Monday, 30 November 2015

The Whitmore family in Staffordshire

The Whitmore family in Staffordshire stemmed from the Boterel family.
Here is some of their history.

Geoffrey Boterel II 1091-1148
Count of Penthièvre and Lamballe
m. Hawise of Dol c. 1113
Helped Matilda against Stephen in civil war.
Eldest son, so inherited family lands in Brittany. m Vigolenta de Nettleshead
Settled in Nettleshead, Suffolk in 1139. Deed of 6 Stephen 1141
– Brien’s old lands, but now held of Alan of Richmond
Died after fighting his two brothers for 7 years
Rivallon. c.1116-1162
Co-Count of Penthièvre 1148-62
Geoffrey Boterel III b.1141.
Count of Penthièvre 1164-77 .
Geoffrey Boterel III? occurs in the carta
of Wallingford in 1166 (Red Book of the
Exchequer, ed. H.Hall, 3 vols., Rolls
series, 1896, i, 309). Cons Newc 1169.
Cousin of GBIV so Alan so Henri.
Stephen II ‘Le Lépreux’
Co-Comte de Penthièvre 1162-1164
Peter Boterel
b. Staffs.1119?
Gave land to Abingdon Abbey 1154 to
expiate brother’s sin. Gave certain
freedoms to Godwin at Nettlestead 1153.
Lands in Oxfordshire and Berkshire
1166. Constable of Newcastle-under-
Lyme, Staffordshire 1165. Also lands in
Yorkshire. according to Liber Niger
1167. Also Surrey 1153-64.
of Hook Norton, Oxon.1138 – 1181–
witnessed deed of Peter to Abingdon
Abbey 1154. As a reward for helping his
father, Peter, defend Wallingford during
the civil war, Ralph (when 21?)was
enfeoffed 1159 by Lord d'Oilly at
Stonesfield, Oxfordshire with 1 knight's
fee - enough land to support himself and
his retainers (about 600 acres) in return
for giving 40 days military service per
annum 11 Hen. II 1166. But the king
needed the land for his mistress and, with
William Boterel
b.1118? Staffs. Constable of Wallingford
Castle, Oxfordshire1150-1157 While he
was constable at Wallingford, it
appears that the abbot of Abingdon paid
him a sum of money
on condition that he restrained his
followers from pillaging the
abbey lands. Sad to relate, William
accepted the money but his
men nevertheless raided the abbey estate
at Culham and William
refused redress. For this flagrant breach
of faith William was
excommunicated. Later, when he lay
dying of wounds, his brother
Peter sought pardon on his behalf and
offered a mill at Bensington
as compensation. William was granted a
death-bed absolution.. Went into decline
after brother’s gift – died of grief. In
Lincolnshire and London 1155 with

Wednesday, 1 January 2014



 The Boterel family was badly mauled, particularly in the early years.

The empire of the Norman and Angevin kings had consisted of England, Wales and a large part of modern France. The politically-inept King John had managed to lose most of the French possessions by 1220. His successors had not managed to regain them, much to the French king’s pleasure.

But Edward III was made of sterner stuff and established a foothold in Normandy by taking Crécy in 1336. As vassals, the Breton Boterels fought for the French side, while the vassals of the three great English branches – Cornwall, Shropshire and Richmond fought in the English army.

So far, I’ve been able to identify two English combatants – Lord Henry Boterell (son of Lord Thomas of Aston Boterel in Shropshire), who died at the battle of Poitiers 1366, and Baron William Bottreaux of Boscastle, who fought at Agincourt 1415 with Henry V.

But the French branch suffered much worse, losing three generations in battle:-

Joffroi Boterel II, Sieur de Quintin – died at La Roche Derrien 1347

Jean Boterel II, Sieur de Quintin – died at Mauron 1352

Joffroi Boterel III, Sieur de Quintin – died at Auray 1364 

You’ll be able to read about them in my third book, or you can consult my notes and my first book at  

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Botterill's Horse


There is a documented connection between a branch of the Botterill family and horse breeding, in that a stallion known as ‘Botterill’s Horse’ contributed to the foundation of the Yorkshire Coach Horse.


With the introduction of macadamised roads, the Cleveland Bay was considered not fast enough, and as a result the Yorkshire Coach Horse came into being. In 1887 a Yorkshire Coach Horse Stud Book was introduced, which contained horses that were three-quarters Cleveland Bay and one-quarter Thoroughbred. The Stud Book was closed in 1936 with the decline of the coaching era.


