Alfred Ransford.

Origin of the Ransfords : from the baronial settlement in Normandy circa 900 to the baronial settlement in England temp. Doomsday (1086), and their immediate descendants online

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We find that Fulcho filius Raynfredi is father of Robert and Gilbert, and we
also find that Alicia de St. Quiutin, who was daughter of Aymer (? Almar or
Albermarle) de Arches, Founder of the Monastry of Keeling (Almar, Bishop of
Thetford, who held part of the Manor of Wickmere, Norfolk, with Drogo, heir of
Hainfred, was half brother to Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury), and that her
son Fulcho was the father of Robert and Gilbert. Raynfred was buried at Hackness
having lost his life through an accident. After Prior Raynficd's death, Serlo, the
brother of William de Percy was created Abbot." I suggest that Pi-ior Rainfred
■was a near kinsman to the Percys who descended from Mainfred ? Rainfred the
Dane. There can be little doubt that Rainfred was a member of the Baronial
House of the Rainfreds or Talibois, Barons of Kendal, 108G. It will be remem-
bered that Ivo, Lord of Kendal, had a son Fulk, who was father of Geoffrey
Plantaganet, and a brother, Gilbert Fitz Reinfred, ancestor of Gilbert Fitz Reinfred,
Baron of Kendal, 1200 — 19. Referring to the family of de Arches, or de Arques,
near Dieppe, from whence the de AVarrens (Norman People). I think it is but
another form of de Auchy. The Abbey of St. JIartin de Auchy, near Albemarle,
which was founded by Guy Renfred.

Now we must return to the Reyneys, Rainfreds, Radneys or Rodneys of Rodney
Stoke, Somerset. From Bird's article on Rodney Stoke which appeared in the
" Genealogist," N.S., vol. xxvi., pt. 1, we find that in 1159 Roger Witeng occurs in
the Bruton Chartulary as Lord of Stoke, and in 11G6 he was holding seven knights'
fees of William, Earl of Gloster. Richard de Rodney is first mentioned about 1300,
his immediate predecessors in connection with Stoke being Anslem Basset and
Bartholomew de Empnebergh. These names are also mentioned in connection with
Winfrod. (For fuller particulars see article referred to.) Another article by the
same author on the origin of the Rodnej's, which appeared in the " Genealogist,"
N.S., vol. xxvi., pt. 2, gives Collinson's descent of Sir Richard de Rodney the first
owner of Stoke, which states he was descended from Walter de Rodney, a famous
partisan of the Empress Maud, by whose gift he had the manors jf Backwell,
Lamyat and Rolston, besides other estates in this county, Cornwall and Devon,
which descended to his son and heir Sir Henry de Rodney, Knt., which Sir Henry
was Steward to Henry son of King Henry II., and is mentioned in that reign as
arbitrator between the Dean and Chapter of Wells Cathedral. He had issue Sir



