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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The de la Mares in England

Using the premise that Robert de la Mare, The Norman, held lands in England during the reign of Edward the Confessor, it is easy to see how the family took up residence there after the Battle of Hastings. There is nothing to support the claim that William and Hugh FitzNorman de la Mare, brothers, were with William the Conqueror on Oct 12 1066. There are lists that say they were, but those lists were produced centuries after the fact. That’s not to say they didn’t fight in that war, it’s just not something that we can prove. They were given lands for some sort of service to the King, but we’ll probably never know what that service was. It would stand to reason that the eldest son, possibly named Robert de la Mare after his father, remained in Normandy to assume the duties of the land holder there. Younger sons would have been more adventurous and would likely want lands of their own that would not be available to them if they stayed in Normandy.

So in the years following the Battle of Hastings, the de la Mare men established themselves in several different counties in the south west of England.  Around the year 1070, several notations in various records make mention of the family. They are referred to as de la Mare, de Mara, Delemere, de Kilpec and FitzNorman. William FitzNorman seemed be centered in Herefordshire, with additional holdings in Shropshire (which was then known as Salopshire) and Gloucestershire. Hugh FitzNorman was one of five knights who held prominence in Cheshire, under the Earl of Cheshire, Hugh d’Avranches, and is listed as a grantee in the Palatinate of Cheshire. He is listed as de Mara or FitzNorman by George Ormerod in The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester. By 1086, the year of the Domesday Book, Hugh FitzNorman, also styled de Kilpec, held lands of Hugh d’Avranches, Earl of Cheshire, also known as Hugh Lupus, the Wolf. This last name was meant to reflect how the Welsh thought of him because of the ferocity of his attacks upon them. Hugh FitzNorman became Lord of Leigh (Lea) and held a large estate in Cheshire. He had a son, William FitzHugh FitzNorman and a grandson, Simon FitzWilliam FitzHugh. His line ended with this grandson and all lands and titles reverted to the descendants of Hugh’s brother, Ralph FitzNorman and the Barons of Montalt. Ralph was the Dapifer or Seneschal of the Palatinate of Cheshire. There was another brother, Roger FitzNorman also mentioned in Ormerod’s book. If Roger had family, it wasn’t discussed in this book, as the full focus was put on the Barons of Montalt.  The family name gradually changed to ‘de Monte-Alto.’ The seats of this Barony were located at Hawarden and Mold, where little or nothing remains of the manors.
                                                        The Cheshire countryside

As I’ve pointed out, the FitzNomans had holdings in more than one county. So far I’ve been able to find for William FitzNorman, 8 holdings in Herefordshire and 3 in Gloucestershire. For Hugh FitzNorman I have found 8 holdings in Cheshire.  I still have several more counties to search.  I shall return with more information.


The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, George Ormerod


Domesday Book, Thomas Hinde

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