25. BRENT ORIGINS

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Fay Sampson’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

Sampson  Tree

 BRENT ORIGINS (25)

 

We have traced our Brent ancestry back to Robert de Brent who in 1254 was granted the manor of Cosssington in Somerset by Glastonbury Abbey.

There are several theories about his origins. David Powell discusses these in detail.[1]

David Powell, dragon@triode.net.au, (c) 2003

“A considerable amount of conflicting claims surround the earliest generations of the de Brent family. Most sources agree, especially the more reliable ones, that Robert de Brent, born about 1220, was the first known to have used the de Brent name. The first conclusive reference to these de Brent’s was the granting of Cossington Manor to Robert in 1254. Prior to taking up the manor Robert has been variously described as being from Cossington and also from South Brent, both in northern Somerset.

One of the more frequently cited lineages for Robert de Brent claims that Robert was the son of Robert Fitzsauvin, who was in turn the son of Sauvinus de Turre. A second that Robert was the descendent of Odo, half brother of William the Conqueror. I will first very briefly summarise the cases for the two claimed lineages, digress into a bit of geography and history of the area where the Brent’s first appeared before critically examine the two claimed lineages and finally taking a fresh look at the question.

Sauvinus de Turre and Robert Fitzsauvin – the claim

When and where Sauvinus de Turre was born has not been documented, however it has been suggested that he was born about 1155.[1-3,8] Sauvinus was appointed to a post at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset by Abbot Henry de Blois, bishop of Winchester and brother of King Stephen of England.[2] The position conferred “lands and other profits of victuals, clothes and money”.[2]

Sauvinus was the father of Robert Fitzsauvin, born about 1190.[1,2,8] Robert was granted his father’s position at Glastonbury Abbey, along with the lands and other income that Sauvinus received.[2]

Odo of Bayeaux – the claims

Less reliable sources give a different lineage for Robert de Brent, stating that Robert was the son of Nicholas de Brent who was in turn the son of Jeffrey de Brent.[4,5,7] These lineages further claim that Jeffrey was the grandson of “Odo de Brent”.[4,5,7]

A slightly different version of this lineage is given in Bank’s “Dormant and Extinct Baronage of England” (cited by [6]%29 in which Jeffrey (or Sauvinus) was descended from Martin de Tours who, the source claims, was the son of Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux, Earl of Kent and half brother of William the Conqueror.[6] de Tours became de Turre which became de Brent because the family came from South Brent.[6]

The villages of East & South Brent, Brent Knoll & Glastonbury Abbey

Before examining the possible origins of the de Brent family in detail, a digression to look at what’s known of Glastonbury Abbey and the villages surrounding Brent Knoll should prove helpful.

According to legend, the Glastonbury abbey church was first built in 166AD by missionaries from Rome at the behest of King Lucius, one of the earliest Christian British kings. Built of timber and wattle, the church lasted until about 1184 when it was destroyed by a fire. It is claimed to have been the final burial place of both St Patrick and King Arthur and his wife, Guinevere. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that Ine, King of Wessex, founded the abbey, but it has been established that a Celtic monastery existed there prior to the Saxon conquest. By the 10th century the abbey was the burial site of three kings and of considerable importance and wealth. The Domesday Book records lands in five counties. After the 1184 fire the abbey was rebuilt, along with the construction of St Mary’s Chapel, finally completed in the 14th century. After the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s the abbey was abandoned and eventually quarried for building and roadstone. Little remains today apart from the ruins of the St Mary Chapel. In 1191, during reconstruction of the abbey, it was claimed that the bones of King Arthur were found and then reinterred at the abbey. Other legends claim that Joseph of Arimathea settled in the area, bringing with him the chalice from the last supper (and consequently the origin of Holy Grail legends) and also a thornwood staff, from which sprang the Glastonbury Thorn.[11]

