Sir Reginald FitzUrse

I found the following information on FITZURSE very interesting and decided to add it to the Ussery website.

Foreword:The Norman invasion brought with it a set of new surnames, as well as a variation on the patronymic. "Fitz", in modern times considered distinctively Irish,
grew out of the French "fils", meaning "son". So, Fitzurse would mean "son of URSE". Mac and Fitz mean basically the same thing, as do Fitzgerald and Mac Gearailt.

Sir Reginald Fitzurse

Reginald Fitzurse, (fl. 1170, one of the murderers of St. Thomas of Canterbury, was the eldest son of Richard Fitzurse, on whose death about 1168 he inherited the
manor of Williton, Somersetshire (COLLINSON, iii. 487); he also held the manor of Barham, Kent (HASTED, iii. 536), and lands in Northamptonshire (Liber Niger, p.
216). He is sometimes called a baron, for he held of the king in chief. He was one of the four knights who were stirred up by the hasty words of Henry II to plot the
archbishop's death. They left Bures, near Bayeux, where the king then was, and proceeded, it is said, by different routes to England, all meeting at Saltwood, then
held by Ranulf de Broc, on 28 Dec. 1170. The next day they set out with a few men, and having gathered reinforcements, especially from the abbot of St. Augustine's,
at whose house they halted, they entered the archbishop's hall after dinner, probably about 3 P.M., and demanded to see him. Reginald told him that he bore a
message from the king, and took the most prominent and offensive part in the interview which ensued (FITZSTEPHEN, Becket, iii. 123, Vita anon., ib. iv. 71). He had
been one of Thomas's tenants or men while he was chancellor; the archbishop reminded him of this; the reminder increased his anger, and he called on all who were
on the king's side to hinder the archbishop from escaping. When the knights went out to arm and post their guards, Reginald compelled one of the archbishop's men
to fasten his armour, and snatched an axe from a carpenter who was engaged on some repairs. While Thomas was being forced by his monks to enter the church, the
knights entered the cloister, and Reginald was foremost in bursting into the church, shouting "King's men!". He met the archbishop, and after some words tried to drag
him out of the church. Thomas called him pander, and said that he ought not to touch him, for he owed him fealty.

After the murder had been done the knights rode to Saltwood, glorying, it is said, in their deed (Becket, iv. 158), though William de Tracy afterwards declared that they
were overwhelmed with a sense of their guilt. On the 31st they proceeded to South Malling, near Lewes, one of the archiepiscopal manors, and there it is said a table
cast their armour from off it (ib. ii. 285).

They were excommunicated by the pope, and the king advised them to flee into Scotland. There, however, the king and people were for hanging them, so they were
forced to return into England (ib. iv. 162). They took shelter in Knaresborough, which belonged to Hugh Morville, and remained there a year (BENEDICT, i. 13).

All shunned them and even dogs refused to eat morsels of their meat (ib. p. 14). At last they were forced by hunger and misery to give themselves up to the king. He
did not know what to do with them, for as murderers of a priest they were not amenable to lay jurisdiction (NEWBURGH, ii. 157; JOHN OF SALISBURY, Epp. ii. 273); so
he sent them to the pope, who could inflict no heavier penalty than fasting and banishment to the Holy Land. Before he left Reginald Fitzurse gave half his manor of
Williton to his brother and half to the knights of St. John. He and his companions are said to have performed their penance in the Black Mountain (various
explanations of this name have been given; none are satisfactory; it was evidently intended to indicate some place, probably a religious house, near Jerusalem), to
have died there, and to have been buried at Jerusalem before the door of the Templars' church (HOVEDEN, ii. 17). It was believed that all died within three years of
the date of their crime. There are some legends about their fate (STANLEY). Reginald Fitzurse is said to have gone to Ireland and to have there founded the family of
McMahon (Fate of Sacrilege, p. 183).

Sir Thomas Becket
Sir Thomas Becket changed from being a 'patron of play actors and a follower of hounds to being a shepherd of souls.'

by M. Foster Farley
Thomas Becket was the son of a wealthy London merchant. He was born on 21st December, 1118, began his education at Merton Priory, and continued it in London,
Paris, and Italy. He never achieved great academic distinction, but he was an ambitious young man, determined to rise above his simple station in life. He soon
decided that the most hopeful path for his ambition lay in the Church. He therefore joined the household of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, was soon ordained a
deacon and rapidly rose to the position of Archdeacon of Canterbury.

