ( hereafter, Eyton). This misfortune did not prevent a later William de Bec from serving as steward of the household to Stephen Langton.

[63] F.R.H. DuBoulay, The Lordship of Canterbury ( London, 1966), pp 100, 380 , and  H.M.Colvin, “A list of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s tenants by knight service in the reign of Henry II ”, in Kent Records  vol 18, Documents illustrative of  medieval Kentish society ( Ashford, 1964), pp 17-19 ( hereafter, Colvin ).

[64] Dom Mon, p 105.

[65] Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone MS DRc/T. T373. Gilbert was grandson of Walter I Giffard. His father Richard fitz Gilbert was one of the most prominent of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s knights, and served as constable of the Archbishop. For more on this charter see J.C.Ward, “The Lowy of Tonbridge and the lands of the Clare family in Kent 1066-1217” in Archaeologia Cantiana vol xcvi, ( Gloucester ,1980), p 125.

[66] Colvin, p 20.

[67] Pipe Roll, 31 Henry I, ed Joseph Hunter ( London, 1833), pg 102. In 1166 Singleborough was in the hands of Matilda de Bec, see Red Book  vol 1, p 312.

[68] Stenton’s Danelaw, p 364, no 499. Not long afterwards, in 1142, Gilbert de Bec signed William de Roumare’s foundation charter of Revesby Abbey, Lincs: see Frank Stenton, Facsimiles of early charters from Northamptonshire Collections, Northants Record Soc, vol 4, ( 1930), p 3.

[69] David Crouch,  The reign of King Stephen ( Harlow, 2000), p 194 for  Giffard, and  H.A. Cronne & R.H.C. Davis, RRAN vol 3, (Oxford, 1968),  no 599 p 221, for de Roumare’s witnessing of a charter of Geoffrey d’Anjou in 1147.

[70] Two men named Walter de Bec, presumably  father and son, witnessed a gift of land in East Rasen, Lincs, to the Abbey of St Mary of Sixle between 1153 and 1162, see Frank Stenton, Transcripts of charters relating to Gilbertine Houses, Lincoln Record Society vol 18 ( Horncastle, 1922), p 21.

[71] William Peverell of Nottingham was one of the few supporters of Stephen who was forced out of England by the terms of the peace of 1153. His estates were confiscated by Duke Henry and bestowed on Ranulf Earl of Chester, see RRAN  3,  number 180.  The fee was held by Walter Bec in 1158, see Red Book, vol 1 p 21. William Farrer, in Honors and knight’s fees ( London,1923), vol 1 ,p 234 identified it as West Bridgeford.

[72] Pipe Roll  20 Hen II , Pipe Roll Society, vol 21 ( London, 1896), pp 14, 96.

[73] Pipe Roll  7 Hen 2, Pipe Roll Society,vol 4 ( London, 1884), p 63. This was for the manor of Livingsbourne. The same regnal year the heirs of Godwin  paid 40s for one and a half fees in Livingsbourne, see Red Book,  vol 1 p 22.

[74] Curia Regis Rolls ( Public Record Office, London 1922-57) vol 2, pg 232 ( hereafter CR) with reference to roll 26 m 8d.

[75] BL Campbell charter XXIX 9-printed in Archaeologia vol vi, ( London,1782), p 116. The charter was drawn up in Oxford, to which after January 1155 the king did not return until 1163, and the witness list matches exactly the men known to be in Oxford in 1155, including Thomas Becket, newly created chancellor, and the Bishops of Bayeux and Lisieux

[76] Charles Homer Haskins, Norman Institutions.(Harvard, 1918), pp 121-2 ( hereafter Haskins).  Roger held the serjeanty from  the early 1120s.

[77] The Godwinesbourne listed in the 1070-72 list of liability for Peter’s Pence in East Kent is probably what later became Patricksbourne. See VCH Kent vol 3, ed W. Page ( London, 1932), p 257. This contention is supported by the later ownership of land at  Higham in Patricksbourne by both of the families between whom Godwin’s lands were divided.

[78] CR, vol 12 , pp 80-1: roll 90 m 1. Details the early pedigree of Bourne ( latin: Burna). For the advowson: A.M.Woodcock, Cartulary of the Priory of St Gregory, Canterbury. ( Royal Hist Soc, London, 1956), p 27.

[79] VCH Sussex, vol 9, ed L.F.Salzman ( London, 1937), p 84. Cortesley is said to have extended into Hastings and Hollington. There can be no doubt that it was  Godwin of Bourne who held Cortesley, because his grandson Eustace still held part of the manor  in the late twelfth century: see Calendar of charters and documents relating to the Abbey of Robertsbridge, preserved at Penshurst. ( pub 1873, no accredited author), no 19. Possibly the same Godwin was the pre-conquest holder of Hollington, which passed with Cortesley to the Count of Eu. 

[80] VCH, Sussex. Vol 9, p 8.

[81] VCH, Sussex vol 9, pp 49, 62, 168, 175.

[82] A note of caution: Hattenville, near to Bec-aux-Cauchois, was rendered as Hastingivilla in the Norman cartularies. 

[83] RRAN 2,  nos 1689+1690.

[84] Le Maho,  p 9 and fig 1.

