The Berkeley family is unique in having an unbroken male line of descent
from a Saxon ancestor before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 to
the 20th Century. The family descends from Harding,
the son of Eadnoth (Alnod), who as
"Marshal" or "Staller", a high official under King Edward the Confessor.
A study of dates makes it probable that this Harding had a son of the same
name, perhaps the man who played a distinguished part in the Crusading
Wars, helping King Baldwin I of Jerusalem, to win the battle of Jaffa in
1102. The son of the crusader would then be Robert
FitzHarding of Berkeley, afterwards styled Robert de Berkeley.
The town of Berkeley is located in the county of Gloucestershire and is
situated about five miles west of Dursley and eighteen southwest of Gloucester,
and northeast of Bristol. It was chartered by King Edward I. to be governed
by a mayor and alderman, but the corporation was annulled in 1885. The
place confers the title of Earl and Baron on the Berkeley family. The manor
embraces nearly thirty parishes and is one of the largest in England; it
was given by William the Conqueror to Roger de
Berkeley, Lord of Dursley. Having espoused the cause of King
Stephen in opposition to Empress Maud, the third Roger
de Berkeley was deposed by King Henry II., and the title and
estates were conferred upon Robert FitzHarding, a wealthy citizen of Bristol.
In the Domesday Book, the name of Berkeley is written Berchelai, whereas
the Saxons wrote it Beoncenlan. It is supposed to have been so called from
Beonce, the beech-tree, because it once grew very plentifully there. The
town is one of the ancient boroughs, of which there are five in Gloucestershire,
in the time of King Edward I.
At the time that William obtained the crown of England, he rewarded Roger
de Berkeley with the manor of Berkeley. Roger was an ancient
Saxon nearly allied in blood to King Edward the Confessor, and who supported
William at the battle of Hastings. Roger, thus, assumed the name of Roger
de Berkeley. Roger de Berkeley founded the family of Berkeley in England
at the Norman Conquest. He was a leading chief in the army of William the
Conqueror. He is styled, in the 20th year of King William, as "Roger Senior
of Berkeley" from the possession of Berkeley Castle, co. Gloucester. "The
castle." says Rudder, "was began in the 17th year of Henry I., by Roger
de Berkeley the 2nd, and finished by Roger the 3rd, in the reign of King
Stephen. Further additions were made during the reign of King Edward III."
This Roger bestowed several churches upon the priory of Stanley, with the
tithes and lands, and being shorn a monk there, in 1091, restored the lordship
of Stoteshore, which he had long detained from that convent. Since he had
no issue, he was succeeded at his death by his nephew, William.
From "The Peerage, Baronetage,
and Knightage of the British Empire", "The Earl of Berkeley", pp 70-71
(1882). Also Burke's "Peerage and Baronetage", pp 232-233.
"The history of the peerage of the Earl of Berkeley, unquestionably feudal
in its origins, which has been more or less recognized in its territorial
character at various epochs, is of exceptional importance in bearing upon
the history of English dignities, and the gradual obsolescence and final
extinction of barony by tenure."
"Harding of Bristol, said by genealogists
to have been the son of a king of Denmark and companion to the Conqueror,
has been conjectured by a modern historian to be identical with Harding
(a contemporary of Harold and William, son of Eadnoth
the Staller, an officer of Edward the Confessor, who survived the Conquest;
but this identification can only be regarded as `not improbable.' His son,
Robert FitzHarding, of Bristol, obtained
from Henry, Duke of Normandy, afterwards Henry II, a grant of the hundred
of Berkeley, called Berkeley Herness. He granted all the churches in Berkeley
Herness to St. Augustine's Abbey, Bristol (now the cathedral), of which
he is the reputed founder, and where he was buried, 1171. His only surviving
son, Maurice de Berkeley, obtained
in 1189 confirmations from King Richard I., and from Queen Eleanor of Berkeley
Herness. `to be held in barony by the service of five knights.' He married
Alice, daughter of Roger
de Berkeley, of Dursley, the former Lord of Berkeley. Their
eldest son, Robert de Berkeley, obtained a charter of confirmation from
King Richard I., in 1199. He was one of the Barons at war with King John,
and died May 13, 1219. He was succeeded by Thomas,
his brother, whose grandson, Thomas de Berkeley,
6th Baron by tenure, had writs of summons to parliament from June 24, 1295
(the 23rd year of King Edward I.), to May 15, 1321 (the 14th year of King
Edward II.). In 1301, 1302, and 1305 he was serving in the Scottish wars
with Maurice and John his son; prisoner
at the battle of Bannockburn, in June 1314; Justice of West Wales, 1317.