THE ORIGIN OP THE RANSFORDS. 1&

Richard de Rodney, Kiit., who i Ric. I. was slain afc Acre in Palestine and was
succeeded by William de Rodney his son, who was sent by King John as Ambas-
sador to the Court of Rome, and dying on his journey thither was buried at Viter-
borne. His son and heir was Sir Ricliard de Rodney, Knt., who in the year 1234
was slain at Hereford by Llewellyn, Prince of Wales. He married Jane, dau. of
Sir John Eastley, Knt., by whom he had issue two sons, Richard and Tiiomas, the
eldest of whom losing his life at the same time with liis father, this estate descended
to the younger son Thomas, which Thomas was also a Knight and married Mar-
garet dau. of Sir Arnold Montenay, Knt., by whom he had issne Richard de Rodney,
who in 131G was knighted. He goes on to say that readers of the " Genealogist"
will not have forgotten the history of this family (" Genealogist," N.S., vol. xvi.,
pp. 207—214, ex. vii. fi— 12. 100— 106) written for his daughters in the seven-
teenth century by Sir Edward Rodney. Sir Edward dealt respectfully but very
guardedly with these six generations. " It hatii been a constant tradition in our
family that wee came into this land with Maud die Emprisse, from forraigne parts,
aud that shee gave them lands and estates witliin this Kingdome. I confess I have
no evidence by mee to prove this tradition besides the pedigree ; yet my want
thereof will not make it false in itselfe though it gaine the less credit with others."
And again, " I call those Ancestors the roots whicii lived before Sir Richard Rodney
who lived Henry III., Edward I. and Edward II., for they all, like rootes under-
ground, have left to posterity a very uncertain knowledge and remembrance of
them and such as a diligent searcher after truth can hardly rest satisfied withall
. , . for that Richard de Rodney wee have testimony both public and private as
cleare as the snnne. Beyond him the times are dark and cloudy without any
furniture for this argument. The Publike Records reach no further, neither
amongst my private evidences doe I finde anything besides the Genealogie or
Pedigree."' Bird asked the question, " Where is Rodney ? and says tiie name on
the face of it is a place name — English by its form." He searches the Public
Records for an answer, and says "If in the Empress Maud's time Records are
scarce : from the accession of King John downwards many are accessable in print.
He complains that the search of index after index reveals nothing but a strange
conspiracy of silence in regard to a line so distinguished." When Sir Edward
Rodney was informed by one Dr. Pierce that he had found the name of Rodney at
Wells as ancient as tlie foundation of the Cathedral Church there. Sir Edward
observes, with pleasant irony, " Whether his posteritie went into the parts beyond
the seas and at last came over with Maud the Em|)ressc according to the tradition
aforesaid is a thing uncertain I shall mention no further, yet it is possible it might
be so."

Bird quotes in full a document taken from the Liber Albus i.. fo. 123,
Wells MSS. i., 160 (see "Genealogist," N.S., vol. xxvi., pt. 2, p. 95). From this
document, in which the place name of Rodney is mentioned, lie comes to the con-
clusion " that it is to this holding that the Rodneys are indebted for their name,
and is satisfied that Sir Richard was the true founder of the family, and his
ancestors are to be sought not among knights and nobles, at the Court of an
Empress, but among the husbandmen who tilled the lands for the Deanery."

There is one name constantly mentioned in connection with the Rodney lands,
viz.. Bans, sometimes spelled Baiuse or Baiocis or Bayeux. I think probably these
are but vai'iants of Baugh or Bawde. Baughs were seated for many generations at
Twining Manor about two miles from Tewkesbury, and on two or three occasions
tlie Wrenfords or Rainsfords of Longdon Manor intermarried with this family.
AVe find from the Public Records that Sir Richard de Rodney was one of the
executors of Bishop William de Marchia, who died 1302. In 1306 Rodney
acquired from William de Esthalle and his wife an important estate in Claverham
and Backwell, formerly Le Soor's, and from Thomas de Baiocis a moiety of the
manor and advowson of Saltford, to which church he presented.

From 1307 to the end of his life Rodney was constantly employed in the King's
service. In 1314 he was Conservator of the Peace in Gloucestershire. In 1316 he



20 THE OEIGIN OF THE RANSFORDS.

was kuighted at Keynsham, and in December of that year he was appointed with
others to keep the land of Gilbert de Clare his chief lord, Earl of Gloster and
Hertford, who had been slain at Bannockburn — an appointment renewed in May
1317 by consent of the coheirs pendint; a partition of the estate. In 1:'>l'2, after
Boroughbridge, he was commissioned to render judgment upon two traitors at
Bristol, being Constable of Bristol Castle, as seen from a writ of August that year.
He and Lucy his wife were buried at Backwell, but in 1337 their son had licence
to exhume their bodies and translate them to Keynsham Abbey.

In conclusion he refers to the well known arms of Rodney and points out, " they
date back to the time of Sir Richard de Rodney the founder of the family for we
have it from Sir Edward that he sealed with three eagles temp. Edward II. Now
we should expect to find a novufi homo of that date adopting a coat derived from
that of some family with which he was connected by marriage, tenure of land or
otherwise," and he goes on to say, " that the suspicion will arise that to the vain
glorious imagination of some herald of the decadence Rodney's eagles suggested
Imperial patronage, a suggestion out of which may have grown the story of the
Empress Maud and the pedigree of six illustrious generations, purporting to fill the
time between her return to England and the authentic date of the rise of Sir
Richard Rodney."

I may say at once, with the material I have at my disposal I can arrive at no
other conclusion than that the account given by Collinson in hia " History of
Somerset," and the pedigree of the Rodneys to be found in the visitations of that
county and the account of this family written by Sir Edward Rodney for his
daughters in the 17th century are substantially correct. The confusion has arisen
by the extraordinary vagaries and variants of the spelling of the name. We have
already referred to "The History of the Norman People," where it states "that
Rodney is apparently not found in the records prior to the lith century, that it is
a corruption of Reiney or Rayney afterwards Radenay and that the family of de
Rainey or Rigny came from Champagne." We have also noticed that Walter de
Coutances who died 1207 and was appointed Archbishop of Rouen, 118-1 succeeding
his relative Robert de Newburgh or de Beaumont who died 1183, who was son of
Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Warwick and Patron of the Abbey of Preaux, was of
the FitzRainfred family, a son of Rainfred by Gonilla or Corcellii, who immigrated
into Cornwall early in the 12th Century. Bird says "that in the search of the
Public records from King John downwards index after index reveals naught but a
strange conspiracy of silence in regard to a line so distinguished." AVhen he says
that a Dr. Pierce had found the name of Rodney at Wells as ancient as the
foundation of the Cathedral there, no doubt the Doctor was right, but the name
was disguised under other forms, such as Rayner, Raamer, Rainfred, Rainey, or
Wrangheye, Ranyard, etc.

Who was this Rainfred who married Corcella and father of Walter the Arch-
bishop ? I think there can be little doubt that he is identical with Rainfred alias
Kainfrey, son of William (1) de Lancaster, Baron of Kendal by Gundred de
Warren, Countess of AYarwick, who was a daughter of William de Warren by Eliza-
beth de Vermandois. Her brother William de Warren married Ella de Belshme ;
their daughter Isabel married Hamlin Plantagenet, natural son of Geoffry, Count
of Anjou, whose daughter Matilda married Osbert de Preaux, Lord of Preaux, his
grandfather being Gilbert FitzRainfred who was provided for by his brother Ivo de
Tallibois, Baron of Kendal. Gilbert afterwards inherited the barony. They were
uncles of Geoffry Plantagenet (ob. 1158) who married the Empress Maud, and, on
the authority of Sir Henry Ellis, were nephews of the Conqueror. Rainfred's
eldest son was William (II.), who by licence of Henry II. took the name of
de Lancaster and bore for arms, An/enf, two bars and a canton i/ules, the latter
charged with a lion passant or. Another son was Roger FitzRainfred, a Justice of
the King's Bench, who married Rohaise, a niece of Ranulf, Earl of Chester, and
widow of Gilbert de Gant, Earl of Lincoln. Another sou was Warren de Lancaster,
from whom descended the important family of de Preston. A branch of the



THE ORIGIN 6V THE BANSFORDS. 2l

de Laiicasters settled at Milverton in Somersetsliiie at the time of the Yioitation
and bore arms, Argent, two bars gules, on a canton of the second a lion passant or.
Tlie father or brother of Rainfred's wife, Roger de Witen alias de Corcella, held
seven kuights' fees in 1166 of William, Earl of Gloucester.

The Raiiifred who went to Jerusalem circa 1190 is probably identical with
Richard de Rainey, Knt., who -4 Richard I. was slain at Acre, Palestine, according
to the traditional pedigree.

I suggest that Wrangheye or Rainey was given to the island or islet near Merk
by its first holder, and became corrupted into Rodney on account of its close
proximity to a village named Godney. At a much later date — the early part of the
seventeenth century — we have a similar instance, when a grant was made to Robert
Kainsford of London from Warwick House under date 2 December 1631, " who
had undertaken, wiih others, to build a town in New England " (State Papers,
Colonial Series). This was Boston, U.S.A., and an island outside the harbour is
still known as Rainsford Island. In connection with Kendal Castle it should be
borne in mind that it was the birthplace of Catherine Parr, the last wife of
Henry VIII., who was buried at Sudely Winchcombe, where a branch of the Rains-
fords were living at that time. She was a daughter of Sir Thomas Parr by Maud,
daughter of Sir Thomas Green of Greens Norton, Northants. The arms of Green
is the fifth quartering on the shield of Rainsford of Clifford, the sixth quartering
being that of Glanville alic(s Butler. Theobald Butlei-, who died 1205-6, as we
already noticed, left a son Theobald, born about 12U0, whom his grandfather was
ordered by King John on 2 March 1206 to deliver up to Gilbert FitzReinfred
(Pat. John, m. 3), and a daughter Maud was also committed to Gilbert and his
son till 1220 (Rot. Pat. 4 Henry III.).

Theobald Butler was the first Bntler of Ireland to whom that dignity and vast
estates were granted by Henry II. ; he also possessed the barony of Amounderuess,
Lanes., whicli he held in 1165 by service of one knight (Lib. Nig.). Preston,
Lanes., is situated iu Amounderness, where the FitzRainfreds held estates.
Warren FitzRainfred de Lancaster is, I expect, identical with Warenger Reine of
Normandy found mentioned in the Magn. Rotul. Scaccarii 1180 — 95. It would
appear that this Rainfred or Raiufrey son of William (I.), Baron of Kendal and
Governor of Lancaster Castle, probably forfeited his estates iu Lanes, when
Stephen, afterwards King, had the grant of Lanes, from the Ribble to the Mersey,
when Roger de Poictou, Earl of Lancaster (third son of Roger de Poictou, Earl of
Montgomery, Arundel and Shrewsbury), was deprived, on account of his rebellion,
of his great Lancashire inheritance, and owing to Rainfred's or Rainer's support of
the cause of his cousin, the Empress Maud, was rewarded by her with a number of
manors, as stated by tradition, in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. When he had
the gift of the manors of Backwell, Lamyat and Rolston he would become associated
with Roger de Witen or de Corcella, who in 1166 was holding the manor of Stoke,
wiiich his father or grandfather held as sub-tenant of Roger de Mowbray, Bishop of
Coutances, a near relative to the Empress Maud's stepfather AVilliam de Albini,
Earl of Arundel, and it is through this connection with his wife's family, with
Bishop Roger, that Walter the Archbishop of Rouen is styled De Coutances.

Not only was Rainfred the founder of the Western stem, cousin to Queen
Maud, but was also a cousin to her husband Geoffry Plantagenet, and was allied
directly by marriage at and soon after the Conquest with some of the most powerful
families, including the Norman Earls of Chester, do Brus, de Sutville, de Corcella,
de Warren, Talbot, Neville, Arundel, Percys, Pinnes and De Clare, etc. His son
Gilbert appears to have been reinstated in Lancashire, for he returned himself in
1166 as holding the same estates as held by his ancestors.

Now for an explanation of the well-known arras of Rodney, the three eagles
displayed, which were also borne, in a modified form, by the Wrenfords or Rains-
fords of Longdon and the Wilc^ts of Tew Magna and a branch of the Rainsfords of
Cumberland, viz.. Azure, an eagle displayed argent, ducally gorged or. If I am
correct iu my surmise, when Rayner, Bishop of St. Asaph, bought the township of



22 THE ORIGIN OF THE KAKSFORbS.

Willcott about 1204 — 10 from John Le Strange, some of the family assumed the
name of Willcot, and this accounts for the arms of Willcot being identical with the
Rainsfords of Longdon and who, as I shall shew later, inherited some of the
adjoining lands, or the actual lands, held by the Longdon Rainsfords.

What then is the explanation of the Rodney arms ? Bird says, " If the parentage
of Sir Richard's wives were fully known to us, it would furnish a clue to the mean-
ing of the Rodney arms." It is not the wives of Sir Richard Rodney which give
answer, but the wife of Reinfred the first settler in the west, who was, as we have
seen, a dau. of Roger de Witen alias de Corcella. In the " Visitation of Glouces-
tershire " we find in the pedigree of Holford of Churchdowne that Richard Holford
married Mary dau. of Walter Winchcombe alias Wliiteing of Payneswick. On
page 73 the second quartering of Hall is given as Azi/re, on a chevron engrailed
between three lapwings or, as many cinqvefoih of the field, on a chief of the second a
fleur-de-lis between two spearheads of the field, Winchcombe. The wings or lap-
wings being allusive to the name of Witing. Another theory as to the origin of
the arms borne by the Rodneys and Rainsfords is that they are allusive to the
Abbey of St. Martin near Albemarle, which Guy Reinfred founded circa 1020.
About the same date there was a family of Warren living at Snowshill about three
miles from Winchcombe, who bore for arms Ermine, a fez chequi or and azure
between three falbots passant sable. These arms indicate that this family derived
from Warren de Lancaster alias FitzReinfred.

Henry Rainsford bore arms Argent, a cross and a bordure sable at the siege of
Caerlaverock 1800 (Edward I. Roll) ; aaother coat Argent, a cross sable (Jermyns
and Ballard Rolls). Their earlier arms were probably Gules, a chevron engrailed
belireen three Jleurs-de-lis argent, as borne by the Rainfreds of Sockbridge and the
Rainsfords of Essex with slight variations and tinctures for difference. The Rains-
fords of Cumberland, as we have already noticed, bore Azure, an eagle displayed or,
and the Rainsfords or Wrenfords of Longdon bore Azure, an eagle displayed argent,
ducally gorged or, being identical with the arms borne by the Wilcots of Tew ; and
lastly, the Reyneys or Rodneys of Rodney Stoke bore three eagles displayed with
wings inverted purpure, these armorial identifications evidencing their common
origiu. The families who followed Prince Edward, afterwards Edward I. (1272 —
1307) on the last crusade adopted the cross, among whom were the well-known
families of De Vere and Berkeley. The Rainsfords of Tew and their descendants
have always borne for their arms Argent, a o'oss sable.

In a very interesting series of deeds published by the late Canon E. R. Dowde-s-
well, M.A., of Pull Court, Tewkesbury, in the Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc.
publications, we find that Robert Cardiff or Kerditf granted a tithe of hay on his
lordship of Walton (Walton Cardiff) to the monks of Tewkesbury 1182 — 1202.
This Robert recites a promise made by his father William in his lifetime, which
William de Cardiff held half a knight's fee in Walton, under William, Earl of
Gloucester, 1166 (Liber Niger). This Esrl of Gloucester was a son of Robert,
a natural son of Henry I., and therefore half-brother of the Empress Maud. In
the next deed mention is made of William de Cardiff, Knt., son of Sir Robert, who
quotes his father's deed word for word. Among his witnesses are Nicholas Pont,
Seymour de Cardiff and Cfecilia my wife, and Robert Pister. Csecilia may be
another form of Corcella. In a later deed we find William de Cardiff died 1331-2,
when he was seized of Queen Hill and also of Walton. He left a widow Joan, also
a daughter Joan. One of these married Sir John Wincott or Wilcot ; Fosbrook
says it was the widow. Canon Dowdeswell thinks it was the daughter, who was
born' 1317. The estates of Walton, Cardiff and Queen Hill descended to the
Bassetts, probably through the marriage of a Cardiff heiress, for in 1396 we find
John Bassett dies and is found seized of half the manor of Queen Hill. The
Bassetts remained at Walton until 1588, in which year William Bassett was lord of
the manor. I am tempted to conjecture (and after all conjecture is often a finger-
post pointing in the direction of truth, and, as Le Strange has said in his Records,
•' A stray sliot sometime hits the mark ") that these de Cardiffs were ultimately of



THJi OHIGIN OF THE BANSFORDS. 2S

the FitzReinfred family and went from the neighbourhood of Rodney Stoke to
Cardiff with their chief lord AVilliam, Earl of Gloucester, where he resided for some
years.

It is from these Raineys or Rodneys of Rodney Stoke that I claim the Wren-
fords or Rainsfords of Longdon descend. There were Wrenfords in Worcestersliire
as early as liid'S, and from the Lay Subsidy Rolls, co. Worcester, 1 Edward III.
(1327), Martin Folet cum memlirie (Castle Morton), de Thoma de Wrenford occurs.
They remained at Castle Morton and Longdon until 1805, when they and others
presented to the churches there. Tlie last male of the Longdon line was Major
Wrenford, J. P., of Longdon Manor, who died in 1805. Another branch descended
from these Wrenfords of Longdon JIanor, and resided at Gup's Hill Manor on the
field of Tewkesbury (1471) from circa 1G50 to 1850.

The Manor House is only about a quarter of a mile from the site of the ancient
castle known as Holme Castle, the cliief seat of the de Clares and de Spencers.
The lands of Gup's Hill Manor join the lands of Walton Cardiff. Tlie line at
Gup's Hill usually spell their name Raynsford or Ransford. Tradition says Queeu
Margaret of Anjou slept at Gup's Hill Jlanor (in olden times Gobes Hall) on the
eve of the battle of Tewkesbury. The last owner of Gup's Hill was Edward
Ransford, Esq., of Bristol circa 1850. Queen Hill, Tewkesbury, was part of or
joined the lands of Hill House (about two miles from Longdon), which the
Dowdeswells held of the Wrenfords in the sixteenth century. From a deed, of
which Canon Dowdeswell sent me a copy, I am able to give the following
particulars : —

" 160G. Thomas Wrenford of Faire End P. of Longdon esquire of the first
part. Robert Wrenford gentleman, his son and heir and Ann his wife, eldest
daughter of Ferdinando Baude of the second part of Thorpe Underwood
CO. Northants esquire, Ferdinando Baude, William Lord Padget of Bewdesert.
Henry, Lord Danvers of Dauntsey. John Baude of Thorpe Underwood esquire.
John Danvers of London esquire. John Ireland of Great Bowden, co. Leicester
third part. Parties 1, 2, 3 demise to Roger Dowdeswell, Hill House messuage and
land in Bushley Longdon and Pool, Gullivers or GuUersEnd messuage and lands in
Longdon, lands etc. in Longdon heretofore belonging to Hill House, part of the
inheritance of William Wrenford father of Thomas known as Aylworths lands."

Henry Danvers, K.G., was a son of Sir John Danvers, Cirencester Park, created
Baron 1603 and Earl of Danby 1626. He built Cirencester House, now the seat
of Earls Bathurst, and died at Cornbury Park, Oxon, 1644.

From earliest times there has always been the closest connection of the Rans-
fords with the Earls of Gloucester and the Earls of Warwick, and wherever their
chief seats were we find the Ransfords holding lands, viz.. Gup's Hill, Tewkesbury,
Longdon, Castle Morton, Hanley Castle, Elmley Castle and Warwick Castle, also at
Bisham, I3erks, the burial-place of " Tlie last of the Barons," Richard Neville " the
King Maker," 1471. The name of AViten took the form of Whitehand, and we
have seen that these Whitehands were mentioned in conjunction with the de Rain-
fords of Lanes, in connection with the land there in the early part of the thirteenth
century. It appears that one of the Lancashire Rainfreds gave their name to
Rainford, Lanes., probably sometime before the Conquest, and it was first called
Rainfred's Manor, and finally Rainford, as we have already seen in the evolution of
the spelling of their holding in Somersetshire, first in Doomsday as Wenfrod, then
Winfred, AVynfred, Wynesford and Winford.

The following shews the connection of Hawise de Lancaster, wife of Gilbert
FitzReinfred, who was the son of Roger FitzReinfred who had the grant of
Hanworth Marsh, Line. In 1288 Adam de Rainford claimed common of pasture
for certain lands for which he alleged Robert de Latham had disseized him
(Assize Roll 1277, m. 32 a). There were at that time two Adams, one being
the son of John, and the other the son of Benedict (Assize Roll 408, m. 65).



24- THE ORIGHN or THE EANSFORDS.

The former Adam was the great grandson and heir of John Westleigh who
had been enfeoffed of land in Eainford by a certain Hawise, grandmother of


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Online LibraryAlfred RansfordOrigin of the Ransfords : from the baronial settlement in Normandy circa 900 to the baronial settlement in England temp. Doomsday (1086), and their immediate descendants → online text (page 4 of 5)