Webmaster Home Page
Surname Home PageFamily TreesSurname Facts and DemographicsInteresting and Influential Family Members
Chaffe/Chafe Surname in EnglandChaffee/Chafee Surname in AmericaChafe Surname in CanadaChaffey Surname in Canada, America and Australia
line2.gif (2492 bytes)

Who was Hugh?

 

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

The name of the village of Chaffcombe likely had Saxon origins.  However the Chaffe bloodline was transcribed by Charles Worthy in the Devonshire Wills (1896), reprinted by William Henry Chaffee (1909) as well as interpreted in the Diaries of the Chafes by Rev. W.K.W. Chafy (1910).  The wills link Hugo (Hugh/Hugu) of Chaffcombe to the Chaffe/Chafy surname.  The Wills are a list of the calendars of wills and administrations proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Exeter 1540-1799.  Rev. W.K.W. Chafy's correspondence with Rev. Henry Barbour referencing his book on the British Surnames (Nov. 3rd 1891) asserts the "Chafys" were of Norman extraction.  While the Norman Hugo (Hugan) participated in the battles around Exeter in 1003 as noted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC), at this point in time the Devonshire Wills is the only document tying Hugo to Chaffcombe, linking Ralph in the Domesday Book (1066) as his grandson and making Hugo the forefather of the family surname.

The following are the major events and people in the time period that Hugo and his sons lived.

A discussion on who Hugo could have been is presented at the end of this webpage

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

The Times of Hugo of Chaffcombe
In 911, Charles III "the Simple" of France ceded Normandy (French for “territory of the Northmen or Normans”) to the Viking leader Rollo (Rolf Ragnvaldsson c.846-942) and his warriors at the Treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte.  In turn they pledged to defend their new duchy against other Vikings from sailing up the Seine to attack Paris.  Rollo converted to Christianity and became Count of Rouen.  He gave his son, William I "Longsword" (891-942), governance of the dukedom (927) before his death.  His son Richard I "the Fearless" (933-996 r.942-996) of Normandy fathered Emma of Normandy in 988 (988-1052).  Richard had a strong Viking heritage and Normandy was a meeting place for Viking fleets bent on attacking England.

The Viking attacks on England lasted for some two hundred and seventy three years, starting in 787.  By the end of the 9th century the Danes occupied Danelaw - fully half on northern England.  However the Danish Norsemen raids escalated in England between 991 and 1005.  What started as small isolated hit and run raids, evolved into the landing of larger forces such as at the Battle of Maldon in 991.  The Danish army ravaged the countryside and demanded £10,000 in Danegeld (tribute paid in silver and sometimes in gold).  King Ethelred II (Æthelred) "the Unready" (968-1016 r.978-1016), the Anglo-Saxon King, had to raise a tax to buy the army off.  The attacks became annual events.  More than two thousand Vikings landed in Kent commanded by the famous Norse Vikings, Olaf Trygvason of Norway and Sweyn "Forkbeard" (960-1014), son of King Harold Gormsson "Bluetooth" of Denmark.  Trygvason and Sweyn were Christian, differing from many Vikings who were mostly pagans.  The army left in a friendly manner after extracting £16,000 in Danegeld.  The raids continued and more riches were extracted from the English people including £24,000 in 1002 and £36,000 in 1007.

Ethelred II  >  Sweyn  >  Edmund II  >  Canute  >  Harold I  >  Harthacanute  >  Edward the Confessor  >  Harold II  >  Edgar Atheling  >  William I


In 1000 Ethelred planned an invasion of the Cotentin Peninsula hoping to capture the Norman duke, Richard II.  The expedition was defeated but may have led to the marriage to the duke's sister Emma a year later.  In 1001 Sweyn returned with his Danes and once more southern England was in peril.  In the battle at Alton against Hampshire Saxons both sides suffered heavy losses, but the Danes prevailed.  From Alton the Danes went on to Devon where they were joined by a small army under Sweyn's brother-in-law, who had previously allied with Ethelred but had changed sides.  Exeter was besieged but due to strong fortifications, the town did not surrender.  The Danes eventually overran the Anglo-Saxons at Pinhoe nearby Exeter before returning to their base on the Isle of Wight.

Ethelred "the Unready" arranged a marriage to try to secure his kingdom from future attack likely trying to secure better relations with the Normans and the Danes.  The name of 'Unready' was given to him in the 12th century, is a mistranslation of 'Unraed', which means 'bad counsel, a twist on the fact that 'Ethelred' means 'good counsel'.  He renounced his first wife and married Emma of Normandy (c.988-1052) in 1002.  Emma was the daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy and Gunnor of Crepon (936-1031) from Denmark.  Sweyn Forkbeard (960-1014, r.1013-1014) was the brother of Gunnor as well as Emma's uncle following the family line back through his father King Harald "Bluetooth" (910-987).  Emma brought a French contingent to England in 1002, including her reeve Hugo.  Hugo was described as a servant or a confidential advisorOut of complement to her new country she took a new name, Agelfgifu, and the King gave her a number of towns, among them Exeter, the chief City of the West.  Ethelred was reported to be inconstant towards his wife, that he scarcely was intimate with her, and degraded the royal dignity by his relations with harlots.  Emma, a woman conscious of her high descent, became indignant towards her husband. 

