The Bayeux Tapestry

Family Stories - William 'the Conqueror'


Most documents about our family claim that Richard II is the MRCA for the St. Clairs of Normandy and the Conqueror. As such, we should be a relatively close match to any other families who can honestly prove descent from his male children. This should be easy, but...

William the Conqueror is one of the historical figures from whom genealogists want most to prove descent. An online search of families claiming him as a direct ancestor will turn up hundreds. I regularly receive emails asking about some line of our family that turns up matching someone via No matter which lineage of our famous family they match, these folks are certain that their match with us is definitive proof of their descent from Norman fame, even if the lineage they match might have no better-documented connection to the Conqueror. I’ve looked at many lists of the descendants of the Conqueror. They are sketchy at best, allowing anyone with made up documents to send in their work and be included as a descendant.

Determining the Conqueror’s Haplogroup

To see if we’re even in the same ballpark, I thought it worthwhile to investigate the Duke’s basic DNA Haplogroup. After all, if he’s of descent from Rollo and the Vikings, as the histories state, then he should be an I1, R1b or R1a haplotype (keep in mind that Rollo’s haplotype is unknown, despite all the claimants). Based on the Western European geography, those 3 haplogroups are the most likely candidates. R1b was the most populous then, as it is today.

There are only two ways to prove the Conqueror’s haplotype. (1) You can do as many others have done and attempt to trace documents back in time to prove his descent from the Vikings and earlier and, thus, arrive at a likely haplotype. This is fraught with difficulties. Many genealogies of the time period were pure fantasies, written to please the man who commissioned them. Even those with some elements of truth are to be approached cautiously. Genealogy then, as now, was not an exact science. Or, (2) you can study the historical records, determine the living descendants of his children, and analyze their DNA. As you’ll soon see, this method is also fraught with land mines.

What we'd expect
to see in the DNA
(1) Strong linkages between our families in Scotland with those tested in England. Unfortunately, we don't have anyone with roots solidly in England who's tested. This will very soon be rectified as by the end of 2009, a major study will be underway there.
(2) Clear ties with other families who have good claims to descent from Duke William.
While this is muddled by sooo many folks claiming descent from Duke William, we do seem to have a few good connections.
(3) Possible name matches with some of the other Conqueror descendants, as this time period predates the wide usage of surnames. More work to do on name matches.

The Candidates and Their Results

Devereaux/Devericks/Deveau 72
Thus far, the best candidate for an actual blood YDNA relation to Richard II and, thus, the Conqueror. Robert Devereaux, the family’s founder, was the Conqueror’s grand-uncle. The name Devereaux was first applied to Robert, 2nd son of Richard the Fearless (4th Duke of Normandy). Robert was Comte of Evreaux and Archbishop of Rouen. His descendants passed to England with the Norman Conquest and settled on the Welsh border. Others went on to Ireland with the Norman invasion around 1100 giving rise to the Lords of Balmagir in Wexford County.
Devereaux family - 6 tested - all R1b Haplogroup

The Hereford/Hartman/Hartford family is a good candidate for descent from the Conqueror. The family claims they came over with the Duke William in 1066, though it’s not made clear how many came. They are not mentioned in the Auchinleck Manuscript’s Battle Abbey Roll. Douglas says (page 165-167) that the family, though of Norman origins, may have been in England even as early as the 1040’s, being granted land in Herefordshire. A Ralph ‘the Timid,’ son of Dreux, count of the Vexin, who had married Edward’s sister, came to England with Edward the Confessor in 1041 and received lands in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire. He became earl of Herefordshire. This Ralph was one of the few Normans given significant landholdings in England by the Confessor.

