(Abt 1020-)
(-Aft 1053)
Guillaume (William) DE WARENNE, 1st Earl of Surrey
(Bef 1037-1088)


Family Links


2. Marie, sister of Richard GUET

Guillaume (William) DE WARENNE, 1st Earl of Surrey

  • Born: Bef 1037, Varenne near Bellencombre, Seine-Inferieure, Normandy, France
  • Married (1): Bef 1077, Normandy, France
  • Married (2): After 1085, 2nd wife
  • Died: 24 Jun 1088, Pevensey, Sussex, England
  • Buried: Priory of Lewes, Sussex, England

  General Notes:

Compiler's 27 x great-grandfather

  Research Notes:

There is some doubt about the identity of the mother of William de Warenne. Guillaume of Jumièges names “Willelmus postea comes Surreiæ...” as Raoul’s son by his wife Beatrice. However, an undated charter, quoted more fully below, names them "Rodulfus et uxor eius…Emma ac filii eorum Rodulfus et Willelmus". As documents date Raoul’s marriage to Emma in [1053/59], the birth of their children of Raoul’s second marriage would be dated to [1055/65]. However, reports quoted below indicate that Guillaume de Warenne was active as an adult in Normandy before the English invasion in 1066, which would place his birth to [1035/40]. This all suggests that Guillaume of Jumièges is correct and that the children were born from their father’s first marriage. Orderic Vitalis records, in recounting a death-bed speech of William I King of England, that "castrum…Mortui Mari" was granted to "Guillelmo de Guarenna consanguineo eius" after it was confiscated from "Rogerium de Mortuomari" who had helped the escape of a French prisoner after defeating troops of Henri King of France in 1054 "apud Mortuum-Mare". According to the Complete Peerage, in [1054], he acquired land at Bellencombre, whose castle became the headquarters of the Warenne family in Normandy, and in 1066 took part in the invasion of England in 1066 and was rewarded with land in 13 counties. Orderic Vitalis names “...Willermus de Warenna et Hugo Pincerna...” among the leading lords under Guillaume II Duke of Normandy. Orderic Vitalis names “...Hugo de Grentemaisnilio et Guillermus de Garenna...” among those who took part in the battle of Hastings. Orderic Vitalis records that King William installed “Guillermum Osberni filium” at his new fortress at Winchester (“intra mœnia Guentæ”) and appointed him “vice sua toti regno versus Aquilonem”, while he granted “Doveram...totamque Cantiam” to “Odoni fratri suo”, and thus he entrusted “his duobus præfecturam Angliæ”, seconded by “Hugonem de Grentemaisnilio et Hugonem de Monteforti, Guillelmumque de Garenna”, dated to 1067. Orderic Vitalis says the king "gave Surrey" to William de Warenne in the chronicler's description of post-conquest grants made by King William, without specifying that he was created earl. Orderic Vitalis records that King William I granted "Sutregiam" to "Guillelmo de Guarenna" who had married "Gundredam sororem Gherbodi". "Hugo de Flamenvilla" sold property "quam tenebat de domino suo Rodulfo de Warethana in Amundi Villæ…et in Maltevilla…[et] in Flamenvilla" by undated charter which also records that later "supra memoratus Rodulfus et uxor eius…Emma ac filii eorum Rodulfus et Willelmus" confirmed the agreement, signed by "…ipsius Hugonis de Flamenvilla, Rotberti filii eius, Gisleberti filii eiusdem…". A charter dated 1074 records that "Rodulfus de Warenna eiusque conjux…Emma cum filiis suis Rodulfo…atque Willelmo" sold land in "quattuor villarum Caletensis pagi, Maltevillæ…Flamenvillæ, Amundi Villæ et Anglicevillæ" to Sainte-Trinité de Rouen, as well as "totius Osulfi Villæ eiusdem Caletensis pagi" sold by "Guillelmo filio Rogerii filii Hugonis episcopi". Orderic Vitalis records, in recounting a death-bed speech of William I King of England, that "castrum…Mortui Mari" was granted to "Guillelmo de Guarenna consanguineo eius" after it was confiscated from "Rogerium de Mortuomari" who had helped the escape of a French prisoner after defeating troops of Henri King of France in 1054 "apud Mortuum-Mare". The chronology of the family shows that the grant to William de Warenne must have occurred several years after the confiscation from Roger de Mortimer. “…Willielmi de Guarenna…” witnessed the charter dated 1082 under which William I King of England granted land at Covenham to the church of St Calais. Domesday Book records land held by “William de Warenne” in Fratton in Portsdown Hundred in Hampshire; numerous holdings in Norfolk. Orderic Vitalis says the king "gave Surrey" to William de Warenne in the chronicler's description of post-conquest grants made by King William, without specifying that he was created earl. Orderic Vitalis records that in Jan 1086 “Guillelmus de Warenna et Baldricus de Chitreio Nicolai filius, atque Gislebertus de Aquila”, wanting to avenge the death of “Richerii fratris sui” [Richer de Laigle], unsuccessfully attacked the besiegers of the castle of Sainte-Suzanne.

