EDWARD FITZ RANDOLPH
EARLY LINEAGE OF EDWARD FITZ RANDOLPH
If you are interested at all in whether we have royalty in our family, this is it. And it's almost as good as it gets for us. You've read books about events in this lineage. You've read books about people in this lineage. And never knew they were part of your family.
Here we have builders and keepers of castles; advisors, and enemies, of kings; countesses, earls, dukes, lords, even kings and conquerors; Norse and French, mixed up and becoming English. Dukes of Normandy, Brittany, Norfolk, Northumberland, Buckingham, Westmoreland. We have Conquerors, "the Fearless", the "Good", the "Magnificent", the "Conqueror". Castles, keeps, abbeys. It's all here.
What follows below is a bare-bones lineage of our Edward Fitz Randolph. With all this illustrious background, he left England for religious liberty. And came to America. Now on this side, and so many generations later, we can look back and think with awe of these families, their lives, events they lived through; their struggles, hopes, happinesses. Could people like this even be happy? Were their lives all desperation and scheming. Were there simple pleasures -- beauty, flowers, puppy dogs, music, fashion?
- ROLF -- The Norseman Conqueror. Born about A.D. 860. Died A.D. 932. Married GISELA, the daughter of King Charles of France.
- WILLIAM, "LONGSWORD" -- Duke of Normandy. Died about A.D. 943.
- RICHARD "THE FEARLESS" -- Duke of Normandy. Reigned more than half a century. Died A.D. 996.
- RICHARD "THE GOOD" -- Duke of Normandy. Died A.D. 1026.
- RICHARD -- Duke of Normandy. Wife was JUDITH. He died A.D. 1028. [He was the father of Robert "The Magnificent," whose son was William "The Conqueror," and he was brother of Avicia, who married Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany.]
- AVICIA. She married GEOFFREY, Duke of Brittany.
- EUDO -- Duke of Brittany. He married AGNES, the daughter of Alan, and died in 1079.
- RIBALD-- Lord of Middleham . [Brother to Alan Rufus, Duke of Richmond, and to Stephen and to Bardolf.] He married BEATRIX, and spent his last days in retirement at St. Mary's Abbey, York.
- RANDOLPH -- Lord of Middleham . He married AGATHA, the daughter of the first Robert of Bruce.
- ROBERT FITZ RANDOLPH -- Lord of Middleham . He built the Castle of Middleham and married HELEWISA DE GLANVILLE. Please click on the link to go to my page on the Castle of Middleham
- RANDOLPH FITZ RANDOLPH -- Lord of Middleham . He married MARY, the daughter of Roger Bigot, Duke of Norfolk .
- RANDOLPH FITZ RANDOLPH -- Lord of Middleham . He married ANASTASIA, the daughter of William, Lord Percy.
- MARY FITZ RANDOLPH, a rich, religious and benevolent woman. She married ROBERT DE NEVILLE, born about 1242, the son of Sir Robert de Neville, Knight, of Raby Castle, Durham, England, and his father's first (unknown) wife. Robert de Neville died before 20 August 1282. Mary Fitz Randolph de Neville died A.D. 1320, having survived her husband 49 years.
- RANDOLPH DE NEVILLE -- Lord of Middleham. His second wife was MARGARET, the daughter of Marmaduke Thweng. Died 1332.
- RANDOLPH DE NEVILLE -- Lord of Middleham . He married ALICIA, the daughter of Hugo de Audley. Died 1368.
- JOHN DE NEVILLE -- Lord of Middleham. He married MATILDA PERCY.* Died 1389. [She was the second of this noble family to become allied with the Neville-Fitz Randolph line.]
- RANDOLPH DE NEVILLE -- Lord of Middleham and first Earl of Westmoreland. His first wife (the daughter of Hugo) was MARGARET, LADY STAFFORD (descended from Edward I . His second wife was JOAN OF BEAUFORT, the daughter of John of Gaunt and grand-daughter of Edward III . He died in 1435. By his second wife, Joan, his posterity runs into and down the English royal line. We now follow the posterity of the Earl of Westmoreland by his first wife, LADY STAFFORD. Read a Peerage website article on Lady Stafford.
He was a great church builder, 'curious flat headed windows being peculiar to the churches on the Nevill manors'. When he died, he left money to complete the College of Staindrop which he founded near Raby, and was buried at Staindrop, where his alabaster effigy in armour between his two wives 'remains the finest sepulchral monument in the north of England.' See a Peerage website article on
Ralph de Neville, where he is #101634.
