Ivo de Taillebois arrived in England in 1066 with William of Normandy. Accounts are not clear cut as to who his parents were, Fulk of Anjou is a possible contender for the title. There is also a suggestion that like William, Ivo may have been illegitimate.
Many of the records related to Ivo are vague or lost. One thing is clear. He did well from the invasion. He gained parts of Lancashire, Westmorland and also Lincolnshire. He became Sheriff of that County two years after the invasion and features as an extensive landowner in the Domesday Book. There is some debate as to how Ivo acquired Kendal or Kendale, which later became a barony. The Strickland sisters say that he married a Saxon Noblewoman, Lucy, Countess of Chester, sister of the earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria. Lands in Kendal would have come to him through his marriage but it is also evident that he was given lands by William Rufus. It is certain that he gave the church in Kendale to St Mary’s Abbey in York. It should also be added that the Scots were only driven out of Cumbria in 1092 – so Kendal was no sinecure. The remains of his motte and bailey castle can be viewed at Castle Howe, the stone castle is from a later period.
But back to Lucy. She held lands in and around Spalding. This may have been part of the reason, along with his role as King’s man, that Ivo found himself in Ely taking up arms against Hereward the Wake in 1071. Lucy’s brothers were also caught up in the rebellion against the conqueror – making their lands forfeit- so Ivo seems to have done quite well out of it all. No one seems to have recorded what Lucy thought of all this or the fact that she appears to have been married not once, not twice but thrice (her third husband being Ranulf le Meschin) dying in 1131. One thing is clear though Lucy has disappeared into history leaving some very fragmentary and tantalizing historical evidence behind her.
In addition to Kendal, Ivo was also overlord of Furness. The man’s family tree is complicated. Evidence suggested that he may have been married twice before marrying Lucy. Other evidence taken from Ingulph de Croydon- the Croyland Chronicle- and reproduced in Some Records of Two Lakeland Towns by Brydson paints an unappealing picture of Kendal’s first Norman lord:
“All the people in his domains were very careful to appear humble before Taillebois, and never to address him without bending one knee to the earth, but though they were anxious to render him all homage, he made no return of goodwill. On the contrary he vexed, tormented, and imprisoned them, and loaded
them with daily cruelties ; his truly diabolical spirit loved evil for evil’s sake. He would often set his dogs to pursue other men’s cattle, would scatter the animals far and wide, drown them in the lakes, maim them in various ways, and make them unfit for service by breaking their limbs or backs. Ivo was not only absolved, but praised for all he had done in extortion, pillage, and murder.”
Sounds charming! And he was a forebear of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth queen and also of George Washington.
Lucy is also known as Lucy of Bolingbroke from the Honour of Bolingbroke, a name given to her collection of estates.
Katherine Keats-Rohan presented a strong argument that Lucy’s father was Thorold (aka Turold), who was Sheriff of Lincoln before the Conquest, and that her mother was a daughter of William Malet.
Thorold may have been closely related to Earl Leofric of Mercia and Lady Godiva, but the jury is out on that one.
Ivo had two daughters. Only the elder’s name, Beatrix de Taillebois-Hephall, is now known; her mother may have been a wife of Ivo’s who preceded Lucy. Beatrix married Ribald, a half-brother of Count Alan Rufus, and Ribald adopted her surname.
There is circumstantial evidence that Ribald actively opposed the Harrying of the North – and why not, as it threatened to depress his rental returns!
Alan and Ribald had good reputations with the English and the Scots and endeavoured to make the North wealthy again. It is not too melodramatic to say that their arch-enemy was the man the English hated the most, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, who caused enormous trouble at every turn, in every way possible.
Ivo is my direct ancestor (34 generations) so thank you for sharing this! It’s fascinating to find out information about him! 🙂
It’s so exciting finding a gateway ancestor. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
He is my 31st! It seems I have some rather unpleasant ancestors because another one is Mabille the Poisoner from Sees.
Still with what I have unearthed recently my naighbours had better not dare call me a Rosbif! (I live about 15 minutes drive from Taillebois. we came here without knowing any of this,yet for some bizarre reason it seems I have Come Home at last)
It certainly is a small world! You’d have to admit that Mabille the Poisoner is a name to conjure with.
She was quite a gal! She had no qualms whatsoever about disposing of any man who stood in her way to getting exactly what she wanted, she even poisoned her husband’s brother although it has to be said this was an accident since her target was somebody else & he took the bait instead. It did help her cause of collecting more lands when the brother-in-law died Under mysterious circumstances though, however it did not stop her doing it again and again during her crusade to add more estates to her own. When I think about it it explains everything about my sister lol.
I have discovered that I have both of Ivo’s daughters in this branch of my tree
I do not think he is my ancestor (even though I am a Taillebois myself), however it is thanks to him that I can use his surname in the 12th century re-enactment group I am part of here in UK. It always fills me with joy to find more articles and informations about him.
I’ll keep searching more about him and, who knows, maybe we are related somehow. Haha!