This family, like ours, shows lineages that cannot possibly share the Conqueror as a MRCA. Yet, they show 3 individuals whose DNA results seem very close to 3 individuals in our project. Perhaps the most significant, and surprising, is one in the G2a. This gentleman matches our John P. Clair within about 30/37, a good match considering the time frame and the markers we’re looking at. If one ignores certain of the red markers, the match gets as close at 33/37. Our John has been deep clade tested to show G2a. The Hartman match with the most markers tested looks like he’s not been deep clade tested. However, another, who’s only tested for 12 markers, is off by one mutation on markers 385a, 385b, and 389-2. This Hartman match has traced their oldest known ancestor back to an Adam Hartman b 1782 Darmstadt, Germany. ( website Hartman DNA Project) Our John Clair shows a distance from others in our Sinclair project of 29/37 and 60/67. That 67-merker test result is not far off.

The Hartman/Hartford/Hereford DNA project also shows a member who has DYS390=25, has been deep clade tested to show R1b1b2 and who is about 21/25 with a member of our Sinclair project. Niven and the members of his lineage are showing a significantly close relationship with this gentleman. Note that Niven and his lineage are nowhere near our John Clair, being a distance of 47/37.

One final group of the Hereford family shows a somewhat close match to members of our Sinclair project. They have a member who has DYS390=24, who has been deep clade tested to show R1b1b2, and who is about 31/37 or better from a lineage in our Sinclair project (Steve, Stan and our lineage) are showing a relatively close match to their member who says his oldest ancestor is an Adam Hartmann b 21 Feb 1831 Hanover, Germany. Given the time period and the markers, it’s significant.

Note, the closest folks to Niven’s lineage are Steve, Stan and the Virginia Group, showing 5/25 and 16/37. These don’t seem very close to me, but it’s worth noting.

Thus, the Hereford family is a candidate for proving true the stories of our descent from the Conqueror’s lineage. However, with so many different haplotypes showing up in their project, it's not definitive. It's interesting to note that they show E1b1a and R1b1c. No other haplogroup shows up. Our S21 and Anglo-Saxon Invader Lineages don't show close connections to the Hereford family.

Hereford family - 17 tested - J2, R1b1c, R1a, E1b1a, G, I2b Haplogroups represented

This family claims direct male descent from the Conqueror. Le Signor de Norville is not listed on the “Battle Abbey Rolls” On the Norville/Norton DNA site; you can see that all of their participants thus far are I1c. They appear to have only 6 participants thus far and all are showing this haplotype. 66

6 tested – I1c Haplogroup.

Another family claiming direct paternal descent from the Conqueror, the Purcell family currently shows 6 haplotypes. ( One of thier members with the haplotype I1shows a DYS393=14 like one of our I1’s, Scott Johnson. Finding this odd as most in our project show 13, I ran their numbers. Our Scott is about 4 markers off, matching 21/25, including 2 markers known to be more stable. This could be significant, but more work is needed.

I compared our two I1 members who show DYS393/390 = 13/22 to the Purcell family DNA and found they were off by a considerable amount - 15/37.

On a comparison of the Purcell family’s R1b1 lineage with ours, studying first by our DYS-390/19/391 = 24/14/11 members, I found three of our lineages are matching very well - about 22/25. In this comparison, the Brimms line and a member with his oldest known ancestor being from Kilchrenan are included. This means the Steve/Stan lineage is likely of Caithness and likely share a common ancestor with the Purcells. If the Purcell history can be trusted, then this grouping has a good chance of matching the DNA of the Conqueror.

20 Purcells tested – E3b, I2a, I1b, R1b1, G, E1b1a Haplogroups

This family is extremely interesting to me. Guillaume d’Arques was a cousin of the Conqueror who supposedly fought with him, though I see no listing in the Auchinleck Manuscript. They were granted lands in Herefordshire. The name later became Clifford. The members of our Lineage 1, Steve and Stan’s group, match with the Clifford surname significantly, about 21/25. It’s interesting to note how few haplotypes they show. Their group does split on DYS393, whereas the Sinclair family does not. With one exception, everyone in our project carrying the surname shows DYS393=13.