- JOHN DE NEVILLE. He married ELIZABETH, the daughter of Thomas de Holand, 2nd Earl of Kent. He died two years before his father, in 1433. (The children of his brother, Randolph, were all daughters.)
- JOHN, heir presumptive to the dukedom of Westmoreland.* He married ANNA, the widow of John de Neville. Was a hero of the Battle of Towton, in Yorkshire, and bravely lost his life there on the Lancastrian side, 29 March 1461.
See the CD available at amazon.com: "Music from the time of Richard III".
* Hume speaks of him as duke in fact at the time of the battle, and of his being slain with the great Percy, Duke of Northumberland, and a near kinsman, and with Sir John Neville, brother of Westmoreland, and Dacres, another kinsman.
- RANDOLPH -- Duke of Westmoreland (son of John and Anna). He married Margaret, daughter of Booth de Barton of Lancaster.
- RANDOLPH, heir presumptive. Died during his father's lifetime. He married Edith, the daughter of the Earl of Sandwich.
- RANDOLPH -- Duke of Westmoreland (son of Randolph and Edith). He married Catherine, daughter of Edward, Duke of Buckingham.* Died 1524. Click link to read a biography of the
Duke of Buckingham.
- RANDOLPH (fifth son). The first son being Henry, whose son Charles was the last in the line of these dukes of Westmoreland, and the other sons being Thomas, Edward, Christopher and Cuthbert. Randolph died probably about 1565.
- CHRISTOPHER FITZ RANDOLPH, son of Randolph. He married Joan, the daughter and heiress of Cuthbert Langton of Langton Hall. Died 1588.
- EDWARD FITZ RANDOLPH of Langton Hall, with whom was found and in whom was confirmed by the "Visitation" of 1614, the Fitz Randolph Arms substantially as borne by the Lords of Middleham and by the Spennithorne branch of Fitz Randolph. Died probably about 1635.
- EDWARD FITZ RANDOLPH -- Pilgrim. He married on 10 May 1637, at Scituate, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Blossom, the daughter of Thomas and Anne Blossom. Moved to Piscataway, New Jersey, in 1669. Died 1675.
WHY DID THEY COME?
And a Little English History
Aside perhaps from the sufferings of the Fitz Randolph family under Tudor rule, still fresh and harrowing to the recollection, there was practically but one influence guiding the Fitz Randolph steps, and it was the same influence that guided the steps of all the American immigrants of the first three decades of the 17th century, and that was Religion. It will be borne in mind that the Stuarts had succeeded the Tudors and had fairly out-Tudored the Tudors in forcing the state of religion, as established by Henry VIII, alike on the old Catholics of Yorkshire and on the Presbyterians of Scotland.
It is to be noted that the oppression from the Crown was levied on men of higher rank, education, and fortune, as well as those of lower. Many men who came to America were English gentlemen and the sons of gentlemen whose blood had descended for centuries from titled families.
From the days of the Norman Conquest, and afterward through the ages that followed, the Fitz Randolphs had generously and even lavishly contributed to Christian causes and charities, establishing monasteries, churches, and hospitals without pause or stint. In the 15th century it would appear that this family was socially and otherwise identified with the great movement toward religious freedom which eventuated in the publication of the Wycliffe Bible.
Wycliffe was under the protection of John of Gaunt, whose descendants were the kings of the House of Lancaster, and also of the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Henry Percy, a devoted Lancastrian. The Lancastrians were inclined to be Lollards, or advocates of Bible reading, and were opposed to extremes of papal power and practices.
Cicely, descendant of Mary Fitz Randolph of Middleham, married Richard Plantagnet, Duke of York; and their children, as we have seen, were Edward IV and Richard III, kings of the House of York.
Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV and granddaughter of Cicely, married, as has been noted, Henry VII, a Lancastrian descendant of John of Gaunt; and thus were combined the houses of York and Lancaster in the person of their son, Henry VIII, and thus an end was definitely made to the Wars of the Roses.
The Lollard leaven was ever at work, and to the thoughtful student of history it will appear that the Open Bible, as opposed to priestly bigotry and restriction, found friends in the 15th and 16th centuries amongst the intelligent and thoughtful members of the power families of Britain; and the seed thus sown developed afterwards not so much indeed in the breaking away of the English Church from Roman Catholicism (which in some sense was a private enterprise of Henry VIII, carried out for his own purposes*), as in the more significant separation from the established church in the 16th and 17th centuries, in which last separation even many thoughtful and conscientious members of noble families participate.
