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Re: CHAWORTH family line, sources questioned
Posted by: Jim (ID *****3801) Date: July 05, 2010 at 17:22:10
In Reply to: Re: CHAWORTH family line, sources questioned by Alton Rogers of 2663

Hi Alton,

That's nice of you to say, and I hope that's true in this case.

Unfortunately, though, if there ever was an original roster of participants who accompanied William the Conqueror in his conquest of England it doesn't seem to have survived. Most of the "lists" were constructed centuries later and in most cases do not agree with each other. Several methods were employed in constructing these later lists and, while all can claim some basis or premise on which to include names, in fact there remains no historic authority on which to compile a complete and accurate list. Some based their collections of names on the holdings of the tenants-in-chief at the time of the Domesday Book, which was compiled 20 years after Hastings. The assumption being that all the Domesday tenants-in-chief obtained their lands as a rewards for participating in the battle. In fact, several are known to have obtained rewards and honors who never participated in the battle. So that particular assumption is flawed. In short, and with relatively few exceptions, we simply do not have detailed knowledge of how each of the over 200 tenants-in-chief came into possession of his (or in a few cases her) holdings.

Take a moment to read the following Wikipedia article:

In another article by J.F.A. Mason, The Companions of the Conqueror: An Additional Name, in The English Historical Review, Vol. 71, No. 278 (Jan., 1956), pp. 61-69; the author pointed out that two preeminent twentieth-century experts on the subject, Mr. G.H. White and Professor D.C. Doulgas, who each had published a list of companions of the Conqueror, were able to agree on only about twenty names (the article in the EHR went on to present a twenty-first).

I haven't read the article by J.H. Round mentioned below myself, but here is a review:
Mr. J. Horace Round has an amusing paper on " The Companions of the Conqueror," in which he shows up a good many manufactured pedigrees. The number of families who can positively be traced to William's knights is very small, and there is only one English family which still remains on the lordship which they gained from the Conqueror. Mr. Round laughs at Burke and the College of Heralds. Family after family
which, according to Burke, came over with the Conqueror is unable to prove its pedigree so far back."
Albert Shaw, The American Monthly Review of Reviews, Volume 24, July-December 1091, p. 112.

Round was characteristically harsh in his assessments and in his own way pointing out the number of actual known participants was relatively few. The 'College of Heralds' (College of Arms) reference was probably directed at J.R. Planche, the Somerset Herald, who had published "The Conqueror and His Companions." Unfortunately it doesn't appear he read the preface to Planche's book where the author was cautioning the readers that the information he presented was not to be relied upon without further verification. In fact, throughout his book Planche was unusually careful to point out what was known about an individual and what was speculation. Unfortunately, this nuance was also lost on many readers who, seeing a name in print, simply assumed that meant that person was a participant in the battle.

Perhaps more to the point, though, the date of Patrick's death makes it unlikely he could have been at the Battle of Hastings as a combatant. He died after 1033, or at least 67 years after the battle. Add to this he would have had to have been of military age to participate; typically a minimum of age 16. So he'd be at least that much older. We don't know the date of his birth; as we don't for most of our ancestors of this time period; but if only barely of military age in 1066, he'd have had to have been at least 83 at his death. Again, this would be as an absolute minimum. While not impossible, this is nearly twice the average lifespan of tenants-in-chief of his time. What little we do know of him indicates he did live a longer than average (for the time) life, but probably more in the vicinity of age 67. But this would place him in the generation after those who fought at Hastings.

So, to answer your question... No, I myself don't know of anything (credible) indicating he was a participant at Hastings in 1066. We might find sources saying that he did, but these sources then need to be vetted and each fact verified. What we do have is that Patrick de Chaworth was a minor landholder or tenant at the end of William's reign, and it appears he obtained most of his holdings by marriage to Maud de Hesdin; her father being the former holder.

Ultimately, you would want to check these sources yourself and to your satisfaction. If I can help with this in any way, let me know.


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