Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Robert fitz Harding

Male - 1171

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  • Name Robert fitz Harding 
    Born of Bristol, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Alternate death 1169  [1
    Died 5 Feb 1171  [2, 3
    Buried Abbey Church of St. Augustine, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Person ID I11461  Ancestry of PNH & TNH
    Last Modified 6 Jan 2018 

    Father Harding fitz Eadnoth,   b. Abt 1060,   d. Aft 1125  (Age ~ 66 years) 
    Family ID F3470  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Eva,   d. Abt 1173 
    Married Bef 1140  [3
    +1. Maurice fitz Robert fitz Harding,   b. Abt 1120, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Jun 1190  (Age ~ 70 years)
    Last Modified 10 Jan 2018 19:07:42 
    Family ID F6630  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Founded, in 1141, the Abbey of St. Augustine in Bristol, of which he later became a canon. J. Horace Round observed that he was one of the few Anglo-Saxon nobles to successfully integrate with the Norman nobility, if not the only one.

      "Robert FitzHarding, who 'may bee called Robert the Devout,' s. of Harding, said to have been a merchant of Bristol, and of great wealth and influence, received from Henry of Anjou, in 1153 or 1154, shortly before his accession as Henry II, a grant (among others) of the Castle and 'herness' of Berkeley (as above mentioned) which was confirmed by the said Henry when King, probably in (1155) the first year of his reign, whereby he the said Robert (doubtless) became feudal Lord of Berkeley. In 1168 he entertained, at Bristol, Dermot Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, on his arrival to solicit succour from Henry II. He founded, in 1141, the Abbey of St. Augustine, at Bristol, of which he afterwards became a canon. He m. Eve. He d. 5 Feb. 1170/1, aged about 75. His wife, who founded a priory of nuns on St. Michael's hill, Bristol, whereof she d. Prioress 12 Mar. 1170, was bur. with her husband." [Complete Peerage II:124-25]

      From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

      The persistent claim that Robert served as the borough's reeve is without foundation. Local tradition aptly described him as a Bristol burgess and merchant. His great stone house stood on High Street near Frome Bridge. He engaged in the Bristol land market and was landlord of properties in at least four other urban locations. He also may have been involved in Bristol's trade with Dublin.

      As a financier Robert numbered among his clients Henry FitzEmpress (during the civil war against King Stephen) and St Peter's Abbey, Gloucester. However, the scope of his land dealings went far beyond the limits of Bristol. [...] Robert's role as a proprietary land developer is evident in the charter of liberties he granted to settlers in the borough he established in Bedminster. In keeping with the trend in monastic piety and the stature he had achieved in Bristol by the early 1140s, he founded during that decade St Augustine's Abbey on his Billeswick property.

      Further social and tenurial enhancement came from patronage Robert received from Henry FitzEmpress both before and after Henry became king, almost certainly as a reward for Robert's financial backing during the war against King Stephen (1135–54). [...] Before the death of Robert, earl of Gloucester, in 1147 Robert's prominence must have led the earl to include him as an honorial familiaris (follower or companion) at his courts held at Bristol, a role he continued to enjoy under Earl Robert's heir, William (d. 1183). Then came a series of ducal and royal grants from Henry FitzEmpress, datable to 1153/4 and 1154/5, and a marriage treaty Henry sanctioned, which are recorded in a remarkable series of original charters preserved in the Berkeley Castle muniments. [...]

      In spite of Henry II's early favour, Robert never became one of his intimates. His importance remained local and regional. But in this capacity he twice provided hospitality at Bristol for the king of Leinster, Diarmait mac Murchada, during his mission of 1166–7 to enlist Anglo-Normans, notably Richard de Clare, to campaign for him in Ireland; and it is possible that Robert played some role in bringing together Clare and the Irish king.

  • Sources 
    1. [S977] The Blackmans of Knight's Creek: Ancestors and Descendants of George and Maria (Smith) Blackman by Henry James Young. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: 1980.

    2. [S128] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant. Full citation details here.

    3. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-ongoing).