William de Mohun

Dunster Castle, Somerset
Dunster Castle, Somerset
Photo © Steve Edge, Aug. 2005

This ancestor of the first Earls of Somerset is named by Wace amongst the Norman barons at Senlac, but simply as "le Viel Willame de Moion" (l. 13,620). Deriving his name from a vill three leagues south of St. Lô. we learn of him that he had with him many companions, a following worthy of an emperor, This William de Moion, he tells us, had in his train all the great lords.

The services of "Monsier de Moion" were sufficiently appreciated to obtain for him the grant of the lordships of Clehangre, in the county of Devon, and Sutton, in the county of Wilts, with fifty-five others in the county of Somerset; Dunster Castle being apparently his caput baroniae and principal residence, near which he founded a priory and made it a cell to that at Bath, giving to it the Church of St. George in Dunster, as also the lordship of Alcombe, with the tithes of all his vineyards and arable lands at Dunster and Karampton.

Of his age at the time of the Conquest we have no means of judging and the epithet "le Viel" may simply signify "the elder," and not imply "old" in the fullest sense of the word.

He appears to have survived the Conqueror, and was buried in the Priory of Bath. Of his parentage we are equally ignorant. He may have been descended from one of the same family as Raoul, surnamed Mouin, the reported assassin of Robert, the Conqueror's father; for the name is spelt indifferently Moion, Moun, and Moyne.

By his wife, he had a son named after him; and his son, a third William, was the first Earl of Somerset. In his foundation charter of the priory at Bruton he distinctly calls himself "Willielmus de Moyne, comes Somersetensis." From the time of the Conquest to that of this Earl, history is silent respecting the deeds of the De Mohuns.

From this family descended also the earls of Dorset in the time of Stephen and a branch of the barons of Okehampton. --(Planche)

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