He supported King William II against the rebels led by Eudes Bishop of Bayeux and Robert Comte de Mortain in early 1088 and was rewarded by being created Earl of Surrey in [late Apr] 1088: Orderic Vitalis records that King William II appointed “Guilelmum de Guarenna” as “comitem Suthregiæ”, and adds that he was later buried at Lewes, dated to [1088/89]. He and his immediate successors usually styled themselves "Earl de Warenne".

He was mortally wounded at the siege of Pevensey. William I King of England donated property in Norfolk to Lewes priory, for the souls of “…Gulielmi de Warenna et uxoris suæ Gundfredæ filiæ meæ” by charter dated to [1080/86], witnessed by "…Michael de Tona…Milonis Crispini…" 1



WILLIAM DE WARENNE was 1st son of Rodulf II by Emma [sic]. At some time in or after 1054 Duke William gave him the castle of Mortemer, which had been forfeited by his kinsman, Roger de Mortimer, after the Battle of Mortemer in February of that year. Probably at the same time he acquired lands at Bellencombre, the castle of which became the caput of the Warenne barony in Normandy. In 1066 he was one of the Norman barons summoned by the Duke to a Council on hearing that Harold had been crowned King after the death of the Confessor. He took part in the invasion of England and was present at the Battle of Hastings. He was rewarded with lands in 13 counties (j), including most of the rape of Lewes in Sussex, the manor of Conisborough, co. York, and Castle Acre and a number of holdings in Norfolk. In 1067 he was one of the Norman nobles whom the Conqueror left in England to support his vice-regents, William FitzOsbern and the Bishop of Bayeux. In 1075 he was one of the two chief justiciars who were in charge of England when the Earls of Hereford and Norfolk rebelled and who summoned them to the King's court, and on their refusal crushed the rebellion (b). About 1083-85 he was fighting for the King in Maine (c). In the spring of 1088 he supported William II against the rebels led by the Bishop of Bayeux and the Count of Mortain, and to secure his loyalty he was created, shortly after Easter (16 April) 1088, EARL OF SURREY (e), his immediate successors being styled more usually EARLS DE WARENNE. He was mortally wounded at the siege of Pevensey before the end of May. He founded Lewes priory as a cell of Cluny abbey, about 1078-82.

He married, 1stly, Gundred, sister of Gerbod the Fleming, EARL OF CHESTER, possibly daughter of Gerbod, hereditary advocate of the Abbey of St. Bertin at St. Omer. She died in child-birth, 27 May 1085, at Castle Acre, Norfolk, and was buried the chapter-house at Lewes. He married, 2ndly, [----], sister of Richard GUET (living 1098). He died 24 June 1088, apparently from the effect of his wound at Pevensey, at Lewes, and was buried there beside his wife. 2

(j) Bedford, Bucks, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Lincoln, Oxford, York, Berks, Essex, Hants, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Sussex.

