Earl Godwin of Wessex

158 views
Skip to first unread message

David Greene

unread,
Mar 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/23/00
to
This discussion of the death of Harold II brings up another matter more
strictly genealogical. In the Festchrift for Charles Evans, David
Humiston Kelley argues that Earl Godwin was descended in the male line
from the Anglo-Saxon royal house. The argument is based primarily on
descent of property and builds on several previous articles. M. L.
Bierbrier rejects this conclusion strongly in a note in the
Genealogists' Magazine and suggests that the same property was taken as
a group by the Danes and granted as a group to Godwin. Is there a
scholarly consensus on this?

DAVID GREENE


KHF...@aol.com

unread,
Mar 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/23/00
to
In a message dated 3/23/2000 10:06:13 AM, dgr...@piedmont.edu writes:

<< David Humiston Kelley argues that Earl Godwin was descended in the male
line
from the Anglo-Saxon royal house. The argument is based primarily on
descent of property and builds on several previous articles. M. L. Bierbrier
rejects this conclusion strongly in a note in the Genealogists' Magazine and
suggests that the same property was taken as a group by the Danes and granted
as a group to Godwin. Is there a scholarly consensus on this? >>


I am not certain, but I would suspect that Godwin was not truly Anglo-Saxon.
The names of Godwin's sons are not typically Anglo-Saxon: Harold (Harald),
Wulf, Sweign (of South Mercia), and Tostig. Another cousin named Beorne was
of Northampton.
To me the onomastics suggest a Danish origin for Godwin and the properties in
his name could likely have been granted as peace offerings.

The traditional descent according to secondary sources such as Weiss and
Stewart is below. I would not trust it, personally.

Where, exactly, do we find this Bierbrier article? Issue date?

- Ken


First Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

1 Godwin --Earl of Kent ®1, M. Godwin died on 15 Apr 1053.


Second Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

2 Wulfnoth Cild --Saxon Earl of Kent ®2, M. Wulfnoth Cild died in 1015.

Child:
1 i. Godwin, M (-1053)


Third Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

4 Aethelmaer Cild "the Great" ®3, M. Aethelmaer Cild "the Great" died abt
1015.

Aethelmaer Cild "the Great" married Ethelthryth ®4, F. They were divorced.

They had one child:
2 i. Wulfnoth Cild, M (-1015)

5 Ethelthryth ®4, F.


Fourth Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

8 Aethelwerd "the Historian" --Thane in Sussex ®5, M. Aethelwerd "the
Historian" died abt 0998.

Aethelwerd "the Historian" married Ethelflaed ®6, F. They were divorced.

They had one child:
4 i. Aethelmaer Cild "the Great", M (-~1015)

9 Ethelflaed ®6, F.


Fifth Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

16 Eadric --Lord Ogburn and Washington ®7, M. Eadric died abt 0949.

Eadric married Aethelgifu ®8, F. They were divorced.

They had one child:
8 i. Aethelwerd "the Historian", M (-~0998)

17 Aethelgifu ®8, F.


Sixth Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

32 Aethelfrith --Ealdorman of Wiltshire ®9, M. Born in of Risborough and
Wrington, England. Aethelfrith died abt 0927.

Child:
16 i. Eadric, M (-~0949)


Seventh Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

64 Aethelhelm --Ealdorman of Wiltshire ®10, M. Born abt 0859 in of
Aldingbourne and Newnton, England. Aethelhelm died abt 0898; he was 39.

Aethelhelm married Ethelgyth ®11, F. They were divorced.

They had the following children:
32 i. Aethelfrith, M (-~0927)
ii. Elflaed ®12, F (~0878-~0919)

65 Ethelgyth ®11, F.


Eighth Generation
—————————————————————————————————————————————

128 Ethelred I --King of England ®13, M. Born abt 0843. Ethelred I died in
Horton, Wiltshire, England on 23 Apr 0871; he was 28. Buried in Wimborne
Minster.

Ethelred I married Wulfthryth ®14, F. They were divorced.