Botterill’s Horse was the son of Manica (born circa 1707) and the grandson of Darley Arabian (born circa 1700), one of the original three Arabian Thoroughbreds imported in to Britain.

Darley Arabian b. circa 1700

From Victoria County Hist – Yorkshire vol 1

Saturday, 30 November 2013


The family prospered under Henry I – William Boterel took to wife one of the king’s mistresses to save further hassle with her sister – another mistress. They also did well under Stephen, although not all Boterels fought on the same side in the civil war.

There was more royal mistress trouble under Henry II. The king was married to the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, but fell in love with the fair Rosamund. His queen was furious and would have killed her if she could have found her. Again the monarch sought the help of the Boterels.

Ralph de Botrel, son of Peter who had defended Wallingford during the civil war, was enfeoffed by Lord d'Oilly at Stonesfield, Oxfordshire with 1 knight's fee - that is enough land to support himself and his retainers (about 600 acres) in return for giving 40 days military service per annum. But the king had just fallen in love with Rosamund and needed to hide her somewhere. The royal estates at Woodstock in Oxfordshire, next to Stonesfield were ideal.

But Rosamund found them too small so, with Ralph’s agreement, Henry swapped Stonesfield for another manor with d’Oilly, who gave Ralph a manor at Wednesbury, Staffordshire, in 1164 instead – an equivalent knight’s fee.  Fairly secluded, Woodstock would now make an ideal place to hide Rosamund.  Ralph also owed a nominal fee of £1 to the crown, but never paid.

But trouble came two years later.  The queen decided to have John, her last child, at Woodstock.  Learning that Rosamund was at Woodstock, she flew into a rage and had to give birth at Beaumont Palace instead.  For the rest of her life, she sought to have Rosamund killed.  She never forgave her husband, and in 1173 supported her sons in their rebellion against Henry.  A redoubtable warrior, Henry soon suppressed the rebellion, imprisoned his wife for years, and in revenge publicly acknowledged Rosamund.  The queen was incandescent.  Problems in his dominions in Normandy had in fact kept Henry away from Rosamund for most of the time.  She became known as ‘one of the most neglected concubines in history’.

By 1174, Rosamund found she could not stand the heat, so and entered a nunnery in 1176.  Henry moved on to Alais, princess of France and his son’s fiancée!  Rosamund died soon after.  The rumour was that the queen had finally poisoned her.  But Eleanor was in prison, so could not have done it herself.  Rosa mundi, ‘Rose of the World’, quite the opposite in character to the queen, was the love of Henry’s life.
On her tomb could be read:- ‘Hic jacet in tumba Rosamundi non Rosamunda, Non redolet sed olet, quae redolere solet’.  Here in the tomb lies the rose of the world, not a pure rose; she who used to smell sweet, still smells - but not sweet." 

Sunday, 27 October 2013



The Great Stone of Dol, a thirty foot tall fertility symbol, there since pre-Roman times and dedicated to the god, Saturn, had two small oval stones at its base. In 1093 Geoffrey Boterel was Count of Penthievre in Brittany living at Dol near the Great Stone. His brother, Alan Niger, had become Earl of Richmond in England. so they saw little of each other - just as well, since they'd been at loggerheads since childhood. Alan was actually nearby visiting his cousin, another Alan. These two decided to tweak Geoffrey's nose and steal one of the stones, thus insulting the god’s maleness. But what should have been a relatively harmless prank turned nasty.   

An alarmed retainer burst in on the Count to warn him soldiers were coming. It took time to arm Geoffrey's men and, by the time the Dol party got there, the attacking squad had achieved its purpose.  With the stone being slowly borne away, the Alans now had to turn and fight.   Geoffrey Boterel reached his brother first, and attacked.   Alan Niger had had not thought of inflicting real damage, but had to defend against his brother’s fury.  In turn, he lost his temper.  What should have been an equal match was hampered by Geoffrey’s rheumatism.  

A flailing haymaker sweep was countered by a chop stroke from Alan to Geoffrey’s elbow.   “Disarmed, eh, Geoffrey?”   The Earl chortled at his own joke but then the squad had to turn tail, dropping the stone, as Geoffrey’s men swarmed forward to defend their stricken Lord.    It proved impossible to haul their now unconscious Lord from his horse, so they led it back to the castle, a blood trail showing the way.  The Count survived another three weeks until 24th August 1093 – and the stone was left where it lay. 

