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Project 1: Urse d'Abitot

Proposed Categories: Domesday Book; Early Barony of Salwarpe; Sheriffs of Worcestershire


According to Loyd, his first recorded occurrence in England is in 1067.[1] However he is an example of a person in this generation whose family can be traced back to France with reasonable confidence. (See below.)

Sanders reports that he was sheriff of Worcestershire from about 1069 until his death in 1108, and Keats-Rohan accepts that estimation. Like many of the first Anglo-Norman sheriffs, and indeed secular lords before 1066, Urse was criticized by clerics for his incursions upon old church land rights. He is for example mentioned in "Hemming's Cartulary".[2]

As explained by Keats-Rohan, apart from his own lands in the barony of Salwarde, he appears to have inherited lands and offices in England from his brother Robert the dispenser (or Robert the bursar) after Domesday Book in 1086. Lands from both of the two brothers were inherited by the co-heiresses of Urse.

Children and legacy

His son and heir was named Roger about 1110. Roger was however banished by Henry I. The family's possessions passed on via Urse's two daughters:

  • Emmeline, the wife of Walter I de Beauchamp, who received the barony of Salwarpe in 1114.
  • The wife of Roger Marmion.

Loyd proposed that there is evidence from France of another son, Robert de Abetot, possibly also known as Robert fitz Urse. (See French evidence below.) However Keats-Rohan suggests that this might simply be Urse's known brother, who she refers to as Robert Dispensator.

That Urse was heir of his brother within his own lifetime was shown by J.H. Round in his Feudal England (p.194-5) and is accepted for example by Complete Peerage, Sanders, and Keats-Rohan as having helped explain the most likely way in which the Marmion family shared the inheritance of Robert the bursar together with the Beauchamps.


In French and English his name is normally given as Urse. It is often noted by genealogists that his first name means "bear". However it is not an extremely unusual name (there were several others in Domesday Book) and names based on animals (such as wolves and eagles) were more generally not very unusual until this period, when Frankish names were still much more common in the nobility than "Christian" names, such as John.


Loyd explained that there is only one Abbetot in Normandy, and at this place there is record of the name Urse being used by a family from this place.

In modern France Saint-Jean d'Abbetot, has postcode 76430 and is part of the commune of La Cerlangue, on the north side of the Seine near the river mouth and the harbour at Le Havre.

These lords of Abbetot were the chamberlains of Tancarville in this time, and they appear with the Tancarvilles in some records.

  • In a charter of the future King William, still Duke of Normandy, which as Loyd says cannot be made later than the summer of 1066, "certain gifts to the church of St-Georges-de-Boscherville are stated to have been confirmed by the chamberlain Ralf son of Gerold (of Tancarville), the name of Urso 'de Abetot' as a witness to the confirmation being added in another hand above the line in the cartulary".
  • By a charter of the time of Henry I William the chamberlain of Tancarville gave to Boscherville, 'in Abetot ecclesiam et decimam et terram pertinentem ecclesiae et quatuor acras quae sunt inter ecclesiam et domum Roberti filii Ursi'.


Urse's Domesday lands (1086), the basis of the barony of Salwarde which mainly went to the Beauchamps:

Urse's brother Robert's lands (1086), later apparently inherited by Urse, and then mostly to the Marmions:


  1. Loyd refers to charter no.10 in Davis ed. Regesta regum anglo-normannorum p.3. In a royal charter relevant to Worcester, "Urs minister" is a witness. Fortunately, the charter is dated to 1067. One of the two medieval copies of the charter is in "Hemming's Cartulary", p.414 of the printed edition.
  2. See comments for example in Emma Mason's "Change and Continuity in Eleventh-Century Mercia", in: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1985.
  • Cockayne et al., Complete Peerage, 2nd ed., Vol.8, pp.505-6 (Marmion).
  • Keats-Rohan, K.S.B., Domesday Descendants, pp.314-315 (Beauchamp) and p.1032 (Marmion).
  • Keats-Rohan, K.S.B., Domesday People, p.383 (Robert Dispensator) and p.439 (Urse).
  • Loyd, Anglo-Norman Families, p.1 (Abetot, Abitot).
  • Round, J.H., Feudal England, pp.194-5.
  • Sanders, I.J., English Baronies, p.75 (Salwarpe) and also see p.145 (Tamworth: Marmion's barony).

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