Gouerges : or Guierche.

Geoffroi de la Guierche is on the Dives Roll, and appears as a great landowner in Domesday, under the Anglicized form of Geoffrey Wirce, or Lawirce. "He was a young Breton of rank, who probably had a command in the contingent of Alan Fergaunt, Count of Brittany. His name was derived from the seigneury of 'La Guerche,' a town near Rennes, on the borders of Brittany, called so from an ancient chapel of 'la guerche' (Gallic for La Vierge, the Virgin, or Our Lady). There is an account of the seigneurs of this place and Pouence (which they also held) in the rare work of Pere du Paz ('Hist. Genealogique de plusieurs Maisons illustres de Bretagne'): from which we learn that Geoffrey was son of Silvester, lord of those places, Chancellor of Brittany, who, becoming a churchman after his wife's death, was in 1075 consecrated Bishop of Rennes, and died such in 1096. When he entered the church, his son and heir, Geoffrey, succeeded to his estates."—A. S. Ellis.

Long before this date, however, Geoffrey had been established in the barony he had won by his sword at the Conquest—a very considerable one. He obtained Medelton (Melton Mowbray) and twenty-six other manors in Leicestershire, twelve in Warwickshire, the entire Isle of Axholme, with the manors of Gainsborough, Somerby, and Blyborough, in Lincolnshire, and Adlingfleet in Yorkshire. At the time of the Survey he had also the custody of Count Alberic's Warwickshire land. His principal residence is believed to have been at Melton, where he had a market. He was a benefactor to Selby Abbey, and St. Mary's, York; and "bestowed no mean share of his lands and tithes on the monastery of St. Nicholas at Angiers, particularly the church of Kirkby in Warwickshire, which, being decayed, he had re-built in honour of the Holy Virgin and St. Denys. The monks then established a priory or cell there, and the place is still known as Monk's Kirby."—Ibid. One of these charters makes it clear that he had no family; as the grant is made "for his own soul, Alueve his wife's, and his friends" omitting all mention of children. "He was back in Brittany in 1093, for, as 'Galfridus de Guirchia,' we find him witnessing a deed of 'Hervey, son of Goranton' (Lobineau, Hist. Bretagne, vol. ii. 217a), and died soon after, for next year his heir founded the Priory at Pouence. Whether he left England of his own accord, or was banished for implication in the rebellion in favour of Duke Robert, does not appear: but certain it is in the next reign Nigel de Albini was in possession of all his lands, except Adlingfleet (which Lovetot got), and confirmed his predecessor's grant to Selby Abbey."—Ibid. The heir who succeeded him as Lord of La Guerche and Pouence was Walter, surnamed Hay. "Walter had a son Geoffrey, but his daughter Emma inherited these two places, and her descendants adopted the name of La Guerche, and bore Gules three leopards passant Or, which may have been the coat of the old stock."—Ibid. A Josbert de la Guircht is mentioned at Dover in 1189-90 (Rotul. Pip.).

-- Cleveland

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