Norman Origins

(or perhaps more correctly - Flemish Origins)

William The Conqueror's army of 1066 contained many men who were not Norman. William was married to Matilda, the eldest daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders and up to a fifth of William's continental allies were either from Artois, Picaldy, or Flanders.

The Scottish kings of the 12th Century; notably David I (1125 - 1153); whose marriage to Maud de Lens ( Boulogne ), encouraged Flemish & Norman settlement in Scotland, leading to the development of many powerful and landed families such as those of Bruce, Leslie, Melville and Somerville.

Some sources suggest Dowie is a corruption of Norman/Flemish names DOWAI, DUUAI, DOUAI, or DOAI. As such it is first found registered in The Domesday Book (1086AD.) under Walter de Douai. It is interesting to note that the Christian Lebanese family, Douaihi, also claim by way of French Knight Crusaders descent from de Douai.

Those who bear the name may wish to claim the following:

Azure three quartrefoils chevron wise between as many doves d'or.

The trunk of a tree eradicated lesswise and sproating to the dexter proper, surmounted by a dove volant, holding in the beak a sprig of olive also proper and gorged with a collar gemel d'or.

Virture mine honour

The name denotes one who is a native of Douai - a town 10 miles S of Lille, approx 150 miles NNE of Paris.

Oo'er Walscin

Around Walscin Douai there hangs a pretty long and shaggy tale. Laced with plot and political intrigue, twisted promises of Crown & Mitre, ill-gotten gains & the spoils of war. Dowie Bards! Here's a yarn, to tell your wee un's by the fire.

Our story starts a thousand years ago when Feudal England was harried by Danes and Saxon Kings feared invasion on every shore.

In Wessex on the banks of The River Culm lived the saxon Hemming and his wife Eadgytha (Edith). Hemming may have been an Anglo Saxon thane or even an important eolderman. Uffculme was their home. Whether they had children and how or when Hemming died is not known, but his widow Eadgytha's right to the tenure of Uffculme is written in the annuls of Glastonbury Abbey.

In the year of Our Lord 1051, Egelwardus, abbot of Glastonbury, by the licence of Edward, king of the English and queen Eadgytha, pledged to Eadgytha the relict of "Hemmingy" a certain village called Uffaculma, "in diebus eius tantum" ( for life ). For this she gave him seven marks. Witnessed before the noble Earl Godwin and  Leofric, Bishop of Exeter she pledged that although she might remarry, that after her death, her lands would not be lost to The Monastery of St. Mary & St. Peter.

Perhaps sown in this very deed is the germ of our family's cursed troubles.

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Across The Channel in 1053 Matilda of Flanders married William, Duke of Normandy.

The last few years of Anglo Saxon rule in England were difficult times. No clear successor was apparent when Edward the Confessor died without a son. Years of stable & hierarchical social organisation had permitted a system of taxation that had allowed Englands rulers to prosper. Despite constant pillaging and extortion from Danes & Norsemen, England's crown was still a prize worth fighting for.

In 1066 King Harold Godwinson and his English army repelled the ferocious invasion of the warrior King, Harald Hardrada of Norway. At the Battle of Stamford Bridge Harold and his ............... massacred them. Out of three hundred ships that crossed the North Sea  only twelve where required to carry the remnants of the viking army home.

Now Harold had to turn his army to attempt to repel yet another threat to his throne and Anglo Saxon sovereignty . In twelve days he marched them 250 miles south  to confront the invading Normans.

Walter, son of Urso, was a nineteen year old flemish adventurer. Perhaps he'd had to persuade his family to let him join his brothers Fouque and Goselin and fellow flemish kinsmen of the Dukes wife. Together they had came to fight and seek their fortunes. Loss of life and limb were wagered on the battle field of Hastings for rich would be the returns for brave and loyal knights. Did Fouque and Goselin die in the early cavalry charges up the hill against steadfast saxon lines, cut-down by wielded battle axes? Did the young Walter impress with gallant acts?  William of Duke of Normandy; William the Conquer, William I of England rewarded well those that stood beside him when the battle was won. Vanquished Saxon's surrendered their lands to new Lords from across the sea. Walter came to hold lands in counties across southern England.

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For fifteen anxious years Edith's youth had ebbed as she worked to maintain her manor. In east Devon, 30 miles from Glastonbury and fifteen from her nearest neighbour she farmed in increasing isolation. Did her beauty & grace remain? Was it with pride or humility that she met her new foreign leige? Whatever; for love or protection she was to marry again. She married Walter de Douai - one of England's richest men. To power and privilege she may well have already been accustomed but what other favours did this younger man bestow upon her!

Had Eadgyth bourne Hemming any children? Indeed did Eadgyth & Walter have children? This is not known but following Eadygth's death Walter did marry a second time. At the age of twenty six, on New Years Day 1074 he married Emma. Of this second union two sons and heirs are recorded; Robert and Geoffrey. But would virile, rich and powerful Flemish knight have been content to wait eight years after the invasion to ensure his line continued?

