Eudo Dapifer's brothers were by no means lost in the glow of fame and honour which surrounded the youngest of them at the courts of the kings. The Cenomannic tumults shortly after the battle of Hastings quelled, the treis fils, chevaliers bons, of the ambassador, Hubert of Rye, came back to England; and all of them distinguished themselves. When Roger Fitz-Osborn, earl of Hereford, and son of William Fitz-Osborn, once dapifer of Normandy, and governor of England with Odo, earl of Kent, married his daughter to Ralph Waer, earl of Norfolk, against King William's expressed will, the marriage-feast of conspiracy so celebrated in history took place. The oath to dethrone the Conqueror, sworn over their cups in Norwich Castle, proved as useless as all other traitorous proceedings against the able monarch.
Waltheof, the Saxon earl of Nottingham, who received many favours from him, and had even his niece Judith in marriage, to bind more to his interests, proved faithless with the rest. He had been once pardoned before for something very like treason, but this time his repentance could not be accepted, and he was beheaded at Winchester in 1075, the only nobleman of that terribly tried reign who suffered death by law. To those who falsely confuse the Anglo-Saxons with the English as they now are, he is one of the martyrs of Norman tyranny. Not to answer such prejudice, but to calm its outcry, reference may be given in this respect to subsequent reigns, in times of supposed higher national development, such as those of Henry VIII, Mary, or even Elizabeth. The necessities of death in war are beyond the power of a monarch, but legal sentences are valuable indications of his temper and character.
Hubert Sinclair was, under the governor of the kingdom, Bishop Odo, the means of scattering this detestable conspiracy finally; and he took the place of the semi-Saxon, semi-Celtic earl of Norfolk, who fled from England in 1074, and died in the Holy Land, his companion, the earl of Hereford, being taken, and deservedly imprisoned for life. Eudo Dapifer's brother was made governor of Norwich Castle; and though record is scanty, he enjoyed the full rights and benefits of the earldom of Norfolk, which the traitor had forfeited. It is he who, before these honours were got, was Dugdale's “Hubert de Rye (a great man in Lincolnshire)”, who married Agnes Todenei, the daughter of Robert Todenei of Belvoir Castle, the father of the William who is so well known to record by the surnames Albini and Brito, the hero of Tenchbrai.
The earls of Arundel, also Albinis, were of the same stock, descended from the uncle of Rollo. The latter were butlers of coronation-day, and had surname from this of Pincerna. It was one of them who was married to Adeliza, Henry I's widow. He and she received Matilda, the empress, and her brother, Robert of Gloucester, in Sussex, for their first contest with Stephen. Such relationship as this of Hubert's explains the names appearing in court-given charters so frequently. Eudo Dapifer and Albini were related thus and otherwise.
A daughter of the Raoul de Bello Sago of Domesday Book was married either to Hubert or one of his sons, and she brought West Lexham as dowry. In Rymer's Foedera Alured de Todenei is one of the witnesses to Henry I's charter to the city of London, and must have been the brother of Agnes. Alured at a later period is a noted first name for Sinclairs of the Midlands. But the same document has as witness Hubert, regis camerarias, or king's chamberlain, and if he is either son or father, as is certain, this branch of the house of Rye was in as high favour as any. Hubert, the father, castellan of Norwich, son of Hubert Sinclair, the ambassador, is established to have been, with his other duties, dapifer of the Conqueror's half-brother, the earl of Mortaine, and time would favour his son for being king's chamberlain to Henry Beauclerc.
In 1147 Pope Eugenius gave a letter of protection to the church “within the walls” near Aldgate, London, beside the convent of St.Clare. It is preserved in Rymer's Foedera. Ten years before, Pope Innocent II had given a similar letter to the same monks. The popes specify the lands and gifts, such as two parts of the returns of Exeter, the land of Lexton, church returns of Bix and Tottenham, tenths of Heham, church of Soresdich [the modern Shoreditch], land of Scelgham, lands in Brachingis, from Stephen and his queen.
What is of present purpose is that part of this last property was De dono Huberti camerarii in eadem villa. Several of these names are associated with his lineage, but the suggestive fact is that there was given also -
‘Land from Tela by the liberality of the same’. The lords of Tela, of whom Jones writes in his History of Brecknock as chief Englishmen, are remarkable as late as the reign of Edward Third; for that king confirmed a grant by his heroic queen, Philippa, to her maid of honour, Mary Sinclair, of lands which were those of William of Teye, in Havering-at-Bower, Essex. This will occur again with other purpose more fully, but it aids here towards proof that -
‘Hubert, king's chamberlain’, was of the same blood with Mary, and one of the Norwich branch. His family were mostly on the side of Matilda, against King Stephen, at the latter's accession to or seizure of the crown; and in 1135 Hugh Bigod, the dapifer, was created earl of Norfolk.
After this period fortunes and titles went into the inextricable disorder which civil wars and changing dynasties alone account for. During sixty years, however, it will be found that this family were the rulers not only indisputably of Norwich and its famous castle, but also, as the Cottonian MSS. state, of the county of Norfolk, receiving the thirds, and doing the relative duties of its earldom.
Dugdale gives good account of these Norwich Sinclairs. Hubert, the brother of the dapifer, he makes the governor; but Nicolas is mistaken when he says that this same man was governor of the castle of Norwich, 1 Stephen (1135) and was alive so late as 1146. This must have been a second Hubert, and probably the last earl of Norfolk of his family. There was a third Hubert, the son and heir of him whose position Hugo Bigod, the dapifer, seems to have secured by Stephen's help. He was known in Henry II's reign as the baron of Hengham, in Norfolkshire, and died in 1172 without male issue. That there were enough of male heirs is suggested by Dugdale's notice of a Henry who, 11 Stephen (1146) gave a manor to monks of Kent.
The early Huberts must have had large property, for this third one, after the twenty years' struggle of Stephen's reign, in which they do not seem to have been fortunate, on assessment for marrying Henry II's daughters, 1162 and 1164, had thirty-five knights' fees, an amount of land which at once suggests more than the governorship, great as this office was, of Norwich Castle. In 18 Henry II (1172), he paid £35 as his share of the scutage raised at that time for Ireland, which was being then finally conquered by England. He died in this year. His fees were in Suffolk as well as Norfolk.
In the reign of King John a Hubert held the very same number of fees, so that it may be supposed that he was the heir of the baron of Hengham by all the property as well as title. In the state records of King John, 1199, Robert Fitz-Roger gives three hundred marks to the treasury, for sanction to marry to his nephew the younger daughter of this Hubert, who had no sons. Dugdale says Fitz-Roger was “a great baron in Northumberland”. This nephew of his is Roger de Cressi, who married Isabella Sinclair. He was one of the barons who, Matthew Paris says, came in 1215 to London to compel the laws of Edward the Confessor and other privileges from King John, for which John took his revenge in 1216 by ravaging his Norfolk and Suffolk estates; and that he was thoroughly in earnest against the reigning family is further shown by the fact that he was one of the barons who invited and supported Louis, the dauphin of France, in his extraordinary attempt to become king of England. He was taken prisoner in 1217, at the frightful massacre of the French in “Lincoln Fair” battle; but he has possession of his lands some years after, so that he cannot have been far wrong. Dugdale says his wife Isabella was first married to Hugh de Lacy, constable of Chester, of the family known well as earls of Ulster and Lincoln.
