HUMPHREY THE OLD (died before 1093) was a modest Norman nobleman. He gained his fortune at an early age by accompanying William the Conqueror on his grand adventure. He founded the Bohon priory in Normandy and gave birth to two branches of the family.
HUMPHREY II, THE GREAT (died 1129), benefitted in the favor of Kings William Rufus and Henry I of England. His marriage to the daughter of Edward of Salisbury gave him much honor and wealth.
HUMPHREY III (died 1187), aide and counselor to Henry I, was constable of England. He aided Empress Mathilda against King Steven and later reaped the fruits of his choice during the rule of Henry II, with whom he was familiar.
HUMPHREY IV (died 1182) married the sister of King William the Lion of Scotland.
HENRY DE BOHON (died 1220), first earl of Hereford in this family, supported King John (Lackland) when Normandy was reclaimed by France in 1204. He was an important participant in the movement to establish the Magna Carta and was one of the 25 selected to police it.
HUMPHREY V (died 1275), second earl of Hereford and first earl of Essex, was a great soldier and played a major role in the uprising of the barons against the absolutism of Henry III.
According to legend, Ralph was secretly married to the daughter of the lord of Mont Haguez. They had a son, Richard I de Mary, or Richard the Old, who is attributed with the founding of the churches of Sainte Come du Mont, de Bohon, and de Meautis in 950.
Richard de Mary (Mari or Meri) married Billeheude (Billeheust). This information comes from a document concerning the Bohon priory.
Billeheude is sometimes considered the daughter of a certain Richard de Billeheust or Richard de Saint Sauveur. In the family we find a Bileud or Bilelde, but at a later date she is considered the daughter of Neel II of Saint Saveur, one of the principal barons who revolted against William the Bastard during his youth.
Because of the uncertain relations with the Norsemen who landed at Contentin and their chief, Rollo, there was a strong desire to unite the conquering and native peoples. The Mary family also desired to hold onto their Christian origins and remain loyal to the dukes of Normandy. Richard de Mary had three sons: Richard, Humphrey, and Enjuger.
Humphrey was the godfather of William and was certainly close to him because we see the names of William, duchess Mathilde, and their children associated with Humphrey's children.
The oldest mention of Humphrey that we know of is in William's journals. It confirms a donation made at the abbey of St. Trinite du Mont at Rouen by Gilbert, Osbern's vassal. William's signature is accompanied by that of Humphrey, son of Richard, listed with the rest of William's men.
In 1062 we find Humphrey again with William at the Hogue de Biville, along with Roger de Montgomery and William, son of Osbern. At a meal in the middle of the road, William said they should be free like the common people of the neighboring priory of Heauville. In recounting the story, a monk said that a fellow diner criticized William's liberalism. Not taking too kindly to criticism, William threatened to strike him with a shoulder of pork.
According to a paper from about 1060, the knight Humphrey, a rich and noble man, granted the priory he founded, St. Georges de Bohon, to the abbey of St. Martin of Marmoutier. Humphrey tells us
with the inspiration of God and the patronage of lord earl William for the relief of my soul, and those of the late Richard of Mary, my father, and of the late Billeheude, my mother...in the octave of the Pentecost before the venerable father Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances... I protect the abbey of St. Martin, the servants Arnouf, Heribert, and Roger, and the other people whose names are inscribed here.The authenticity of this act, of which the original documents were unfortunately destroyed, does not seem to bear to be contested.
The latest dates proposed for the founding of the priory come from dates of estate foundings (from Martene and Miss Gantier 1068; Gerville and the Bernard abbey 1092; L. Musset between 1066 & 1087). However, the title of earl was given to William before 1066 and the founding of the priory was earlier. Originally the priory was settled by four secular canons. The act of including the priory with the abbey was precisely to entrust it with the lands of a knight. (A knight cared for and protected his lands and those who lived there from thieves, warring lords, etc.)
