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Richard Scrob

died after 1067

Father unknown
Mother unknown
Wife a daughter of Robert the deacon
Children Osbern

Nothing is known of Richard's origins, but he was likely to have been Norman. He came to England prior to 1052, no doubt invited by Edward the Confessor, of whom he was later seen to be a close ally (1)(5). He married the daughter of a fellow pre-conquest Norman settler, Robert the deacon (1)(5), but its not known whether the marriage took place before or after his leaving France.

He held land in the Welsh Marches in 1066 (4), and very likely had done for quite some time by this date, as his son Osbern also held land there at the same time (2). He may also have had a son William (5) (although I've not come across any evidence of one).

The detail of how he came by his lands is not known, but the Barony of Burford, seems to have originated pre-conquest, and it is posited by many (such as Eyton, in his "Antiquities of Shropshire") that he built Richard's Castle, possibly at the time he was granted the barony. It is also claimed that may have been sheriff of Worcestershire in the 1060s (5).

He survived the Norman Conquest, having sided with the invaders (5), and witnessed a charter of William I the following year (3).

His date of death is not known.

Brief details of his children:


  1. "The Chronicle of Florence of Worcester with the two continuations", Thomas Forester, 1854 (an English translation of the chronicles), pages 152-155, states that in 1052, a number of Normans were expelled from England, but a few were allowed to remain, "namely, Robert the deacon, and his son-in-law Richard Fitz-Scrope, Alfred, the king's horse-thane, Anfrid, surnamed Cock's-foot, with some others who had been the king's greatest favourites, and had remained faithful to him and the commonwealth".
  2. See his son Osbern's page
  3. "Regesta regum Anglo-Normannorum, 1066-1154", Volume 1, No 10 reads:
    Charter by William I to Wulfstan, Bp of Worcester       1067
    Granting him the vill of Cullaclife, which the bp. has assigned to the use of the monks of St Mary of Worcester.
    Signa: King William; Queen Matilda; Apb. Aldred [of York]; Bp. Odo [of Bayeux]; Bp Wulfstan [of Worcester]; Abbot Ægelwi [of Evesham]; Abbot Wilstan; Earl William; Earl Roger; Richard Scrob; Urse [of Abetot], minister; Osbern. minister; Robert d'Oilli, minister.
    (The index to this volume lists Osbern, son of Richard Scrob as being mentioned in this charter too, so the compilers presumably thought that the Osbern named as a minister was him. I see no reason to believe this though?)
  4. Domesday Book, Philimore translation, contains the following entries:

      Shropshire: Land of Osbern son of Richard
    1. SHR 5,1
      In `OVERS' Hundred
      Osbern son of Richard holds BURFORD from the King. Richard [Scrope], his father, held it. 6 1/2 hides which pay tax. Land for 29 ploughs. Osbern has 2 mills which pay 12 packloads of corn. 6 slaves, 12 villagers, 3 riders, 24 smallholders, 7 freedmen and a church with 2 priests; between them all they have 23 ploughs. Woodland for fattening 100 pigs; a hedged enclosure. Value before 1066, 100s; now £4.

    2. Worcestershire: Land of the Church of Worcester
    3. WOR 2,14
      Osbern son of Richard holds 1 hide of this manor at COTHERIDGE. He has 1 plough in lordship; 6 villagers and 4 smallholders with 4 ploughs. A mill at 5s. Meadow, 12 acres; woodland, 3 furlongs. Richard [Scrope] held it for the service that the Bishop wished. The value was and is 40s. [Belongs to Wick [Episcopi]]

    4. Worcestershire: Land of Osbern son of Richard
    5. WOR 19,1
      In `DODDINGTREE' Hundred
      Osbern son of Richard Scrope holds BERRINGTON from the King. His father Richard ^[Scrope]^ held it. 2 hides which pay tax. In lordship 2 ploughs; 8 villagers, 4 smallholders, a smith and a miller with 9 ploughs; 1 more plough would be possible. 4 male and 4 female slaves. A mill which pays 22 packloads of corn; meadow, 10 acres; woodland 1 1/2 leagues long and 1 league wide. The value was and is 20s.
    6. WOR 19,2
      Osbern also holds TENBURY [Wells]. His father held it. 3 hides which pay tax. In lordship 1 plough; 14 villagers and smallholders with 12 ploughs; a further 2 more ploughs would be possible. 2 slaves. Woodland 2 leagues long and 1 league wide. The value was 60s; now 40s.
    7. WOR 19,7
      Osbern also holds KYRE. His father held it. 1 hide which pays tax. In lordship 1 plough; a second would be possible. 2 smallholders and 1 rider with 1 plough. The value was 15s; now 10s. Herbert holds from Osbern.
    8. WOR 19,10
      Osbern also holds CARTON, and Odo from him. His father held it. 1 hide and 1 virgate which pay tax. In lordship 2 ploughs; 2 villagers and 2 smallholders with 1 1/2 ploughs; 3 more ploughs possible. 7 slaves. Woodland 1/2 league long and 3 furlongs wide. The value was 10s; now 5s.

