Monday, February 21, 2011

CHILDE OF ENGLAND 1066-1609

Chapter 3
Childe of England
Medieval/Reformative Era - 1066-1609 (543 years)
Childe Family in Medieval England

The volatile nature of France during the ninth century that consisted of Viking raids and Frankish civil wars weakened the western portion of the Holy Roman Empire to the point of dissolving into autonomous principalities by the close of the century.  The northern coast of France along the English Channel was perhaps the weakest region, due to receiving the brunt of these Viking raids from the Germanic tribe of the Danes.  By 911, King Charles the Simple signed the Treaty of Saint Clair-sur-Epte with the Danish Viking leader Rollo, which granted the lands surrounding the lower Seine River Valley into a feudal domain called Normandy.  This feudal contract with the Normans required them to defend the northern coast from other "northmen" or Viking groups, while accepting the king of France as their overlord.  The treaty between the Normans and the Franks was sealed with their conversion to Christianity, along with a royal marriage between Rollo and the king's daughter, Gisele.

During the tenth century, the Norman settlers intermarried with Frankish nobles, whereby adopting the French language and culture.  By the time that Carolingian rule had dissolved in France around 987, the feud of Normandy had evolved into a duchy, where its dukes asserted their independence as another autonomous principality in France.  By 991, the Norman-French nobility extended their ties across the English Channel when the Anglo-Saxon king, Aethelred II, married Emma, the daughter of the Duke of Normandy.  This blood-tie alliance between England and Normandy remained strong until the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor died without an heir in 1066.  Edward's death created a power vacuum where several competing factions became claimants to the throne of England, including the Duke of Normandy.  The dispute that arose from the aspirants culminated with the Battle of Hastings in 1066, where the Anglo-Saxon contender, Earl Harold, was defeated by the Norman-French challenger Duke William.
 
Bayeux Tapestry of the Battle of Hastings:
1066 - Norman Conquest
Now that the Duke of Normandy was also the King of England, otherwise known as William the Conqueror, he had to maintain order on both sides of the English Channel.  Because most of England had resisted the Norman invasion, William the Conqueror stripped the lands and offices from the surviving Anglo-Saxon nobility and gave them to his Norman-French warriors that supported him in battle.  As a result, many of the counts who governed Norman-French counties in France also became earls with the additional administration of shires in England.  One of these dual leaders was named William, who became the first Earl of Surrey in England, while he also administered in France as the Count of Warenne, just north of Normandy's heart of Rouen.  The Norman-French earls who acquired the most land in England were evidently connected to the monarchy, where Earl William, also known as William of Warenne, had married Gundrada, the daughter of William the Conqueror.
After making the city of Lewes in Sussex his primary seat of operations, William of Warenne and his wife Gundrada desired to reform the monasteries in their region that followed the Benedictine Rule.  In 1076, William and Gundrada traveled to the mother Abbey of Cluny in France, where they met with Cluniac delegates to negotiate the terms of establishing their monastic order in England.  Because the biggest fear of Cluniac monasticism was losing its centralized control overseas, the Abbot of Cluny did not consent until King William the Conqueror vowed his support.  For this reason, Abbot Hugh chose Alwin Childe as his most trusted liaison from noble blood to travel to England as a Cluniac diplomat to deal specifically with William the Conqueror.

Map of Norman-French Migrations to England
between 1066-1154

While Abbot Hugh was being trained between 1040-1049, he came to know the Cluniac cleric Alwin Childegaire, who had served as an assistant and special liaison to his maternal uncle Abbot Odilon.  As a result, Abbot Hugh came to trust the extended family of the previous abbot, where he sent the son of Alwin Childegaire to England as a royal ambassador to oversee the establishment of Cluniac monasticism in 1077.  Although the primary mission of Alwin Childe was to monitor the activity in Lewes, he was also charged with soliciting support from the Norman-French nobility for the purpose of establishing several daughter priories throughout England.

The arrangement in England would follow the same pattern in France, where the majority of Cluniac cells and priories would be dependent upon several daughter priories that answered directly to the mother Abbey of Cluny.  As a result, the Cluniac cells and priories established in England were made accountable to the two main daughter priories in Lewes and London.  Because Cluniac monasticism was a Frankish creation that was tightly controlled with centralized authority, all of the priors and monks were sent from either the mother Abbey of Cluny or its daughter priories along the Allier River in central France.  Hence, the success of Cluniac monasticism as a foreign institution in England reveals how influential its leaders must have been after the conquest.

One of these leaders was Alwin Childe, who was influential in convincing several Norman-French aristocrats to donate the critical resources that were needed to promote the Cluniac form of monasticism.  Because the Cluniac order did not have the capital to build their own monasteries, they were dependent on the Norman-French aristocracy to provide land, churches, and money.  By the time the Prior of Lewes was transformed in 1079, Alwin Childe moved on to his next project where he introduced the Cluniac order to Roger of Montgomery, who was serving as the first Earl of Shrewsbury in Shropshire.  Alwin was influential in getting Earl Roger to reform the Benedictine monastery of St. Milburga of Shropshire into the Cluniac Prior of Wenlock, where it was transformed and officially dedicated by 1082.

After Alwin Childe had taken five years to oversee the establishment of the Cluniac Priories of Lewes and Wenlock between 1077-1082, he was now ready to tackle his primary project in London with William the Conqueror.  During the initial negotiations when the new king vowed his support to Cluny in 1076, William the Conqueror granted one of his palaces in London to be partially transformed into a Cluniac monastery.  This palace was located in Bermondsey, across from the Tower of London on the Thames River.  Because the Tower of London had been under construction since 1078 and took several decades to build, the records reveal that King William I and his son King William II resided at the Palace of Bermondsey when they came to London.

Map of Alwin Childe's Migration to England:
Frankish Order of Cluny

When William the Conqueror divided his Palace of Bermondsey, he partitioned it into three parts; the larger portion was kept for his own personal use, while the lesser portion was divided between Alwin Childe and his Cluniac monastery.  Because Alwin was considered a foreign dignitary of the monarchy, William the Conqueror followed the pattern of almost all medieval kings, where they grant land from the royal demesne of the crown that has been set aside for special purposes. The portion of land that Alwin Childe received was directly situated between the royal palace and the monastery, thus indicating that he also served the role of a royal steward of the palace during his tenure at Bermondsey.

Map of Priory of St. Saviour
in Parish of Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey
By 1082, the royal palace was officially partitioned, which signified that the land could now be formally developed.  One of the first improvements that took place was transforming the side of the Thames River through lateral embankment.  Perhaps the most impressive feat was the creation of St. Saviour's dock, which was transformed from a tidal inlet at the mouth of the Neckinger River.  This new dock allowed ships to transport goods and passengers directly to the monastery, thus increasing its future value when Cluniac dignitaries visited from France.  The construction of the cathedral took seven years to complete because of its sheer size and similar proportions to the mother church at Cluny.  Although this cathedral was torn down in the early 1600s, a smaller version was built in the exact location and is still standing today.

After seven years of transforming the royal palace of Bermondsey, the Cluniac Priory of St. Saviour was officially dedicated in 1089, when the Archbishop of Canterbury transferred several monks from the daughter priory of La Charite in France.  While William the Conqueror had passed away two years earlier, his son King William II was present at its inauguration, and continued to give Cluny his support.  Although the monarchy donated the resources for building the priory, many scholars consider Alwin Childe as its founder because of his direct role in its creation.  This is evident in the choice of names that were given, as the monastery was dedicated to the Saviour, while the church was dedicated to Mary Magdalene.  It is interesting to note how Alwin Childe followed in the footsteps of his 5th and 6th great grandfathers, who also helped establish churches to the Saviour and Mary Magdalene around the Vezelay region of France during the 9th century.  Hence, the coupling of these names is another line of evidence that links the Childe lineage to the Merovingian bloodline.

Left: Cluny Dock (St. Saviour)
Right: Cluny Church (Mary Magdalene)
Because parishes within England are almost always named after their churches, the area that developed around the church of Mary Magdalene retained her name for its parish, while the royal palace preserved the original name of Bermondsey.  The popularity of the monastery during the 12th century is apparent because the Knights Templar settled all of the land on its northern boundary, referred to now as Shad Thames.  In addition, it popularity with other monarchs was evident when King Henry I granted the priory more income in 1127, along with granting a larger portion of the royal palace for the enlargement of the cloister.  The fact that several aristocrats chose to retire at the Prior of St. Saviour, including Count William of Mortain, Queen Katherine (widow of Henry V), and Queen Elizabeth (widow of Edward IV), speaks volumes about the significance of this foreign institution in England.  There is no doubt that Alwin Childe's involvement in this Frankish organization, which his ancestors started almost two centuries ago, helped shape Western Civilization.

