Guillaume MALET Sheriff of York, Sire De Graville
(-Bef 1086)


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Guillaume MALET Sheriff of York, Sire De Graville

  • Born: Graville St Honorine, Normandy, France
  • Died: Bef 1086, Yorkshire, England

   General Notes:

General of William the Conqueror, and fought in the Battle of Hastings (1066)


Domesday Book records that "William Malet had 5 carucates of land to the geld" in Alkborough, Lincolnshire, and that "Ivo" (identified as Ivo Taillebois, first husband of Lucy, relative of the Malet family) was the current holder. Brown indicates that the reference to assessment "to the geld" suggests that Guillaume may have been the holder of the land before the conquest. A history of the Crispin family names "Esiliam matrem Willelmi Malet" as daughter of Gilbert Crespin, adding that Guillaume ended his life at Bec abbey. The Chronique de Normandie, based on le Roman de Rou, names "Guillaume de Malet" among those who took part in the conquest of England in 1066. Orderic Vitalis names "Guillelmo agnomine Maleto" was charged with the temporary burial of the body of King Harold II on the shore after the battle of Hastings. “…Willielmus Maleit…” witnessed the charter dated to [1067] under which William I King of England confirmed the privileges of Peterborough abbey.
Sheriff of York: Simeon of Durham records that "Willelmo Malet qui tunc vicecomitatum gerebat cum sua coniuge et duobus liberis" were made prisoner by the Danes after the capture of the city of York by King William’s forces, dated to 1069. Orderic Vitalis records that “Rodbertus Ricardi filius Eboracensis præsidii custos” was killed, that “Marius Suenus, Gaius Patricius, Edgarus Adelinus, Archillus et quatuor filii Karoli” attacked “munitionem regis in Eboraco”, and that “Willelmus cognomento Maletus, præses castrensis regi” announced to the king that he would be forced to withdraw unless reinforcements were sent, dated to 1069. The cartulary of Préaux Saint-Pierre includes a document which records that "William Maleth" approved a donation to the monastery by "a certain knight Ralf" and donated property at Butot-en-Caux "that he might be made a monk, which was done", and that "when William was dead, Robert his son" confirmed his father’s gift. Freeman suggests that William Malet died on campaign in Ely, dated to [1070/71], on the basis of two passages in Domesday Book which record land held "in die quo pater R. Malet ivit in servitium Regis…ubi mortuus est" and "pater suus…tenuit quando ivit in maresc [marshland]" (in Happisburgh, Norfolk). Round suggests that the interpretation of the passage in question is too precise and in any case that the word "maresc" may in any case represent a mistranscription for "Eurvic", indicating York, which, if correct, would negate the theory entirely. It appears that the most that can definitively be concluded from these passages is the Guillaume Malet died while on the king’s service, some time before 1086. This conclusion appears to be contradicted by the history of the Crispin family which states that Guillaume ended his life at Bec abbey.

   Research Notes:

William Malet, principle ancestor of numerous lines in England, was married to Heselia Crispin, a descendant of Rollo the Dane, Duke of Normandy. Although born in Normandy, he and his brother Durand held lands in Lincolnshire as their mother had been a Saxon. She was probably related to Harold II. During Harold’s enforced visit to William the Duke of Normandy in 1062, both Malet and Harold may have been made godfathers of the Conqueror’s daughter Adela (the future mother of King Stephen of England). William Malet, his brother Durand and his sons Robert and Gilbert fought for William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. William was a favourite of the Conqueror and was made responsible for the burial of the last Saxon King. This is a passage from the Wace's Roman de Rou which details William Malet's exploits:

William whom they call Mallet,
Boldly throws himself among them;
With his flashing sword
Against the English he makes furious onset;
But his shield they clove,
And his horse beneath him killed,
And himself they would have slain,
When came the Sire de Montfort
And Lord William de Vez-Pont
With the great force which they had,
Him they bravely rescued.
There many of their men they lost;
Mallet they remounted on the field
On a fresh war-horse.

Following the conquest, William Malet was granted the feudal Barony of Eye. The King may have felt that Malet could handle his Danish cousins and following the construction of the first Norman castle at Yorkshire in 1068, he was made Sheriff of York. He took a leading role in repressing a revolt headed by Edgar the Atheling in January 1069. William I himself put an end to the revolt, but another token uprising had to be put down soon after that. In September 1069, William, Heselia and two of their children were captured by an army of Danes and English under the command of Sweyn of Denmark. William I lost patience and ordered the slaughter and burning of everything in the North. After his release, William lost his position as Sheriff of York but retained his other holdings including South Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The King granted him the title of Princep (meaning leader or chief). He was killed in battle with Hereward the Wake in the Fens near Ely Cathedral in the middle of the Malet holdings during 1071.

   Marriage Information:

Guillaume married Esilia DE TILLIERES, daughter of Gilbert I CRISPIN seigneur de Tillieres et Bec and Gunnora D' AUNOU. (Esilia DE TILLIERES was born about 1028 in Tillieres, Maine-et-Loire, Anjou/Pays-de-la-Loire, France and died after 1086.)

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