Alessandro Geraldini

The Gherardini and 'Other' Connections

Medieval Bendings - The Gherardini and 'Other' Connections

The name Bending is derived from a manor, held by the family in the twelfth century. Early spellings are, variously, Bending, Bendings, Bendeng, Bendenges, Bendig and Bendyn. That these are errors in transcription is shown by reversion to Bending in subsequent generations early in the family history. Later these variations in spelling persist, and in the Eastern counties of England, the name becomes Bendish or Bendyche.

The early Bendings were members of the Norman family, the Windsors, descendants of the Gherardini of Florence. The first of these to come to England was Dominus Other, who was present at the court of King Edward the Confessor, from about 1056. This man through his son Walter, was the founder of both the Windsor and the Fitzgerald families.

The preposition 'de' can refer to an hereditary origin, a place of birth, a manor or town where an individual has a dwelling, or where he performs a particular duty.

It is important to realize that, in early days, family names were not constant; thus Walter fitz Other's son is William de Windsor, and his three sons are: William de Windsor, Stephen de Bending and Hugh de Horsley. It is also possible for a man to have different names in different parts of the country.
Where a family name becomes established over several generations, it usually passes from the father, but there are many instances where a mother's name is used, in order to gain some advantage.

Other (probable first name, Dominus)

Other, whose name is sometimes spelled, Othere or Otho, was a member of the Florentine family, the Gherardini. He came to the court of King Edward the Confessor in about 1056, ten years before the Norman Conquest of England. It is likely that he came via Normandy, taking advantage of Edward's encouragement towards Norman visitors, and may have made the Norman connection during William's campaigns in Italy and Sicily, during the first half of the eleventh century. It seems probable that he was well known to William of Normandy, who heaped honours on his son Walter.

His family name is perpetuated to the present day in the Fitzgerald family, (Fitz - the son of, Gerald, the Normanised form of Gherardini), the descendants of Walter's second son, Gerald. He is also remembered by the Windsor family (Earls of Plymouth) whose eldest son is always named, Other).

Walter fitz Other

Walter, the son of Other, was one of the military caste that was essential in consolidating the position of William the Conqueror after 1066. He may have been born in England, but it is not known whether he was in England at the time of the landing, or whether he joined William in Normandy, and took part in the Battle of Hastings, 1066.

Walter was a knight in the King's private retinue, and, when in 1070 William began the building of Windsor Castle, Walter was put in charge of its defence, and later became the first Constable of Windsor. Under the Norman kings, as with the kings of France, the Constable was the principal officer of a royal establishment, and was responsible for the defence of the establishment, by the knights stationed there. It was this position that conferred the name 'Windsor' upon his sons.

Windsor was built by William to control the middle reaches of the River Thames, and together with other castles, each a day's march apart, to keep open the route from London to the south coast, and thence to Normandy. Since Walter was a young man in 1070, to have been given such responsibility, shows the great respect felt for him by William.

Soon after 1070, Walter also had the important post of Warden of the King's forests in Berkshire. Although generally associated with hunting, the main recreation of the Royal household, the position was a military one, since the forests were subject to regular patrolling, as a precaution against enemies of the King. They were also regarded as the main source of provender for armies on the move, or those stationed at strategic castles.

Walter fitz Other was granted twenty two manors in England, by King William, and was still holding these at the time of the Domesday Survey (1086):-
In Berkshire Bucklebury Chiltone (Chilton) Hagbourne Wallington Wokesfield Wildehall (No extant village, site - Wildhall Farm, Alton)

In Hampshire: Malshanger Gerlei (Church Oakley) Winsflet (Winchfield)

In Surrey Chingstone (Kingston) Cortone (Compton) Homers (Hurtmore) Orselei (West Horsley) Piperherge (Pepper Harrow) Woking

In Middlesex Hatton Bedfont Stanmore In Buckinghamshire Burnham Ettone (Eton) Hardmead Hortune (Horton)

Walter also owned a town house at Wallingford, a fortified town on the River Thames, between Reading and Oxford.

