The de Lancasters of Westmorland
Please note that the following are notes, and might be wrong! Please contact me with advice and questions.
webpage is one of a series, which outgrew the original single page
that was started as part of the Lancaster
DNA project. As mentioned on the Lancaster
Surnames Webpage, the aristocratic family most associated with
the surname Lancaster was based in Westmorland. In the earliest times
they were associated with Furness and Cumberland, later with
Lancaster and Kendal
were the first Barons of Kendal) and finally with Westmorland
generally. In Westmorland, the two main descendant lines were those
for which we have also created separate webpages. I have also done
the same for another family who seem to be related are the
Lancasters of Rainhill. Discussion
of Satterthwaite and Satterfield surnames has been separated
to another webpage also.
The surviving symbol of this Lancaster family is its coats of arms, which involved no red roses.
Unlike the Plantagenet "House of Lancaster" these De Lancasters had a White or Silver ("Argent") background with two horizontal red bars. ("Argent two bars gules", in the terminology of blazonry.) They also had “a canton gules” (a red square in the top left corner) and what went in that canton could vary. The most famous line had either a white/silver (argent) or yellow/gold (or) lion “passant guardant” (stepping, and watchful). This is the format of lion symbol that early heralds called a "leopard" and the English called a “lion of England,” apparently because it is like the three lions that appear in the arms of the English Royal Family. The longest lasting line, that of Sockbridge, used a star or "mullet". Comparisons can be made at Lancaster Castle's website .
The de Lancaster coat of arms was of a simple type because it was one of the earliest, and so we must be cautious when comparing it to other similar designs using horizontal bars. But some people have suggested that it is related to those of two Scottish figures who were deeply involved in Northern English events in early Norman England, William Fitz Duncan and Maldred Mac Crinan. Indeed, the first de Lancaster, William fitz Gilbert, seems to have been castellan under William fitz Duncan in Egremont, Cumberland, at a time when the latter was leading an invasion of northern England. (There was war between competing claims to the monarchy of England at the time, so William effectively developed his career with three competing monarchs above him!)
This family had at least two quite separate paternal lines (though still related by marriage), which I shall refer to as FitzReinfred and FitzGilbert. (Fitz means "son of" and refers to founders of a male line, like Gaelic Mac).
Ivo de Taillebois and Eldred of Workington are both often mentioned as earliest ancestors of the FitzGilbert line, which was the first of the two lines, but these men never used the name Lancaster. What's more, their exact relationship to each other, and to the others, is a subject of debate and speculation. It is however quite probable that both of them are related, and possibly both are direct ancestors of the FitzGilbert line. On the other hand, our eventual aim is to try to confirm how any or all of these ancient "de Lancaster" families were related to each other, if we can, and this may involve connections to people who were not known as Lancasters. Another very long run aim is to confirm how they are related to modern families, if at all. For this purpose we also have Y (male line) DNA testing in use. One branch of the family does seem to be able to be traced into modern times, and that is the Sockbridge family (who have their own webpage).
Below I attempt to summarise all that can be said about this family at the peak of its power in the early Middle Ages. This attempts to summarize what we know of the original male-line ancestry. To compare to other summaries which may contain more information, older webpages include Medieval Lands, Steve Hissem's de Lancaster webpage, the "stirnet" Lancaster webpage, and the website of Paul Lawrence. Concerning the earliest ancestors of the de Lancasters, controversy continues. A useful starting point is the debate of November 2005 on the GEN-MEDIEVAL Rootsweb List.
Were there ever original documents about Gilbert? There are two such reports I am aware of:
Firstly, according to a note written by the 17th century antiquarian Benjamin Ayloffe, which is reproduced in the introduction of Walford Selby's collection of Lancashire and Cheshire Records, p.xxix, Gilbert was the king's "Receiver for the County of Lancaster" and was named "Gilbert de Furnesio". If Gilbert was really referred to as “de Furnesio” then this is interesting. The use of Furness as a second name was in fact mainly associated with the le Fleming families of Furness, who were closely allied with the Lancasters, and eventually took over several of their Furness titles through marriage. Although no one seems able to prove it, it is widely suggested that Ivo de Taillebois and/or the immediate ancestors of William de Lancaster had some kind of lordship over Furness or a part of Furness. What we know about Furness in this time is very little, however we do know that it was held by Stephen, Count of Bolougne and Mortain from 1114 or so, and that the le Flemings were there already in 1127, when Stephen exempted their lands from his grant of Furness to the Abbey of Furness. In 1086, the time of the Domesday book, Furness, Cartmell and a large part of what would become the Barony of Kendal, were under the king. It is thought that Furness and Cartmell however went to Roger the Poitevin, as a detached part of his Honour of Lancaster. This was during the time of William Rufus - the same time in which the Barony of Kendal, which fits neatly between the detached parts of Lancashire, was starting to coalesce as a territory of Ivo de Taillebois. William de Lancaster however later held both the Honour of Lancaster and the Barony of Kendal. See my notes on the Lancaster surname for a map of this area.
