From St.-Jean-d'Abbetot, canton de Colbosc, in the arrondissement of Havre, of which the Seigneurie belonged to the Chamberlains of Tankerville. The fief was inherited by Amaury, a cadet of the family, thence named Amaury d'Abbetot, who was the father of Urso, Viscount of Worcester, and Robert named from his office Le Dispencer (see p. 283). The name continued in Normandy, mentioned in various charters quoted by M. d'Anisy (v. Recherches sur le Domesday) till the reign of Philip Augustus, when it appears, for the last time, in a list of the Norman gentry.

Urso the Viscount, or Urso of Worcester, as he is styled in Domesday, held a great domain in that county, as well as in Hereford, Warwick, and Gloucestershire, and "earned an evil notoriety which lasted long after he was dead. It is mentioned in the Survey that: 'Urso the sheriff, had so oppressed the tenants on the virgate of land at Droitwich belonging to Brictric's late manor of Sodbury, that they cannot now pay the salt due from them.' This is not the only instance of his rapacity; and the lands of the see of Worcester and of the abbeys of Evesham and Pershore, were systematically despoiled by him without redress. His brother Robert, the King's Despencer, aided and abetted him. Urso gave lands belonging to the see in dowry with his own daughter, despite remonstrance and appeal."_A. S. Ellis. Worst of all, while building his castle at Worcester, he encroached upon some ground that had been consecrated as the cemetery of the adjoining convent. For this sacrilege the malediction of the Church was pronounced upon him by the Archbishop of York, "with mine and that of all holy men, unless thou removest thy castle from hence; and know of a truth that thine offspring shall not long hold the land of St. Mary to their heritage." This malediction, preserved in an old couplet,

"Hightest thou Urse,
Have thou the curse:"

seems in no wise to have troubled or disturbed its recipient; yet, though thus insensible to the thunders of the Church, Urso was himself among her benefactors. He was the founder of Malvern Priory, which became a cell to Westminster Abbey. The disregarded prophecy did not halt in fulfilment; for the threatened forfeiture came to pass in the next following generation. His son Roger was banished the realm for slaying one of Henry's I.'s household; and his confiscated estates granted to Walter de Beauchamp, the husband of his sister, Emmeline. It was a princely gift. "Urso d'Abitot," says Nash, "had manors in almost every part of the county. Being hereditary Sheriff, his office was to keep this part of the newly conquered kingdom in subjection; it was necessary, therefore, that his power should be very great." Three of these manors, Croome d'Abitot, or Earl's Croome, Ridmarley d'Abitot, and Dabitot's Lawerne, still bear the name of their first Norman lord. Nor did it die out in the county. The Beauchamps held his lands and took his place as hereditary Sheriffs; but the kith and kin of Urso d'Abitot were to be found in Worcestershire at least six hundred years after his death. "Some of the name of D'Abitote continued in Ridmarley till within this century" (this was written in 1782), "lived at the Down-house, and were called DAbitotes de la Downe de Ridmarley. They married into considerable families. Osbert D'Abitote married the daughter of Sir Geffrey Moody: William their son married Draycote: and John the son of William married Washburne. This John had issue Walter and Edmund, from whom are derived two families: the one settled in Herefordshire: the other continued in Worcestershire: and Thomas, the heir of the Worcestershire branch, was alive in Mr. Habingdon's time" (temp. Charles I.), "but the family are now extinct."_Nash's Worcestershire. The line seated at Croome had ended long before. "Crombe was held from the time of Osbert D'Abitot (1283) of William de Beauchamp; and in 1483 William D'Abitot held half a knight's fee in Crombe, which William his ancestor formerly held. In this William, or his son, the male line ended. The females of this family married with Verney, Langeston, Ryce, Child, and Townley, by which means the estate was divided among these persons."_Ibid. In Derbyshire "a branch of the ancient house of Abitot, settling at Barlow, is supposed to have taken their name from that place, and possessed it for several generations."_Lysons.

-- Cleveland

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