It was customary for the King to grant plots of land, within the towns, to noblemen and churchmen, in return for the acceptance of responsibility concerning the defence of the town. The plots were then, either leased to burgesses to offset the cost of defence, or town houses were built.

Other holders of such houses at Wallingford were; the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Salisbury, Hugh de Ferrers, Walter Giffard, and Miles Crispin; all members of the Curia Regis (KIng's Council), which leads one to speculate that Walter fitz Other may also have been a member of this body, although no record of this has been seen.

It is likely that Gwaldys, his wife, and his children when young, lived in Wallingford, rather than on any one of his manors, where life would have been far less comfortable.

None of his sons showed any disposition towards manorial life, and it is likely that manors were under the control of bailiffs appointed by Walter.

Walter was married to Gwladys, the daughter of Rhiwallon ap Cynvyn, one of the Welsh princes. (More detail concerning Rhiwallon is needed). He had four children: William de Windsor, the eldest, Gerald de Windsor, Robert de Windsor, and his only daughter, Delicia.

William de Windsor

William was the eldest son of Walter fitz Other, and was the founder of the Windsor family. He married Agnes de Valogne, and by her had three sons: William de Windsor (the eldest), Stephen de Bendig, Hugh de Horsley.

In his youth he was known as William fitz Walter, but assumed the name of Windsor during the reign of Henry I, and was the progenitor of the line of Windsors, lasting to the present day; the mainstream of the family, becoming the Earls of Plymouth in1659. To this day, the eldest son is named Other, in remembrance of that distant ancestor.

William was a powerful baron in the reign of Henry II, and in 1165, upon the assessment of the marriage portion of Henry's daughter, he held 16 1/2 knight's fees (1);. In 1173, he attended the king in his expedition to Normandy, to counter the revolt by Henry's sons, against their father. Here William raised the seige of Verneuil by King Louis of France, who supported the rebels. He was Castellan of Windsor Castle and Warden of the Forests of Berkshire. These positions, both held by his father, Walter, were confirmed upon him by the Empress Maud (2).

William died between 1194 and 1198

Gerald de Windsor

At the time of the Conquest, Wales was divided into three principalities; North, South and mid-Wales. William I anticipating the total conquest of Wales, established aggressive Norman followers, including Gerald, in key castles along the border. In the Northern and Central principalities he met with success, but in the South this success was offset by the powerful ruler, Rhys ap Tewdyr (Tudor). William, after a show of strength, agreed to the continuance of
Rhys ap Tewdyr as ruler, a compromise reached between them that the Welsh 'king' should acknowledge William as his overlord.

Gerald married Nest (sometimes spelled Nesta) the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdyr. The marriage may have been arranged by the two rulers, since Gerald was Constable of Pembroke Castle at the time. Gerald had four children by Nest, and she had five more children, out of wedlock, by various fathers, including Henry fitz Roy, by Henry I. Gerald is the ancestor of the Fitzgerald families, in both England and Ireland, and is also the ancestor of the Earls of Kildare, the Earls of Leinster and the Earls of Offaly.

Giraldus Cambrensis, Gerald of Wales, was the grandson of Gerald and Nest. He was the Archdeacon of Brecon, and wrote some seventeen books, including The Journey through Wales. He had hoped to succeed his uncle, David Fitzgerald, the son of Gerald and Nesta, as Bishop of St David's, when he would have tried to free the see of St David's from subservience to Canterbury. Henry II, aware of Gerald's intentions, appointed Peter de Leia as Bishop. Note added by John Bending

Stephen de Bending c1160

Stephen was the son of William of Windsor and Agnes de Valognes. There are no records concerning the dates of his birth or death, any knowledge that we have, comes from documents to which he was a witness, or in which he is mentioned. Nothing is known of his exact place in society, but it seems logical from the little we know, that he was a member of the Royal Household, under Stephen, and perhaps, Henry II.

