Sir Humphrey BOHUN, I
- Born: Abt 1025, , Normandy, France
- Died: Bef 1093
Other names for Humphrey were "Cum Barba", "With the Beard", Sir Knight, BOHON and Earl.
User ID: 605111296.
Earl, Godfather of William the Conqueror, "Cum Barba", "With the Beard", Sir Knight.
Norman Knight of the Conquest 1066.
The Political History of England, Vol II, George Burton Adams, Longmans Green and Co, 1905, Ch I, p54: "The comparatively easy pacification of the land, the early submission to their fate of so strong a nation, was in no small degree aided by the completenesswith which the country was already occupied by Norman colonies, if we may call them so...Every important town was under the immediate supervision of some Norman baron, with a force of his own...Everywhere the Norman had appeared to take possession of his fief, to establish new tenants, or to bring the old ones into new relations with himself, to arrange for the administration of his manors, and to leave behind him the agents who were responsible to himself for the good conduct of affairs...
 "Already Norman families, who were to make so much of the history of the coming centuries, were rooted in the land. Montfort and Mortimer; Percy, Beauchamp, and Mowbray; Ferrers and Lacy; Beaumont, Mandeville, and Grantmesnil; Clare, Bigod, and Bohun; and many others of equal or nearly equal name. All these were as yet of no higher than baronial rank, but if we could trust the chroniclers, we should be able to make out in addition a considerable list of earldomswhich William had established by this date or soon afterwards, in many parts of England, and in these were other great names..."
A History of the Plantagenets, Vol I, The Conquering Family, Thomas B Costain, 1949, Doubleday & Co, p251:
"Every proud name in England was represented in the army behind them [at Runnymeade]. Henry de Bohun was there, which would have amazed his ancestor, Humphrey With-the-Beard, who had been one of the stanchest supporters of the Conqueror..."
HUMPHREY DE BOHUN
The Conqueror and His Companions
by J.R. Planché, Somerset Herald. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1874.
"De Bohun le Veil Onfrei." Roman de Rou, 1. 13,583.
Wace appears to be specially addicted to represent the companions of the Conqueror as venerable from age as renowned for their valour. Humphrey "with the beard," however, who is the De Bohun he is here commemorating, may, with some propriety, be styled "the old," as there is evidence that previous to the Conquest he had been thrice married; his grant to the nuns of St. Amand at Rouen of a tithe of his own plough and a garden, being made for the health of his soul and the souls of his three wives, not one of whom unfortunately is named, but it is witnessed by "William Comes," as the Duke of Normandy was often termed prior to his elevation to the throne of England, the titles of Count and Duke being indifferently used by him and by his predecessors.
The practice of close shaving amongst the Normans, and which caused the spies of Harold to report that the invading army was an army of priests, is further illustrated by such distinctions as "with the beard," and "with the whiskers," being employed to identify particular members of a family. Several examples of this practice have already been noticed.
Of the origin of the De Bohuns very little has yet been discovered. We are vaguely informed that the first of this name known to us, the aforesaid Humphrey with the beard, was a near kinsman of the Conqueror, but in what particular degree, or by which of the many branches, legitimate and illegitimate, of the ducal house of Normandy, no information is afforded us. After the Conquest he became possessed of the lordship of Talesford, in the county of Norfolk, so that whatever his relationship to or support of William may have been, no very great benefit appears to have resulted from it.
Bohun, or rathcr Bohon, the place whence the family derived its name, is situated in the arrondissement of St. Lo, in the Cotentin, where are still the communes of St. Andre and St. George de Bohon. The mound of the castle was visible some thirty years ago, and may be still. The honour of Bohon was in possession of this Humphrey at the time of the Norman invasion, and his later gift of the Church of St. George de Bohon as a cell to the Abbey of Marmoutier, is confirmed by William, King of the English, "his Queen Mathildis, his sons Robert and William, his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, Michael, Bishop of Avranches, Roger de Montgomeri, and Richard, son of Turstain," husband of Emma de Conteville, which certainly supports the belief that he was closely connected with the Conqueror, probably by one of his wives, respecting whose parentage we are left so provokingly in the dark.
