Sir Henry de Ferrers Profile

    • Sir Henry de Ferrers
    • ID: I692
    Ferrers, Henry de (d. 1093~1100), magnate and administrator, was the eldest son of Walkeline de Ferrers (d. c.1040), and inherited his father's Norman patrimony, centred on Ferrières-St Hilaire. It is not known whether Henry de Ferrers fought at Hastings; although it is impossible to arrive at precise dates, he may have begun to acquire lands in England as early as 1066-7. The pattern of Ferrers's tenure by 1086, as revealed in Domesday Book, resulted from grants both from the personal holdings of Anglo-Saxon thegns and of old Anglo-Saxon administrative units. Serving William I, perhaps first as castellan of Stafford, Ferrers received the lands of three Anglo-Saxon antecessors. Probably about 1066 or 1067 he was granted the lands in Berkshire and Wiltshire of Goderic, former sheriff of Berkshire. By about the end of 1068 he also held the lands of Bondi the Staller in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire, and Essex. Following the dispossession of Siward Barn for his part in the 1071 revolt, Ferrers acquired his substantial estates, comprising lands in Berkshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire and also in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The latter in particular complemented Ferrers's major territorial acquisition of Appletree wapentake, which stretched from eastern Staffordshire across most of south Derbyshire, and which he probably received in the wake of William I's defeat of the rebellion in the north in 1070-71. It was centred on Tutbury, Staffordshire, previously held by the new earl of Chester, Hugh d'Avranches. This large and compact estate was supplemented by lands in north Derbyshire and western Leicestershire.

    It was two manors from Appletree wapentake which formed Ferrers's original endowment of Tutbury Priory, which he founded with his wife, Bertha, in (probably) 1080. Mid-twelfth-century evidence indicates that from its foundation Tutbury was a dependency of the Norman abbey of St Pierre-sur-Dives. As a key administrator in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, Ferrers appears regularly as a witness to the extant acta of the Conqueror and William Rufus. His particular prominence in English acta confirms his place among the most powerful Anglo-Norman magnates. In 1086 he was a legatus (‘commissioner’) on the west midland circuit of the Domesday survey.

    Henry de Ferrers had four children with Bertha. The eldest is likely to have been William, who inherited the family's Norman estates and was a firm supporter of Duke Robert Curthose. Engenulph did not long outlive his father and Ferrers's English lands passed to his third son, Robert de Ferrers (d. 1139), whom King Stephen later made an earl. A daughter, Amicia, married Nigel d'Aubigny, probably the brother of Henry I's butler. Ferrers was still alive in September 1093, when he was among the addressees of a royal charter, but had almost certainly died by 14 September 1100 when Engenulph attested an early charter of Henry I; he was buried in Tutbury Priory.
    This ancient family, than which few can claim a higher or more illustrius descent, derives from Walchelin, a Norman, whose son Henry Ferrers, assumed the name from Ferriers, a small town of Gastinols, in France, otherwise called Ferrieres, from the iron mines with which that country abounded, and in allusion to the circumstance, he bore for his arms "six horse shoes" either from the similitude of his cognomen to the French Ferrier, or because the seigneurie produced iron, so essential to the soldier and cavalier in thos rude times, when war was esteemed the chief business of life, and the adroit management of the steed, even amongst the nobility, the first of accomplishments. Henry de Ferrers came into England with the Conquerer, and obtained a grant of Tutbury Castle, County Stafford.
    Henry de Ferrers (also known as Henri de Ferrières) was a Norman soldier from a noble family who took part in the conquest of England and is believed to have fought at the Battle of Hastings of 1066 and, in consequence, was rewarded with much land in the subdued nation.

    His elder brother William fell in the battle. William and Henri were both sons of Walkeline de Ferrers (d. ca. 1040) Seigneur of Ferrières-Saint-Hilaire, Eure in Upper Normandy. The Ferrers family holding at Ferrières-Saint-Hilaire was the caput of their large Norman barony.

    Henry became a major land holder and was granted 210 manors throughout England and Wales, but notably in Derbyshire and Leicestershire, by King William for his conspicuous bravery and support at Hastings.

    He first served William I as castellan of Stafford, and in about 1066 or 1067 he was granted the lands in Berkshire and Wiltshire of Goderic, former sheriff of Berkshire, and, by the end of 1068 he also held the lands of Bondi the Staller in present day Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire, and Essex. He is thought to have been appointed the first Anglo-Norman High Sheriff of Berkshire.

    Following this, in 1070 was the Wapentake of Appletree, which covered a large part of south Derbyshire, granted to Henry on the promotion of Hugh d'Avranches to become Earl of Chester. At the centre of this was Tutbury Castle[6] where he rebuilt and founded the priory in 1080.

    His major landholdings, however, were those of the Anglo-Saxon Siward Barn, following a revolt in 1071, including more land in Berkshire and Essex and also Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

    These included part of the wapentakes of Litchurch and Morleyston, which contained an area later to be known as Duffield Frith. To command an important crossing over the Derwent he built Duffield Castle. In the wapentake of Hamston was the west bank of the River Dove, where he built Pilsbury Castle. Both these were of typical Norman timber motte and bailey construction. The latter history of Pilsbury is unknown, but Duffield was rebuilt as a stone fortress sometime in the Twelfth century.

    He was a key administrator in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, and among the most powerful Anglo-Norman magnates. In 1086 he was a legatus ('commissioner’) on the West Midland circuit of the Domesday survey.

    Henry had by his wife, Bertha, three sons - Enguenulf, William and Robert. A daughter, Amicia, married Nigel d'Aubigny, probably the brother of Henry I's butler. Henry had built Duffield Castle to protect and administer the Frith, and he placed it in the charge of Enguenulf. Meanwhile William inherited the family's Norman estates. He joined Robert Curthose and was captured at Tinchebrai.

    The date of Henry de Ferrers' death is uncertain, but it would seem to be between 1093 and 1100. He was buried in Tutbury Priory.

    Enguenulf died shortly afterwards and the English estate passed to Robert, who King Stephen later made the first Earl of Derby.

    His family tree is well researched and various people are said to be descended from this line.[10] These include, George the First, Lady Diana, George Washington and Winston Churchill, and likely the actress Mia Farrow, a daughter of the Australian film director John Farrow, a descendant of the Farrows of Norfolk, England.

    As a leading Norman magnate, Henry de Ferrers was followed to England by a coterie of lesser lords, or vassals, who were part of the feudal structure of Normandy and who owed their allegiance to their overlord. Among the underlords who followed Henry de Ferrers were three families who were lords of villages within the original Ferrers barony in Normandy: the Curzons (Notre-Dame-de-Courson),[11] the Baskervilles (Boscherville)[12] and the Levetts (Livet-en-Ouche).

    All three families were from villages close by Ferrières-Saint-Hilaire. In the case of the de Livets, the village under their control was approximately four miles from the caput of the Ferrers family barony at Ferrières-Saint-Hilaire.

    His grandson, Earl Robert de Ferrers the younger, produced a charter confirming land grants originally made by Henry de Ferrers to his vassals including: Alfinus de Breleford, Nigellus de Albiniaco, Robert fitz Sarle, William de Rolleston, Robert de Dun, Hugh le Arbalaster, Anscelin de Heginton, Robert de St. Quintin.
    3 Total Ancestors
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  • Last Modified: May 11, 2013
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