When Alwin Childe died in 1094, it appears that King William II granted the remaining part of his manorial estate to the Priory of St. Saviour.  This transfer occurred because Alwin's deal with William the Conqueror was only to last during his lifetime, based on the fact that grants from the royal demesne of the crown were usually not hereditary.  Because Alwin Childe understood this, provisions were made for his two sons, Roger and Geoffrey, who swore a different type of loyalty to the Norman-French monarchy in England.  This new allegiance was based on a military obligation and oath of fealty to protect the king's family as Knights of the royal Guard stationed at the Palace of Bermondsey in London.

The sociopolitical system that was prevalent in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest in 1066 had many feudal elements associated with it, where most scholars today refer to it as a proto- or sub-feudal system.  While the Anglo-Saxon system consisted of several levels, it is only in the top two levels of the Ealdor and Gesith where the feudal elements of lordship existed, which in turn inhibited the long-term loyalty of the lowest military levels of the Thegn and Ceorl.
Manorial Feudal System in Norman-Angevin England:
1066-1216

One of the major factors that allowed the feudal system to emerge in Carolingian France by the close of the 9th century was the seigneur component of the lord (sire) on its lowest level.  As a result, a sire was in charge of an aprisial estate, where he acted as a military landlord by granting part of his land to fideles.  Because the Anglo-Saxon equivalent to the seigneur system of France was the manorial system, William the conqueror expanded the manor home to the knight level, thus establishing the feudal system in England by allowing knights to become landlords as well.

Within twenty years of the conquest, the manor home had been established in every village/parish in England, as opposed to only the trading hubs of districts and the Lord-protector to each village, which was complimented by the Lord-parson of the parish.

Feudal System of the Knight
as the Landlord of the Manorial Estate

Consequently, each village/parish consisted of a military leader (knight) and an ecclesiastical leader (vicar), both whom received the excess revenues of taxes (knight) and tithes (vicar) that were generated from its tenants.  This temporal and spiritual counterbalance of the knight and vicar is also prevalent on the higher levels of the feudal system, such as the earl and bishop of each shire and the king and archbishop of the country.  The Domesday Survey of 1086 reveals that the Norman-French nobility consisted of about 170 earls and barons, who acted as overlords above 4,000 knights, who served as lords of the manor of their respective villages.

After Alwin's sons served as Knights of the Royal Guard in London for seven years, they were awarded eight knights' fees from Peterborough Abbey in the shire of Northampton around 1084.  It is likely that Alwin negotiated these knights' fees with the Norman aristocracy, based on his stewardship with William the Conqueror and his familial contact with his brother-in-law, Abbot Thurold.  Although eight knights' fees did not make up a barony, Roger and Geoffrey now acted in the capacity as overlords or "petty barons" by presiding over eight knights and manors along the Nene River.

While the primary residence of Geoffrey Childe was Gunthorpe Manor, about three miles north of Peterborough, the principal seat for Roger Childe was located six miles to the northwest at Torpel Manor, which is in ruins today.  It is interesting to note that some of the early documents from Peterborough Abbey refer to Roger Childe as "Roger of Torpel," thus linking him to the name of his primary manor.  Nonetheless, there are other documents that reveal Roger Childe's alternate residences as the Royal Castle of Rockingham and Pilton/Wadenhoe Manor on the Nene River.

Left: Rockingham Castle
Right Top: Pilton Church-Manor and Wadenhoe
In addition to serving as a knight within the vicinity of Peterborough Abbey, Roger Childe continued to serve as a commander in the Royal Guard, where he was stationed at Rockingham Castle on the Welland River in Northampton.  As a result, Roger was not only a fideles of Peterborough Abbey, but also renewed his oath of fealty as a knight of the royal household of King William II.  Roger's second allegiance of military obligation to the Norman monarchy would eventually require his services when Duke Robert, the elder brother of King William II, called for his fideles in 1096 to support him in the First Crusade.  It is worth pointing out that Duke Robert was so determined to have an entourage of experienced knights from the royal army that he mortgaged the Duchy of Normandy for 10,000 marks to King William II in order to pay for his crusading entourage.

Although Roger's second allegiance to the Norman monarchy required his support in the First Crusade, it is evident that his third and fourth allegiances required his martial prowess as well.  While the Cluniac Prior of St. Saviour was being constructed at Bermondsey in the 1080s, Alwin and Roger Childe were successful in persuading Simon I de Senlis, the first Earl of Northampton, to embrace Cluniac monasticism.  By 1093, ground was officially broken and construction of the Cluniac Prior of St. Andrews had finally commenced.  Sometime during the negotiations, Roger Childe received two manors from the Earl of Northampton, which required Roger to swear a third oath of fealty as a vassal to Earl Simon I. Even though Roger was now an overlord in control of six manors, his obligation to the Earl of Northampton would soon be called upon when Earl Simon I set out for Jerusalem on the First Crusade in 1096.
Map of Childe Manors on the Nene River, Northampton
1084-1134

Roger Childe's fourth allegiance to Aubrey II de Vere, a Northampton baron, would bear similar results as his second and third allegiances.  While Alwin Childe had contacts with the baronial Vere family in London, Roger held several manors that bordered those of Baron Aubrey II in Northampton.  In particular are Pilton and Slipton manors, where Rober held several virgates of land from the Vere manors of Wadenhoe and Twywell.  As a result, when Aubrey II de Vere decided to fight in the First Crusade, he called for his entourage of knights that owed him military service.

Although Roger Childe had military obligations to Duke Robert, Earl Simon I, and Baron Aubrey II that required him to fight in the First Crusade, there is no doubt that he would have volunteered without these obligations, based on his rich military heritage.  One can only speculate about the thoughts that went through his mind as the Crusaders recited heroic poems and sung chasons de geste about his 8th and 9th great grandfathers (William de Gellone and Childehelm) who fought and drove the Muslims across the Pyrenees of France.  Thus, Roger Child was able to pledge his support to his overlords in Northampton who, in return, also pledged their support to Duke Robert of Normandy, the leader of the Norman-English contingent that made up the Princes' Crusade.

During the summer of 1096, Roger Childe joined the Princes' Crusade that was led by various nobles from Lorraine (Godfrey de Bouillon), Northern France (Robert II of Flanders), Southern France (Raymond IV of Toulouse), Norman Italy (Bohemund of Taranto), and England (Robert of Normandy).  It is interesting to note that the majority of nobles that fought in the Princes' Crusade were primarily of Frankish descent, similar to Roger Childe.  When he joined the army of 7,000 knights that set out for the Holy Land, the crusaders referred to him as Roger Infans (Childe) and Roger of Torpel.  After two years of traveling thousands of miles and fighting in the ferocious battles of Nicaea, Dorylaeum, Sozopolis, Iconium, and Caesarea, Roger witnessed the fall of Antioch by the summer of 1098.

Princes' Crusade at the Siege of Antioch
where Roger Childe fought

After the long and bloody siege of Antioch, only 1,500 knights remained when the crusaders arrived at Jerusalem the following year.  Nonetheless, the knights were persistent in their siege warfare and eventually Roger took part in the conquest of Jerusalem in July of 1099.  After Jerusalem had come under Frankish control, the remaining knights elected Godfrey of Bouillon (Lorraine) as the first ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.  Because the majority of knights who fought in the First Crusade were from the France-Belgium region, almost all of the knights of Jerusalem were of Frankish origin, which would continue for almost two hundred years under the feudal system of Western Civilization.

Fall of Jerusalem in 1099
Godfrey of Bouillon as its First Ruler

During the journey home in 1100, news reached the entourage of Duke Robert of Normandy that his brother King William II had suspiciously died, thus making him the primary claimant to the throne of England.  However, his younger brother Henry I had deviously seized the throne in his absence, forcing Duke Robert to unsuccessfully challenge the new king.  Because the returning knights had followed Duke Robert for the past five years, King Henry was clearly suspicious of them, thus hindering a laudable and heroic reception.  When the crusaders reentered the country, they swore new oaths of fealty to King Henry I, which included Earl Simon I, Baron Aubrey II, and Baron Roger I.  Thus, Roger Childe renewed his stewardship of the Royal Castle of Rockingham and returned back to his family and manors in Northampton.

Although Roger Childe fought valiantly in the First Crusade, the unfortunate predicament in England limited the honors that should have been bestowed upon the crusaders, thus relegating him to a minor baron in the feudal system of England.  However, his experience serving in the Royal Guard of London and Rockingham, along with his encounters in the First Crusade, provided him with symbolic icons that he would pass down to his descendants for many centuries to follow. 

