Ealdred Earl of Northumbria
Siward Earl of Northumbria
Waltheof Siwardson 1st Earl of Huntingdon, Earl of Northumbria


Family Links

1. Judith de Lens

Waltheof Siwardson 1st Earl of Huntingdon, Earl of Northumbria 2 4 5 6 7

  • Marriage (1): Judith de Lens in 1070 1 2 3
  • Died: 31 May 1076, Winchester, Hampshire, SO22, GB 1 2 6
  • BuriedMale: Crowland Abbey, Crowland, Peterborough, Lincolnshire, PE6, GB 1

   Cause of his death was beheaded.

  General Notes:

WALTHEOF, son of SIWARD Earl of Northumbria & his wife Ælfled of Northumbria (-executed St Giles's Hill, Winchester 31 May 1076, bur Crowland Abbey). His parentage is recorded by Roger of Hoveden. Matthew Paris specifies that he was the son of Siward, of Danish origin. Snorre names "Earl Valthiof", although stating that he was the son of "Earl Gudin Ulfnadson" and "Earl Ulf´s sister Gyda". He was installed as Earl of Huntingdon and Northamptonshire after Tostig Godwinson was banished in Oct 1065. Snorre recounts that "Earl Morukare and…Earl Valthiof" failed to prevent Harald III King of Norway after landing on the river Humber in 1066 in a battle "upon the Wednesday next Mathias´ day", adding that "Earl Valthiof…fled up to the castle of York". Snorre also recounts that "Earl Valthiof" took part in the battle of Hastings and "escaped by flight", seriously condensing his account of Waltheof´s subsequent career when he adds that King William "sent a message to Earl Valthiof that they should be reconciled" but that he was captured "at a heath north of Kastala-bryggia…put…in fetters and afterwards he was beheaded". Snorre´s narrative includes two fragments of a poem in praise of Waltheof, presumably written contemporarily with Waltheof´s life. Jonathan Allen suggests that Waltheof himself may have patronised an Icelandic skald (court poet) whose work was eventually passed through to Snorre, providing interesting evidence of the persistence of Scandinavian culture in England in the second half of the 11th century. Florence of Worcester records that "Waltheofum Siwardi ducis filius" went with King William to Normandy 21 Feb [1067]. Orderic Vitalis records that, in 1069, Waltheof assisted the Danes in their attack on the Norman garrison at York, but that he was pardoned by the king who arranged Waltheof's marriage and restored him to his pre-conquest earldom. Simeon of Durham records that "Waltheu the son of earl Siward…by Elfleda daughter of Earl Aldred" was installed as Earl of Northumberland after the earldom was confiscated from Gospatrick [in 1072]. Earl Waltheof joined the conspiracy of the Earls of Norfolk and Hereford against King William in 1075, repented and asked for the king's pardon, but was tried at Westminster at Christmas 1075, imprisoned at Winchester and, after the trial resumed there, beheaded. Florence of Worcester records that "comitumque Waltheofum" joined the conspiracy of William Earl of Hereford and Ralph Earl of Norfolk in [1074] but was tried and beheaded at Winchester the following year.

m (1070) JUDITH de Lens, daughter of LAMBERT de Boulogne Comte de Lens & his wife Adelais de Normandie (1054-after 1086). Her marriage is recorded by Orderic Vitalis who calls her the king's "consobrina". A manuscript records that "Juditha comitissa…uxor Waldevi comitis Huntingdon, et neptis Gulielmi Conquestoris" founded Elstow priory. Her parentage is further clarified by the foundation charter of Saint-Martin d´Auchy narrates the church´s foundation by "Guerinfrido qui condidit castellum…Albamarla" and names "Engueranni consulis qui filius fuit Berte supradicti Guerinfridi filie et Adelidis comitisse uxoris sue sororis…Willelmi Regis Anglorum" and "Addelidis comitissa supradicti Engueranni et supradicte Adelidis filia…Judita comitissa domine supradicte filia". The Vita et Passio Waldevi Comitis records that "Waldevus" married "rex Willelmus…neptem suam Juettam filiam comitis Lamberti de Lens, sororem…Stephani comitis de Albemarlia". Orderic Vitalis says Waltheof's marriage with Judith was arranged by King William "to strengthen the bonds of friendship" with her future husband. She deposed against her husband when he was accused of involvement in the conspiracy of the Earls of Norfolk and Hereford in 1075.

Earl Waltheof & his wife had two children: Matilda and Adelisa.

[FMG/Medieval Lands]


The first post-Conquest Earl of Huntingdon appears to have been Waltheof, son of Siward Earl of Northumberland and indeed Siward's successor in the latter Earldom as well. Waltheof was later beheaded for conspiring against William the Conqueror.

