A History of the Umfrevilles


This set of web pages is the result of some 10 years of research. If you are a relative or have any comments or information you would like to pass on to me then please, please PLEASE email me at garykate@virginmedia.com. I am VERY interested in any information you have.



The Liberty of Redesdale

The Redesdale Umfrevilles.

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Robert 'With-the-beard'

The Earls of Angus

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The Northumbrian Umfrevilles.

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The Umfreville's donations to Hexham Abbey

The Newcastle Umfrevilles

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The Southern Umfrevilles
Illustrations and Family trees

Map of the battle of Otterburn

Jean Froissarts account of the battle of Otterburn

Charles D'Olier Umfrevilles Geneology
- 1030-1436
- 1436-1706
- 1706- present

The Umfrevilles of Redesdale as a JPG

The Umfrevilles of Redesdale as a BMP file

The Earls of Angus and their descendants

The Newcastle Umfrevilles

Prudhoe castle, as it is today

Tomb of Gilbert Umfreville, in Hexham Abbey

Barbican of Prudhoe Castle, c.1916

The Umfreville coat of arms (plus related arms) A Cinquefoil between eight crosses patonce

The coat of Arms of Charles d'Olier Umfreville


The Anglo-Norman family of the De Umfrevilles are one of the oldest amongst the nobility of England yet compared to the other great Border families (Percy, Wake, Clifford, De Lucy and Neville) they are relatively unknown nationally. This is somewhat unfair as at the height of their power the De Umfrevilles held Earldoms in Scotland (Angus) and England (Kyme in Lincolnshire), Lordships in Redesdale and Coquetdale, Baronies at Prudhoe, Wooler, Amphreville-sur Iton (Normandy) and manors at Holmside, near Burnhope in County Durham, and Chollerton (near Humshaugh north east of Hexham) they also fought in some of the most decisive battles of the middle ages and the hundred years war (Falkirk, Bannockburn, Otterburn and Agincourt to name but four) and held positions of high honour with Kings of England and Scotland.The De Umfrevilles Scottish Earldom of Angus was confiscated by Robert Bruce around 1328, they lost Prudhoe in 1381 through marriage and Redesdale in 1436, which they had ruled for nearly 400 years, with the death of Sir Robert De Umfreville the Vice-Admiral of England. Elsewhere an early branch of the Umfrevilles settled in Glamorgan and then gained lands in Devon.

At some point in history another branch appeared in Essex and London descended from the first Earl of Angus, Gilbert, which then produced a further branch that came back to Northumberland and Newcastle with one of them even marrying in Elsdon church. A first glance at the family trees in this document will reveal to the reader that the Umfrevilles, like most of their contemporaries, had a penchant for using the same names over and over again for their male descendants. Thus we will find many Gilberts, Richards, Roberts and Williams even within the same generation. Because of this I have attempted to give as many of them an epithet or nickname by which he was known, a title or even a number in order to make the descent a little clearer. The Umfrevilles descendants are alive today in London, Essex, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and possibly elsewhere.

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The Liberty of Redesdale

For most of their history the De Umfrevilles were Lords of the 'Liberty' of Redesdale. This area, which became the English Middle-march in the Tudor period, was a semi-independent region based on the Rede and Coquet valleys on the English side of the border from the late 11th century or at least the early 12th. The Liberty was a very important region to control lying either side of the Roman road known as Dere Street which, for centuries, was the main road into Scotland. Control of the border crossing was not only lucrative but highly important in preventing raids out of Scotland while controlling the lines of supply for raids into Scotland. If the Scots were going to raid northern England then if they were to come in force then they were going to come through Redesdale and Coquetdale first. They were also going to come through Redesdale last! One such raid ended at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 which although it resulted in an English defeat the Scots lost the Leader of the raid James Earl Douglas.

A charter dated July 10th 1076 purportedly granted the Liberty of Redesdale in perpetuity to Robert of Tours and Vian and was used by Richard De Umfreville (d.1226) to justify his claims to land and privileges within the Liberty. Hedley1 regards this charter as a forgery from the late 12th or early 13th century. Tradition says that the first castle built by the Umfrevilles was on 'Mote Hills' near Elsdon which was, as it's name suggests, a motte and bailey castle built around the year 1080. Although Elsdon was their capital the stronghold of the Lords of Redesdale was at Harbottle where they erected a castle in 1130, the same year that they built Prudhoe castle. The Umfreville claim to Redesdale is the earliest recorded incident of an Anglo-Norman family to claim to have 'come over with the Conqueror'.