That Stephen was alive in 1175, well into the reign of Henry II, is proved by a carta, sent to the King, by the Abbot of Chertsey, concerning the holdings of that Abbey:

"To his most venerable dear Lord Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Angers, his unworthy brother Aylmer, the minister of Chertsey, safety and prayers. Let your diligence know, O dearest Father and Lord, that the Abbey of Cherstey owes to your service 3 knights' fees, as far as we can know. One, Walter de Chameo holds; Philip of Tong, one; Roger de Wateville, the third fee. Ate of Perfrith, Robert Mealdon, Maurice of Trotworth, Stephen of Bendig, Ralf of St. Albans, hold a fourth fee. It has no others as far as I can learn. Records of Winchfield Hants Seymour.

Note, the Abbot sites four knights' fees, having stated three, leading to some confusion. Stephen's fourth knight's fee, probably refers to both Elvetham and Winchfield.

Stephen was connected by his marriage to Juliana, the daughter of Peter, with the influential fitz Peters, and the de Mandevilles, but he does not seem to
have shared any of the warlike characteristics of his father, his brother William de Windsor, or his numerous cousins, the sons of Gerald de Windsor and Nest.

Stephen held the following manors in Hampshire:

Elvetham Winchfield Hartley Wintney Wallop Heathmanstreet

The manor of Elvetham was in the hands of the de Port family at the time of Domesday, but before 1166, it had passed to the Abbey of Chertsey, from whom Stephen held it as Mesne tenant. It had never been held by Walter fitz Other, or by Stephen's father, William de Windsor.

The manor of Hartley Wintney came to Stephen and Juliana as a gift from Juliana's brother, Geoffrey fitz <@Clement>Peter. Within the manor was the Priory of Hartley Wintney, founded by Thomas Colbreth in the 11th century. Geoffrey endowed the Church of the Priory, and Stephen and Juliana held the manor jointly, with the nuns, under the bequest of Geoffrey.

The manor of Winchfield had been held by both, Walter fitz Other and William de Windsor. It is interesting that Stephen was entered as 'de Bendig' in Winchfield, and 'de Bendeng' in Elvetham, showing spelling variations which were commonplace.

The group of manors named Wallop, at the time of Domesday, were entered as in the hands of four unnamed Englishmen. By the eleven hundreds, Wallop Heathmanstreet, a manor of two hides, (240 acres approx), had passed to Stephen for reasons unknown

William de Bending

It is Clement's contention that Willam fitz Stephen and William de Bending were one person, but this seems unlikely, and they are shown separately, without connection in the DNB.

Son of Stephen de Bending, this man is far more often known as William fitz Stephen. That both names refer to the same person is not established by the father and date of death, 1190, but by the fact that William fitz Stephen was placed at the head of one of the six circuits of judges, appointed by Henry II in 1176, and as the DNB establishes, his pleas were heard in fourteen counties over the next four years. However, there is no further record in the lists of
1178 and 1179 of any William fitz Stephen, whereas William de Bending is mentioned as a prominent judge in both of these lists. No other William is among the judges The Gherardini and 'Other' Connection 21

When Ranulf de Glanville became chief Justiciar in 1181, William was appointed Sheriff of the Dorset and Somerset. After 1190 he ceases to be Sheriff of Dorset and Somerset, and may have died, but Richard I had succeeded Henry II in 1189, and it was a fact that Richard deposed most of his Sheriffs, so that he could sell the offices to the highest bidders, to pay for the 'holy' wars. He is also known to have been acting as a judge in 1190

William may also have been Sheriff of Gloucestershire, but there is some doubt concerning this.

William de Bendings, fl 1180, was according to Giraldus Cambrensis, sent to Ireland by Henry II in 1176, as one of four envoys, of whom two were to remain with the Viceroy, Richard fitz Gilbert, Earl of Striguil, and two were to return with Reimund fitz Gerald, whose military exploits had aroused the King's jealousy. Reimund did not at once comply with the Royal mandate, being compelled by the threatening attitude of Donnell to march to the relief of Limerick, a town which he had only lately taken. It is probable, however, that on the evacuation of Limerick, which took place in the same year, soon after the death of the Earl of Striguil, Reimund returned to England, and that de Bendings was one of those that accompanied him
Henry, in 1178, hearing that justice was not always done, chose five members of his private household,; Geoffrey de Luce, Hugh of Gloucester, Ralf de Glanville, William de Bendings and Alan de Furnelle, to hear disputed cases.