These are facts which fit naturally with the emigration to America of families of the Fitz Randolph type; and it is hardly possible to avoid the surmise and the inference that the making of common cause by the men of patrician blood with the plain people who had come to the point of sacrificing their all in the cause of an Open Bible, was in keeping with the traditions of a noble line whose ancestors in the 14th century had supported the outspoken father of religious liberty, John Wycliffe.
Young Edward, the emigrant, kept in close touch with the advanced religious thought of those with whom he had embarked his fortune and his life. Some time following the formation of a non-conformist religious society and the establishment of a regular pastorate of the same, Edward joined this society or church. Its pastor was Rev. John Lothrop, who came to Massachusetts a little later than young Edward, and who was an earnest preacher of those days, having been pastor for eight years of a non-conformist society, worshiping secretly in London.
Upon his meetings being discovered in 1632 in London, preacher and parishioners were imprisoned for something more than two years. They were released upon Mr. Lothrop's pledging himself to leave the kingdom. So soon as the prison doors were opened for him, he embarked (in the year 1634) in the ship "Griffin," accompanied by thirty of his parishioners. They settled at Scituate, and established a church there January 18, 1635.
The following quaint entries in the original style and orthography of Pastor Lothrop himself are copied from his church register:
May 10, 1637
Edward Fitts Surrandolph
joyned church May 14, 1637
our Brother Fittsrendolfe
wife joyned August 27, 1643
Incidentally it will be noted that here, in the handwriting of a preacher and a leader of men, are several new and distinct ways of spelling the old Norse name, which for 800 years prior to Pastor Lothrop's Records was undergoing numerous odd and curious changes in the course of the centuries, and yet was always susceptible of being traced and identified and even kept in the line of historical narrative.
The Pilgrim, Edward, became very soon a factor of importance. He was a man of substance as well as of character. Mr. Leonard quotes from Pastor Lothrop's diary the statement that "Master Fitzrandolphe" built a house in Scituate during 1636; and it appears that he sold his property there in 1639 and moved to Barnstable with his minister and twenty-five townsmen. Here he built another home on an eight-acre lot and lived in it till 1649, when he sold it (and three other town lots) and removed to his farm in West Barnstable -- a tract of 143 acres. This he occupied for twenty years, when he sold out and moved with his family to Piscataway, New Jersey.
This important change seems to have been brought about (like that from England) by a desire for ampler religious freedom. The augmenting restrictions and exactions of Puritan rule in New England seemed oppressive and unscriptural to a considerable body of excellent men and women who longed for a large liberty of thought. Religious freedom, complete and unstinted, was promised to new settlers by the New Jersey Proprietors, and this constituted the chief lure to the pious pilgrims.
We now arrive at a point in this history and line of tradition at which some special consideration should be given to an alliance with another branch of Pilgrim stock. In the ages gone by the Fitz Randolphs were from time to time exceedingly fortunate in their marriages, gathering increase of strength and character and standing, as well as of wealth, from a number of these alliances. It may safely be said, however, that in no instance of this sort did greater advantage accrue to him who made the contract than was gained by the young Edward who in May of 1637, at Scituate, Massachusetts, married ELIZABETH BLOSSOM, the daughter of Thomas and Anne Blossom.
Elizabeth Blossom was born in Leyden, Holland, of pious Pilgrim parentage about the year 1620. Her father, Thomas Blossom, was a prominent member of Rev. John Robinson's church from the time its members left Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, England. In 1620, the "Mayflower" and the "Speedwell" were to sail as companion ships for America. The "Speedwell" was a little ship of sixty tons, which had been purchased and fitted out in Holland for the Pilgrim congregation. She sailed July 26, 1620, from the port of Delfthaven, about twenty-four miles from Leyden, for Southampton in England, where the "Mayflower" for a week had been waiting with a partial list of passengers from London.
It was found that the little "Speedwell" needed repairs before putting out to sea. Repairs were made at considerable expense and delay. The two vessels then set sail for their long voyage, but the "Speedwell" proved leaky and both vessels put into Dartmouth for further repairs. Then once more they sailed together and progressed some three hundred miles westward from Land's End, when the captain of the "Speedwell" complained further of his boat's unseaworthiness. Again the two vessels turned back, this time putting into Plymouth harbor, and here it was decided to dismiss the "Speedwell" after a redistribution of passengers and cargo.
Referring to this event, Governor Bradford wrote: "So, after they had took out such provision as the other ship could well stow, and concluded what number and what persons to send back, they made another sad parting, the little ship (the "Speedwell") going to London, and the other (the "Mayflower") proceeding on her voyage."
