228 THE ANCESTOR Richard's only brother Gilbert inherited Eccleswell in Herefordshire and is the ancestor of the first Earl of Shrewsbury, created in 1442. Thus the cradle of the Irish Talbots is three hundred years older than that of their cousins of Alton Towers, and I have little hesitation in saying that the Talbots of Malahide are the only family in the United Kingdom — or for the matter of that, in the Continent of Europe — ^who have retained their ancestral estates for seven hundred years, preserving the same blood and lineage in the direct male issue . . . The hall of the castle is one of the purest specimens of Norman architecture in the Kingdom, but it is not known whether it dates from the reign of Henry II. or from that of Edward IV. How a castle hall in * the purest * Norman style could date from the reign of Edward IV. (1461-83) it is not for us to say. We can only imagine that the writer supposed Henry II. (1154-89) to have lived about the same time as Edward IV. ; indeed, it is obvious that he must have done so, for he makes this Richard Talbot who accompanied Henry II. receive ' from Edward IV. the Admiralship of the adjoining seas.* Nor was even this the limit of the family patriarch's achievements. He had figured, we learn, in Domesday Book (1086) nearly ninety years before he accompanied Henry to Ireland and won Malahide ' by the services of his sword.' Our thoughts turn to The Memorie of the SomervillSy of which the artless author, writing of his ancestor, who was ' then near the nyntieth and fourth year of his age,' frankly confessed that ' What could have induced him ... to join himself with the rebellious barons at such an age, when he could not act any in all human probabilitie, and was as unfit for counsel, is a thing to be admired, but not understood or knowne.'
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We further learn from this wondrous article that 'Lord Talbot of Eccleswell and Linton ' possessed that title at least as early as the time of Domesday Book, for that record men- tions his son. But Linton, as a matter of fact, was not granted to the Talbots till 11 56; and as for Eccleswell, it was in Linton. The descent from Richard the grantee to the first Earl of Shrewsbury seems to be perfectly clear ; but we doubt if the Talbots of Malahide can be traced to this Richard, or their origin absolutely proved. There seems, strangely enough, to be no better history of this ancient house than is found in the Genealogical Memoir of the antient and noble family of Talbot of Malahide (1829), which appears to be the work of Betham (Ulster). When we mention that it makes