Baron Robert FitzHugh, Baron of Malpas

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Baron Robert FitzHugh, Baron of Malpas

Birthplace: Malpas, Whitchurch, Cheshire, England
Death: Altyre, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Hugh "Lupus" d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester and Unknown mistresses of Hugh d'Avranches
Husband of Unknown de Dol
Father of Letitia FitzRobert of Malpas and Mabillia FitzRobert of Malpas
Brother of Helga of Chester de Kevelioc; Tangwystl of Chester; Otheur or Otuel d'Avranches and Geva d'Avranches
Half brother of Richard d'Avranches, 2nd Earl of Chester

Occupation: Baron of Malpas
Managed by: Scott David Hibbard
Last Updated:

About Baron Robert FitzHugh, Baron of Malpas

Robert fitzHugh

Thought to be the illegitimate son of Hugh "Lupus" d'Avranches Became a monk and was appointed Abbot of Bury St Edmonds

From Medlands FMG

HUGUES d'Avranches "Lupus", son of RICHARD "le Goz" Vicomte d'Avranches & his wife Emma [de Conteville] ([1047]-St Werburg's Abbey, Chester 27 Jul 1101[18]). He is named as son of Richard "le Goz" by Orderic Vitalis[19]. A manuscript relating to St Werburgh´s Chester records that “Hugo Lupus filius ducis Britanniæ et nepos Gulielmi magni ex sorore” transformed the foundation into a monastery[20]. This suggests that the mother of Hugues may have been a uterine sister of King William, and therefore daughter of Herluin de Conteville. However, no indication has been in other primary sources which supports the contention that Hugues was the son of a duke of Brittany. It is assumed therefore that both lines of his parentage have been romanticised in this document to improve his status and reputation. Robert of Torigny's De Immutatione Ordinis Monachorum records that "Hugo vicecomitis Abrincatensis postea…comes Cestrensis" founded "abbatiam Sancti Severi in Constantinensi episcopatu"[21]. The Brevis Relatio de Origine Willelmi Conquestoris records that "Hugone postea comite de Cestria" contributed 60 ships towards the invasion of England in 1066[22]. Orderic Vitalis records that William I King of England granted Hugues the whole of the county palatine of Chester[23] in 1071, whereby he is considered to have become Earl [of Chester] (as shown below, some primary sources do indicate the territorial attribution although it is unclear whether any of these documents were strictly contemporary). He succeeded his father in [1082] as Vicomte d'Avranches. An undated charter records the grant of pasturage rights "ad castrum Claromontis, Credulii, Gornaci, Lusarchiarum" to Saint-Leu d´Esserant by "Hugo comes Cestrensis" and "Hugo Claromontensis et Margarita uxor eius", later confirmed by "Rainaldus comes" with the consent of "uxore eius Clementia et filiis eius Guidone et Rainaldo"[24]. Domesday Book records that “Earl Hugh” held Bickton in Fordinbridge Hundred in Hampshire; Drayton in Sutton Hundred and Buscot in Wyfold hundred in Berkshire; his land-holdings in Dorset; and in numerous other counties[25]. Florence of Worcester records that, in 1098, he and Hugh de Montgommery Earl of Shrewsbury led troops into Anglesey where they mutilated or massacred many of the inhabitants of the island[26]. "…Hugonis comitis…" subscribed a charter dated 14 Sep 1101 under which Henry I King of England donated property to Bath St Peter[27]. He founded the abbeys of Saint-Sever in Normandy and St Werburg in Chester, becoming a monk at the latter four days before he died[28]. Orderic Vitalis states that Hugues was "a slave to gluttony, he staggered under a mountain of fat" and was "given over to carnal lusts and had a numerous progeny of sons and daughters by his concubines"[29]. The Annales Cambriæ record the death in 1101 of "Hugo comes Crassus urbis Legionum"[30]. A manuscript narrating the descent of Hugh Earl of Chester to Alice Ctss of Lincoln records the death “VI Kal Aug” of “Hugo primus comes Cestriæ”[31].

m ([1093]) ERMENTRUDE de Clermont, daughter of HUGUES de Clermont [en-Beauvaisis] dit de Mouchy & his wife Marguerite de Roucy [Montdidier]. She is named as the wife of Hugues by Orderic Vitalis, who also records her parentage[32]. The Genealogiæ Scriptoris Fusniacensis refers to a sister of "comes Rainaldus" as husband of "comiti Hugoni de Cestre"[33].