They had the following children:
i. Elgiva, F
64 ii. Aethelhelm, M (~0859-~0898)

129 Wulfthryth ®14, F.

130 Aethelwulf --Earldorman of Mercia ®15, M. Born in of Risborough,
Buckinghamshire, England. Aethelwulf died abt 0903.

Child:
65 i. Ethelgyth, F

1. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
2. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
3. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
4. Royalty for Commoners, by Roderick W. Stuart, p. 257.
5. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
6. Royalty for Commoners, by Roderick W. Stuart, p. 257.
7. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
8. Royalty for Commoners, by Roderick W. Stuart, p. 257.
9. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
10. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
11. Royalty for Commoners, by Roderick W. Stuart, p. 257.
12. Royalty for Commoners, by Roderick W. Stuart, p. 262.
13. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 6.
14. Royalty for Commoners, by Roderick W. Stuart, p. 256.
15. Royalty for Commoners, by Roderick W. Stuart, p. 257.


Nathaniel Taylor

unread,
Mar 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/23/00
to
In article <38DA4D6C...@piedmont.edu>, dgr...@piedmont.edu (David
Greene) wrote:

>This discussion of the death of Harold II brings up another matter more

>strictly genealogical. In the Festchrift for Charles Evans, David


>Humiston Kelley argues that Earl Godwin was descended in the male line
>from the Anglo-Saxon royal house. The argument is based primarily on
>descent of property and builds on several previous articles. M. L.
>Bierbrier rejects this conclusion strongly in a note in the
>Genealogists' Magazine and suggests that the same property was taken as
>a group by the Danes and granted as a group to Godwin. Is there a
>scholarly consensus on this?

I haven't seen Bierbrier's response. Can you provide a citation for it?

Nat Taylor

Renia Simmonds

unread,
Mar 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/23/00
to
>From "Exploring Saxon and Norman England" by PJ Helm, Robert Hale, London,
1976:

p92
He [Edward the Confessor] fathered no children and it was rumoured that his
marriage was never consummated. that marriage had been to Edith, daughter
of Earl Godwin of Wessex, one of the group set up by Cnut. Godwin was a
stupid man who thought himself astute - a sometimes dangerous and always
irritating combination. As a new man who had come to power by supporting
Cnut and marrying into the latter's family he was unpopular among his
peers. now it appeared that Edward had come under the influence of Godwin
and of his son Harold. other saxon families, of greater antiquity, fumed.

... In the early days Scandinavian influence seemed to be gaining a
foothold, then, breifly, the Normans were in favour. Godwin was exiled,
Duke William of Normandy was encouraged to believe that he was the king's
chosen successor, a Norman became archbishop of Canterbuy, Cnut;'s tax
financing Engalnd's defences was abolished, and Edward's Saxon wife was
removed from court.... Yet within a yer the situation had been reversed.
Godwin was back and the Normans were out - men said that they had "promoted
injustice and counselled folly".

Hope this helps.

Renia


David Greene wrote:

> This discussion of the death of Harold II brings up another matter more
> strictly genealogical. In the Festchrift for Charles Evans, David
> Humiston Kelley argues that Earl Godwin was descended in the male line
> from the Anglo-Saxon royal house. The argument is based primarily on
> descent of property and builds on several previous articles. M. L.
> Bierbrier rejects this conclusion strongly in a note in the
> Genealogists' Magazine and suggests that the same property was taken as
> a group by the Danes and granted as a group to Godwin. Is there a
> scholarly consensus on this?
>

> DAVID GREENE


Todd A. Farmerie

unread,
Mar 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/23/00
to
KHF...@aol.com wrote:

> I am not certain, but I would suspect that Godwin was not
> truly Anglo-Saxon. The names of Godwin's sons are not
> typically Anglo-Saxon: Harold (Harald), Wulf, Sweign (of
> South Mercia), and Tostig. Another cousin named Beorne
> was of Northampton. To me the onomastics suggest a
> Danish origin for Godwin and the properties in his name
> could likely have been granted as peace offerings.


This conclusion would only be justified if Godwine hadn't
married a Danish wife, whose brother was a significant
nobleman. The appearance of Danish names among their
children is thus not surprising in the least, even were
Godwine fully English. In fact, his children are about
50-50 mix of Danish and English names (the one son you name
above was in fact Wulfnoth, a fully English name, nor is
Wulf- a Danish element, Ulf being the scandinavian name
equivalent).