He died before 1113, having had issue three sons and two daughters, but by which wife or wives we are unhappily in ignorance. How important, genealogically, to the descent it is scarcely necessary to observe.
One of the daughters appears to me to have been named Adela; at least I find an Adela, aunt of Humphrey de Bohun, in the Fine Roll for Wiltshire, 31st of Henry I, and it could not have been on the mother's side, or she would have been a daughter of Edward of Salisbury, that mysterious personage, one of whose daughters, named Maud or Mabel, was wife of Humphrey II, the youngest of the three sons of "old Humphrey," and the founder of the fortunes of the family.
The eldest son, Robert, died, in his father's lifetime apparently, unmarried; and from Richard, the second son, descended in the female line the Bohuns of Midhurst, in Sussex; but the grandeur of the Bohuns was due to the extraordinary succession of great matches made by the descendants of the youngest sons, who became Earls of Hereford, Essex, and Northampton, the co-heiresses of the eleventh and last Humphrey de Bohun being the wives, one of Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Gloucester, and son of King Edward III, and the other of Henry, surnamed Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and subsequently ascending the throne of England as King Henry IV.
Humphrey I, also called The Old, was the founder of the house of Bohon.He is mainly known as a companion of William the Conqueror at theconquest of England and as the founder of the Bohon priory. Old Englishbooks designate him Humfridus cum Barba or Humphrey with the Beard. His beard distinguished him from other Norman knights of the period becausethey habitually shaved.Humphrey was the godfather of William and was certainly close to himbecause we see the names of William, duchess Mathilde, and their childrenassociated with Humphrey's children.
The oldest mention of Humphrey that we know of is in William's journals.It confirms a donation made at the abbey of St. Trinite du Mont at Rouenby Gilbert, Osbern's vassal. William's signature is accompanied by thatof Humphrey, son of Richard, listed with the rest of William's men.In 1062 we find Humphrey again with William at the Hogue de Biville,along with Roger de Montgomery and William, son of Osbern. At a meal inthe middle of the road, William said they should be free like the commonpeople of the neighboring priory of Heauville. In recounting the story, amonk said that a fellow diner criticized William's liberalism. Not takingtoo kindly to criticism, William threatened to strike him with a shoulder of pork.According to a paper from about 1060, the knight Humphrey, a rich and noble man, granted the priory he founded, St. Georges de Bohon, to theabbey of St. Martin of Marmoutier. Humphrey tells us ... "with theinspiration of God and the patronage of lord earl William for the reliefof my soul, and those of the late Richard of Mary, my father, and of thelate Billeheude, my mother...in the octave of the Pentecost before thevenerable father Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances... I protect the abbey ofSt. Martin, the servants Arnouf, Heribert, and Roger, and the otherpeople whose names are inscribed here."The authenticity of this act, of which the original documents wereunfortunately destroyed, does not seem to bear to be contested.The latest dates proposed for the founding of the priory come from datesof estate foundings (from Martene and Miss Gantier 1068; Gerville and theBernard abbey 1092; L. Musset between 1066 & 1087). However, the title ofearl was given to William before 1066 and the founding of the priory wasearlier. Originally the priory was settled by four secular canons. Theact of including the priory with the abbey was precisely to entrust itwith the lands of a knight. (A knight cared for and protected his landsand those who lived there from thieves, warring lords, etc.)In later years St. Martin became very popular. It was at Marmoutier that William himself joined the Battle Abbey, founded to commemorate theBattle of Hastings where it was fought.A document signed by Sir William, duke of the Normands, before 1066 shows that Humphrey de Bohon gave a garden from his fief (holdings) in Puchayto the nuns of St. Amand in Rouen