Glastonbury (the t is silent) was originally known as Ynnis-witryn (literally glassy or crystal isle), from which Glastonbury (or Glassenbury) is a Saxon corruption.[16] The church itself is thought to have been the first Christian church in the British Isles.[16] The Venerable Bede, writing c.1740, refers to the birth of the Christian church in Britain, at Glastonbury, in the reign of King Lucius.[16] Lucius is a latinisation of Lleufer Mawr.[16] Some legends hold that the church was founded as early as 37AD.[16]

Somerset possessions of the Abbey recorded in the Domesday book include:

Alhampton, Andersey, Batcombe, Blackford, Brent, Butleigh, Camerton, Catcott, Chilton Polden, Cossington, Croscombe, Dinnington, Ditcheat, Downhead, Durborough, East Cranmore, Edington, Edingworth, Glastonbury, Greinton, Ham, Hornblotton, Kenton, Lamyatt, Marksbury, Meare, Mells, Middlezoy, North Wootton, Overleigh, Panborough, Pedwell, Pennard, Pilton, Podimore, Pylle, Shapwick, Shepton Mallet, Stawell, Walton (Glastonbury), Westcombe, West Cranmore, West Monkton, Winscombe, Woolavington and Wrington.[21]

The earliest mention of Brent is in a 693AD charter under which King Ine of the West Saxons gave ‘Brentmarse’ to the Abbot of Glastonbury, which it held until the abbey was dissolved in 1539.[12] Sometime in the late 600’s the Archbishop of Canterbury asked Forthere, bishop of Sherborne, to intercede with a Beorhtwald, abbot of Glastonbury, on behalf of a captive Kentish girl. The abbot also held held lands at Wedmore and Clewer, which he had received from Bishop Haeddi. Beorhtwald was able to restore lost land at Brent by his association with King Ine.[13] Adam of Sodbury, abbot of the abbey from 1323 to 1334, was an architect and built a sea wall near Brent.[13] At some time prior to this the abbey had appropriated a church in East Brent.[13] Abbot John Selwood (1456-1493) built a manor house in East Brent; the manor is still standing and is in Norwood Park, 1 mile east of Glastonbury.[13]

Brent also appears in the Arthurian stories: Yder, son of Nudd, is wounded by a man by the name of Kay. Once healed he rescues Queen Guenevere from a bear. She tells him that she would have preferred him to Arthur as a lover. Arthur attempts to kill Yder in a jealous rage. Arthur decorates Yder and sends him to fight giants on the Mount of Frogs (Brent Knoll). Yder conquers the giants but, alas, is killed in the effort. Arthur feels responsible and grants rich territory to the monks of Glastonbury and establishes 24 monks at Glastonbury as penance and in Yder’s memory.[14,15]

Brent Knoll, like its neighbour, Glastonbury Tor, has a long history of habitation. It was the site of a pre-Roman hillfort.[15,22] Geographically, Brent Knoll lies north-west of Glastonbury, three miles inland from the Bristol Channel. The hill, at 137 metres above sea level, is one of only two hills that protude above the dead flat Somerset Plains. Immediately to the east of the hill is the M5. On the northern foot of the hill, at the intersection of the A370 and A38 roads, is the village of East Brent. Heading west from the intersection and looping around the western side of the hill, before connecting back up with the roughly north-south A38 is a ring road. Along this ring road and at the western foot of Brent Knoll is the village of Brent Knoll, containing the parish church of South Brent. The hamlet of White Cross is sited at the southern intersection of this ring road and the A38.[17-19,22]

South Brent and Brent Knoll[2]

Both South Brent (Brent Knoll) and East Brent were part of the “Brent Marsh” granted to the Abbey by Ine and held by the abbey until dissolution in 1539.[20] Both villages had a manor, with that of East Brent still occupied.[20]

What’s wrong with the story?

The existence of at least two distinct ancestries for Robert de Brent arises from the sparse and inconclusive records available on the early generations. While powerful and influential families of the time have reasonably solid genealogies, those such as the de Brents, minor nobility at best, are another matter.

  1. The Odo lineages

Focusing on this version first since it is poorly documented and consists almost entirely of just names – that is, no dates, locations or other information on the individuals mentioned therein.

