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'Family History Research - Chapter 35 - The Poitevins,
Battle of Hastings and Domesday Book

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Chapter 35

"Captain or Colonel or Knight in Arms" MILTON 1608-1674 The POITEVINS

The Poitevins, Battle of Hastings and Domesday Book

This chapter sets out to link the three subjects in this title.

The French genealogists RIET STAP 'ARMORIAL GENERAL' states that (a-d):-


The DE FORSAIS family came from Gascony, then moved to BRETAGNE/BRITTANY.


The De FORSAN(Z)/FORCEZ family also came from Gascony, moved to BRETAGNE (GARDISSEUL & MARADON), and derived from the ARMAGNAC family in Gascony.


The de FORS/FOSEZ family came from POITOU, moved to PICARDY.


The de FOURCY (seigneurs de CHESSEY) came from PICARDY at a later stage.


A family FORT lived in or near La Rochelle.


Pere Anselme, the doyen of the French genealogists stated that Geoffrey de FORTS, Comte d'AUMALE (1165-1191) was issue of a NORMAN family where the 'Seigneurs de FORTS est situees'.


The English Dictionary of National Biography mentions "WILLIAM de FORS of OLERON... who took his more usual name from the village of FORS in Poitou" (see chapter 35 on the "mysterious Earls of Albermarle"). The town of FORS was founded by the Counts of POITOU for the DE FORS family to protect the POITOU northern frontier: the town was built originally about 1080-1100.

These facts presented a challenge, not only to link the seven clues, but also because of:-


The battle of Hastings: HOLINGSHED, the author of the ROLLS of BATTLE ABBEY (chapter 38) shows a Knight called FORZ fighting for the Normans on that famous day in 1066:-

"With other Lords and men of account, in great numbers, whose names the author (William Tailleur) of the Chronicles of Normandie, could not come by, as he himself confesseth. In consideration whereof, and because divers of these are set forth only by their titles of estate and not by their surnames, we have thought fit to give a copy of the Roll which some time belonged to Battle Abbey, containing also (as the title thereof imports) the names of such Nobles and Gentlemen of marque, as came in with the Conqueror: where of divers may be the same persons who, in the aforesaid catalogue are mentioned, bearing the names of the places of which they were possessors and owners."

The table of some 600 Knights (some duplicated) are shown in HOLINGSHED's version of the original table and roll. Other writers such as STOW, FULLER, Andrew du Chesne and Camden have produced alternative lists.

A Knight called FORZ was shown, almost certainly the son of GAUFRIDUS or GEOFFRY, FORTIS de TREIVE of 1030. The battle at SENLAC involved (like most battles) younger men and the Knight was probably not more than 36 years of age. There were various other interesting names who may conceivably have been members of the family bearing in mind the way many spellings have been corrupted. "BELEFUR", "BELEFROUN", "DAUEROS", "DEVAUS", "ROUS". There were two AUMALE/ALBERMARLES. GUILLAUME D'AU BELLE MARE, Seigneur de FOUGIERES, was seeded No 6 in the list of nobles (ODO, Bishop of Bayeux, the Conquerors brother was seeded No 1) THOMAS, ERLE D'AUMARLE was also on the Roll. Some 30% of the nobles and knights did not come from Normandy. The Conqueror's daughter ADELA had married the Count of BLOIS & CHARTRES. He expected support from ANJOU. The Duke of Orleans, the Earl of Brittany, the Prince of ALEMAIGNE, the Earl of ANJOU, the Earl of NEVERS, the VIDAM of CHARTHES, the Knight of AUVERGNE all fought at Hastings. Although Delaforces were Princes of VERDUN in this century, the Knight of VERDOUNE who fought came probably from VERDUN in the north of France.

