Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ordgar

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ORDGAR or ORGAR (d. 971) ealdorman of Devon, was the son of an ealdorman, and was a landowner in every village from Exeter to Frome. He married an unknown lady of royal birth, by whom he had a daughter Ælfthryth [q. v.] When King Eadgar sent a messenger to woo Ælfthryth, he found her and her father, whom she completely controlled, playing at chess, which they had learned from the Danes (Gaimar, ll. 3605-3725). Between 965 and 908 his signature as 'Ordgar dux' occurs in many charters Kemble, Codex Dipl. Nos. 518, 1270, &c.) according to the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,' Ordgar founded the monastery of Tavistock in 961, but under the year 997 it is called Ordulf's minster, and, according to the 'Register of Tavistock' (Mon. Angl. ii. 494), it was founded by Ordulf, Ordgar's son. The 'Register' says it was large enough to hold a thousand persons; that it was begun in the reign of Eadgar, and finished in 981. Ordgar had another son, Edulf, who was of gigantic strength and stature (Gesta Pontiff. pp. 202-3). Ordgar died in 971, and, according to William of Malmesbury, was buried with his son Edulf at Tavistock. Florence of Worcester (s. a.) says he was buried at Exeter (Anglo-Saxon Chron.; Flor. Wig. Chron. loc. cit.; Will. Malm. Gesta Pontificum, ed. Hamilton; Gaimar, ed. Hardy and Martin).

A second Ordgar or Orgar (fl. 1066), one of the sheriffs of Edward the Confessor, held lands in Cambridgeshire, at Chippenham and Isleham. He appears to have lost the sheriffdom under Harold, and to have commended himself to Esegar the Staller (Freeman, Norman Conquest, v. 742). He is possibly identical with the nobleman Orgar who took refuge with Hereward in the Isle of Ely (Liber Eliensis, p. 230), where Alwinus, son of Orgar, was then a monk (Gesta Herewardi, p. 391; Domesday Book, i. 197a col. 2, 199a col. 2; Hamilton, Inquis. Eliensis, pp. 2, 8; Liber Eliensis, ed. D. J. Stewart (Anglia Christiana); and Gesta Herewardi in Gaimar, ed. Hardy and Martin).

A third Ordgar or Orgar (d. 1097 ?), English noble, challenged Edgar Atheling [q.v.] to single combat for treason against William II. Edgar's champion was Godwine of Winchester, an English knight. When worsted in the fight, Ordgar treacherously drew a knife he had concealed in his boot against the rule of trial by battle, but Godwine snatched the knife from him, and Ordgar died of his wounds, after confessing the falsehood of the accusation he had brought. It is possible that Ordgar is identical with the king's thegn of that name, who in 1086 held two hides in Oxfordshire (Domesday Book, i. 1616, col. 1) which had been the property of one Oodwine, and perhaps also with an Ordgar who had lost a hide in Somerset (ib. p. 93; Fordun, ed. Skene, v. 22, 23; Freeman, William Rufus, ii. 116-17, and 615-17).

[Authorities as cited.]

M. B.