Ranulf le Meschin 3rd Earl of Chester 1 2 3 4 5
- Born: Abt 1070, <Briquessart, Livry, France>
- Marriage (1): Lucy of Bolingbroke about 1098
- Died: 17 Jan 1129, Chester, Cheshire, England about age 59
- Buried: St. Werburgh, Chester, Cheshire, England
Other names for Ranulf were Ranulph III le Meschin de Briquessart 3rd Earl of Chester, Ranulph le Meschin 1st Earl of Chester and Ranulf de Meschines Lord of Cumberland, Vicomte of Bayeux in Normandy.
Ranulph le Meschin, 1st Earl of Chester gained the title of Vicomte de Bayeux [Normandy].3 He was also known as Ranulph de Briquessart.3 He succeeded to the title of Vicomte d'Avranches [Normandy] on 25 November 1120.3 He was created 1st Earl of Chester [England] in 1121.3 He was Commander of the Royal forces in Normandy in 1124.
From Wikipedia - Ranulf le Meschin, 3rd Earl of Chester :
Ranulf le Meschin, Ranulf de Briquessart or Ranulf I [Ranulph, Ralph] (died 1129) was a late 11th- and early 12th-century Norman magnate based in northern and central England. Originating in Bessin in Normandy, Ranulf made his career in England thanks to his kinship with Hugh d'Avranches , the earl of Chester, the patronage of kings William II Rufus and Henry I Beauclerc , and his marriage to Lucy , heiress of the Bolingbroke-Spalding estates in Lincolnshire.
Ranulf fought in Normandy on behalf of Henry I, and served the English king as a kind of semi-independent governor in the far north-west, Cumberland and Westmorland , before attaining the palatine county of Chester on the Anglo-Welsh marches in 1120. He held this position for the remainder of his life, and passed the title on to his son.
Family and origins
Ranulf was the son of Ranulf de Briquessart , viscount of the Bessin, and likely for this reason the former Ranulf was styled le Meschin, "the younger". His mother was Matilda, daughter of Richard, viscount of the Avranchin . We know from an entry in the Durham Liber Vitae , c. 1098 x 1120, that he had an older brother named Richard (who died in youth), and a younger brother named William. He had a sister called Agnes, who later married Robert de Grandmesnil (died 1136).
Ranulf's earliest appearance in extant historical records was 24 April 1089 , the date of a charter of Robert Curthose , Duke of Normandy , to Bayeux Cathedral . Ranulf, as "Ranulf son of Ranulf the viscount", was one of the charter's witnesses. He appeared again in the sources, c. 1093/4, as a witness to the foundation charter of Chester Abbey , granted by his uncle Hugh d'Avranches , palantine count ("earl") of Chester. Between 1098 and 1101, probably in 1098, Ranulf became a major English landowner in his own right when he became the third husband of Lucy , heiress of the honour of Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire. This acquisition also brought him the lordship of Appleby in Cumberland , previously held by Lucy's second husband Ivo Taillebois .
Lord of Cumberland and Westmorland
A charter issued in 1124 by David I , King of the Scots , to Robert I de Brus granting the latter the lordship of Annandale recorded that Ranulf was remembered as holding lordship of Carlisle and Cumberland, holding with the same semi-regal rights by which Robert was to hold Annandale . A source from 1212 attests that the jurors of Cumberland remembered Ranulf as quondam dominus Cumberland ("sometime Lord of Cumberland"). Ranulf possessed the power and in some respects the dignity of a semi-independent earl in the region, though he lacked the formal status of being called such. A contemporary illustration of this authority is one charter in the records of Wetheral Priory , which recorded Ranulf addressing his own sheriff, "Richer" (probably Richard de Boivill).
Ivo Taillebois, when he married Ranulf's future wife Lucy, had acquired her Lincolnshire lands; sometime after 1086 he acquired authority in Westmorland and Kendal . Adjacent lands in Lancashire and Westmorland, previously controlled by Earl Tostig Godwinson , were probably carved up in the 1080s by the king, between Roger the Poitevin and Ivo, a territorial division at least partially responsible for the later boundaries between the two counties. Norman lordship in the heartland of Cumberland dates to around 1092, the year King William Rufus seized the region from its previous ruler, Dolfin. There is inconclusive evidence that this happened around the same time as William II's expedition to Carlisle, and that settlers from Ivo's Lincolnshire lands came into Cumberland as a result.