It's still there, and you can read about it on the notice board

Friday, 20 September 2013


Apologies for the format - it wasn't easy to put this on at all.
It is the product of much research. Even so, I don't guarantee its accuracy. This far back I don't think 100% certainty is possible.

Thursday, 19 September 2013



His lineage goes back to Margaret of Huntingdon, who married William de Wessington/de Hertburn, and Agnes de Welleburne, who married Walter de Wessington, his brother.  

George Washington’s ancestors lived at Washington for some five generations but then moved to Welleburne Manor, Milleburne, county Westmoreland on account of the Welleburne connection.  Eight generations later, they moved to Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire in the mid 1500s.  There they came across Bottrills who had already been farming in Northamptonshire for two hundred years – a coincidence!

This Welleburne connection is important: - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris  - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris.

That being so, the President derived from Walter de Wessington and Agnes, not William de Wessington and Margaret.  So who were these people?

William and Walter lived at Washington prior to 1183.  They are mentioned in a survey made in 1183 by the Bishop de Pudsay called ‘The Bolden Book.’  "Willus de Hertburn habet Wessyngton (except ecclesia et terra ecclesie partinen) ad excamb, pro villa de Herteburn quam pro hac quietam clamavit: Et reddit 4 L., Et vadit inmagna caza cum 2 Leporar. Et quando commune auxillum venerit debet dare 1 Militem ad plus de auxilio, &c. Collectanea Curiosa. voll. ii, p. 80."
It says that William exchanged the manor of Hertburn, a long way from Ravensworth, with the Bishop of Durham for the manor of Washington which was only 10 miles from Ravensworth.  Why would he do that?

The answer is that he and his brother were born at Ravensworth Castle, owned by their father Bondo fitz-Akaris, passed down from his father, Akaris fitz-Bardolph, and his father - Bardolph.  The castle was originally built by Alan Rufus, Earl of Richmond, the third biggest landowner in England.  He and Bardolph were brothers of Geoffrey Boterel of Brittany, and got lands and castles in the North as a reward for supporting William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings 1066.

In 1100, the town of ‘Washington/Wessyngton/ Wassington/Whessingtun’ near Durham was part of the estates (called 'Richmondshire') of the Earl of Richmond.  Alan Rufus had originally built Ravensworth Castle for another of his brothers, Ribald, who handed it on to a further brother, Bardolph.  Bardolph’s son, Akaris fitz-Bardolph, who died 1161, was lord of Wessyngton, juxta Ravensworth, Richmondshire.

Akaris’ younger son, Bondo fitz-Akaris, was born 1122 at Ravensworth, and died after 1180 at Wessyngton.  Bondo is sometimes known as Bondo de Washington, and sometimes Bondo de Ravensworth.  He had two sons – William born 1156 and Walter born c.1160.  (They were incidentally second cousins to William Boterel, lord of Boscastle, Cornwall.)

Washington Irving in ‘The life of George Washington’ supports this.  He says that ‘Hertburn was taken from a village on the palatinate (the Bishop’s domains) which he held of the bishop in knight’s fee.’  He then mentions the Bolden Book – ‘In this it is stated that William de Hertburn had exchanged his village of Hertburn for the manor and village of Wessyngton, likewise in the diocese; paying the bishop a quitrent of four pounds, and engaging to attend him with two greyhounds in grand hunts, and to furnish a man at arms whenever military aid should be required of the palatinate.’  

And finally – ‘Nearly seventy years afterwards we find the family still retaining its manorial estate in the palatinate. The names of Bondo de Wessyngton and William his son appear on charters of land, granted in 1257 to religious houses.’

The next post will show the family tree.

GEORGE WASHINGTON’S Scottish origin?

GEORGE WASHINGTON’S Scottish origin?

What is the evidence for a Scottish origin for George Washington?  Various sites claim that William de Wessington (possibly known previously as William de Hertburn) was the son of Earl Gospatrick of Dunbar or Sir Patrick of the Hirsel.  I can find no sound evidence for this. 

The book at Sunderland City Council I mentioned is ‘Johnson Margot: The Washington family in Britain’, published in 20th century. I must caution again against literal reliance on previous authorities, who are often quoted as gospel.  Do your own research!

