4: The Sicilian Years

Hugh deQuetteville: Progenitor?

Posted on April 27, 2019 by Craig Cameron deQuetteville

Catania, Sicily: below Mount Etna

Though there may have been one or two generation of men bearing the deQuetteville name prior to Hugh, Hugh is the earliest deQuetteville for whom documentary evidence exists. If our hunch is correct, Hugh’s grandfather travelled with Robert ‘Guiscard’ de Hauteville to Italy and was present at several battles, but most importantly spent some time in Catania, Sicily, where he became a devotee of the cult of Ste. Agatha. It may be that he served also under Roger de Hauteville in Sicily and maintained contact with his homeland in Normandy. Perhaps he had a son in Sicily with a Greek or Lombard woman who then had another son sometime around 1080, and that son grew up speaking Greek, Italian or Arabic as well as French. That son would be called Ugo in Italian, Hugh in French and Hugone in Latin.

In fact, Hugh is mentioned in three documents from the same period. Whether or not there is one or more Hugh de Quettevilles during this time is important to determine. However, it must remain a matter of speculation based on a balance of probabilities that Hugh was a single person. There is at least a fair measure of circumstantial evidence to go on to draw a possible narrative arc explaining his appearance in the three charters. The ordering of the documents in a coherent chronology can lead us toward that goal. Ultimately, we will arrive at an understanding of Hugh’s possible role in the presence of the deQuetteville family in the Channel Islands in the late 13th century, which we know of from the appearance of a deQuetteville in the 1274 Assize Rolls of Jersey. 


Hugh is witness to a charter dated authoritatively to October, 1126[i]. At this time, Hugh is in a distant land. He is in Tarsus, Celicia, homeland of the Christian Armenian diaspora, in the area that straddles the modern-day border between Turkey and Syria, and gateway to Antioch and the Crusader Kingdoms.

The charter that Hugh is witness to derives from an elemosynary grant by Princess Cecilia, sister of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, and wife of Prince Bohemond II of Antioch. The grant is of lands in the vicinity of Tarsus made to the Church of Saint Mary of the Valley of Jehosaphat in Jerusalem for the purpose of establishing an abbey there. Witnesses to the charter include Ivo Cassinellus, Baldwin de Cavarico, Hugo de Chetevila, Robertus de Abbatisvilla and Richardus de Lachoara. Cahen mentions Hugh in a footnote that includes these witnesses and adds some names to demonstrate that there were several French land-owners in Celicia during this period of Franco-Armenian alliance. One of these land-owners is Guillaume de Hauteville, younger brother of Tancred de Hauteville. The proximity of Guillaume to Hugh will become meaningful in the context of the next document that mentions Hugh.

If Hugh is considered one of the “virorum ilustram” it might be helpful to understand some historical background for what might have made him so. That he is one of a handful of European (Lombardo-Norman) land-owners in Celicia means he could have been established there from the early days of the First Crusade (1096-1099). Celicia was liberated in 1097 from the Seljuk Turks on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor by Tancred de Hauteville and Godfrey de Bouillon. It would become an ally of the Crusader Kingdoms as a result, once those kingdoms were established. It is conceivable that land grants there were bestowed on prominent actors in either party, especially as it is documented that certain Crusaders stayed behind in Celicia to help guard against rear-guard action from the Seljuk Turks. Though, to be sure, some of these same men would have participated in the campaigns in the Holy Land. Consolidation of power in the four Crusader states had proceeded despite the military setbacks of the minor Crusade of 1101. Though land routes for pilgrims to the Holy Land had not been definitively secured, sea routes had. The influx of pilgrims called for ever more sites at which to worship.  For example, The Abby of Saint Mary of the Valley of Jehosaphat was founded by Godfrey of Bouillon and renovated in 1112. (In 1120, Baldwin makes his cousin Gilduin Le Puiset the abbot there.) Also, in 1122 the Order of the Knights Templar is established mostly from knights errant to facilitate the secure passage of pilgrims.