In 1154, on Theobald's recommendation, he was given the high office of Chancellor to the King, Henry II, and over the next eight years the mercurial and intelligent
Henry and the ambitious Thomas developed a close--even passionate--friendship. Becket was a skilful administrator who have absolute support to Henry II's policy of
'unifying' Church and State largely by seeking to deprive the Church of the many concessions granted to it by his predecessor, King Stephen.

When, in 1162, Henry selected his worldly and loyal Chancellor as the new Archbishop of Canterbury he thought Becket would continue to support his policy of
subordinating Church to State to an extent that would allow his plan of unification to be accomplished--misreading of Becket's character that was to have dire
consequences for the new Archbishop.

The See of Canterbury had been, since its establishment in 597 AD, the focal point of the Church of England and had also played a major role in the history of the
country. The office of its Archbishop was second in importance only to that of the King and, as a result, if an Archbishop strong of character there was every likelihood
that there would be a conflict with the monarch, resulting in exile or assassination. The Archbishop, representing Church and Pope, believed the papacy to have
power over any monarch, whereas the Crown, as England began to grow into a powerful state, bitterly resented the interference of papal power in English Church
affairs and the flow of English money into the coffers of Rome.

The conflict between Henry and Becket arose partly from Henry's determination to impose lay (or non-clerical) justice on errant clerics (he called them 'criminous
clerks') and partly from a personal antagonism between the King and his once great friend and Chancellor, who had given, during his Chancellorship, not only a
friendship the loss of which Henry deeply mourned, but also every indication that as Archbishop he would continue to support Henry's policy.

That policy was to make the law equal for all and universally applied. The main obstacle to it was the right of 'benefit of clergy', which gave any cleric, however humble,
the right to be tried for any crime expect treason in the ecclesiastical courts and thus escape trial in the lay courts. This benefit could probably be justified in theory;
but we must remember that in the Middle Ages large numbers of alleged clerics had only the most tenuous connection with the Church, and what vexed Henry most of
all was the well-known leniency of the ecclesiastical courts. These courts might occasionally unfrock a cleric and thus deprive him of the right to exercise his office in
church, or they might fine him and jail him; but they refused to give the severe sentences that the King considered necessary to keep order in a turbulent age.

The King did not claim the right to try 'criminous clerks' in the first instance in the lay courts. He simply wanted a ruling that any cleric found guilty in an ecclesiastical
court should be unfrocked and retired by a lay court and, if found guilty, be given the same punishment as any layman. It was this policy--one resented by many of the
influential--that Becket had supported during his term as Chancellor.

On 3rd June, 1162, Becket was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. He had accepted the office with the greatest reluctance, but having accepted it, he began to
demonstrate traits of character consistent with his new office and not with the high-living sophisticate Henry had once known him to be. He resigned his post as
Chancellor, saying that he could not serve two masters. He then adopted the life of an ascetic and lived in monastic seclusion in Canterbury. As he himself put it, he
changed from being a 'patron of play actors and a follower of hounds to being a shepherd of souls.' It is difficult to explain this sudden change. It may be that, sobered
by the importance of his new office, he experienced a spiritual conversion. Or his earlier vanity and self-importance may suddenly have been revealed to him as sins
of great magnitude for which he had to atone. Whatever the reason for the change, it soon caused Becket to quarrel with the King, first on minor matters in which no
principle appeared to be involved, then on the serious matter of 'criminous clerks'.

It was soon drawn to Henry's attention that clerics in minor orders who had been found guilty of quite serious crimes had been able to escape with light sentences in
the ecclesiastical courts. He was furious, and challenged Becket. The Archbishop received very little support from his bishops and the whole thing came to a climax at
the Council of Clarendon in 1164, where Crown and Church fought a bitter battle. The decision reached there prohibited appeals to Rome without the King's approval,
forbade the clergy to leave the country without the Crown's approval, and took away the power of the Church to protect any convicted cleric.