He died July 23, ???. His younger son, James, was Bishop of Exeter, 1326."
William de Berkeley, 2nd feudal lord
of Berkeley Castle (at right), founder of the Abbey of Kingswood in 1139,
was succeeded by his son and heir, Roger.
de Berkeley, Lord of Dursley, adhering to the Empress Maud (an
adherence, however, denied by Smith and Fosbroke, in the Lives of the Berkeleys,
page 11), "underwent", says Dugdale, "a very hard fate, through the perfidiousness
and cruelty of Walter, brother of Milo, Earl of Hereford, his seeming friend
(and kinsman by consanguity), being treacherously seized on, stripped naked,
exposed to scorn, put into fetters, and thrice drawn by rope around his
neck, on a gallows, at his own castle gates, with threats that if he did
not deliver up his castle to the Earl, he would suffer a miserable death;
and when he was, by this barbarous usage, almost dead, carried to prison,
there to endure further tortures." He was succeeded by his son, Roger.
de Berkeley, living in 1165, in the 11th year of King Henry
II., the last of the original family of Berkeley, of Berkeley Castle, had
a son and daughter as follows:
Berkeley, heiress to Roger de Berkeley, married, at the instigation
of King Henry II., Maurice, son of
Robert FitzHarding, son of Harding,
called Robert Lord Berkeley, and his wife, Eva,
daughter of Estmond, Earl of Mercia,
and his wife, Godiva, sister of William
the Conqueror. One source shows the grandfather of Maurice as Eadnoth,
a wealthy merchant of Bristol. Alice founded the religious house called
Magdalen's, near Bristol, and was its patroness; dying in March 12, 1170-71,
she was buried beside her husband, between the stalls of the Abbot and
the Prior. He founded the Abbey of St. Augustine's in Bristol, and dying,
February 5, 1170-71 (one source has the death as June 11, 1190), was buried
in the quire thereof. He is supposed to have been a canon in the Abbey.
This Robert FitzHarding was conferred, for his attachment to the Empress
Maud, the lordship of Berkeley and Berkeley-Hernesse, the confiscated possessions
of the above Roger de Berkeley, the adherent to King Stephen; but, to reconcile
the parties, King Henry, who had restored to Roger his manor and castle
of Dursley, caused an agreement to be concluded between them that the heiress
of the ousted lord should be given in marriage to the heir of the new baron;
and thus passed the feudal castle of Berkeley to another chief, Maurice,
who assumed the surname of Berkeley and became the feudal lord of Berkeley
upon the death of his brother, Henry. He was the first of his family to
dwell in the Berkeley Castle. He fortified the castle and founded two hospitals,
one at Lowring between Berkeley and Dursley, and that at Longbridge to
the north of Berkeley, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. He was born in 1120.
Maurice died on June 16, 1189, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Robert.
(Ref: The Ligon Family). Alice and Maurice had six sons and one daughter
Robert, married Helena, daughter
of Robert FitzHarding.
Robert, who, in the turbulent
times of King John, forfeited his castle and lands by his participation
in the rebellious proceedings of the barons, but upon submission, and paying
the king a fine of 1,000 pounds had livery of his lands, and had all restored
except the castle and town of Berkeley, in the 1st year of King Henry III.