In later years St. Martin became very popular. It was at Marmoutier that William himself joined the Battle Abbey, founded to commemorate the Battle of Hastings where it was fought.
A document signed by Sir William, duke of the Normands, before 1066 shows that Humphrey de Bohon gave a garden from his fief (holdings) in Puchay to the nuns of St. Amand in Rouen for the repose of his soul and those of his three wives when one of his daughters became religious.
The monastery of St. Leger in Preaux was given the deeds to Barbeville, St. Marie's Church, the town of Carentan, and the neighboring rectory. Later Humphrey bequeathed the monastery a convent that his second daughter entered. Humphrey's sons Robert and Richard agreed with his actions.
By 1066 Humphrey had been married three times, two daughters had entered the convent, and sons Robert and Richard were old enough to assume their inheritance. Humphrey was a senior citizen.
Wace cited among the soldiers of Hastings: E de Bohon the older Humphrey.
Humphrey's name, a bit distorted, is seen on a majority of other lists of William's battle companions. As Wace's poem was written more than a hundred years after the events happened, some feel that Humphrey was not among the people at the Battle of Hastings. Taking into account the type of document (poem), it is very probable that Humphrey did participate in the battle. He was also with several neighbors of Cotentin and probably vassals, whose names were associated with his.
On the Bayeux tapestry, in a meal scene presided over by Bishop Odo, a bearded man is sitting to William's right. It is possible that this is Humphrey de Bohon--with the Beard--who would occupy a place of honor at the table out of respect for his age.
Ten years after Hastings, William was in England, so Queen Mathilda was left in charge of the government in Normandy. We know Humphrey was also in Normandy because of the act of Cherbourg, about 1076. Under the king's orders, he rendered justice with the monks at the Heauville priory against Bertram de Bricquebec, viscount of Cotentin, who had levied unfair taxes on his people.
Humphrey is mentioned in the Domesday Book (a great census taken of all the lands and people in England as ordered by William, between 1080 and 1086) as a champion and defender of the throne, and as lord of Taterford in Norfolk. Much of his wealth is attributed to the goodwill of William and the spoils of the campaigns, which was not a unique situation. However, the possession of large estates and properties in England was not all fun; they were hard to protect from raiders and warring lords. Humphrey probably also benefitted from Normandy's continued growth and profits from his holdings.
Humphrey's signature is on:
Continually Humphrey added his border lands to his holdings. In answer to his request, he received a formal deed from King William at Bernouville, probably at the end of 1081.
Other religious establishments benifitted from his generosity.
Humphrey died between 1080 and 1093. He had four sons that we know of: Robert, Humphrey, Richard, and Enguerran, and two daughters. Robert died young, before his father. Enguerran became a monk at Marmoutier in the Bohon priory. Richard began another branch, whose descendents include (in France) Enjuger de Bohon and Richard de Bohon, bishop of Coutances, and (in England) the Bohons of Midhurst, Jocelin, bishop of Salisbury, and Reginald and Savary, bishops of Bath. Humphrey became the illustrious ancestor of the earls of Hereford.
The frequent repetition of the first name Humphrey causes a lot of confusion. The English begin their line with the first Humphrey born in Great Britain, who is our Humphrey II.
Humphrey II, known as Humphrey the Magnificent or Humphrey the Great, benefitted from the favor of King William Rufus (son of William the Conqueror). His signature is on a number of papers of Henry I. Thus we can follow him around England (1103-1109), then in Normandy at Avranches (1113) and Rouen (1119), then in England (1121), back to Rouen (1125), and back to England (1128).
Humphrey II gave the church of Bishop Street in Salisbury (Wiltshire) to the Lewes Abbey (next to Newhaven) and the church of Cheleworth to the St. Dennis priory (Southampton). He was a witness at the founding of Savigney Abbey by Ralph de Fougeres.
Humphrey married Maud (Mathilda or Mahaut, who died 1142), daughter of Edward de Salisbury, between 1087 and 1100. The dowry gave him important estates in the Wiltshire area and the barony of Trowbridge. This was the first of a series of marriages which benefitted the Bohons. They had a daughter, Maud, and a son, Humphrey III. Humphrey II died around 1129.
