Origins of Walter Fitzgilbert (
by Donald L. Glossinger
Copyright 2010 Donald L. Glossinger
The basic story is as follows: “Roger and William, two younger
sons of Robert de Mellent, 3d Earl of Leicester,…went to Scotland in the reign
of William the Lion (1165-1214), to whom they were related by his mother, the
Countess Ada. Roger, who preceded his
brother, was made Chancellor of
The story continues with William losing his land and going
The story of the early
Given here are the results of recent research. They provide strong evidence indicating
Walter Fitzgilbert had humble origins. The results show his grandfather was
probably a William de Hamelton who was a villein of the Manor of Hamilton in
There was a Gilbert de Hamildun who was the right age, in the
right place and had the right name to be the father of Walter Fitzgilbert. What's more
he was a witness to a charter for
the monks of
Gilbert de Hamildun is dismissed as the founder of the
It has long been assumed by most researchers that Walter
Fitzgilbert was of the noble class.
However, he was not a knight at the time he witnessed charters for the
monks of Paisley in 1294, when he signed the Ragman Roll in 1296, when he was
Walter was not a large landowner until Robert I of
(George Hamilton and William Fraser both quote this charter. I have not yet been able to find the actual charter in print and mention it here for reference in case others might like to look for it.)
Walter Fitzgilbert was a person of some substance. As Prof. Prestwich points out, he did have a
horse worth as much as a horse many knights might have when he was constable of
It appears that Gilbert de Hamildun, the clerk, was a
person who began life in the Manor of Hambleton in
The Hamilton DNA Project has a private discussion list for its members. In August of 2010, I initiated a discussion that took a new look at the facts known about Walter Fitzgilbert (d. between 1330 and 1346) searched for new evidence, and attempted to discover the origins of his family. Discoveries that prompted that discussion led to discoveries as the records now available via the Internet have increased greatly in recent years. The end result of this research has led to the solution of Walter Fitzgilbert’s English origins.
am indebted to Professor Michael Prestwich, History Professor Emeritus,
I am a professional librarian. I have been a genealogist
for 40 years. I am also a
I believe that The History of the House of Hamilton, by George Hamilton, 1180 pages, Edinburgh, 1933, is the most complete, reliable and authoritative source for Hamilton family history. The approach was to re-examine what had been said in this book and others and if possible to find any new information about Walter Fitzgilbert and his family. Was the information complete? Was anything missed? Were there new ways to interpret what existed? Wherever possible the original sources were examined.
1294 Walter FitzGilbert appears as a witness of a charter that was given to the
monks of Paisley by
Professor Prestwich’s comments
“…Militibus means specifically knights....Clericis…this means clerics. And laycis means laymen. The order is possibly slightly unusual in that the clerics would often appear first in a list, but I don't think there's any rule about this. See page 104 of the register for another list [undated Maxwell charter] in which Walter FitzGilbert appears, in which clergy and laity are mixed up. The order does say something about status ‑ Walter is important enough to be listed (the list concludes with 'multis aliis', i.e. many others, whose names are not given), but is not a knight.”
Findings: In neither document is Walter FitzGilbert listed as a knight, although as Professor Prestwich points out, he is “…important enough to be listed.”
page 3 of House of Hamilton we read,
“Under the style of Wauter fiz Gilbert de
Hameldone his name is attached to the Ragman Roll amongst landowners from
Lanarakshire and Renfrewshire as having done homage to Edward I of
Findings: Important enough to sign but not a knight.
(Also know as Auchterstrother or Struthers)
George Hamilton also asserts on page 3 of The History of the House of Hamilton that, “From Edward he [Walter FitzGilbert] had a grant of the lands of Ughtrotherestrother.” He didn’t. Col. Hamilton quotes page 313 of Palgrave, the English translation of which reads, “Thomas de Grey requested the title of Ughtrotherestrother and the surplus of the titles which the King had given to Walter son of Gilbert, which the King had permitted him in advance of that time which he had said." George Hamilton was apparently not aware this application was the second.
The Fraser family historian had a keen interest in these lands, as they belonged to that family.
"Thomas de Grey asked for the lands of Alexander Fraser, the son of Andrew Fraser, and a second application by the same Thomas shows that these lands were Ugtrethrestrother.”
