Raoul de Warenne
(-After 1074)
William de Warenne 1st Earl of Surrey
(Bef 1037-1088)


Family Links

1. Gundred de Flandre

2. Gouet du Perche

William de Warenne 1st Earl of Surrey 1 3

  • Born: Bef 1037 3 4
  • Marriage (1): Gundred de Flandre before 1077 1
  • Marriage (2): Gouet du Perche after 1085 2
  • Died: 24 Jun 1088, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7, GB 1 3
  • BuriedMale: Lewes Priory (Priory of St. Pancras), Lewes, East Sussex, BN7, GB

   Cause of his death was From wounds at the Siege of Pevensey.

   Another name for William was Guillaume.

  General Notes:

WILLIAM de Warenne, son of RAOUL de Warenne & his second wife Emma --- (-Lewes 24 Jun 1088, bur Lewes Priory). "Hugo de Flamenvilla" sold property "quam tenebat de domino suo Rodulfo de Warethana in Amundi Villæ…et in Maltevilla…[et] in Flamenvilla" by undated charter which also records that later "supra memoratus Rodulfus et uxor eius…Emma ac filii eorum Rodulfus et Willelmus" confirmed the agreement, signed by "…ipsius Hugonis de Flamenvilla, Rotberti filii eius, Gisleberti filii eiusdem…". "Rodulfus de Warenna eiusque conjux…Emma cum filiis suis Rodulfo…atque Willelmo" sold land in "quattuor villarum Caletensis pagi, Maltevillæ…Flamenvillæ, Amundi Villæ et Anglicevillæ" to Sainte-Trinité de Rouen, as well as "totius Osulfi Villæ eiusdem Caletensis pagi" sold by "Guillelmo filio Rogerii filii Hugonis episcopi", by charter dated 1074. In [1054], he acquired land at Bellencombre, whose castle became the headquarters of the Warenne family in Normandy. He took part in the invasion of England in 1066 and was rewarded with land in 13 counties. Orderic Vitalis records, in recounting a death-bed speech of William I King of England, that "castrum…Mortui Mari" was granted to "Guillelmo de Guarenna consanguineo eius" after it was confiscated from "Rogerium de Mortuomari" who had helped the escape of a French prisoner after defeating troops of Henri King of France in 1054 "apud Mortuum-Mare". The chronology of the family shows that the grant to William de Warenne must have occurred several years after the confiscation from Roger de Mortimer. "…Willielmi de Guarenna…" witnessed the charter dated 1082 under which William I King of England granted land at Covenham to the church of St Calais. Domesday Book records land held by "William de Warenne" in Fratton in Portsdown Hundred in Hampshire; numerous holdings in Norfolk. Orderic Vitalis says the king "gave Surrey" to William de Warenne in the chronicler's description of post-conquest grants made by King William, without specifying that he was created earl. He supported King William II against the rebels led by Odo Bishop of Bayeux and Robert Comte de Mortain in early 1088 and was rewarded by being created Earl of Surrey in [late Apr] 1088, although he and his immediate successors usually styled themselves "Earl de Warenne". He was mortally wounded at the siege of Pevensey. William I King of England donated property in Norfolk to Lewes priory, for the souls of "…Gulielmi de Warenna et uxoris suæ Gundfredæ filiæ meæ" by charter dated to [1080/86], witnessed by "…Michael de Tona…Milonis Crispini…".

m firstly (1070) GUNDRED, sister of GERBOD "the Fleming" Earl of Chester, daughter of --- (-Castle Acre, Norfolk 27 May 1085, bur Lewes Priory). Her marriage is recorded by Orderic Vitalis who also specifies her relationship with Gerbod. "Willelmus de Warenna…Surreie comes [et] Gundrada uxor mea" founded Lewes Priory as a cell of Cluny by charter dated 1080. This charter also names "domine mee Matildis regine, matris uxoris mee", specifying that the queen gave "mansionem quoque Carlentonam nomine" to Gundred. It is presumably on this basis that some secondary works claim, it appears incorrectly, that Gundred was the daughter of William I King of England. Weir asserts that the charter in question "has been proved spurious", although it is not certain what other elements in the text indicate that this is likely to be the case. Assuming the charter is genuine, it is presumably possible that "matris" was intended in the context to indicate a quasi-maternal relationship, such as foster-mother or godmother. The same relationship is referred to in the charter dated to [1080/86] under which William I King of England donated property in Norfolk to Lewes priory, for the souls of "…Gulielmi de Warenna et uxoris suæ Gundfredæ filiæ meæ". Gundred died in childbirth. The necrology of Longpont records the death "VII Kal Jun" of "Gondreda comitissa".