Robert married (1) Julianna, daughter of William de Pontlarch and niece
to the great Earl of Pembroke, Earl Marshal of England and afterwards Protector
of King Henry III.; (2) Luci, who afterwards married Hugh de Gournay. He
died May 13, 1219, without issue from either marriage, and was succeeded
by his brother, Thomas.
Maurice, married and had Thomas;
William. No details known.
Henry, with his brother, Richard,
accompanied William, King of Scotland, into that country when he returned
from being a prisoner in England, became the ancestors of many eminent
families in Scotland, France, and Ireland.
an only daughter, married Osbert
Gifford; and dying, according to the Abbot Newland, in the year 1190, was
interred in the church of Brentford, co. Middlesex in the building of which
he (Gifford) had been a great benefactor.
de Berkeley was born in 1170. In the 8th year of Henry III.
(1223-24), upon giving his two nephews as pledges for his fidelity, he
had restitution of Berkeley Castle in 1223. He married, circa 1217, Joan,
daughter of Ralph de Somery, Lord of
Campden, co., Gloucester, and niece of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke.
Thomas died on November 29, 1243, aged seventy-three, and was buried in
the south aisle of St. Augustine's abbey. Thomas was succeeded by his eldest
son, Maurice. He and his wife left six sons and one daughter as follows:
de Berkeley, paying 100 pounds had livery of his inheritance,
accompanied his father in the wars of France, in the 41st year of Henry
III., and was in the expedition with Prince Edward against the Welsh. In
the 42nd, 43rd, 44th, and 47th year of Henry III., he was summoned to attend
to the king against Llewellyn ap Griffith, Prince of Wales, then in arms.
He appears to have joined the insurrectionary lords, for which his lands
were seized by the crown. He married in 1240 Isabel,
daughter of Maurice de Credonia, alias
Creoun, a great baron in Lincolnshire, and his wife Isabel,
sister of William de Valence, Earl of Pembroke (uterine sister and brother
of Henry III.). He died seized of his barony of Berkeley, April 4, 1281,
and was buried in the north aisle of St. Augustine's abbey in Bristol.
He and his wife had four sons and one daughter as follows:
Margaret, married Anseleme Basset,
of Basset's Court in Uley, Gloucestershire.
de Berkeley, 2nd oldest son, 1st Lord Berkeley, known as "The
Wise", was born at Berkeley Castle in 1245, was a very wise and provident
person, keeping exact accounts with all his bailiffs and stewards. He had
200 attendants in his family, of knights, esquires, yeomen, grooms, and
pages, besides husbandmen. He was with the king at the siege of Kenilworth
Castle, October, 1266, and afterwards in the Welsh wars, for which service
he had a special grant, in the time of King Edwards I., for hunting with
his own dogs in the king's forest of Mendip and chase of Kingswood. In
short, he was in most of the battles fought in Wales, Scotland, and France.
He participated in the victory of Falkirk and the siege of Caerlaverock,
won July 23, 1298, and he was taken prisoner at the battle of Bannockburn
in June 1314, and paid a large sum for his ransom. He was summoned to parliament
as a Baron from June 24, 1295, to May 15, 1321. He was ambassador to Rome;
one of the commissioners to treat of peace between England and France;
and Constable of England. He married circa 1267 Joane
(Jane), daughter of William de Ferrers,
Earl of Derby, and his wife, Margaret,
daughter of Roger de Quincy, Earl of
Winchester. Thomas died July 23, 1321, and was buried at St. Augustine's
abbey. His wife, Jane, died March 19, 1309. They had the following
Maurice, was killed in a tournament
in Kenilworth Jousts while his father was living.
Simon, died unmarried.
Robert, of Alkington, died 1315;
married (1) Joan ____.
Maud. No details known.
de Berkeley, 2nd Lord Berkeley, the eldest son, known as "The
Magnanimous," said to be born in April 1281 (must have been 1271, otherwise
his son was born when he was only 12 years of age!) and died on May 31,
1326, having married in 1289 (1), both being very young, Eva
(Eve), daughter of Eudo (Eudes) le
Zouche, a descendant of Saire de Quincy,
sister of Willard Lord Zouche of Harringworth; (2) Isabel Clare, daughter
of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and his first wife, Alice le Brun.