In the first application, we see that Thomas de Grey is asking for the Fraser lands and lands of Walter de Bykerton, lord of Kincraig. Grey is asking for two separate things. The first thing he is asking for is Fraser lands. This is in the first application. In the second application he names the land as Ugtrehrestrother.
From the Fraser family history is further evidence of continuous ownership of Struthers by the Fraser family, “…he [Sir Andrew Fraser] certainly was dead before the year 1306, when Thomas de Grey petitioned Edward I for lands of Alexander Fraser. ‘qui fut le filz de Andrew Fraser,’ and a second request by de Grey shows that these lands were those of Ugtretherestrother; and although the expression above quoted would appear more applicable to a deceased Alexander, yet its being the meaning here ascribed to it is proved by the facts that an Alexander, son of the late Sir Andrew Fraser, was living in 1312, and that the granddaughter and heiress of that Alexander possessed the estate of Ugtrethrestrother in 1392.”
The second matter being dealt with in the Thomas de Grey applications is for the lands of a person called Walter. In the second application, genealogists in the past have been understandably confused by the fact that Grey is asking for the lands of a person called Walter son of Gilbert. In the first application Grey is asking for the lands of Walter de Bykerton, lord of Kincraig. It would appear this is the same individual in both applications and not Walter FitzGilbert.
Walter son of Gilbert or Walter de Bykerton, was loyal to Edward I of
de Bikerton “…did homage to Edward I. on
15th March 1306, for lands in
de Bykerton was rewarded by Robert I of
William Fraser, provides an interesting observation about the
“Many places in several counties in
a more exact quote of “called of
“John the second son of Walter Fitz-Gilbert, is described throughout his life as “John, son of Walter,” or “John, Sir Walter, though in one case the addition, “called of Hamilton” is made to his father’s designation.”
is no record of Walter FitzGilbert having received a significant grant of land
from anyone before he turned over
Walter Fitz Gilbert was Constable of Bothwell Castle in November of 1310.
“Oct. 24‑Nov. 17
176. By the hands of Walter fitz Gilbert, his own and the wages of his 29 esquires and 30 foot in garrison of Bothwell castle from 1st to 27th November, 49[pounds]. (Cancelled as elsewhere).”
Professor Prestwich’s comments:
“Now, as to the constableship of Bothwell.
I’m not sure how far the story can be worked out ‑ not far, I fear. The
castle was captured by Edward I in 1301, and granted to Aymer de Valence, who a
little later became earl of Pembroke. He appointed Nicholas de Carew as
constable (reference in J R S Pillips, Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke (
Bain, Calendar of Documents
relating to Scotland, vol. 3, p. 47 also has this document, in rather briefer
form). This means that Walter was the
earl of Pembroke’s choice as constable, rather than the king’s. And I have
absolutely no idea why he chose him. Phillips in his book on the earl has no
mention of Walter; it seems unlikely that he was one of the earl’s long‑term
retainers. Presumably the earl must have come across Walter when campaigning in
Walter FitzGilbert is described as the "King's vallet" in June 1310.
143. The K. commands the
constable of Conway castle to send John Wychard, formerly archdeacon of
Glasgow, in prison there, to Chester, thence to be conveyed to the
[Close, 3 Edw. II m. 6]”
“On 17 June following the constable of Conway castle is
commanded to deliver John Wychard, a Scottish prisoner, from prison to Walter
fitz Gilbert, the K.’s ‘vallet’ or his attorney bearing the writ, of special
Walter FitzGilbert is described as the "King's vallet" in June 1310. The most likely reason he is referred to in this way is that the description applies to him in his capacity as constable of Bothwell or as some other position there. This seems the most logical explanation considering he was constable in November of the same year. Possibly he served previous to this as Sir Nicholas de Carew’s assistant. Professor Prestwich has concluded that Walter FitzGilbert was not the King’s appointment to the castle, but rather that of Aymer de Valence. This would seem to indicate that not only was he from the Renfrewshire & Lanarkshire area but also he continued to reside there from the 1290s when we find him in documents.