Above: 1066 Arms of Bayeux Tapestry
Right: 1128 Arms of Geoffrey V

While many knights covered their faces with helmets when they fought in the First Crusade, their armor made it difficult to differentiate between the various noble lineages.  For this reason, knights distinguished themselves by placing symbols on their shields that were prevalent in their hometowns or bloodlines.  Although the Bayeux tapestry reveals that the Norman-French nobility started this process when they conquered England in 1066, there is no direct evidence that these symbols were directly passed down to subsequent descendants.  Nonetheless, medieval documents reveal that various lineages that fought in the First Crusade started bequeathing these symbols to their descendants as de facto hereditary possession, thus introducing coats of arms into the feudal system.  Because the recording of coats of arms is so widespread during the early 12th century in France, England, Italy, Germany, and Spain, there is no doubt that the First Crusade solidified this practice. 

Childe Coat of Arms
Merovingian Link from the Roman Legion Eagle

After Roger Chile returned from the First Crusade, the primary symbol that his descendants used on their coat of arms was the silver eagle.  The history of the Childe bloodline confirms the use of this symbol from the beginning of the Merovingian dynasty, which indicates that Roger did not just randomly pick this icon during the First Crusade.  When Attila the Hun invaded the northern region of the Roman Empire in 451, Roger Childe's 20th great grandfather, Childeric I, led the Franks into war using the symbol of the eagle, which was the battle standard of the Roman Legion.  After his astounding victory, the Roman eagle was forever linked to Childeric I, where it was adopted as the primary icon that embodied the Merovingian kingdom.

It is interesting to note that when the tomb of Childeric I was discovered in 1653 in Tournai, many artifacts were discovered in the form of stylized eagles.  It is apparent that Napoleon understood the symbolism of the rising eagle, as he changed his coat of arms to this ancient symbol in order to connect with the past Merovingian dynasty.  In addition, it appears that Napoleon was deliberately trying to defy the Vatican by linking himself to the Merovingian heirs of France, due to the fact that he had sewn on his coronation robe 300 gold bees that were recovered from the tomb of Childeric I.

Another symbolic link that ties the Childe coat of arms to the Merovingian dynasty is the red color of the shield.  When Childeric I adopted the eagle symbol of the Roman Legion, he also adopted their primary color of red, which was represented in his burial found in 1653 with red shield/uniform of a Roman officer.  As a result, the red symbolism of the Roman Empire came to represent the Merovingian dynasty.  On the other hand, early depictions of Charlemagne indicate that the Carolingian dynasty was symbolized by a black eagle on a gold shield, which represented the Holy Roman Empire.  Although these medieval paintings depict the transition between the eagle and the fleur-de-lis insignia of France, the fleur-de-lis on the blue shield was primarily a symbol of the Capetian dynasty that followed.

Map of Childe Arms
deriving from the Macon Region (Cluny) of France

Another factor that links the Childe coat of arms to the Merovingian dynasty is the distribution of eagles on coats of arms that are first recorded during the 12th century.  While the double-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, which symbolizes the two powers of the regime - the Emperor and the Pope, is portrayed on gold shields throughout Germany and Italy, the single-headed eagle on red shields clearly derives from the Burgundy region of France.  It is not a coincidence that the Merovingian eagle first appears in the region where the descendants of Robert Childe's 10th great grandfather, Count Theoderic I of Autun (782-804), initially settled.  In addition, the distribution of eagles on coats of arms appears primarily in continental Europe, where only three can be found in the armorial rolls of England during the 12th and 13th centuries, thus revealing a non-Anglo origin for the Childe coat of arms.

Childe Coat of Arms
Cluniac Influence from Macon-Burgundy France

While the use of the rising eagle on the Childe coat of arms can be traced back to the Merovingian bloodline, the Cluniac influences can be traced to this lineage as well.  The first link is the Le Puy region in the Central Massif Mountains of Auvergne where Roger Childe's grandfather, Alwin Childegaire, served as the Provost of Le Puy Cathedral before moving to Cluniac headquarters in the county of Macon.  Although the color of the shield is not the same, this was clearly not the case with the second link to the Macon region, where Roger Childe's father, Alwin Childe, lived before he migrated to England in 1077.  It is interesting to point out the acquaintances of Roger Childe during the First Crusade, where he aligned himself with his father's associates from the Cluniac region, primarily the Counts of Macon, Burgundy, and Joigny.  Although Count Stephen I and Count Renaud II died during the First Crusade, their descendants continued to use the single-headed silver eagle on a red shield.  Hence, whether the symbol of the silver eagle is traced back to Childeric I or link directly to the Cluniac region where the Merovingian bloodline descended, a clear line of Frankish influence can be laid out for the Childe coat of arms in England.

The other symbol that is used on the Childe coat of arms is a chevron (^) covered with ermine fur.  Because the chevron is one of the earliest symbols that shaped heraldry, it is represented today on the uniforms of almost every military in Western Civilization.  The etymology of the word chevron points to at least three Frankish meanings.  The First is chevre, signifying a "rafter" in Old French, which was an early form of a manor house.  The second is when an "l" is added at the end, thus making the word chevrel, which was Old French for "child or suckling."  The third is cheval, which is the word for "horse" and the root for the Old French word for knight as chevalier.  Because all of the Middle English words of caval, cavalry, and chivalry stem from the preceding Old French words, they carry the same meaning.  Therefore, the chevron was one of the earliest symbols that represented a young knight that came from a manor house.

Although the chevron symbolized an early type of knight's household, almost none of the chevrons on coats of arms were covered with ermine fur.  This type of fur was preferred by kings because of its rarity and was used by the nobility on coronation robes to symbolize royalty.  As a result, chevrons were covered with ermine fur to represent a knight of the royal household, such as Henry de Beaumont.
Symbolic Meaning of the Ermine Chevron
of the Childe Coat of Arms

The evolution of the symbols used on the coats of arms of the Earls of Surrey and Warwick reveal a link to the royal palace.  The basic pattern of their coats of arms is a blue-gold checkerboard from the Vermondois household of Normandy after the Conquest of 1066.  As more Earldoms were created in England, the Vermondois checkerboard pattern was passed down through intermarriage, with the Earls of Surrey and Warwick eventually sharing the same coat of arms during the 12th century, The era when these coats of arms diverged occurred when Henry de Beaumont, the 5th Earl of Warwick, served in the royal palace of King John in the early 13th century.  Because Henry served in the king's court as a commander in the royal army, he was allowed to add the ermine chevron to his checkerboard coat of arms, which passed down to the subsequent Earls of Warwick to the present day.  Thus, the ermine chevron of the Childe coat of arms was added because Roger Childe served as a commander in the Norman-French army at the royal palace of Bermondsey and the royal castle of Rockingham.

Childe Coat of Arms
at Blockley Parish Church, Gloucester, England

The following offer a visual detail of the Childe coat of arms that explains its royal quartering with the Frankish symbol of the Fleur-de-lis.

Child Coat of Arms bearing Royal Frankish Icons
Eagle and Fleur-de-Lis


Legend Explaining the Royal Characteristics
of the Child Coat of Arms

While the appearance of coats of arms was established during the First Crusage, the use of surnames was another practice that initially occurred during the end of the 11th century.  When the Norman-French nobility conquered England in 1066, early records reveal that the chroniclers differentiated between the various names of the aristocrats by recording their nicknames or where they were from.  Although it was common for people to have titles and origin labels, what made the Norman-French practice different was the bequeathal of those names to their descendants, which was not passed down before.  As a result, for a name to be considered a surname, it has to be a de facto hereditary name that was passed down from the preceding ancestor. 
Childe Surname as a Title
translated as Young King (War Protector)
To understand the Childe surname, it is relevant to first expound upon the five different types of surnames.  The first type of surname is a title name, which usually refers to some kind of status that the ancestor held.  These surnames consist of titles such as Palmer, Mund, Mann, Freeman, Franklin, etc.  The surname Childe stems from this category, where the Frankish meaning of this title signifies young king or war protector.  The second type of surname is a patronymic name, which involves the first name of the ancestor's father.  These surnames generally contain a linguistic marker that reveals the "son of" such as Anderson, McKinley, O'Brien, ap Gwynned, FitzGerald, etc.  The third type of surname is a locality name, which represents the place where the ancetors originated.  These surnames sometimes include a linguistic marker that expresses the word "from" or "near" such as De Walt, VanKampen, Ten Broeck, VanderBosch, etc.  The fourth type of surname is an occupational name, which reflects the ancestor's trade.  These surnames are usually self-explanatory, such as Smith, Miller, Taylor, Barber, etc.  The fifth type of surname is a nickname, which usually arise from human ingenuity within a close community, such as Hardy, Tallman, Russell, Kennedy, etc.
Childe Surname descending
from the Merovingian Warrior-King Title