Earl Hugh & his wife had one child:

1. RICHARD d'Avranches ([1093]-drowned off Barfleur, Normandy 25 Nov 1120). A manuscript narrating the descent of Hugh Earl of Chester to Alice Ctss of Lincoln records that “Richardus filius eius” was “puer septem annorum” when he succeeded “Hugo primus comes Cestriæ”[34]. He is named as the only son and heir of Hugues and Ermentrude by Orderic Vitalis[35]. He succeeded his father in 1101 as Earl of Chester and Vicomte d'Avranches. William of Malmesbury records that Richard drowned with his wife following the sinking of the “Blanche Nef [White Ship]”[36]. The Continuator of Florence of Worcester names "…Ricardus comes Cestrensis, Otthuel frater eius…" among those drowned in the sinking of the White Ship[37]. m (1115) MATHILDE de Blois, daughter of ETIENNE II Comte de Blois & his wife Adela de Normandie (-drowned off Barfleur, Normandy 25 Nov 1120). Her parentage and marriage are recorded by Orderic Vitalis[38]. William of Malmesbury records that she drowned with her husband following the sinking of the “Blanche Nef [White Ship]”[39]. The Continuator of Florence of Worcester names "…neptis regis Comitissa de Cestria" among those drowned in the sinking of the White Ship[40].

Earl Hugh had three illegitimate children by unknown mistresses:

2. OTTIWELL [Otuel] (-drowned off Barfleur, Normandy 25 Nov 1120). He was tutor to the children of Henry I King of England. "…Otuero filio comitis…" witnessed the charter dated 1114 under which Henry I King of England granted the land of Roger de Worcester to Walter de Beauchamp[41]. His parentage is confirmed more precisely by the Continuator of Florence of Worcester who names "…Ricardus comes Cestrensis, Otthuel frater eius…" among those drowned in the sinking of the White Ship[42]. [m ([1116/19], as her second husband, MARGUERITE, widow of WILLIAM de Mandeville, daughter and heiress of EUDO de Rie, dapifer, of Colchester, Essex & his wife Rohese ---. The Genealogia Fundatoris of Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire names “Margareta” as daughter of “Eudoni dapifero Regis Normanniæ”, adding that she married “Willielmo de Mandavill” by whom she was mother of “Gaufridi filii comitis Essexiæ et iure matris Normanniæ dapifer”[43]. According to the Complete Peerage, this genealogy is “probably erroneous” but it does not explain the basis for the doubts[44]. Her second marriage is suggested by a charter dated [1141/42], under which Empress Matilda made various grants of property including a grant to "Willelmo filio Otuel fratri…Comitis Gaufredi" (identified as Geoffrey de Mandeville Earl of Essex)[45]. The only contemporary "Otuel" so far identified is the illegitimate son of Hugh Earl of Chester.] Otuel & his wife had [one] child:

a) [WILLIAM FitzOtuel ([1120]-after [1166/75]). Empress Matilda made various grants of property including a grant to "Willelmo filio Otuel fratri…Comitis Gaufredi" (identified as Geoffrey de Mandeville Earl of Essex)[46]. It is not certain that "Otuel" was the same person as the illegitimate son of Earl Hugh, although as noted above no other person of this name has yet been identified. The co-identification appears confirmed by the following two charters. "Hugo comes Cestrie" confirmed a donation of land in Thoresby donated by "Willelmus filius Othuer" to Greenfield priory, Lincolnshire, for the soul of "patris mei Randulfi", by charter dated to [1155] witnessed by "Matilla matre sua…"[47]. "Willelmus comes de Essex" confirmed a donation of land in Aby and South Thoresby donated by "Willelmus filius Otueli avunculus meus" to Greenfield priory, Lincolnshire by charter dated to [1166/75] witnessed by "Simone de Bello Campo…"[48]. "…Willelmo filio Otueri, Rannulfo de Seis, Ingeramo Bagot…" witnessed the charter dated to the reign of King Henry II under which "Matildis de Stafford" granted land in Theddlethorpe, Lincolnshire to "Matildi filie Roberti filii Gilberti filiole mee", with the consent of "Johannis filii mei et Radulfi nepotis mei"[49].]

3. ROBERT (-after 1102). He was recorded as the son of Hugh Earl of Chester by Orderic Vitalis, who specifies that he was a monk at the abbey of Saint-Evroul , Normandy[50]. He was appointed Abbot of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk in 1100 by Henry I King of England, but deposed in 1102 by Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury at the Council of London[51].

4. GEVA (-after 1120). “Geva, filia Hugonis comitis Cestriæ, uxor Galfridi Ridelli” founded Canwell priory, with the consent of “Ranulfi comitis Cestriæ cognate mei…hæredum meorum…Gaufridi Ridelli et Radulfi Basset”, by undated charter[52]. "Radulphus comes Cestriæ, Willelmo Constabulario et Roberto dapifero" confirmed the grant of "Draitune…in libero conjugio" to "Gevæ Ridel, filiæ comitis Hughes" by charter dated to [1120][53]. m GEOFFREY Ridel, son of --- (-drowned off Barfleur, Normandy 25 Nov 1120). He was granted Drayton Basset in Staffordshire.