The roll-call of the old famous "English" names and titles is nostalgic. The Audeleys, Albanys, Bohuns, Beauchamps, Beaumonts, Chandos, Curtenays, Curzon, Cliffords, De La Poles, Giffords, Lacy, Lovells, Mandevilles, Mowbrays, Montagues, Montgomerie, Neville, Pomeray, Richmond, Sinclair, Somerville, Talbot, Travers, Vere, Wake and Warell - with apologies to the other 550 names not mentioned.

(The validity of the Roll of Battle Abbey has often been questioned e.g by the Catholic Encyclopaedia. There are various different copies, as later Medieval families who felt their ancestor ‘ought’ to have been present at the battle added their names.)


The Domesday Book in the British Museum library shows several landowners in 1085/6 who were probably members of the DELAFORCE family: a GERALD, an AUGERIUS (ALBERICUS or GAUFRIDUS) and a Sieur DOLEFUUIS, amongst others:-

The INQUISITO GELDI, taxation of the Hundreds, took place in 1084/6. It was a register of the lands of England planned by William the Conqueror. The name derived from DOMUS DEl (House of God) where the Book was deposited, that is, in Winchester Cathedral. William planned it in 1084 in order to compute what he considered was due to him in the way of taxes. Maybe an element of Doom came into it as well! Certainly there was no appeal against it. Commissioners went into each county except the North and North East to ascertain the name of the place, the owner, how many hides of land, woods, meadows, pastures, mills and fishponds there were. There are two large volumes in the British Library that can be consulted. The original is in the Public Record Office in London.

With the old Latin writing in the EXON book it is difficult to be absolutely sure of the landowners' names and lands other than the nobility.


In Somerset folio 298 for AILEFORDA the name DOLEFUUIS appears which does seem likely to be that of DELAFORCE.


In Devonshire folio 1646 'Terra Abbatis GLASTINGBOURN' one finds 'De eade mansibne tenet GIRARDI mansione q. vocat GRAINTONA q. ten. VI mer die q. rex E.f.' 'Folio 427 quocat LOPENA (Somerset) q. tenuit LIUVIN die q. rex GERAUD FOSSOR de ROGERO'. He held 3 virgates of land at HAME, 20 acres of meadow, 3 acres of woodland worth 50/- at GRAINTONE/GREINTON. The Latin word is FOSSARIUS or FOCARIUS which was one of the several versions of de FORCE. It is probable that GIRARDI was originally GAILLARDI (WILLIAM). The lands in Devon and Somerset are frequently mentioned for the Delaforces and Albermarles in the next two centuries.


The third candidate was AUGERIUS or GAUFRIDUS or AQUELINUS FOCARIUS of Somerset: NORT PEDRET folio 80.b, CILDETONA folio 477b, DERLEGA folio 479, VIVERERONA folio 509 and in Devon, GAHERS folio 374. He was probably ALBERICUS de FORCEIA of 1075 of PLESSIS in ANJOU. The family name was spelt FORCEIA, FOCARIO, FOSSIS, FOSSART in the Anjou records.


"BRUMANUS de LAFORDA tenuit 1 domu T.R.E. reddente omne confuet meam tenet": possibly BALDWINUS?


"LEFO de Do. de Fuurda of EXON"; possibly a de LAFORDA.


FORST EPO XVIIId of WINTON/WINCHESTER; possibly the Norman Knight of 1066 called FORZ.

Who were these members of the family and where did they come from? This chapter provides all the clues available. The answers come in later chapters.

The sources of information are numerous: Gallia Christiana, the British Museum library Domesday Book; R. de Coggeshale 'Records des Histoire de France', the Roll of Battle Abbey: ROTULI Litterarum Clausarum: excellent local historians including MARCHEGAY 'Archives d'ANJOU', A. RICHARD's 'Comtes de POITOU' and many others to be found in the British Museum library. The local departmental Inventaires-Sommaires also played their part.

