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Notes on the Medieval Cailly Family

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Surname/tag: Cailly
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This is a free-space page for notes on the medieval Cailly family of Normandy and England. It is part of the Cayley Name Study.



The first Cailly for whom there is good evidence is Osbern de Cailly who made a gift of rights at Cailly near Rouen to the Abbey of St Ouen in that city: that gift was confirmed by his son Roger de Cailly in 1080.[1][2][3] This gift was made during a major rebuilding of the Abbey church, which started in 1062.[4]

Osbern’s parentage is uncertain. There are suggestions in trees on the internet and elsewhere that he was a son of either Gilbert de Brionne or Gilbert Crispin, but the evidence for this does not seem strong.

One line of the family continued to have interests in Cailly (see the next section of these notes). Others came to England, and there has not been much substantial dispute that Cailly family members who acquired lands in East Anglia and elsewhere in Norman and Plantagenet times came from Cailly near Rouen. This has been accepted not just by compilers of older pedigrees but also by more recent researchers.[5]

The Seigneury of Cailly near Rouen

Members of the Cailly family are known to have held Cailly near Rouen for not far off 200 years - it may have been longer. As mentioned above, in 1080 Roger de Cailly confirmed gifts made to the Abbey of St Ouen, Rouen out of property at Cailly by his father Osbern de Cailly in 1066, and added further gifts of his own. In 1172 Osbert de Cailly owed the service of 2 knights at Cailly.[6] In 1212 Matilda de Cailly, that Osbert's daughter, and her second husband Reginald de Bois/de Bosco were engaged in a dispute with the Abbey of St Ouen over rights in "green forest" land in the Cailly area where the Abbey had established villages. The dispute was settled when the Abbey paid 25 livres angevines to Matilda and Reginald, and they subsequently made some gifts to the Abbey out of their property at Cailly.[7][8] In 1231 Matilda is described as a widow, Domina of Cailly and of Baudemont.[9] [10] There seems to have been no male heir, and Cailly seems to have passed out of the family on her death.

The Preaux Connection

Foster in his Yorkshire Pedigrees states that Osberne (de Cailly) de Préaux, one of the sons of Osbern de Cailly became seigneur of Preaux, which neighbours Cailly.[11] William Sealy was of the same view[12], as was Saisset in his history of the Preaux family.[13] The Cailly-Preaux link is confirmed by an undated deed to the Abbey of St Cathérine du Mont in Rouen by Osberne de Préaux, stated by Dom Pommeraye, in his history of that Abbey, to be son or nephew of Osbern de Cailly.[14] Descendants were closely associated with Richard I of England, and one, Pierre de Preaux, took a leading role in the conflict between King John of England and Philippe-Auguste which led to King John's loss of Normandy.[15][16][17]

Difficulties in establishing precise family lines

Because successive generations used the same first names, it can - as is often the case - be sometimes difficult to be sure how many medieval generations there were. For instance, were two references to a John de Cailly to the same person or to father and son? This is generally a relatively minor problem, because the overall line of descent is usually clear.

Greater difficulty is caused by the frequent use in different branches of the family of the first name Osbert/Osbern in the period from 1066 to 1200. It is very easy to become confused, and a degree of uncertainty attaches to some relationships.

Misleading Information in Trees on the Internet

A fairly common error on the internet is the suggestion that Osbert de Cailly/de Préaux married Maud, daughter of Hamelin Plantagenet, illegitimate son of Geoffrey d'Anjou. Osbert appears to have married a Maud, but she was a different person.

Cailly Blazon of Arms

Chequy or and gules a bend ermine Crest: A demi lion rampant or, charged with a bend gules, thereon three mullets argent and holding in the dexter paw a battle-axe argent, the handle gules, garnished or. Motto: Nul q'um Translation: Only One

Extract from “The Dukes of Normandy” by Jonathan Duncan

"The Seigneur de Cailly was Osbern, son of Roger, who, in 1080, largely endowed the abbey of Saint Ouen. This family formed establishments in England. Thomas de Cailly was summoned to parliament in the reign of Edward the Second, but he died without issue, and his estates passed into the hands of the Cliftons. In Domesday-book Cailly is written Cailgi, and he is therein declared to be proprietor of several manors in Berkshire....

"The Praels, or Preaux, were a younger branch of the Lords of Cailly, from whom they were separated about the time that Wace wrote. They held a distinguished rank in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, being allied to the royal families of France and England, but they certainly were not at the battle of Hastings, as Wace affirms, for they did not become a distinct family till a much later date. Preaux is in the arrondissement of Rouen. In 1070, its castle belonged to Odo, called Dapifer, son of Hubert of Rye; not Rye in Sussex, but Rye in Normandy, three leagues to the north-east of Bayeux."[18]

The Battle of Hastings

Many families like to think that ancestors fought at the Battle of Hastings, but there is usually no hard evidence to back this up. According to the Battle Abbey Roll in the Auchinleck Manuscript, William de Cailly fought at the Battle of Hastings, and his name also appears in the version of the Battle Abbey Roll at Dives-Sur-Mer in Normandy.[19] The Roman de Rou mentions a 'Sire de Cailly' [20] and this may be meant to refer to William de Cailly. The reliability of these references to the Battle of Hastings is extremely doubtful. What is certain is that the Cailly family acquired lands in England in the reign of William I.


  1. Pommeraye - Histoire de l’Abbaye Royale de S. Ouen de Rouen, 1663, p.253 - book viewable at
  2. The Conqueror and his Companions, J R Planché, 1874, pp.283-4 (chapter XI), viewable at
  3. Histoire et Patrimoine de Haut-Cailly
  4.ériode_romane Wikipediédia (French): Abbaye Saint-Ouen de Rouen
  5. See e.g. K S B Keats-Rohan, Domesday People, Boydell Press 1999, p.472: Willelm de Cailly
  6. The Loss of Normandy, Francis (F M) Powicke, reprinted CUP 1961, p.334
  7. Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae sub Regibus Angliae, vol.2, Thomas Stapleton, 1844, p. cxvi, viewable at Google Books
  8. Pommeraye - Histoire de l’Abbaye Royale de S. Ouen de Rouen, 1663, pp.271-2 - book viewable at
  9. The Norman Frontier in the Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries, Daniel Power, 2004, p. 486
  10. Powicke, The Loss of Normandy (2nd ed) (Manchester UP 1961) pp. 334-5
  11. Foster, Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire - North and East Riding (London 1874): Cayley pedigree -
  12. Notes Historiques sur Cailli, Normandie, sur ses Seigneurs et leurs descendants en Angleterre dès l'Invasion par Guillaume le Conquérant, by William Sealy, 1895
  13. Histoire de la Famille de Preaux by Frédéric Saisset, pub Dijon 1935
  14. Histoire de l’Abbaye de Sainte Cathérine du Mont by Dom Pommeraye, pp. 22-23, viewable at Google Books (French site), consulted on 2 October 2018
  15. Magni rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae sub regibus Angliae, Thomas Stapleton, vol.2, 1844, ppcxxxi-cxxxii
  16. The Loss of Normandy, Francis Powicke, 2nd ed., Manchester University Press 1961, passim
  17. Wikipedia: Peter de Preaux
  18. The dukes of Normandy, from the times of Rolls to the expulsion of king John, Jonathan Duncan, 1839, p. 379
  19. My Ancestors Came with the Conqueror, Anthony J Camp, pub. Society of Genealogists 1988, corrected 1990
  20. Roman de Rou, l. 13,649



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