Professor Prestwich’s comments
“King’s valet is simply a translation of ‘vallettus
regis’, and does not imply anything different. Walter FitzGilbert was certainly
not a household knight of Edward II. It’s not easy to know what is meant by
‘vallettus ‑‑ valets, squires and sergeants all received the same
wage of one shilling a day (a knight got two shillings), and sometimes valet
and squire seem to mean the same thing. But in lists of members of the royal
household valets look to be rather more menial than squires ‑ those
working in the kitchen or buttery are listed as valets. In the case of
FitzGilbert, however, he is certainly equivalent to a squire. No. 420 in Bain’s
Calendar shows that he had a horse valued at £20, which is quite considerable.
Many knights would have horses of similar value. I don’t believe that being a
king’s valet means that someone came from a family of particular note. There
were men in the royal household, such as Robert Lewer, who were clearly not of
distinguished origins. If, however, this FitzGilbert was the Walter FitzGilbert
Sir Nicholas de Carrew was Constable of Bothwell Castle in August of 1305 when the following record was made.
“[From] Nicholas de Carrew, constable of Bothwell castle delivering money in name of Sir James…”
in February of 1310 we find the following record of Nicholas de Carrew being in
Nicolas de Carru, staying in
England, has letter nominating Robert Beudyn his attorney in
Possibly Walter FitzGilbert was constable of
Waltero filio Gilberti, assignato per dominum regum ad custodiendum castrum de Botheville, capienti per diem xij d, pro vadiis suis, Johannes de Moravia, Leonis filii Gilberti…”
FitzGilbert was constable of
Hamilton reports, “In a charter of the
We discussed this in our group and wondered with so much
circumstantial evidence why there was not some exploration of the possibility
of Gilbert de Hamildun of the 1272 charter being the father of Walter
fitzGilbert de Hameldone. They are in
the same location, they both witness charters for the same monks of
Riddell, a genealogist, whom George Hamilton quotes on the possible origins of
When I first encountered John Riddell’s comments, I thought the ridicule contained in them was directed mostly at the evidence. Then I discovered that Sir William Fraser explained all this in Memorials of the Earls of Haddington. It then became clear that the ridicule was directed mostly at Mr. Innes.
“In his preface to the Cartulary of Paisley,
Mr. Cosmo Innes, remarked that that cartulary contained the chief and most
authentic evidence regarding the early descent of the noble house of
John Riddell makes two points as to why Gilbert de Hamildone
could not be the founderer of the
It turns out the use of the term clericus was even more general still. Clanchy enlarges the definition of the term, “A clericus in common parlance was therefore a person of some scholarly attainments, regardless whether he was a churchman.”
So the possibility exists that he may have been literate and not a member of the clergy. However, given that Gilbert de Hamildun was listed with the clergy, it is quite possible that he was a clergyman. What type of clergy then would he be? Several jobs at this time had not fully established apart from the church. This is one further complication in knowing what a person did for a living based on the single word clericus, as this definition illustrates, “Secular Clergy
Those clergy that did not live in a regular (i.e. by a monastic or similar ‘rule’) life; they were parish and chantry priests, chaplains, clerks in administrative jobs (as in royal administration) and university teachers.”
The secular clergy lived in the world, and did a variety of jobs some of which were purely religious in nature, others not. It is important to note there were different levels of clergy as well, major orders and minor orders. “Ordination, a seven-stage process culminated in the priesthood, was the most important distinction between clergy and laity. The first four stages, minor orders did not require a commitment to a clerical career and were undertaken by many who went no further. Major orders, sub-deacon, deacon and priest marked full membership of the clergy and from the mid-twelfth century required celibacy, another distinguishing feature.”
Down through the centuries, clergy would marry and have families. There was a push for celibacy, but it took quite some time to effect the change as this quote illustrates, “…the custom of open marriage among clergy in holy [major] orders (priests, deacons and subdeacons) was gradually stamped out…Yet the custom lingered sporadically in Germany and England until the last few years of the 13th century.”