The starting point (see chapter 40, the Princes of VERDUN) was the influential WILLIAM de FORCE in the corridors of power in Bordeaux with the Dukes of Gascony. WILLIAM was born about 980 AD and at the turn of the century married BRACHEUTTE, only daughter of GERAUD, Count of ARMAGNAC. WILLIAM plays little part in this story but his family certainly do.

Between 1025-32 the Dukes of Gascony and of POITOU (who ruled an area of 150 miles radius of POITIERS) were linked by marriage. There is considerable evidence that the DELAFORCES were close friends of the Dukes and Comtes de POITOU but did not marry into that family.

The towns that are mentioned in this chapter are partly in POITOU, partly in ANJOU along the river Loire, and partly in Brittany. SAINTES/XAINTOINGE is 120 km due north of Bordeaux, 40 km east of the Isle of OLERON, 70 km southeast of La Rochelle and 60 km south of the town of FORS (near MORT).

About 1000 AD France was effectively ruled by seven main principalities: Aquitaine and Anjou/Poitou in which the Delaforces were living; Toulouse; Burgundy; Champagne; Flanders and Normandy. The latter rapidly became more powerful. The Norseman were enthusiastic Christians and built many Abbeys and monasteries. The French Kings, Robert the Pious (996-1031) and Henri I (1031-60) were relatively impotent. The English King Edward the Confessor (1042-66) had spent thirty years at the Norman court in Rouen and the Conquest by the Normans in many ways started a generation before 1066. Norman castles, Norman prelates and officials had considerable influence in Britain.

The chronological table that follows is covering the three centuries, (11th to 13th) in a historical sequence of events, It shows the history of the family from Bordeaux northwards, but not east or south which are covered in later chapters. The nomenclature is fairly straightforward apart from some strange first names (PAGANUS, ALBERICUS, HERVE) which may have alternatives. WILLIAM was a popular name in the 11th century but had many corruptions: AYQUARDUS, AYQUELIN, GAILLARD, INGELRAMUS, GALTIER etc.

date of




980 AD FORTIS (G)ARSIUS was Abbot of BLANDIMONT/BLASIMOND monastery, 50 km east of Bordeaux.



About 1005 AD WILLIAM de FORCE, related to the Dukes of Gascony, married BRACHEUTTE only daughter of GERAULD I Count of ARMAGNAC. Their sons.were named WILLIAM, BERNARD for certain, possibly ARNOLD and GARSIAS. They lived mainly in Bordeaux, Gironde, Condom, Fourcès and Verdun-sur-Garonne.



1029 "...DEUS de FORS, decano", deacon of a church or monastery near SAUMUR on the river LOIRE (Eccl. NEMOURS) "Donations St. PETRI SALVIENSIS" to "Monastery GELLONENSI" (modern ALLONES). The chart shows "Deus" as part of a first name which might be GAUFRIDUS.


1028 "à FOSSES (a town) au bord de la LOIRE un excellent vivier (fishpond), trente arpents (30 acres) de près (meadows) et un serf" was a partial description of (3) above.



1036 GAUFRIDUS FORTIS de TREIVE (source CARTA de CRU) was landowner between St Jean d'Angely in POITOU and the river Loire. The name is probably Latin for GEOFFREY. He was probably related to William in (2) as nephew or great nephew. The Duke and Count of POITOU at this time was related by marriage. BRISCE, sister of SANCHE VI GUILLAUME, Duke of GASCONY had married GUILLAUME V Comte de POITIERS about 1000. Their daughter ADALAIS married GERAULD II Comte d' ARMAGNAC. GERAULD and ADALAIS' son was BERNARD TUMAPELER, last Duke of Gascony, 1040-52. GERALD I (2) was grandfather of GERALD II! The COUNT of POITOU in 1040 was called GUY GEOFFREY dit (that is to say) GUILLAUMEI There was and is confusion about the two names.