The archbishop, assailed by pleas and threats, finally gave way and assented to what came to be called the Constitutions of Clarendon; though he still refused to
authenticate the Constitutions with his seal--and, indeed, continued to support the trial of clergymen, however minor their orders, in the church courts.

The quarrel between Henry and Becket became more acrimonious and the King decided that it was in the Crown's interest to ruin the Archbishop. In October 1164
Becket was ordered to appear before the King's representative at Northampton to face trial on several points at issue--all of them trivial but used as a pretext to bring
about the Archbishop's downfall. The Earl of Leicester, Henry's spokesman, dredged up incidents from the years when Becket was Chancellor and demanded a strict
accounting of the finances during those years and also of the revenues of the See of Canterbury during the same time that See was vacant, before Becket had
accepted the appointment. Clearly this demand of the King was unfair, since it would have been impossible to give a strict accounting without adequate preparation.

The quarrel continued for days and became more and more bitter. Some of the courtiers even suggested that Becket resign his office of Archbishop. However, even
the bishops who opposed Becket vetoed that suggestion because it would have made it impossible in the future for any prelate to resist the Crown. Then rumours
began to circulate that the King was going to imprison Becket for life after mutilating him by having his eyes put out and his tongue cut off. These were no idle
rumours, for, not long before, a bishop in Henry's domains in France (he was Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou and Maine) had displeased a feudal lord and had
suffered mutilation of his private parts. It was a violent age. Becket, ill with a kidney stone, lost his courage and took to his bed.

But in a few days his courage returned and he again faced his accusers. Barefoot in his vestments and carrying his great cross he defied the Earl of Leicester.
Cutting the Earl short after he had uttered the words, 'Hear, then, your sentence...' the Archbishop thundered that a nobleman could not judge a bishop, nor the King,
nor the King's spokesman. 'I will be judged by our Lord the Pope alone, for he alone is competent to judge me and to him, in your presence, I appeal.' With that Becket
fled the court. On 2nd November Becket, with his personal servant, Roger, and two companions, left England and landed in Flanders. He stayed for a while at the
Abbey of St. Bertin near Clair-Marais, and there began to set in motion a chain of intense diplomatic activities to counteract the activities of King Henry, who had sent
envoys to King Louis VII of France requesting that no sanctuary should be given to his 'former' Archbishop. Louis asked a simple question of the envoys: 'Who has
deposed the Archbishop?' The French King then told the envoys that he was as much a king as Henry was and that he did not have the power to depose 'the least of
the clerks' in his realm. Becket sent envoys to the Pope, Alexander III, who was also in exile at Sens, having been driven out of Rome after a bitter quarrel with the
German Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, over supremacy of rule in Italy. At the moment Frederick Barbarossa was supreme, so Alexander was in no
position to give Becket any support except lip service. But he suggested that the exiled Archbishop might retire to a monastery for a while and there contemplate his
past actions, search his conscience, and decide his future course.

So Becket and a few of his followers retired to the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, where for two years he wore the habit of a monk and adapted his life to that of his
hosts--a life of extremely harsh discipline which he not only bore bravely, but chose to increase its austerity. During those two years he was supported, so far as
financial contributions to the Cistercians were concerned, by King Louis, who, resentful over King Henry's rule over much of Louis's rightful kingdom, was delighted to
succour any enemy of the English King.

But there were ways and means for Henry to retaliate. He sent some 400 of Becket's friends and relatives into exile and warned the Cistercian Brotherhood that if they
continued to harbour Becket he would confiscate all their property in his domains. To avoid such confiscation King Louis provided Becket with another sanctuary at
the Benedictine abbey of St. Columba, near Sens; and the Pope, who was temporarily back in Rome, victor for the moment in his struggle with Barbarossa, ordered
Becket not to take an retaliatory action against Henry.

There were other ways, however, in which Becket could move toward revenge. In 1166 he went on a pilgrimage to Vezelay in Burgundy, and there, in the cathedral on
12th June, he excommunicated John of Oxford, Richard of Ilchester, Robert de Lacy (Henry's justicar or regent in England), and Joceline de Balliel for their part in
opposing him by supporting the Constitutions of Clarendon. Ranulf de Broc, Hugh of St. Clair, and Thomas FitzBernard were excommunicated for stealing money and
other possessions of the See of Canterbury.