If we are to understand how the Child family descends from the Merovingians, it is crucial to unveil how the Frankish title of "Childe" became a surname over time.  Early documents reveal that there were at least two diverging tracks, where the first branch developed into a surname in England, while the second branch evolved into a title that was non-hereditary.  After the Merovingian dynasty used the Childe name in France, it was never used again as a king title after 751.  However, there were a few descendants within the Carolingian-Capetian nobility who continued to use the Childe title as a non-hereditary repetitious name.  This practice was carried out until the reign of King William I when titles were passed down as de facto hereditary surnames.  Alwin Childegaire was one of the last to use the Childe title as a non-hereditary repetitious name, which is Frankish ancestors used for more than 600 years.
Spelling Variations in Recording
Frankish Childe as a Germanic Name



Latin Substitution of Infans in Recording
Frankish Childe as a Surname

The fact that Alwin Childegaire used both of his names interchangeably indicates that neither was used as a surname in France.  However, the dual nature of his name benefited his son Alwin when he migrated to England in 1077, as the chroniclers used the shortened form of Childe for the first time as a surname.  These chroniclers also translated the Childe surname in Latin = Infans and French = L'enfant.  Because Childe is a title name, chroniclers usually prefixed this surname with the word "the = le" until the 1363 Edict that eliminated this linguistic marker.
Devolutionary Stages of the Frankish Title of Childe
after 751

While the meaning of Childe signified a war protector during the Merovingian dynasty, it is at the 751 juncture where the Childe title split into two branches.  As a result, the Childe name devolved to an additional title during the Carolingian dynasty to signify a prince.  Examples of this can be found with the sons of Carolingian kings, such as Charles le Childe and Louis le Childe.  In addition, Frankish chroniclers referred to their god as Christ le Childe, based on his hereditary right to rule.  After the meaning of Childe devolved from a king to a prince, this title would devolve once again from a prince to a first knight.  Because princes were usually in charge of cavalry in the royal army, many were considered first knights, such as Childe Lancelot and Childe Roland.  Thus, between 751-1066, the meaning of the secondary Frankish title of Childe had devolved from a king, to a prince, and then to a first knight.
Devolutionary Stages of the Childe Title in England
after 1066

The 150-year time period between 1066-1216 was the era when the Frankish bloodline migrated into England on a massive scale, thus transporting Frankish elements including the Childe title.  This transitory period brought about the fourth devolution of the meaning of Childe from a first knight to a first sergeant in charge of the infantry.  Early records reveal that first sergeants were still considered heirs, whereby some used the title Infant (Latin) or Childe (Germanic), from which the warfare terms and concepts of Infantry (Latin) and Schiltrom (Germanic) are derived.  By the 13th century, the concept of knighthood had expanded so rapidly that it led to the devolution of the meaning of Childe for the fifth time.  After a youth had become proficient in the infantry, those selected to learn the skills of the cavalry used the Childe title if they were of noble birth.  As a result, a Childe signified a noble squire, who was a pupil learning the skills of knighthood, thus creating the stage of Childehood.  This stage led to the sixth devolution of the notion of Childe around the close of the 14th century, which retained its meaning to the present.  The fact that many royal blood descendants were learning the skills of knighthood at an early age, the term Childe became synonymous with any youth-heir of gentle-noble birth.  As a result, when many of the class structures started crumbling at the end of the Middle Ages, the Childe stage was eventually applied to all classes and genders, thus bringing about the modern-day concept of Children.

Although the meaning of Childe had devolved over a 600-year period in six different phases, its different connotations had no affect on the surname of Childe.  Thus far, there is no evidence that the use of the Childe name as a secondary title ever evolved as a de facto hereditary surname.  This signifies that all of the princes, knights, sergeants, and squires who used the Childe name as an additional title in any time period, did not pass it down as a surname.  If this were the case, one should expect to find hundreds of differing versions of Childe coats of arms based on the variation of symbols that different families have used over time.  But this is not the case because almost every person who has used the Childe title as a surname in England bears the same coat of arms of silver eagles and ermine chevron on a red shield, which can all be traced back to Roger Childe.

It is fascinating to point out that all of the individuals who have used the Childe surname in England derive from the Frankish migration of Alwin Childe in 1077.  The fact that the Childe name never made it as a surname in France indicates that the Franks never consider this secondary title as a surname.  In addition, because the earliest coats of arms of Childe descendants in the three migratory bases of London, Shrewsbury, and Salisbury can all be traced back to Roger Childe's familial base in Peterborough, this points to a single origin for the Childe surname.  Hence, Childe as a primary title evolved into a surname in England, while Childe as a secondary title devolved over 600 years from a war-protecting king to the universal concept of children.

Map of Childe Descendants Migrating within England
1077-1377

The Childe surname and coat of arms were not the only honors that Roger Childe passed down to his descendants as a result of the First Crusade.  While Roger's eldest son, Robert, received the Childe Barony as his hereditary right, provisions were made for his other children through the honors that the Norman monarchy provided for the returning crusaders.  After King Henry I made Roger's daughter Ela a maiden in his royal court at Winchester, he chose Roger's youngest son, Aluin, to serve as a knight in his royal guard.  This knight's fee became part of the Childe Barony as Roger's 2nd great grandson Roger IV successfully claimed it in 1223 from the Earl of Winchester.

This barony was then passed down to Robert Childe's eldest son Roger II, who had married into the Beauchamp family of Bedford.  This baronial intermarriage opened the door for Roger II's youngest son William to become a knight in the Beauchamp Barony in 1170.  As a result, William became the progenitor of the Childe family in Bedford, where at least five generations of Childe knights served as Lords of the Manor of Sharnbrook and Stanford.  Although these were the two primary manor homes for the Childe family in Bedford, there were other manors that were not documented, based on early records (1236) of Childe knights donating land for "a pair of spurs yearly."


Map of Childe Migrations from Torpel, Peterborough
1084-1334

During the 1170s-1180s, the Childe Barony was held in custodial chief because the eldest son of Roger II died around the young age of thirty.  Although Roger III passed away early, he had married into the baronial Quincy family, where his wife Ascelina was a partial heiress to the Peverel Barony of Bourn.  While Ascelina endured the minority of her eldest son Roger IV, she made provisions for her other two sons to serve as knights in the Peverel Barony.  As a result, Ascelina's youngest sons Aubrey and William became the progenitors of the Childe family in the shires of Cambridge and Leicester, where at least five generations of Childe knights served as Lords of the Manor of Billesdon, and three generations in Stow-Fulbourn.

After the minority of Roger IV, he paid the king a relief and received livery for the Childe Barony, which had already quadrupled to almost 30 knights' fees since its original inception through intermarriage and fealty.  After his son Roger V had inherited the Childe Barony, he died at the young age of twenty-four, thus leaving behind two small children.  Because the next heir Roger VI died in his youth, his daughter Ascelina became the heiress to the Childe Barony.  When she married Baron Ralph II de Camoys in the late 1240s, the Childe Barony became part of the Camoys Barony of Flockthorpe.  Hence, the Child Barony came to an end after seven generations, and would wait nearly 400 years until one of its cadet branches would rise as a barony once again.

After a long civil war during the 1140s, Queen Matilda abandoned her cause and returned to France in 1148.  However, her son Henry Plantagenet soon renewed her fight as the rival claimant to the throne of England after he inherited three important domains, which made him a larger landholder than the Capetian Kings of France.  The first acquisition occurred in 1150, when Henry Plantagenet acquired the Duchy of Normandy, which was conquered by his father six years earlier.  The second transpired the following year after  Duke Henry inherited the counties around Anjou on the Loire River, which were administered by his father, Geoffrey Plantagenet.  Duke Henry's third and largest acquisition came about in 1152, after he married an heiress, Eleanor of Aquitaine, which brought him the largest and wealthiest Duchy in France.

Map of Frankish Migrations to Angevin England
between 1154-1216

By the time that King Stephen died without an heir in 1154, Duke Henry had convinced the Norman barons to recognize him as the new King of England.  As a result, King Henry II had inherited four major domains within the short period of five years.  This vast realm is referred to as the Angevin Empire, because it was administered from the county of Anjou in France.  After King Henry II was officially crowned at Westminster Abbey on December 19, 1154, he held a great council during Christmas, where he spoke to his Norman barons at the Cluniac Priory of St. Saviour (Bermondsey).  It is interesting to note that King Henry II chose to address his subjects at the cathedral of Mary Magdalene that was founded by Alwin Childe sixty-five years earlier.