If Hugh does migrate from the Middle East back to Normandy sometime between 1126 and 1145, it cannot be ascertained when or why. Many Crusaders returned to their homeland shortly after they arrived. Many others stayed their entire lives and tried to set down roots in the Holy Land. It is known that life there was extremely difficult for those who settled. Is it possible that Hugh was able to gain sufficient material wealth in the Middle East to re-locate to and prosper in Normandy? Any speculation surrounding this question would have to address Hugh’s potential status before 1126. The next document in which Hugh is mentioned should help with that.  


The next time we see Hugh de Quetevilla, he is witness to a charter of grants made by William Artifex, seigneur of Alderney, of lands and rentes to the Abbey of Cherbourg[ii]. This situates Hugh in proximity to the Channel Islands, if not Jersey itself. Though the charter is dated to 1122 by Dupont, G.F. deGruchy cites Round as contesting the plausibility of such an early year. The Abbey of Cherbourg was founded in 1145 by the Empress Mathilda. So, it is impossible for there to have been a donation made to it in 1122, unless, as most French sources claim, the abbey was founded many years before 1145 and Mathilda’s donation was for the construction of a stone abbey in place of a wooden one. In this case, it would make sense that William Artifex donated lands on Alderney to the abbey. However, Mauduit observes that the mention of “deux sous angevins” places this charter in the 1140s at the earliest, because Angevin currency only circulated in Normandy from that time. As we have seen, Hugh was witness to a charter in 1126, so it is more likely that he witnessed the donation to the Cherbourg Abbey after he had returned from Outremer and become established in Norman society by the time he witnesses the Artifex charter around 1145.

(That makes it somewhat unlikely that the same Hugh witnessed the Cherbourg Abby charter in 1122. It would mean that he left Normandy sometime after 1122 and was in Cilicia as a land-owner by 1126. It is not outside the realm of possibility, but further evidence will call into question the plausibility of this sequence of events. It is more likely that Hugh was a witness to the Tarsus charter first and witnessed the Cherbourg charter sometime after that abbey’s renewal by Mathilda in 1145.) 


The last of the three charters in which Hugh deQuetteville is mentioned is the foundation charter for the Abby of Blanchelande, written in 1157[iii]. In this instance, Hugh is not a witness; he is only mentioned by way of a reference to the donation of his land, as one of many such donations, under the franc tenure of the seneschal of Normandy, Richard de la Haye: “et in Chetevilla terram Hugonis Tauri et pisces excluse quocumque modo capiantur, et assisiam retis in novio molendini ad capiendas anguillas, et si voluerint sub illo facere piscaturam”. (“à Chetevilla terre de Hugues le Taureau avec le poisson de l’écluse; l’assise d’un filet dans la roue du moulin pour prendre des anguilles, une pêcherie au-dessous, et une masure pour loger le pêcheur; »). In addition, the churches of Chetevilla and Bollevilla are donated to the abby.

Église Notre-Dâme, Cretteville, Bauptois, La Manche; est. probably around 1135

Later in the document certain exceptions are listed and Hugh’s land is mentioned again: “excepto opere excluse in terra Parnier de Bosevilla et in terra Hugonis Tauri de Chetevilla, que masure etiam costumas suas habet quietas in foresta ». Here the reference to Hugonis Tauri de Chetevilla suggests that Tauri is a nickname, perhaps recorded in the charter after Hugh has died. Since his land is being donated, with some exceptions, it may be reasonable to conclude that the land has escheated to the crown in the aftermath of Hugh’s death, some two to nine years before, and Richard de la Haye, as seneschal, has the right to donate it. How can we be sure that ‘Tauri’ is a nickname? It might be that a large man with a hot temper, for example, is referred to in this time as ‘Le Taureau’. However, I have seen no other examples of such a nickname in charters or assize rolls.

If this is indeed the same Hugh who once held land in Cilicia, perhaps he had gained a reputation as a crusading warrior, like many others, and earned a nickname to that effect in the same way as Robert ‘Guiscard’ (The Fox) de Hauteville, a generation before. It is known that Guillaume de Hauteville, grandson of Robert Guiscard and younger brother of Tancred, also held land in Cilicia at around the same time as Hugh. Guillaume was present with Tancred when the twenty-year-old Tancred was the first European Christian warrior to enter Cilicia and liberate it in 1097. Could our Hugh have been present there too? To reach their objective, Tancred and some 200 men split off from the larger Crusader army and passed through the Cilician Gates, a narrow pass protected by fortifications through the Taurus Mountains. Was Hugh given a nickname after these mountains? Perhaps, Hugh performed some commendable act of bravery that brought him to the attention of his superiors. Or perhaps he was simply recognized later in life for having been a party to a legendary set of battles that helped the Crusaders establish a foothold in the Middle East, from which they would go on to conquer Antioch and Jerusalem. 