Even when marriage was barred, exceptions were made on a regular basis, “There was also a short lived attempt to declare that even a clerk in lower orders should lose his clerical privileges on his marriage; but Boniface VIII in 1300 definitely permitted such marriages…in these cases, however, a bishop’s licence was required to enable the cleric to officiate in church…This more or less regular sale of licences by bishops and archdeacons flourished from the days of Gregory VII  to the 16th century…”
The irregular situation of clergy supposed to be celibate but continuing to have "significant others" is made even more clear by the following: "Gascoigne, the most distinguished Oxford Chancellor of his day, writing about 1450 of John de la Bere, then Bishop of St. David's, says that he refused to separate the clergy of his diocese from their concubines, giving publicly as his reason, 'for then I your bishop should lose the 400 marks which I receive yearly for the priests' lemans'."
Findings: In terms of status, Walter FitzGilbert did
not appear to come from the knightly class, or higher, as he wasn’t knighted
until 1321-1323 (about 50 years of age or more). He was not a significant landowner before
supporting Robert I of
Findings: The term clericus can mean different things. However, since Gilbert de Hamildun is listed with the clergy in the 1272 Paisley charter it is quite possible that he was a member of the clergy. Riddell believes because of the location of his name that he is a “very secondary clerical person” It could well be that he is secular clergy and of lower orders. While the celibacy rule was being enforced in the 13th century, there were clearly clergy who married anyway, clergy of lower orders who were able to marry or able to avail themselves of the concubine system when they were blocked from marrying. It is clear that Gilbert de Hamildun, the clerk, was not prevented from having children due to having "clericus" appended to his name.
The Stewarts clearly brought monks and likely other clerks
next eighteen charters
relate to the foundation and endowment by Walter, the second of the name
Steward of Scotland, of a house of Cannons and Nuns of the order of Sempringham
Findings: The Stewarts brought monks and likely other
clerks from the
first historic figure I have found in
“To all the faithful of Christ to whom the present writing shall come, Gilbert of Hambleton, greeting. Know ye that I have given, granted and altogether quit-claimed from me and my heirs to the lord Ralph de Turno, Prior of Lancaster, and to his successors, the whole right and claim in which I had or could have in a messuage with a certain toft in the vill of Stainall, which Gilbert, son of Peter of Hackensall formerly held…”
We can date the grant because Ralph de Turno was Prior of Lancaster between 1266-1290.
Manor of Hambleton
“No. 174. --- At Lancaster, on the Quindene of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, 46 Henry III. [16 February 1262]. Between John de Shyreburne, plaintiff, and William, son of Robert de Shyreburne, deforciant of three oxgangs of land in Hamelton [Hambledon], respecting which a pleas of convenant had been summoned between them.
William acknowledged the land to be the right of John, as that which he has, by right of gift of William, to hold of him, rendering on penny at Easter for all service, and performing to the chief lords the service thereto belonging. With warranty. For this acknowledgment John gave him two pieces of silver.”
“According to the survey of 1212, “The men of Hamelton (i.e. the dreughs), hold three carucates of land [there], by 24s per annum,” (Testa II, f. 822). On the 18th June 1213, the King sent word to his Sheriff of Lancaster, that having given, “to our beloved serjeant, William Colmose (or Colmore) during our pleasure, for his maintenance in our service, the land which William de Pilkinton held in Hamelton, which renders to us 24s, yearly,” he should forthwith give him siesin (Close Roll, 15 John, m. 5). Soon after this Hambledon was in possession of Geoffrey Arbalaster of whom Simon de Hamilton and Robert de Sherburne held the manor in 1246, by the service 8s. an 6s. respectively (No. 104, Antea, p.96). Afterwards the Sherburnes acquired the whole of the manor from the said Geoffrey’s descendants, the Hackensalls. Robert de Sherburne had issue, William, who died s.p., and John, who succeeded. They are the parties to this concord.”
Villein: “a peasant occupier or cultivator entirely subject to a lord or attached to a manor.”
The following record relates to a William de Hamelton who in 1246 claimed to be a freedman but wound up admitting he was John de Hacenshond's villein. It seems that he ties into an interesting record owned by Chetham’s Library.
“30‑31 Henry III 
Proof of Freedom‑‑‑William de Hamelton v. John son of Geoffrey de Hacuneshond who claims him as his villein.
