Robert de Saint-Leger

Ulcombe Church, Kent
Inscription on the tomb of the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Anthony St. Leger, Ulcombe Church, Kent

Robert de St-Leger came from St-Leger near Avranches, Normandy and was one of the companions of William the Conqueror in 1066.

Legend holds that when William the Conqueror fell over in the sand, whilst disembarking from his ship upon landing in Pevensey Bay, it was his knight-in-attendance, Robert de Saint Leger who supported him by the arm and helped him to his feet. It was at this point that William the Conqueror declared that he had seized England with both hands. Robert de St. Leger's gesture was to become a symbol of the St. Legers unwavering support for their monarch. After the conquest Robert spent some time at Bexley before he succeeded the earl of Eu in the manor of Ulcombe. Ulcombe became the family home for the next six centuries, held of the Archbishop of Canterbury on condition of service in the King's army.

Robert de St-Leger's son, William de St-Leger,and his grandson Clarembald are recorded as having granted lands to Battle abbey in the reign of Henry I. Robert's great-great-grandson Ralph de St-Leger, accompanied Richard the Lionheart in the Third Crusade to the Holy Land and fought at the siege of Acre in 1191, earning for himself the title of 'the Crusader'. In the reign of Edward I, John, Thomas and Ralph de St. Leger earned themselves knighthoods for their bravery in the battle at Caerlaverock.

Shortly after the Conquest, the St. Leger family had grown to become the fourth largest landholder in Sussex. Today the family name of St. Leger is associated with the annual horse-race held in France, England and Ireland, called 'The St. Leger', which was instituted in 1776, by Colonel St. Leger, of Park Hill, near Doncaster.

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