Although a practical reason for King Henry II's choice was based on the fact that Cluniac Bermondsey was the only place in London that was sufficiently large enough to accommodate for so many people, a symbolic reason could be based on his family's possible connection to the Merovingian bloodline.  This connection is a pattern that was established by the Childe family in the 9th century, as they helped erect churches dedicated to the Savior and Mary Magdalene around the Vezelay region of France.  It is not a coincidence that King Henry II's son, Richard the Lionheart, chose the Basilica of Mary Magdalene in Vezelay as the official meeting place for the crusading knights before embarking on the Third Crusade in 1189.

While the Frankish House of Anjou can be traced back to the 9th century in the Loire River Valley, their genealogical link to the Merovingian dynasty is still uncertain.  However, the meaning of the Plantagenet name that was associated with King Henry II's father, Geoffrey of Anjou, has an interesting connection to the Childe family surname.  Dr. John Plant of Keele University, England, has shown that the Welsh and Latin translations of Planta have linquistic connotations with the word Childe, along with the word Genet, which signifies Chivalrous.  Hence, the Plantagenet dynasty that ruled for 331 years in England may have a Frankish link to the Merovingians as well, based on the meaning of their surname as "Chivalrous Childe."

Map of Frankish Exodus
after King John lost Angevin Lands in France

The 17-year reign of Henry II's son, King John (1199-1216), was the most crucial era that defined the sociopolitical boundaries of modern-day England and France.  Because the Angevin Empire was a renewed threat to the Holy Romany Empire, a secret combination was devised between the King of France, Phillip II, and Pope Innocent III, whereby the Holy Roman Empire provided mercenary soldiers to help conquer Angevin lands.  After western France was subdued between 1200-1209, thus producing more papal lands for the Holy Roman Empire, Pope Innocent III anointed King Phillip II with the "Augustus" title.  Because the "Holy Roman Emperor" title was revived by the secret combination of the Carolingians, Pope Innocent III followed his 8th century predecessors by reviving another title from the Roman Empire.  By 1209, the lingering Angevin loyalists in southern France were too entrenched for King Phillip II's army to subdue.  As a result, Pope Innocent III declared an official crusade against these "Christian Heretics," where the command was to "Kill them all!  Kill all of them!  God will know his own!"  It is interesting to note that the Albigensian Crusade was the only one carried out by the Holy Roman Empire against Christians.  By 1216, hundreds of thousands of descendants of the Merovingian bloodline had been massacred or had fled into England and Spain for safety.  Hence, the Plantagenet Kings had lost almost all of their lands in France, where Gascony became the last outpost, which became the primary cause of the Hundred Years War between France and England.
Feudalism in Plantagenet England
after King John signed Magna Carta

 The fact that King John had been excommunicated by Pope Innocent III and lost the majority of Angevin lands in France, made him unpopular with his Norman barons.  As a result, the Norman barons forced King John to sign a document called Magna Carta in 1215, which drastically limited the power of the king and his royal officials (sheriffs of shires // provosts of boroughs).  One of the primary effects of Magna Carta was the separation of the knightly class from the greater nobility of earls and barons.  Although many knights were of royal and noble birthright, only half of them were militarily active, which signified that some were living in manor homes through de facto hereditary possession without complying with the oaths of fealty that their ancestors had previously sworn.

The unique relationship that the Childe family had with the Vere family would continue to bear fruits.  In 1166, King Henry II sent his primary Royal Justiciar (Richard de Lucy) and Earl of Essex (Geoffrey de Mandeville) to seventeen shires throughout England to enforce the Assize of Clarendon.  This assize consisted of enforcing the king's representatives, to carry out their royal duty without supervision.  The result of their 1166 visitation consisted of replacing twenty out of twenty-six sheriffs in the subsequent four years, along with many new provosts.  Consequently, King Henry II appointed Earl Aubrey's brother, Geoffrey de Vere, as the new Sheriff of Shropshire in 1067, which would soon benefit his childhood friend, William Childe.

Map of Shrewsbury in Shropshire
Provost's Court of William Childe

Because the primary seat of Shropshire was the borough of Shrewsbury, the provost position was one of the most important royal offices to fill, in that it served as the gateway to the hostile land of Wales, which had yet to be subjugated.  This meant that the provost of Shrewsbury was one of the most trusted positions of the king, because of its required duties to command the royal army in this hostile frontier, along with presiding as a governor-judge of the royal court, and officiating as a mayor of the borough who collected taxes of the royal revenues.  As a result, King Henry II chose William Childe to serve as the Provost of Shrewsbury in 1170, which was primarily based on his military experience supporting the king's mother, Queen Matilda, in the civil war of the 1140s.  It is most likely that Sheriff Geoffrey de Vere recommended William Childe's name to King Henry II based on the long history of loyalty that the Childe family rendered to the Vere family.  In addition, because the provost position also managed the Royal Castle of Shrewsbury, William Childe was a primary candidate based his ancestral history of four generations that had experience maintaining the Palace of Bermondsey, the Royal Castle of Rockingham, and Hedingham Castle.

The relationship that William Childe had with the Vere family also benefited his three sons:  Robert, William, and Roger.  When William moved to Shrewsbury around 1170, he left his eldest son Robert, and grandson Baldwin, behind in Essex, where they continued to serve Earl Aubrey III de Vere in Hedingham Castle during the latter half of the 12th century.  William Childe's second son, William Jr., followed him and Sheriff Geoffrey de Vere to Shropshire, where he and his sons and grandsons became the Provosts of Shrewsbury, while worshipping at St. Mary's Cathedral.

Shrewsbury Castle: Shropshire, England
Right: St. Mary's Cathedral

William Childe's youngest son, Roger Infans de Hereford, went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Earl Aubrey's brother, Bishop William de Vere, where he studied the astronomical arts of the Middle East.  Roger's publications were so innovative for their time that he was commissioned to cast an astronomical table for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of King Henry II.  the reputation of Roger Infans (Childe) in King Henry II's court had grown to such proportions that he was appointed as a royal justice in 1185 with William de Vere, who became the Bishop of Hereford the following year.  Hence, the four generations that descended from Alwin Childe benefited from their relationship with the Vere family during the Norman-Angevin period (1066-1216).

When William Childe became the Provost of Shrewsbury around 1170, the position was a royal office appointed directly by the king.  However, the regal nature of this office had changed by 1199, when King John granted a royal charter to the free citizens (burgesses) of Shrewsbury, thus transforming the administrative status of the town to a self-governing borough (bury) free from the control of a shire reeve (sheriff).  The provost office was no longer an appointed long-term position, but rather was a shared office that was elected annually by the free citizens of the borough.  As a result, two provosts were elected each year to represent Shrewsbury, where their duties mirrored the dual office of the Mayor-Alderman of centers, such as London and Winchester.

It is apparent that the provost appointment of William Childe established the standing of the Childe family in Shrewsury, based on the fact that his son William Jr. was the first provost elected in 1199.  Within a few years, his sons Robert and Warin Childe were both elected to provost office in Shrewsbury, along with several of their descendants as well.  Hence, for almost 200 years, the Childe family served as provosts and knights within the borough of Shrewsbury.

While the laws of primogeniture favored firstborn sons, through inheriting their father's honors (land and titles), second and third born sons had to find their own way in the world through limited options.  In terms of the knightly class, non-primogeniture sons were considered Franklins (freeman) who pursued a trade in commerce under the burgess privileges of the borough.  If they wanted to administer a manor, they would have to marry an heiress of a knightly family or find a baron who was in need of a knight.  This was clearly the case with William Childe's fealty to the Vere family, where he left his baronial home in Northampton to be a knight in Essex, only to leave once again to be a provost in Shropshire.  After a few generations, William had several non-primogenitor descendants that followed suit, such as his great grandson Thomas, who established the Childe family in Stafford.  It is interesting to note how the Childe family lost manors as well by not producing male heirs, which was the case with the Baudewyns inheriting Munslow and Diddlebury manors through Childe heiresses.
Map of Childe Descendants Migrating from Shrewsbury
13th Century
While the Childe Provosts of Shrewsbury were a senior cadet line that had branched off the Childe Barons of Northampton, these provosts produced junior cadet lines as well.  One of these branches stemmed from William Childe, whose brothers Robert and Warin both served as provosts.  Because his brothers administered the manors around Castlegate and Castle Forgate in Shrewsbury, other arrangements were made for William that required him to leave and start over.  The baronial connections that the Childe family had with the Beauchamp family in Bedford benefited William Childe because a branch of Beauchamp Barons was established in Worcester as well.  Hence, around 1190, William Childe traveled thirty miles south to Eastham parish, where he became the progenitor of the Childe family in Worcestershire.

