Sir Ranulph "Crusader" de Glanville, Chief Justiciar of England

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Sir Ranulph "Crusader" de Glanville, Chief Justiciar of England

Birthplace: Stratford Saint Andrew, Plomesgate, Suffolk, England (United Kingdom)
Death: October 12, 1190 (65-74)
Seige of Acre, Palestine
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Hervey de Glanville and Matilda Mabel de Glanville
Husband of Bertha de Valoignes
Father of Helewise de Glanville, Lady of Middleham; William de Glanville and Maud d'Auberville
Brother of Sir Gerard de Glanville; William de Glanville; Roger de Glanville; Osbert Glanville and N.N. de Glanville

Occupation: Knight, Sheriff of Yorkshire, Chief Justiciar of England
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Ranulph "Crusader" de Glanville, Chief Justiciar of England

Ranulf de Glanvill (sometimes written Glanvil or Glanville) (died 1190) was chief justiciar of England during the reign of King Henry II and reputed author of a book on English law.

He was born at Stratford in Suffolk, but the year of his birth is unknown. There is little information about his early life. He is first heard of as sheriff of Yorkshire from 1163 to 1170. In 1173 he became sheriff of Lancashire and custodian of the honour of Richmond. In 1174 he was one of the English leaders at the Battle of Alnwick, and it was to him that the king of Scotland, William the Lion, surrendered. In 1175 he was reappointed sheriff of Yorkshire, in 1176 he became justice of the king's court and a justice itinerant in the northern circuit, and in 1180 Chief Justiciar of England.[1] It was with his assistance that Henry II completed his famous judicial reforms, though many had been carried out before he came into office. He became the king's right-hand man, and during Henry's frequent absences was in effect regent of England.

After the death of Henry in 1189, Glanvill was removed from his office by Richard I on 17 September 1189[1] and imprisoned until he had paid a ransom, according to one authority, of £15,000. Shortly after obtaining his freedom he took the cross, and he died at the siege of Acre in 1190. Perhaps at the instigation of Henry II, Glanvill wrote or oversaw the writing of the Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Angliae, a practical treatise on the forms of procedure in the king's court. As the source of our knowledge regarding the earliest form of the curia regis, and for the information it affords regarding ancient customs and laws, it is of great value to the student of English history. It is now generally agreed that the work of Glanvill is of earlier date than the Scottish law book known from its first words as Regiam Majestatem, which bears a close resemblance to his.

He was the uncle of Hubert Walter, the Chief Justiciar and Lord Chancellor of England under Richard I.[2]

The treatise of Glanvill was first printed in 1554. An English translation, with notes and introduction by John Beames, was published at London in 1812. A French version is found in various manuscripts, but has not yet been printed. The treatise was then edited and translated by G.D.G. Hall for the Oxford University Press 1965.

Ranulf was portrayed by John Gabriel in the 1962 British children's TV series Richard the Lionheart and by Roy Boyd in the 1978 BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown, which dramatised the reigns of Henry II, Richard I and John.

Ranulf was Judiciary to Henry II (1181-1185).

He took prisoner the Scotch King, William the Lion, at Alnwick in 1174; thus for the first time Scotland and the Scottish church was brought under subjection to England.

Ranulph had 3 daughters, who were all coheirs, and no sons.

Founded Abbey of Butley.

Chief Justiciar of England during King Henry II.

Ambassador to Flanders.

Sheriff of Yorkshire, Westmorland, & Lancaster


Note: Even though the Glanville family of Suffolk was described in some totaly false pedigrees as "Earls of Suffolk", the Glanvilles were not even a prominent family at that time. They were relatively minor nobles with moderate holdings in Suffolk. Ranulph being the first of the family with any prominence.

The following posting was in soc.genealogy.medieval in response to a query about the Glanville "Earls of Suffolk", which is written about by Wm. Urmston S. Glanville-Richards, Esq. in 'Records of the Anglo Norman House of Glanville from AD 1050 to 1880', who describes three "Earls of Suffolk", which is totally false, and is described as "a classic example [e.g.] of 19th century antiquarian mayhem - built from a mass of unquestionably invaluable Glanville source material assembled into a dismally ill-considered narrative/pedigree. (The most blatant and - because it is so patently berserk - ultimately least crucial example being his persistently calling Ran(d)ulph, William and Gilbert de Glanville the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 'Earls of Suffolk' when no such earldom existed). [Christopher Nash, 1 Sep 1998 posting to soc.genealogy.medieval newsgroup]":


Ranulph de Ganville (d.1190) was justiciar of England (but not earl of Sussex). His father was Hervey de Glanville (d.>1166), of Bawdsey and his mother was Mabel. His wife was Bertha dau. of Theobald de Valognes, of Parham Suffolk. Hervey's precise ancestry is problematic but is thought that he was the son of Robert (d.about 1150) son of Roger son of Robert noted in the Domesday survey.