Gesta Regis Henrici Secondus 1179

The Bishops, Earls, and Magnates of the realm, being gathered at Windsor, the King, by their counsel, and in the presence of the King, his son (Henry died of fever 1183), divided England into four parts. For each part, he assigned wise men from his Kingdom, and later sent them through the regions of his Kingdom assigned to them, to see that justice was done among the people.

These are the names of those whom the King set over his people, and the shires assigned to them:

................................William de Bending

Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland....................and all the land between the Mersey and the Ribble

So the Lord King, while sojourning in England, examined the judges whom he had appointed, as to whether they had dealt discreetly and well with the men of his realm. And when he learned that the land was much burdened by the great multitude of judges, for there were eighteen in number, on the advice of the wise men in his realm, he chose five, namely two clerics and three laymen, all members of his private household. These five, he commanded to hear all
the complaints of the people, so that, if any case should come before them, which could not be brought to a decision, it should be presented to the King, and determined as might seem good to him, and to the wise men of the realm

William de Bending was a member of the small curia (4).

Maurice Bending died c 1213

Held manors of Hartley Wintney, Wallop Heathmanstreet and Winchfield, Hants

1207. Close Rolls - King John

The King to the Sheriff of Southampton. We bid you make John fitz Hugh, have all the lands of Maurice de Bennenges, which he has in your bailiwick, that is to say, Winchfield and Hartley, with the stock and chattels to be held by you, to answer therefrom to us concerning 20 marks per annum, until 100 marks shall have been paid to us, which the same Maurice owed us for his father. Witness Hugh de Nevill at Woodstock. May 13 1207  

Somehow, the debt must have been paid, for by 1211, Maurice is again recorded as Knight of <@Clement;PT120> Chertsey, holding a half knight's fee in Winchfield, and in 1213, his son is recorded as having all his father's lands in Hampshire.

Adam de Bending (Knight)

Son of William the Justiciar Married Alice de Thurnham Died 1229

Alice de Thurnham inherited from her father, the manors of: Artington, Surrey Brickhill, Bucks Frobury, Hants

Sir Adam de Bending held the manors of: Liss Abbas, Hants Liss Turney, Hants Polling, Hants, Murrel, Hants Elvetham, Hants

Adam and Alice had two children, Walter and Maud.<@Clement>. Walter died in 1234, and his infant son, William, three years later. Thus all Adam's lands passed to Maud, who married Geoffrey Sturmey. Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, was a descendant of Geoffrey Sturmey and Maud de Bending, through the female line which married into the Seymour family, giving them the above manors.

It is interesting to note that, both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, were often entertained by the Seymours of Elvetham.

Crest of Adam de Bending was three bars, and his seal were the words; "SIGILLUM . ATE. DE. BETNEGGIS." (See: Genealogist Vol 5 page 130, Herald and Genealogist No. 431, Archaeologia Cantiana, page 218)

Liss Abbas and Liss Turney were part of the Hundred of Meonstoke, in Hampshire, and had at one time formed part of the Royal Manor of Odiham. They were both granted to Adam's father, by Henry II

It is likely that Adam was in constant attendance at Odiham Castle, then an important Royal Residence. King John regarded it as his principal residence, and visited it twenty six times, staying for long periods, during his reign (1190-1216).

When in 1216, Prince Louis of France, at King John's invitation, invaded England (John's attempt to subdue Magna Carta barons 1215) and took the town of Winchester, and the castles of Reigate, Guildford and Farnham, he beseiged Odiham Castle, 'with great war machines'. The Castle suffered great damage, but was nobly defended by three knights, and their attendants. One of these knights was Adam de Bending.

