Medieval English de Grouchys

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Guillaume de Grouchy, son of Richard, was described as being, during the reign of Richard 1 (1189-1199), a Seigneur in the parish of Kerkebu, now spelt Carquebut, near Carentan. [1] The French historian, the Comte de Folleville, who assisted the late Vicomte de Grouchy in his Histoire de la Famille de Grouchy, believed that Richard was the same person as the Richard de Grouchy, Knight, who was one of Richard Coeur de Lion`s knights at the Isle de Saint Andely, defending the Norman frontier, where he witnessed a charter in 1189. [2] He was said to have fled to England on the Fall of Normandy, in 1204, accompanied by some of his younger children, including several sons. The later French (Norman) de Grouchys are believed to be descended from a son of this Richard, named Eudes de Grouchy, who had settled prior to 1204 in the Pays de Bray. [3] Richard, the father, may have been the following:

  • 1 Richard de Grouchy, attorney of Robert Tresgoz, in 1210, regarding land in Somerset. [4] In the next generation:
    • 2 Peter de Grouchy, who was a prisoner, living in 1223. No description is given as to his offence. [5]
    • 2 Geoffroi de Grouchy, living in 1229. [6]
    • 2 Luce de Grouchy, living 1242, regarding land in Wiltshire. [7]
    • 2 Richard de Grouchy, Citizen of York, [8] was living in 1248. He was probably the father of:
      • 3 Hamon de Grouchy, Knight. First mentioned in archives in 1287 and then in 1299, he was sent to the Court of Rome, with protection, in 1300. He was Commissioner for York in 1303 and became a Justice of Assizes. [9]
      • 3 Henry Grouchy of York: He was attorney of Hamon de Grouchy in 1300 and is believed to have died in 1317.
      • 3 Gilbert de Grouchy, also living in 1300.
      • 3 Thomas de Grouchy, written Thomae de Gruce, was Bailiff of Musselowe, in Shropshire, in 1275. [10]

Not descended from the above English branch of the de Grouchys, but living for some years in the country, was the Norman knight, Guillaume de Grouchy who, in 1435, with his brother Nicolas, [11] was among the Normans under Godefroy d`Harcourt, fighting for their rightful Duke of Normandy, the Plantagenet King Edward III of England. The war was fought both in Normandy and the Channel Islands. [12] Nicolas, who had previously been Seigneur des Fontaines, and his co-accused, Raullon de Verdun, were captured by the French in 1346, and tried for treason, having "sold [Nicolas` local market town] Carentan" into the hands of the English. [13] They were both executed in Paris in December, that year. His brother Guillaume, though, remained at large, continuing to serve the English king, as a result of which he was granted in 1354 the manor of Yardeley-Hastings, in Northamptonshire. [14] He was able to return, under an amnesty, in 1360 to Normandy. He left no descendants in England.

No later evidence has been found in England of any further bearers there of the surname de Grouchy, other than among Jersey settlers in the country. The "English" de Grouchy whom Marshal de Grouchy met in Philadelphia, in 1817, was almost certainly an English-born grandson of the Rev. Philippe de Gruchy, Rector of St Lawrence.

Nonetheless, in Yorkshire`s adjoining county, Lincolnshire, the manor of Willoughby was owned in the early 13th century by Ralph de Willoughby. His great-grandson, Robert de Willoughby, was created Baron in 1313, as a result of his marriage with the sister and principal heiress of Walter Beke, 2nd Baron Beke of Eresby. [15] The family thus became the Barons Willoughby de Eresby. [16] The family, whose early marriages and associations were Norman, appears to have taken the name of their English estate as their surname, as did many Anglo-Normans. Their original surname was thus lost. Their arms, though, are “Or, fretty azure”.

The English de Grouchys may, therefore, yet survive.


Notes and references

  1. Inv. de la Manche, Cherbourg, 377, and Blanchelande, 46, respectively
  2. Furthermore, if this Richard was the Richard de Grouchy who witnessed in 1172, with others, a grant to the Priory of Saint Georges, Bohon, which is situated three kilometres south of Carentan, then he will have had as brother Thomas de Grouchy (de Groceio), a fellow witness in 1172, described as fratribus (brother) of Richard. Thomas was also mentioned in the Exchiquier de Normandie (1198), as being one of the knights of King Richard 1 of England
  3. Guillaume de Grouchy, the son of Richard, also had descendants, these being Cotentin landowners, as had been Richard. This line became, in the late-15th century, extinct
  4. Curia Regis Rolls, (1210)
  5. Ibid., (1223)
  6. Ibid., (1229)
  7. Book of Fees, (1242)
  8. Generation 2 bears evidence that the French de Grouchy family`s tradition, regarding the branch that settled in England, as noted in the Armorial of Jersey, was in all respects accurate. Norman loyalists who fled to England in 1204, on the fall of Normandy, despite their expectations, were not, on the whole, rewarded for their military efforts or loyalty. King John, whose continental Norman subjects had been fervent supporters of his brother Richard, did little to prevent the fall of Normandy or to reward the dispossessed exiles. Therefore, the English de Grouchys of generation 2, appear to have had, at this time, little or no land
  9. 25 Edward 1, in Roberts, Calendarium genealogicum, (London, 1865), in which his name is written as Hamo de Gruscy
  10. Rotuli Hundredorum, Shropshire, Volume 2, 110
  11. The Comte de Folleville`s genealogy of this branch of the family has them as sons of Guillaume, son of Jean, son of Guillaume (generation 1, above). There is probably a missing generation
  12. During the Siege of Castle Cornet, Guernsey, between 26th June 1345 and 16th April 1346, two of the commanders at the castle were Messires Guillaume de Gruyssy and Rolland de Verdun. They brought with them 6 esquires and 8 valets, their expenses amounting to 6 chelins per day, the total sum due being 6 livres. One of two envoys sent from Castle Cornet to carry news "to the King at Sandwich" was the above Nicolas Gruyssy: ABSJ, III, 47
  13. Gustave Dupont, Histoire du Cotentin et de ses Iles, Volume II (Caen, 1873), 318
  14. Calendarium inquisitionum ad quod damnum, 325 (27 Edward 111); inter alia
  15. N. H. Nicolas, Historic Peerage, Volume 1, (London, 1825), 57, 58; Ibid., Volume II, 690
  16. Many generations later, a descendant having married one of three co-heiresses of the Dukedom of Ancaster, the Barons Willoughby d`Eresby became, and remain, one of three families holding, in rotation, the office of Joint Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain of England
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