Map of Childe Manor in Eastham Parish, Worcester
13th Century

When William Childe arrived in Eastham as a knight under the Beauchamp Barony of Elmley Castle, the manor home was divided into a moiety, which signified that this parish consisted of two knightly households.  William's moiety comprised the lands in the southern portion of Eastham, which was called Childe Manor after his surname.  It is likely that the old estate of Childegrove farm was his original manor home, based on its moated enclosures, which was a characteristic during the Norman-Angevin period.  The name Hanley was attached to Childe Manor during the latter half of the 13th century, when Eastham was divided once again.  It appears that a knight named William, from the baronial family of Hanley Castle (near Elmley Castle) administered the other estate.  Hence, by the end of the 13th century, the two manor homes in the southern portion of Eastham were called Hanley Childe and Hanley William.


Above: St. Michaels and Childe Manors
Below: Map of Hanley Child

When William Childe became a knight under the Beauchamp Barony of Elmley, Baron Walter II knew he could trust him because their grandfathers had fought alongside each other in the civil war of the 1140s.  As a result, while William Childe's eldest son, Henry, inherited his father's honors of knighthood and Childe Manor, his second son, John, who lacked an inheritance, was taken in by Baron Walter II as a knight of his household.  The parish-manor where John le Childe was stationed was located about five miles east of Elmley Castle, which retained his surname as Childe's Wickham.  Hence, there were two manor homes in Worceter that retained the Childe surname, where both manors had at least four generations of Childe knights that served the baronial Beauchamp family.

Because the honors of the feudal system were dependant on producing male heirs, the Beauchamp family benefited from this when Baron William III married an heiress from the Earldom of Warwick.  By 1268, his son became known as Earl William I, which eventually produced more opportunities for the Childe family.  One of these opportunities came from Earl William's younger brother, Walter, who now controlled Beauchamp Court at Powick.  About this same time, Henry le Childe of Eastham sent his youngest son Henry to serve the Beauchamp family in Powick, who brought forth several generations of Childe descendants at Beauchamp Court and Kemsey.


Map of Childe Migrations in Worcester and Gloucester
1190-1340
Another opportunity came for John le Childe's descendants at Childe's Wickham, who eventually moved to the parishes of Grafton and Bricklehampton, located at the base of the hill of Elmley Castle.  Because the Childe family served as household knights under the Beauchamp Barony of Elmley, John le Childe's great grandson, Walter, served as a bodyguard to Guy Beauchamp, the 10th Earl of Warwick.  Walter le Childe was present at Pirton when Earl Beauchamp died in 1315, where he gave an oath as a witness to his death.

After the Childe knights served the Beauchamp family for more than 150 years in Worcester, it appears that the days of knighthood for the Childe family would finallty come to a close.  Three hundred years would pass until this Childe lineage would become knights once again.  While five generations of knights stemmed from Childe Manor in Eastham, it is evident that the last knight, Richard le Childe, did nothing to lose this honor, but rather was a circumstance of the feudal system during this time period.  Although Richard le Childe produced plenty of male heirs, specific laws were passed by Parliament in the 14th century that affected the households of many knights.
Change in the Feudal System in Plantagenet England
in the Gentry Class

 It is interesting to note that the majority of changes in the feudal system of England have always revolved around the knightly class.  While the first change occurred during the Norman-Angevin period (1066-1216), where knights were included in the baronage as landlords in the manorial system, the second change transpired during the Early Plantagenet period (1216-1307), where knights were excluded from the Nobility class of the greater baronage.  The signing of the Magna Carta helped to solidify this process, along with Parliament separating the House of Lords from the House of Commons.  The third change took place during the Late Plantagenet period (1307-1399), where a monetary value was placed on the knightly class, which doubled the minimum land holdings from ten hides to twenty hides.

By the mid-14th century, a new esquire class was created that filled the gap of the previous monetary value of ten hides.  As a result, many hereditary knights who lived in manor homes with 300-600 acres, were now considered by parliamentary default as hereditary esquires.  Because these new esquires were previously knights, Parliament could not exclude the esquire class from bearing the coats of arms of their ancestors.  The Franklin underclass remained in its previous state of not bearing arms and kept its status in the lesser baronage of the Gentry class as freeman (burgesses) of noble birth.  Hence, there were many hereditary knights whose financial situation never changed, but rather the political circumstances around them relegated their honors to a lesser degree.

The devolution of the knightly class was one of the major factors that led to the decline of the feudal system in England at the close of the Middle Ages.  The nobility had forgotten that knights, rather than earls and barons, were the backbone of the feudal system.  What made the feudal system so successful during the Norman-Angevin period was the fact that knights, who were now landlords in every parish, were considered part of the nobility.  When the earls and barons separated themselves from the knightly class by excluding them from the nobility, this brought about a level of disparity that hindered loyalty and ultimately brought about the death of chivalry.  Because the majority of manor homes throughout England were now administered by esquires, who were previously knights, many opted to pay a scutlage (fine), rather than fight for their overlords.
Esquires and Gentlemen as New Classes in England
14th and 15th Centuries

 Another factor that brought about the decline of the feudal system in England was the wholesale liquidation of the honors that feudalism was essentially built upon.  During the Lancaster-York period (1400-1485), honors were no longer based upon martial prowess and chivalry, but rather were defined by financial status and economic factors.  Coats of arms were no longer based solely on hereditary legacy passed down through ancestral right, but now could be purchased for a price from the king.  Consequently, the nobility crippled themselves by severing the backbone of their knights and selling out the honors that defined their greatness, which ultimately led to a civil war between the Nobility and Gentry classes during the 17th century.

Map of Childe's Wickham and Northwick Park, Gloucester
14th Century

The change in the minimal land holdings for knights during the 14th century affected the descendants of Richard le Childe, who were now part of the esquire class.  Around 1340, Richard moved his family from Hanley Childe in Eastham Parish to Northwick Park, which was part of Blockley Parish near the Worcester-Gloucester border.  A century earlier, the manor of Northwick Park had been divided into a moiety, where the two parts were controlled by the Crisetot and Clipstone families.  Because Richard le Childe's grandson, John, had married a Clipstone heiress, it is most likely that he acquired the Crisetot moiety in hopes of joining the two sides together.

When Richard le Childe died in 1348, the Childe Manor at Eastham was absorbed back into the Beauchamp Barony of Elmley, whereby the early records reveal that John de Beauchamp moved to Hanley Childe that same year.  It is interesting to note that the overlord of Northwick Park was not the Beauchamp family, but rather the Bishop of Worcester, who had his personal episcopal manor in Blockley.  Hence, after Childe knights had served the Beauchamp family for more than 150 years, a new chapter began with the Childe esquires of Northwick Park, where the Bishops of Worcester were now their overlords.
Map of Northwick Park Manor
within Blockley Parish, Gloucester

After the death of Richard le Chile, it appears that his eldest son William inherited his father's half of the manor of Northwick Park, which consisted of the Crisetot moiety.  Although William Childe produced several male heirs that were of sufficient age to receive an inheritance, his half of Northwick Manor passed to his brother Thomas upon his death in 1353.  While Thomas Childe presided in his half of the manor home for the next thirty years, his eldest son John married the only daughter and heiress of the Clipstone moiety, that controlled the other half of Northwick Park.  As a result, when Thomas died in 1383, his son John Childe joined his late father's half of the manor with  his wife's moiety to become the sole tenant of Northwick Park, thus starting three centuries of Childe esquires. 

Childe Esquires at Northwick Park Manor, Gloucester
1340-1683

Childe Esquires as Lords of the Manor
of Northwick Park, Gloucester
When John Childe died in 1426, the manor passed to his eldest son Thomas, who became the official Escheator of Worcestershire for King Henry VI.  The duties of the king's escheator made Thomas Childe responsible for auditing the property rights of the Crown in Worcester, which became a source of revenue for the monarchy.  In addition, Thomas also became the official Armiger of Worcester, where he worked with the heralds regulating the emblems used on coats of arms that distinguished one's feudal pre-eminence.  Early documents reveal that Thomas Childe was considered the "most worthy bearer of arms in Worchestershie" during this time period.  There is no doubt that the armigerous status of Thomas came from his direct patrilineal line of Childe esquires, knights, provost, and barons, who used similar coats of arms for twelve generations.