Adam continued at Odiham, under Henry III. The Castle was repaired and a fragmentary document records,

"In September, 1225, Sir Adam Bending was ordered 50 shillings, the cost of the lead, for the repair of Odiham tower"

Peter de Bending

Married Juliana Held the manor of Winchfield in 1279

In 1290, granted two parts of the manor of Winchfield, Hants, and the advowson, to Ralf de Sandwyche. Peter reserved for himself: one dwelling house, one mill, six virgates of arable, six acres of meadow, twelve acres of wood, forty four acres of heath, and twelve shillings worth of rent with the appurtenances held by John de Cherverdon (5)

On the death of Peter, his widow, Juliana, unsuccessfully claimed dower rights, and the manor passed to another Juliana, the daughter of Ralf de Sandwyche. She married William de Leybourne, and from this time the manor was in the hands of this family.

In 1279, Peter claimed, and was granted: view of frankpledge, the assize of bread and ale, tumbrel and pillory". The significance of this to Lords of Manors is as follows: The established method of keeping order in the manors was the system of frankpledge, by this a group of about ten persons (male, over twelve years) formed a tithing, and were resposible for the behaviour of the rest, and each other. They were on pain of fine, liable to hand over to justice,
anyone in the tithing committing a crime. "View" of frankpledge meant that the Sheriff of the county could enter the manor to check that this was carried out. This right was confirmed at the Assize of Clarendon, 1166, under Henry II. In such cases, fines were taken by the sheriff. For a manorial lord to establish his right ro "view of frankpledge", meant that he could do the work of the sheriff in his own manors, and take the fines. This was accepted as the general rule in1290, under Edward I.

"Assize of bread and ale" - "assize meant standard size and the price, and assize of ale, meant keeping to a standard laid down. Those whe broke this law were fined and ducked. The ducking stool was known as a tumbrel, from the French, tomber - to fall.

Sometimes the offenders were put in the pillory, with the offending bread or ale displayed. Hence the assize of bread and ale, tumbrel and pillory. If this right could be established as the Lord's rather than the sheriff's then the Lord could add the fines to his own revenue from the manor, and this helped to pay the necessary knight's fee to the King.

Granted 50 acres of land to one John de Olney in 1315. John held the other land under Richard de Windsor

William de Bending c1300

Held the manor of Hardmead in 1284, and still held the same in 1303. (VCH. Bucks. IV. 363). Previously held by Sarra de Bending. (Mother?). William laid claim to the advowson of Hardmead church, and obliged the Prior of Merton Priory (Surrey) to establish his claims, in the courts (VCH. Bucks. 366)

William de Bending is sometimes spelled Bennyne, linking him to others with this spelling.

Robert Bendyn c1320

It is tempting to make this man the son of William, and the grandson of Sarra, although there is, so far, no real evidence, except locality and date.

Married Joan, daughter and heiress of John de Halton, widow of Roger Inkpen, Joan died in 1331; the Inkpen estates were entailed, the heir was Nicholas de Inkpen. (VCH. Bucks. IV. 203)

Robert purchased the manor of Compton Giffard, in the hundred of Roborough, Devon. "John, son of Osbert Giffard, and Eva his wife, in consideration of 100 marks, conveyed the Manor of Compton Giffard to Robert Bendyn, and Joan, his wife. (Devon Fine No. 1120)

Extracts from Domesday Book - 1086 - relative to Walter fitz Other

Hortune (Horton, Bucks)

"In Stokes hundred, Walter, son of Other, holds Hortune. It is assessed at ten hides, and on it are nine ploughs. In the demsene are two hides, and on it are two ploughs; and fifteen villeins with five bordars have six ploughs, and there could be a seventh. There are four serfs and one mill worth twenty shillings and meadows for three ploughs. In all, it is worth six pounds. When received sixty shillings. In the time of King Edward six pounds. This manor Eldred
held, a man of Archbishop Stig, and could sell.