Following her arrival, Emma appointed Hugo as the reeve or steward of Exeter and Devonshire. Hugo was known by the Anglo-Saxons as of "mean origin" and the son of a French "churl".  A ceorl in Anglo-Saxon times was an farmer, ranked below a thegn but above a peasant.  A reeve was an official appointed to supervise lands for a lord.  He had many duties such as making sure the serfs started work on time and ensuring that no one was cheating the lord out of money.  The reeve of an entire shire was a Shire-reeve, which later evolved into the title Sheriff.

In 1002 Ethelred was advised that his life was in danger from the Danes already settled in England.  His response in November was to order the death sentence to all of his Danish subjects.  The result was the brutal St Brice's Day Massacre.  It is said that Sweyn Forkbeard's sister Gunnhilde and her children were among those who died.  In response to this, in 1003, the Danes lead by Sweyn sacked Exeter and the surrounding territory.  There was speculation that Hugo capitulated the city and the land because of Queen Emma family's loyally to Denmark (Her wæs Eaxanceaster abrocen þuruh þone Frencisan ceorl Hugan þe seo læfdige hæfde hyre geset to gerefan, 7 se here þa ða burh mid ealle fordyde, 7 micle herehuþe þær genam, ASC 1003).  The Danes entered the city, sacked and pillaged it, threw down the wall from the eastern to the western gate, the people were put to the sword and then returned to their ships laden with spoil.  The Anglo-Saxons held Hugo in contempt for capitulating.  Where Hugo went after the battle is unknown.  Whether Emma knew of or condoned Hugo's actions is also unknown, but her attitude may reflect the Norman feelings towards the English on the one side and the Vikings on the other, with her siding more towards the Vikings and her brother Richard II "the Good" Duke of Normandy (963-1026 r.996-1026) rather than the English.  Sweyne continued his plundering of the country, attacking into Wiltshire and Hampshire, with little resistance. Perhaps it is this service which accounted for the settlement of Hugo in Chaffcombe, whence he and his family were never disposed under the various rulers who followed.

Flodoard (893-966) from Champagne, was a Norman chronicler.  In his works, the Annales, a chronicle covering the period 919 to 966, he recorded that Hugo was a 'Comitis' (Count).

By 1004, Emma had borne her husband two male heirs, Alfred and Edward, who became king of England (1004-1066, r.1042-1066). In 1008 Ethelred ordered that a huge English fleet be built, but internal feuds limited its usefulness, and it did not prevent the arrival in 1009 of another immense Viking army led by Thorkell "the Tall".  His army ravaged much of southern England, and only stopped after the payment of £48,000 Danegeld in 1012.

But even with her personal influence, Emma could do nothing to defend England from the Danish invasion in 1013, where the country was attacked again by Sweyn.  Ethelred, Emma and their children were forced to flee to safety in Normandy.  Sweyn became the King of England until his death in 1014.  Although Ethelred returned to England that year and regained his throne, which he kept until his death, Emma and her children remained in Normandy under the protection of her brother.  According to some historians, Emma’s writings seem to indicate that she was a Danish nationalist who wished to see England and Denmark joined, so it is quite possible that it was to this end that she was supportive of a future marriage alliance with Canute "the Great" (995-1035, r.1017-1035). 

Ethelred could not control or command his aldermen.  Even traitors among them were too strong to punish.  The exchange of Danegeld for loyalty likely had a significant influence on alliances.  Between 1013 and 1016, again saw two major invasions, both of which culminated in the conquest of England, by Sweyn in 1013 and this son Canute in 1016.  Accordingly to Worthy, Hugo was the "Ealdorman" and was subsequently supplanted by "Thegn of Chaffcombe" during the reign of Ethelred, which continued until the died April, 1016.  An ealdorman (or earl) was a noble of high rank or authority in a shire in Anglo-Saxon England.  A thegn was inferior to the aethel, the member of a kingly family, but he was superior to the ceorl.  A successful thegn might hope to become an earl.  It was understood that a thegn would fight for the king in times of war.  A ceorl was below a thegn, and was a freemen, a farmer or independent householder.

Ethelred died in 1016, and his son Edmund II "Ironside" (989-1017, r.1016-1017) became king.  At the same time Canute was laying siege to London.  Edmund had two victorious battles against Canute, but the during the heat of the third Battle at Assandun in October 1016 one of his commanders changed sides and Canute won the battlefield.  The two leaders met at Deerhurst and made peace, with Edmund retaining control over Wessex.  However Edmund died only weeks later and Canute became the sole ruler.  Upon seizing the English crown, he banished his first wife and married Emma in 1017 who was seven years older.  Canute was Christian and with his new wife, he gave England peace and strove to continue English traditions by restoring the church to high place and codifying English law.  Emma remained in England but her children and other members of the royal family remained in Normandy. The last Danegeld was £82,500, paid to Canute in 1018.  He felt secure enough to send the invasion fleet back to Denmark with a payment of £72,000 that same year.  Emma's brother Richard II died in 1027 and was replaced by Richard III of Normandy (997-1027) who died the same year.  Robert "the Magnificent" (1000-1035, r.1027-1035) became Duke of Normandy, to be followed by this son William II of Normandy in 1035 who later became William I of England (1027-1087, r.1066-1087).