Plaintiff withdraws; sureties, Roger son of Halewart and Hugh son of Alan de Wyrisdal, Surety for William’s fine, the said John son of Geoffrey. Let it be known William acknowledges he is a villein of the said John, and he is delivered to John in the same Court.”
document below belongs to Chetham’s Library in
“…John [de Hacunshou] is giving Gilbert son of William de Hamilton, with all his progeny, to
It names the chap firstly as "Gilbertum filus Willelmi de Hamelton'", and on the second mention simply as Gilbert (or rather Gilbertum). There's no mention of his being a villein, but it would surely only be possible to grant a villein in this manner - you could not grant a freeman. I'm actually surprised that you could grant a villein like this, but that's what the charter does.”
Grant from John de Hacunshou [Hackensall] to the
Omnibus Christi fidelibus hoc scriptum visuris vel audituris Johannes de Hacunshou [Hackensall] salutem in domino. Noverit universitas vestra me dedisse et concessisse presenti carta confirmasse deo et ecclesia b[eat]e marie de Lancaster et monachis ibidem deo servientibus In perum et perpetuam elomosinam gilbertum filius williami de hamelton allis tota p[ro]genie ab ead[em] egrediente ______? rebius possessionbus et catallis ab ead[em] et e[?]i p[ro]genie possessis et possidendis Tenend[as] et habundas de me et heredibus meis dictis eccliesie et monachis adeo libe[eram] [libere?] et quiete sicut aliqua elomosina [diri?] [vel?] confirmari ______ _____ ego siquidem Joh[annes] he[re]des mei dictum Gilbertum et p[ro]gieny ____________ possessionibus ab ead[em] possessis et possidendis dictus ecclissie et monachis. In Ominibus sicut [sup?] dicutum [contra?] ones homines. In perpeteum Warantizanbimus. In c[uius] rei testimonium huic scripto Sigillum meum apposui. Hiis testibus. D[omin]o Williamo de Karlton, Williamo de Singilton, Richard de Thornton, Robert de Shyreburne, Simone de Hamelton. Multis allis [with eight lines after, signifying eight other witnesses not listed?]
“As for this Gilbert being the same as the Gilbert in the Paisley charter, it's not of course impossible. Progeny could well mean future progeny, I'd have thought. Indeed, you could argue that it's likely that's what it means, as no children are actually named. You certainly can't rule out the possibility that Gilbert went on to become a clerk.”
At first I was quite sad to think that this document represented a person giving another person to a church. It would seem the William de Hamelton mentioned is the same as the villein who tried to win his freedom in court from John de Hacenshond [Hackensall]. Was this then retribution? Or was a deal made? It seems hard to know at this distance. Then I found another similar charter. A John de Parles is giving his naif [servant boy] to the same church. What could this be about?
“By deed John de Parles granted to the Prior and monks of St. Mary of Lancaster his naif [servant boy] John, son of John, with his issue and chattels, paying yearly to the abbey one pound of cumin.”
does not seem that John de Parles is hurting anyone by granting his naif to the
“Prior and monks of St. Mary of
“In reign of Edward I. John de Parles enfranchises his naif William, son of John, son of Hamo, the newly made freeman paying yearly two pence to the Prior and monks of St. Mary Lancaster.”
I found that perhaps there was a more reasonable explanation for these lords "giving" people to the church, as the following quote illustrates. “The secular clergy were largely recruited from the ranks of the villeins, and ordination involved emancipation.” Quite probably Gilbert de Hamilton and the naif John son of John were both bound to be trained to be secular clergy, clerks, so a great stroke of luck for them.
For a very long time the three cinquefoils (a rose of five
petals) used in
The cinquefoil is a type of rose. It has five petals. Roses have significance in
Also the seal of Lancaster Priory today seems to be from the following description that dates back 800 years, note the “cinquefoil rose” listed, “The British Museum has a cast of the seal of a Prior William. (fn. 102) It is pointed oval; the Virgin seated on a throne, with its sides terminating in animals' heads, with crown; in her left hand the Child. In the field on each side a wavy sprig of foliage. In base under an arch, the prior half-length in prayer; to the left behind him a cinquefoil rose. The legend is imperfect.
[s] FSUS . . . . LI [P]RIOR' LANCASTR. . . .