    9. Herefordshire: Land of Robert Gernon
    10. HEF 12,1
      In `WOLFHAY' Hundred
      Robert Gernon holds YARPOLE from the King. Richard Scrope held it. 3 hides which pay tax. 4 villagers and 8 smallholders with 3 ploughs. Value before 1066, 25s; now 20s.
    11. HEF 12,2
      In {CUTESTORNES} Hundred
      [* In `WOLFHAY' Hundred *]
      Robert also holds 5 1/2 hides in the castlery of [Richards] CASTLE. Richard [* Scrope *] held it. This land does not pay tax. In lordship 5 ploughs; 34 villagers, 6 smallholders and a smith with 15 ploughs between them; they pay 20s. 10 slaves; a mill which pays 4 measures of corn and 15 sticks of eels. Value before 1066, later and now £7.

    12. Herefordshire: Land of Osbern son of Richard
    13. HEF 24,7
      In STRETFORD Hundred
      In NEWTON 1/2 hide which pays tax and 1 virgate which does not pay tax. Saeric held it as a manor; he could go where he would. Herbert had it from Richard Scrope. In lordship 3 oxen; 3 villagers and 1 smallholder with 1 plough. The value was 40s; now 24s. 1 plough would be possible there.
  5. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Combined entry for Richard Scrob, and his son Osbern fitz Richard, reads:
          Richard Scrob (fl. 1052-1066), soldier and landowner, was a Frenchman of unknown origins (not for certain a Norman) who came to England in the early years of the reign of Edward the Confessor (r. 1042-66) and was given land on the Welsh border. The twelfth-century chronicler John of Worcester mistook his additional or alternative name Scrob for a patronymic, and Richard has ever since been widely miscalled Richard fitz Scrob.
          Richard married the daughter of another French settler, Robert the Deacon (possibly to be identified with Robert fitz Wimarc (6)); his sons Osbern and William were adults by 1066. Richard's main base was the Herefordshire manor of Auretone, where he built the earthwork of Richard's Castle, one of the handful of pre-conquest castles in England. His lands were concentrated within a few miles, in Worcestershire and Shropshire as well as Herefordshire. Richard was one of the king's housecarls, and was exempted from the expulsions of Frenchmen which followed Earl Godwine's return to power in 1052. In the 1050s and early 1060s he was possibly sheriff of Worcestershire and certainly a man to whom the king entrusted important business there. In 1066 he and his family threw in their lot with the Normans as fighting broke out in Herefordshire between the French and Eadric the Wild. The date of his death is unknown.
          Osbern fitz Richard (fl. c.1066-1088), landowner, Richard's son, owned an estate abutting his father's during the latter's lifetime, including a large tract on the border probably reconquered from the Welsh by Earl Harold in 1063-4. Osbern added greatly to it under Norman rule: by inheritance from his father; by gift from King William, especially in Worcestershire and Warwickshire; by marriage to Nest, daughter of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn and Ealdgyth, Earl Ælfgar of Mercia's daughter, which seems to have brought him five valuable Mercian manors; and by taking manors as a tenant of the bishop of Worcester, the sheriff of Gloucester, and the earl of Shrewsbury. The last connection, with Roger de Montgomery, was perhaps the key to his success: it is striking that an apparently independent and wealthy baron was in 1085 in the earl's household.
          By 1086 Osbern's manors straggled from the Welsh border as far as Worcester and Warwick, with outliers in Nottinghamshire and Bedfordshire; they were worth over £100 a year, more than three times his and his father's combined value in 1066. He was especially important in Worcestershire, where in the 1080s he was a judge alongside the sheriff and Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, in a case between the bishop of Worcester and Evesham Abbey. He was also a benefactor of Worcester.
          Osbern joined the Welsh marcher rebellion of 1088, but was not one of those whose calculations were complicated by property in Normandy and he was later loyal to William II, his honour of Richard's Castle passing on his death at an unknown date intact to his descendants.