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The Redesdale Umfrevilles

The Umfrevilles Charter states that the Liberty of Redesdale was granted to Robert 'with-the-beard' Umfreville in 1076. What is certain is that William I paid particular attention to the northern border for exploitation and settlement. William wanted a strong defensive system of castles and loyal vassals as Scotland had proved to be an ideal base for raids by exiled Anglo-Saxon nobles who could rely upon support in Northumbria and Mercia. In 1069 William, tired of uprisings in the former Earldoms, ravaged the North with fire and sword. This so impoverished those north of the Humber that thousands starved, many fled to Scotland or abroad and the region never recovered. Due to this harrying the value of land in the former Earldom decreased to such an extent that Northumbria is not included in Domesday book which compares the owner and value of land before the conquest and in 1086.

A royal castle was built near the mouth of the Tyne in 1080 by William's eldest son Robert Curthose and gave it's name to the small town there, 'New Castle'. William II established a royal castle at Carlisle, to tie down the north-west coast, in 1092. If indeed The Umfrevilles built Elsdon Castle at Mote Hills in 1080 then it would have been as part of the settlement of Norman and Flemish families and the fortification of the border region by Robert Curthose. Not only would a castle sited here hold down the Rede valley but would also protect a main trade route into Scotland. There may have been a custodian of the castle in 1080 appointed by Robert Curthose who MAY have been called Umfreville. What is CERTAIN is that by 1130 Elsdon, Harbottle and Prudhoe were all owned by the Umfrevilles. Harbottle and Prudhoe were built at the same time as evidenced by the mason's marks on the stonework. Castle building is an expensive business, the revenues would surely have come from control of the trade using the border crossing. If the Liberty had been granted in 1080 (when they built Elsdon) would they have needed 50 years revenues to build 2 more castles?

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Robert 'with-the-beard' De Umfreville, Lord of Tours and Vian c 1030-1090

Tradition has it that Robert De Umfreville was a kinsman of William the Conqueror and sailed with him to England in 1066 and indeed a Robert d'Amfreville does appear amongst the Battle Abbey list of the Conquerors companions. Tours may be Tourville near Amphreville-la-campagne in Normandy. There are seven other Amphrevilles in Normandy but it is most likely that the family name hails from Amphreville-sur-Iton in Orne (G.E.C. Complete peerage (1910) Vol I, p146).What is certain is that by 1130 a Robert De Umfreville was Baron of Prudhoe and erected a motte and bailey castle there to guard the Tyne crossing and a castle at Harbottle to hold down the Coquet valley while Elsdon was the administrative centre of the liberty. If indeed the Robert Baron of Prudhoe is the same Robert Lord of Tours and Vian then he would have been 93 years old at least when he died which seems very unlikely but not impossible. It is reasonable in this case to put forward some alternatives:

1) Robert with-the-beard did NOT 'come over with the conqueror', or at least didn't fight at Hastings but came over later, was given lands in Redesdale as part of the settlement of Northumbria by Robert Curthose and built Elsdon castle in 1080, his name being added later to the Battle Abbey list.

2) Robert with the beard came to England with the conqueror and Robert Baron of Prudhoe is his son (b c1075). Robert with-the-beard built the castle at Elsdon. What IS certain is that the first Umfreville came to England sometime before 1090 because one of them was in Glamorgan in 1091, they either built a motte and bailey castle at Elsdon or took it over then (later) built castles at Prudhoe and Harbottle. We also know that the Umfrevilles left relatives behind in Normandy. We know of this family link because Sir Gilbert, the Earl of Kyme, ( d. 1421) was awarded the lands of his distant relative D'Amphreville, based around Amphreville- sur-Iton, by Henry V.

3) Robert with the beard had 3 sons, Robert, Gilbert and Jordan (Charles D'Olier Umfreville claims only 2 called 'Rodus' and Gilbert) . Robert with-the-Beard built Elsdon c1080. The Conqueror died in 1085, the reign of his son Rufus was brief and troubled. When Rufus was asassinated the country was plunged into anarchy. During this time Robert may have taken the opportunity to take control of the liberty and the vital border crossing (or at least establish greater authority over the region) taking the revenues into his own pocket. Robert's second son Gilbert went to Glamorgan in 1091 to campaign with Fitz Hamon, Robert with the beard died before 1130 when his eldest son Robert built Prudhoe. Robert II died in 1145 (aged c75) and Prudhoe passed to his son Odonell I.