Canute brought with him security from foreign invasion as his empire eventually expanded to include Denmark, Norway, Scotland and part of Sweden.  He was generally regarded as a wise and successful king of England.  He was responsible for codified English law.  The legend of Canute disenchanting his flattering courtiers by showing that the sea would not retreat at his command was first told by Henry of Huntingdon in 1130.  He gave greater religious freedom to his subjects, and built many churches around the country.  He went on pilgrimage to Rome in 1027 to attend the coronation of the Emperor Conrad II.

Upon Canute's death in 1035, his illegitimate son, Harold I "Harefoot", seized the throne (1015-1040, r.1035-1040).  Canute's North Sea empire fell apart after his death.  In France, Edward and his brother Alfred were persuaded to make an attempt to gain the crown, largely at the behest of Emma.  In 1036, Alfred headed a force of 600 soldiers in an aborted coup on Harold's kingdom.  Alfred at first was entrusted by Godwine, Earl of Wessex, an Anglo-Saxon, but later he was captured by Harold and executed.  Harold's death in 1040 allowed Canute's other son Harthacanute (1019-1042, r.1040-1042) to take over the English throne peaceably, when he arrived in England with 62 warships.  His reign was quarrelsome and oppressive, but before he died he indicated as his heir Edward "the Confessor".  Edward was called to the throne in 1042 being welcomed even by the Danish settlers owing to his gentle saintly character.  His reign was one of almost unbroken peace.  Owing to his long stay in Normandy, the began to introduce Norman ideas and followers to the court.  This growing Norman influence was unsettling to the Anglo-Saxons.  Edward was unable to assert his authority over the great earls of the kingdom, in particular Godwin.  Godwine's daughter Edith married Edward in 1045 but because of his religious views, Edward was unwilling to consummate the marriage.  Godwine married first Thyra Sveinsdottir, daughter of Sweyn and later Gytha Torkelsdotter related to the family of Harold "Bluetooth".  Godwine lead a rebellion in 1051 to gain back more Saxon authority but died shortly after.  His sons however increased the Anglo-Saxon influence on the court.  Emma was disliked by Edward, was given a modest estate in Winchester and died in 1052, being buried beside Canute.  Shortly before his death in 1066, Edward named Harold II Godwinson (1020-1066, r.Jan-Oct 1066), son of Godwine and Gytha, as his successor, possibly in the hope of averting the threat of war posed by the rival claims to the throne by William of Normandy.

According to Worthy, Hugo's son Reginald "Fitz-Hugo" is said to have been joint owner of the "vill of Chaffecumbe on the day King Edward was alive and dead," (1065-66).

Owing to  Godwin's great estates, son Harold was the most powerful figure in England, and he aspired to become heir to the throne.  He gained glory in a successful campaign against the Welsh in 1062-63.  Shortly after this (probably in 1064), Harold was shipwrecked on the coast of Ponthieu and was surrendered to William, Duke of Normandy.  Harold then, possibly under coercion, took an oath to support William's candidacy to the English throne.  When the Northumbrians revolted in 1065 against Harold's brother Tostig and chose Morcar in his place as Earl of Northumbria, Harold took Morcar's side.  The family was thus divided when King Edward died in 1066, and named Harold his heir instead of William.  Tostig was banished and sailed to Normandy.  There he met William and offered to help fight against his brother.  In May 1066, Tostig sailed up the Humber but was driven away by Morcar.  He then allied with Harold III (Hardrada) of Norway, and together they invaded England in the north.  They entered the Humber and in September defeated Morcar's army at Gate Fulford.  Meanwhile William in preparation for an invasion of England, building a fleet of 450 boats and 7,000 soldiers plus horses at Dives.  Harold's travelled north and his soldiers soundly defeated Tostig at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in September.  Two days after the battle, William landed unopposed at Pevensey and spent the next two weeks pillaging the area and strengthening his position on the beachhead.  Harold hurried south to oppose William near Hastings in October 14th, 1066.  They fought valiantly but the Anglo-Saxons were defeated, and King Harold was killed.  Edgar Atheling (1051-1125, r.Oct-Dec 1066), the grandson of Edmund II Ironside and a great-grandson of Ethelred 'The Unready' mounted a brief rebellion, wresting control for a short period at the end of 1066, but was later put down by William I at Berkhamsted.  King William I "the Conqueror" was crowned king of England on Christmas Day, 1066 thus beginning 88 years of Norman rule.

Geoffrey de Mobray (Moubrai), Bishop of Coutances (1030-1092) came from the Normandy village of Montbray located in the canton of Percy near St. Lô (also called Bishop of Lô). He was the son of Roger, Sire de Montbray.  He was William I's trusted friend. Before the Conquest he had been made Bishop of Coutances, and in that town he is remembered today for his munificence: there is the street called 'Rue Geoffroi de Montbray'.  Churchmen were not expected to remain ascetics then, and Geoffrey proved the point by commanding a section of William "the Conqueror's" army at Hastings, where King Harold of England killed.  In 1069, Geoffrey, at the head of the men of London, Winchester, and Salisbury fought off an attack of West Saxons from Dorset and Somerset.  For his various services to William, Geoffrey was granted no less than 280 English manors, one manor being about the size of a single village. Presided at Penenden, Kent, at case brought by Lanfranc against Odo of Bayeux; rebelled with Odo and others against William Rufus (William II), 1088. Church holdings in 13 southern and midland counties.