14 Cliffords tested – R1b1 and I2b haplogroups.

Steve, Stan and the Virginia Group matched this family extremely close and clearly share an ancestor with some of their family. We show 24/25. I’ve heard many interesting stories of intrigue over the years about this surname. Their history in Nova Scotia (Dalhousie) warrants further investigation. I find no record of them in the Auchinleck Manuscript. I believe they were already in England when the Conqueror invaded. Yet, they claim to be descendants of the Conqueror. This from their Dalhousie Castle website - “An obscure German Pirate the progenitor of the Ramsay’s follows William the Conqueror to England. This is the origin of the Ramsay Black Eagle battle emblem.” 79 The earliest records in England show an Ailwin (Ailwyn), Duke of East Anglia and foster brother of King Edgar, who is traditionally recorded as founding the Abbey at Ramsey in about 969 AD. Ailwin returned to Ramsey and commenced his construction of the Abbey with the building of a wooden chapel dedicated to Our Lady, Saint Benedict and all Holy Virgins. Supported by his brother, the King, the Abbey thrived and grew. 77

“The first bearer of this name recorded in Scotland was Simmundus de Ramsay, a Norman baron from Huntingdonshire, England, who was a retainer of David, Earl of Huntingdonshire, brother of King Alexander 1. of Scotland. Simmundus was granted lands in Midlothian by the earl, and he is recorded as a witness to a charter in 1140. Among his descendants are the earls of Dalhousie. Other records of the name mention Rameseia (without surname) listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name was spelt as Hramesege in the year 1106.” 78 An examination of their lands in Scotland finds Rosslyn Chapel and Castle within five kilometers of the seat of the Ramsays. While their ties to the Conqueror are somewhat weak, our ties to this family are quite strong. Their grants of land in Domesday point to importance with the Conqueror.

17 Ramseys tested – All R1b1b haplotype.

What’s going on here?

An online list by Mark Humphrys will help you understand what an utter mess this all is. So many people want to claim descend from the Conqueror and, luckily, all they need do is email someone a bogus genealogy and they’re included on a website such as the one that posted this discliamer -

"Note that I do not research the people on this list myself. I mainly just reference and link to other people's work. My contribution is really compiling a list in this particular nested format - not actually researching the genealogy of famous people. So asking me detailed questions about people here is probably a waste of time. In particular, for many people below I merely link to their entries in other lists of descents of famous people." 71
Are these people doing real research?

I’m continually amazed that so many families are willing to pass bogus or, at best, poorly researched family histories down the generations to their descendants. When I see this many different haplogroups desperately trying to connect with the Conqueror, I get very frustrated. The R1a/R1b split happened over 20,000 years ago. Both can’t claim descent from an MRCA in the 11th century. It’s simply impossible. Yet both do and, to make matters worse, both have DNA sites which share the proof of this descent as a major goal. My goals for our DNA project are different entirely: I simply want to know the truth and I’ll take whatever version can be proven. 

Genealogies based on bad information?

With so many families basing their genealogies on a listing in the Battle Abbey Roll, I thought it best to investigate what may be the culprit in these confusing claims of descent from the Conqueror. As you’ll see, it’s always a good idea to be skeptical.

This from the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1910, in its entirety - 68

“The Battle Abbey Roll is popularly supposed to have been a list of William the Conqueror's companions, preserved at Battle Abbey, on the site of his great victory over Harold.
It is known to modern historians only from 16th century versions of it published by Leland, Holinshed and Duchesne, all more or less imperfect and corrupt. Holinshed's is much the fullest, but of its 629 names several are duplicates. The versions of Leland and Duchesne, though much shorter, each contain many names found in neither of the other lists. It was so obvious that several of the names had no right to figure on the roll, that Camden, as did Dugdale after him, held them to have been interpolated at various times by the monks, "not without their own advantage." Later writers went further, Sir Egerton Brydges denouncing the roll as "a disgusting forgery," and E.A. Freeman dismissing it as "a transparent fiction." An attempt to vindicate the roll was made by Catherine Powlett, Duchess of Cleveland, whose Battle Abbey Roll (3 vols, 1889) is a guide to its contents.