The Pope now tried to mediate between Henry and Becket by appointing two papal legates to bring the parties together. On 16th November, 1167 the legates stopped
at Sens and conferred at length with Becket, but no solution was reached. Later, Henry met the legates outside Caen and was told that they had been unable to
change the Archbishop's mind; and after talking with Henry they found that the King was in no mood for compromise either. In fact, Henry was so disgusted with the
Pope's ambassadors that he was reported to have said 'I hope to God I never set eyes on a Cardinal again.'

But by 1168 many of Becket's supporters in exile with him were weary of living abroad. Becket, listening to their woes, promised to try and seek an agreement with the
King. It so happened that in January 1169 Henry and Louis met for a conference at Montmirail on the border of their domains, and Louis asked Becket to be present.
As might have been expected, when King and Archbishop met their tempers flared, another argument developed, and they soon parted enemies, each damning the
other. By the beginning of 1170 all parties were understandably weary of the struggle, and the Pope and Henry were both impatient for a settlement. Also, it was
rumoured that the Pope might put all Henry's European peoples under interdict. This was mass excommunication, and meant that all Henry's vassals could be
absolved of their allegiance to the English king and their loyalties bidden for by Louis. However, some progress toward a settlement might have been achieved if
Henry hadn't committed a stupid act.

He wanted his eldest son to be crowned as the future king of England--an anticipatory coronation about which there was nothing unusual in those days. But instead of
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry commissioned the Archbishop of York to crown young Henry on 14th July, 1170. Assisting York (who was one of Becket's
bitterest enemies) in the ceremony were the Bishops of Durham, London, Salisbury, and Rochester. The foolishness of the King's action was not immediately
apparent; but it was soon to become so.

On 27th July, 1170 Louis and Henry met for another conference at Freteval, halfway between Chartres and Tours, and Becket also was present by invitation. This
time there was no flare-up of tempers; King and Archbishop were friendly and peace was made. Henry was reported as having said later: 'Since I find the Archbishop
well disposed toward me, I would be the worst of men if I were not well disposed toward him, and would prove true all the evil things that are said of me.'

The matter of the crowning of young Henry was settled--or so it seemed for the moment--when the King promised that there would be a second and final coronation at
the proper time. The two men met on several more occasions and apparently settled their differences. But no word was said of the main cause of the quarrel--the
Constitutions of Clarendon--and no oath was demanded of either party. It was perhaps an uneasy peace; but peace it was. And before Becket departed on the
journey back to his See the King sent to England the official notice of the reconciliation.

Becket arrived back in Canterbury on 1st December, 1170 and was received there, and later in London, where he distributed alms among the people, as a
conquering hero. But he seemed to be courting martyrdom for he remarked to Alexander Llewellyn, his crucifier: 'One martyr, Saint Alfege, you have already; another
if God wilt, you will have soon.' And in his sermon on Christmas Day he told his congregation, 'I am come to die among you.' (Alfege had been Archbishop of
Canterbury early in the previous century. He was stoned or clubbed to death by the Danes in the arm of Thorkell the Tall on 29th April, 1012, near Greenwich.)

Becket now appeared to court the death to which he had alluded. He began to excommunicate all those who had opposed him during his exile--clergy and laity alike;
he furiously attacked the Archbishop of York and the bishops who had presided at the coronation of young Henry; and he renewed the bans of excommunication on
the King's advisers.

Henry was then in Normandy where the excommunicated bishops now went and laid their cases before him. Henry was understandably weary of the whole affair and
asked Roger of York what he should do. The Archbishop replied: 'I assure you, my Lord, that while Thomas lives you will have no good days, nor quiet times, nor a
tranquil kingdom.' The reply drove Henry into a furious rage and he shouted his famous invitation to murder: 'The man Becket ate my bread and mocks my favours.
He tramples on the whole royal family! What a parcel of fools and darstards have I nourished in my house, that not one of them will avenge me of this upstart clerk!'