Bishop of Coutance, in Normandy permitted Ralph Fitz-Reginald to succeed his father in the "whole township" as "sub-tenant.  From the Domesday Book (1086) Ralph is listed in the land of the Bishop of Coutances: The same bishop holds Caffecome and Ralph (holds) of him. 2 thegns held it TRE and it paid geld for 3½ hides. There is land for 3 ploughs. In demesne is 1 (plough); and 2 villans and 6 borders have one plough. There is woodland 8 furlongs long and as much broad. It is worth 40s. To this manor has been added 1 hide and 3 virgates of land. 2 thegns held it TRE as 2 manors. There is land for 2 ploughs. 3 villans there have these (ploughs). It is worth 20s.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Devonshire Wills (1570-1799)
The Chafys derive their name from their ancient heritage, "Chafecombe," now Chaffcombe, near Chard, which is the "ceaf cumbe" (in English, the light or breezy valley) of the Saxon period, and which was held by their ancestor, Hugo the Thegn, or Thane, in the days of Ethelred "the Unready," and by his son, Raynald Fitz-Hugh, in those of Edward "the Confessor."

But although the Chafys can thus trace back with unerring certainty to a period long anterior to the Conquest, and so justify the assertion inscribed on the ancient tomb of one of them in Devonshire, as to his own identity with the "perantiqua" race of the Chafes of Chafecombe, yet they are not, paternally at least, of Saxon origin, which at once accounts for their continued possession of Chafecombe under Norman rule, for though their representative then nominally became sub-tenant under the Bishop of Coutance, he practically remained the owner of the land of his ancestors under the newly devised feudal system. This was "Ralph Fitz-Reginald," the grandson of Hugo or Hugh, whose own names and those of his immediate posterity and their adoption of the Norman "Fitz" as expressive of their parentage, sufficiently prove that the long prevalent idea as to the "Saxon origin of the Chafecombe family" is as erroneous as the position of its earliest ascertained members in Saxon England is unique and interesting.

"Hugo," who is said by many of his English detractors to have been of "mean origin, and the son of a French churl," was the confidential adviser of Emma of Normandy, second wife of King Ethelred, and came to England in her train in the year 1002. It is a well-known historical fact that the constant incursions of the Danes, which marked that period, were secretly encouraged by the Queen, who detested the English and despised her husband, whom she had married purely for political motives. That her Norman follower was faithful to her, to her second husband, King Knut the Dane, and to her children, is shown by his retention of his property at Chafecombe under Saxons, Danes, and Normans, and although King Edward the Confessor had suffered for some quarter of a century by the interpolation of the Danish dynasty, he evidently recognised the fidelity Hugo had evinced towards his royal mother.

With the title of Ealdorman, or Earl, Hugo was sent into the West very soon after the arrival of Queen Emma. He had secret instructions, which lie seems to have followed implicitly, and which resulted in the siege of Exeter by Sweyn, to whom the garrison, under the command of Earl Hugo, capitulated 19th August, 1003. The fortifications were demolished, the people were put to the sword, and the memory of the "Norman governor," who left with the besiegers, was long held in execration. Exeter was betrayed, says Hovenden, who wrote in the reign of Henry II, through "perjurium, et proditionem, Normanici comitis Quem Emma Domnaniae praeficerat."

The term "Ealdorman" was subsequently supplanted by "Thegn" and we next hear of Hugo as "Thegn of Chaffcombe" during the reign of Ethelred, which continued until April, A.D. 1016. His son, Reginald "Fitz-Hugo" is shown by the Domesday record to have been joint owner of the "vill of Chaffecumbe on the day King Edward was alive and dead," that is to say on 5th January, 1065-66. He had also a separate manor in that parish, and other lands, quite independently of his joint holding. At the Norman conquest King William gave the whole of the Chafecombe property to his Chief Justiciary and powerful favourite, Jeffery, Bishop of Coutance, in Normandy, who, however, permitted "Ralph Fitz-Reginald" to succeed his father in the "whole township" as "sub-tenant." The latter's son, Robert Fitz-Ralph, succeeded to the lands held by his ancestor, Reginald Fitz-Hugh, and is described as "Lord of Chaffecumbe," and as holding lands of the King-in-Chief to the value of one knight's fee, in the reign of Henry I.

From the "Black Book of the Exchequer," we learn that his son and successor, "Ranulph Fitz-Robert," owned the manor lands together with the town of Chafecombe and the perpetual advowson and right of presentation to the parish church in the following reign, and that the Lord of Chafecombe in the time of Henry II was Robert Fifz-Ranulph, who had a younger brother known as "Ranulph Fitz Ranulph." 