350 Years of Childe Esquires
Manor of Northwick Park, Gloucester

After Thomas Childe passed away in 1440, the manor of Northwick Park passed to his eldest son Edmund.  Although firstborn sons usually inherited their father's honors, probate wills during this time period indicate that many second and third born sons received a monetary inheritance that was sometimes sufficient to purchase an estate of 150 acres.  As a result, non-primogenitor sons coming from a manor home of esquires were considered "gentlemen" in the old Franklin class, where several options could be pursued.  If a gentleman wanted to enjoy the revenue of a manor home, he would have to marry an heiress of an esquire, which was the case of Thomas Childe's younger brother William, who acquired Wrington Manor in Somerset.  Otherwise, a gentleman could enjoy the fruits of an estate (not a manor), which was the case with Edmund's younger brother Henry, who established an estate twenty miles to the east in Adderbury, Oxford.  It is interesting to note that the settlement pattern of non-primogenitor sons was never within the same parish, and oftentimes occurred in a different shire.  There were many unwritten rules of inheritance that required non-primogenitor sons to leave the parish, in order to alleviate possible feuds arising from siblings or distant cousins.

Another option for non-primogenitor sons coming from a manor home was to enter the ministry and become a priest.  This option was a path that somewhat equalized non-primogenitor sons with their elder brothers, by putting them in a league that was the ecclesiastical counterpart to an esquire or knight.  Because every parish contained a military leader (esquire-knight) and an ecclesiastical leader (vicar-rector), the military manor received the excess revenues as taxes, while the ecclesiastical manor generated its revenues as tithes.  As a result, non-primogenitor sons who entered the ministry usually enjoyed the comforts of a manor home during their lifetimes, with the exception of hereditary possession.  During the 14th and 15th centuries, there were at least three non-primogenitor sons tho entered the ministry that can be linked to the manor of Northwick Park.  All three of these Childe parsons studied at Oxford University, where after acquiring their Masters degree in theology, they became rectors of the parish churches where they were assigned.

The only anomaly of the three Childe parsons appears with John's younger brother, Lawrence Childe, who became a bishop in the latter years of his life in the Asaph Dioces of Wales.  Although other parsons from this Childe lineage had become bishops in the past, these instances occurred under aristocratic circumstances in France during the 9th and 10th centuries from a noble house of counts and viscounts.  The fact that Lawrence was the only Childe to become a bishop in England is astounding because of his connection to the Gentry class, where nearly all of these appointments occurred from the nobility of baronial families.  It is likely that Pope Urban VI confirmed Lawrence Childe's appointment as a bishop because he was able to prove his noble heritage from the Childe Barony just two centuries earlier.
Blockley Church
where Childe Esquires of Northwick Park worshipped

The Childe esquires of Northwick Park traveled one mile south to worship at the parish church in Blockley.  The dynamics of the patrons who attended services on Sunday were diverse, based on the fact that the Bishop of Worcester and all his dignitaries would have attended services when they stayed at the episcopal manor in Blockley.  There are several monuments dedicated to the Childe esquires that were erected in the nave of the church, which are still preserved to this day.  Some of these monuments portray the family coat of arms that the Childe esquires used during the 16th and 17th centuries, which was a practice that can be found in almost every parish church during this time period.

Childe Monuments in Blockley Church
Link of the Esquire and Parson

When the Childe family acquired the manor of Northwick Park in the 1340s, the Bishop of Worcester held it in chief for part of the knight's fee.  However, sometime during the 15th century, the Childe esquires must have compensated the Bishop of Worcester to grant free warren on the manor, which gave them the freedom to grant, sell, or dispose of the property how they saw fit.  As a result, William Childe sold the manor of Northwick Park to his brother-in-law Thomas Hunckes in 1530, where he then moved the Childe family to Pensax, Worcester.

The reason William Childe sold the manor of Northwick Park remains a mystery, but it may not be a coincidence that the manor of Pensax was located only four miles from Hanley Childe, on the eastern outskirts of Eastham Parish.  It is probable that William Childe was trying to reconnect with his ancestral roots within the region, or perhaps he was trying to make enough money to set up his three sons.  There is no doubt that the manor of Northwick Park was more valuable and politically significant than the manor of Pensax.  While William's two eldest sons Richard and John became esquires through the acquisition of manors in Kidderminster and Enstone, his youngest son William became the friend and agent of William Sheldon of Beoley, who had received royal revenues in four different shires.  After the younger William Childe had learned the real estate business from the Sheldon family, he bought back the manor of Northwick Park from the Hunckes family in 1583.

During the fifty-three year lapse that the Childe family lived away from the manor of Northwick Park, William Childe had prospered exceedingly in his dealings with real estate.  Upon his return, William was made a magistrate for the county and served as the High Sheriff of Worcester, which was usually a position that was filled by the nobility of baronial families.  After the death of William Childe in 1601, his eldest son William took over the manor at Northwick Park and served as the High Sheriff of Worcester as well.  Several more generations of Childe esquires would reside at Northwidk Park until Thomas Childe sold the manor in 1683 to the baronial family of Sir James Rushout.  The Rushout barons made Northwick Park their primary residence until the Churchill family acquired the manor in 1912.

Map of Frankish Childe Migrations
from Northwick Park, Gloucester

The prosperity of the Childe family at Northwick Park is evident from the numerous manor homes that stem from the descendants of these esquires.  While some Childe esquires directly rose to knightly status, other Childe branches descended to the ranks of gentlemen, only to prosper for several generations in the mercantile business, where they acquired the financial means to rise in social status.  It is interesting to note that the feudal honors that existed after the Middle Ages were primarily based on economic factors, whereby wealthy gentlemen could buy their way into the nobility.  Although all these situations applied to the Childe family, only three cases will be elaborated here.

Left: Kinlet Manor, Shropshire
Right: Kyre Park Manor, Worcester

The first notable Childe that rose to feudal prominence after the Middle Ages was Sir William Childe (1610-1678), the younger brother of the last Childe esquire of Northwick Park.  While a few generations of Childe esquires married daughters from knightly families, William was the only Childe that married an heiress.  As a result, William acquired the Lordship of Kinlet Hall in Shropshire when he married Ann Lacon in 1640, where soon after he was officially knighted.  A few years later, William was appointed to the lucrative office as the Master in Chancery, where upon his death in 1678, he passed down several lordships and manors to his sons.  Two of his sons, Lacon and Thomas, were knighted while they served as the Master in Chancery and Sheriff of Shropshire.  In addition, William's grandson, William Lacon Childe, who was educated at Oxford University, married the heiress Catherine Pytts of Kyre Park in Worcester, which brought another manor to the Childe lordship.  By the time William died in 1757, there were no male heirs from his grandfather's descendants, where his Childe lordship lasted the average duration of three generations.  William's daughter Catherine married Charles Baldwin, whose descendants acquired a royal license to use the name Childe-Baldwin.  It is interesting to  note that Charles was a direct descendant of the Baudewyn family that acquired the Childe manors of Munslow and Diddlebury 400 years earlier, through the marriage of childe heiresses.

Another notable Childe that rose to feudal prominence after the Medieval Period was Sir Josiah Childe (1620-1699), whose great grandfather William Childe served as the Sheriff of Worcester.  Josiah's grandfather Richard Childe migrated to London in the 1580s, where he invested his inheritance in a gentleman's mercantile business.  His son Richard increased the business, where by the time it had passed to Josiah, he had amassed a large fortune with the help of his distant relative Sir John Child, the first Governor-General of the British settlements in India.  By 1668, Josiah had published several books on political economy, including Brief Observations concerning Trade and the Interest of Money and A New Discourse of Trade.  By 1678, Josiah had made such a name for himself that he was made a Baronet, where he served as a member of Parliament for many years.  He eventually became the sole ruler and governor of the East India Company and directed its policy as his own private business.  His son, Sir Richard Childe, built a large palace in 1715 at Wanstead Park.  Shortly after, Richard was made Viscount Castlemain in 1718, and finally the Earl of Tylney in 1731.  When Sir Richard Childe passed away in 1750, the earldom passed to his son Sir John Childe, who eventually died without any male heirs.  As a result, the Long family inherited the Earldom of Tylney through the marriage of a Childe heiress, where this Childe lordship also lasted the average duration of three generations.

Manor of Sir Richard Childe, Earl of Tylney
Wanstead Park, London

Another prominent Childe that rose to feudal eminence after the Middle Ages was Sir Francis Childe (1642-1713), who descended from the Aluinus Childe lineage of Wiltshire.  Of the six cadet lines that branches out from the Childe Barony of Torpel during the 12th and 13th centuries, only two continued in the manorial system through the end of the Middle Ages: Northwick Park and Wiltshire.  The Aluinum Childe lineage produced at least five generations of esquires who were members of Parliament during the 14th and 15th centuries.  Their descendants amassed a fortune in a mercantile business, which ultimately led to the formation of Childe & Co., one of the wealthiest banks in England.  The wealth that Francis accumulated from Childe's Bank allowed him to lend considerable amounts of money to the government and to be the primary supplier of jewels to the monarchy.  He served as a member of Parliament for many years, as well as Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London.  Sir Francis Childe owned a large palace in Middlesex called Osterley park, where at least three of his sons were knighted and served in Parliament, as Aldermen, Lord Mayors, and Directors of the East India Co.  When his grandson Sir Robert Childe died in 1782 without any male heirs, Childe's Bank eventually passed to the Earls of Jersey through the marriage of another Childe heiress.  After this Childe lordship lasted the average duration of three generations like those of Kinlet Hall and Wanstead Park, the Earls of Jersey acquired a royal license to use the Childe name and coat of arms, known as the Childe-Villiers.


