Reginald de Warenne

Reginald de Warenne (sometimes Rainald de Warenne;[1] between 1121 and 1126 – 1179) was an Anglo-Norman nobleman and royal official. The third son of an earl, Reginald began his career as an administrator of his brother's estates and married the heiress to the feudal barony of Wormegay in Norfolk. By the reign of King Henry II, Reginald was a royal justice and played a minor role in the Becket controversy in 1170. He died in 1179 and left a son and heir together with several daughters.

Reginald de Warenne
Bornbetween 1121 and 1126
OccupationFeudal baron of wormegay
royal justice
Spouse(s)Alice de Wormegay
ChildrenWilliam de Warenne
possibly Muriel
possibly Ela
Parent(s)William de Warenne
Isabel de Vermandois


Reginald de Warenne was the third son of William de Warenne,[2] the second Earl of Surrey, who died in 1138. Reginald's mother was Isabel de Vermandois.[3] Reginald was likely born between 1121 and 1126.[1] Reginald's brothers were William de Warenne, the third Earl of Surrey, and Ralph de Warenne. Reginald's two sisters were Gundrada de Warenne who married first Roger, Earl of Warwick and then William of Lancaster, and Ada de Warenne who married Henry, Earl of Huntingdon.[3] Ada's husband was the only son of King David I of Scotland, and she was the mother of two kings of Scotland Malcolm IV and William I. From their mother's first marriage to Robert de Beaumont, Reginald and his siblings were half-siblings of the twins Robert de Beaumont the Earl of Leicester and Waleran de Beaumont, the Count of Meulan and Earl of Worcester.[4] There was another Reginald de Warenne alive during Reginald's lifetime – this may have been an illegitimate half-brother.[1]

Early career

Reginald first appears in the historical record around 1138, as a witness on some of his father's charters.[1] Reginald was one of the main administrators of his elder brother's estates up until 1147.[5] Reginald also had his own lands that he was granted from his brother's honour in Norfolk and Sussex.[1] While his brother was on crusade, Reginald granted the right to form a merchant guild to the inhabitants of Lewes, as long as his brother agreed after his return from crusade.[6] William, the third earl, died in early 1148 while on crusade and the earldom and estates passed to William's daughter Isabel, whom King Stephen of England married to the king's second son, William. Reginald continued to serve the new earl and also began to serve the king, witnessing several royal charters. Reginald eventually became the main advisor to the new earl.[1]

Reginald was granted the castles of Bellencombre and Mortemer in the charter of Westminster in 1153 which settled the rights that William, the surviving son of King Stephen, received for not contesting the crown of England going to Henry of Anjou after Stephen's death,[7] and was also a witness to the charter.[8] Reginald continued to serve as a royal official, witnessing more of the new king's charters.[1]

Royal service

In 1157 Reginald was one of the justices present when King Henry II decided a case between Hilary of Chichester, the Bishop of Chichester and Walter de Luci, the Abbot of Battle Abbey.[9] In 1164 he was present at the Council of Clarendon,[1] which was part of the long struggle between King Henry II and the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, over the control of the English church.[10] Reginald also accompanied the king's daughter Matilda to Germany for her marriage to Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony.[1]

Reginald was one of the four main justices involved with the general eyre between 1168 and 1170, along with Richard of Ilchester, Guy the Dean of Waltham Holy Cross, and William Basset.[11][lower-alpha 2] Besides these administrative and judicial roles, Reginald was a baron of the exchequer in 1169 and held the office of Sheriff of Sussex from 1170 to 1176.[1]

In 1170, Reginald was involved with attempts to keep Thomas Becket, who had been in exile, from returning to England. Working with Reginald were Roger de Pont L'Évêque – the Archbishop of York, Gilbert Foliot – the Bishop of London, Josceline de Bohon – the Bishop of Salisbury, Gervase de Cornhill – the Sheriff of Kent, and Ranulf de Broc. At that time, Reginald was a royal justiciar.[14] Reginald was part of the party that met Becket at Sandwich on 1 December 1070 when the archbishop returned to England. Reginald's group, led by Gervase of Cornhill, complained that the archbishop was sowing dissension in the land by his excommunication of the three ecclesiastics, but Becket managed to calm the officials by stating he would consider the matter and reply to them the next day. The next day the group was accompanied by some clergy sent by the ecclesiastics who had been excommunicated by Becket. Nothing further was accomplished by this meeting except further offers from Becket to consider other options.[15] Reginald was involved in a further attempt at resolving the differences between the king and Becket later in December 1170, which again came to nothing.[16]