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Diaries of the Chafes by Rev. W.K.W. Chafy (1910)
The Rev. Henry Barbour in a letter to the writer about his book on the British Surnames (Nov. 3rd 1891) asserts the Chafys were of Norman extraction; and another antiquary assured him that their English founder was Hugo, steward of Emma of Normandy, in whose train he came to England in 1002 when he wedded Ethelred II, and that he then became established at Chafcombe in Somerset, remaining undisturbed throughout the conflict of dynasties, Saxon Danish and Norman, owing to his allegiance to each, under his royal mistress who, after Elhelred the saxon's death, became the wife of Knut the Dane, and was mother of the semi saxon Norman King, Edward the Confessor.

Emma was the daughter of Richard I of Normandy (Duke of Normandy) who was called "The fearless"...and her mother was Emma daughter of Hugh the Great, duke of the French.  Richard stood well in favour with Hugh and during his reign the Duchies of Normandy and France were in close alliance, and he had a chief hand in giving the Kingdom to Hugh Capet, son of Hugh the Great.  Richard died (probably) in 996.  Emma's beauty and accomplishments were renowned and Ethelred hoped to secure an effectual barrier against his enemies by espousing her.

Out of complement to her new country she took a new name, Agelfgifu, and as his "morning gift" the King gave her certain lands and towns, amongst which was Exeter, the chief City of the West.  Her marriage marks one of the main stages in the events which led to the Norman Conquest, and by reason of it the Normans and other French speaking people began now for the first time to settle in England and hold English offices.

She was an important person in English history, being the wife of two Kings, and mother of two Kings.  But the union proved a disastrous failure.  Ethelred's weak and vacillating nature was well expressed by his soubriquet of "Unready".  

There was no love on either side.  It was a political alliance and a political mistake.  He was unfaithful to her, and careless of the respect that her position demanded and whilst she, on her side, does not seem to have loved him, or her children of him.  Accordingly she did not scruple to encourage the Danes, who were burning to avenge Ethelred's cruel massacre of their countrymen on St. Brice's day Nov. 13 1002. and lost no time in sending her confidential attendant Hugh - the French Ceorl" the "Norman Earl" according to others - to Exeter's chief commander with her own instructions, so that when Swegen led his Danes in a determined raid the next year Hugh allowed the garrison to capitulate, either from negligence or treason, and the Danes entered the city, sacked and pillaged it, threw down the wall from the eastern to the western gate, and returned to their ships laden with spoil.

Perhaps it is this service which accounted for the settlement of Hugh at Chafecombe, whence he and his attendants were never dislodged under the contending rulers who followed.  Ethelred died in 1016, and Knut sent over to Normandy whither Emma and her English children had fled, offering her his land which she accepted July 1017, leaving her children behind in the northern Court, so that once more she became lady of the English, whilst the children grew up Norman and Norman habits and sympathies, as Edward shewed when he ascended the English thrown, amongst other things building his famous new Abbey at Westminster in the Norman style.  She died in 1052 (or 1054) and her bones rest in the Cathedral church at Winchester, to which a Sanctuary or Manor was offered by her and of which edifice the well in the court yard still exists. 

A building of Tudor date, now converted to a hotel, continues the ancient name of "God Begot" occupying the site of her foundation. When William the Conqueror 18 to 20 years after his accession ordered the Domesday survey to be made (for exchequer purposes) 1084 to 1086, Hugh's grandson Ralph was found in possession of Chafecombe.  In the Exomn Domesday book the adjective "Rufus" is interlineated above his name.  Possibly his mother, or grandmother, may have been English and given him red hair.

Radulphus Rufus de Chafecombe
Red Ralph de Chafecombe 1066

At the Norman Conquest when William gave Chafecombe to the Bishop of Coutances, the later allowed "Read" Ralph, Fitz-Reginald Fitz Hugh to continue the tenancy, although under the newly devised feudal system the tenant was practically the owner.  1000 (Year) Ralph was succeeded by his son Robert Fitz-Ralph who held lands worth £20. in capite of Henry I., by the service of one Knight's fee.  The name Hugh, Reginald, Ralph, Robert etc. sufficiently attest to the Norman extraction of the family.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC)
The ASC was originally compiled on the orders of King Alfred the Great in approximately A.D. 890, and subsequently maintained and added to by generations of anonymous English scribes and monastic houses until the middle of the 12th Century. The original language was Anglo-Saxon (Old English), and later entries were made in an early form of Middle English.
A.D. 1003. This year was Exeter demolished, through the French churl Hugh, whom the lady had appointed her steward there. And the army destroyed the town withal, and took there much spoil. In the same year came the army up into Wiltshire. Then was collected a very great force, from Wiltshire and from Hampshire; which was soon ready on their march against the enemy: and Alderman Elfric should have led them on; but he brought forth his old tricks, and as soon as they were so near, that either army looked on the other, then he pretended sickness, and began to retch, saying he was sick; and so betrayed the people that he should have led: as it is said, "When the leader is sick the whole army is hindered." When Sweyne saw that they were not ready, and that they all retreated, then led he his army into Wilton; and they plundered and burned the town. Then went he to Sarum; and thence back to the sea, where he knew his ships were.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Comments on the ASC in the English and Norse Documents, Relating to the Reign of Ethelred the Unready, Margaret Ashdown (1930)
- "It is inconceivable that Emma herself was a party to Hugo's treachery, but his action may reflect the Norman attitude towards the English on the one side and the Vikings on the other.  Steenstrup points out that even after Emma's marriage with the English king, Richards's (her father) sympathy continued to lie rather with the Vikings  than with the English." (pg 97)
- "Huga - was a frenchman who was made a reeve of Exeter by Emma and betrayed the city to the Danes. He is called a ceorl, whether with reference to low birth or his treacherous character is not clear." (pg 284)