When Ranulf acquired Ivo's authority, or an extended version of it, is not clear. Between 1094 and 1098 Lucy was married to Roger fitz Gerold de Roumare, so it is possible that this marriage was the king's way of transferring authority in the region to Roger fitz Gerold. The "traditional view", and that held by the historian William Kapelle , was that Ranulf's authority in the region did not come about until 1106 or after, as a reward for Ranulf's participation in the Battle of Tinchebrai . Another historian, Richard Sharpe , has recently attacked this view and argued that it probably came in or soon after 1098. Sharpe believed that Lucy was the main mechanism by which this authority changed hands here, and pointed out that Ranulf had been married to Lucy years before Tinchebrai, and that, moreover, Ranulf can be found months before Tinchebrai taking evidence from county jurors at York (which may have been responsible for parts of this partially-shired region at this point).
Firm dates for Ranulf's authority in the region do however come only from 1106 and after, well into the reign of Henry I . It was in 1106 that Ranulf founded a Benedictine monastic house at Wetheral , Wetheral Priory. The record of the jurors of Cumberland dating to 1212 claimed that Ranulf created two baronies in the region, Burgh-by-Sands for Robert de Trevers, Ranulf's brother-in-law, and Liddel for Turgis Brandos. He appears to have attempted to give Gilsland to his brother William, though its lord, "Gille", held out; later the lordship of Allerdale (also called Egremont or Copeland ) was given to William. Kirklinton may have been given to Richard de Boivill, Ranulf's sheriff.
Earl of Chester
Marriage to the a great heiress came only with royal patronage, which in turn came only through having royal respect and trust. Ranulf was however not recorded often at the court of Henry I, and did not form part of the king's closest group of administrative advisers. He was however one of the king's military companions, and served under Henry as an officer of the royal household when the latter was on campaign; Ranulf was in fact one of his three commanders at the Battle of Tinchebrai, where he led the vanguard of Henry's army, and was often in Normandy when the king's interests were threatened there. He is found serving as a royal justice in both 1106 and 1116. Later in his career, 1123-4, he commanded the king's garrison at Évreux during the war with William Clito , and in March 1124 he assisted in the capture of Waleran, Count of Meulan .
The death of Richard , count-palatine of Chester in the White Ship Disaster of 1120 near Barfleur , paved the way for Ranulf's elevation to comital rank. Merely four days before the disaster, Ranulf and his cousin Richard had witnessed a charter together at Cerisy . Henry recognized Ranulf as Richard's successor to the county of Chester. Ranulf's accession may have involved him giving up many of his other lands, including much of his wife's Lincolnshire lands and his land in Cumbria, though direct evidence for this beyond convenient timing is lacking. Richard Sharpe suggested that Ranulf may have had to sell much land in order to pay the king for the palatine-county of Chester, though it could not have covered the whole fee, as Ranulf's son Ranulf de Gernon , when he succeeded his father to Chester in 1129, owed the king £1000 "from his father's debt for the land of Earl Hugh".
Ranulf died in January 1129, and was buried in Chester Abbey. He was survived by his wife and countess, Lucy, and succeeded by his son Ranulf de Gernon. A daughter, Alicia, married Richard de Clare , a lord in the Anglo-Welsh marches.
Death date may be 27 Jan 1128/29.
Noted events in his life were:
• Earl of Chester, 1120-1129. following the death of his first cousin, Hugh d'Avranches, Earl of Chester
• Commander of the Royal Forces in Normandy, 1124.
Ranulf married Lucy of Bolingbroke, daughter of Thorold Sheriff of Lincoln and < > Malet, about 1098. (Lucy of Bolingbroke was born about 1070 in <Spalding, Lincolnshire>, England and died about 1136.)