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Vol II File 6: The Paternal Ancestry of Homer Beers James

8. Bellomont Line (Earls of Leicester)

The following is from Crispin and Macary, pg. 87:

"Wace records "Rogier li veil cil de Belmont," but in the manuscript in the British Museum the name is Robert, which is correct, since Roger remained in Normandy at the head of the council to assist Queen Matilda in the government of that duchy. Roger is conceded to have been the wealthiest, noblest, and most trusted of the seigniors of Normandy. He was the son of Humphrey de Viellers, grandson of Thurold de Pontaudemer, a descendant of the kings of Denmark, through Bernard the Dane, the companion of Duke Rollo the Dane. Lofty as was his ancestry, he adopted the title of the family of his wife, Adelina, Countess of Meulent, Meulant, Mellent, later Meulan used by his posterity. He contributed sixty vessels to the fleet of Duke William and was represented at Senlac by his son Robert, whom William of Poitiers and Oderic Vital state was "a novice in arms." Robert was rewarded with ninety manors in Warwick, Leicester, Wilts, and also Northampton. He and his brother Henry, afterwards Earl of Warwick, were among the barons who reconciled King William and his son, Duke Robert Curthose, in 1081. He was known after the death of his mother as Count of Meulent and as such in 1082 sat in the French Parliament, as a peer of France. With his brother, he espoused the cause of King William Rufus and after his death that of King Henry, by whom he was created Earl of Leicester. He married Elizabeth Vermandois, daughter of the Count of Vermandois, and he had issue: Emma, born 1102; Waleran and Robert, twins, born 1104; and Hugh the Poor, afterwards Earl of Bedford, and the following other daughters, Adeline, Amicia, Albreda, and Isabel. Robert de Beaumont married Godehilde, daughter of Raoul de Toeni (Toni) II, who bore him no children and from whom he was separated by 1090. When between fifty and sixty, he married secondly Lady Elizabeth, who was young, and William de Warren II, Earl of Warren and Surrey, supplanted Robert in her affections, so that she ultimately deserted him, which affected his mind and hurried him to his death in 1118."

The following is taken from Burke, pg. 42.

9. Berkeley Line

Ref: Burke, pp. 43-47.

Ref: "The Ligon Family".

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 was "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."

[Editors Note: This castle was visited by the Homer Beers James, the author, and his wife in July, 1993.]

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.

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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."

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Another branch of the Berkeley family which joins with the above is shown here below:

9. Maurice Berkeley, of Uley, co. Gloucester, Knight, (son of Maurice Berkeley, Baron Berkeley, of Berkeley Castle), died at the siege of Calais, in the 21th year of Edward III., leaving by Margaret Berkeley, his wife, a son and daughter as follows:

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