Her tree shown below (my apologies for the poor quality), fails to mark any direct connection between William de Hertburn and Gospatrick. William did marry Margaret of Huntingdon, countess of Richmond and Duchess of Brittany, and has in fact only been included as her husband.


Now we come to the Boterels and GEORGE WASHINGTON.

The name comes originally from the manor of Washington near Durham. A knight called William became Lord of Washington in 1083. He adopted the name of William of Wessington (the old spelling). So far, so good. The question is – ‘how did he get hold of the manor?’
According to one rather involved story, he swapped another manor with the Bishop of Durham. It’s possible – landowners did that sort of thing – but it’s not convincing, as you’ll see later.

According to another tradition, he was given it by his father. Quite possibly, but then the question is ‘where did he get it from?’

You may even ask ‘does it matter?’ Yes, because line of George Washington is supposed to derive from that manor.

There are three possible genealogies:-
1.    Sunderland City Council, which is responsible for Washington, have an old book which could be interpreted to mean that William was the son of a Scottish knight – Sir Patrick of the Hirsel. Why he should want to swap a manor in England is unclear. George Washington would then have Scottish ancestry.

2.    The manor belonged to William’s father who got it from his father, who got it from his father, who got it from his father, who got it from a brother of Geoffrey Boterel I, Count of Brittany. William of Wessington was born in Wessington.

3.    The manor belonged to William’s father who got it from his father, who got it from his father, who got it from his father, who got it from a brother of Geoffrey Boterel I, Count of Brittany. Walter of Wessington, William’s brother, was also born in Wessington.

In either case, George Washington would then have Breton ancestry.

The next two posts will examine the evidence for the Scottish and then the Breton ancestry.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Four photos connected with the Bottrill family:-

You can see the slight raised mound (top centre) which is the remains of the manor house at Aston Boterel, Shropshire.  It was elliptical, suggesting it was originally Anglo-Saxon before the Boterels got it.

The English butts (target practice) at Les Botereaux, Normandy

The walls at Les Botereaux

The castle ruins at Loroux Bottereau - near Nantes (originally part of Brittany)

Saturday, 3 August 2013



           In 1100, the town of ‘Washington/Wessyngton/ Wassington/Whessingtun’ near Durham was part of the estates (called 'Richmondshire') of Alan Rufus, Earl of Richmond and brother of Geoffrey Boterel.

          Alan Rufus built Ravensworth Castle for another of his brothers, Ribald, who handed it on to a further brother, Bardolph. Bardolph’s son, Akaris fitz-Bardolph, who died 1161, was lord of Wessyngton, juxta Ravensworth, Richmondshire. He was given the manor by his father in the time of King Henry II. (‘fitz’ means ‘son of’)

          Akaris’ younger son, Bondo fitz-Akaris, was born 1122 in Kirby, Ravensworth, and died after 1180 at Wessyngton/Washington village, Ravensworth, Richmondshire, England. Bondo is sometimes known as Bondo de Washington, and sometimes Bondo de Ravensworth. One of Bondo's sons was William de Washington, born abt. 1150 in Washington/Wassington, England, who was second cousin to William Boterel, lord of Boscastle, Cornwall. 

          If you look at the genealogy of George Washington, his first ancestor to live in Washington was a Norman knight, William de Hertburn, born 1150-1160, who acquired the manor of Washington around 1183, according to the 'Boldon Buke' (a contemporary record now in Durham Cathedral library). William had previously owned land at Hartburn, County Durham, but exchanged this with the Bishop of Durham who wanted Hartburn. This must have suited William for some reason – perhaps because Washington was nearer to Ravensworth. As lord of a new domain, William was known as "William de Wessynton", taking his name from his new estates.

          It would not have been possible for another knight to take the same name as an existing knight, even with a spelling variation, so the two Williams must have been one and the same. 'William de Wassinton' is named on an Exchequer Roll of 1211. 

          George Washington’s ancestors lived in Washington Old Hall near Durham for five generations. Then they acquired by marriage lands in Lancashire and moved there. Eight generations later, they moved to Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire in the mid 1500s. Bottrills had already been farming in Northamptonshire for two hundred years – a coincidence.

          So the Bottrills and the Washingtons, now separate, had a common ancestor.