Manor of Sir Francis Childe Descendants
Osterley Park, Earls of Jersey
Although the family accounts of Sir William, Sir Josiah, and Sir Francis are a few examples of economic and sociopolitical prosperity for the Childe surname in England during the 17th and 18th centuries, these temporal successes seem trivial in comparison to the religious movement that their Childe cousins were involved in during this same time period.  However, the involvement of the Childe family in this religious movement did not occur by climbing the social ladder of success, but rather transpired from the opposite path of social devolution, which started at the close of the 15th century.  While the eldest son of William Childe became the esquire of Northwick Park through hereditary right, his non-primogenitor sons used their monetary inheritances to purchase gentlemen estates in a neighboring shire.  Around 1490, Thomas Child and his younger brother John traveled to the Chiltern Hills of Buckingham, where they established their estates within the gentlemen class.  While Thomas set up his Amersham estate on the southeast side of the Chilterns, John settled his Bledlow estate on the northwest side of these hills.  A few years later, their younger brother William settled in Langleybury, on the adjacent river valley to Amersham.  By 1536, King Henry VIII granted the manor site of Langlebury to William Childe, where it was held by his descendants for the next two centuries.  Hence the Childe gentlemen that settled the Chiltern Hills of Buckingham were three non-primogenitor brothers from Northwick Park.
Map of Childe Migrations
from Northwick Park to the Chiltern Hills

The estate of Thomas Childe established in Amersham was similar to the manor home of an esquire or knight, in that a gentleman's estate could sustain itself without the hands of the master.  This meant that Thomas Childe had sufficient means to pay hired laborers and servants to work the land, which subsequently produced an income that freed him to pursue other interests.  However, the gentleman's estate differed from the manor home in that its income was based solely on the estate, where no additional revenue was drawn from sources within the parish.  As a result, Thomas Childe lived the microcosmic form of his manorial upbringing, where his similar lifestyle was played out to a lesser degree on a smaller piece of land and homestead.

Map of Estates of Childe Gentlemen
around Amersham, Buckingham

The Amersham estate established by Thomas Childe around 1490 endured with his direct descendants for nearly two centuries.  This gentleman's estate has retained the name of Woodside and is located about one mile north of the town center of Amersham.  After the death of Thomas Childe in 1524, the Woodside estate passed to his eldest son John, while the remaining siblings settled homesteads throughout the Chiltern hills as "yeoman farmers".  Upon John's death in 1544, the Woodside estate passed to his eldest son Robert, who maintained it for thirty-five years.  After Robert's death in 1579, the Woodside estate passed to his eldest son John, which is where our history diverges once again.

Amersham Church

Map of Childe's Woodside Estate
After three generations of Childe gentlemen had prospered in Amersham, it appears that the Woodside estate produced such a surplus that larger inheritances were then passed down to non-primogenitor sons.  As a result, while the eldest son John inherited Woodside estate, his younger brother David had sufficient means to acquire a gentleman's estate in the neighboring parish of Farnham Royal.  It is clear that David Childe's estate was not the result of marrying an heiress, based on the fact that his wife Leticia Randall had at least four brothers who inherited her father's estate in the neighboring parish of Chalfont St. Peter.  Although a new Childe estate had been established, the Woodside estate continued through John Childe's lineage, who eventually produce the Childe barons of Bromley Palace in London.

View of Amersham in the Chiltern Hills
from Childe's Woodside Estate

To conclude, while this chapter does not fully summarize the Childe family in the Amersham region during this time period, the following chapter expounds upon their involvement in an underground religious movement, along with the particulars of David Childe's life.  Thus, after 532 years of the Childe bloodline migrating through England, it is evident that the Lord had made their path straight, where this royal lineage was brought into the Chiltern Hills of Buckingham to experience a religious movement in Amersham that would change the course of this bloodline forever.  While there are many divergent tracks that the Childe family has taken throughout England, there are at least five phases that can be isolated that led to this royal bloodline to Amersham.

Duration of Primary Manor Homes
that stem from the Childe Barony

 The Childe lineage started the first phase when Alwin Childe migrated from France to England in 1077 to spread the Frankish order of Cluniac monasticism.  Alwin Childe's interactions with William the Conqueror provided the opportunity for a barony to be conferred upon his eldest son Roger Childe in 1084, where every manor home that has been administered by the Childe family in England can be linked back to this barony.  The various lineages from the Childe Barony interacted with many kings, dukes, and earls, while serving in royal palaces and castles.  This Norman-Angevin phase was also the time period when the icons and symbolism of the Childe surname and coat of arms were solidified and passed down as de facto hereditary possession throughout England.

Map of Childe Migrations from London to Amersham
1077-1490

The second phase of this Childe bloodline in England occurred when William Childe, a second born son of a Childe baron, became a household knight of the Vere family in Essex.  The Childe connection to the Vere Earldom provided the opportunity for this royal lineage to migrate to Shrewsbury, Shropshire in 1170, where they served the monarchy and borough as provosts for almost 150  years.  While a few of these Childe Provosts served in the castles of Hedingham and Shrewsbury, others were chosen by the monarchy to serve as Royal Justices.  This phase was also the time period when non-primogenitor sons of Childe provosts migrated into Shropshire, Stafford, Hereford, and Worcester and established manor homes in these shires.

Basic Summary of the Different Phases
of Childe Migration in England

The third phase of this lineage transpired when William le Childe, a second born son of a Childe provost in Shrewsbury, migrated to the neighboring shire of Worcester in 1190, where he became a knight under the Beauchamp Barony of Elmley Castle.  This phase of Childe knights serving the Beauchamp family lasted for more than 150 years and was administered from Eastham Parish.  The names of the manor homes of these Childe knights was taken from the surname, which still retain the name of Hanley Childe and Childe's Wickham.

The fourth phase of the Childe bloodline in England occurred when Richard le Childe migrated from the manor of Hanley Childe in Eastham to the manor of Northwick Park in Blockley, Worcester, in 1340.  The transition to this phase was marked by laws that relegated this lineage of Childe knights to the esquire class, who now served the Bishops of Worcester as their overlords.  This phase was also the time period when the Childe esquires of Northwick Park served the monarchy for nearly 350 years at various times as Armigers, Escheators, and High Sheriffs of Worcester.  In addition, some of the non-primogenitor sons became rectors and bishops after they acquired their Masters degree in Theology from Oxford University.

The fifth phase of the Childe lineage in England took place when Thomas Childe, a second born son of a Childe esquire in Northwick Park, migrated to the Chiltern Hills of Buckingham and established a gentleman's estate in the parish of Amersham.  This phase was marked by more than 150 years of Childe gentlemen who administered the Woodside estate in Amersham.

Thus, the Frankish bloodline of Merovingian Childe kings that devolved in France as dukes, marquises, counts, viscounts, and sires also experienced a devolution when this royal lineage migrated to England in 1077, as barons, provosts, knights, esquires, gentlemen, and yeomen.  It is fascinating to realize how this Childe lineage was able to experience almost every stage and honor that the  feudal system of Europe had to offer during the Middle Ages.  In addition, it is most likely that the Childe bloodline had to experience this type of sociopolitical devolution in order to continue the refinement process of this royal lineage until it was ready to embrace the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pages 83-151
"The Ancestry of Alfred Bosworth Child" Mark B. Child, Ph.D./Paul L. Child, D.D.S., 2008 printed by Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

3 comments:

  1. This blog is a great resource. I am researching the Child, Childs, and Childe line and am very interested in getting copies of some of the documents posted on your blog. Some of the image files don't show the dates very well. Could you or someone email me about how I could collaborate on some of the research? My E-mail is childs.cameron@gmail.com

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  2. Dr Child,

    I am a Child through my paternal grandmother Ethel Child. I was looking at my ancestry on her line, and it goes as far back as Sir Baldwin Le Childe Knight, b. 1080, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Chelmsford, Essex, England. His son was Sir. William le Childe Knight, b. 1130, Chelmsford, , Essex, England. Are these two of the Childes referred to in this history? Also, do you know Baldwin's parentage?

    You can contact me at Nickburt81@yahoo.com

    Thank you!

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