Ranulf DE BROC
- Born: Abt 1140, Angmering, East Preston, Sussex, England
- Died: Abt 1187, Artington, Guildford, Surrey, England
Another name for Ranulf was Randolph DE BROC.
...Ranulf de Broc, a Royal favourite, whose notoriety, though great, is little associated with Shropshire. His interest in three several Manors demands, however, that some particulars of him should be given.
He first occurs in Hampshire, where, in the fiscal year, ending Michaelmas, 1156, he had been excused 8s. 3d., his quota of the Danegeld assessable on that County, and also 20s. of the scutage levied on the Knights of the confiscated See of Winchester. In each case this acquittance was directed by writ of the King... In  he accounts to the Crown 20s. for censorship of the Royal Forest of Witingelega, Hampshire.
It was about this time that Henry II, calling this Ranulf de Broc, his Usher and Mareschall (Hostiarium et Marescallum suum) and son of Oyn Porcell, granted him a charter* which indicates both wealth and Royal favour. It confirms to him "the whole land and office of his father, of whomsoever held, all the land of Guldeford which was Reginald de Resting's, his kinsman, and all the land which was Robert Testard's;—also the Magisterial and capital Marshalship of the King's House and Court;—and the whole land of Angemar, as Wido his uncle (avunculus) gave and conceded it to him, by concession of Nigel de Broc and his brethren; and the land of Piperhergh, as he bought it from Osbert de Piperhegh and his heirs, as the Charter of William de Windlesores testifies; and his land of Torncumb, as William and Roger de Pacey rendered it to him...
* Rot. Cart. 7 John, memb. 5 recto. It is a singular coincidence that Henry II, evidently on his succession, expedited a Charter to one Radulf Purcell, his Usher, of the ministry and land of Robert Burnell, his uncle (avunculi) in England and Normandy, of whomsoever held, as the said Robert Burnell enjoyed the same in time of King Henry I.
The Feodary of 1165 exhibits Ranulf de Broc as holding 1 fee at Piperherge under William de Windsor, ½ a fee of the Earl of Arundel, and 1 muntator of the Barony of Fitz Alan. His tenure in capite at Chetton and Berwick is not entered, and a knight's fee held under the Bishop of Winchester, which in time of King Henry I. had been William Peverel's, was then said to be held by Roland de Broc.
But Ranulf de Broc acquired his greatest notoriety by the part which he took in his Master's contest with Archbishop Thomas à Becket. When, about January, 1165, King Henry II had confiscated the See of Canterbury, and pronounced sentence of banishment on the Archbishop's kindred, he committed the execution of his orders to this Ranulf de Broc, who having a previous personal grudge against Becket, took care to discharge the trust with every circumstance of cruelty. Nor did his share in the great contest between Priest and Despot end here. In June, 1166, when Becket, from the pulpit of Vezelay, launched the thunders of the Church against some of Henry's chief ministers, Ranulf de Broc was not forgotten. In a subsequent letter to his Suffragans, the Archbishop gives the reasons for each sentence of excommunication individually. "Ranulf de Broc had seized and detained endowments of the Church of Canterbury, which were of right the provision of the poor; he had arrested, and was still keeping imprisoned, like laymen, the Archbishop's dependants." The struggle, which lasted for more than four years longer, is a subject of too great interest to be epitomized here.—Ranulf de Broc still farmed the vacant See of Canterbury, and Becket remained in exile.
In November 1170 the Archbishop having been apparently reconciled to his Soverign at Amboise, his return to England was accompanied by a significant hint of Henry's insincerity if not of his own impending fate. He found the shore at Sandwich occupied by the Sheriffs of Kent and Ranulf de Broc, with armed attendants. Whatever their designs, a special conference with John of Oxford, who escorted Becket on the King's behalf, seemed to change or to postpone them. Becket landed on Dec. 1, 1170, without further interruption. Among other things, he brought with him a letter of the King to Prince Henry, ordering the adjustment of his claims on the honour of Saltwood. Saltwood Castle was then in custody of Ranulf de Broc, and remained so for a month longer at least. On Dec. 25... Becket again excommunicated Ranulf de Broc from the pulpit of Canterbury. On the night of December the 28th, Saltwood Castle sheltered within its walls four men of dark design, who had arrived in haste—from beyond sea—from the Court of Henry. On the morrow these men did a deed before the chapel of St. Benedict, in the Cathedral Church of Canterbury, which astonished all Christendom, which annihilated the peace, palsied the energies and shook the throne of him for whom it was undertaken, and left his character for magnanimity a monument of the meanest treachery or the weakest passion.
This deed, which affected the relations of Church and State in this country, for centuries, has been called by various names... By it were established those principles to which eight years of the victim's life had been vainly devoted. Becket murdered was to the Church and Priesthood a bulwark of strength, in comparison of which the lordly presence, the blameless reputation, the lofty courage, the austere devotion, the fiery zeal, the aspiring genius of Becket yet alive, had been all as nothing....
Ranulf de Broc, whatever may have been his complicity in the murder of Becket, was not one of the prominent actors. Henry could therefore retain him in a position to which the more open executors of the royal will are said never to have been recalled. At Michaelmas 1171 he had farmed under the crown the escheated honour of Henry de Essex, some time Constable of England....
In October, 1173, when the rebel Earl of Leicester landed at Walton, in Suffolk, he first laid siege to Hagenet Castle, which Ranulf de Broc then held for the King.... The Castle of Hagenet was taken...after a siege of four days. This mischance does not seem to have compromised him with the King; for, about three years later, when Henry...expedited a Royal Charter to Wenlock Priory, Randal Broc was, with other courtiers, a witness. The time of his death is uncertain,—but..[he] died about 1187.
His issue was five daughters and coheirs; but, as his wife Damietta survived him, her inheritance in Shropshire will have suffered no partitition till her own death in 1204. On August 8 of that year, Stephen de Turnham, who had married Edeline, the eldest daughter and coheir, obtained King John's writ to the Sheriff of Southants, ordering the said Sheriff to give seizin to "our faithful Stephen de Thornham and Odeline his wife, of the Manor of Frellebi, which was Dametta's (mother of the said Odeline), who is dead, whose heir she (Odeline) is." A similar precept to the Sheriff of Salop orders seizin to be given to the same Stephen and Edelina, of the Manors of Chedinton, Euden, and Berewic.*
* Claus. 6 John, 19 recto. The Manor of Frelleberi had not however been strictly Dametta's. It must have been her dower out of the lands of Ranulf de Broc. Its tenure was attached to the serjeantry of being Usher to the King.... 1 2
Ranulf married Dametta DE GORRAM, daughter of William DE GORRAM and Unknown. (Dametta DE GORRAM was born about 1145 in Great Berwick near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England and died in 1204.)