Edward de Salisbury or Saresbury, lord of Chittern (Wiltshire), is often considered like a son of William d'Evreux, earl of Rosmare or Roumare and companion of William the Conqueror. He possessed very important lands at Salisbury and other areas. He wore the banner of Henry I at the Battle of Bremule where he fought against King Louis VI of France (20 August 1119). Besides his daughter Maud, he had a son, Walter (died 1147). Edward died 1130.
Born in 1109, Humphrey died 6 April 1187. He married Margery (Marguerite, Margaret), eldest daughter of Milo of Gloucester from whom he received the heriditary right to the title of constable of England.
Milo of Gloucester (Milon, Miles Fitz Walter) inherited the title of constable of England and later that of earl of Hereford. He was the grandson of Roger de Pitres, contemporary of William the Conqueror and sheriff of Gloucester, and the son of Walter (Gautier), constable of Henry I.
Milo possessed a considerable honor from the inheritance of his father's lands in Gloucestershire and his marriage in 1121 to Sybyl, sole heiress of Bernard de Newmarch (he conquered the ancient kingdom of Brychan in Breconshire, Wales, including Talgarth, Chatellenie de Hay, Ystradvy forest, and the mini-kingdom of Brecon or Brecknock, and died in 1125. Empress Mathilda gave Bernard Abergavenny castle and St. Briavel castle.) Milo became earl of Hereford in 1141. His family should not be confused with the earls of Gloucester.
Milo died of a hunting accident on 25 December 1143, leaving four sons: Roger, who died childless in 1155; Walter, Henry, and Mahel, who all died childless before 1166. His inheritance was split among his daughters: Margery; Bertha, who married Philip de Brause; and Lucy.
Humphrey III was steward and chancellor to Henry I, perhaps following his father. He shared this post with Hugh Bigot/Bigod, Robert Haye, and Simon de Beauchamp. Sometimes he is confused with his father.
We can follow Humphrey III in the entourage of King Henry I by the documents he signed at Arques and Dieppe (1131), various English towns (1131-1133), in Normandy at Rouen (1133 & 1134), and at Argentan (about the same time).
When Steven of Blois, earl of Mortain, grandson of William the Conqueror and Adele, was crowned king of England after Henry I died (1135), Humphrey kept his duties as steward presiding over charters. Two were written at Evreux in 1137. One concerned infractions against God; the other gave land in Bramford (Suffolk) to St. Mary d'Evreux. In 1139 Empress Mathilda arrived in Sussex with her her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, to reclaim the inheritance of his father. Humphrey, at the instigation of his father-in-law, Milo de Gloucester, rallied with Mathilda and defended Trowbridge against King Steven.
During the troublesome years of the anarchy that followed, Humphrey passionately fought with Mathilda's loyal and true followers. He witnessed Milo being named earl of Hereford in recognition of his (Milo's) services on 25 July 1141.
Humphrey's signature is found on several documents in many English villages.
After initial success, the Battle of Winchester (1141) marked a turnaround and Humphrey was taken prisoner.
In 1143 in Devizes (Wiltshire), Mathilda reinstated possession of lands and the office of chancellor of England to Henry in a written document. She also gave him new wealth and land: Melchesam, Boczam, Malmesbury, and Stokes-Wiltshire. (Humphrey had been relieved of his duties after the reign of Henry I.)
Humphrey signed a document of Prince Henry in 1149/1150 at Devizes and another in 1150/1151 at Argentan.
In 1150 Trowbridge Castle was taken by Stephen.
When the abbey church of Montebourg was dedicated in 1152, Humphrey consented to the gift of the church of St. Gregoire de Catz by Ildebert de Catz and Steven de Magneville.
