Humphrey with the Beard

Humphrey with the Beard (died before 1113) was a Norman soldier and landed aristocrat, the earliest known member of the Bohun family who took part in the Norman conquest of England as one of the original companions at Hastings.[1]

Humphrey may have been a relative of William the Conqueror, probably through one of Humphrey's marriages. He was married three times, as his donation of a plow and garden to the nuns of Abbaye Saint-Amand at Rouen states, but the names of his wives are unknown. This donation is witnessed by William as comes (count), indicating that he had not yet succeeded to the throne of England and was still only Duke of Normandy. This suggests that Humphrey was advanced in age by 1066, which corroborates the description of him given at line 13,583 of the Roman de Rou of Wace: De Bohun le Vieil Onfrei ("from Bohun the old Humphrey").[1] His nickname, "with the beard" (cum barba), was a distinguishing one in eleventh-century Normandy, where the custom was to shave the face and back of the head.[2]

At the time of the Conquest Humphrey possessed the honour of Bohun (today comprising two communes, Saint-André-de-Bohon and Saint-Georges-de-Bohon) in western Normandy. After the Conquest he received an honour with its seat at Tatterford in Norfolk, as recorded in Domesday Book (1086). The small size of his reward in England, despite his relations with William's family, may be a result of his age. He later donated the church of Saint-Georges-de-Bohon to the Abbey of Marmoutier. By his wives he left three sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Robert, predeceased him unmarried, and his second son, Richard, was the progenitor, in the female line, of the Bohuns of Midhurst. His youngest son and namesake is commonly numbered Humphrey I because by his marriage he was "the founder of the fortunes of his family".[1]



  1. ^ a b c J. R. Planché, The Conqueror and his Companions (London, 1874), II, 63–66.
  2. ^ It is first recorded in a later chronicle of Llanthony Prima, edited by William Dugdale in the Monasticon Anglicanum (VI.134): Dominus Humfredus de Bohun, cum barba, qui prius venit cum Willielmo Conquestore in Angliam de Normannia, cognatus dicti Conquestoris. . . ("Lord Humphrey de Bohun, with the beard, who first came with William the Conqueror to England from Normandy, a relative of the said Conqueror"), cited in Melville M. Bigelow, "The Bohun Wills," American Historical Review, 1:3 (1896), 414–15.