Alessandro Geraldini


Medieval Bendings - The Origins of the FitzGeralds - Part 2

The next of Walter FitzOther's sons-though not hitherto recognised as such - with whom we have to deal is Maurice. If, because he is once styled Gerald 'de Windsor', the ancestor of the house of FitzGerald was a son of Walter, then a fortiori Maurice was so also, for he is repeatedly styled Maurice 'de Windsor' The great interest of this affiliation is that it carries the name Maurice, afterwards famous in Ireland, a generation further back and takes it to a time when it rarely occurs.(22).

In 1115-9 Abbot Albold, abbot of Bury St Edmunds, grants to Maurice 'de Windleshore' the stewardship of the abbey with its curious privileges, together with the land of the previous steward (dapifer), amounting to three knights' fees,(23) which were increased by the addition of two others to five. Among the witnesses to this charter are 'Robertus de Wyndelshore; Reinaldus de Wyndleshore.' Another of these charters (p. 119) contains King
Stephen's confirmation to Maurice of all his land and his office, etc., etc., as he held them in the time of Henry I. Lastly we have the confirmation of all this to his nephew Ralph de Hastings, who was holding the five fees of the abbey in 1166.

Maurice is mentioned in several charters relating to the abbey; a writ of Henry I. issued during the vacancy is addressed to 'Eadnoth the monk and Maurice the steward (dapifero)....and all the barons of St. Edmund's Honour'(24); and another of his charters, apparently belonging to 1135-48, refers to proceedings before Maurice the dapifer under Henry I. and is itself witnessed by him.(25) Lastly, in a charter of Stephen's queen granted at
Reading, to the Templars Maurice de 'Wyndleshore' is a witness (26).

Maurice was clearly in office or in favour with Henry I., for we find him excused his Danegeld on the Pipe Roll of 1130, and thus learn that he held land in no fewer than eight counties: Dorset, Essex, Northants, Norfolk, Suffolk, Beds., Berks. and Middlesex. The fact that Maurice de Windsor died without issue is proved by the succession of his nephew Ralf as his heir in land and office.

As I have said, the name of Maurice suggests that of Maurice FitzGerald, the first member of his house to take part in the invasion of Ireland. As this suggestion strengthens the received version of their origin, I would call attention to the very interesting and little known document which proves that Maurice FitzGerald was made dapifer of Dt. David's precisely as Maurice de Windsor, his uncle ex hypothesi, had been made dapifer of St. Edmiund's.

It is an inspeximus of certain charters, among which are those of David (FitzGerald), Bishop of St. David's and of his chapter, bestowing on Maurice FitzGerald the office and certain lands, together with that of Henry II. confirming the grant (27). As the terms of the grant have a strong resemblance to those employed in the grant of the same office at St. Edmund's. In each case the grantee received not only the lands which had been held by his predecessor in office, but others in addition. The same document contains for us one more point of interest.

The charter of Peter, Bishop of St. David's (1176-98), confirming the office of dapifer to Maurice's son William, has among its witnesses Walter de 'Vinsor', doubtless the head of the family who was living under Richard I. This is, I think, the only charter that brings one of the FitzGeralds into connexion with a Windsor.

We saw above that among the witnesses to Abbot Albold's charter to Maurice was a Reinald de 'Wyndelshore'. Queen Adeliza (widow of Henry I granted a rent charge at Stanton, Oxon, to the abbey, her charter having as a witness 'Reginaldo de Wind'r' (28); she issued a writ relating to Stanton, 'teste Reinaldo de Wind'r, apud Arondelle'; and her husband William, Earl of Arundel (or of Lincoln) confirmed a gift of a Hertfordshire manor, his charter including as a witness 'Reginaldo de Windleshores'(29). It is suggested that he was the queen's dapifer, who witnesses two of her charters, as Rainald or Reginald dapifer (30). Here then we have not only another member of the family, but another who was a dapifer.

At last we come to Gerald de Windsor (Windesora), ancestor of the house of FitzGerald. It is singular that the Brut y tywysogion, which has so much about him, persistently styles him Gerald the steward (ystiwart), that is to say dapifer. But his grandson and namesake, Gerald 'Cambrensis', the delightful though garrulous historian styles him on one occasion 'Geraldus de Windesora' (31). This appears to be the only ground for making him a son of Walter FitzOther, though the plain saltire borne by Windsors as by the FitzGeralds confirms their common origin, while carrying back the charge, apparently, to a very early date.

Gerald is spoken of by his grandson as the constable and captain (primiplus) of Arnulf de Montgomeri, who raised the castle of Pembroke and placed him in charge thereof under William Rufus. His gallant defence of that fortress against the Welsh and the 'slim' stratagem (figmenta exquisitiora) by which he induced them to abandon the seige are narrated with delight by his descendant (32), who adds that, to strengthen his position in the district, he married Nesta, the sister of Griffith, prince of South Wales, who bore to him famous children, 'by whom the southern coast of Wales was saved for the English and the bulwarks of Ireland stormed.'

The Brut tells us that, in the early days of the reign of Henry I., Gerald was sent with others to Ireland by his lord Arnulf to seek the hand of King Murcard's daughter for him and was successful (33). On the fall of Arnulf with his brothers, Gerald obtained from the king the castle of Pembroke (34), which he seems to have subsequently rebuilt 'in the place called Little Cengarth.' There 'he deposited all his riches, with his wife, his heirs, and all dear to him; he fortified it with a ditch and wall, and a gateway with a lock on it (35).' This was in 1105.