After the death of his father, Geoffrey Plantagenet (1153), Henry was in England leading the army. Henry made an agreement with Stephen when Eustache, Stephen's son, died, whereby Henry would succeed him to the throne when he died (the next year). Henry II then confirmed Humphrey's inheritances in England and Normandy and his titles.
Because of his role as lord chancellor and his signatures on numerous documents, we are able to account for Humphrey's whereabouts. He was in England with the king (1153-1154); in Normandy (1156) at Argentan, Falaise, and Quevilly (1174); with his peers in Chinon (1170-1173); back in England (between 1174-1179); and again in Normandy at Valognes, Cherbourg, and Bonneville-sur-Touques (1180 & 1182).
In January 1164 Humphrey was one of the barons summoned to the Council of Clarendon where the constitutions were drawn up.
In April 1173 when Prince Henry rebelled against his father, King Henry II, Humphrey stood by the king. With Richard de Lucy he invaded Scotland in an attack against King William the Lion who supported Prince Henry and the destruction of the bishop's palace at Durham. Humphrey and company burned Berwick and penetrated deeply into Scotland. But when they learned of the landing of Robert de Beaumont (earl of Leicester and friend of Prince Henry) in Suffolk (29 September 1173), they made a truce with William the Lion and marched against Beaumont. Humphrey battled with the help of the peasants and was taken prisoner with his wife at Fornham St. Geneviere near Bury St. Edmond (Suffolk) on 16 October 1173. The prisoners were taken to Falaise castle.
The 1st of December 1174/5 in Falaise, Humphrey witnessed a peace accord between Henry II and William the Lion recognizing the sovereigncy of England over Scotland.
Humphrey's fortune considerably increased with the death of his father- in-law, Milo of Gloucester, who without male heirs left a third of his wealth to each daughter. Humphrey also inherited the position of constable of England that was held by his father-in-law. In 1166 Humphrey inherited 3 1/2 parts of a knight's fees (rent) from his grandfather's provinces and 9 1/2 parts "de novo." His wife received 17 parts from Milo's provinces and 3 3/4 parts of her brothers' land.
He kept in Normandy a part of the inheritance from Humphrey I, particulary land at Carentan and Pont D'Ouve. A document confirmed the gifts of his ancestors and the men of the Bohon priory. Among the witnesses of this act were Enjuger de Bohon, Robert of Bohon priory, duchess Margaret, and Henry de Bohon.
A letter from Humphrey de Bohon to the men of Normandy and England stated that Humphrey and his son gave to the Blanchelande Abbey the title of Moulin de Biard with Pont D'Ouve.
In 1181 with Alexander de Bohon he witnessed the foundation of Barbery Abbey.
Across the Channel Humphrey founded the priory of Monkton Farley (Wiltshire) with his wife, supported by the Lewes Abbey. Near the beautiful forests and streams in England, his rich endowment provided them with a large yearly income. Among the benefactors associated with this foundation are Mathilda de Bohon (his mother), Ildebert de Catz (Chaz), Robert de Carentan, and his vassals; among the witnesses were William de Beuzeville and Humphrey de St. Vigor.
Humphrey died 6 April 1187. He was buried at the Lanthony Abbey (Gloucestershire) founded by his father-in-law.
He had a son, Humphrey IV, and a daughter Margaret, first wife of Waleran, earl of Warwick.
Humphrey was married to Margaret of Scotland (who died 1201), daughter of Henry, earl of Huntington, and sister of King William the Lion of Scotland, and widow of Conan le Petit, earl of Brittany and Richmond (who died 1171).
After Humphrey's death, his widow confirmed the gift of a marketplace to the priory of Bradenstoke that he had specified in his will.
Henry married Maud (Mathilda, died 1236), daughter of Geoffrey (Geoffrey Fitz Piers de Mandavill), son of Pierre de Mandeville, earl of Essex. She was sister and heiress of William de Mandeville who died childless in 1189 and was appointed the barony of Pleshey (Essex).
