6: The Years in England

12th and 13th Centuries

Posted on April 26, 2019

Rievaulx Abbey, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire; founded 1131

There are no towns or hamlets in England, Scotland or Ireland with a name approximating Quetteville. Therefore, no one with the name de Quetteville can be said to be from a family originating there. This is not to say that no deQuettevilles were born in England. But if so, they were second or third generation Anglo-Normans. The oldest occurrence of a deQuetteville in English documents is from between 1154 and 1157[i]. (This the same year that Hugh’s lands are donated to Blanchelande Abby). A Ricardus, or Richard, deQuetteville witnesses a charter of a benefaction to Rievaulx Abby made by Bishop Hugh de Puiset of Durham Cathedral in North Yorkshire. Richard must have enjoyed some level of prominence in this county at that time to have been included among the witnesses. However, there is no other record available for him. Was he perhaps a cleric (not specified)? Or, was he there in some sort of military capacity? It is not clear. If he were a son or nephew of Hugh deQuetteville, under what circumstances would he have come to North Yorkshire?

We have seen that deQuettevilles probably did not participate in the Norman Conquest of England – or, if so, then as nameless foot-soldiers — and the immediate campaigns afterward to pacify Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Richard might have migrated to Cumbria sometime in the 1130s with certain Norman lords, such as Robert Bruce of Annandale, who hailed from Brix under the Lord of St-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in the Cotentin, which King Henry I had granted to King David of Scotland. King David died in 1153 and it is one year afterward that Richard deQuetteville witnesses the charter. (Is Richard a possible son of Hugh?) If Richard was indeed a military man, it does not necessarily mean that he held land in England, but may have been there in a purely military capacity, a knight errant as it were who maintained his connection to family holdings in Normandy. He may well have been a younger son of Hugh, or a nephew, if related at all. This would go some way to account for the appearance in the general vicinity some 35 years later of a Reginaldus de Kedeville.

Reginald, Reinalt, Renault or Regnaud, is of particular interest because he is written about in a literary work, L’Histoire de Guillaume le maréchal, written in 1226 by John Earley, or Jean d’Erlée (Vol. 1, ll. 9622-9631). Earley writes that

Ranvol de Kedevile, un fals./ Veirement fu de Kedevile,/ Quer toz diz (le) servi de gile.//Li Mar. Ici kemande/Reinalt a aller en Irlande/Por saisir la ses tenemenz/ E toz les apartenemenz./ Reinalt nel contredist de rien:/ Dex li aiut s’il le fist bien!/ N’ai or ci talent de plus dire,/ Quer trop i a meillor matyre/ Dont me couvendriet entremetre:/ ((ll. 9621-9631);

Les choses étant ainsi réglées, le Maréchal envoya en Irlande Renaut de Kedeville, un fourbe qui justifiait son nom, car toujours il le trompa. Le Maréchal ordonna à Renaut d’aller en Irlande pour prendre saisine de ses tènements. Renaut obéit. Dieu lui soit en aide s’ils acquitta bien de sa mission! J’ai une meilleure matière à traiter. Il me faut dire comment le roi Richard, du temps qu’il était en Angleterre, prépara sa flotte pour aller en Terre sainte. C’étaient…[ii] (« Traduction Abrégée », p. 124).

Various commentators interpret Renault’s role variously. Meyer and Laurens thought Earley was punning on the name, but did not know why. They correctly drew all the possible locations in Normandy for the toponym, but could not understand the metaphorical relationship between Quetteville and Renault’s purported villainy. Orpen thought the pun was on a langue d’oiel word ‘chetif’, or ‘caitiff’, a reference to a ‘contemptible or cowardly person’, as in ‘a caitiff knight’.[iii]  Sidney Painter is considerably more circumspect in judging Reginald. He writes, “When William first obtained possession of Leinster, he sent Renault de Kedeville to seize it in his name. Nothing is known of this individual beyond the suggestion in the History that he did not fulfil his mission loyally” (Painter, pp. 151-152). (Painter, Sidney; William Marshal: Knight-Errant, Baron, and Regent of England; University of Toronto Press, 1982; reprinted from John Hopkins Press, 1933).