Next year occurred the famous and tragic incident of the surprise of this castle by Owen son of Cadugan at night and Gerald's narrow escape, his wife and children being carried off by the fiery Welshman, an outrage which Gerald later on was able to avenge. Of Gerald's death we have no mention, but in 1135 and 1145 we hear of his 'sons' fighting the Welsh at the head of 'French and Flemings' (36).

On these sons the best authority is their nephew Gerald the historian, whose autobiography contains a passage of great genealogical interest (37).
Towards the end of the reign of Henry II., Rhys ap Griffin, who had come to meet the envoys of the king, namely Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ranulf de Glanville, the chief justice, was sitting at a table in the house of William de Ver, Bishop of Hereford (1186-99), between the bishop and 'Walter FitzRobert, a noble baron, who like the bishop was of the stock of the Clares (Clarensium) (38).

Gerald historian and archdeacon, chaffingly congratulated the Welshman on sitting between two of the Clares (duos Clarenses), of whose inheritance, namely Cardigan, he was in possession (39). The prince turned the jest aside by a graceful compliment, which the bishop returned, and 'after the midday slumber' they all went out on the lawn, where Rhys recited the names of the eight sons and two daughters who represented Nesta's 'matrimonial adventures.'

William FitzGerald ('primaevus') he named first (40), Maurice fourth, and David the bishop last. He spoke of the lands they had acquired in Wales and of those they had conquered in Ireland, adding that 'their conquest there was great if only they could keep it.' And this he added, observes the narrator, 'because these two nations, the Welsh and the Irish, ever feed on the hope that they will recover the lands taken from them by the English.'

It is somewhat singular that Gerald 'Cambrensis', who sang the praises of his family in no measured strains, says nothing, as far as I can find, of Gerald de Windsor's origin or of his Windsor relatives. 'Oh race! oh family! ' he exclaims, 'ever viewed with suspicion, not only for the numbers of the race, but also fro its innate energy. Oh race! of family! sufficient of its self for the conquest of any kingdom, but for the envy their energy excites. (41)'

In another place his ecstacy, as he thinks of his relatives' achievements, leads him into wild hyperbole (42). A few lines before he had drawn a picture of some thirty members of the clan, mounted on splendid horses, and apparently displaying shields bearing the same ensigns, in 1176 (43), a passage, if it could be relied on, which is abviously of great importance for the early use of armorial bearings and for their collateral adoption (44)

There is one point which has to be explained in connexion with the pedigree. The Rotulus de Dominabus (1185) shows us (pp. 18, 21, 46) William de Windsor's widow, Hawys, in the king's gift, with one son William (eighteen years old), who had been in her ward for nine years, and six or seven daughters. This would carry back her marriage to William at least as far as 1166.

William appears to have had an earlier wife, the mother of Walter, his eldest son; but this evidence of the Rotulus shows she can hardly have been Christina de Wiham (as I suggested earlier) who was holding her land on the Gernon fief in 1166. On the other hand, the argument there given as to a Christina having married a Windsor and brought him two manors on the Gernon fief remains unaffected, and is strengthened by the fact that Walter de
Windsor had a daughter and granddaughter respectively named Christina.

Another matter involved as yet in some obscurity is that Maurice de Windsor was succeeded by a sister's son. This cannot be accounted for on the basis of the pedigree as shown, but he and the mother of Ralf de Hastings may have been the children Walter FitzOther by another wife. It is also to be remembered that his lands and office had not come to him by inheritance, and that the succession therefore might not be regular or certain.

J. Horace Round

The Ancestor - 1902 i pp119-126, ii pp 91-98


(22)The only 'Maurice' in Domesday Book is the newly appointed Bishop of London.
(23) Jocelyn de Brakelond, p. 118. Camden Society Series.
(24)Gage's Hundred of Thingoe, p. 276.
(25) ibid. p. 406
(26) Monasticon, vi. 843.
(27)Fourth Report Historical MSS. App. i. p. 383.
(28)Archaeological Journal, xx. 287-8
(29)Ibid. xxii. 153.
(30)Add. MS. 15,350, fos. 5, 5
(31) Itinerarium Kambriae, p. 89. This is, so far as I know, the only mention of him by that name.
(32) Ibid. p. 90.
(33)p. 69 (Rolls Series)
(34)Ibid. p. 77
(35)Ibid. p. 83
(36) See the for all this.
(37) Giraldus Cambrensis (Rolls Series, i. 58-9
(38)Adeliza, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, married Aubrey de Vere, Great Chamberlain, father of Aubrey, first Earl of Oxford (Geoffrey de
Mandeville, p. 390); Walter Fitz Robert (lord of Dunmow) was son of Robert FitzRichard de Clare (Feudal England, pp 475, 575)
(39)See Studies in Peerage and Family History, pp. 211-2.
(40) Compare Expugnatio Hiberniae (Rolls Series), p. 326.
(41)Expugnatiio Hiberniae (Rolls Series), p. 326.
(42)Ibid. p. 335.
(43) Ibid. p. 335
(44)The thirty warriors in question would not be all descended from Gerald even in the female line.