This has no bearing on the separate property issue.

> The traditional descent according to secondary sources such as Weiss and
> Stewart is below. I would not trust it, personally.

This is not the traditional descent. Traditionally, he was
of mean origins. This descent was only fully worked out
within the past half-century, and should be broken down into
two portions, one back to AEthelweard, and the other from
AEthelweard to AEthelred.

The argument for the descent is based on Godwin holding
lands which AElfred granted to his nephews AEthelwold and
AEthelhelm, to descend in the male line, as well as several
genealogical/historical citations. I will leave the land
aside, but will briefly mention some of the other sources.

> 1 Godwin --Earl of Kent

> 2 Wulfnoth Cild --Saxon Earl of Kent

By the way, there were no Saxon Earls, only Ealdorman, and I
don't think there is any evidence that Wulfnoth was an
Ealdorman. He is called a Thane, and was from Sussex, not
Kent, while Godwine's center of operations was Wessex, again
not Kent.

> 4 Aethelmaer Cild "the Great"

The descent of a Godwine, usually thought to have been
intended for the famous man of that name. He is shown as
son of Wulfnoth, and grandson of AEthelmaer, who was brother
of the rebel Eadric Streona. Support for the first of these
is found in other sources calling Godwine the son of
Wulfnoth, while the will of the AEtheling AEthelstan, son of
AEthelred II, names AEthelmaer, Wulfnoth, and Godwine all in
one run of legacies, suggesting a connection. Wulfnoth is
identified with the Sussex rebel of that name who appears in
the ASC, while the AEthelmaer in the pedigree is identified
with the one inthe will, and in turn with the famous
Ealdorman of that name. The problem is that the Ealdorman
is known to have been son of Ealdorman AEthelweard, while
the Florence pedigree makes him son of AEthelric (otherwise
unknown). This has been smoothed over by suggesting that
Florence either reversed the names of father and son (he
gives AEthelmaer and Eadric a brother AEthelweard) or else
compressed two generations into one (AEthelmaer
AEthel-wearding son of AEthelweard Ead-ricing, becoming
AEthelmaer AEthel-ricing). This is definitely the weakest
point in the theory.

> 8 Aethelwerd "the Historian" --Thane in Sussex

AEthelweard, on the other hand, was an Ealdorman, as was his
son AEthelmaer. While some have questioned the identity of
the Ealdorman AEthelweard with AEthelweard the historian,
the reasons for doubting this identity are easily dismissed,
there identity being all but certain in my mind. This is
significant, because AEthelweard the Historian, in the
introduction to his history, specifically calls himself the
grandchild's grandson of AEthelred I. Thus while the
remaining descent is perhaps in doubt in detail, the end
result - a descent from AEthelred I, cannot be doubted.

> 16 Eadric --Lord Ogburn and Washington ®7,

> 32 Aethelfrith --Ealdorman of Wiltshire ®9,

> 64 Aethelhelm --Ealdorman of Wiltshire ®10,

> 128 Ethelred I --King of England ®13,

That Eadric and his brothers are sons of AEthelfrith is
contradicted by a surviving transcript of a grant, which
calls the father AEthelred. However, the surviving index to
the cartulary has the father as AEthelfrith (AEthelridi vs.
AEthelfridi), so this is likely correct. His placement as
son of AEthelhelm is not unlikely, because we know of the
number of generaitons involved, and with AEthelweard and
also his 'uncle' AEthelred the Half-King being kinsman of
royalty, it suggests that either AEthelfrith or his wife
were the child of AEthelhelm or AEthelwold, and with
AEthelwold's rebellion, AEthelhelm is more likely. There is
also a charter which suggests AEthelfrith's wife was
daughter of an AEthelwulf, so that leaves us with Kelley's
reconstruction.