The other daughter and co-heir of this last Hubert of the Norwich line was Aliva, and she married John Marescal, who, with his four brothers, had their name from being holders of the marshalships of England and Ireland hereditarily. He was brother of William Marshall, the earl of Pembroke who had, by his mother, the rights and titles of “Strongbow”, or Richard Striguil, the conqueror of Ireland. He and this brother were barons on the king's side at the signing of Magna Charta. They appear in Matthew Paris's list. In the original copy of the Great Charter, preserved in the Cottonian library, William Marescall, earl of Pembroke, and John Marescall are of the sixteen nobilium virorum whose names begin the document as the king's advisers. They were also both at the coronation of King Henry III at Gloucester in 1216, their efforts saving England from the misery of a foreign conquest of an almost ridiculous character. Earl William as regent is one of the historic personages of his country, and John Marescal, his brother, ably seconds him in his strenuous deeds for the boy-king Henry III, though in John's reign the earl marshal had favoured the French attempt, like Roger de Cressi. The last earl of these Marshalls died in 1245, when the branch became extinct. Five brothers being earls marshal, and only three generations of them altogether, John must have been also a short liver. The extraordinary doings of the Marshalls all through Henry III's reign are a large subject. Roger de Cressi and John, earl marshal, were notable men of the time, and these Sinclair ladies had reason to be proud of their position. In the Temple Church, London, the monuments of these lords marshal, as crusaders with crossed legs, as well as of the lords Ros, descendants of Richard de St.Clair, of battle of Hastings fame, are still to be seen. At the Crystal Palace there are copies in clay, as of the noblest men England has had, side by side with those of her kings and queens. They had each with their wives seventeen and a half knights' fees of lands. Hubert died before 1213, because in paying the scutage of wars with Scotland in 13 John (1212) it was these two husbands who appeared in accounts. In 6 Henry III (1221) they again stand with exactly the thirty-five fees at which the family are so often assessed. Marshall scions survive in Devon.
It seems the rule with Norman families of the early periods to come quickly to their male conclusion; and Hubert, the gallant governor of Norwich, had not many direct descendants to keep up his name and fame. Daughters had privileges stronger than masculine representatives, or the line, like many others, might still be represented. In 48 Henry III (1264) a John fought well on the side of the barons struggling for liberties, and he was one of the prisoners at Northampton, but in 53 Henry III (1269) pardon came. In 5 & 6 Edward I (1276-7), a Nicholas of these Sinclairs was sheriff or viscount of the county of Lincoln, and in 9 of Edward's reign (1280) Ranulph figures in the same district, Blomfield's History of Norfolk under “Hingham” as heading, gives suggestive knowledge. Hingham contained 43 parishes, and King Stephen farmed it to Henry Sinclair, a son of Hubert, the castellan. In 1195 Cardo de Freschaville had the barony by the same form of tenure from Richard I. This town, Blomfield asserts, was always reputed the head of the barony of Rye ever since its first grant to Henry of Rye aforesaid, and uniformly acknowledged as such by those who farmed it.
After the death of Henry of Rye, Hubert of Rye had the barony, he adds; but the manor then belonged to Hugh de Gournay, captain of Castle Galliard, in Normandy. John Marshall got the barony in 1207 and the manor in 1210, as being the husband of Alice, daughter of Hubert de Rye, baron de Rye in Norfolk. He also had the hundred of Forehoe. His second and final confirmation was expressly given him by the king to cut off all claims that the heirs of Cardo Freshville could make. The Freshvilles stood nearest male heirs to Hubert, and were undoubtedly of the same blood male, descended from Ralph Sinclair, governor of Nottingham Castle, as Sir Henry Ellis and others have shown, and only the partibility of fees and the heirship by daughters prevented them keeping up there Hubert's line and surname. Dugdale also testifies that John Marshall, married to Hubert of Rye's daughter Alice, got from King John, 1214, the manor of Hengham, “part of the possessions of Cardo de Freshanvill”.
Sir Francis Nicolas, in his Extinct Peerage, makes Ralph de Frescheville receive a writ to parliament as a baron, 25 Edward I (1297) and on this Baron Freshville of Stavely, co. Derby, had the creation renewed in his favour in 1664. Lord Freshville of Derbyshire died in 1682, and the proper male line became then extinct. That Hugh of Gournay appears as lord of Hengham, is of great interest, because the Gournays and Sinclairs are frequently in close relationship, both in Normandy and England. An earlier Hugh, as having the district of the French and Norman Vexin, in which the historic St.Clair village on the Epte river was whence the name came, appears prominently in treaties between the English and French kings, and he almost holds princely position in the negotiations. The three fees which these great Norman-French Gournays held in England, according to Domesday Book, 1080-86, were in Eudo Dapifer's district at Colchester.