This grievous and discouraging work was performed by September 6, 1620, and eighteen persons returned in the "Speedwell" to Leyden by way of London, where the leaky boat was sold. Among those returning was Thomas Blossom with his little family. He, with a few other leading Pilgrims, accompanied the despondent passengers back to their church friends in Holland. Here he remained with Pastor Robinson, who continued to shepherd the flock until such time as the Society was able to send over to America others of the congregation.
Two such embarkations took place prior to the death of the pious old preacher in 1625, and the remaining members embarked in subsequent voyages about 1630. The ship "Fortune" in November, 1621, brought over twenty-five members of the church besides children; and in August, 1623, the "Ann" and "Little James" carried across sixty more church members in addition to children.
The Pilgrim church in Leyden and its transported membership at New Plymouth in America continued as one body. The branch in the New World never chose a pastor so long as Pastor Robinson was living. During the interim, Elder Brewster presided over the spiritual concerns of the struggling congregation at Cape Cod until 1629. He had been one of the foremost pioneers in the Nottinghamshire movement in England, which resulted in establishing the Separatists' Society in 1607. From 1589 to September, 1607, he had been postmaster at Scrooby by appointment from Sir Thomas Randolph, Comptroller of all Her Majesty's Posts.
After Pastor Robinson died, in 1625, Thomas Blossom wrote sorrowfully to Governor Bradford of this event and of the distress of the church, and strenuous efforts were put forth by the Pilgrim congregation to bring over to America the remainder of the parent Society in Leyden.*
* See Young's Chronicles, pp. 480-83. Thomas Blossom's letter to the governor is dated at Leyden, December 15, 1625. Its closing lines are as below:
"I commend you to the keeping of the Lord, desiring, if He see it good (and that I might be serviceable unto the business) that I were with you. God hath taken away my son, that was with me in the ship, when I went back again; I have only two children, which were born since I left you. Fare you well." One of these two children was Elizabeth, destined wife of Edward Fitz Randolph.
So soon as they were able to arrange payment of their obligations to the organized "Adventurers" in England, and buy out their interest in the Pilgrim colony in New England, they began to bring over the remainder of the brethren -- though at great cost, sacrifice and anxiety.
"Thomas Blossom came over to Plymouth, probably in 1629, and was chosen a deacon of the church. Bradford speaks of him as one of 'our ancient friends in Holland.' The church records describe him as 'a holy man and experienced saint,' and 'competently accomplished with abilities for his place.' He died in the summer of 1633." [Plym. Ch. Rec. I. 42, and Prince's Annals, p. 437.]
On May 1, 1629, six vessels left the shores of England with a passenger list which included the bulk of the Leyden congregation, all bound for New England. One of these ships appears to have been the famous "Mayflower;" and included among its passengers were Pastor Robinson's widow and children; and it is believed that Thomas Blossom and his family were also among the passengers of this same vessel. It is certain that they came over in 1629. He was one of the first deacons of the Pilgrim Church in Plymouth after his arrival in the Colony, and continued in that office so long as he lived.
After the death of Deacon Blossom, in 1633, his widow joined the church at Scituate. In 1639, the family moved with Pastor Lothrop from Scituate to Barnstable. Edward Fitz Randolph had joined the church in 1637 at Scituate. His wife (as has been seen) joined it half a dozen years later at Barnstable. She attained the age of ninety-three in her later home in New Jersey.
The aroma of a fine Christian character has ever surrounded the memory of this beloved and venerated woman. Her children and her children's children for many generations have risen up to call her blessed. She came with her family from Massachusetts to New Jersey in 1669; and near the spot where the peaceful Raritan finds the sea her soul went out to the Eternal and Divine Peace.
Randolph, L.V.F. Fitz Randolph Traditions: A Story of a Thousand Years. New York: Riverside Press, 1907.
There is a lovely page of Middleham Castle in 1780 in the front matter of this book; and Langton Hall on p. 122. See pp. 117-18, 125-134.
Compare: Vol IV Vol IX[487-495]; AR: Line 247[25-27]. English Origins of New England Families, Series 1, Volume 3, The Origin of Nevill of Raby, by G. Andrews Moriarty, pp 145-150, from an article appearing in NEHGR, republished by Genealogical Publishing Co.; Tim Powys-Lybbe.
Jewett, Sarah Orne. The Normans. See her chapter II: "Dukes of the Normans: "Rolf the Ganger".
Dexter, Henry M. and Morton Dexter. The England and Holland of the Pilgrims. New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1905.
Langton Hall, a page from Lost Heritage - a memorial to the lost country houses of England. Contact by email, the site owner, Matthew Beckett at "contact @ lostheritage . org . uk". Please close up the gaps in the email address.
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Last Updated - 13 March 2015
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