The claim of descent from Odo of Bayeaux, half brother of William the conquerer, is probably a fabrication. There is no evidence that Odo had any offspring and after severely falling out of favour with his half brother in the 1080’s, his English possessions and his titles were forfeited and he passed into historical oblivion.

The origin of this claimed lineage is probably in part the work of George Brent, c.1740. In it he claimed:

“It is recorded in the Red Book of the Knights Fees in the exchequer that Odo de Brent, at the time of the Conquest, was Lord of Cossington. The name of Odo’s son was not known, but his granchild was Jeffrey, whose son was Nicholas, whose son was Sir Robert Brent.” {cited in [6] which identifies Odo as Odo of Bayeaux} This theory falls apart in several places. At the time of the conquest Cossington was the property of Glastonbury Abbey and remained so until 1254 when it was granted to Robert de Brent. At best this Odo would have been a tenant. Secondly, there is no mention of an Odo de Brent in the Domesday Book, either as lord or tenant and finally, if Odo was alive at the time of the Conquest, there would be at least 160 years seperating his birth and that of Robert de Brent, requiring an average of 45 years between each generation – possible but extremely unlikely.

The Domesday Book records that Cossington was held by Walter of Douai from the Abbot and that prior to 1066 Alwin Pike held it from the Abbot.[30] The manor paid tax for 3 hides, land for 6 ploughs, of which 1 hide is in lordship, 4 slaves, 9 villagers and 9 smallholders with 5 ploughs and 2 hides, 10 acres of meadow, 2 acres of underwood, 1 cob, 6 cattle, 26 pigs, 26 sheep and a value of £6.[30] Walter was unlikely to have lived at Cossington – he owned many estates across England, including ones in Surrey, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon and Somerset.[30] Shortly after the Domesday Book had been compiled, Walter had fallen out of favour with the Abbot and the manor was granted to Ansketil, probably before the death of his brother, Abbot Thurstan, in 1096.[31] Ansketil still held Cossington when Henry du Blois came to the abbacy in 1126, at which time he was referred to as Sir Ansketil of Cossington.[31]

From where did this Odo and Jeffrey come from? The Domesday Book does list an Odo de Baucaus as holding lands under the abbots of Glastonbury and this Odo had a grandson Geoffrey.[29] It seems clear Baucaus has been erronously interpreted as Brent, leading to the Odo theory.

What of Martin de Tours? Reliable genealogies give no indication of his parentage, other than to note that more than a few Norman’s came to England from Tours in France and in almost all cases “de Tour” simply meant “from Tours”. Certainly, in light of the above, he could not have been the son of Odo of Bayoux – if only because they were of the same generation and Odo had no known issue.

The claimed lineage from Martin de Tours is:[6]

Martin de Tours (1020-1090) + Geva de BurciRobert Fitzmartin (c.1080-1150) + Maude PeverellWilliam Fitzrobert + Avice de Toritan (or Brent)[Jeffrey or Sauvinus + unknown]

(I will deal with the question of Sauvinus’ connection with the de Brent’s in the next section, apart from his claimed descent from Martin de Tours because published genealogies have the same lineage with Jeffrey and Sauvinus used interchangably.)

According to existing genealogies of Martin de Tours’ descendents, he did indeed marry Geva de Burci and had children Robert (c.1070), Nicholas, Avice and William Fitzmartin.[33] Robert in turn married Alice De Nonant and secondly Maud De Nottingham (not Peverell), also his children were by Alice, not Maude.[33,34] Children were William (1135-1216), Robert and Sibyl Fitzmartin.[33,34] William married Angharad verch Rhys (or Griffydd), not Avice de Toritan (whom [6] claims was William Fitzrobert’s half-sister).[33,34] Children of William and Angharad were William (1160), Oliver and David Martin.[33,34] William Martin (1160-1215), in turn married Avice de Breaute Toriton.[34] As noted below, de Breaute is a distinct surname from de Brent. There is no evidence that William Fitzrobert (or Fitzmartin) fathered either Jeffrey or Sauvinus. One can confortably discard this proposed lineage.