[Burke's Peerage]


EARLDOM OF NORTHUMBERLAND - Waltheof, though known as, did not have the full Earldom; see below.



WALTHEOF, son of SIWARD, EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND, by Ælfled, daughter of ALDRED of Bernicia, became EARL OF HUNTINGDON and EARL OF NORTHAMPTON when Tostig was banished in October 1065. He is not known to have opposed the Conqueror in 1066, but was taken to Normandy the following year. In 1069 he joined the Danes in their descent on Yorkshire, distinguishing himself in the attack on the city of York. When the Danes left England he submitted himself to William, in January 1070, and was restored to his Earldom, and to his father's Earldom of Northumberland in 1072. While attending the wedding of Ralph de Gael, Earl of Norfolk, at Exning in the spring or summer of 1075, he was enticed to join the conspiracy of the Earls of Norfolk and Hereford to seize England for themselves. He quickly repented, and by Lanfranc's advice went to Normandy and asked pardon of the King, who treated the matter lightly at the time; but at Christmas Waltheof was brought to trial at Westmminster, his wife Judith being a witness. He was imprisoned at Winchester, where on the resumption of the trial in May he was condemned and beheaded on St. Giles's Hill, 31 May 1076, and hastily buried .

He married, in 1070, Judith, daughter of Lambert, COUNT OF LENS, by Adelaide or Adeliz, sister of the Conqueror. He died as aforesaid, 31 May 1076 (f), and a fortnight later the Abbot Ulfketel, at Judith's request and by the King's permission, removed his body to Crowland, where it was honourably entombed (g). His widow, who as "Judith the Countess" is recorded in Domesday Book to have held estates in many counties in 1086, most of them apparently gifts from the King, her uncle, held Huntingdon in dower. She founded the Nunnery of Elstow, near Bedford.

[Complete Peerage VI:638-40, (transcribed by Dave Utzinger)]

(f) He left 3 daughters:
(1) Maud, who m. 1stly, Simond de Saint Liz or Senlis, and 2ndly, David I King of Scotland, both being Waltheof's successors in title.
(2) Judith or Alice, who m. Ralph de Toni the younger. Ralph de Toni and Alice his wife endowed a house of canons at Watacre, Norfolk. Alice, widow of Ralph de Toni gave the Church of Walthamstow in Essex to Holy Trinity Priory. Walthamstow was one of the manors held by Waltheof, and then by the Countess Judith.
(3) A daughter said to have m. Robert son of Richard. There is perhaps some confusion, for Maud, daughter of Simon de St. Liz I, is said to have married a Robert son of Richard.

[g] Many miracles are recorded, for Waltheof was by many regarded as a saint. An epitaph was written for the tomb by Orderic. Other epitaphs are in the Vita. He is described as strong in person and of great repute as a warrior, pious, had learnt the psalter in his youth, was liberal to the clergy and the poor, and a benefactor in particular to Jarrow and Crowland. To the former he gave Tynemouth. The chief stain on his memory is his part in a family bloodfeud, for he ordered the murder of the sons of one Carl, who had killed Earl Ealdred, Waltheof's grandfather.



Waltheof, younger, but only surviving son of Siward, Earl of Northumberland, by his first wife Elfeda, who became Earl of Huntingdon and of Northampton upon the banishment of Tostig, 1065, received in 1072 the Earldom which Gospatric had forfeited, but not (it would appear) the Earldom of his father Siward, viz. the entire Northumbria Earldom (b). He was executed 31 May 1076. [Complete Peerage IX:704]

(b) The unknown author of the siege of Durham (Simeon of Durham, p. 157), in a statement re certain demesne lands of the Earldom, says that Waltheof's mother, Elfleda, being Countess, since she was daughter of Earl Aldred, and he was the son of Ughtred and of the daughter of Bishop Aldun, claimed these lands as hers by hereditary right, which Earl Siward, her husband, gave her; and she gave to her son Waltheof the Earldom of the Northumbrians, as Waltheof's grandfather, to wit, Earl Aldred, had it.

NOTE: I am naming Waltheof Earl of Northumbria (as opposed to Northumberland), which covers the time period, and lesser land area (except for Siward who held it all), of the pre-conquest Earls known by that name.