Taking him at his word, four knights now began to hatch a plot against Becket. They were Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Moreville, William de Tracy, and Richard le
Breton. They made their separate ways to England, landing at dusk on 28th December, 1170, and going on to Saltwood Castle near Canterbury, where they were
greeted by their friends Robert and Ranulf de Broc. FitzUrse (Son of a Bear), typified his name; le Breton was styled Brito, meaning Brute; de Moreville, whose name
meant City of Death, had reputedly boiled alive a man alleged to have made improper advances to de Moreville's wife; only de Tracy seems to have been a man of
unblemished character who had won a reputation as an heroic soldier.

The knights lied to the Brocs, and to many others, about their authority, saying that the King himself had ordered them to arrest Becket. But they cannot have worked
out any definite course of action, though they must certainly have known that the Archbishop would resist arrest. At all events, they arrived at Canterbury about noon
on 29th December and went straight to the Abbey of St. Augustine where they were wined and dined by the Abbot, who was at odds with Becket. After dinner the four
men and their supporters sought out their quarry and found him at work in the Archbishop's palace. They remonstrated with him about the excommunication of the
bishops, and, when Becket refused their requests for restoration of the bishops' rights, left him with fury in their eyes and murder in their hearts.

Leaving the monks of St. Augustine's to manhandle Becket and drag him to the cathedral, they put on their armour and again sought out the Archbishop. They found
him in a chapel in the north transept, crowded around him and attempted to take him prisoner. But, as expected, Becket not only taunted them but offered immense
physical resistance. He threw Tracy to the floor and in turn was set upon by FitzUrse, at whom he shouted: 'Let go of me, you pimp!'

Tracy then delivered the first blow with his sword. Edward Grim, Becket's crosier, tried to parry the blow and was cut severely on the arm; Tracy's sword had drawn
blood from the crown of Becket's head, and now he struck again. But it was a blow from Brito that split the Archbishop's skull--a blow so savage that the sword broke
on the floor. A few minutes later, their murderous work done, the Archbishop dead with his blood and brains oozing out on the stone flags, the knights made their way
out of the cathedral, fought their way through the horrified populace, and escaped.

'Willingly I die in the name of Jesus and in defence of the Church.' These were Becket's last words, so reported. Almost overnight he became a hero. Miracles were
attributed to him, and soon there developed a Becket cult fostered by real, as well as imaginary, beliefs. The cult spread south to the Holy Land and north as far as
Iceland. Becket's determination to achieve martyrdom had borne fruit; for on Ash Wednesday 1173, at a church council at Westminster, the slain Archbishop was
canonised and 29th December was designed a feast day in the liturgical calendar.

Henry was never able to convince the world that he was not responsible for the murder, and later made his peace with the Church. He appeared in Canterbury in the
garb of a penitent, walked barefoot through the streets to the cathedral, and submitted to a flogging at the hands of the monks. Yet another miracle was attributed to
his penitence, for at the exact moment of the flogging, the King of Scotland, busily invading south of his border, was captured by the English.

Genealogy Links and Theories by Researchers

Source of information is provided when known.


A link through Joan Hadley, the daughter of Richard Hadley and Phillipa Audley, who married Joan Hadley to Sir Reginald Fitzurse, he reportedly gave the signal to
assassinate Thomas A. Beckett. Sir Reginald was said to have overheard King Henry II say something to the effect " Can no one rid me of this troublesome priest". He
and two friends waited in ambush and killed Thomas A. Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 29 December 1170.

The conspirators, because of their nobility, went to Rome, where they were absolved by the Pope on condition they spend the rest of their lives in penetence at the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Soon after 1171 Sir Reginald passed his lands to his brother, Sir Robert Fitzurse, whose heir several generations later
was Alice Durborough and to her husband Alexander Hadley. In the second year of Edward IV ( 1462 or 1472 depending on whether before or after his exile by Henry
VI) there was a letter of atorney drawn up of Thomas Kyngeston for delivery of seisen lands, etc. at Williton Watchet, etc. to Alexander Hadley and Alice, his wife, with
the remainder to John Hadley, their son. John Hadley married Joan Hadley, daughter of Richard Hadley and Phillpa Audley.