As a final note, the ‘evidence’ that Sauvinus was descended from Martin de Tours is that Sauvinus was known as Sauvinus de Turre and that Turre is an ‘obvious’ mutation of Tours. However, with this one supposed exception, all of Martin de Tour’s known sons and grandsons and used the names Fitzmartin and Fitzrobert. Additionally, in Sauvinus’ generation the surname Martin also appeared, along with Fitzrobert and Fitzmartin. de Tours (or de Turre) does not appear, other than Martin himself and Sauvinus, which points to the similarity in surnames being nothing more than co-incidence. The possibility that Sauvinus de Turre, if he existed, was descended from another de Tours cannot be discounted, the name was, after all, not uncommon.

  1. Sauvinus de Turre

Whilst Sauvinus has been claimed as Robert de Brent’s grandfather in most secondary genealogies, evidence for this claim is rather elusive. The earliest airing of this lineage appears to have been John Collinson in his “History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset”, published in 1791 (quoted by [6]):

“In the time of Henry I (1100-1135), this manor [Cossington] was in the possession of Gilbert Marshall of England, and was by him conveyed to Jordan Ridel, a descendent of which Jordan, of the same name, granted it in 1254 to Robert de Brent to be held of him and his heirs by service of a knight’s fee, which service William Ridel, son of this last Jordan, granted over to Sir Martin Baldwin Malet of Enmore. This Robert de Brent was the first that assumed the surname of Brent, from having his habitation at South Brent, in this county, where he was possessed of considerable estates, which continued in his family till the last age. His grandfather was called Sauvinus de Turre, and was by Henry du Blois, Abbott of Glastonbury, constituted porter of that abbey with certain lands, and other profit of victuals, clothing and money, annexed to that office; all of which profits, together with the office, were again granted by Michael de Ambresbury, the then abbot, to this Robert, and to his heirs, to be by them held in as ample a manner as Robert the son of Sauvin his father, or Sauvin his grandfather, ever held them, provisionally, that they and their servants should take the same due care of strangers, sick people and others, who came thither for God’s sake”.[6] All other references I have seen to Sauvinus have merely quotations in part of the above quote by Collinson. How reliable is this statement by Collinson? No sources are cited, so it is only possible to examine some of the claimed facts. According to Collinson, Cossington Manor was variously held by Gilbert and then by the Ridel’s, the last of whom granted it to Robert de Brent.[6] Cossington Manor was, however, property of Glastonbury Abbey prior to 1080 (viz Domesday Book) and until Robert de Brent took possession, there is no evidence that the manor passed out of the abbey’s hands.[30,31] Shortly after the Domesday Book, the manor was held by Sir Ansketil, brother of the predecessor of Henry du Blois as abbot.[31] Sir Ansketil continued to hold the manor well into du Blois’ abbacy.[31] It would thus seem clear that neither Gilbert nor the Ridel’s ever held Cossington, contrary to Collinson’s claim. Also note that throughout this time Cossington was the possession of the abbey. Even if Gilbert and then the Ridel’s held the manor, they would have essentially been tenants, garnering the manor’s income, but having no say over it’s disposal, which rested securely with it’s owner, the abbey. Thus Gilbert could not have granted the manor to Jordan Ridel and by a latter Jordan Ridel to Robert de Brent – no more than a tenant today could legally sell the home in which he lived but did not own.

Collinson states that Robert de Brent was previously of South Brent, where he “possessed .. considerable estates, which continued in his family..”[6] As noted above, the manor of South Brent and indeed the region around South Brent was the possession of the abbey from before 1066 until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539. Robert may have been from South Brent, but neither he nor his family possessed the manor.

Robert de Brent, who aquired Cossington in 1254, is believed to have been born approximately 1220.[1,2,6,7] Estimates for Sauvinus’ birth are generally about 1155.[1-3,8] Whether these estimates are anything more than pure guesswork is unknown. Assuming Robert was Sauvinus’ grandson, then he would be the eldest surviving son of the eldest surviving son since he inherited Sauvinus’ office and lands. Thus while Sauvinus could have been born as much as 100 years before Robert (two generations of 50 years), it is very doubtful that he was born much more than 60 years earlier, that is, around 1160 – which agrees with the estimates (or guesses) cited for Sauvinus’ birth.

At some time during Henry du Blois’ tenure as abbot of Glastonbury, Sauvinus is said to have been granted (tennacy of) certain lands belonging to the abbey by Henry.[2,6] Henry du Blois’ death in 1171 casts more than a slight doubt on this. Either Sauvinus was born before 1150 (and almost certainly before 1140 since a youth of 20 would be most unlikely to be granted such an important position at the abbey) or details of the claimed grant are in error (either the abbot in question or the recipient).

Henry du Blois was granted the abbacy of Glastonbury in 1126 and he retained it up to his death in 1171. In 1129 Henry became bishop of Winchester and he removed there, tho’ retaining the abbacy. Partially because the abbot was not in residence from 1129 to 1171, the abbey sold or deeded a fair number of the farms that they previously owned and from which they secured victuals and income. The absence of the abbott was not just one man, he had a personal retinue of over 60 people. After Henry’s death the abbey fell out of political favour and went into a gradual financial decline, which lead to additional farms being sold off or deeded away (possibly in lieu of wages),[22] such as to Robert de Brent. It is entirely probable that with ‘larger’ concerns on his mind Henry had little or nothing to do with the divesture of minor manors during his abbacy – in 1148 the pope revoked his position as bishop and in 1155, with the ascension of Henry II, Henry du Blois’ lands were confiscated and he fled to Normandy. He returned to England in 1162 but never regained any significant influence.[29]

This does not prove that Sauvinus did not exist, however since one of the key facts for his existence was the supposed conferring of lands by Henry du Blois, the case for his existence is severely weakened. It has been suggested that the conferring of lands in question actually referred to the granting of lands in 1254 to Robert de Brent and that the reference to Sauvinus was the result of a transcription error (early records were destroyed in a fire in 1184).[6] If this is true, one has to wonder just what evidence, if any, there was for Sauvinus’ existence.

A further fact against Robert de Brent being the grandson of Sauvinus is that Sauvinus and his son were already tenants at Cossington (assuming the original grant of lands to Sauvinus was genuine). Neither Sauvinus nor his son, Robert Fitzsauvin, were known as de Brents, so one has to ask just how did Robert de Brent then come to have that name? Robert de Brent was granted the manor of Cossington and since both Sauvinus and Robert Fitzsauvin were supposedly residents of that manor, Robert would have been known as de Cossington, Fitzsauvin or Fitzroberts rather than de Brent. The records are clear, however, that he was Robert de Brent.

What then is left of Collinson’s claim about Sauvinus and Robert de Brent? None of the confirmable details stand up in light of the evidence and all we are left with is an unsubstantiated claim that Sauvinus was Robert’s grandfather (actually Collinson refers to Sauvinus as Robert’s father and grandfather, unless there were two generations of Sauvinus’), surrounded by many disproven ‘facts’, which casts the idea that Sauvinus was Robert de Brent’s father in a rather questionable light.

Brent and de Brent

At the time of Robert de Brent’s birth, surname formation in England was still in it’s early days. Standardised surnames began to come into use in the 12th and 13th centuries, generally they fall into five groups:

Based on the first or “font” name of an ancestor (eg. mother or father, Williams, Roberts, Johnson, Hannah etc). Based on occupation or status of an ancestor (eg. Butcher, Page, Smith etc). Based on a nickname or description of an ancestor (eg. Whitehead, Crookshank, Black etc). Topographical names such as Atwood, Bywater, Underhill and perhaps names such as Sidebottom and Banks. Some of these names can also be locative. Locative names: these were the earliest surnames to be formed as the Norman lords took their surnames from their estates in either Britain or Normandy. For ordinary folk, these names arose when a man left his home town or village to live elsewhere at the period when surnames were becoming fixed and hereditary and would become known as, for example, “John of Ingham”, which soon became “John Ingham”. In the case of Robert de Brent there are several possibilities. Firstly he inherited his surname from his father, that is, his father was also a de Brent. Secondly, he truly was the first in his line to use the name and it was derived by one of the ways above. An examination of the above categories clearly indicates that by far the most likely origin in this case is a locative name – especially given the closeness of South Brent, Brent Knoll and East Brent to Cossington and Glastonbury – the areas Robert de Brent was known to be associated with – and that the various Brent’s were all possessions of the abbey. The manors of South Brent etc were owned by the abbey. Thus the resident, be he a steward or a ‘lord’, would be a tenant and most unlikely to have been a de Brent (which would imply a title to the manor). That is, whoever was ‘lord’ of South Brent would not be a de Brent since he was a tenant and not the owner of the estate and/or title. Consequently, when Robert de Brent appears and is gifted Cossington by the abbot, it would seem that he was called ‘de Brent’ not because that was son of Lord de Brent of Brent, but rather that he was from Brent (be it South, East or Knoll).

Thus if Robert was the first of his line to use the name de Brent, then he was from Brent, possibly the son of one of the tenant lords or stewards. That he was granted an estate in 1254 and that he was employed by the abbey in a position that conferred the profits of said land (before it was formally granted) indicates that he was probably of minor nobility.

Since Brent consisted of two, possibly three manors, any of these could have been Robert’s home. No details on tenants or stewards for this time has come to light, it is not possible to even speculate whom Robert’s father may have been.

There is still the possible connection with Sauvinus de Turre. If, as [6] claims, the Cossington grant is to Robert de Brent (and so by implication Sauvinus did not reside at Cossington), then it is possible that Sauvinus (and his son in turn) were tenants of one of the Brent manors and, further, that Robert was Sauvinus’ grandson who, for some reason or another, was no longer living at Brent and so was known as “Robert of Brent”, that is, Robert de Brent.

If Robert de Brent was not the grandson of Sauvinus, then he was simply granted the manor and lands formerly tenanted by Sauvinus and his son and that there was no direct blood connection between Robert and Sauvinus.

Even though it is claimed that Robert was the first to use the name de Brent, it is possible that this claim is simply an assumption. A perusal of those living at the time with connections with the area around Glastonbury reveals the presence of a Fulk de Brent. According to [6] Fulk’s sister, Avice, was the mother of Sauvinus.

Fulk de Brent

Fulk de Brent was by all reports a rather colourful character and one given to excess, but genealogically speaking almost nothing is known about him.

During the reign of Henry II (1154-1187) Falcatius de Brent was the Castellan of Kensing in Kent, now a ruin. His son, Falcatius (also known as Fulk or Falk) was notorious for “wild disorders and sallies, arising from boilings and evaporations which are cast out by the calentures of youth rather than from any vicious habit, contracted from several acts of excess and rivitted into his soul…”, so much so that Henry III made forfeiture of his estate.[27]

In 1215 Fulk de Brent wrung Tunbridge Castle from the Earl of Gloucester during military contests King John (1199-1215) had arranged.[27] Fulk subsequently acquired Knole Castle, in Kent.[27]

Early in the reign of Henry III, Fulk was the sheriff of Buckinghamshire, from 1218 to 1224.[23] His seat was at Bedford Castle and he was described as the Baron of Eye in Suffolk, with the arms “Gules, a Wyverne his Tail nowed Argent”.[23] Eye is just south of the Suffolk-Norfolk border, about 22 miles inland.

Fulk captured Bedford Castle in 1216 and made it his home until 1224 when it was destroyed by Henry III.[24] Little remains of the castle today – only a portion of the entrenchments.[24] The site of the keep is now occupied by a bowling-green.[24] Also in 1216 Fulk took possession of Luton, Bedfordshire, and built a castle there.[25]

Fulk did have a Somerset connection, building a castle at Stogursey, about 19 miles west of Glastonbury, 2 miles from the coast.[26] Subsequently known as De Courcys’ Castle, only ruins remain today.[26] The castle was erected during Henry III’s reign, 1216-1272.[26,28] Fulk became proprietor of the manor by marriage.[28,32]

Given that Stogursey is only 10 miles south-west of Brent and that description of Fulk above describes him as a young man in 1215, Fulk de Brent would be of the right age and in the right area to have been Robert de Brent’s father. It has been claimed that Fulk was the brother of Sauvinus’ wife, Avice.[6] Given when Sauvinus lived, this Fulk would appear to have actually been Falcatius (see above), father of the Stogursey Fulk. The same source also claimed that Sauvinus was raised by Fulk de Brent.[6] In contrast, it has also been claimed that there is no known connection between Fulk de Brent and the Somerset family.[28] Whether any of these claims are genuine or not, it is certainly true that there has been speculation in the past linking the Somerset de Brents with Falk de Brent of Kent (and elsewhere).

Could Fulk be the father of Robert de Brent? Unfortunately, this appears unlikely. Whilst above I have referred to Fulk as “de Brent” and he does indeed appear some records as de Brent, he was in fact a de Breaute.[32] “Fulk de Brent” most likely arose from a misreading of the handwriting in an old document. In 1218 Fulk, of Norman birth, married Margaret, widow of Baldwin de Reviers and daughter and heiress of Warin Fitz Gerold (the King’s Chamberlain) and his wife Alice de Courcy, daughter and heir of William de Courcy of Stogursey, Somerset.[32] The marriage was forced on Margaret by King John.[32] In 1225 Fulk was exiled from England, an order given to “set him forth at the coast to commit him to the winds and the sails.”[32] He made it to Rome, but died on the return voyage.[32]

Conclusions

The possibilities for the origins of the family name are thus:

  1. Robert was not born a Brent but came from South (etc) Brent, family name unknown. He came to work at Glastonbury and in time was granted lands of his own. Probably of Norman ancestry. Arriving at Glastonbury he was known as “Robert of Brent” (or “Robert of South Brent” which was too much a mouthful and the South got quickly dropped), as was the practice at the time. In Norman parlance, “Robert de Brent”. Robert may have been a younger son of the then tenant of South (etc) Brent (not the elder son who would have inherited). Robert was described as the “first de Brent”, which supports this theory. Alternatively, Robert may have been a foster son, squire or the like living with the tenant ‘lord’.
  2. Robert was born a de Brent. The connection with South Brent (or any of the other Brent locations) is a coincidence and the claim that he came from South Brent was a false assumption on the part of researchers. Just who this might have been is unknown.
  3. Robert was the grandson of Sauvinus de Turre. Whilst some of the details with this lineage are questionable or even disproven (such as Sauvinus’ connection with Henry du Blois), the possibility of the relationship itself remains. The key to this is whether Sauvinus (and his son, in turn) indeed held the same position as Robert de Brent held at Glastonbury and whether lands (but their title) went with the position. Further, were Sauvinus’ lands at Cossington or were they perhaps at Brent, which would explain Robert’s adoption of the name. Finally, even if Robert was the successor to Sauvinus (and his son) in both lands and position, this does not prove that Robert was his grandson, merely that he was their successor – unless a blood relationship is specified.

Sources: [1] From the web page of William Samuelson, dsam@wasatch.comhttp://www.wasatch.com/~dsam/ancestors/index.htm. [2] From the web page of Richard Brent, Richard.Brent@comlab.ox.ac.ukhttp://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/users/richard.brent/family.html. [3] International Genealogical Index, LDS; 1994 edition, 1997 addendum (v.4.0); 1. F#1985659, 2. F#1985749. [4] International Genealogical Index, LDS; 1994 edition, 1997 addendum (v.4.0); F#: 184302, P#: 481, O#: 11010. [5] International Genealogical Index, LDS; 1994 edition, 1997 addendum (v.4.0); F#: 183552, P#: 526, O#: 18354. [6] “The Brent Family”, David M. French, LDS Film #1598283, item #16. References cited therein. [7] Melissa Alexander, mada@cmc.net. Source: “Genealogies of Virginia Families”, from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol.1, Genealogical Pub. Co., 1981. Material complied by W. B. Chilton. [8] Information from Kay Hain, khain16@earthlink.net. Source: LDS film #1239016 “Miscellaneous Genealogical Collection of Linda Ann Revere”, filmed 9/12/1993, item #20; also other LDS files. [9] International Genealogical Index, LDS; 1994 edition, 1997 addendum (v.4.0); 1. F#: 1985308; 2. F#: 1985511; 3. F#: 1985523. [10] International Genealogical Index, LDS; 1994 edition, 1997 addendum (v.4.0); 1. F#: 1985393; 2. F#: 1985396. [11] Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1973, Micropaedia, Vol IV, p.570. [12] “The Church of St Mary the Virgin, East Brent: A Short History”, John Rigarlsford, http://www.rooksbridge.org.uk/St~Marys/a_short_history.htm. [13] “Glastonbury Abbey”, Carley. Information from Kay Hain, khain16@earthlink.net. [14] “The Early History of Glastonbury”. Information from Kay Hain, khain16@earthlink.net. [15] “A Guide to Somerset’s Mysterious Sites”, http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/england/somerset/somerset6.html. [16] “St Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury”, Rev. L. Smithert Lewis, 1955, Chapter 1: “The Antiquity of Glastonbury and the Origins of the National Church”, http://www.isleofavalon.co.uk/history/h-antiquity.html. [17] Brent Knoll: http://www.streetmap.co.uk. [18] National Gazetteer (1868): East Brent, http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/SOM/EastBrent/Gaz1868.html. [19] National Gazetteer (1868): South Brent, http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/SOM/SouthBrent. [20] “East Brent Parish”, John Rigarlsford, http://www.rooksbridge.org.uk/east_brent_parish.htm. [21] “Winscombe: a Study of a Somerset Parish”, Moyra Jones. http://www.pencoed-wales.freeserve.co.uk/winscombe/winscombeanintro…. [22] “Brent Knoll”, http://www.newman-family-tree.net/Brent-Knoll.htm. [23] “Sheriffs of Buckinghamshire: 1139 to 1306”, http://met.open.ac.uk/genuki/big/eng/BKM/sheriffs/sheriffs1.html. [24] “Imperial Gazatteer of England and Wales, 1866-9: Bedford, Bedfordshire”, http://www.genoot.com/eng/bdf/b/bedford/imperial_1866.html. [25] “A Topographical Dictionary of England: Luton”, Samuel Lewis, 1831; http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/BDF/Luton/ and http://www.rootsweb.com/~engbdf/luton.html. [26] “The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868): Stogursey”, http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/SOM/Stogursey. [27] “Kent Surveyed and Illustrated”, Phillipot. From Kay Hain, khain16@earthlink.net. [28] “Delineations of the County of Somerset: Stokecourcy”, Nightengale. From Kay Hain, khain16@earthlink.net. [29] “Henry du Blois”, http://www.britannia.com/bios/henofbls.html. [30] “The Domesday Survey in Somerset”, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dbown/Domesday.htm. [31] “Henry of Blois and the Lordship of Glastonbury”, N. E. Stacy, 1999, http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m0293/455_114/54050231/print.jhtml. [32] Information posted to soc.genealogy.medieval, Melissa Alexander, mada@cmc.net, 6/12/1998, “Coursey, Brent”. Cites: “Genealogy of Virginia Families”. Also ibid, Paul Reed, reedpcgen@aol.com, 7/12/1998. Cites CP 4:316. [33] “Pat Tachick’s Sweet Addiction”, Martin de Tours, http://www.tachick.com/d0/i0006121.htm, Pat Tachick, gtachick@msn.com. [34] Long Island Genealogy Surname Information, William Fitzmartin, http://longislandgenealogy.com/bristow/fam02706.htm.

 

 

[1] https://www.geni.com/people/Sir-Robert-de-Brent/6000000004586606819

[2] Visit Weston-Super-Mare: Brent Knoll

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