The county which gives designation to this earldom of Huntingdon was, according to Dr. Heylin, a thickly wooded forest until the reign of the 2nd Henry, when the timber was first cleared away; the chief town, from the celebrity of the forest as a chase, was called Huntingtown, which soon became abbreviated into Huntington, or Huntingdon. The Earldom of Huntingdom was conferred by William the Conqueror upon Waltheof (son of Syward, the Saxon Earl of Northumberland), who had m. the dau. of that monarch's sister, by the mother's side, Judith. He was also Earl of Northampton, and of Northumberland, but conspiring against the Normans, he was beheaded in 1073 at Winchester, leaving issue, Maud and Judith.

[Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 467-8, St. Liz, Earls of Huntingdon]


Waltheof was the last of the Old English earls to survive under William I, his execution for treason in 1076 marking a significant stage in the aristocratic and tenurial revolution which followed 1066. Younger son of Siward, the Danish earl of Northumbria (1041-55) and Aelflaed, daughter of Aldred, earl of Northumbria, Waltheof received an earldom consisting of the shires of Huntingdon, Bedford, Northampton, Rutland, and Cambridge in 1065. As one of the few English magnates not from the Godwin faction, he accepted and was accepted by William I, witnessing royal charters and remaining loyal to the new regime until 1069 when he joined with the Danes in their invasion of Northumbria. He was prominent in their capture of York, hoping, no doubt, to be restored to his father's position. This opportunism is perhaps more characteristic of English magnate reactions to the political turmoil of 1065-70 than any supposed national feeling. However, the revolt and invasion were defeated by William's winter campaign of 1069-70. It is a measure of William's insecurity that when Waltheof submitted in 1070 he was restored to royal favour and, in 1072, added the earldom of Northumbria to his holdings. To bind him more tightly to the Norman dispensation, William gave him his niece Judith in marriage. But in 1075, Waltheof was implicated in the largely French revolt led by Ralph, earl of Norfolk, and Roger, earl of Hereford. Despite his lack of military action, his confession, apparent contrition and the support of Archbishop Lanfranc, Waltheof was executed on 31 May 1076.

The king's motives are obscure. Waltheof was the only prominent Englishman to be executed in the reign. Perhaps his removal was part of William's justifiably nervous response to the problem of controlling Northumbria. It may have made sense to take the chance to remove a potential --- and proven --- focus of northern discontent. Yet Waltheof's heirs were not harried, one daughter, Matilda, marrying David I of Scotland (1042-53), and another Ralph IV of Tosny, a leading Norman baron.

Waltheof is a significant reminder that the period around 1066 was transitional, with no necessarily definite beginnings or endings. Waltheof adapted to the new order, falling foul, it seems, of the ambitions and schemes of others, not least of parvenus Frenchmen. He married into the new elite, yet embodied the old. Heir to both English and Anglo-Danish traditions, it was he who completed one of the most celebrated of Anglo-Saxon blood-feuds. In 1016, Uchtred, earl of Northumbria was murdered by a northern nobleman called Thurbrand. He was, in turn, killed by Uchtred's son and successor, Ealdred, who was himself slain by Thurbrand's son, Carl. Waltheof's mother was Ealdred's daughter and he avenged his great-grandfather and grandfather by massacring a number of Carl's sons.

Waltheof was buried at Crowland Abbey where, as did many martyrs to royal policy in the middle ages, he found posthumous fame in a cult which, by the mid-twelfth century, was venerating him as a saint. Yet his career in the north shows that not far beneath the measured tones of Norman propagandists or the efficient gloss of English bureaucratic procedures simmered the violence of Dark Age epic.

[Who's Who in Early Medieval England, Christopher Tyerman, Shepheard-Walwyn, Ltd., London, 1996; Encyclopædia Britannica CD, 1997] 1


• Title: Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton, 1065.

• Title: Earl of Northumbria, 1072.

Waltheof married Judith de Lens, daughter of Lambert de Boulogne Comte de Lens and Adélaïde de Normandie Comtesse d'Aumâle, in 1070.1 2 3 (Judith de Lens was born in 1054 1 8 and died after 1086 1 2 3.)


1 Charles Cawley, <i>Medieval Lands</i>.

2 Frederick Lewis Weis, Walter Lee Sheppard, David Faris, <i>Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700: The Lineage of Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Malcolm of Scotland, Robert the Strong, and Some of Their Descendants</i> (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1992), 98a-23.

3 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), VI:639.

4 Charles Mosley, <i>Burke's Peerage & Baronetage</i> (Burke's Peerage, 1999), 1474.

5 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), XII/1:762.

6 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), VI:638-40.

7 William Henry Turton, <i>The Plantagenet Ancestry</i> (1968), 21.

8 Frederick Lewis Weis, Walter Lee Sheppard, David Faris, <i>Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700: The Lineage of Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Malcolm of Scotland, Robert the Strong, and Some of Their Descendants</i> (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1992), 130-25.

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