David Crouch, on the other hand, offers us two brief commentaries, neither of which pulls its punches. He first writes, in “Strategies of Lordship in Angevin England and the Career of William Marshal’ (pp. 1-25), (The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood, II: Papers from the Third Strawberry Hill Conference, 1986; ed. Harper-Bill, Christopher & Harvey, Ruth; Boydell Press, 1988) that William Marshal “did not go to Ireland to take seisin of Leinster. He sent an ineffectual and apparently treacherous henchman, called Reginal de Quetteville, as his seneschal. Reginald was to be sympathised with – he had no authority other than his master’s charge, no party to rely on amongst the local barons, no landed base, and the rival claims of Count John to resist. A British resident in Tibet would have been no less isolated. No wonder his mission was a failure” (p. 19). In his full-length study of William Marshal, Crouch’s judgment is unchanged; “The Marshal had the problem of how to administer Leinster. He would not go there himself for a decade — … — and any emissary of his would be ineffective. A representative was sent, we are told, the otherwise unknown Reginald de Quetteville, to stake the Marshal’s claim: ‘God help him!’ says the History. He was utterly ineffectual, as might reasonably have been expected. There must have been a more resolute attempt to gain control of Leinster later.” (see also Note 26 for mention of a William possibly related to, or the same as, Reginald; p. ?) (Crouch, David; William Marshal, 3rd Ed.; Routledge, 2016).

What all these assessments have in common is that they take Earley at his word, that Reginald was ‘treacherous’ or ‘incompetent’ or both.  And it may be that Earley was justified in his judgment. Perhaps Reginald was rumoured to have pocketed some of the rents due William Marshal. Or to have somehow betrayed him in some other way. But that was fairly common practice in those days, so it would have had to have been something egregious to merit mentioning. On the other hand, Earley gives neither illustration nor proof of Reginald’s ‘guile’. We are simply to take him at his word. Orpen, at least, guessed that Reginald’s so-called treachery might have been attributed to Count John’s machinations against Meiler fitz Gerald, in the middle of which William Marshal found himself caught. Crouch highlights the mitigating factors that caused the failure of Reginald’s mission, but hews the line on Reginald’s duplicity.

What no one comments on is Earley’s possible motivation for painting Reginald in such dark colours. Earley was a loyal vassal of William Marshal, but had had his lands in Leinster confiscated by Prince John when John took charge in 1185. There was no love lost between Earley and Prince John, later to be King. If we imagine for a moment that in fulfilling his role as seneschal, Reginald somehow showed loyalty to Prince John over and against William Marshal, we can see why Earley, writing in the 1220s, might have wanted to settle old scores and slander Reginald, while avoiding casting aspersion on the now-deceased King John, whose son, King Henry III, was in the midst of fighting the First Baron’s War by the time Earley was writing his biography of Marshal. Earley could not afford to show any disloyalty to the crown, but he could paint a vivid picture of the villainous underlings who had served the crown loyally, against his own interests in Ireland. Perhaps Reginald had been a spy in Leinster on behalf of Prince John. We hear nothing more about Reginald, as Painter declares, and no new information has arisen since then. There is no indication of Reginald having been prosecuted for any crime, let alone executed for treason. Was he removed from his position as Seneschal by William sometime around 1191? It is known that by 1193 Reginald has been replaced by a more competent and faithful servant to William Marshal in Leinster. Perhaps Reginald left to go on crusade in 1190 along with the retinue of knights who accompanied King Richard I. In any case, he appears never to have owned land in England or Normandy – unless he did in Jersey, which is not accounted for — and after his service to William Marshal, or Prince John, in Leinster from 1189-90, he disappears from the record.

However, the question of loyalty to King John looms large, in particular as it might relate to the crown’s interests in Jersey. There are two deQuettevilles in England and one in Normandy who figure in the decades after Reginald’s tenure in Leinster; William, Gilbert and Muriel. Willelmus, or William or Guillaume, de Keteville appears in two instances. David Crouch notes that a Willelmus de Kettovill witnesses a charter of William Marshal in a rather early period of the Marshal’s career, around 1186-88[iv]. Crouch speculates at one point that Reginald and William may be the same person, and that Earley may have mistaken his name. However, that is an odd conjecture, given the two dissimilar Christian names. More plausible, perhaps, is the possibility that William was a brother, nephew or cousin of Reginald. It is not clear where William witnessed the charter of William Marshal, but Marshal’s only honours at that time was as Baron of Cartmel in Kendale in Westmoreland. As we will see, it seems likely that for a time one or more deQuettevilles held possession of land in Westmoreland beginning in the reign of King Richard and ending probably before the end of the reign of King Henry III. Originally, William may have been, like Reginald, an itinerant knight in the service of a great Anglo-Norman lord, such as William Marshal, Richard de Hommet[v] or Nigel de Aubeigny[vi] (see footnote).