Regarding other children named:

> 64 Aethelhelm --Ealdorman of Wiltshire

> Aethelhelm married Ethelgyth ®11,

>
> They had the following children:
> 32 i. Aethelfrith, M (-~0927)
> ii. Elflaed ®12, F (~0878-~0919)

AEthelhelm is not known to have had a daughter of this name
independent of her further identification. AElfflead is the
wife of King Eadweard the Elder, and was called daughter of
Ealdorman AEthelhelm. IF, and only if, this is the same
person as AEtheling AEthelhelm did the son of AEthelred I
have a daughter of this name. Unfortunately, there were
three contemporary AEthelhelms appearing in the royal
charters. Still, the identity is not unlikely.

> 128 Ethelred I --King of England
>

> Ethelred I married Wulfthryth ®14,
>

> They had the following children:
> i. Elgiva, F
> 64 ii. Aethelhelm, M (~0859-~0898)

That AEthelred I married Wulfthryth is another hypothesis,
this one less well supported. Basically, there is a Queen
Wulfthryth whose husband is never identified. The
assignment to AEthelred I is (IIRC) based on the Wulf-
element appearing among the individuals Kelley hypothesizes
to descend from AEthelwold, son of AEthelred. The descent
of Ealdorman Leofric and St. Dunstan from AEthelwold is less
well supported, and basically just a guess. As to the
children of AEthelred I and his queen, there are two
attested - AEthelhelm and AEthelwold. This Elgiva (?
Ealgifu or AElfgifu) is, as far as I am aware, without any
support.


That being said, I have one more comment:

>
> 4 Aethelmaer Cild "the Great" married Ethelthryth ®4, F.
> They were divorced.
>
> 8 Aethelwerd "the Historian" married Ethelflaed ®6, F.
> They were divorced.
>
> 16 Eadric married Aethelgifu ®8, F. They were divorced.
>
> 64 Aethelhelm married Ethelgyth ®11, F. They were
> divorced.
>
> 128 Ethelred I married Wulfthryth ®14, F. They were
> divorced.

Your Anglo Saxon divorce rate is WAY too high. I don't know
that any of these are accurate.


taf


Renia Simmonds

unread,
Mar 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/23/00
to
This site, by Brian Thomsett of the University of Hull, gives the
Anglo-Danish Earl Godwin's parents as Wulfnoth of Sussex, and Cyld of
Sussex. I haven't looked further back in the database.

http://www.dcs.hull.ac.uk/cgi-bin/gedlkup/n=royal?royal01536

Don Stone

unread,
Mar 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/23/00
to
Nathaniel Taylor wrote:
>
> In article <38DA4D6C...@piedmont.edu>, dgr...@piedmont.edu (David
> Greene) wrote:
>
> >This discussion of the death of Harold II brings up another matter more
> >strictly genealogical. In the Festchrift for Charles Evans, David
> >Humiston Kelley argues that Earl Godwin was descended in the male line
> >from the Anglo-Saxon royal house. The argument is based primarily on
> >descent of property and builds on several previous articles. M. L.
> >Bierbrier rejects this conclusion strongly in a note in the
> >Genealogists' Magazine and suggests that the same property was taken as
> >a group by the Danes and granted as a group to Godwin. Is there a
> >scholarly consensus on this?
>
> I haven't seen Bierbrier's response. Can you provide a citation for it?

"Medieval and Royal Genealogy Update" by M. L. Bierbrier, _Genealogists'
Magazine_, vol. 24, no. 1 (March 1992), p. 5.

-- Don Stone

Todd A. Farmerie

unread,
Mar 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/24/00
to
First, a correction of my own error:

> . . . and with AEthelweard and


> also his 'uncle' AEthelred the Half-King being kinsman of
> royalty,

This should be _AEthelstan_ Half-King


Renia Simmonds <PSim...@cwcom.net> wrote:

> This site, by Brian Thomsett of the University of Hull, gives the
> Anglo-Danish Earl Godwin's parents as Wulfnoth of Sussex, and Cyld of
> Sussex. I haven't looked further back in the database.

Well, then it's wrong. Cyld = 'child' is a nickname of
Wulfnoth, not his wife.

taf


Renia Simmonds

unread,
Mar 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/24/00
to
This was my misunderstanding, as another poster pointed out to me. I
understand that Cyld was his style, or nickname, as you put it. Only his
father is given. My apologies.

Renia

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages