31. GREY

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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



ANCHETIL DE GREYE was a Norman chevalier who took part in the conquest of England in 1066.

He came from Graye-sur-Mer, on the coast north of Caen, in the region of Calvados. The family takes its name from here.

He was the younger son of Hugh FitzTurgis, Sire de Luc and de Graye. Luc is another village on the Channel coast, north of Bayeux.

The name Anchetil comes from the Norse Asketill “Cauldron of the gods”. The Greys were of Norse ancestry and Anchetil was a fairly common name in Normandy.

The birth date most commonly given for him is 1052.


Anchitel was a vassal of William FitzOsbern. There are many families that claim descent from a Norman knight who fought with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Some of these may be genuine, but there are only a handful whose presence can be authenticated. One of these is William FitzOsbern, who became the first Earl of Hereford.


When Edward the Confessor died in January 1066, he left no children. Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, claimed the throne as Edward’s brother-in-law. William, Duke of Normandy, swore that Edward, who was a distant cousin, had promised the throne to him. On Edward’s death, Harold was proclaimed king and immediately crowned. William determined to assert his right by force.


Anchitel was only a teenager in 1066. Fourteen may be thought too young for him to have fought at Hastings, but by the standards of the 11th century, if he was already in the service of FitzOsbern he may well have followed him into battle.

If this is so, then Anchitel would have been among the thousands of soldiers waiting for weeks on the French coast for a favourable wind and a chance to avoid the English fleet.

Their opportunity came when Harold and his army were summoned north to meet an invasion led by Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, who also claimed the crown. Hardrada was aided by Harold Godwinson’s brother Tostig. The English inflicted a spectacular defeat on the invaders, leaving only enough survivors to fill 24 of their 300 ships. Hardrada and Tostig were killed.

William seized the opportunity to invade from the south.

Anchitel would have shared the tense crossing, not knowing what resistance awaited them. King Harold was a formidable warrior.

They landed on the Sussex coast at Pevensey.

Harold’s army marched hastily south, picking up more men on the way.

Arrived in Sussex, they seized the high ground at the place now named Battle. Anchetil and his companions were forced to attack uphill, where the famed English shield-wall awaited them. William FitzOsbern commanded the right wing of the Duke’s army.

At one time, they were forced back and William was unhorsed. Panic flew through the Norman army with rumours that William was dead. Their flight was only arrested when William appeared on a borrowed horse, without his helmet, so that his troops could recognise him. They returned to the attack.

The tide turned when the Normans feigned flight, and some of the English were lured into breaking their shield-wall to pursue them . The invaders turned on them and broke through the weakened English ranks. Harold was killed and his face so disfigured that his body could not be identified. Legend has it that he was found by his common-law wife EdithSwanneck, who recognised him from marks on his body known only to her.

Duke William was crowned King of England in the recently-built Westminster Abbey.

Bayeux Tapestry. Death of Harold. [1]


Anchitel must have participated in the, often brutal, pacification of the country in the years that followed. William’s followers were rewarded with grants of land across the counties. By 1086, when the Domesday Book was compiled, Anchetil de Greye was lord of the manors of Black Bourton, Brighthampton, Rotherfield Greys, Cornwell, Radford, and Woodleys, all in Oxfordshire. He was also the tenant of Standlake. He held these lands from his overlord William FitzOsbern.

His principal estate was Redrefield, subsequently Rotherfield Greys, not far from Henley on Thames in the Chiltern Hills of South Oxfordshire. The manor house is now Greys Court.

Present-day Greys Court and Keep of ruined castle [2]


More obscure, but of great significance in the structure of feudal society, were the innumerable under-tenancies in the hands of men who held no land in chief of the king, but ranked as barons in the social scale by virtue of the position which they held at their lord’s court and in his honour. The honour of Wallingford, which has recently been analysed in detail included many tenants of this type. Anschetil de Grai, who held seven manors on the honour which had belonged to Earl William of Hereford, was clearly much more than a simple knight.

We do not know the name of Anchitel’s wife.

His eldest son was Richard de Grey. There is also a record of Columbanus de Grae, son of Anchitel, witnessing a charter in the time of Henry I (1100-1135)


Anchitel’s death date has been given on one site as 1090, at the age of 37-38. [3] We have not found confirmation of this. He was buried at Eynsham abbey in Oxfordshire.


[1] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bb/Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death.jpg/300px-Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death.jpg
[2] https://www.picturesofengland.com/img/X/1190091.jpg
[3] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/176167413/anchitel-de_grey




Sampson Tree