“It is probable that the character of the roll has been quite misunderstood. It is not a list of individuals, but only of family surnames, and it seems to have been intended to show which families had "come over with the Conqueror," and to have been compiled about the 14th century. The compiler appears to have been influenced by the French sound of names, and to have included many families of later settlement, such as that of Grandson, which did not come to England from Savoy till two centuries after the Conquest. The roll itself appears to be unheard-of before and after the 16th century, but other lists were current at least as early as the 15th century, as the duchess of Cleveland has shown. In 1866 a list of the Conqueror's followers, compiled from Domesday and
other authentic records, was set up in Dives church by Léopold Delisle, and is printed in the duchess' work. Its contents are naturally sufficient to show that the Battle Roll is worthless."

In 1874 publication, the Conqueror and His Companions, J.R. Planché admits that there is much to doubt. Of the accuracy of these accounts, he says -

"Of the following personages but few can be identified, and of those few
no materials have been found hitherto for the briefest biographical notice.”
“To the meagre information and vague speculations of Messrs. le Prévost,
an Edgar Taylor I have added in some instances a fact, and in others a
suggestion; and generall upheld the authority of Wace where it could
not be shaken by direct evidence. I have alread given my reasons for
the confidence I place in his testimony, and feel assured that subsequent
researches will justify my opinion of him.” 70

He makes this mention - “SAINT CLER, le Sire de," l. 13,749.

“Saint Clair is the principal town in the canton of that name in the arrondissement f
St. Lô. The site of the castle was still to be seen near the church when M.
de Gerville wro e his valuable work on the castles in La Manche.
A William de Saint Clair was a benefactor o the Abbey of Savigny in the
reign of Henry I, and one of the same name, if not the sa[m]e person,
founded the Priory of Villiers Fossard in 1139 but who "came over with t e
Conqueror" does not appear. A Richar de Sencler is found in Domesday,
from whom, as a matter of course, the English Sinclairs are reported to have descende”

There is, however, hope for the Battle Abbey Roll.

There is a much older (and, therefore, more trustworthy) copy of the Battle Abbey Roll which was produced in London in the 1330’s and is known as the Auchinleck Manuscript. The manuscript is named after Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck, who was a lawyer and Supreme Court judge in Edinburgh, Scotland. Lord Auchinleck lived from 1706 to 1782, and was the father of James Boswell who wrote, The Life of Samuel Johnson. It is not known how Lord Auchinleck came to possess the manuscript, but it is believed he acquired it in 1740 and gave the book to the Advocates Library in Edinburgh in 1744. 25

Thus, a copy of the Battle Abbey Roll did exist at least as early as circa 1330, and a search of the Auchinleck Manuscript does turn up a Seynt clere, but only one and with no further explanation.

The Auchinleck Manuscript contains a list of 551 names supposedly representing the Norman barons who fought at Hastings and for whom Battle Abbey was founded. 69  It is the oldest known copy of this list.

Does this solve the matter? Not quite. Over two hundred years transpired between the Battle of Hastings and the production of the Auchinleck Manuscript. The Auchinleck Manuscript was copied from some other list by scribes in London. To argue otherwise is to argue that it was a written copy of an oral tradition or, alternatively, a complete fabrication. There is still no proof that this list was not sourced from another that was merely a list of those families paying for the right to be a part of history, perhaps coming over long after the invasion. We simply can’t be sure.

Names from the Auchinleck Manuscript

If I can’t prove blood relations with the Conqueror himself, can I prove kinship with the invasion force, those closest to him and most trusted in Normandy?