A “Guillaume de Keteville, clerc,” is listed as a witness to a charter of about 1199 by Guillaume de Rollos (the family de Rollos also held land in Yorkshire; see Crouch) donating to the abby of Blanchelande the church of St-Denis-le-Vètu; “St-Denis-le-Vètu: charte de Guillaume de Rollos, donnant à l’abbaye de Blanchelande pour son âme, l’âme d’Ysabeau, sa femme, les âmes de son père et de sa mère  et les a^mes de tous ses amies, l’église de St-Denis-le-Vètu avec toutes ses appartenances; témoins, Richard de Varenguebec, prêtre, Robert le Roux, de Desebi, chevalier, Richard Du Hommet, fils de Richard Du Hommet, maitre Hugh de Surreham, Guillaume de Ketevill, clerc, Robert, fils Aleuve, Bertrand, serjeant de dame Mathilde. « (Inventaire-Sommaire, p. 91). Likewise, “Guillaume, clerc, de Ketreville” (Inventaire-Sommaire, p. 49) is mentioned as a witness to a reconfirmation charter issued by Guillaume de Tounebu sometime between 1184 and 1202. Could this be the same William that signs the charter issued by William Marshal, as well? The linkage is tenuous, but could it be that Guillaume is a younger son who begins his career as a clerk in Normandy and then goes on to greater service in England? Additionally, there is no indication of whether the Marshal charter was issued in England or Normandy, so it is possible that William/Guillaume witnessed all three in Normandy or also travelled at some point to England in the service of William Marshal. (If indeed they can be seen as one and the same man).

In 1275, some 60 to 70 years after the fact, an inquest of escheats includes an entry for the claims of the family of William de Strickeland for the fief of Trostermode in Westmoreland (located on the northern portion of the eastern shore of Ullswater in Barton Parish), which also mentions a William de Ketevil.

William de Stirkeland in respect of the escheatment of land which he held of the inheritance of Elizabeth, late his wife. The jurors found on oath that one Godith held the lands and tenements of Trostermode by gift of William de Lancaster the elder by service; and later a certain Norman, William de Ketevil by name, married the said Godith, and they lived together a number of years; but afterwards that Godith died, William de Ketevil her husband held the said lands of Trostermode for a long time, and died seized thereof; and the said William and Godith had no heir begotten of their bodies; and after the death of William de Ketevil, William de Lancaster, younger, lord of the chief fee, seized the said lands of Trostormode unto his own use, and after a time gave them to Hugh de Camera; and this Hugh held the said lands of Trostormode for a certain period, but later sold the lands and tenements of Trostormode with all appurtenances thereto unto Ralph de Ayncurt father of Elizabeth, the wife of William de Stirkelande, And the said jurors find that on no other occasion were the said lands and tenements of Trostormode seized in the hands of the lord the King except at the time when William de Ketevil, the Norman, died thereof seized (Robert’s Calendarium Genealogicum, Vol. i, No. 74.).

It is interesting that William’s Norman roots are referred to twice; once as ‘a certain Norman’, secondly as ‘the Norman’, an indication perhaps that he was remembered as being among a dwindling number of such people at that time living among the Anglo-Normans in Westmoreland and Cumberland. A best guess for when William married Godith and assumed the honour of Trostormode would be sometime between 1185 and 1195.  

It is an interesting coincidence that William de Keteville is shown to have witnessed a charter of William Marshal in the period of 1186-88 when William was guardian and fiancé of Helewise de Lancaster, then 13 years of age and presumptive heir to the Barony of Kendale, which had been more or less created under her grand-father William of Lancaster I. Was William de Keteville at that early time already in possession of Trostermode through his wife, Godith? We read that “Godith held the lands and tenements of Trostermode by gift of William de Lancaster the elder by service”. As this William de Lancaster died around 1170, Trostermode would have had to have been in Godith’s possession for some 16 years by the time William de Keteville had married her. It is difficult to speculate about what service Godith performed to have been gifted land; perhaps she was simply an illegitimate daughter. And given the testimony that William and Godith held Trostormode for “a number of years”, and that he continued to do so “for a long time” after she died, we could maybe extrapolate that William held that estate until his death without heirs sometime in the 1220s or 1230s, at which time William de Lancaster III took possession of them. (Take note that William de Ketevil’s Godith bears the same name as William de Lancaster’s mother, wife of Ivo de Taillebois.)