Ranulph had three daughters and co-heirs: Matilda wife of William d'Auberville, Amabilla wife of Ralph de Aderne and Helewise wife of Robert fitz Ralph, of Middleham, Yorks.


Mortimer, R "The Family of Rannulf de Glanville" *Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research* LIV (1981) 1-16;

S J Bailey "Ranulf de Glanvill and his Children" *Cambridge Law Journal* (1957) 163-182;

ibid. "Ranulf de Glanville in Yorkshire" (1958) 178-198;

West, F J *The Justiciarship in England 1066-1232* (Cambridge U P, 1966) 54; DNB VII:1292-1294;

K S B Keats-Rohan *Domesday People: A Prosopography of Persons occurring in English Documents,

1066-1166* (The Boydell Press: Woodbridge, 1999) I:376;

G Paget *An Official Genealogical and Heraldic Baronage of England* 3 vols. (Manuscript, pre-1957, in the Principal Probate Registry, Somerset House, Strand, London), fam. no.11;

VCH Yorks NR I:218-219, 274, 378.


Ranulf de Glanville, appointed justiciar by king Henry II sometime during 1179-1180 [1], was never created an earl. His family's lands were in Norfolk and Suffolk counties and were of only minor importance[2]. Very little is known about his ancestry.

His father was Hervey de Glanville who was living 1148-53 and, perhaps, was still alive in 1166 or later [2]. Hervey was born in the 1090s or earlier, as implied by his speech at a local court [2]. Using an unspecified source, Mortimer claimed Hervey married Mabel -- [3].

Mortimer thought Hervey was the son of Robert de Glanville (alive c.1140) based upon two Coxford priory records [3]. The first one was an agreement dated by Mortimer, without explanation, as probably 1171 [4]; Hervey's confirmation of that agreement was the second record. Other records indicate Ranulf had probably succeeded before 1166 [2,6].

Mortimer's assumption that Robert was identical to the Robert who appears in charters of 1140-5 and c.1150 with his father Roger de Glanville [2] is chronologically implausible -- Roger, according to Mortimer's version, would have been Ranulf de Glanville's great- grandfather and at least 90 years old in 1140. The latter charter, if Mortimer's interpretation is accepted, would have had the unlikely situation of Ranulf (long before he was prominent) appearing in the witness list after his father but before his great-grandfather and grandfather. A more tenable identification of the Roger in these charters would be Hervey's brother Roger who had a son Robert [5,3].

An earlier Ranulf de Glanville and his successor Hervey de Glanville were benefactor and witness of Robert Malet's Eye priory during its foundation period 1086-1105/6 [6]. Their names and the observation that the justiciar and his father were witnesses of charters for the priory, suggests there might be a connection between the justiciar's family and these earlier Glanvilles.

The other Glanville family in 12th- and 13th-century east Anglia were descendants of William de Glanville who founded Bromholm priory in 1113 [3,7]. William and his descendants held some of the estates which had formerly been held by Robert de Glanville, a Domesday tenant of Robert Malet. Its not known whether Robert had any children, but it seems likely that William was a relative. Hervey with his son Ranulf (the future justiciar) witnessed a few charters for this other Glanville family, but the relationship, if any, between these two families has not been determined.

For more information about Ranulf's wife and 3 daughters see my 21 Feb 1999 posting "Ranulf de Glanville" (in which #6 Roger should have been numbered #8 and #8 Robert should have been #16).

[1] F. West, "The justiciarship in England 1066-1232", 1966, pp.53, 55-6.

[2] "Liber Eliensis", ed. E. O. Blake, 1962, no.133 and pp.408-9; H.M. Cam, English Historical Review 39:568-571 (1924); "Red book of the exchequer", ed. H. Hall, 1:365, 393, 396 (1896); "The Crawford Collection", ed. A.S. Napier and W.H. Stevenson, 1895, no.16 and p.152; Norfolk Record Soc.(NRS), 2:no.161 (1932), ed. J.R. West.

[3] R. Mortimer, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 54:1-16 (1981).

[4] Cf. D. Knowles, et al., "The heads of religious houses", 1972, p.161.

[5] S.J. Bailey, Cambridge Law Journal 10:84-103 (1948).

[6] "Eye priory cartulary and charters", ed. V. Brown, 1:nos.1,15,23,73, 346; 2:58 (1992-4).

[7] W. Farrer, "Honors and knights' fees", 3:424; J.S. Falls, Mediaeval Studies 40:312-327 (1978); NRS 3:212-3.

ID: I08475 Name: Ranulf De Glanville Sex: M Birth: 1112 in England Death: 1191

Father: Hervey De Glanville Mother: Bertha De Valoines b: 1120 in England

Marriage 1 Spouse Unknown Children Has Children Helewisa De Glanville

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Sir Ranulph "Crusader" de Glanville, Chief Justiciar of England's Timeline

Stratford Saint Andrew, Plomesgate, Suffolk, England
Antley, Suffolk, England
Suffolk, England, United Kingdom
Antley, Suffolk, , England
October 12, 1190
Age 70
Justiciar of England