For the timeline of Hugh’s life to be coherent in the context of our conjecture, he would have had to have been born in about 1080, making him around eighteen years old in 1098, give or take a couple of years. (Either that or Hugh was among the young Norman men who went to the First Crusade) Or, he had a Normano-Sicilian father or possibly grand-father who had been in Sicily with Robert Guiscard. If he was raised in Italy or Sicily, under Tancred and Guillaume de Hauteville, he too may have spoken Arabic, French and Greek. It would also mean that he was a man of about 46 in 1126, when he witnessed the charter in Tarsus. Perhaps, Hugh returned to Normandy in the years afterward to take up the administration of a fief that had been left to him. Or, perhaps he went to Normandy with sufficient wealth to purchase a fief in the Bauptois area, in what is now Cretteville. Either way, we find a Hugh deQuetteville witnessing a charter to the Abby de Voeu in Cherbourg around 1145. Now he is an elderly man of about 65 years, having established himself as a minor seigneur with a reputation as an old Crusader. When he dies a few years after this, his land is seised to the crown and donated by Richard de la Haye to the abby of Blanchelande. It is possible that his land-holdings extended beyond Cretteville, through marriage or otherwise, to include property in Quettreville or Jersey, but no records of it remain.

Sainte Agathe by Andrea Vaccaro

One tantalizing clue is the chapel of Ste Agathe that lay near the beach of the Ste Catherine’s Bay in Jersey. Why would that particular chapel be situated so close to the sea? While it is not far from the fief es quetivels, with its manor at La Bachauderie or Le Catillon (if, indeed, that fief existed as far back as the 12th century), these would be only contiguous to the location of the chapel. What is more likely is that it served as a chapel for fishermen and their families who helped in the salting of conger eels on the shore – a lucrative trade for which Jersey and Guernsey were well known in the 12th century. As we can see from the appurtenances for Hugh’s land in Cretteville listed in the charter to Blanchelande Abbey, freshwater eels were a part of Hugh’s fee in the 1150s. It may be a stretch to connect the two, but it may not be improbable that several people originally from Quettreville-sur-Sienne, perhaps themselves deQuettevilles, were drying and salting conger eels, fished from the Ecrehous, on the shore of Ste Catherine’s Bay near Archirondel.

[i] 1126

Cecilia domina Tharsensis

Abbey of Saint Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat

Saint Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat

c. mid. Oct. Cecilia domina Tharsensis, the sister of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, makes an eleemosynary grant, with the consent of Bohemond [II], prince of Antioch. She gives the abbey of St Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, represented by Ielduinus, eiusdem ecclesiae abbas, 3 casalia in the territory of Mamistra: Ioacheth, together with 2 carrucatae in Tilium; Oessi, which is across the river called Ioannes; Gnassia with its spring [fons]. Witnesses: Iuo Cassinellus; Balduinus de Cavarico; Hugo de Cheteuila; Robertus de Abbatisuilla; Richardus de Lachoara.

Mayer, Kanzlei 2:889-90, no. 2 (RRH no. 114c)



Claude Cahen

66. Guillaume de Brion, Baudouin de Cavariro, Yves Cassinel, Hugues de Cheteville, Richard de Lachaora, Roger de Corneille, Guillaume de Hauteville, Richard d’Abbeville, Renaud de Voret


Revue de l’Orient latin (1899)


(Registre, fol 207)

1126 – Cécile, dame de Tarse et soeur du roi de Jerusalem, donne, avec le consentement de Bohemond (II), prince de’Antioche, à l’abbaye de Notre-Dame de la Vallée de Josaphat, entre les mains de l’abbé Gelduin, de casaux sis dans le territoire de Mamistra, à savoir; le casal de Joacheth avec toutes ses dépendances; une terre de deux charrues « in Tilio »; un casal nommé Oessi, sis au-dela du fleuve appelé Joannes; un casal du nom de Grassia avec une fontaine et toutes les dépendances dudit casal.