[85] DB Essex, ed Alexander Rumble ( Colchester, 1983) B7: three quarters of the two hides attached to St Peter’s Colchester was claimed by Robert son of Ralph of Hastings. Ralph himself  held at nearby Ardleigh. In 1189 Richard I confirmed to St Peter’s all the land that they held of the fees of William son of Robert  of Hastings: see Transactions Essex Arch Soc NS vol xv ( Colchester, 1921), pg 94.

[86] Eyton, pg 325. That they were brothers is shown by RRAN 3, no 823.

[87]  CR, vol 2, pp 66-7. Hugh’s son William de Bec was in dispute with his sisters and their husbands about the division of Sneilham. The family of Bourne were not represented, so it is unlikely to have been part of the Bourne inheritance.

[88] CR, vol 5, pp 278-9, and T.Thorpe, Descriptive catalogue of the original charters...constituting the muniments of Battle Abbey ( London, 1835), p 7. These charters are now in the Huntington Library, USA.

[89] That there was only one William de Bec, with lands in both Kent and Norfolk, is supported by the succession of an eldest son called Richard in both places at the same time. Richard paid a fine on a messuage and 40 acres at Bec and Belaugh in 1239/40, and in 1241-2 he confirmed  a lease granted by his father in Livingsbourne. See Blomfield, vol 8 pg 189, and Bodleian Library, MS Top Kent C2, folio 18.  William survived into his eighties, and from the Book of Fees was still living in 1241: Richard did not long outlive him.

[90] Rodulf’s fee from Canterbury was no longer in the hands of the Becs by 1171.

[91] In two Papal Bulls dating 1150-5. See Barbara Dodwell, Charters of Norwich Cathedral Priory, Pipe Roll Society NS vol 40. ( London,1974), nos 277-8, pp 175-6.

[92] Haskins, pp 260-3. Bardavilla is now known as Ouainville, cant Cany-Barville, Seine Maritime. Sorquainville is in cant Valmont: see Jean Adigard des Gautries “Les noms de lieux de la Seine-Maritime attestés entre 911 et 1066”, in Annales de Normandie vol 6 ( Caen, 1956), p 133, and vol 9

( 1959), p 166.

[93] Le Maho, p 45. The overlord was once again Walter Giffard.

[94] Fauroux no 18, discussed at some length by David Douglas: “The ancestors of William Fitz Osbern”, E.H.R. ( London ,1944),  pp 73-77.The location of the churches is marked in figure 2.

[95] J-J Vernier,  Chartes de l’abbaye de Jumièges ( Rouen, 1916), pp 127-8. A knight called Richard had two sons called Ralph. On Rodulf’s two wives: Eremberga and Albereda, see  Van Houts,  p 175.

[96] E. Christiansen,  Dudo of St Quentin and his history of the Normans ( Woodbridge, 1998), p xxv.

[97] Elizabeth Van Houts, “ Robert of Torigni as genealogist”, in: Studies in medieval history presented to R Allen Brown. (Woodbridge,1989), p 223 ( hereafter, Robert of Torigni ).

[98] Robert of Torigni, pp 174-5.

[99] Dom Mon, pp  76-7. These were Sahurs ( cant Grand Couronne), St Aubin-Celloville ( cant Boos) St Jacques-sur-Darnetal and Quereville-la-Millon ( both cant Darnetal), Quevilly and Couronne ( both cant Grand Couronne). Rodulf d’Ivry’s lands came, it has been said, from the ducal domain, see J.H. Le Patourel,  Norman Barons. (Bexhill-on-Sea, 1966), p 5.

[100] See figure 2.

[101] Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc 642, folio 147.

[102] I venture to suggest that the first sentence relates to Walter I and the second to Walter III.

[103] BL  MS Harley  3720, folio 22v.

[104] Calendar of Patent Rolls ( Public Record Office, London, 1893-1901), vol 3, October 16th 1274.

[105] E. Warlop,  The Flemish Nobility before 1300 ( Kortrijk, 1975), vol I, p 169 and  Dom People, pp 239-41. Ribemont, arr St Quentin was then in the County of Vermandois, but the lords of Ribemont were also castellans of Valenciennes in Flanders and Counts of Ostrevent. Anselm was perhaps the same person as Anselm of Choques and Anselm of  Houdain.

[106] Their son Rainald inherited the Flemish possessions. His fief may have included land in Guines at Cahem and Mentque which Lambert of Ardres recorded as belonging to the Counts of Warenne: Leah Shopkow, Lambert of Ardres, the history of the counts of Guines and lords of Ardres ( Philadelphia, 2001), p 58.

[107] R. Nip,  “The political relations between England and Flanders 1066-1128”, in  Anglo-Norman Studies XXI,  Proceedings of the Battle Abbey Conference, Ed R Allen-Brown ( Woodbridge, 1998),

p 155.

[108] Wace, vol 2 pg 169. records his role at Hastings.

[109] A carucate in Pagrave.

[110] Clovis Brunel,  Recueil des actes des Comtes de Pontieu 1026-1279 ( Paris, 1930), p 391.

[111] Mark Gardiner,  “Shipping and trade between England and the continent during the eleventh century”. Anglo-Norman Studies XXII, Proceedings of the Battle Abbey Conference,( Woodbridge, 1999), pp 71-93, with reference to p 89.

Pedigree of the family of Bec or Bek from tenth to thirteenth centuries
map of the ancestral lands of the Bec family in Normandy
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