WILLIAM DE WARREINE - William de Warren

Castle Acre
Castle Acre - Photo © Ron Strutt April, 2005
Castle Acre Priory
Castle Acre Priory - Photo © David Orsborne, April 27, 2006

William de Warren, Earl of Warren, in Normandy, a near relation of the Conqueror's, came into England with that Prince, and having distinguished himself at the battle of Hastings, obtained an immense portion of the public spoliation. He had large grants of lands in several counties, amongst which were the Barony of Lewes, in Sussex, and the manors of Carletune and Beningtun, in Lincolnshire. So extensive indeed were those grants, that his possessions resembled more the dominions of a sovereign prince, than the estates of a subject. He enjoyed, too, in the highest degree, the confidence of the king, and was appointed joint justice-general, with Richard de Benefactis, for administering justice throughout the whole realm. When citing some great disturbers of the public peace to appear before him and his colleague, and those refusing to attend, he took up arms, and defeating the rebels in a battle at Fagadune, he is said, for the purpose of striking terror, to have cut off the right foot of each of his prisoners. Of those rebels, Ralph Waher or Guader, Earl of Norfolk, and Roger, Earl of Hereford, were the ringleaders. His lordship was likewise highly esteemed by Kind William Rufus, and created by that monarch, Earl of Surrey. He m. Gundred, daughter of the Conqueror, and had issue two sons and two daughters. This potent noble built the castle of Holt; and founded the priory of Lewes, in Sussex. He resided principally at the castle of Lewes, and had besides Castle-Acre, in Norfolk, and noble castles at Coningsburgh and Sandal.

He died in July, 1089: and Dugdale gives the following curious account of his parting hour. "It is reported that this Earl William did violently detain certain lands from the monks of Ely; for which, being often admonished by the abbot, and not making restitution, he died miserably. And, though his death happened very far off the isle of Ely, the same night he died, the abbot lying quietly in his bed, and meditating on heavenly things, heard the soul of this earl, in its carriage away by the devil, cry out loudly, and with a known and distinct voice, Lord have mercy on me. Lord have mercy on me. And moreover, that the next day after, the abbot acquainted all the monks in chapter therewith. And likewise, that about four days after, there came a messenger to them from the wife of this earl, with one hundred shillings for the good of his soul, who told them, that he died the very hour that the abbot had heard the outcry. But that neither the abbot, nor any of the monks would receive it; not thinking it safe for them to take the money of a damned person." "If this part of the story," adds Dugdale, "as to the abbot's hearing the noise be no truer than the last, viz. - that his lady sent them one hundred shillings, I shall deem it to be a mere fiction, in regard the lady was certainly dead about three years before." The earl was succeeded by his elder son, William de Warren, Earl of Warren and Surrey, who married Eizabeth, daughter of the great Earl of Vermandois, and widow of Robert, Earl of Mellent, and dying in 1135, left issue, William de Warren, Earl of Warren and Surrey, a crusader, whose only daughter and heir, Isabel de Warren, married 1st., William de Blois, Earl of Moreton, natural son of King Stephen, but by him had no issue and 2ndly, Hameline Plantagenet, (natural brother of Henry II.,) who assumed the surname of Warren, and became Earl of Surrey. By this Earl, Isabel left at her decease, 1198, a son William Warren (Plantagenet), Earl of Warren and Surrey, who married twice, and had with a daughter Isabel, who married Hugh de Albini, Earl of Arundel, but died.s.p., one son, John Warren, Earl of Warren and Surrey, who married Alice, daughter of Hugh le Brun, Earl of March, and half-sister, by the mother, of Henry III., and had one son and two daughters viz.: 1. William, slain in a tournament at Croydon, leaving issue, a son John, Earl of Warren and Surrey, who died s.p. in 1347, and a daughter an eventual heiress, Alice, wife of Edmund fitz-Alex, Earl of Arundel, ancestor, by her, of the Dukes of Norfolk. --(Battle Roll)



Return to Main Index