He received, in his father's lifetime, summons to parliament from August
6, 1308 to May 15, 1321. In 1312, he was made Governor of Gloucester and,
in 1314, Governor of the town and castle of Berwick-upon-Tweed. He distinguished
himself in the Scottish wars from 1295 to 1318, and was present at the
siege of Carlaverock in July 1300. In 1315, he was constituted Justice
of South Wales and had custody of all the castles there. In 1319, by the
title of the king's beloved kinsman, he was made steward of the duchy of
Aquitaine; but in 1321, joining Thomas Plantaganet, Earl of Lancaster,
he was committed prisoner to Wallingford Castle, where he died December
5, 1314. Isabel d.s.p. 1333. The children by the first marriage were as
Thomas, ancestor of the Berkeleys
of Wymondham, co. Leicester; married the daughter and heir of John Hamelin,
John, d.s.p. 1316, married Hawise
James, who was rector of Slimbridge,
and in the year 1326, consecrated Bishop of Exeter.
Isabel, died unmarried.
Margaret, died unmarried.
Maurice, who died at Calais,
in the 21st year of Edward III., having married Margaret Berkeley, daughter
and heiress of Maurice Berkeley, of Uley, by whom he was the ancestor of
the family of Stoke-Gifford. See below for the continuation of this lineage.
John, Constable of Bristol Castle,
from whom the Berkeleys of Shropshire are descended.
Eudo, rector of Llanbeder, co.
Peter , a dignitary in the church
Isabel, married (1) Robert Clifford,
Lord Clifford; (2) Thomas Musegrove (Musegrave), Lord Musegrove.
In 1327 King Edward
II was horribly murdered in the room whose windows are in
the centre of this
picture of Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire
de Berkeley, 3rd Lord Berkeley, known as "The Rich," was born
in 1293. In 1327 he was made joint custodian of the deposed King Edward
II, whom he received at Berkeley Castle, but being commanded to deliver
over the government to his fellow custodians, Lord Maltravers and Sir Thomas
Gournay, he left there to go to Bradley "with heavy cheere perceiving what
violence was intended." As an accessory to the murder of the deposed king,
he was tried by a jury of 12 knights in the 4th year of King Edward III.,
but was honorably acquitted. He married about 1320 (1) Margaret Mortimer,
daughter of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, and in 1347, (2) Catherine,
widow of Peter le Veel, of Tortworth, co. Gloucester, and daughter of John
Cliveton, of Charfield.. This lord having adhered to the interests
of the Queen, Mortimer, and Prince Edward, afterwards the third of that
name, furnished "the only precedent," says Smith, "of a peer being tried
by knights, as the peers would have been both judges and jurors." He first
assumed a miter for his crest. He was summoned to parliament from June
14, 1329 to November 20, 1360. Thomas de Berkeley died October 27,
1361, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Maurice, of the first marriage.
He and his first wife, Margaret,
had the following children:
Thomas and his second wife,
Catherine, had the following children:
Maurice, his successor
Joan, wife of Reginald Cobham,
de Berkeley was born 21 January 1351 in Wotton, Gloucestershire,
England, christened 23 January 1251/2, and died in 1428 in Beverstone,
Gloucestershire. He married first Elizabeth,
born about 1353 in Beverstone, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Sir
John and Lady Goda
Thomas, born June 7, 1348, d.s.p.
Maurice, born May 27, 1349,
Edmund, born July 10, 1350,
ancestor of the Berkeleys of Beverstone.
born in Beverstone, Gloucestershire, England, died shortly before 8 December
1478, buried St. James Priory, Dudley, Stafford, England. She married
about 1420, John Sutton,
Baron Dudley, born 25 December 1400 at Dudley Castle, Stafford, England,
christened in Barton, Derbyshire, England, and died 30 September 1487 in
Stafford, England, buried at St. James Priory, Dudley, Stafford, England.
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