1070 GUILLAUME de FORS was PREVOST of SAINTES/XAINTOINGE. Almost certainly WILLIAME de FORCES (5) grandson
1070 "GOFFREDI FORTI, filio GAUFRIDUS" was a landowner in northern



POITOU, "TREVAS nb HARDOUIN" (St Jean d'Angely) Father of (5) above.



1070 PAGANUS (possibly INGELEAMUS), son of (G)ARCUTI FORSENATI, de FOERS - father and son - lived in POITOU. GARCUTI was a version of GARSlAS and related to GARSIUS (1) "de bordaria RICHARI et de piscatoria (fishponds) in valleia quas dedit F. de MOTA"



1075 ALBERICUS de FORCEIA of PLESSIS in ANJOU also shown as ALBERICUS FOSSART 'habet 1 arpenum alodium (freehold) de SPINATIC et reddit IV sextarios silignis (quartz)' ALBERICUS could be a version of AYQUARDUS, or IMBERTUS.



1080 HELIAS de FORT, JOHANEES, PRIOR de GRAVIA monarchi (ed. CLUNY). GRAVIA may be the 'POINTE de GRAVE' 40 km north of BORDEAUX. HELIAS and JOHN were probably brothers: both names appear frequently in the POITOU/ANJOU records.



1097, SIEUR BERNARDI FOSSAT made land sales or gifts of churches ST MARTIAL & ST MARY at BELLILOCI (BEAULIEU), BURGULIUM (west of TURONES/TOURS, east of ANDEGAVUM/ANGERS): GLONNA or ALLONES was on the same river. The clues pointed to BOURGUEIL near SAUMUR on the river LOIRE. BERNARD was grandson, or greatgrandson of WILLIAM de FORCE (2) whose youngest son married into the LOMAGNE family in 1062.



1098 SIEURS RADULFE (BARDOLF) and GUILLELMI de FORTE (Source ECOLE des CHARTES) were MONARCHS/LORDS 'de FONTANIS/ FONTAINES/FONTENAY, also MARMOUTIER in ANJOU. They donated the churches of ST MARTINS and ST CRUCI (CROSS) of TALAMONTE on the seacoast due east of FONTENAY-le-Comte, near les Sables d'OLONNE. The brothers were probably sons of GUILLAUME de FORS (6).


1090-1100 the fortress of FORS constructed near NIORT.



1100-1144 ODO and GAUFRIDUS de FORSENATUS, brothers of TREIVE (Scriptum de CORAULIO); Probably sons of GAUFRIDUS (7).






1110/1125/1134 JOHANNES de F'URCIS landowner at St BENOIT, south of POITIERS (CARTA de DECIMO St CIRICI, BLAZONS) Either JOHN in (10) or his son.



1102-1113 RODULFO/BARDOLF de FURCIS, ROGER his son lived partly in POITOU, partly in Abington (Carta Comitis de Mellent).


In the same period RADULFUS, son of WALTERI FOSSATARII, cellarius (church title) lived in DUMELTOWN. The RODULF/RADULFS are probably the same man.



1110 RAINARDUS (possibly BERNARDUS) FOSSART, BOBINUS (ROBERT) de FOSSIS; ALBERICUS de FOSSIS and GROSSO de FOSS IS owned fishing rights at St MARYS, PARTENAM in ANJOU. It is possible that GROSSO de FOSSIS is the same man as WILLIAM le GROS, Earl of Albermarle at this time (see chapter 35). Albericus may be Imbertus.



1108 GUILLAUME de FORS visited BORDEAUX with GUILLAUME Le Jeune, VII Comte, IX Duke of POITOU and witnessed as TEMOIN fealty documents. GUILLAUME was probably son of Guillelme de FORTE (12): he fought at the battle of SARAGOSSA in 1118.



1119 HERVÉ/HELIE de FORS, father of PIERRE, gave 'Les moines' monks, ol MONTIERNEUF, les moulins/windmills of SOUSTAN 'et la terre de PINS' in POITOU. HERVE was son of HELIAS de FORT (10) Also shown as ARVEUS FORT landowner at JART in 1119.



