Warenne, William de (d.1138) (DNB00)

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WARENNE or WARREN, WILLIAM de, second Earl of Surrey (d. 1138), elder son of William de Warenne (d. 1088) [q. v.], by his wife Gundrada [q. v.], succeeded his father as earl of Surrey in 1088, and is frequently described as ‘Willelmus comes de Warenna’ (see Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, p. 321). In January 1091 he helped Hugh (d. 1094) [q. v.] of Grantmesnil to defend Courcy against Robert de Bellême [q. v.] and Duke Robert (Orderic, p. 692). About 1093–4 he sought to marry Matilda (1080–1118) [q. v.], or Edith, daughter of Malcolm III [q. v.], king of Scots, who married Henry I. This marriage may have been at the bottom of the earl's hatred of Henry; he mocked at the king's love of hunting and called him ‘Harts-foot’ [see Henry I], and in 1101 shared in inciting Duke Robert to invade England (Orderic, p. 785). He joined Robert on his landing. He was disinherited, and accompanied the duke back to Normandy (ib. p. 788). The duke's visit to England in 1103 is said to have been made at the instigation of the earl, who prayed Robert to intercede for him that he might be restored to his earldom, saying that it brought him in a revenue of 1,000l. Henry restored him, and from that time he was the king's faithful adherent and trusted friend (ib. pp. 804–5). Henry contemplated giving him one of his natural daughters in marriage, but was dissuaded by Anselm [q. v.], who urged that the earl and the lady were within the prohibited degrees, the earl being in the fourth and the king's daughter in the sixth generation (Anselm, Epistolæ, iv. 84; Anselm's reckoning would match the descent assigned to William de Warenne (d. 1088) [q. v.] as great-grandson of the father of Gunnor).

At the battle of Tinchebray in 1106 the earl commanded the third division of the king's army, and when the castle of Elias de St. Saens on the Varenne was taken in 1108 Henry gave it to him. He fought in the battle of Brenneville, or Brémule, on 20 Aug. 1119, and is said to have encouraged the king in his determination to take a personal share in the combat (Orderic, pp. 853–4). He was with the king at his death at the castle of Lions on 1 Dec. 1135, and was appointed governor of Rouen and the district of Caux by the chief men of the duchy (ib. p. 901). In 1136 he attended the court held by Stephen at Westminster, and subsequently attested the king's charter of liberties at Oxford (Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, pp. 262–3). He is said to have died in that year (Rob. de Torigni, a. 1136); but as he was alive in 1137—for in that year his son, William de Warenne III [q. v.], was styled ‘juvenis’ (Orderic, p. 910)—it is safe to accept the authority of the manuscript register of Lewes priory (f. 105), which dates his death 11 May 1138. He was buried with his father in the chapter-house of Lewes.

He married the beautiful Elizabeth, or Isabel, daughter of Hugh the Great, count of Vermandois, a son of Henry I of France, and widow of Robert de Beaumont (d. 1118) [q. v.], count of Meulan, from whom he carried her off while Robert was still living, though she was the mother of eight children (Hen. Hunt. De Contemptu Mundi, sect. 8). She died on 13 Feb. 1131, and was buried at Lewes. By her he had three sons and two daughters, William de Warenne (d. 1148) [q. v.], Reginald, and Ralph (for Ralph see Monasticon, v. 15; the editors are mistaken in heading Charter No. xi., in which the grantor speaks of Ralph ‘frater meus,’ as given by William de Warenne (d. 1138), as may be seen by the teste, one of the witnesses being Ascelin, bishop of Rochester, who was not consecrated until 1142; the charter was therefore given by William de Warenne (d. 1148), and Ralph was his brother). Reginald was assured in the possession of the castles of Bellencombre and Mortemer by the agreement made between Stephen and Duke Henry (Henry II) in 1153, the rest of the Warenne inheritance passing to Stephen's son William (d. 1159) (Fœdera, i. 18); Reginald was one of the persecutors of Archbishop Thomas in 1170, and became a wealthy baron by his marriage with Adeline or Alice, daughter and sole heir of William de Wormegay in Norfolk (Watson, i. 67, following Camden, Britannia, col. 393, ed. Gibson, maintains that the lord of Wormegay was Reginald, son of William de Warenne, d. 1088, because in Reginald's charter to St. Mary Overy, Southwark—Monasticon, vi. 171—he speaks of ‘Isabella comitissa domina mea’ as a different person from his mother, but the Isabella of the charter was doubtless the grantor's niece, the daughter of William de Warenne, d. 1148). By Adeline Reginald had a son William, who founded the priory of Wormegay (ib. vi. 591), and left as his sole heir his daughter Beatrice, who married (1) Dodo, lord Bardolf, and (2) Hubert de Burgh [q. v.], earl of Kent. Earl William's two daughters were Gundrada, who married (1) Roger de Beaumont, earl of Warwick, and in 1153 expelled Stephen's garrison from the castle of Warwick and surrendered it to Henry; and (2) William, called Lancaster, baron of Kendal, and, it is said, a third husband; and Ada or Adeline, who in 1139 married Henry of Scotland [q. v.], son of David I. He made many grants to the priory of Lewes, and was regarded as its second founder (Manuscript Register of Lewes; Sir G. Duckett, Charters and Records of Cluni), completed the foundation of the priory of Castle Acre begun by his father, and made grants to the abbey of Grestein in Normandy and to the ‘infirm brethren’ of Bellencombre (Monasticon, vi. 1113).

[Authorities cited in text.]

W. H.