In a wider political context, the Lordship of Westmoreland, to which the Barony of Kendal was enfeoffed up to 1190, had passed during the reign of King Richard I from the Morville family to the Vieuxpont family through marriage of William de Vieuxpont (d. 1203) to Maud de Morville (d. 1210). William de Vieuxpont’s son, Robert, would become Sheriff of Westmoreland in 1203, including the Barony of Kendale, and serve King John well, being the only one of the northern Barons to refrain from rebelling against the King in the First Barons War. (William Marshal was also one of those barons, though he was by then Lord of Pembroke, which is in the south). Could it be that the vassals of William and Robert de Vieuxpont, such as William de Ketevil, enjoyed the favour of King John for their loyalty and service to him, and became trusted by the King to maintain lands in the Channel Islands after 1204? (Note that all the names listed as tenants of Trostermode were also once hostages of King John held in the wake of the First Barons War, 1215-1217; Gilbert fitz Reinfrid, de Lancaster, signatory to the Magna Carta, dies in 1220; William de Lancaster III was one such hostage and died without heirs and in debt, so eventual death date for William de Ketevil of 1220s makes sense; ie. William deK not a hostage, too old to participate?).       

Unfortunately, the picture is clouded by the presence of another deQuetteville in northern England, Gilbert. Since William deKeteville died without having had children, Gilbert must have been either a son, nephew or grandson of Reginald or Richard. Gilbert appears in the fine rolls of King Henry III, in the 19th year of his reign. The date is sometime in November, 1235. Gilbert would have had to have been born in 1217, but was likely born earlier.  The fine rolls read, “Westmoreland. Gilbert de Ketteville gives the king 2 m. for having four knights to take an assize of novel disseisin. Order to the sheriff of Westmorland to take security” (Nov., 1235, Membrane 6, 398). Gilbert had evidently had lands seised from him to which he responded by paying the King 2 marks for a writ of assize of novel disseisin, to have four knights of the county sit in jury and judge whether he as plaintiff had the right of return to those lands against the accused.

It is not clear that the land in question is the same as that once held by William, though there could be some question that William’s land had been illegally seised by William de Lancaster III, who had sold it to Hugh de Camera, if Gilbert, as a nephew, had had a reasonable claim to inherit it. Nothing is known of the outcome of this action. However, we hear nothing more of Gilbert in relation to land or family. (More research required on the historical records of the Barony of Westmoreland and Cumberland). On the other hand, it might be surmised that because Gilbert availed himself of the King’s writ, rather than waiting for the Court of Eyre, the loss of the land had taken place fairly recently beforehand. (For example, a group of Barons led by Richard Marshal, grandson of William, and joined by the powerful Peter des Roches and his nephew Peter de Rivaux, had in 1234 been cornered by the King’s forces in Ireland. Despite a truce already in effect between Richard and King Henry, Loyalists to the King defeated Richard and his men and Richard died). (Note: John de Vipont is Sheriff of Westmoreland at time of Gilbert’s assize).

What remains unproven is any link between the Westmoreland deQuettevilles and the Cotentin deQuettevilles. Except for the identification of William/Guillaume as a Norman, there is little circumstantial evidence to establish that they were members of one family that held property in England, Normandy and Jersey in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. However, if it can be surmised that the deQuettevilles remained generally in favour with King John before and after 1204, we can presume that the conditions were set for the possible possession of lands in all three jurisdictions, with the possible loss of lands in Normandy after 1204. Like many minor barons in Normandy, they may have seen an opportunity to possess more wealth and power in England, and therefore minimized the importance of their holdings in Jersey and Normandy, leaving them to be managed by cadet branches of the family.  If this process began sometime in the 1170s or 1180s, perhaps the project died out by the 1230s or 1240s with the failure of William to produce children or of Gilbert to maintain tenure of his lands. There is a 40-year gap between the appearance of Gilbert in the fine rolls of King Henry III and the appearance of Raoul in the 1274 Extent of Jersey. This gap makes it exceedingly difficult to draw conclusively any links between them. Having said that, we could expect that had there already been deQuettevilles on Jersey whose loyalty King John could rely on, because the family had proven its loyalty in Westmoreland, then they would have been among those island families whose fortunes were elevated after 1204.              