A Reynold , close associate of Robert of Normandy may be interesting to our family. We match the name.
The descent works thus -
William the Conqueror
     - William de Warren
            - Reynold, one of the adherents of Robert of Normandy.

Two of our family members match others in the FTDNA database with the name Reynolds. Our AMH lineage matches the name Warren quite closely.

James Buchannan, born 1791, US President. His family claimed descent from James I, King of Scotland. Our AMH Lineage has close FTDNA matches with the Buchannan name.

Richard de Granville, Earl of Corbeil, who died on his journey to Jerusalem, leaving a son. Could the name Corbin have derived from this line? We match the Corbins very closely.

There is a Beauchaump match in our project, but it’s on only the 12-marker test. I'm hoping this family responds to my repeated attempts to contact them for further comparison.

De La Hay is a name we match. And they’re on the Auchinleck Manuscript.

Grant is a name we match. And they’re on the Auchinleck Manuscript.

Barr is a name we match. Bares is on the Auchinleck Manuscript.

The Kinsmen of William I – Rewards in England - Domesday

There is a good argument to be made that William I rewarded those who were dearest to him with the most desirable lands in England. If that were the case, then the argument can also be made that the St. Clairs were close cousins of William I as they inherited some of the largest, most desirable lands in the country. The best resources for such research are the Exchequer Domesday Book and the Exon Domesday Book. Niven Sinclair, who has researched this for a great deal of time, has said that within three generations of the conquest, Sinclairs owned lands in every county of England.

If lands received from the Conqueror are to be taken as proof of blood kinship, then, surely, Walderne’s 4th son, Eudo, was something akin to a brother. While he wasn’t the largest landholder in England, his lands there, taken into consideration with the holdings he retained in Normandy, made him likely the richest man in all or Europe outside of kings. 74, page 87  More than that, however, were the nature of the lands given over to Eudo. The lands of Ashe formerly owned by the Conqueror’s nemesis, Harold, were given over to this Sinclair. With the success of Eudo plus others of this ilk, surely, you must be thinking, we have proof of kinship. But do we?

Perhaps another way to understand this will be to examine the DNA of the descendants of those who benefited most from William I’s largess. Of course, kinship alone would not be the single most important factor in determining the rewards of the hazards of the conquest. But something may be gleaned by treating it as such.

The Hereford Family

The Earldom of Hereford was granted to William FitzOsborn of Breteuil. FitzOsbern became one of the great magnates of early Norman England. He was created Earl of Hereford before 22 February 1067, one of the first peerage titles in the English peerage. He was made Earl of Hereford as well as Gloucester, Worcester and Oxfordshire. In this King William was imitating the earldom of his predecessor, Harold Godwinson.

The Normans in England

It has been speculated that, in the twenty years after the conquest, 200,000 Normans settled in England while 20% of the native English population were killed in William’s ravages or were starved by the seizure of their farm stock and their lands. It took William five years of oppression to put down the rebellions of the locals. 76, p. 198

With these numbers of people coming to England from Normandy, and the natives cut down by 20%, it’s no surprise to me that we have a staging ground for far more than merely 8 nights who came over with the Conqueror. The success of Eudo was surely shared with his St. Clair cousins who came over with him and, in the 20 years after the conquest, likely numbered over 100 if I were to guess. And so, we didn’t transfer just one bloodline into England. My guess is we moved at least 5 of our lineages that had been in Normandy, into England and moved them in large numbers of cousins.

That said, this would not have been a wholesale migration to England. Eudo himself kept significant land holdings in Normandy and would have left family there to watch after his interests.

The following is an excerpt from Cokayne's The Complete Peerage, rev. ed., vol. XII, postscript to Appendix L, pp. 47-48: "Companions of the Conqueror" (regarding the 1066 Battle of Hastings). These are the proven companions of William. If correct, these are the surnames, or origins thereof, we must continue to study for proof of descent from the Conqueror.