The Mandeville family descended from Geoffrey, companion of William the Conqueror. His son was constable of the Tower of London. His grandson, also named Geoffrey, was strong and ambitious. Later he was depossessed of his lands and excommunicated for having pillaged the church lands, so he revolted against Stephen and was mortally wounded in his attack of Burwell castle.
Geoffrey (the grandson) left three sons. The oldest Ernald, shared in his father's revolt and was exiled. The second, Geoffrey, succeeded his father and died in 1166. The third, William, third earl of Essex and earl of Aumale, succeeded his brother. He was grand chamberlain to Henry II and played an important role in the wars between Louis VII of France and Philip Auguste. He accompanied Philip, earl of Flanders, on the crusade. He was also called the grand justicier. William died childless at Rouen on 14 November 1189, leaving his wealth to his sister, Maud.
The reign of King John (1199-1216) started out well for Henry when he was created earl of Hereford on 28 April 1199. Henry was the first of the Bohons to have the title, which included an annual income.
The following year Henry and other nobles summoned his uncle in Scotland, William the Lion, to appear at Lincoln to do homage.
In 1203 Henry witnessed a document where King John confirmed the dowry of Queen Isabelle.
The principal interests of the Bohons were in England. Henry paid taxes of 50 marks and a groom, corresponding to 20 parts of a knight's fee, on the Huntington land he inherited from his mother. In Normandy, Henry kept his more modest holdings (from Humphrey I) at Carentan and Pont D'Ouve.
After the first time France reclaimed Normandy (1204), Henry stayed loyal to John. His lands in Normandy were confiscated by Philip- Auguste. Then King John imposed a heavy tax to maintain the campaign of 1213-1214 to prevent the crushing of a coalition formed at Bouvines on 27 July 1214 by England, Flanders, and the German Empire. The king was discredited and there was general discontent. The forces were dissatisfied that the king awarded certain barons without their having to go through the regular tests and examinations.
Then there was a revolt of barons in which Henry took an active part. The revolt ended with the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede (Surrey) on 12 July 1215. The lands that had been confiscated from Henry were returned and the 25 lords took it upon themselves to make sure the charter was enforced.
The Bohons enjoyed being in possession of great lands at the frontier of the Welsh country which was always threatened. The other marcher lords enjoyed it, too, because their military importance and independence was greater than that of other royal lords. Politically they were stronger by being closer to the king.
The lull was cut short when the war restarted. The following year John had Pope Innocent III excommunicate the earl of Hereford, which only increased the opposition to the king. John joined forces with the army of Prince Louis of France (the future Louis VIII) when barons from the north landed in England.
John died on October 19, 1216, but Henry de Bohon did not ally himself with the new king, Henry III. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lincoln on 20 May 1217, where Louis of France was defeated.
Henry gave the churches of Boxe and Wilsford (Lincolnshire) to the priory of Monkton Farley, and gave a pension to St. Nicolas Hospital in Salisbury.
Henry de Bohon died 1 June 1220 while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His body was returned to Lanthony abbey.
He had four sons: Humphrey V, who succeeded him; Henry, who died young; Ralph, benefactor of the Abbey of Grendon who married Lora; and Robert, mentioned in the Book of Walden.
Born before 1208, Humphrey married twice. His first wife was Maud (Mathilda), daughter of Ralph of Lusignan, count d'Eu (who died 1219). His second wife was Maud (Mathilda) of Avebury, daughter and heiress of Roger of Tosny (who died 1264).
The Tosny (Tony, Toeni) family was a very important one originating in France. Hugh de Tosny, archbishop of Rouen, was the source of their fortune. Roger I de Tosny fought the Muselmans in Catalogne. Robert de Toeni was on the list of companions of William the Conqueror at Hastings and was lord of Stafford with the possessions of seven earls. His brothers, Roger II and Beranger, also had considerable domains. The former (Roger II) was builder of Clifford castle (Herefordshire). Their sister, Alice, married William, son of Osborn. The following generation Ralph III married the daughter of Walthof, the sister of Baldwin, earl of Boulogne. In 1204, the Tosnys, like the Bohons, supported John and lost their lands in Normandy.