Genealogy Information

Richard FITZURSE was born about 1095 in Of, , Northamptonshire, England. He married Maude De AUBIGNY*, who was born about 1097 in Of, , Northamptonshire,
England. They had the following children:

Margery FITZURSE was born about 1119 in Of, , Northamptonshire, England.
Reginald FITZURSEwas born about 1125 in Of, , Northamptonshire, England.
Maud FITZURSE was born about 1132 in Of, , Northamptonshire, England.
Mabel FITZURSE was born about 1140. [About 1190, Mabel married Benet (Benedict) GERNET. He was born about 1136 in Of, , Lancashire, England. He died in
1205/1206. They had three known child: Roger, Benet and Joan Gernet.

[Note: I have also see that Richard Fitzurse married Maud Boulers , daughter of Baldwin de Boulers and Sibyl Falaise, the illegitimate daughter of King Henry I, Lord of
Montgomery ]

Genealogy Information

Richard FITZ-URSE was born 1150 in , Kent, England. Child: Warine FITZ-URSE de_BEREHAM

a) Birth record abt 1175
1189 King Henry II died and Richard I "the lionhearted" was crowned.
1199 King Richard I was killed and John Lackland was crowned.
b) Marriage record.
1203 Pedes Finium 5 John Archeology Cantiana Vol IV pg276 -
SACpg112 - Warine de Berham's name occurs in a
Recongnizance of great assize dated 15 Jun 1203  -"Intertinenciis in Hammes".
1210 Liver Ruseus Vol II pg470 - SAC pg113 - "Milites tenentes de Arch
Cant; Warinus de Berham dimidium feodum in Bereham: Warin held lands in
Barham near Canterbury by Knight service as one of the military tenants of the
Archbishop in 1210.
1216 King John died and Henry III was crowned.
c) Death record

Warine FITZ-URSE de BEREHAM had a child: Gilbert FITZ-URSE de_BEREHAM who was born Abt 1200 in , Kent, England. He died Bef 24 Jul 1255. He married Lucy
DE OCHOLTE. who was born was born Abt 1202 in Kent, England. They had a child:

a) birth record abt 1200
1216 King John died and Henry III was crowned
b) Marriage record.
???? In the chaper library at canterbury is the original charter by which
"Gilebertus filius Warini de Berham granted to the prior and convent of
Christchurch Canterbury a rent-charge upon a portion of his lands at Berham
"for the lights and other uses of the alter of the blessed mary in the nave of
that church" the charter is not dated. Among witnesses are Thomas de Ocholte,
Ralph de Berham, and Robert de Hamme.
1243 Calender of Patent Rolls 28 Henry III -
SAC pg113 - dated 26 nov 1243:

"Pardon to Gilbert de bereham for the death of Richard de Tapinton whom he
killed my disadventure with a lance in justing; on condition that he make his
peace with the relatives and stand is trial if anyone will proceed against him.
Mandate of Sheriff of Kent to permit him to remain in his bailiwick to
restore to him any goods he may have taken.
1246 Feet of Fines Kent 39 Henry III - SAC pg114 - Gilbert de Berham and Lucy
his wife were parties to several fines of lands in Barham and the
neighbourhood between 1246 and 1249. Gilbrt died before 24 Jul 1255 on which
date Lucy his widow was the wife of Henry de Berham.
c) Death record - before 24 Jul 1255.

Henry DE BEREHAM was born Abt 1225 in , Kent, England:

a) Birth record abt 1225
b) Marriage record
1254 Archeology Cantiana Vol XII pg 203 - SAC pg114 - Henry de Berham son of
Gilbert paid the aid assessed upon his lands at Barham (Kent) (that is half a
Knight's fee held of the Archbishop of Canterbury) at the knighting of Prince
Edward in 1254.
1264 Roberts cal gen vol I pg 246 - SAC pg114 - Henry de Bereham was
implicated in Simon de Montfort's rebellion in 1264 and died before 1276.
Richard de Bereham (probably Henry's uncle) was an adherent of the Earl of
1272 King Henry III died and Edward I "longshanks" was crowned.
c) Death record