1126 GUILLAUME de FORS visited BORDEAUX with GUILLAUME Le TOULOUSAIN VIII Comte, X Duke of POITOU. GUILLAUME was probably son of (20).



1129 and 1143 PAGANUS de FOCARIO re-appears in PARTENAM, ANJOU related to the previous PAGANUS in (8) unless another Latin scribe is making the same mistake!



1128 GUIDARDO de FORCIS, milite, made gifts to St MARTINS BOAFLA, MEDUNTAM in ANJOU. (22) again.



1131 PETRUS FORTIS/PIERRE de FORS signed chart as witness for William Duke of Aquitaine at ANGERS (Ecc. SANTONENSIS) and in the same year visited St Jean d'ARGELEY with Guillaume Le TOULOUSAIN, Count and Duke of POITOU. PIERRE was son of HELIE (21).



AYQUARIOUS/ARARIUS i.e. GUILLAUME, son of BARDOLPH (see (12/(17) founded and built a small monastery at FORS, near Richmond, Yorkshire about 1135.



In 1163 "GASCELINI, milites exdone unum sextarium frumenti de dom ejus de FOSSIS annuntium - in molendino FORTI" (Charta MAURICI). This reference is more likely to be to a WILLIAM, in some form, rather than to a GARCIAS at this late stage.



1165/8 WILLELMO FORTIS "SCUTINEI" owned "terram in qua sita est grangia (farmhouses) & domus (house) de CARBONERIIS: bosco (wood) de VAURELLA, pro RIGNIACO" Source Eccl. AUTISSIODOVENSIS (AUTIZE) in ANJOU. As WILLIAM de FORT of OLERON be made a landsale witness at ST CROIX, Bordeaux. Probably son of (22) and (24). Also shown as William de FORCE in 1166. WILLIAM's son of the same name born about 1155 became King Richard I, Coeur de Lions friend and Admiral. In 1174 GUILLELMUS FORTO paid fealty to "Richard, son of the King of England" at BRUNIN near Bordeaux".


HUGO de FORCIS in Anjou (Ecc TURONIS/TOURS) in 1176.



GEOFFREY des FORTS son of ROBERT married HAWISE, the Conquerors great-granddaughter in Normandy in 1189 but died in 1191 and GUILLAUME de FORS married her in 1194. GEOFFREY/GAUFRIDUS would have been born about 1160 and his father


ROBERT about 1140, grandson of BOBINUS de FOSSIS of 1110 (19)



ALBERICO de FOSSIS, milite, and HUBERTO his sister interritoris FOSSARUM near FOSSAS & MARLIACUM - 1188


In 1196 GEOFFRIDO FORS was at BELLAB INSULAE on the Brittanny coast


(Eccl. DOLENSIS): a mystery, because the GEOFFREY who married HAWISE in 1189 and died on Crusade in 1191 was childless. Perhaps he returned after all from the Crusade? HAWISE was famous, rich but very ugly!



In 1190 Richard of England, Duke of Aquitaine wrote to WILLELMO de FORZ suggesting William should build an Abbey on the Isle of LAGULLONA near PALA. (This is GLONNA or ALLONES on the north side of the river LOIRE). In the same year Willelmum de FORZ D’ULERUM (OLERON) signed Chartered Peace with the King of Sicily on behalf of King Richard.



In 1191 and 1199 HUMBERTUS and JOHANNES de FORZ (brothers) "fratres PICTAU, feodo monarche St George, St DIONISIO - tristvineis suis de LESCATILLERE" met and signed various Charters for OLERON with Eleanor, Queen of England - either in Oleron or Bordeaux.
There are many references in the 25 year period 1200/25 to the family who seem one year to be in Anjou, the next in England, having been observed in Normandy on the way! The English records and the ANJOU records chronicle their travels.