Humphrey succeeded his father on 1 June 1220, then came into possession of his lands and was confirmed earl of Hereford. After the death of his maternal uncle, William of Mandeville, he inherited the title of earl of Essex (28 April 1228).
In 1227 Humphrey V helped solve a quarrel between Henry III and his brother, Richard, earl of Cornwall (whom Humphrey supported). He declared his intentions to postpone the judgment of the king's court and royal lords. The king refused and ordered him to submit or give up his titles. With other important barons Humphrey took the side of Richard. The conspirators raised an army, and at Stamford (Lincoln) they demanded the reinstatement of the earl's duties, an apology, and the confirmation of the liberties guaranteed by the document. The king conceded.
Humphrey was reinstated as marshall of the king's house. He served at the marriage of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence (1236), and was one of nine godfathers at the christening of the future Edward I (1239).
From 1239-1241 Humphrey was sheriff of Kent and constable of Dover castle. He also distinguished himself in the Welsh and French wars.
In 1242 Henry II led an expedition to reconquer Poitou, which was occupied by Louis VIII of France. Humphrey accompanied him in Gascogny, but became irritated by the influence of the strangers/counselors under the king. He returned to England with the duke of Cornwall. The expedition later ended as a loss.
Two years later with the earl of Clare, Humphrey took part in the suppression of a Welsh revolt. After an initial success, they were defeated, partly because the earl had been accused of embezzling part of the inheritance of his sister-in-law, Isabelle (wife of David who was son of Llewelyn).
In 1246 Humphrey joined in a letter to Pope Innocent IV denouncing the oppression exercised over England by the court of Rome.
In 1248 Humphrey was presented to Parliament. In 1250 he took the cross and went to the Holy Land.
In the meantime the queen was lavishing favors on the French in her entourage and the king increased his spending, causing discontent among the barons. In 1253 Humphrey participated in a grand remonstrance made to the king at Westminster Hall with the "bell, book, and candle" for violations against the Magna Carta, a prelude to the revolt.
The same year he founded the church of the Augustin Brothers on Broad Street in London. In 1254 he was in Gascogny with the king.
From 1256-1258 "Mr. Humphrey de Boun" participated in many battles with the Welsh. In 1259 he was one of the barons who worked to re-establish a truce between King Henry III and Llewelyn, Prince of Wales. But the following year there were again hostilities between the two. The king summoned Richard of Clare and Humphrey de Bohon to the army with other lords, Humphrey de Boun Jr. and Frank de Boun.
Humphrey was one of the councillors to draw up the Provisions of Oxford in 1258 which affirmed the Magna Carta and reformed its misuse. He was one of the Council of Fifteen that advised the king. The next year he was commissioner to ratify a treaty between France and England. In 1260 Humphrey was a traveling judge for the counties of Hereford, Gloucester, and Worcester. In 1262, he negotiated peace with Llewelyn of Wales.
Humphrey V's attitude toward the new conflicts between the king and the barons has been confused with that of his son. When the barons divided their confederation Humphrey sided with Simon de Montfort. In 1263 he was one of the important barons who supported the king while his son was on the opposite side. Humphrey was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lewes.
Humphrey V was chosen one of 12 arbitrators to bring peace between the king and Simon. He died 24 September 1275 on the way to Kenilworth (Warwick). There the king stated the principles he was willing to compromise on to end the revolt surrounding Kenilworth Castle. Humphrey was buried with his ancestors at Lanthony.
He had one son from his first wife, Humphrey VI, his successor, and four daughters: Mathilda (Maud) who married Anselme Marshall, earl of Pembroke (died 1245); Cecilia or Alicia, who married Ralph de Toni; a third who married Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester; and a fourth.
From his second marriage he had one son, John, lord of Haresfield, who participated in the Battle of Evesham as one of the rebels. John then reconciled with the king and was the father of Edmond de Bohon.