Elias Ashmole's suggestion that my Latton ancestors descended from the illustrious Estouteville family was published in 1719, with superficial documentary evidence. In They Sought the Last of Lands, I explored the possible origins of this alleged Estouteville/Latton link, and concluded that it probably came about during the 12th century, in the context of Latton Priory in Essex, through the marriage of Robert de Stuteville with Sibyl de Valognes.
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Today, 15 June 2015, is the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta by our ancestor King John.
Our descent from this monarch passes through one of his illegitimate sons, Richard Chilham.
Yesterday, I discovered, quite by chance, that Richard’s maternal family, whose French surname was de Warenne, provides us with a link to the original French line of the Estoutevilles. It’s a trivial link between two sisters and their respective husbands, but this information nevertheless adds weight to the Estouteville/Latton hypothesis presented in my book. The starting point of this newly-discovered link is a famous personage, Geoffrey Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou [1113-1151], who reposes peacefully (except for the last 24 hours) in the capital of the ancient French province of Maine, Le Mans.
Geoffrey got his “Plantagenêt” nickname through his habit of decorating his hat with a sprig of the yellow broom shrub [genêt in French].
Geoffrey went down in history as the father of Henry II of England, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. Not surprisingly, Geoffrey had several illegitimate children. His son Hamelin (nothing to do with the German town of the Pied Piper), of an unidentified mother, was invited by his half-brother King Henry to marry an extremely wealthy English widow, Isabel de Warenne, 4th Countess of Surrey. Young Hamelin was delighted to accept this invitation, even to the extent of adopting the lady’s Warenne name. Consequently, in a flash, the French bastard child became Hamelin de Warenne, Earl of Surrey.
The couple had several daughters, one of whom was the above-mentioned Suzanne de Warenne, who jumped into the royal bed of her cousin King John and gave birth to my ancestor Richard Chilham. And I have just discovered that, in 1190, her sister Maud (Matilda) de Warenne [1166-1212] married Henri d’Estouteville [1170-1232], lord of Valmont.
This Estouteville/Warenne marriage plays no direct role in my Latton ancestry. That’s to say, the English marriage between Robert de Stuteville and Sibyl de Valognes remains the only explanation I can find for an alleged Estouteville/Latton link. But the Estouteville/Warenne marriage indicates that the French Estouteville family had personal links with ancestors of the Wadham, Stourton and Berkeley families, described in my book. Incidentally, in the context of Hamelin de Warenne, we come upon references to the feudal town of Ambrières in the Mayenne department (mentioned in my book), which played a role in early French Estouteville history.