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Robert De Umfreville c 1075 - 1145

Lord of Redesdale and Coquetdale

Baron of Prudhoe 1130-1145

Robert appears in a pipe roll of 1130 when he was pardoned 40 shillings for danegeld by brief of the King. He appears to have regularly been at the court of King David of Scotland (1124- 1153) which must indicate that he held land IN Scotland. The Normans settled south of the tweed and in Cumbria south of the Solway, both these areas were claimed by the Scottish Kings and much of Cumbria was under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Glasgow. We also know that Malcolm of Scotland encouraged the settlement of Norman knights south of the Forth and the Umfrevilles may have gained scottish lands as part of this settlement or via marriage2. It would make sense therefore to be on good terms with the King of Scotland. He was alive in 1139 to sign charters of Henry Percy Duke of Northumberland. Robert must be the Umfreville who built Harbottle on the river Coquet and Prudhoe castle.

Robert had 3 sons, Robert (c. 1092- c. 1145), Odinell (c. 1094 - c. 1162) and Gilbert the Constable (c. 1096-c. 1150).

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Gilbert De Umfreville I 'Who went with Fitz Hamon' Lord of Penmark
c. 1062 - c. 1122

The second son of Robert with the beard, Gilbert went with Robert Fitz Hamon (also known as Fitz Haimo) to the conquest of Glamorgan in 1091. In 1095 he was created Lord of Penmark.

William II Rufus continued the conquest of Wales started by his father and his vassals established a string of castles along the south wales coast in order to secure the Bristol channel. Welsh land was given out piecemeal to Knights. Gilbert would almost certainly have benefitted, he seems to have been given lands there as a vassal of Robert Fitz Hamon as we know that Umfrevilles held land in Glamorgan throughout the 11th and 12th century.Robert Fitz Hamon was the son of the Sheriff of Kent and was Married to Sibyl Montgomery the daughter of Roger De Montgomery the Earl of Shrewsbury who held vast lands in Wales. It was Fitz Hamon who established the first castle at Cardiff and was given Glamorgan as his fief and it seems very likely that Gilbert would have held lands there as a vassal of Fitz Hamon. After his death, sometime after 1110, and after a transitionary period Glamorgan passed through his daughter Sibyl (or Mabel) to Robert of Gloucester and thence to his son William of Gloucester. Gilbert's wife is said to have died before 1135.

Gilbert's successor was Robert I of Penmark C. 1091-c. 1140.

Robert's successor was another Gilbert II c. 1122 - bef. 1189. In 1155 a Gilbert Umfreville held 9 Knights fees3 under William Earl of Gloucester (1147 - ?). William of Gloucester became Earl on the death of his father Robert of Caen, Earl of Gloucester in 1147. Robert of Caen was the favourite illegitimate son of Henry I and was married to the daughter of Robert Fitz Hamon. This Robert De Umfreville may have died in Down St Leonards in Devon.

Gilbert II's successor was Henry I Lord of Penmark c. 1153-c. 1205. Gilbert's other son Robert c. 1155 is said to have moved to Devon.

Henry I's successor was Henry II c. 1184 - c. 1229.

Henry II was succeeded by his brother Richard c. 1186 - c. 1233. The Glamorgan Umfrevilles acquired property in Devon through marriage in the 13th century (circa 1212) when Sibyl De Torrington of Devon married Richard De Umfreville and in 1233 their son, yet another Gilbert, paid a relief of £20 as a 5th of the Barony4. His descendants still held land there in the 14th century (there are two towns in Devon called Charleton Umfreville and Downe Umfreville, Down St Leonards?).

Richard was succeeded by Gilbert III c. 1213-c 1262

Gilbert III had 4 sons

John married Alice De La Hurne and had 3 sons

Henry IV married Isabella (poss De Beauchamp?) had 1 son and two daughters

From web browsing I have attempted a list of descendants for Gilbert.

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Odonell I Baron of Prudhoe 1145 - 1166?.

Odonell/Odinell witnesses Scottish charters between 1144 and 1153 which again, like Robert above, indicates Scottish holdings. A pipe roll from 1187 mentions him as the grandfather of Richard De Umfreville living in the time of Henry II (1154-1189). Odonell was still alive in 1162 to give a court judgement at Whalton, he must have died between 1162 and 1166.