From research of Nancy Lopez at :

Robert Fitz Hugh Baron of Malpas

Marriage: Unknown

~George Ormerod's The History of County Palatine and City of Chester, Vol II, p. 598, Robert Fitz Hugh, Baron of Malpas at the time of the Domesday Survey and witness to the foundation of the abbey of St. Werburgh, 1093. Vol. II. p. 628, He is given as father of Mabel, wife of William le Belward. 713

Noted events in his life were:

• Background Information. 720 Within the limits of the parish of Malpas, and comprehended in the original barony, is the township of Egerton. When the Saxon counties had been formed, this part of Chesire, as we learned from the Domesday Book, belonged to Edwin, Earl of Mercia, a grandson of Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva. After the battle of Hastings, the Saxon rights were transferred by the victorious Norman to his sister's son, Hugh d'Avranches, surnamed Lupus, the pious profligate whom he had created Palatine Earl of Chester. Malpas was selected by him as the site of one of the numerous fortresses with which, at regular intervals, he strenghthened his Welsh border, and was given by him, with other estates from the forfeited lands of Earl Edwin, to his natural son Robert Fitz-Hugh, whom he created Baron of Malpas, and who was one of the eight barons of his Parliament.

~County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire

• Web Reference: Malpas.

• Background Information. 686 Robert Fitz Hugh, Baron of Malpas, where he had a castle, did not have sons. During the reign of Richard I, the barony passed in right of his coheiresses by moieties, to Robert Patrick and David Belward, or le Clerk. The daughter and eventually sole heiress of the Patricks, brought this moiety into the Sutton family. On the death of William de Malpas, son of David le Clerk, without lawful issue, his illegitimate son David, possessed himself of his father's moiety, which was inherited by the posterity of his two daughters. Beatrice, one of these daughters brought a fourt part of the barony in marriage, to the Suttons, in which nearly the whole appears to have been vested during the reign of Henry VII.

~History of the City of Chester, pp. 115-116 [Source cited: Harl. MSS. 2079, pp. 124, 131]

• Background Information. 922 Robert Fitz Hugh, Baron of Malapas, one of the barons of Hugh Lupus, Earl Palatine of Chester, and generally believed to be his illegitimate son. He was among on of the most powerful of "the cruel potentates that spilt the Welshmen's blood," along with the other Lords-Marchers, in their battles with along the border.

Robert's castle of Malpas commanded the important and difficult pass that formed one of the gates of Wale. In his descendants, and probably in him, was vested the office of Serjeant of the Peace for all Cheshire, except the hundreds of Wirrall and Macclesfield.

Robert had two daughters, Letitia the wife of Richard Patric; and Mabilia, the wife of William Belward. William Belward is the Cheshire knight mentioned by Camden, "each of whose sons took different surnames, while their sons, in turn, also took different surnames from their fathers. They altered their names in respect to habitation, to Egerton, Cotgrave and Overton ; in respect to color, to Gough, which is red ; in respect to learning, to Ken-clarke (a knowing clerk or learned man) : in respect to quality, to Goodman ; in respect to stature, to Little : and in respect to the Christian name of one of them, to Richardson, though all were descended from William Belwards." [Remaines, p. 141] "Who would conceived, without good proof," asks Sir Edward Dering, "that Malpas, Gough, Golborne, Egerton, Goodman, Cotgrave, Weston, Little, Kenclerke, and Richardson, were all in short time issue of William Belward?" [Lower's Curiosities of Heraldry, App. p. 305] Yet there is one name left off this list, that of Cholmondeley.

~The Battle Abbey Roll, Vol. II, p. 54


The community of Malpas developed near the line of the Roman Road from Deva (Chester) to Mediolanum (Whitchurch and on to Uriconium (Wroxeter), which runs along the present High Street. There is, however, no evidence of any form of settlement dating back to Roman times, although it has been suggested that there is a Roman villa under Castle Hill. In 1812 a Bronze Roman military diploma issued by the Roman emperor Trajan was found in nearby Bickley and is currently held in the British Museum. It grants Roman citizenship to a man named Reburrus, a spanish cavalry officer, after he had completed 25 years in the 1st Pannonian cavlry regiment.

Mercian Saxons

The Church is dedicated to St Oswald. Such dedications are thought to be associated with Æthelræd II (879-911), also known as Earl Aethelred of Mercia and Æthelflæd of Mercia (911-918); they are known to have encouraged the growth of this cult along the Welsh border in places such as Hereford and Shrewsbury. This may indicate that Malpas was not a Norman ‘New Town’, but a Saxon burh.

The Normans

At the time of the Norman conquest in 1066, the village was known as ‘Depenbech’ meaning ‘at the deep valley with a stream in it’. This suggests the location of the original village may have been at Hough Bridge, south from the village’s present hilltop location. This old English name was gradually replaced by the Norman French “Mal-pas” meaning ‘difficult way or passage’; a reference to the difficult local terrain being a combination of the sandstone outcrops of the Peckforton Hills and the marshy floodplain of the River Dee. William the Conqueror granted the Barony of Malpas to Robert Fitzhugh. He was one of eight Barons who served on the Council of the Earl of Chester. When Robert Fitzhugh died without male successsors his possessions, including Malpas, was divided between his two daughters.

Please see Darrell Wolcott: The "Malpas" Family in Cheshire; (Steven Ferry, April 19, 2020.)

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Baron Robert FitzHugh, Baron of Malpas's Timeline

Whitchurch, Cheshire, England
Malpas, Cheshire, England
Malpas, Cheshire , England