Factum est hoc sub testimonio virorum illustrium subscriptorum, Ivonis scilicet Cassinelli, Balduini de Cavarico, Hugonis de Chetevila, Roberti de Abatisvilla, Richardi de Lachoara.

La date, inscrit en tête de l’acte, est ainsi concue;  « Anno Incarnationis Domini nostri Jesu Christi MCXXVI »


[ii] Le Cotentin et ses îles

Gustave Dupont No. 15

Donation par le seigneur d’Aurigny à l’abbaye de Cherbourg

Notum sit omnibus tam presentim quam futuris quod ego Wilhelmus Artifex dominus Alrenon dedi et concessi in perpetuam elemosinam Abbacie S.M. de voto et canonicis ibidem Deo servientibus  pro anima domini mei Regis Henrici et animabus patris et matris uxoris mee Agnetis, nec non pro salute mea et ipsius Agnetis totum tenementum quod tenebat de me Ricardus Wallensis (de Valois) jure hereditario de insula Alrenon scilicet quinque acras terrae cum campartis ejusdum terrae et regardis et pasnagio, solagio, ovagio et duobis solidis andegavensibus annuatim libre et quiete et absolute ab omnibus quae ad me pertinent concessi etiam donatianem quam H. Songeferre dedit eidem abbatiae et canonicis de terra quam dicto Henrico antea dederam pro servicio sua sicut carta sua quam habet de me testatur, insuper autem dimidiam bovatam terrae quae fuit Hamonis Thor cum omni redditu qui ad me pertinet et proeter hoc unam acre terram de meo dominio et una parte villae in Alrenoio et aliam et altera parte; Has itaque donaciones et concessiones feci ego Willelmus assensus filii mei Ranulfi et super altae S.M. de voto presentavi anno videlicet incaruationis dominice MCXXII ut igitur jam dictae donationes et ratae et stabiles in perpetuum permanent eas presenti carta et sigilli mei munimine dignam duxi roborare, testib. His Ricardo….., Radulpho capellano, Roberto de Octavilla, Radulfo fratre suo sacerdotibus, Ricardo de Fulgeriis, Henrico Songefer, Anschetillo Retello, Hugone de Quetevilla, Ricardo de Pontivo, Henrico de Rotomago, Wilhelmo de Alneto, Roberto Crasso, Adam de Stamford, Vincentio de Alrenoio, Gisleberto Monaco, Roberto de Aurevilla.

(Rép. MSS de M. de Gerville)

(Vidimé en 1437 – Cet acte prouve que l’abbaye de Cherbourg existait avant la prétendue fandation par Mathilde)  

Willelmus Artifex

Charter of Willelmus Artifex dominus Alrenon, with the assent of his son Ranulf, of grants in Alderney to the Abbey of Cherbourg. This charter has been preserved in an inspeximus and is therein dated AD 1122; this date was at first accepted as correct by Dupont, and was marked as doubtful by Round because the Abbey was founded about 1145 only. The date 1122 is impossibly early, because William and his son Ranulf were both living in l187, when they witnessed a charter of Philip de Creully to the Abbey of Cherbourg. Dupont later corrected thr date to 1222, but this again is improbably late for William to have survived. As we have seen, there is reason to believe that he was dead in 1198; also the form of the charter auggests that it was passed before the loss of Normandy in 1204. The writer suggests the date 1172, or possibly 1182, the copyist having omitted an L, or the four score marks above the XX, from the original date.

This article, based on a talk by G F de Gruchy in July 1918, was first published in the 1919 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

From Jerripedia (https://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/Channel_Islands_in_the_Normandy_rolls)

See also Note 15 from La réduction de l’abbaye Saint-Hélier de Jersey en prieuré, une conséquence de l’affrontement entre Arrouaisiens et Victorins en Normandie ?