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The Domesday Book of 1086,  records in detail the land tenure of most of England. The book records who owned what and where and also who the owners were in 1066 on the arrival of the Normans, is meticulously recorded.

But, as in almost every survey, errors did occur; Glastonbury's claim to The Manor of Uffculme on the dearth of Eadgyth is not recorded. In fact, Uffculme, a fourteen hide manor valued at twelve pounds, is recorded as in the holding of Walter de Douai. And safe in the hands of Douai might it have remained had it not been for an unfortunate turn of events.

The omission of Glastonbury's lordship was not in fact a clerical accident. When Eadgyth died, Walter refused to honour the terms of the lease.  Since they left no record of a protest in 1086, it is possible that the monks would have allowed their claim to lapse, had not a serious illness brought the repentant Walscin to their door.

Walter's illness, perhaps around the turn of the century, prompted him to  offer restitution in return for the monastic habit (and monastic medicine). However, his recantation on recovery, having got as far as being tonsured, outraged the monks, who composed a memoriale setting out their case, so that it could be taken up at a more propitious moment.  The dispute lay aside, smouldering away through the early years of the twelve century. Walter died in 1107.

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Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, & Abbott of Glastonbury was brother of King Stephen. They were the sons of Stephen, Count of Blois, and on their mothers side the grandchildren of William the Conqueror.

  In 1126 at the age of 29, Henry was appointed Abbot of Glastonbury. What he saw there was an Abbey in a state of collapse and the monks lacked even the bare necessities for life. Abbot Henry took immediate action proving himself as an excellent administrator and architect. Keen on centralised administration and economic strength, he recovered and restored the monastery and it's manors.

When told that Uffculme was anciently de jure Glastoniae, Henry of Blois thought that too much time had elapsed for a claim to succeed. Since he believed that the purpose of the Domesday survey was to ensure that ... `every man may be content with his own rights and not encroach unpunished on those of others', ....he may have considered that the omission of Glastonbury's title from Uffculme's entry was a decisive obstacle. Walter was now dead and had been succeeded by Robert of Bampton. Although Uffculme was hardly essential to Glastonbury's economy, it was of great importance to Robert's. His father's property was heavily enfeoffed, with subtenancies representing over 56 per cent of its total value in 1086; his position was even more exposed in Devon, where under 25 per cent remained in hand, and Uffculme, 9 miles from his caput at Bampton, provided one-third of his demesne income. No one could have doubted how a threat to his control here would be received by Waiter's rancorous son.

Yet Henry chose the Easter court of 1136, his brother's first great court and that at which Robert of Bampton, together with other proceres patriae, did homage to the new king, to obtain a charter restoring Uffculme to Glastonbury. The result was Robert's rebellion, the siege of Bampton (which Stephen took seriously enough to conduct himself), the devastation of Uffculme, Robert's exile and forfeiture, and the hostility of his descendants to the house of Blois.

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The first hostile reaction to Stephen's succession had come from King David I of Scotland, who moved into Cumbria and Northumberland as soon as he heard the news. Stephen would have been well aware that Robert had attended King David's court in the 1120s, and the strength of the connection was to be demonstrated after his rebellion, when Scotland provided a refuge for his followers, and his kinsmen were thought to be urging David to invade England.




Holding manors in Somerset was Walter de Douai, son of Urso of Douai near Lille.  He held 37 manors. Walter, nicknamed "Walscin" also held extensive lands in Devonshire and a great barony. From him were descended the Barons Bampton of Devonshire. He may have had two other brothers at Hastings, Fouque and Goselin.

"Walter de Douai - his Somerset holdings:
Allerton, Alstone, Alston Sutton, Ansford, Badgworth, Bathealton, Bawdrip,Bradney, Bratton Seymour, Brean, Bridgewater, Burnham on Sea, Castle Cary, Chilcompnton, Crook, Dunwear, Horsey, Huntspill, Pawlett, Sparkford, Strecholt, Tarnock,Walpole, Watchet, Weare, Wembdon, Wincanton, Worle."

"Walter de Douai, was from Douai, near Lille in what was an area of Flanders with strong Norman connections. Son of Urso de Douai, Walter was at Hastings but his brother Hugh does not appear in the rolls and probablyremained at the chief domain in Normandy. He may have had two other brothers at Hastings, Fouque and Goselin."

Walter received large baronies in Devonshire and Somerset. His chief domain was at Bampton, and from him and his son Robert descended the Barons of Bampton."

He also held land in Devon Essex Surrey & Wilts.

 Mrs. Emma DOUAI;F;Marriage;01/01/1074;Bampton, Essex, England

Walscin DOUAI;M;Marriage;01/01/1074;Bampton, Essex, England

Further information regarding the Flemish connection may be read at: The Rise of The Flemish Families in Scotland

Eadgyth & Heming