Secondly, in William Farrer's transcriptions and annotations of Early Lancashire Charters (1902, published in an edition of Lancashire Pipe Rolls; see p.442-3) some confirmation charters from the Kuerden manuscripts are given concerning Dunnerdale and Seathwaite in Furness. The charters Farrer could report accurately are of William de Lancaster I, William de Lancaster II, and William de Lancaster III (with the receiving family on the other side of the confirmation being the family of Roger son of Orm son of Ailward, which became the Kirkby family of Kirkby Ireleth. This once again places Gilbert in Furness. The description of the territory is
"between Licul and Duden, and from Licul [Lickle] over against the mountain unto Dearsgarth, and from the head of the fence upwards unto Calfhead and then from Calfhead following over against the mountain unto the head of the valley of Glenscalan (or Glensalan), thence following unto Wranishals (i.e., Wrynose Hawse), and thence from Duden over against the valley unto Licul."
In another of his MS. volumes, Dr. Kuerden records the abstract of a charter by which "Gilbert, father of William de Lancaster, gave to Roger the land between the Licul and Dudun, etc., by rendering four shillings." Apparently this refers to a grant even earlier than those referred to, and of a date before 1140. The abstract, however, being very brief, it would be unwise to draw from it any serious deduction.
We know Gilbert had at least three sons, and probably more. All of them appear to have had Norman names...
Henry de Lee died before 1240, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John de Lee, who died in 1265. His son and heir, Sir Henry de Lee, fined for his relief, 12th September, 1265, and died in 1289. His son William de Lee succeeded, and married Clarence daughter and heiress of Robert Banastre, with whom he acquired the Manor of Mollington Banastre, co. Chester. He died before the end of the reign of Edward I., leaving issue a son, Sir Henry de Lee, who was beheaded in 1315, for participation in an insurrection in Lancashire headed by Adam Banastre, against Thomas, Earl of Lancaster ; and a daughter Sibil [or sister?], who was married to Richard de Hoghton, and conveyed to that family the extensive estates in Lancashire and Cheshire which had belonged to her brother (Farrer, for Chetham Vol.39, 1898, Chartulary of Cockersand I part II.)
Their coat of arms lived on in a reversed version with the Hoghton family (sable, three bars argent). And the younger brother of Henry, William de Lea, survived in Croston, where his daughter and heiress, Alice, married the Ashtons of Croston, who later quartered the Lee arms into theirs. Henry and William also seem to have had another brother, Nicholas de Lea, who worked for Edmund Crouchback. Other branches may have survived on. I believe I have found evidence that yet another brother of the executed Henry took over lands in Rainhill. See http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41348#n30...
settlement by fine was made by William
Rainhill upon his
1301; the property was 2 messuages and 14 acres; Final Conc. i,
192. [Could this be the same as Henry who was executed, also a son
of a William and living in this exact area.]
(The crucial question about this theory about a continuation in Rainhill is whether "Lee field" in Rainhill was named after the family, or the other way around. Another problem is whether William son of William's widow would be named Emma. It seems perhaps more likely that she was named Isolde or Alice.)
6. Roger de Lancaster “de Rydal”. Died about 1290-91. Gilbert Fitz-Reinfrid probably enfeoffed his natural son, Roger de Lancaster, of Witherslack shortly before 1220. While his brother was still alive, Roger was enfeoffed under him of Patterdale and Martindale which are between Rydal and Sockbridge. Despite that, nearly contemporary documents describe him as a bastard brother of William III, in other words illegitimate. Upon his death bed William granted his brother Roger de Lancastre as follows...