parChristophe Mauduit

  • Annales de Normandie; 2013
  • https://www.cairn.info/revue-annales-de-normandie-2013-1-page-53.htm#no142
  • Une charte, conservée aux Archives de la Manche (détruite en 1944) et copiée par Gerville comme par Léchaudé d’Anisy (The National Archives, PRO 31/8/140B « Cartulaire de Basse-Normandie » par Léchaudé d’Anisy, 3 vol., vol. 2, p. 99-100, n° 1) pose problème pour la datation de la fondation de l’abbaye du Vœu : en effet, cet acte est une donation du seigneur d’Aurigny à l’abbaye du Vœu datée de 1122. En fait, la date est manifestement fausse, puisque la donation comporte notamment une rente de deux sous angevins (Ibid. : duobus solidos Andegaventium annuatim libere quiete et absolute ab omnibus que ad me pertinent) ; or la première mention de cette monnaie en Normandie date de 1139 et elle ne devient « monnaie officielle de l’empire plantagenêt » qu’en 1174 (F. Dumas, J. Pilet-Lemière, « La monnaie », dans M. d’Onofrio, Les Normands peuple d’Europe, 1030-1200, Paris, Flammarion, 1994, p. 60-63 ; F. Dumas, « Les monnaies normandes (xe-xiie siècles) avec un répertoire des trouvailles », Revue numismatique, t. 21, 1979, p. 97). L’acte date sans doute de la seconde moitié du xiie siècle (le donateur appose son sceau, élément dont sont dépourvus les plus grands des seigneurs du Cotentin au milieu des années 1150), sans plus de précision possible, puisqu’aucune des chartes de confirmation, tant épiscopales que royales, n’évoque cette donation.

[iii] Foundation Charter for the Abby of Blanchelande (1155)

“ Ricardus de Haya et Mathildis uxor ejus omnibus hominibus suis et amicus Normannie et Anglie salutem in domino.