They were Fordham, Listen, and Ardley, quite close to that city, Liston being the Lexden afterwards the property of the governor of Colchester Castle, Hubert de Sancto Claro. What is suggestive also is that Geffrey Talbot, related to Eudo Dapifer, and leaving many knights' fees to Walter Sinclair of Medway, held Lexden as under-tenant from the Gournays, whose small portions then (for by marriage with Warennes and others of first rank, they afterwards increased lands largely in England) are explained by the fact that they were powerful marchers on both sides of the Epte, under the French and English kings, both jealous of their power. It is too obscure to try to discover how they got the lands there which once was part of territories of the St.Clares, whether by marriage or otherwise.
Much general light, and finely true Norman appreciation as against the Saxon grumbling of some prejudiced chroniclers and one or more as prejudiced recent historians, appear in a book by James Hannay, Three Hundred Years of a Norman House. It is founded on a MS. history of the Gournays from the Rouen public library, but the whole spirit of the too graphic work is sufficiently true and illustrative of those earlier centuries to make it a valuable aid to knowledge of them and their chief figures.
It is probable that a great deal is yet to be discovered about the doings of Hubert Sinclair, son of the duke of Normandy's ambassador to Edward the Confessor, and of his descendants. Enough has appeared to show that he was a brother worthy of Eudo Dapifer. Whether, like him, he had lands also over the Channel, and was a great builder of castles and monasteries, are questions hardly needing discussion.
In the work of building, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe says Sinclairs were adepts; and the high philosophies of freemasonry were no doubt considerably of their manufacture. In Sunny Memories, page 87, after indulging in quotation from The Lay of the Last Minstrel, and celebration of the William St.Clair in 1446,
‘prince of Orkney, duke of Oldenburgh, lord of Roslin, earl of Caithness and Strathearn, and so on ad infinitum’, as “the seemly St.Clair” of tradition, who he was not, though of whatsoever “noble deportment and elegant manners”, she adds two paragraphs on good enough authority
‘. It appears by certain documents that this high and mighty house of St.Clair were in a particular manner patrons of the masonic craft. It is known that the trade of masonry was then in the hands of a secret and mysterious order from whom probably our modern masons have descended’. She continues,
‘The St.Clair family, it appears, were at the head of this order, with power to appoint officers and places of meeting, to punish transgressors, and otherwise to have the superintendence of all their affairs’. This fact may account for such a perfect geyser of architectural ingenuity as has been poured out upon their family chapel [Roslin] which was designed for a chef d'oeuvre, a concentration of the best that could be done to the honour of their patron's family.
The documents which authenticate this statement are described in Billings' Baronial Antiquities. So much for “the lordly line of high St.Clair”. And so much for the democratic mushroom that spreads its fragrance. But it is good tribute from the American mind, so barren of the glow and glory of antiquity, that in spite of all its training to flat ephemeral usefulness, the dignity of true because able and artistic nobility, compels its mede of justice and admiration. The appreciation, however, may have been aided by the secret memory of her own characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin: the planter of the southern states, and his darling daughter, Eva St.Clair, whom the gods loved.
To hold that Hubert, if he did not altogether found Norwich Castle, enlarged its warlike dimensions equal to the pressing necessities then, not only of defence, but of mastery over the entire north, would not be quixotic. No position required more military and engineering ability than this; and the ultimate success along the whole line of the Conqueror's efforts, had its efficient aid from Hubert Sinclair's lieutenancy in an historically troublesome but withal brave part of the kingdom. It would be pleasant to accumulate incident of his lordship of the city and governorship of the castle, and industry could find its reward in the work.
Other things and other men now, however, call for fair share of attention. “The house of Rye rose high in William's favour”, says Freeman, who does not grudge them their honours and lands; and were not such men as this Hubert worthy of all honour, so loyal, brave, and capable ? Their skill of pacification by giving justice and showing courtesy to the exasperated Saxons, was the finest feature in their rule, though it has the effect of keeping them less on historic page (which generally loves tyrannies and sensations for its best attraction) than if of the harsh temper and nothing besides. That other conspiracies in the north-east never came to much or anything,must be attributed to the ability and geniality of Hubert and his descendants.
In Domesday Book's pages “Hubertus, filius Huberti”, holds much in capite and as under-tenant. What has been said of his brother Eudo in this respect will apply to him, their lands being of similar extent. Hubert held in Sussex, Berkshire, Dorsetshire, Devon, Warwickshire, Essex, Staffordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk, filling leaves of the Conqueror's record.