[i] Omnibus sancte matris ecclesie filiis H[ugo] dei gratia Dunelmensis episcopus salutem Sciant tam presentes quam posteri quod nos caritatis intuitu et pro speciali dilectione quam erga dilectum filium nostrum Ailredum abbatem habemus concedimus ecclesie beate Marie Rievall et fratribus ibidem deo servientibus totam terram nostram de Cotum scilicet tres carrucatas terre quas de nobis ad terminum tenebant in liberam et perpetuam elemosinam possidendas reddendo nobis et successoribus nostris per singulos annos sexaginta solidos ad terminos in Alvertonescire constitutos liberas et quietas ab omni consuetudine et servitio Volumus itaque et precipimus quatinus hanc predictam terram sicut predictum est libere et quiete et honorifice teneant cum omnibus pertinentiis suis videlicet in pratis et pascuis et aquis et omnibus aliis rebus per rectas divisas quas deambulare fecimus et iurare Si autem aliquis adversus ecclesiam Rievallensem super predicta terra calumpniam moverit ecclesia Dunelmensis pro ea stabit contra omnes homines defendendo tanquam pro dominio suo His testibus Iohanne archidiacono Waltero capellano Simone de Beverl Ricardo de Hoved Iohanne de Rama Thebaldo de Mustervilers Stephano medico Hugone clerico de Alv[er]t[ona] Helia clerico Radulfo Ageth Hugone de Sartis Thoma de Hellebec Ricardo de Ketelvil Richero de Wlesant Randulfo de Romund[ebi] et Nigello fratre eius Radulfo de Grisebi Willelmo Faderles Gichel de Alvert[ona] Robert filio Brun Ricardo filio Liolf Aschetino filio Aldredi Amaldo pistore Alexandro filio Edgari

[ii] L’auteur joue sur le surnom de cet individu, comme plus haut ( p. 121, n. 2) sur le nom de la reine Alienor. Mais ici le jeu de mot est encore plus obscur (Veirement fa de Kedeville Quertoz diz le servi de aile, parce que le surnom même n’est pas sûr. Ce qui s’en rapproche le plus, c’est Chefdeville il y a plusieu rs lieux de ce nom dans le Calvados et l’un notamment comm. de Sommervieu, arr. de Bayeux,  ui, aux m‘ siècle, est appelé Kep de ville (Hippeau, Dict. topogr. du

Calvados). On pourrait aussi songer à Quetiéville, Calvados, cant. De Mezidon, anciennement Chetivilla, Ketelmélla, Keteuvilla (Hippeau,Dict.topogr. du Calvados) , et Quetteville, cant. de Honneur, anciennement Catevilla, Ketevilla Il y a un autre Quetteville dans la Manche, comm. de Helleville, arr. de Cherbourg, cant. des Pieux,et Quettreville, arr. de Coutances, cant. de Montmartin- sur- Mer. Le personnage dont il est ici question est d’ailleurs inconnu.

[iii] “There is an evident play on the name, which puzzled the editor. Might not the place-name have suggested the word chetif to the trouvere? The place intended may have been, as M. Meyer suggests, Quetieville (formerly Chetivilla, Ketelvilla, Keteuvilla) or Quetteville, both in Calvadoz. Probably the 'caitiff ' played into the hands of John in his intrigue with Meiler against the Marshal's lands.” 

 William Marshal (Marescallus) confirms to Gervase de Eincurt his tenements which William de Lancastre gave him as his charter testfies, “to hold of the said William Marshal and his heirs in fee and inheritance.” Witnesses: Thomas son of Gospatrick, Gilbert de Lancastre, Roger de Croft, Roger son of Adam, Henry son of Norman, Geoffrey de Prestun, Geoffrey son of Robert, William Waler[an], Matthew Gernet, William de Kettovill, Richard son of Alard, William de Bevill, Gamel the for[ester]; orig. D. at Sizergh.

 Notification by Henry II, addressed to our dear son Richard, comte de Poitiers, of his grant to Gilbert son of Roger Fitz-Reinfrid, our sewer, of the daughter of William de Lancastre with her whole inheritance. Witnesses: Geoffrey our son and chancellor, William Marshal, Richard de Humet; Reg. of D. at Levens, f. 79; Farrer, Lancs. Pipe R., 395.

 Henry I gave the greater part of the parishes of Kirkby in Kendale, Heversham and Burton to Nigel de Aubeigny.