This name is found in the muniments of Battle Abbey. Ralph de Fillel or Filliol confirmed a grant made by his ancestor (who came over with the Conqueror) of some land in Pevensey Marsh to La Battayle, about the beginning of the thirteenth century. Bernard Filloyel, at nearly the same date, witnessed a deed of Hugh Baliol: and in 1270 Richard Filliol went with Prince Edward to the Holy Land. Their Sussex seat was at Old Court in Worthing; and in the time of Edward I., Sybilla Filiol inherited it, and married Sir John Fiennes. They were from very early times seated in Essex. "This family took its name from Filioles, in French Filleul, or Godson, as appears by a seal appended to a grant of William Filiol to Cogeshall Abbey in Essex, which has a representation of a font, a king on one side and a bishop on the other, holding a child as in the ceremony of baptism; so that the surname seems given by some King of England" (or Duke of Normandy) "to one of their ancestors at the time of baptism. A branch of them held Filiol's (vulgarly Felix) Hall in Essex; in which county they held lands in the time of King Stephen; also the manor of Kelvedon, or Keldon, there: but this branch was extinct about 1345. William, second son of Sir John Filiol, who died 1332, married a daughter of Welsh, or Wallis, of Langton, and became the founder of the family of Filiol in Dorset, and of Old Hall in Rayne, co. Essex, which continued till 1720. They had very early a concern in Dorset—before the reign of Edward I. There was: another branch seated at Knight Street in Marnhull, lately extinct."—Hutchins' Dorset. William Filiol was knight of the shire 40 Edward III.; and William Filiol 15, 20, 28, 29, and 33 Hen. VI. Their estate in Dorset appears to have been very considerable, and at the death of the last male heir (a lad of sixteen) in 1509, it passed to his two sisters. The younger of these, Katherine, was the divorced wife [1] of Sir Edward Seymour, afterwards Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of the realm. The Essex family ended with Sir John Filiol, obt. 1381, whose daughter and sole heir, Cecilia, married John de Bohun of Midhurst, a baron by writ in 1363.

The name is common in Normandy, and I find it mentioned there in 1830. Six families of Filleul, all bearing different arms, are included in the authenticated list of "Gentilshommes Normands"; and Le Filleul d'Amertol, Le Filleul, Baron de Montreuil, Du Filleul des Chenets, and Filleul de Verseuil appear among the assembled nobility of the province in 1789.

  1. Not only was she herself divorced, but by a special limitation of the patent, her two sons were debarred from succeeding to the Dukedom till after the failure of all descendants of their father's children by his second marriage. This extraordinary disposition was evidently connected with the terrible domestic calamity that had forced the Duke to repudiate Katherine Filiol. To her name in 'Vincent's Baronage' at the Heralds' College is appended this note, "repudiata, quia pater ejus post nuptis earn cognovit." Some tradition of this ghastly story lingered on in the last century at Berry Pomeroy. The apparition of a young and very beautiful woman, wailing and wringing her hands in frenzied distress, was believed to haunt the old castle—long since deserted by the Seymours—whenever the death of one of its inmates was at hand. She always showed herself hurrying towards a staircase that led to one of the upper chambers, and as she disappeared on the last step, turned round with a look that, once seen, no one ever forgot. Such mingled hate, rage, horror, and despair, as it might have been supposed the human countenance was powerless to convey, were written on her fair young face. The local explanation given was that she had been the daughter of a former Baron of Berry Pomeroy, who bore a child to her own father, and strangled it in the upper chamber to which she is ever seen wending her way.

-- Cleveland

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