Domesday Cantilupes

Finding the Cantilupes in the source material is not straight forward. The Cantilupes are to be found in the records as, variously,




















and Kantilupo.

I think I may have missed a variant somewhere there.

I prefer ‘de Cantilupe’, but that’s a bit formal and spoils the irreverent blog post series title, so the ‘de’ has largely been dropped for the sake of informality and alliteration…


The search for 11thC Cantilupes led me to some known-to-be-dodgy material, namely Round’s Calendar of Documents Preserved in France, but in this case Round seems to be on the level. An agreement between William Paynel and the abbot of Mont St Michel, loosely internally dated to the decade c.1070-1081, reveals that the connection between the Paynels and the Cantilupes existed as far back as the late 11thC.


The Paynels were main players in the 14thC murder mystery which I’ve blogged about here and here. The dynamic of the Paynel/Cantilupe relationship changed over time, but the Cantilupes started out as men of the Paynels (at least, one of them was):



‘If William Paynel [Paginellus] has to fight for the land which the king of the English[William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy] gave him with his wife, the agreement is that Hugh de Bricavilla shall do him, for 40 days, service of ward or custody, with 6 other horsemen of his own cost. And Hugh’s nephew shall do likewise if he shall hold that land ‘in parage’ according to what he holds. Again if William [Paynel] shall summon Hugh [de Bricavilla], he shall have with him, with 2 knights in his company [familia], at his own cost, or his son, if he shall be free of the abbot [of Mont St Michel]’s summons. Nor shall the abbot always prevent William from having this. And he shall so have in his company [familia] Hugh’s nephew and Robert de Cantilupe and William Becheth and the man who shall hold the Honour of Scollant.’

– Cal. Docs. France, 255:714


By 1086, Ralph Paynel,William Paynel’s son, held lands in Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Devonshire and Yorkshire. The Cantilupes are to be found later in Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Devonshire on a regular basis, with a smaller scale and infrequent presence in Yorkshire. They concentrated more on building up a strong network of lands and allies along the Welsh border, from Lincolnshire across the midlands, and down in the South West of England, rather than in the North.


Map created by PASE Database


Perhaps the Paynels proved a convenient way in to England, despite no Paynel subtenant in Domesday fitting the Cantilupe description. It would seem that despite the Paynel connection, the Cantilupes didn’t make it into one of the most famous books in British medieval history. Or did they?


*Cut to Somerset, 1146* 


Alexander de Cantilupe and his son Ranulf confirmed a grant to Bruton/’Briwerton’ Priory, Somerset, in 1146. Alexander grants the canons of the priory all their rights of the town of Bruton in fee-farm to the canons forever, including the hundred and the market and the court, at the price of two mares a year. Neither Alexander nor Ranulf seemed to spend a lot of time here – they, and Alexander’s father before them, had given this land to subtenants to hold. In Alexander’s time it was held by a lady named <Aldetha>, and prior to her, someone just named <Laddel>, who had held it in Alexander’s time and in the time of his [unnamed] father. Aldetha and Laddel are not relations of the Cantilupes – their names are too Anglo-Saxon for that, although I’m not certain about <Laddel>… it’s the first time I’ve come across that given name in my source material, and it’s not featured in the DMNES yet! From the Twitter conversation linked above, the most likely suggestion is from ‘ladle’, as in the cooking implement – we’re not sure why someone with a name or byname of this type would be holding such an important manor, nor am I sure who their successor Aldetha was, but either way, we’d love to find more instances of it being used! Many thanks to Dr Kate Wiles, Dr Sara Uckelman, the DMNES, and Dr James Chetwood especially for their contributions to the quest!


If we look at the Domesday Survey for Somerset, Bruton was held by Roger de Courseulles, a great lord from Calvados, and his subtenant was simply recorded as <Erneis>, a name that can be Anglicised to Arnold from the Latin <Ernaldus>. [Remember that in 1155 we found Bill and Emma Cantilupe giving lands to Longueville Priory, Calvados, implying a pre-existing connection to this region…]


Remains of Bruton Abbey – photo credit JohnArmagh – CC BY-SA 3.0


The Cantilupes were BIG believers in name-recycling, so the fact that a <Erneis> or <Ernaldus> Cantilupe shows up a few generations later, appearing in Surrey in 1200 in a Pipe Roll,1 implies that the Erneis/Arnold in 1086 may well be a Cantilupe, and the father of Alexander. Additionally, Roger de Courseulles held lands in Somerset and Shropshire, later replacing William de Courseulles as tenant-in-chief of lands in Dorset and Wiltshire as well.2 Can you guess where the Cantilupes ended up sprawled along? Yes – they also held lands in Somerset, Shropshire, Dorset and Wiltshire…


We can now start to add a few names to the sprawling tree of Cantilupes. Having tracked them down to a rough geographical area corresponding with their lords’ holdings, and ascertained that they pop up c.1086, we can try and home in on a few of them and see what they were up to in the 1100s.


Next time: Twelfth Century Tracking – we follow the Cantilupes into the 1100s and find out what they were up to on both sides of the Channel.



1.Pipe Roll Society: Pipe Roll 1200, p. 218
1. David Bates, ed., Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum, (Oxford, 1998), p. 867