1. Robert de Beaumont, later first Earl of Leicester.
2. Eustace, Count of Boulogne.
3. William, afterwards third Count of Evreux.
4. Geoffrey of Mortagne, afterwards Count of Perche.
5. William Fitz Osbern, afterwards first Earl of Hereford.
6. Aimeri, Vicomte of Thouars.
7. Hugh de Montfort, seigneur of Montfort-sur-Risle.
8. Walter Giffard, seigneur of Longueville.
9. Ralph de Toeni, seigneur of Conches.
10. Hugh de Grandmesil, seigneur de Grandmesnil.
11. William de Warenne, afterwards first Earl of Surrey.
12. William Malet, seigneur of Graville.
13. Eudes, Bishop of Bayeux, afterwards Earl of Kent.
14. Turstin Fitz Rou.
15. Engenulf de Laigle, seigneur of Laigle.
(#1-12 recorded by William of Poitiers, #13 portrayed in the battle
scene on the Bayeux Tapestry, #14-15 named by Orderic.)

Five more who were certainly in the Duke's army and almost certainly at the battle:

16. Geoffrey de Mowbray, Bishop of Coutances.
17. Robert, Count of Mortain, afterwards first Earl of Cornwall.
18. Wadard, believed to be a follower of the Bishop of Bayeux.
19. Vital, believed to be a follower of the Bishop of Bayeux.
20. Goubert d'Auffay, seigneur of Auffay.

(#16 named by William of Poitiers, #17-19 portrayed in the Bayeux Tapestry, #20 said by Orderic to have taken part in the English War before William became King of England.)

During the life of William the Conqueror, the practice of adopting surnames was just beginning. Among those listed by Alan Freer’s amazing research 62are Richard de Montfort, Reginald of Dunstanville, and William de Tracy. These are all place names, just as Malger-le-Jeune, Compte de St. Clair is a place name. Given the early date, surnames weren’t always handed down father-to-son as they are today. This makes them slightly less reliable. The practice of maintaining a surname and passing it to the next generation did not become popular until the Fourteenth Century. Names changed at this point in time - "Guillaume d'Arques (a cousin who fought with William I) family’s name actually became “Clifford” several generations later." This is going to make is very diffcult for us to figure out whether or not we really connect to the Conqueror.
Rootsweb site crediting the following - "From William the Conqueror by David C. Douglas and Sinclair Family in Europe & NA by Leonard Morrison" It is very unlikely that William St. Clair/Sinclair (the Seemly, le blond, de Santo Claro- Latin) 1028-1070, a son of Walderne, Lord of St. Clair and St. Lo, and full cousin to William the Conqueror, fought at Hastings. He might have arrived in England after his father, Walderne and uncle Hamo's deaths in 1047 (Battle of Val-es -dunes, Normandy). The St. Clairs of Elle and other magnates, who were in open rebellion, met defeat when King Henri I of France came to the aid of the young Duke William of Normandy (the Conqueror). Or William St. Clair might have come after the confiscation of the family title and lands from his younger uncle William Warlenc, Ct. of Mortain, in 1055. With this and the death of Walderne it is likely that it was wise to leave Normandy. Since Edward was William's father's cousin, William the Seemly would have been welcomed as an exile and relative at the court of King Edward the Confessor of England just as Malcolm Canmore had been.

William St. Clair/Sinclair, who as possibly the King's representative, went to Hungary to bring back the true heir, Edward the Exile, (died upon reaching England leaving a son, Edgar.) to replace Edward when he died. Soon after this, William joined Malcolm Canmore in Scotland and received lands in about 1057 at Rosslyn. He fought as Lord of the Marches for Malcolm and upon Malcolm's marriage in 1068 to Margaret, d/o Edward the Exile, became her steward until his death in 1070. A Sinclair legend says that there were 9 St. Clair Knights at Hastings. But the Roll of Battle Abbey only contains the name of one of the Conqueror's relatives. That being Richard de Saint Clair s/o Walderne. So it is not possible at this time to verify this legend from the lists available.

