Geoffroi du Bec


Grimsthorpe Castle - from Jones' Views published in 1819.

"Goisfrid de Bech," a great baron in Hertfordshire, where he held as tenant-in-chief, 1086 (Domesday), has sometimes been erroneously confused with Goisfrid Mareschal, ancestor of the Marshals and earls of Pembroke. Ralph " de Bech," who held under him in the aforesaid county, and Gilbert Crispin, abbot of Westminster, are said by Norman People to have been his brothers and the sons of William Crispin I, who was the son of Gilbert Crispin I, Seigneur de Tillieres. From what source this information was derived is not disclosed, but so far as abbot Gilbert is concerned, it is known to be true. The conclusion that Geoffry and Ralph were brothers is plausible because they bore the same surname and the one held from the other. If they were brothers of Gilbert Crispin, the abbot, it could account for Ralph having held Pelham and Eldedrie, Hertfordshire, from the see of London in 1086 (Domesday), which came under the former's jurisdiction.

M. Planche asserts that Geoffry du Bec may have been identical with Geoffry Crispin, lord of Chateauceaux, now Champtoceaux, overlooking the Loire in Anjou on the border of Brittany. It was alternately possessed by both, but at the time of the Crispin occupation belonged to the counts of Anjou. Geoffry Crispin did not live until the latter half of the 12th century, when he executed a charter without date as lord of Chateauceaux.

Mr. Stacy Grimaldi is of the opinion that Geoffroi du Bec and Toustain Fitz Rou Le Blanc, occasionally designated du Bec, the standard-bearer at Senlac, were brothers and the sons of Rolf, who, he states, was the brother of Gilbert Crispin I, seigneur de Tillieres. Toustain's father was certainly named Rou or Rolf from Bec-aux-Couchois as recorded by Orderic Vital and Wace, who could well have been the brother of Gilbert Crispin I, for there is nothing on record which conflicts with this assumption.

The surname of Geoffry and Ralph du Bec suggests that they were rather the brothers of Toustain than abbot Gilbert Crispin, for it still remains to be shown that the Crispin family held a barony of Bec at this time. However this may be, Ralph du Bec held, in addition to his estates, depending from the see of London, possessions in Cambridge from Picot de Cambridge in 1086 (Domesday), and from the former descended the Pelhams, lords Pelham, dukes of Newcastle and earls of Chichester. Walter du Bec or Beke, a very powerful lord who, Burke says, was at Hastings, received Eresby in Lincoln and was an under-tenant in Buckingham. By his wife Agnes, daughter of Hugh Pincerna, he left with other issue Henry, ancestor of the lords Willoughby.

--(Falaise Roll)

Only a tall stone pillar remains of the ancient Manor House at Eresby. Lord Willoughby de Eresby later moved to Grimsthorpe Castle.

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