for the repose of his soul and those of his three wives when one of his daughters became religious.The monastery of St. Leger in Preaux was given the deeds to Barbeville, St. Marie's Church, the town of Carentan, and the neighboring rectory.Later Humphrey bequeathed the monastery a convent that his seconddaughter entered. Humphrey's sons Robert and Richard agreed with hisactions.By 1066 Humphrey had been married three times, two daughters had enteredthe convent, and sons Robert and Richard were old enough to assume their inheritance. Humphrey was a senior citizen.Wace cited among the soldiers of Hastings: E de Bohon the older Humphrey.Humphrey's name, a bit distorted, is seen on a majority of other lists ofWilliam's battle companions. As Wace's poem was written more than ahundred years after the events happened, some feel that Humphrey was notamong the people at the Battle of Hastings. Taking into account the typeof document (poem), it is very probable that Humphrey did participate inthe battle. He was also with several neighbors of Cotentin and probablyvassals, whose names were associated with his.On the Bayeux tapestry, in a meal scene presided over by Bishop Odo, abearded man is sitting to William's right. It is possible that this is Humphrey de Bohon--with the Beard--who would occupy a place of honor atthe table out of respect for his age. Ten years after Hastings, William was in England, so Queen Mathilda wasleft in charge of the government in Normandy. We know Humphrey was alsoin Normandy because of the act of Cherbourg, about 1076. Under the king'sorders, he rendered justice with the monks at the Heauville prioryagainst Bertram de Bricquebec, viscount of Cotentin, who had leviedunfair taxes on his people.Humphrey is mentioned in the Domesday Book (a great census taken of allthe lands and people in England as ordered by William, between 1080 and1086) as a champion and defender of the throne, and as lord of Taterford in Norfolk. Much of his wealth is attributed to the goodwill of Williamand the spoils of the campaigns, which was not a unique situation.However, the possession of large estates and properties in England wasnot all fun; they were hard to protect from raiders and warring lords.Humphrey probably also benefitted from Normandy's continued growth andprofits from his holdings.Humphrey's signature is on: - A treaty at Bayeaux. The king presided over the treaty between theabbey of Mont St. Michel and William Paynel. - Two documents of Boscherville on 30 January 1080, with thesignatures of his son Richard, and William, Mathilda, and their two sons.One is the endowment of the church of St. Georges de Boscherville; theother documents a gift of St. Gervais Church and St. Portais to St.Florent de Saumur with other revenues by William de Briouze. - A document of William the Conqueror at Caen confirming thefoundation of the Lessay Abbey on 14 July 1080. - Another document for the foundation of the Montebourg Abbey.Humphrey's decision to combine the priory with the abbey was contested byGeoffrey (son of Nervee) who reclaimed the priory. The case was settledin favor of Humphrey by a judgment of the king's court on 27 December1080 at Cherbourg. Among the witnesses were Humphrey de Bohon, his sonRichard, and Torchetil de Bohon. Continually Humphrey added his border lands to his holdings. In answer tohis request, he received a formal deed from King William at Bernouville,probably at the end of 1081.Other religious establishments benifitted from his generosity. Humphrey died between 1080 and 1093. He had four sons that we know of:Robert, Humphrey, Richard, and Enguerran, and two daughters. Robert diedyoung, before his father. Enguerran became a monk at Marmoutier in theBohon priory. Richard began another branch, whose descendents include (in France) Enjuger de Bohon and Richard de Bohon, bishop of Coutances, and (in England) the Bohons of Midhurst, Jocelin, bishop of Salisbury, andReginald and Savary, bishops of Bath. Humphrey became the illustriousancestor of the earls of Hereford.[Source: http://www.rand.org/personal/Genea/bohon.html]
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PRF Compact Disc #17 Pin #285580:
Other Events: Godfather of William The Conqueror,
Religious Affiliation: Founder of Bohon priory, St. Georges