Writ, 18 April, 8 Edw. III.
Westmorland. Inq. Thursday before St. Lawrence, 8 Edward III.
Rydale. The manor, held by the said John and Annora his wife who still survives, of the king in chief, by service of a quarter of a knight's fee, for their lives, of the grant of John son of Robert de Lane [astria] by the king's licence, with reversion to the said John son of Robert, and his heirs for ever.
Barton. A messuage called the site of the manor of Barton, held by the said John and Annora of the king in chief, by service of a twentieth part of a knight's fee, for their lives, of the grant of Ranulph de Dacre, by the king's licence, with reversion to the said Ranulph and his heirs for ever ; the whole manor, except the said messuage, and except 67a. land, 23a. meadow, 500a. pasture, and 500a. moor, held by the said John and Annora of Ranulph de Dacre of the grant of the said Ranulph, rendering to him and his heirs a rose yearly and doing all other services due to the chief lords, &c., with remainder to Roger de Lancast[ria] for his life, in form aforesaid, and reversion to the said Ranulph and his heirs; and 67a. land, 23a. meadow, 500a. pasture, and 500a. moor, held by the said John and Annora for their lives, of Robert Parvyng, by the grant of the said Robert, rendering him a rose yearly, and doing all other services due to the chief lords ; with remainder to Roger de Lanc[astria] for his life, to hold of the said Robert Parvyng in form aforesaid, with reversion to the said Robert Parvyng and his heirs.
Notes on this:
Wytherslake. The manor, held by the said John and Annora, for their lives, of Christiana, late the wife of Ingelram de Gynes, in chief, by service of hi. yearly, by the grant of John de Cauncefelde, with remainders to Roger de Lancast [riaj , for his life, and after his decease to Michael son of Robert de Haverington, and his heirs.
The two on-going families who came from this, were the Lancasters of Sockbridge and Howgill. The above shows that they were related one way or another, which is also reflected, for example, in the fact that in 1425, when the main line in Howgill ended, that the Lancasters of Yanwath and Hertsop were mentioned in the will. Hartsop had been part of the Sockbridge Lancaster holdings, and Yanwath is also close by Sockbridge. Indeed, the families are known to have inter-married at least once. Please refer to the webpages made specifically for these two families:
Concerning the Lancasters of Howgill see http://users.skynet.be/lancaster/The%20Lancasters%20of%20Howgill%20and%20Rydal.html
Concerning the Lancasters of Sockbridge see http://users.skynet.be/lancaster/Lancasters%20of%20Sockbridge.html
Another important family who is probably related somehow are the Lancasters of Rainhill, who may be related to either Warin, given their presence in southern Lancashire, mixing with the same families, or perhaps the FitzReinfrid line, whose coat of arms they used.
Concerning the Lancasters of Rainhill see http://users.skynet.be/lancaster/The%20Lancasters%20of%20Rainhill.html
Concerning the Lawrences of Ashton see http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~lawrpaul/ashton-o/index.htm
 The two authorities for a direct line of father-son descent from Ivo to Elred to Ketel to Gilbert were records made much later in Cockersand Abbey and St Mary’s Abbey in Yorkshire. See for example William Farrer’s comments in 1902: “The Lancashire Pipe Rolls of 31 Henry I., A.D. 1130, and of the Reigns of Henry II., A.D. 1155-1189; Richard I., A.D. 1189-1199; and King John, A.D. 1199-1216” See p.vii (Addenda and Corrigenda) concerning p.389 I.18. Also see what he wrote in 1909: “The Chartulary of Cockersand Abbey of the Premonstratensian Order” See p.305-8. On the other hand, there is a relatively contemporary, albeit highly unsympathetic account by Peter of Blois (or a successor in writing Croyland chronicles), which claims that Ivo's line died out except for one "nobly espoused" daughter.