Cat. of Seals, i, 609. It is there assigned to the fourteenth century. But
Harl. Chart. 52, i, 1, from which it appears to be taken, is early thirteenth
century, and the prior of
Findings: In the
past, researchers have started with the premise that the
 George Hamilton, The History of the House of Hamilton, (Private printing, Edinburgh, 1933), 3.
 William Little, et al, The Oxford Universal Dictionary On Historical Principles, Third Edition, (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1955), 2357.
 Historical Manuscripts
Commission, XI Report, Part VI, (
 Ibid., 12-13.
 Registrum Monasterii de Passelet cartas, privilegia, conventiones, aliaque munimenta complectens, a domo fundata A.D. MCLXIII usque ad A.D. MDXXIX : ad fidem codicis m.s. in Bibliotheca Facultatis juridicæ edinensis servati nune primum typis mandayum, (Maitland Club, London 1832), 205-6.
 Registrum de Passelet, 96 & 104.
 Michael C. Prestwich, e-mail to author, September 25, 2010.
 Joesph Bain, editor, Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland,
Preserved in Her Magesty’s Public Record
 Sir Francis Palgrave, KH,
 Alexander Fraser of Philorth, Seventeenth Lord Saltoun, The Frasers of Philorth, Volume 1, (Edinburgh, 1837), 52.
 Palgrave, vol. I, 303-4.
 Philorth, vol. I, 47-48.
 Palgrave, vol. I, 313.
 Palgrave, vol. I, 303-4.
 Robert Kerr, History of
 G.W.S. Barrow, Alexander
Grant & Keith John Stringer, Medieval
 Sir William Fraser, Memorials of the Earls of Haddington, (Printed by T. A. Constable, Edinburgh 1889), 3.
 Fraser, 6.
 William Hamilton of Wishaw, Descriptions of the Sherrifdoms of Lanark
and Renfrew, (printed at
 Bain, vol. III, 32.
 Michael C. Prestwich, e-mail to author, August 30, 2010.
 Bain, vol. III, 27.
 Bain, vol. III, 27.
 Michael C. Prestwich, e-mail to author, August 29, 2010.
 Bain, vol. II, 455.
 Bain, vol. I, 209.
 Bain, vol. III, 408.
 Bain, vol. III, 420.
 Registrum de Passelet, 232-3, quoted in
 Bain, 209, quoted in
 John Riddell, Esquire, Advocate, Stewartiana, Containing the Case of Robert II. and Elizabeth Mure, and Question of legitimacy of Their Issue...,(Thomas G. Stevenson, Edinburgh, 1843), 74.
 Fraser, 3.
 M. T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written
 Clanchy, 228.
 Cristopher Haigh, The
 S.H. Rigby, A Companion to
 Henry Charles Lea, History of Sacerdotal Celibacy (3rd ed. 1907, as found in, The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, vol. V, (The Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, New York, 1910), 603.
 Lea, n603.
 Gascoigne, Lib.
 Registrum de Passelet, 21-27.
 Registrum de Passelet, nxii.
 Chetham Society, Materials for the History of the
 'Townships: Heaton with
Oxcliffe', A History of the
 William Farrer, editor, Final Concords of the County of
Lancaster: 7 Richard I to 35 Edward II, (
 Farrer, n137.
 Little, 2357.
 Colonel John Parker, A Calendar of the Lancashire Assize Rolls
Preserved in the Public,
 Michael C. Prestwich, e-mail to author, October 7, 2010.
 “Grant from John de Hamilton
[Hacunshou] to Priory Church of Lancaaster, of Gilbert, son of William de
Hamilton, and all his children and property E3.11/1/5 [13th century]”,
 Michael C. Prestwich, e-mail to author, October 8, 2010.
 Hist. MSS, 4th report, page 246, as found in Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester, Vol. 58 New Series (Chetham Society, Manchester, England, 1906), 558-9.
 Hist. MSS, 246.
 Henry de Beltgens & James Frederick Rees, The Industrial History of England, (Metheun, 1926), 60.
 Marion E. McClintock, BA, Lancaster Priory: The Church of the Blessed Mary of Lancaster, (Pitkin Pictorials LTD., London, 1980) 24 pages.
 'Alien house: The priory of
Date accessed: 09 November