m secondly ([1085/88]) [MARIE], sister of RICHARD Guet, daughter of ---. Her marriage is confirmed by the Annals of Bermondsey which record the donation in 1098 by "Ricardus Guet frater comitissæ Warennæ" of "manerium de Cowyk" to the monastery. As William de Warenne´s son must have been below marriageable age before his father died, this reference can only apply to a second wife of William de Warenne senior. [The necrology of Longpont records the death "XIV Kal Oct" of "Marie comitisse de ---ranna". It is not certain that the incomplete place name indicates "Warenna". However, two other references to the Warenne family are included in the same necrology. If this hypothesis is correct, the second wife of Earl William is the only countess whose name is not otherwise recorded so the entry could be hers.]

Earl William & his first wife had [six] children: William, Edith, a daughter, Rainald, Gundred and [Roger].



WILLIAM DE WARENNE was 1st son of Rodulf II by Emma. At some time in or after 1054 Duke William gave him the castle of Mortemer, which had been forfeited by his kinsman, Roger de Mortimer, after the Battle of Mortemer in February of that year. Probably at the same time he acquired lands at Bellencombre, the castle of which became the caput of the Warenne barony in Normandy. In 1066 he was one of the Norman barons summoned by the Duke to a Council on hearing that Harold had been crowned King after the death of the Confessor. He took part in the invasion of England and was present at the Battle of Hastings. He was rewarded with lands in 13 counties (j), including most of the rape of Lewes in Sussex, the manor of Conisborough, co. York, and Castle Acre and a number of holdings in Norfolk. In 1067 he was one of the Norman nobles whom the Conqueror left in England to support his vice-regents, William FitzOsbern and the Bishop of Bayeux. In 1075 he was one of the two chief justiciars who were in charge of England when the Earls of Hereford and Norfolk rebelled and who summoned them to the King's court, and on their refusal crushed the rebellion (b). About 1083-85 he was fighting for the King in Maine (c). In the spring of 1088 he supported William II against the rebels led by the Bishop of Bayeux and the Count of Mortain, and to secure his loyalty he was created, shortly after Easter (16 April) 1088, EARL OF SURREY (e), his immediate successors being styled more usually EARLS DE WARENNE. He was mortally wounded at the siege of Pevensey before the end of May. He founded Lewes priory as a cell of Cluny abbey, about 1078-82.

He married, 1stly, Gundred, sister of Gerbod the Fleming, EARL OF CHESTER, possibly daughter of Gerbod, hereditary advocate of the Abbey of St. Bertin at St. Omer. She died in child-birth, 27 May 1085, at Castle Acre, Norfolk, and was buried the chapter-house at Lewes. He married, 2ndly, [----], sister of Richard GUET (living 1098). He died 24 June 1088, apparently from the effect of his wound at Pevensey, at Lewes, and was buried there beside his wife. [Complete Peerage XII/1:493-5, XIV:604 (transcribed by Dave Utzinger)]

(j) Bedford, Bucks, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Lincoln, Oxford, York, Berks, Essex, Hants, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Sussex.

(b) William was one of those who occupied Norwich castle after its surrender.

(c) He was one of the leaders of an unsuccessful attack on the castle of Ste Suzanne in Jan, year uncertain.

(e) The creation has been ascribed to the Conqueror, but certainly in error. This was the only earldom created before the reign of Stephen of which the holder did not take his title from the county in which lay his chief territorial strength. However, it is likely that with the Earldom he was given lands at Reigate in Surrey.

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[From "The Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families"]

For this identification see Mr. Loyd's paper 'The Origin of the Family of Warenne' in Yorkshire Arch. Journal, vol. xxxi, pp. 97-113. The hamlet of Varenne lies on the river Varenne c. 2 miles S of Arques and c. 13 miles N of Bellencombre. The latter place, arr. Dieppe, cant. Bellencombre, where there was a castle, became the caput of the Warenne honour in Normandy.