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Emma, Queen Consort of Canute I, Pauline Stafford, (1997)
Emma brought a French contingent in 1002. When she arrived she brought with her at least one French servant, Hugh, who was given charge of Exeter. pg 111 ... patronage here passed almost entirely without mention, apart from the implied criticism when the Anglo-Saxon Chronicler singled out Emma's reeve and his role in the betrayal of Exeter in 1003. pg 146  ...The successful attack on Exeter by the Danes in 1003 was blamed on Emma's reeve, Hugh. The scapegoating is obvious and the judgement retrospective, but the Chronicler's linking of the attack and the queen may not be wide of the mark. Swein's attack was allegedly in retaliation for the death of his sister in the St. Brice day massacre in November 1002....Within England a new queen stood in danger of retaining identity of an outsider, a situation frozen in the later memory of her French reeve.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Swein Forkbeard's Invasions and the Danish Conquest of England, Howard, Ian, (1941)
The ASC blames the failure at Exeter on the incompetence, or worse, of a French ceorl named Hugo who had been appointed reeve by the queen. This leads us to consider the influence of Normans at Ethelred's court at this time but charter evidence suggests no great changes in this regard, although John of Worcester says that Hugh had been put in charge of Exeter.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Edward (Æthelred), Edward (Æthelred) 965–1016, King of England 978-1016, King of England (968-1016)
Called Æthelred the Unready [Old Eng. unrœd=without counsel]. He was the son of Edgar and the half brother of Edward the Martyr, whom he succeeded. Æthelred began his reign under a cloud of suspicion because of the murder of Edward. He was a weak king, but his efforts to resist the Danes, who resumed their raids on England in 980, were also considerably hampered by the frequent treachery of his commanders. In 991 he began paying tribute to the Danes, which he raised by the Danegeld (tribute), but his tributary status did not prevent the Danes from returning. In 997 they came not only to raid but to remain and plunder the rich realm until 1000. A massacre of Danes in England in 1002 (possibly on the king's orders) provoked another major raid (1003) led by the Danish king Sweyn. Æthelred tried to defend his kingdom; in 1002 he married Emma, sister of Richard II, duke of Normandy, perhaps in an attempt to gain an ally; in 1007 the army was placed under a single commander; by 1009 a navy had been built, but many of its commanders took to piracy. A severe harrying (1009-12) by the Danes left England disorganized, and when the Danish king Sweyn returned in 1013 to conquer, he was well received in the Danelaw, and London capitulated with little resistance. Æthelred fled to Normandy. Upon Sweyn's death in 1014, Æthelred's restoration was negotiated in the first recorded pact between an English king and his subjects. Sweyn's son, Canute, withdrew, but he returned with a powerful army in 1015. War was in progress when Æthelred died in Apr., 1016. His son Edmund Ironside was declared his successor, but after concluding a treaty with Canute, he died in November. Æthelred's heirs were restored to the throne only with Edward the Confessor.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Emma (Ælfgifu) of NormandyÆlfgifu (Emma of Normandy), The New Minster Liber Vitae (c.988-March 6, 1052)
Daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, by his second wife Gunnora, was twice queen of England, by marriage first (1002-1016) to king Ethelred the Unready and then (1017-1035) to Canute, king also of Denmark and Norway. Two of her sons - one by each husband - and two step-sons also became king of England, as did her great-nephew. Upon the Danish invasion of England in 1013, Emma took her sons by Ethelred - Alfred and Edward - to Normandy, where they remained upon her return to England to marry Canute, now king of England following the death of Ethelred and his son (her step-son) Edmund Ironside. Following Canute's death, Alfred and Edward returned in 1036, possibly in an attempt to overthrow Canute's illegitimate son Harold Harefoot, who had established himself as ruler in the absence of Harthacanute, son of Canute and Emma. Alfred was captured and died after being blinded, while Edward escaped to Normandy, followed by his mother. The death of Harold in 1040 and the accession of the more conciliatory Harthacanute paved the way for Edward's return to England the next year as co-ruler and (1042) king on Harthacanute's death. Emma returned to end her days at Winchester, Hampshire, where she was buried alongside Canute. Emma's marriages and subsequent role forged the link between England and Normandy which was to culminate in her great nephew William of Normandy's invasion of England in 1066.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Canute 995-1035, King of England (1017-1035) 