1200 HELYES de FORZ, JOHN de FORCE, and IMBERTO were brothers. They owned lands in Devon, LEIRUN (OLORON), POITOU, MAULEON, LA ROCHELLE. Their sons AIMERY of IMBERT/HUMBERT; JOHN owned lands in 1214 at TANNAY, DANPIERRE, OLERON and SAINTES. In 1229 JOHANNES FORTIS, miles, was father of WILLIAM.



PIERRE FORTIS was a Magistrate and Decanus of SARTAM and MEDUANAM in 1200. He was magistrate to William de FORZ, Earl of Albermarle.



GALFRIDUS, WILLIELMUS & ROBERTUS Des FORZ/de FURCHO spent some time in ANJOU and some in England in the Feodal lands of Albermarle in Yorkshire and Devon in 1202.



GERUARD/GERALD and EMERIC were probably brothers (1207) in England.



WILLIAM was Abbot of LA ROCHELLE and SAINTES in 1225.

1160 &


JOHANNES FORTIS, miles, father of William - Lords of PLAISEO BOCHARDI on the Loire 1229.

1190 &


HELIES II was bishop of SAINTES in 1224 - his son too in 1265.



BALDWIN de FORSERI, de FOSSA, milite had married DANNONA 1216-1244.


He had a brother MICHEL: they both had land sale deals with Robert de CURTENAY whose family acquired the Albermarle estates at the end of the 13th century. Baldwin owned lands at MASETUM in Anjou.



In 1254 WILLELMO de FORCIO and brother INBERT lived on the island of OLERON. William was a "Chevalier of POITOU". He had married BALLENSE de LA FOSSE in 1246 and sold properties to the Abbey St CROIX in Bordeaux.



In 1265 HELIAS III de FORS was Bishop of SAINTES and witness to land deals of King Henry III for the Chateau of PUYGUILHEM to be converted into a bastide town.



SIR WILLIAM du FORT 1270-80 was a witness to land sales in WESTKINGTON, London, but his son SIR JOHN de FORTONE in 1297 was imprisoned at BERWICK and on appeal was released by King Edward I.



Three generations of Williams were alive Guillelmus, William and Willelmi living near the Priory of FONTAINES, MARTINI MAJORIS, Monastery near TOURS in 1281. The next year however the eldest had died "nune defunctus pater mens dederit PRIORATVI de FONTANIS et ANGLIIS".


In the 14th century data emerges from the PERIGUEUX taxpayers census - names such as Guillaume, John and Helie occur with regularity. Jean Froissart mentions two Williams fighting for the English armies in the 100 Years War. The SIR WILLIAM du FORT who commanded a company in 1337 owned estates in Somerset and was also Seigneur de La Charriere,I near FORS in Poitou. He was Captain of BRENTHOLM under King Edward III's command in 1358. Some of the prelates are mentioned in chapter 31.



An AYMERIC FORSAT married GUIRANDE in 1312: RACUL de la FOUSSE lived in LE MANS in 1314.



HUGO FORCIN/de FORS was a Prior and Abbot of Poitiers in 1398-1415.



Finally JACOBUS de la Fosse was a deacon of St. LICINI in Anjou in 1382 and his son JAQUES FORT was the Sergen Royal in La Rochelle in 1441.

The French reconquered POITOU in 1246 and the family scattered - some to England, or south to Bordeaux. When the 100 Years War ended in 1453 it is astonishing to see the reduction in the number of mentions of the family name. Nevertheless some of the Huguenot immigrants to LONDON in the mid-l6th century came from POITOU and ANJOU since La Rochelle was the largest Huguenot base in France. There are to this day families of FORT and FORSAN in this part of France - deriving from the marriage in Bordeaux in 1005 of WILLIAM and BRACHEUTTE. Chapters 36, 37, and 38 cover more specifically the key characters deriving from POITOU and ANJOU in this period.

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