    C. P. Lewis
    A. Farley, ed., Domesday Book, 2 vols. (1783) · John of Worcester, Chron. · F. E. Harmer, ed., Anglo-Saxon writs (1952), nos. 50, 116-17 · Reg. RAN, 1.10, 221, 230, 282 · C. P. Lewis, ‘The French in England before the Norman conquest’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 17 (1994), 123-44 · K. L. Maund, ‘The Welsh alliances of Earl Ælfgar of Mercia and his family in the mid-eleventh century’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 11 (1988), 181-90 · V. H. Galbraith, ‘An episcopal land-grant of 1085’, EngHR, 44 (1929), 353-72 · F. Barlow, William Rufus (1983) · F. Barlow, St Wulfstan of Worcester, c.1008-1095 (1990)
  6. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Combined entry for Robert fitz Wimarc, reads:
         Robert fitz Wimarc [called Robert the Staller] (d. c.1070), magnate, was one of those Normans who followed Edward the Confessor to England. His mother, Wimarc (Guimara) has a Breton name, but that of his father is not recorded. Since he is said to have been related both to the Confessor and to William I, he was perhaps an illegitimate scion of the Norman ducal house; Osbert de Clare says he was ‘outstanding [praeclarus] among the Norman people because of his birth’ (‘La vie de S. Édouard’, 108). Robert attested charters of the Confessor from 1059 and had built his castle at Clavering, Essex, by 1052. As staller, he was a member of the royal household and he was one of those present at the deathbed of the king; on the Bayeux tapestry he is probably the person supporting the cushion on which the dying Edward leans. Since Little Domesday reports (Domesday Book, 2.44, 44v, 45v) that some of his estates were given him ‘after the death of King Edward’ (a circumlocution for the unmentionable reign of Harold II) it can be presumed that he continued in Harold's service. When, however, Duke William invaded Sussex, Robert sent him a message warning him of the strength of Harold's army and, perhaps because of this, he was favoured by the Conqueror, who made him sheriff of Essex. He probably died c.1070, for his son Swein held the same office in the 1070s.
         Even before 1066 Robert was a rich landholder; Domesday Book credits him with 150 hides (or the equivalent) of land in seven shires, the bulk of it in Essex, which makes him the tenth richest layman below the rank of earl. His lands, augmented both by Harold II and by William I, had passed by 1086 to his son, Swein of Essex, but the honour was eventually forfeited by Swein's grandson Henry. Robert also had a daughter (whose name is not recorded) to whose husband he gave the manor of Bromfield, Shropshire, forfeited in 1065 by the royal priest Spirites. Robert's son-in-law has been identified as Richard Scrob, and though this identification has been challenged, it is worth noticing that another manor belonging to the exiled Spirites (Cotheridge, Worcestershire) also passed to Richard Scrob. It is equally possible that Robert's son-in-law is the Robert who still held Bromfield of Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, in 1086; three of Swein's manors in Essex were also held by one Robert, possibly the same person.
    Ann Williams
    F. Barlow, ed. and trans., The life of King Edward who rests at Westminster (1962) · Guillaume de Poitiers [Gulielmus Pictaviensis], Histoire de Guillaume le Conquérant / Gesta Gulielmus ducis Normannorum et regis Anglorum, ed. R. Foreville (Paris, 1952) · R. W. Eyton, ‘Robert fitz Wimarch and his descendants’, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 2 (1879), 1-34 · P. A. Clarke, The English nobility under Edward the Confessor (1994) · S. Keynes, ‘Regenbald the Chancellor [sic]’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 10 (1987), 185-222 · R. A. Brown, Castles from the air (1989) · J. A. Green, English sheriffs to 1154 (1990) · ASC, s.a. 1052 · F. E. Harmer, ed., Anglo-Saxon writs (1952) · D. M. Wilson, ed., The Bayeux tapestry (1985) · A. Farley, ed., Domesday Book, 2 vols. (1783) · F. Barlow, Edward the Confessor (1970) · ‘La vie de S. Édouard le Confesseur par Osbert de Clare’, ed. M. Bloch, Analecta Bollandiana, 41 (1923), 5-131
    portrait, repro. in Wilson, ed., The Bayeux tapestry, pl. 30