King Canute
King of England, Norway, and Denmark. The younger son of Sweyn of Denmark, Canute accompanied his father on the expedition of 1013 that invaded England and forced Æthelred to flee to Normandy. When Sweyn died (1014), the Danes in England swore fealty to Canute, but on Æthelred's return from Normandy, Canute withdrew to Denmark, where his older brother, Harold, had become king. In 1015, Canute reinvaded England with a powerful army that conquered most of Wessex, harried the Danelaw, and conquered Northumbria. After the Danish victory in the battle of Assandun, Canute divided England with Edmund Ironside, Æthelred's son. When Edmund died, late in 1016, Canute was accepted as sole king. He gave England peace and strove to continue English traditions by restoring the church to high place and codifying English law. To forestall dynastic quarrels he banished his wife (and their son Sweyn) and married Emma, the widow of Æthelred. His son by Emma was Harthacanute. In 1018 or 1019 he succeeded to the throne of Denmark and was forced to lead several expeditions to assert his rights there and in the Danish provinces in Norway. In 1028, after an uprising had expelled Olaf II of Norway, Canute was recognized as ruler of that kingdom. He made his son Harthacanute king of Denmark, and in 1029 he made his son Sweyn king of Norway, with Sweyn's mother as regent. She and Sweyn were driven out by 1035, and Norway was ruled by Olaf's son Magnus. Canute established friendly relations with the Holy Roman Empire and attended the coronation of Conrad II in Rome in 1027. At the end of his reign Canute led an army into Scotland to stop Scottish invasions under Malcolm II. Canute was succeeded by his illegitimate son, Harold Harefoot, then by Harthacanute. The name also appears as Cnut or Knut.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Domesday Book (1086) 
Bishop of Coutances, Ashcombe, Babington, Backwell, Bishopsworth, Butcombe, Chaffcombe, Charlinch, Clapton(Gordano), Claverham, Clewer, Compton Dando, Culbone, Dowlish, East Harptree, Easton, Emborough, Englishcombe, Exton, Farmborough, Farrington Gurney, Ford, Foxcote, Freshford, Hallatrow, Hardington, Havyat, High Littleton, Hutton, Keystoke, Keyford, Keynsham, Kingston Seymour, Langridge, Long Ashton, Lullington, Midgell, Newton(St Lo), Norton Malreward, Orchardleigh, Portbury, Portishead, Radstock, Rode, Rodney Stoke, Saltford, Ston Easton, Stony Littleton, Stowell, Stratton on the Fosse, Swainswick, Tellisford, Timsbury, Twerton, Upper Noble, West Harptree, Weston(Gordano), Wilmersham, Winford, Winterhead, Withycombe, Woolley, Wraxall.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Geoffrey de Mobray, Bishop of Coutances
The family owned and came direct from the Normandy village of Montbray. Geoffrey de Montbray was born about 1030, a son of Roger, Sire de Montbray. Before the Conquest he had been made Bishop of Coutances, and in that town he is remembered today for his munificence: there is the street called 'Rue Geoffroi de Montbray'. Churchmen were not expected to remain ascetics then, and Geoffrey proved the point by commanding a section of William the Conqueror's army at Hastings, where King Harold of England was apparently killed by an arrow in his eye. For his various services to William, Geoffrey was granted no less than 280 English manors, one manor being about the size of a single village. Geoffrey's life in England passed without note until 1088, when he and his nephew Robert de Montbray sided with Robert, son of the Conqueror, against his brother William Rufus. From Geoffrey's castle at Bristol, he and his nephew marched on and burned Bath, then ravaged the county of Wiltshire, but finally being repulsed at Ilchester. Though this rising had collapsed, the bishop went unpunished, and lived a quieter life until his death in 1093.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Possible Hugh Link
One possible link to Hugo of Chaffcombe is based on the research by Bruce Chaffee.  His study indicates a possible link between Hugo of Chaffcombe and Huges (Hugh/Robert II) Count de Meulan and Valois who lived from 965-1016.  The de Meulan family were a branch of the de Beaumont family.  Huges was a descendant of Waleran/Galeran Count of Mulan who lived in 985.  Huges married Alais (Alix) de Vexin (b.970) in 989.  Huges may have fought and died in the final Battle of Assandun in October 1016.  Hugo would be related as an in-law in the tree below to the Kings of England and France by the marriage of his brother-in-law Dreux with Emma of Normandy's daughter Godgifu. 