“Curia Regis Roll item dated 1212”: “Gillebertus filius Renfridi et Helewisia uxor sua per attornatum suum petunt versus Thomam de Brumfeld' quatuor carucatas terre cum pertinenciis in Brumfel et et Echeton' ut jus ipsius Hawisie [sic] et ut illas unde Ketel filius Eutret antecessor ipsius Helewisie fuit seisitus ut de feodo et jure tempore Henrici regis avi regis Henrici patris domini regis, scilicet anno et die quo obiit ; et de eo descendit jus ipsius Helewisie de gradu in gradum”, translated as "Gilbert Fitz-Renfrey and Helewise his wife demand against Thomas de Brumfeld 4 carucates of land in Brumfel and Rohetun, as the right of the said Helewise and as those whereof Ketel son of Eutret, ancestor of the said Helewise, was seised, as of fee and right, in the time of King Henry [I], grandfather of king Henry [II], father of the king, and from him the right of the said Helewise descended from step to step.”
 Douglas Richardson writes
“Charter evidence indicates that Ketel Fitz Eldred held the lands of his grandfather, Ives Taillebois, which fact is indicated by Ketel's charter to the monks of St. Mary's, York, in which he confirmed an earlier gift of Ives Taillebois. For a transcript of Ketel Fitz Eldred's charter to St. Mary's, York dated 1120-1130, see William Farrer, Records relating to the Barony of Kendale, 2 (Cumberland & Westmoreland Antiquarian & Arhaeological Society Rec. Ser. 5) (1923): 142. For a transcript of Ives Taillebois' charter to St. Mary's, York dated 1090-1097, see William Farrer, Records relating to the Barony of Kendale, 1 (Cumberland & Westmoreland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society Rec. Ser. 4) (1923): 377. Curiously, Ketel confirmed the earlier gift of his grandfather without actually naming him.” See http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/GEN-MEDIEVAL/2005-12/1133463812.
 The Latin word “avunculus” when used precisely meant “maternal uncle” but it was not always used precisely. This was a charter to St Leonard's, York (also known as St. Peter's) and was transcribed and translated by Rev Ragg in CWAAS about 1908 or 1909.
Willus filius Gileberti Loncastre et Willus filius eius omnibus filiis matris ecclesie salutem. Notum vobis sit nos concessisse fratribus hospitalis Sancti Petri Eboraci scilicet umcunq: [Ragg suggests should be "quemconque"] domos et hortos et crophtos [et] acram terre quas tenebant in Neubi [Newby] de donatione Ketelli avunculi mei et insuper xxxi acras terre in elemosinam propter fraternitatem et orations eorum; et omnes cause et contentions queque inter nos errant omnino dimisse sunt. Vale.
William, son of Gilbert of Lancaster, and William, his son, to all sons of Mother Church greeting. Be it known to you that we have granted to the brethren of the hospital of St. Peter of York [this]: that is to say, the dwellings and gardens and crofts: that is to say, every croft [and] acre of land which they held of Ketel my uncle; and, besides this, 31 acres of land; in alms for the sake of my uncle's soul and for the sake of participating in their prayers; and all questions and contentions whatever that were between us are entirely disposed of. Farewell.
A later confirmation from the same cartulary sees William II, the son of William, confirm his father's grant but he names Ketel as "Ketell filius Elftredi" which is possibly the source of Ragg's preference for calling Eldred of Workington "Elftred". Later, Ragg (1910) spotted that the exact same word was used in a historical section of a charter of about 1357 concerning fishing at the outlet of Ullswater. I therefore believe that the leading theory concerning the connection of William de Lancaster I and the Workington family is that Godith was a sister of Ketel. Might Christiana, wife of Ketel, also have been a sister of Gilbert, making the family bonding doubly close? I suggest this because of the seemingly strong right Ketel apparently had over lands once associated with Ivo.
Chartulary of Cockersand Abbey of the Premonstratensian Order
Vol I, Part I,
(Chetham Society), p.307 footnote.
 For example see S. H. Lee Washington (1942) The Early History of the Stricklands of Sizergh. p.72 fn 102.
 See also a reference at: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=49319 "1150–84 William son of Gilbert de Lancastre granted to Roger his brother in fee the advowson of the church of Barton co. Westmorland; Cal. Pat. R. 1374 p. 422". It appears the editors felt this was evidence of this early Roger. But see the original patent roll reference which seems to indicate a date for this transaction much later than 1150-84. Because we know (Edward II, vol. 2, p. 523) that Lord John de Lancastre later granted this same advowson to the prior and convent of Wartre, this "Gilbert de Lancastre" must be Gilbert fitz Reinfrid, which seems not to be the way he was usually referred to.