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William Warenne was one of those followers of William of Normandy who made their fortunes by the conquest of England. The younger son of Rudulf of Varenne in Normandy, he distinguished himself in ducal service as a very young man in the early 1050s. After the ducal victory at Mortemer (1054) he received estates in upper Normandy, but it was only after the English invasion that he attained the front rank. He fought at Hastings and was rewarded with lands which by 1086 extended into thirteen counties, most notably strategically important estates in Sussex centered round Lewes. By the end of William I's reign he was one of the dozen largest individual landowners in England. He repaid his debt with vigorous loyalty in both England and France. In 1075 he played a leading role in suppressing the revolt of the earls of Hereford and Norfolk. After the Conqueror's death, Warenne supported William Rufus in 1087-88 against Robert Curthose and Odo of Bayeux. Rufus encouraged his service by creating him earl of Surrey in 1088. The same year Warenne was seriously wounded by an arrow in his leg at the siege of Pevensey and died at his foundation of Lewes Priory on 24 June 1088.

Warenne's career was more than meteoric. A younger son of an obscure minor Norman nobleman, he had risen through conspicuous loyalty to his lord to become not only one of the richest men in one of the richest kingdoms of Europe but also the founder of a dynasty which, powerful, wealthy and influential, survived as earl of Surrey until 1347. Warenne's foundation at Lewes (1078/80) was the first Cluniac house in England, another sign of the Conquest's effect on establishing institutional as well as personal links across the Channel. Warenne's success depended on the traditional chivalric virtues of loyalty, bravery and prowess in arms. His life illustrates the stupendous prizes and the personal dangers on offer to those who joined the conquest of England. It was appropriate that Warenne's direct descendent, John De Warenne, Earl of Surrey (1231-1304), when challenged in 1278 by royal commissioners to produce title to his land, produced an old rusty sword declaring, 'Here, my Lord, is my warrant (warrantus: a pun which no doubt appealed to the somewhat intractable sense of honour of the time). My ancestors came with William the Bastard and won their lands with the sword, and by the sword I will hold them against all comers.' Earl John won his case. William of Warenne would have approved. [Who's Who in Early Medieval England, Christopher Tyerman, Shepheard-Walwyn, Ltd., London, 1996]


William de Warrenne, Earl of Warrenne, in Normandy, a near kinsman of William the Conqueror, 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 land in several counties, amongst which were the Barony of Lewes, in Sussex, and the manors of Carletune and Benington, 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. While in that office, some great disturbers of the public peace having refused to appear before him and his colleague in obedience to citation, the Earl took up arms and defeated the rebels in a battle at Fagadune, when 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 Wahir or Guarder, Earl of Norfolk, and Roger, Earl of Hereford, were the ringleaders. His lordship was likewise highly esteemed by King William Rufus, and was created by that monarch Earl of Surrey. He m. Gundred, dau. of the Conqueror*, and had issue, William, Reginald, Gundred-Edith, and another dau. who m. Ernise de Colungis.

This potent noble built the castle of Holt and founded the priory at Lewes, in Sussex. He resided principally at the castle of Lewes, and had besides Castle-Acre, in Norfolk, and noble castles at Coningsburg and Sandal. He d. 24 June, 1088, and Dugdale gives to 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, 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 100 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 as to the abbot's hearing the noise be no truer than the last, viz., that his lady sent them 100 shillings, I shall deem it to be a mere fiction, in regard the lady was certainly dead about three years before." The earl was s. by his elder son, William de Warenne. [Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 568, Warren, Earls of Surrey]

* At one time, it was thought that Gundred was the daughter of William the Conqueror. This has since been disproved. For details, see "Early Yorkshire Charters" by C. T. Clay, or "Études sur Quelques Points de l'Historie de Guillaume le Conquérant" by H. Prentout. [Brian Tompsett, Directory of Royal Genealogical Data, University of Hull, Hull, UK, "Electronic," royal01389] 5

William married Gundred de Flandre before 1077.1 (Gundred de Flandre was born about 1052, died on 27 May 1085 in Castle Acre, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE32, GB 1 2 and was buried in Lewes Priory (Priory of St. Pancras), Lewes, East Sussex, BN7, GB.). The cause of her death was In childbirth.

William next married Gouet du Perche, daughter of Gouet du Perche and Unknown, after 1085.2 (Gouet du Perche was born about 1060 in Normandie, FR and died after 1098 2.)


1 Frederick Lewis Weis, Walter Lee Sheppard, William Ryland Beall, <i>Magna Carta Sureties 1215: the Barons Named in the Magna Carta, 1215 and Some of their Descendants who Settled in America during the Early Colonial Years</i> (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999), 158-1.

2 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), XII/1:494.

3 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), XII/1:493-495.

4 Lewis C Loyd, <i>The Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families</i> (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999), 111.

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

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