Some have claimed that Sinclairs were England long before the Norman Conquest. While I find this difficult to prove, and have found proofs to the contrary, I have not researched this anywhere near as long as others -
King Offa (AD 757-796) was the king of Mercia, an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. He was one of the most powerful Anglo-Saxon kings and controlled the territory south of the River Humber, taking in most of England. Recently Niven has, by hard work, identified Sinclair names from the Doomsday Book. Many of names identified are pre Conquest names. 110

Philippe Sinclair who died 844 was the first one who we can clearlyidentify. He was in the Earl of Tarleton. The Barons of Sinclair. Were Tudur 1 and 2, Raymond, Trilla, Quinna. The original Holy Light (Saint Clair) title Holders were men who protected the Merovingian kings of France. Charlemagne sent to his friend and correspondent, Offa, king of Mercia. Sinclairs around 780. Interestingly enough the spelling was then Sinclair. This is the list of people bearing the title Sinclair in pre conquest Mercia in the Earldom of Tarleton and Barony of Sinclair are . Sinclair, Adelphia; Sinclair, Albert; Sinclair, Bonner; Sinclair, Bonner (1); Sinclair, Dauphine; Sinclair, Duvessa Alpina; Sinclair, Lauretta; Sinclair, Neva; Sinclair, Paulin; Sinclair, Paulina; Sinclair, Peter; Sinclair, Philippe; Sinclair, Quinna; Sinclair, Raymond; Sinclair, Trilla; Sinclair, Tudur; Sinclair, Tudur (1). The multiple names designated by (1) are repeated names in different generations.

William's father was Robert I, sixth Duke of Normandy. He was no older than 21 at the time of William's birth, and came from a family with a rich heritage. He was a direct descendant of Rollo the Viking, ruler of Neustria, who landed in Normandy and claimed the land after being ejected from Norway by the king. Rollo's power was inherited first by William, nicknamed 'Longsword' (d.942), then Duke Richard I (942-966), then by William the Conqueror's grandfather, Duke Richard II. 109

When William was born in 1027/28, Robert was Count of Hiesmois; he acceded to the title Duke of Normandy in 1028. In 1034 he left for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and died before his return in late 1035, leaving William as his successor at just 7 years old. Despite being so young and a bastard son, William was accepted by Norman nobles, though several attempts were made to depose him of his position, including while he was ruling England. It was for this reason that during his reign as King, William spent as much time in Normandy enforcing his power as he did overseeing affairs in England.

His mother Herleva, daughter of Fulbert the tanner, came from Falaise and rose to a prominent status in French nobility despite her ordinary upbringing. At the age of 16 she met Gilbert, Count of Brionne, and had a son, Richard fitzGilbert (fitz denoting his illegitimacy). Just a couple of years later, with Robert, Duke of Normandy, she gave birth to William in 1027/28 and a daughter, Adelaide. Shortly before Robert's death in 1035 she was persuaded by him to marry Herlwin, Viscount of Conteville. By him she bore a daughter, Muriel and 2 sons, Odo - who would become Bishop of Bayeux - and Robert - who would become Count of Mortain. Both men, along with fitzGilbert, would play major parts in assisting William's conquest of England.

The Great Domesday Book covers 31 Counties of England whilst the Little Domesday Book covers the remaining 3 Counties (Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex) which are of especial interest to Sinclairs as it was in those three counties, and in Kent, where the Sinclairs were principally found after the Conquest. 111

It is hoped to be able to compare the references to Sinclairs in the Great and Little Domesday books with those mentioned in The St Clairs of the Isles and The Sinclairs of England. This will be an interesting, if time consuming task as it will be necessary to follow the sons of Walderne, Hamon and Hubert as they assist William in the Normanisation of England.

William the Conqueror  |  The Earldom Lineage  |  Jarl Henry St. Clair  |  Our Norse Heritage

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