In 1173 Reginald worked for the king, along with Richard fitz Nigel and Nicholas de Sigillo, when all three men assessed a land tax on parts of the royal demesne. These three men assessed the tax in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, Kent and Sussex.[17] During the Revolt of 1173–74 Reginald served the king as castellan of Hastings Castle.[18]

Death and legacy

Reginald married Alice, the daughter and heiress of William de Wormegay, Baron of Wormegay in Norfolk. William de Wormegay had died in 1166 and Reginald was fined just over 466 pounds by the king for the right to inherit his father-in-law's lands. With his father-in-law's death he became Lord of Wormegay, or Baron Wormegay.[19] This lordship was assessed at 14 and a quarter knight's fees and was located mostly in Norfolk and Suffolk. The centre of the honour was at Lynn, Norfolk.[20]

Sometime between Michaelmas 1178 and the start of 1179, Reginald retired from public life and became a monk at Lewes Priory, which had been founded by his family.[1] When he retired, the Exchequer began to pressure him to repay his debts to the king, which for the previous decade or more they had ignored.[18] Reginald died in 1179, and his heir was his son William de Warenne.[19] Besides his son, Reginald also had several daughters. One was Gundrada who married three times – first to Peter de Valognes,[2] son of Roger de Valognes,[21] second to William de Courcy,[2] son of William de Courcy[lower-alpha 3] and Avice de Rumilly the daughter of William Meschin,[22] and third to Geoffrey Hose,[2] the son of Henry Hose.[23] Another daughter was Alice who married Peter, constable of Mealton. A possible third daughter was Muriel, who was a nun at Carrow Abbey.[2] Another possible daughter was Ela, who married Duncan the Earl of Fife.[24] At his death, Reginald still owed a large portion of the fine levied against him for the inheritance of his father-in-law's estates.[1]

The historian Edmund King has called Reginald "the fixer in that formidable family".[25] Reginald gave lands and gifts to several monasteries. Among these were the Warenne family foundations of Lewes and Castle Acre Priory, with further gifts to Carrow, Clerkenwell Priory, and Binham Priory.[1]


  1. According to Warren, the others summoned by Henry were: 1174: John de Cumin, William fitzRalph, William fitzStephen 1176: William Basset, Roger fitzReinfrid 1177: Hugh de Cressy 1179: Hugh de Gaerst, Ranulf de Glanvill, Hugh Murdac 1182: William de Auberville, Osbert fitzHervey 1184: Ralph fitzStephen.
  2. Writing in 1942, Edward Warren argued that in 1168, Henry II summoned Reginald as a Serjeant-at-law,[12][lower-alpha 1] but later researchers have not agreed with Warren's conclusions.[1][13]
  3. The son of William de Courcy who was the son of Richard de Courcy.[22]


  1. Chandler "Warenne, Reginald de" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. Keats-Rohan Domesday Descendants pp. 777–778
  3. Keats-Rohan Domesday Descendants pp. 239–240
  4. Stringer "Ada , countess of Northumberland" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  5. Crouch Reign of King Stephen p. 128
  6. King King Stephen pp. 238–239
  7. King King Stephen pp. 282–283
  8. King King Stephen pp. 288–289
  9. Richardson and Sayles Governance of Mediaeval England p. 213
  10. Carpenter Struggle for Mastery pp. 205–206
  11. Richardson and Sayles Governance of Mediaeval England p. 203
  12. Warren "Serjeants-at-Law" Virginia Law Review p. 919 and footnote 18
  13. Baker Order of Serjeants at Law pp. 9–10
  14. Barlow Thomas Becket p. 223
  15. Barlow Thomas Becket pp. 224–227
  16. Barlow Thomas Becket p. 230
  17. Richardson "Richard fitz Neal" English Historical Review p. 169 footnote 1
  18. Vincent "Court of Henry II" Henry II p. 301
  19. Saunders English Baronies pp. 101–102
  20. Turner English Judiciary pp. 90–91
  21. Keats-Rohan Domesday Descendants p. 758
  22. Keats-Rohan Domesday Descendants p. 428
  23. Keats-Rohan Domesday Descendants p. 1006
  24. Chandler "Ada de Warenne" Scottish Historical Review p. 128
  25. King King Stephen p. 337


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  • Barlow, Frank (1986). Thomas Becket. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07175-1.
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