(b) William was one of those who occupied Norwich castle after its surrender.

(c) He was one of the leaders of an unsuccessful attack on the castle of Ste Suzanne in Jan, year uncertain.

(e) The creation has been ascribed to the Conqueror, but certainly in error. This was the only earldom created before the reign of Stephen of which the holder did not take his title from the county in which lay his chief territorial strength. However, it is likely that with the Earldom he was given lands at Reigate in Surrey.


William de Warrenne, Earl of Warrenne, in Normandy, a near kinsman of William the Conqueror, came into England with that prince and, having distinguished himself at the battle of Hastings, obtained an immense portion of the public spoliation. He had large grants of land in several counties, amongst which were the Barony of Lewes, in Sussex, and the manors of Carletune and Benington, in Lincolnshire. So extensive indeed were those grants that his possessions resembled more the dominions of a sovereign prince than the estates of a subject. He enjoyed, too, in the highest degree, the confidence of the king, and was appointed joint justice-general with Richard de Benefactis for administering justice throughout the whole realm. While in that office, some great disturbers of the public peace having refused to appear before him and his colleague in obedience to citation, the Earl took up arms and defeated the rebels in a battle at Fagadune, when he is said, for the purpose of striking terror, to have cut off the right foot of each of his prisoners. Of those rebels, Ralph Wahir or Guarder, Earl of Norfolk, and Roger, Earl of Hereford, were the ringleaders. His lordship was likewise highly esteemed by King William Rufus, and was created by that monarch Earl of Surrey. He m. Gundred, dau. of the Conqueror*, and had issue, William, Reginald, Gundred-Edith, and another dau. who m. Ernise de Colungis.

This potent noble built the castle of Holt and founded the priory at Lewes, in Sussex. He resided principally at the castle of Lewes, and had besides Castle-Acre, in Norfolk, and noble castles at Coningsburg and Sandal. He d. 24 June, 1088, and Dugdale gives to following curious account of his parting hour. "It is reported that this Earl William did violently detain certain lands from the monks of Ely, for which, being often admonished by the abbot, and not making restitution, died miserably. And, though his death happened very far off the isle of Ely, the same night he died, the abbot lying quietly in his bed and meditating on heavenly things, heard the soul of this earl, in its carriage away by the devil, cry out loudly and with a known and distinct voice, Lord have mercy on me; Lord have mercy on me. And, moreover, that the next day after, the abbot acquainted all the monks in chapter therewith. And likewise, that about four days after, there came a messenger to them from the wife of this earl with 100 shillings for the good of his soul, who told them that he died the very hour that the abbot had heard the outcry. But that neither the abbot nor any of the monks would receive it, not thinking it safe for them to take the money of a damned person. If this part of the story as to the abbot's hearing the noise be no truer than the last, viz., that his lady sent them 100 shillings, I shall deem it to be a mere fiction, in regard the lady was certainly dead about three years before." The earl was s. by his elder son, William de Warenne. 3

* At one time, it was thought that Gundred was the daughter of William the Conqueror. This has since been disproved. 4

  Marriage Information:

Guillaume married Gundred DE NORMANDIE before 1077 in Normandy, France. (Gundred DE NORMANDIE died on 27 May 1085 in Castle Acre, Acre, Norfolk, England and was buried in Priory, Lewes, Sussex, England.

  Marriage Information:

Guillaume also married Maria, sister of Richard GUET after 1085. (Marie, sister of Richard GUET died after 1098.)


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy,William Warenne.

2 Complete Peerage XII/1:493-5, XIV:604.

3 Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 568, Warren, Earls of Surrey.

4 For details, see "Early Yorkshire Charters" by C. T. Clay, or "Études sur Quelques Points de l'Historie de Guillaume le Conquérant" by H. Prentout..

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