France.jpg (85092 bytes)
Map of France in Hugo's Times

The following research still needs confirmation. In addition the connection is entirely based on Worthy's identification of Hugo with the Chaffe surname.  There are five possible connections between Hugo, Huges and Chaffcombe:

1. Huges was a noble, and some references call Hugo of Chaffcombe an Ealdorman or earl.  Florence, the monk of Worcester and a 12th century English chronicler, in his 'Chronicon Ex Chronicis', says Hugo, reeve of Emma, had the title 'Comitis' (Count).

2. Huges was the brother-in law to Dreux, Count of Vexin (974-1035).  Druex married Godgifu (1003-1055) who was the daughter of Emma of Normandy.  This ties Huges to Emma.  Worthy claims Hugo was a close friend of Emma of Normandy.

3. Milo de Beauchamp b.1122, Earl of Bedford, was the son of Hugh de Beauchamp (1087-1141), per Worthy, a co-tenant of Chafecombe. A fourth generation descendant of Huges, Huge de Meulan/Hugh de Beaumont assumed the Earldom of Bedford after Milo. Hugh was surnamed Pauper (the Poor) and obtained the Earldom of Bedford from the Count of Gloucester, per Worthy, Lord of Chafecombe. This ties Huges' family to Chaffcombe. Hugh "The Poor" de Meulan married the daughter of Milo de Beauchamp who he succeeded as Earl of Bedford.  Additionally, his brother Waleran II m. Agnes de Montfort and had Robert de Beaumont II who m. Maud de Dunstanville dau Reginald de Dunstanville, Sheriff of Exeter (like Baldwin and possibly Hugo) and he m. Adelina de Lisle.

4. A later Beauchamp, Sir Hugh de Beauchamp (died c.1337) was born in Lillesdon, Somersetshire.  He married Idonea de L'isle, daughter of William de L'isle (d.1294) who was born in Chaffcombe.  William was the grandson of Emma Avenel and Jordan De Lisle (Insula) of Chaffcombe (both mentioned by Worthy).

5. Baldwin de Brionne (1022-1095), was the count de Meulon/de Meulles and also Sheriff of Exeter.  He was born in Meules, Normandy and died in 20 miles west of Exeter in Okehampton, Devon, England.  Baldwin built Rougemont (Red Hill) in Exeter.  Huges was related to Baldwin through is grandfather's line Gautier I Count of Valois by this wife Adelais d’Anjou.

Other Factors to Note from Bruce's research:
- Roger de Moeles (mentioned by Worthy) as under-tenant of Baldwin de Meulles and to the de Actons descended from Agnes, Lady of Chafecombe.  There are also ongoing multiple connections between the above and the de Crepons, de Meulans, de Clares, de Lisles and de Beauchamps in Somerset over a period of 300 years.
- Land in Chafecombe was conveyed to Richard de Morewell and subsequently Richard de Rodney in 1306. Richard de Rodney m. Maud Giffard descendant of both Avelina and Weva de Crepon. Richard de Clare (Baldwin's the Sheriff's brother) m. Rohesa Giffard (ancestor of Maud and niece of Weva de Crepon) and he later became a monk at Bec with Hugh de Meulan II, uncle of Robert I de Beaumont who also became a monk at Bec.  
- Milo's de Beauchamp's mother was Matilda Taillebois 4th cousin of Adelais de Meulan who m. Roger de Beaumont and was g-granddaughter of Adelais de Challons who m2. Robert/Galeran/Raoul b. 944 (father of Hugh de Meulan b. 965). 
- John de Acton (descendant of Radulphus of Chafecombe) claimed the right of presentation to Wendestie against Roger de Moeles.  His direct ancestor, another Roger de Moeles b. abt 1060 in Meules, Calvados, Normandy, France d. Aft 1100 in Lewtrenchard, Tavistock, Devonshire, was in 1086 under-tenant of Baldwin FitzGilbert Count de Meulles de Brione/Sheriff of Exeter.
- Agnes, Lady of Chafecombe, m1. Oliver Avenel.  Her daughter Emma m. Jordan de Lisle (tenants of Chafecombe).  Her 2nd husband John de Aure, along her daughter Margaret and her children.  The de Actons, and Roger de Moeles, also succeeded in the same order to land in Blackford, Somerset during the same periods they succeeded to land in Chafecombe - indicating family inheritance. 
- Roger de Moeles was guardian of Idonea de Lisle, who m. Hugh de Beauchamp. This ties Baldwin the Sheriff of Exeter, and Roger de Moeles/Mulles/Meulan mentioned by Worthy and their families to the line of Hugh de Meulan, to Chafecombe, and to the line of Hugo de Chafecombe as described by Worthy.
- Waleran m. Oda de Conteville had dau Marie m. Hugh de Tallebot(h) Bishop of Lisieuxand grandson of Richard I Dukeand relation of Milo de Beauchamp's mother Matilda mentioned above.

grape_vine.gif (1301 bytes)

Another Hugh?
As the dates do not align with Hugo of Chaffecombe, it is unlikely this is the same individual.
The House of Warren can be traced to Hugh of Normandy, born 990, later ordained Bishop of Contances. He married a sister of Gunnora, the wife of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. Rodulf, son to Hugh, a benefactor to the Abbey of La Trinite du Mont, died c1050. He married first Beatrix and secondly Emma. Emma became the mother of his son William created Count de Warenne of Normandy and later first Earl of Surrey. [2] William de Warenne, son of Rodulf, was born in Normandy and accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. At the Battle of Hastings, he commanded a detachment and was rewarded with estates and manors in Norfolk becoming the first Earl of Surrey. Before 1070, William de Warenne married Gundred, a lady with disputed parentage since many scholars disbelieve she was the daughter of the Conqueror. Some contend she was the Duke's daughter as proven by her tombstone at St. John's Church, Southover, Lewes: "Within this Pew stands the tombstone of Gundrad, daughter of William the Conqueror, and wife of William, the First Earl of Warren, which having been deposited over her remains in the Chapter-House of Lewes Priory and lately discovered in Iffield Church, was removed to this place at the expense of William Burrell Esq. in 1775 A.D.

line2.gif (2492 bytes)
Contact Us 
November 01, 2009