Odinell had 4 sons, Odinell, Robert, Jordan and Gilbert (D'Olier misses these latter 3 entirely)

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Odonell De Umfreville II d 1182

Lord of Redesdale

Baron of Prudhoe c1166-1182

Seems to have succeeded his father Odinell I (Hedley) sometime between 1162 and 1166 as in 1166 he appears in a document assessing him for scutage5 in Northumberland, he appears again in 1171. In 1173 he had a grant of £20 out of the rental of the mines of Carlisle to retain Knights at Prudhoe on account of Scots raiding (Wallace laid seige in this year). It is as well he was granted this income for in 1174 Harbottle Castle was taken and Prudhoe was again put under seige. Wallace seems to have taken a dislike to Odonell "Thus said King William: Then may I be accursed Excommunicated by priest, put to shame and discomfited. If I give the castle of Odinel a fixed time or respite. But I will cause him wholly to his joy and delight" Odonell escaped however. He was present at Alnwick when William the Lion was defeated and captured. Odonell was given £17 10s out of the booty stolen from him by William. Odonell was also granted Elton in Yorkshire for life as well as the forfeited lands of Thomas Muscamp the Baron of Wooler.

After the defeat of the Wallace Odonell made several alterations to the castle including a new gatehouse. The mound was levelled and a new stone keep was erected which after Norham is the oldest stone keep in Northumberland. Part of the curtain wall was rebuilt in stone. An interesting story relates to this rebuilding work.... "All his neighbours, the legend runs, had, either from love or fear, given him assistance in the work, except the men of Wylam, a possession of the monastery of St Oswin of Tynemouth, which had been freed from all contributions to castle building by several royal charters. Neither the threats nor the persuasions of the king's officers had any effect. Odinel was so enraged that he sent for one of them who lived, without fear of God, in the city of Corbridge, and bade him seize the property of the Wylam peasants and bring it to the castle. This man took with him two officers names Richard and Nicholas, and proceeded at once to Wylam.

According to the English law that had then been long established, a fine for neglecting to perform a customary duty like that of repairing a castle was first to be levied on the private property of the serfs, and only in the case of this proving insufficient was recourse to be had to the lord's demesne. The Corbridge official, however, announced his intention of laying hands on whatever first came his way, and it was in vain that his companions cautioned him not to interfere with the head of St. Oswin. They came to the pasture where the demesne oxen were grazing, but these, together with the ruddy youth and his barking dog who were looking after them, were by the power of St. Oswin made miraculously invisible and inaudible to the wicked distrainer". (Cadwallader Bates) The St 'Oswin' is of course the former King of Northumbria, Oswiu, whose numerous body parts were attributed to have miraculous powers although in this case I suspect either bribery or the alehouse to be the more rational explanation. Odonell you will note selects a man who was 'without the fear of God' to perform the irksome task of taking monastic property while his two companions implore him not to risk the wrath of the holy relic, St Owin's head.

Despite Odonell's landholdings his debts on his death were very substantial because of the rebuilding, so much so that some were still unpaid on the death of his son Robert in 1195. Odonell is apparently buried at Hexham Priory.

Odonell II had a daughter called Margery (c. 1165 c. bef. 1206) who married William D'Albini (d. 1st May 1236) the lord of Belvoir castle. Margery is buried at Belvoir priory. Odinell also was father to Robert (c. 1157- c. 1195), William (c.1159 - c.1193), Alice (c.1161 - c. ? ), Richard (c. 1163 - 11/10/1226 ), (then Margery), Gilbert (c. 1167-  c. ? ), Odinell (c. 1169 c. aft. 1207) and Emma Countess Bolam (c.1171 - c. 1235). Emma married Walter De Bolam c. 1197 and then Peter De Vaux c. 1208.

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Robert De Umfreville

Lord of Redesdale 1182 - 1195

Baron of Prudhoe 1182 - 1195

Suceeded his father Odonell, as his eldest son, as Lord of Redesdale in 1182. Robert is specifically called 'Son of Odinell' in a pipe roll for 1187, the same pipe roll also mentions his grandfather, also Odonell, living in the time of Henry II. On the marriage of his sister Alicia to William Bertram Lord of Mitford Robert granted him 'the whole of my forest of Altercoppes and Ellesdon, with the game and the land and with all other liberties belonging to the said forest saving only my villages.'