Mulshoe (Moseley, Bucks)

In Mulshoe, Ralf holds of Walter, four hides as one manor. There is land for six ploughs. On the demesne are two, and there are nine villeins with seven bordars having four ploughs. There are two serfs, meadow sufficient for two ploughs, woodland to feed one hundred swine. In all it is worth sixty shillings.
When received, one hundred shillings. Time of King Edward, four pounds. This manor, a man of Aric held, and could sell.

Hardmead (Bucks)

Held as a manor of twelve hides

Ettone (Eton, Bucks)

In Burnham hundred, Walter himself holds Ettone. It is assessed at twelve hides. There is land for eight ploughs. In the demesne are three hides, and on it are two ploughs; and fifteen villeins with four bordars have six ploughs. There are four serfs and two mills worth twenty shillings, meadow sufficient for two ploughs, one woodland to feed two hundred swine. From fisheries come one thousand eels. It is all worth six pounds. When received one hundred
shillings. This manor Queen Eddit held.

Burnham (Bucks)

Walter himself holds Burnham. It is assessed at eighteen hides. There is land for fifteen ploughs. In the demesne there are three hides, and on it are three ploughs, and twenty eight villeins with seven bordars have twelve ploughs. There are two serfs, meadow sufficient for three ploughs, woodland to feed six hundred swine, and for supplying shares for the ploughs. In all, it is worth ten pounds; when received, six pounds. In the time of King Edward, ten pounds.
This manor, Elma, a theyn of King Edward held.

Winesflet (Winchfield, Hants)

In the hundred of Hedefele, Chertsey Abbey holds Winesflet. Walter holds it of the Abbey. Then, as now, it stood assessed at five hides. The arable land is adapted for eight ox teams. There are ten villeins and seven bordars with one ox team and a half. Its value in King Edward's time was sixty shillings; now thirty shillings.

Wildehell (Willhall Farm, Alton, Hants)

Walter son of Other holds Wildehell. Oscen held it of King Edward as an alod. It was assessed then as now, at one hide. There is land for one and a half ploughs. One plough there is in demesne, and six bordars with half a plough. There is one church, and one and a half acres of meadow. It is worth forty shillings.

Clement Bending


(1) Knight's fees - payments to the king, based upon the money necessary to equip and support a knight for one year. Manors were assessed on this basis, often as a fraction of a knight's fee, for example, Stephen de Bending's manor at Winchfield was assessed at a quarter of a knight's fee

(2) Henry I had only one legitimate son, William, and one legitimate daughter, Maud. William was drowned at sea. Maud, who was the widow of the Emperor of Germany, Henry V, married Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, in 1128. Her title Empress came from her former husband.
By Geoffrey she had a son, Henry, later to become Henry II of England. (1154).

Henry I died in1135, the barons of the realm having sworn to accept Maud as his successor. In the event, her cousin, Stephen, one of the greatest landowners in England seized the throne. Civil war followed, with the great landowners taking sides. In 1141 Stephen was captured, and Maud was proclaimed Queen. She was never crowned, the citizens of London having driven her from the city. In 1184 Maud left the country. For long periods, one of the her main strongholds had been around the fortified town of Wallingford, and this may explain her connection with William de Windsor. In 1154, Maud's son was crowned, Henry II

(3) Henry II is remebered for fundemental changes that he brought about in the system of Justiec in England. The essence of the new procedures, outside the village (leet) courts, was a division of function between the sheriffs, the juries of local men, and the Royal Justices.

1. The sheriff set up the case 2. The jury found the verdict 3. The justiciar: supervised the trial ruled on questions of law interpretedjurors' questions pronouced the verdict 4. The sheriff carried out the verdict

(4) The Curia Regis was the judicial and administrative body through which the Norman and early Angevin kings rule the country. It was divided into two parts: a small curia, always available for advice to the King, and a full curia of all the nobles and prelates in the land. The latter was called occasionally, when needed for affairs of state. The justiciars (judges) were part of the small curia.

(5) The name still remains in Chiverton Farm, Winchfield.