Notum sit vestrum dilectioni et omnium tam presentium quam futurorum charitati quod nos in propria hereditate nostra, in loco qui Blancalanda dicitur, unum monasterium fundavimus in honore Dei et domini nostri Jesu Christi et baate Genitricis ejus et sanctissimi confessoris Nicolai, ibique conventum canonicorum ad serviendum Deo in ordine Premonstratensi constituimos, quibus ad victum et vestitum, pro redemptione animarum nostrarum et vestrarum et omnium antecessorum nostrorum, de parvitate nostra hec subscripta conferentes in perpetuam eleemosinam per manum Ricardi Constantiensis episcopi domino consecravimus, Wilhelmo de Vernone et Ricardo filius ejus et Radulpho de Haya, nepote nostra, concendentibus et super altare prefati monasterii propriis manibus nobiscum offerentibus; ipsum videlicet locum in quo fundatum est monasterium cum omnibus adjacentibus suis a Bellavalle usque ad montem Etenclif, sicut enim a foresta separat terminorum appositio; in Haia Putei terram Cornart, in thelonio quadraginta solidos et domum Hugonis de Nigelli Humo cum suo horto et predio, ita quietam quod homo qui in ea manebit vendet vel emet in domo et extra, in foro et ubique omnino quiete, et duas acras terre juxta terram Malconvenant, et molendinum tanarium, juxta parcum; in Anfremesnil terram Radulphi clerici et terram Gaufridi fratris sacerdotas, et alias decem acras terre, et in mari unam piscaturam et salinam Hober; et terram Richerii de Fanouilleres, et terram integram quam tenebat Radulphus Cheminant pro uno quarterio avene; in Bollevilla masuram Roberti Lilleman; ad Caudecotte terram Raze; in Varenguebec terram Gobe, ad Essarts duas masuras terre; et cum altera earum costumas in foresta ad opus figuli; forestas autem nostras ubique et quandiu duraverint ad omni edificia sua proria facienda et reficienda, similiter ad ignem et ad omnium domus necessaria, pasnagium porcorum suorum in eis quietum et suorum hominum ad ipsus hominibus sibi persolvendum, et omnes sibi utiles et necessarias costumas foreste; in parco autem suorum tantum porcorum quietationem et communem cum nostris et similiter post nos cum porcis domini libertatem, et abrosturam boum et coria cervorum et omnium bissarum, et terram Rogerii Forestarii integre sub chemino videlicet et super cheminum quem donaverunt eis ipse et Paganus filius ejus cum domo que in ea erat; et in Chetevilla terram Hugonis Tauri et pisces excluse quocumque modo capiantur, et assisiam retis in novio molendini ad capiendas anguillas, et si voluerint sub illo facere piscaturam; et unam masuram terre ibi juxta ad hospitandum piscaturam; in Bozevilla terram Parnier; in Popevilla et Varrevilla decimam grangiarum, videlicet cum ad eas carrus atulerit garbas, sive quadriga, vel quocumque modo afferantur; et undecumque novem in grangiis computentur, decima canonicis reddatur; et decimam garbagii et omnium denariorum, excepto thelonio, et omnium quecumque ex eis domino exuent, etiam feni et camparti et crassi piscis et ferie Campanie, excepto molendino de Vado. Ecclesias autem de Chetevilla et de Bollevilla; et in ecclesia Montegardo quidquid ad feudum de Haya pertinet. Similiter per manum Ricardi Constantiensis episcopi donavimus huic nostro monasterio ita scilicet quod in ecclesia de Montegardo canonici in vita Radulphi de Rotor dimidias garbas decime tantum habeant post mortem vero ejus integraliter totum ad canonicos redeat; illam autem de Chetevilla Godefridus sacerdos, et illam de Bollevilla Gaufridus que tunc in illis erant persone in vita sua a canonicis requirentes susceperunt, tanquam clerici obedientes, et de recognitione quod inter illas convenit annuatim reddentes; post vero mortem eorum integraliter ex toto, excepta quadam parte decime garbarum que ad prebendam de Moretonio pertinet, et quiete ad canonicos redeat; prenominati enim sacerdotes Godefridus et Gaufridus omnem juris hereditarii acclamationem quam in illis faciebant in manu domini episcopi resignaverunt et super alteri prefati monasterii propriis manibus ponentes imnino dimiserunt; quod similiter Radulphus de Rotor fecit de illa de Montegardo; et ecclesiam Sancti Symphoriani, cum omnibus ad eam pertinentibus, de quibus est decimas molendini de Caudecotte et decima piscium excluse ejus. In Anglia Cambrigueham manerium cum omnibus pertinentiis suis, excepta ecclesia. Hec itaque prescripta, presente clero et populo et approbante, donavimus huic nostro monasterio Sancti Nicolai de Blancalanda, nihil omnino in omnibus his retinentes, sed ab omni jure et dominio et secularium consuetudinum querela et exactione ad nos pertinentibus, libera et absoluta super altera offerentes per manum episcopi consecravimus, excepto opere excluse in terra Parnier de Bosevilla et in terra Hugonis Tauri de Chetevilla, que masure etiam costumas suas habet quietas in foresta, et excpeta molta hominum de terra Radulphi clerici apud Anfremesnil et opere excluse; testibus Ricardo Constantiensi episcopo, Walterio abbate Montisburgi, Radulpho priore Exaquii, Ricardo episcopo et Philipo Constantiensis archidiacono; Engelgario de Bouhon, Roberto de Sancto Germano, Roberto de Pretot, Renaldo de Mesnil, Ricardo Avenil, Radulpho Cunes et aliis multis, anno ab incarnatione domini millesimo centesimo quinquagesimo quarto, in Blancalanda »

Richard de la Haye donna encore à l’abbaye de Blanchelande le domaine des Dis de Salinelles et de Bretteville; mais en 1206, Guillaume du Hommet reprit cette proprièté et donna en échange environ vingt acres de bois situées contre le parc, dans le but de l’agrandir. » 

  • Quoted by C. Bottin (May, 1867); “Du Domaine Maritime au XIieme, XIIieme, XIIIieme et XIVieme siècles sur le Littoral Normand et éspecialement dans la Baie de Lessay »
  • Notices, Mémoires et Documents publiées par la Socièté d’Agriculture, d’Archaeologie et d’Histoire Naturelle du Département de la Manche, Vol. III; Saint Lo, 1868 
  • See also,  Gallia christiana, t. XI, Imprimerie Royale, Paris, 1759, Instr., p. 243A, § XVII.  
  • Bottin (et. Al.?) attribute Chetevilla to Cretteville; evidence for this?
  • “à Chetevilla terre de Hugues le Taureau avec le poisson de l’écluse; l’assise d’un filet dans la roue du moulin pour prendre des anguilles, une pêcherie au-dessous, et une masure pour loger le pêcheur; »