Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gospatric

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GOSPATRIC or COSPATRIC, Earl of Cumberland (fl. 1067), son of Maldred by Algyth or Ealdgyth, daughter of the Northumbrian earl Uhtred, by his third wife, Elgiva or Ælfgifu, daughter of Ethelred the Unready [q. v.], was probably the young noble called ‘Gaius patricius’ in the ‘Life of Eadward the Confessor’ (p. 411, compare Orderic, p. 512, where Gospatric's name is given under this form; Freeman, Norman Conquest, ii. 457, iv. 134), one of the king's kinsmen, who accompanied Tostig on his pilgrimage to Rome in 1061, and when the company was attacked by robbers, personated his lord in order to save him. It is possible, however, that Tostig's companion was the Gospatric who three years later was slain by the order of Queen Eadgyth (see under Edith or Eadgyth; Florence, i. 223). Gospatric's father, Maldred, was the son of Cronan or Crinan, lay-abbot of Dunkeld (Skene,Celtic Scotland, i. 390, 394, 408). When Earl Oswulf, a grandson of Uhtred by another wife, was slain in 1067, Gospatric paid William the Conqueror a large sum for the Northumbrian earldom, which lay north of the Tees, and, after obtaining it, appears to have remained in the south until the summer of the next year, when he went north to join the rising against the king (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ‘Worcester’). His allies, Eadwine and Morcar, submitted to the Conqueror, and he, Mærleswegen, and other great men of the north sought shelter in Scotland, taking with them Eadgar the Ætheling [q. v.], his mother, and his sisters, and passed the winter with Malcolm. William gave his earldom to Robert of Comines, who was slain at Durham in January 1069, when he went to take possession. Gospatric, though not present, was afterwards accused of having instigated his murder. In September he and the other exiles, with a large force from Northumberland, joined the Danish fleet which was lying at the mouth of the Humber (ib.), marched to York, massacred the Norman garrison, broke down the castle, and soon after their victory dispersed ({sc|Symeon}}, Hist. Regum, ii. 187). When the Conqueror laid the north waste in the winter, Gospatric advised Æthelwine, bishop of Durham, and his priests to leave their city and take refuge in Lindisfarne, and carried away most of the ornaments of the church. St. Cuthberht appeared to one of the priests in a vision, and pronounced woe against the earl for having thus caused his church to be stripped and deserted. When Gospatric heard of the vision, he went barefoot to Holy Isle, and besought the saint's pardon, and offered him gifts (Hist. Dunelm. Eccl. iii. 16). At Christmas he sent messengers to the king at York, and offered him fealty, perhaps considering it safer to remain in his stronghold at Bamburgh than to meet the king (Hinde, Hist. of Northumberland, i. 179). William accepted his submission, and restored him his earldom (Orderic, p. 515). In 1070 Malcolm marched from Cumberland, which was then subject to him, and invaded Teesdale, Cleveland, and Durham. In return Gospatric laid waste Cumberland with fire and sword, returned with great booty, and shut himself up in Bamburgh. Malcolm heard of this raid at Wearmouth, and in his wrath bade his men give no quarter to any English (Symeon, Hist. Regum, ii. 191; Mr. Hinde, u.s. p. 86, throws doubt on this story, on the ground that it is inconsistent with the relations between Gospatric and Malcolm both before and after 1070, and believes it to be an untrustworthy interpolation; see also Symeon, first edit. Surtees Soc., Pref. p. xxix; on the other hand, Mr. Freeman denies the inconsistency, and accepts the passage, Norman Conquest, iv. 524 n.) In Lent 1071 he received Walcher, the new bishop of Durham, in accordance with the king's order, and conducted him to his city. The next year William deprived him of his earldom, on the ground of his former offences, accusing him of having instigated the murder of Robert of Comines, and of having taken part in the attack on York (Symeon, ii. 196). His earldom was given to Waltheof. He took refuge with Malcolm, passed over to Flanders, returned again to Scotland, and received from Malcolm Dunbar, with some neighbouring lands in Lothian, as a provision ‘until better times should come’ (ib. p. 199). In 1086 he appears as holding lands in Yorkshire (Domesday, pp. 309, 310, 311, 330; Norman Conq. iv. 524). He had three sons: Dolfin, who held Carlisle, probably as a grant from the Scottish king, and was driven out by William Rufus in 1092; Waltheof, a benefactor of the church of York; and Gospatric (Symeon, i. 216; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ‘Peterborough,’ an. 1092; Monasticon, iii. 550). His children also included a daughter Juliana, who married Ralph de Merley, founder of Newminster, near Morpeth (ib. v. 398), and a son, said to be illegitimate, named Edgar, a leader of a Scottish band of freebooters in 1138 (John of Hexham ap. Symeon, ii. 298).

[Symeon of Durham, ed. Rolls Ser. and Surtees Soc. passim; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ann. 1068, 1092; Florence of Worcester, ii. 2 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Orderic, pp. 512, 515, Duchesne; Vita Eadwardi Conf. p. 411 (Rolls Ser.); Skene's Celtic Scotland, i. 390, 394, 408; Dugdale's Monasticon, iii. 550, v. 398; Dugdale's Baronage, p. 54; Freeman's Norman Conquest, ii. 457, iv. passim; Freeman's William Rufus, i. 315; Hinde's Hist. of Northumberland, i. 171–87, ed. Soc. of Antiq. of Newcastle.]

W. H.