Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hugh (d.1094)

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HUGH (d. 1094), called of Grantmesnil, or Grentemaisnil, baron and sheriff of Leicestershire, son of Robert of Grantmesnil, in the arrondissement of Lisieux, by Advice (Hadwisa), daughter of Geroy, lord of Escalfoy and of Montreuil near the Dive, was probably born not later than 1014. He served Duke Robert the Magnificent, who resigned the duchy in 1035. His father at his death left his land's in equal shares to Hugh and his younger brother Robert. On receiving their inheritance they determined to build a monastery, and fixed on a spot near their own home. Their uncle, William FitzGeroy, pointed out that the site was unsuitable, and persuaded them to restore the abbey of St. Evroul, which they obtained by exchange from the abbot and convent of Bec, for it was then a cell of that house. They undertook their work in 1050, endowed their house, and peopled it with monks from Jumièges. Robert became a member of the convent, was appointed prior and afterwards in 1059 abbot, was expelled by Duke William in 1063, betook himself to Italy, where he was welcomed by Robert Guiscard, and was given an abbey to rule over, and two others over which he placed two of his followers (Orderic, pp.474, 481-4). Hugh was also banished along with some other lords in consequence of accusations brought by Roger of Montgomery and his wife Mabel. He was recalled, was one of the inner council consulted by the duke as to an invasion of England, and took part in the battle of Hastings (ib. p. 501). When the Conqueror visited Normandy in 1067, Hugh was left in command of Hampshire. He was appointed sheriff of Leicestershire, and received many grants of lands, chiefly in Leicestershire, where he held sixty-seven manors, and in Nottinghamshire, where he held twenty. His wife, Adelaide, daughter of Ivo of Beaumont, was very handsome, and he returned to Normandy in 1068, in order, it is said, to prevent her getting into mischief (ib. p. 512). Two of his sons, Ivo and Alberic, were concerned in the rebellion of Robert in 1077 [see under Henry I], and in conjunction with other Norman lords he prevailed on the Conqueror to forgive Robert. He joined in the rebellion against Rufus in 1088, and committed ravages in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. In January 1091 he helped Richard of Courcy, whose son Robert had married his daughter Rohesia, against Robert of Bellême [q.v.], and Robert's lord and ally, Duke Robert, who was besieging Courcy, and though then too old to wear harness gave his friends much useful advice. His son Ivo was taken and imprisoned by the duke, to whom Hugh sent an indignant remonstrance, reminding him how faithfully he had served him, his father, and his grandfather, and requesting to be allowed to deal with Robert of Bellême without interference. As far as Hugh was concerned the arrival of Rufus in Normandy must have brought matters to a satisfactory conclusion. He was in England, when in 1094, worn out by old age, he felt death near, and accordingly assumed the monastic habit which had been sent some time before from Evroul for that purpose. He died on the sixth day after so doing, 22 Feb. His body was salted, carefully sewed up in an ox-skin, and conveyed to St. Evroul, where it was honourably buried. Orderic, a monk of the house, wrote and recorded his epitaph (ib. p. 716). By his wife Adelaide he had five sons and five daughters who grew up, and apparently a son and daughter who died in infancy (comp. ib. pp. 622, 717). Of his sons his eldest, Robert, who inherited his Norman estates, alone was longlived; he married thrice, and died in 1122 without leaving children. His second son, William, married Mabel, daughter of Robert Guiscard, and his third, Ivo, who inherited his sheriffdom and his English estates, a daughter of Gilbert of Ghent (de Gand), lord of Folkinghani and other lands in Lincolnshire. Three of Hugh's sons, William, Ivo, and Alberic, went on the first crusade, and were among the 'rope-dancers' of Antioch (William of Tyre, vi. 4, ap. Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 715.; Orderic, p. 805; for explanation of the term see Gibbon, v. 220). Four of Hugh's daughters were married (Orderic, p. 692).

Ivo in 1101, after his return to England, levied private war on his neighbours, was tried, and made an arrangement with Robert of Meulan, by which he secured Robert's good offices with the king, but was forced to agree to a marriage between his young son Ivo and Robert's niece. He died on his pilgrimage.

[As a monk of St. Evroul, Orderic naturally gives many particulars about Hugh and his house, and was of course well informed; references to Duchesne's Hist. Norm. SS.; Will. of Jumièges, vii. 4, 29* (Duchesne); Anglo-Saxon Chron. an. 1088 (Rolls Ser.); Will, of Malmesbury, iv. 488 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Will. of Tyre, Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 715; Ellis's Introd. to Domesday, i. 429; Freeman's Norman Conq. ii. 233, iii. 183, 187, iv. passim, and William Rufus, i. passim; Gibbon's Decline and Fall, v. 220, ed. Smith, 1862.]

W. H.