William was also to have 'four groundes on the west of the Rede called Crossensete, the snape of Wodeburne, Smoltewelford and Redesbank and they shall have hunting with their men and dogs with the horn, bows and arrows, without hindrance from anyone, and at all seasons of the year'. These lands were to be held by his heirs for the payment of one sparrowhawk per year to the De Umfreville family.

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William De Umfreville d. before 1195

William was the second son of Odonell II. He must have died sometime before 1195 or he would have inherited the family titles to Redesdale and Prudhoe. Genealogy records place his death circa 1193.

Richard De Umfreville

Lord of Redesdale 1195-1226

Baron of Prudhoe 1195-1226

The third son of Odonell II. In 1199 Richard persuaded King John to grant him the privilege that 'none should graze their cattle, hunt or fell wood in his forests of Redesdale and Coquetdale' on pain of mutilation or death. This was changed to imprisonment or fines with the forest laws of the Magna Carta in 1217. In 1207 Richard claimed the wardship of Henry Bataille, a lucrative deal in those days. Richard was the Umfreville who produced (or forged) the charter which granted the Liberty of Redesdale to Robert 'with-the-beard' and based the powers he wielded in the Liberty on this document. Richard was one of the Northern lords who rebelled against John in the revolt that culminated in the signing of the Magna Carta at Runymede on June 15th 1215. Richard signs it as one of the lords in favour of the document rather than as a supporter of the King.

Richard is the father of Gilbert, Baron of Prudhoe, who married Maud Matilda of Angus (see The Earls of Angus). His second son was Robert of Chollerton. Richard also fathered William, the Rector of Ovingham (which is directly across the river Tyne from Prudhoe) and a fourth son called Odonell who was alive in 1270.

Richard married Margaret Balliol of Bywell the daughter of John Balliol the king of Scotland and Isabella De Warenne 1n 1193. In 1195 Gilbert was born.

Richards offspring, according to genealogy records are:

Gilbert, Robert of Chollerton, Odinell (c. 1199 - ?) , William the Rector of Ovingham (c. 1201 - ?), Sibilla who married Hugh De Morwick (c. 1203 - ?) , Margery (c. 1205 - bef. 1292) who married Roger De Merlay and Richard (c. 1207 - ?)

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Robert De Umfreville of Chollerton (b. c. 1197 d. before 1257)

The second son of Richard De Umfreville and uncle of Gilbert, the first Umfreville Earl of Angus. Robert had 3 definate sons, Gilbert who died before 1269, Richard (poss. b. 1207) who died before  1281, William and (possibly) Ingram, Guardian of Scotland. Charles D'Olier has the 3 sons as Gilbert, Richard and Ingelram instead of William although there is far more evidence for William of Elsdon being Roberts son.

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Richard of Chollerton (d. before 10/11/1271)

The Second son of Robert of Chollerton. It was Richard who released Chollerton and Birtley to Gilbert Earl of Angus but was apparently 'Non corpus mentis'. Gilbert alienated Chollerton in 1268 so he must have recieved it before then.

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William of Elsdon b.c. 1201 (alive in 1281)

The third son of Robert of Chollerton. In 1281 a charter of Edward I granted William the right to hold a 3 day annual fair at Elsdon n the 24th, 25th and 26th of August. He is also listed as one of the benefactors of Newminster Abbey. He MAY be the father or brother of Ingram the Guardian of Scotland. Possibly born in 1201.

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W. Percy Hedley - Northumbrian Families, 1964

The most famous Norman-Scots families are of course Balliol, Comyn, Seton , De Soules and of course Bruce. Robert Bruce's father built a castle in his lands in Tottenham.

A knight's fee is roughly the amount of land required to support a knight, his immediate family and household. If Gilbert held 9 knight's fees then that would give him the rank of Baron presumably with at least 1 castle. A Banneret would hold 5 knight's fees.

Magna carta fixed the relief of a Barony at £100. A relief was a sum paid by a magnate to avoid turning up for military service although a monarch often claimed a relief payment when someone succeeded to a title and became a form of taxation. The baron would then claim the value of the relief from his own tenants either financially or in kind (goods, services or livestock).

'Scutage' or 'shield tax' was a payment in lieu of military service. For example if a knight or baron failed to answer a summons for military service then he would have to pay scutage. As in 'relief' the knight or baron would claim the money back from his tenants as long as they could afford it and would not drop in status to do so