The last in the series of Late Saxon Wills:
The Will of Thurstan, son of Lustwine
Whilst researching the Late Saxon wills composed by Wulfgyth and her family I stumbled upon the will of Thurstan, son of Lustwine. There are places mentioned in this, specifically those estates he bequeathed to his wife, Æthelgyth, that are either near or contiguous with those of Wulfgyth’s family.
In Domesday Book, both Æthelgyth and Wulfgyth’s brother Wulfric have lands at Chadacre, in Suffolk.
If we allow Ketel as the predecessor of Reginald fitzIvo (see Ketel Alder), then both he and Æthelgyth had estates at Barton Bendish.
Æthelgyth was bequeathed as estate at Yaxham, 7 miles from Edwin’s estate at Sparham.
And again, she inherited an estate at Wilby, just 5 miles from Ketel’s and his brother’s estates at Harling.
Could there be a family connection, perhaps back a few generations, before the Wine family patrimony began breaking up? Yet while this might explain Barton Bendish and Sparham-Yaxley, it doesn’t explain Harling-Wilby and Chadacre, estates once part of the Wulf-family’s holdings.
And there is more.
Thurstan, Thurketel and Thorth
Again, there is a major overlap of lands: with Thorth and Edwin in North-East Suffolk around Blyford; with Thurketel and Thurstan along the Essex-Cambs border; with Thurketel and Wulfgyth and Ketel along the Essex coast; with Ketel, Thurstan, Thurketel and Thorth in West Norfolk; and in Central Norfolk with Edwin, Thorth and Thurstan/ Æthelgyth.
So who were these people, Thurstan, Thurketel and Thorth? Perhaps there we can find explanation.
Thurstan son of Lustwine
Thurstan’s maternal lineage is clearly seen in the Gene-Tree below. A king’s thegn, Thurstan composed his will around the same time as Wulfgyth’s (ca.1044). We know of his mother and grandmother through the records of St Æthelthryth of Ely. These women and their husbands were generous benefactors of the abbey, and Oswig, Leofflæd’s husband, was brother to the then abbot of St Æthelthryth, Ufi.
Beyond his grandparents’ generation sits the Saxon ealdorman, Byrthnoth who fought, and died, at the Battle of Maldon in 991. Through him Thurstan could trace his ancestry (at least through marriage) to the Wessex-based English kings, for his grandmother’s uncle was King Edmund the Elder who died, assassinated, in 946.
But, while the wills of these Saxon ladies (and queen) are extant, and make for interesting and informative reading, it is Thurstan’s will which concerns us.
Leaving aside which estates he bequeaths to whom, what’s interesting here is his mention of a partner, and of his partner’s family:
And I desire that the estate at Bidicheseye shall be sold and that the two marks of gold shall be taken from the estate for the King’s heriot…
and my partner one mark of gold; and one mark of gold is to be given to his child, Thorth’s brother…
And it is my wish that Ulfketel’s and my partnership shall hold good, on the terms to which we have agreed; namely the estate at Borough is to go to whichever of us shall live the longer…
On reading this there are some who’d jump to the conclusion that Thurstan’s partner and Wulfgyth’s son Ulfketel are one and the same. But think longer on this and it becomes unlikely. The wills of Thurstan and Wulfgyth were composed around the same time. Thus we might guess they were of the same generation. Moro-on, both were married (Wulfgyth widowed) and both with children. Thurstan’s partner, too, had a child, maybe two. Thus we can see, Thurstan’s partner Ulfketel was of a generation with him.
According to Thurstan’s will, Thorth’s brother was Ulfketel’s child. So Thorth was not Ulfketel’s child? Then I’m guessing he was a child from Ulfketel’s wife’s previous marriage, a step-son.
But why would Thurstan be so generous as to bequeath the unnamed boy one mark of gold whilst leaving nothing for the other child, Thorth? Yet one look at the map above shows that Thorth was well endowed, and with lands neighbouring of not entirely contiguous with the estates granted by Thurstan to his wife Æthelgyth.
Who was he, this Thorth? And what connection was between him and Thurstan?
After much scratching of head, and working it this way and that, I come to only one possible answer.
Thurstan’s partner was also his brother-in-law—just as Edwin was brother-in-law to his partner, Wulfric (see the three previous posts in this series: Wulfgyth of Karletune, Ketel Alder and Edwin of Meltuna)—i.e. Ulfketel was married to Thurstan’s unnamed sister. Looking at the naming patterns of the family we might tentatively name her as ‘Leofgifu’. From her first marriage, ‘Leofgifu’ has the child Thorth. From her marriage to Ulfketel comes the second child, left unnamed in Thurstan’s will.
Thorth’s landholdings as recorded in Domesday Book thus represents a portion of his father’s patrimony, plus whatever has been bequeathed by his mother, which perhaps represents a small portion of Lustwine’s patrimony, he being father of Thurstan and ‘Leofgifu’.
And Thurketel (Thorkill), what of him?
As can be seen on the map above, he is recorded in Domesday Book as possessing lands (TRE) neighbouring those of Æthelgyth and Thorth. There can be only one explanation. Thurketel was also part of the Lustwine family. Thurstan, Thurketel, and young Thorth (Thored). It is another example of the Anglo-Saxon name variation that lingered in East Anglia long after it had disappeared elsewhere.
But none of the above, of its own, explains why certain lands of Ketel and Edwin either shared a vill else closely adjoined those of Thurstan’s extended family.
The Anglo-Saxon name variation was strong in East Anglia. We’ve already seen it in the Wulf-element of Wulfgyth’s family, and the -Wine element of Eldwine and Edwin. And the name of Thurstan’s father ought now be shouting at us. Lustwine.
I believe the brother’s Eldwine and Edwin were kin to Thurstan, sharing a grandfather—see the Gene Trees below. Thus they all inherited a portion of the Wine patrimony.
But that doesn’t explain of Æthelgyth and Wulfric both having estates in Chadacre, in Suffolk. Nor of Æthelgyth and Ketel being right neighbourly in South Norfolk (Harling and Wilby).
Æthelgyth—last piece of the puzzle
The Wulf-family followed another name-variation for their daughters. It’s seen in Wulf-gyth, and in her eldest daughter, Eald-gyth. And it is seen in her sister, Æthel-gyth. I can find no other explanation, and it sits so well.
Thus is the puzzled solved. I leave you now to digest the amended family trees of these, the best known of the East Anglian Late Saxon families. Alas, their end was soon to come.
Next, a return to the history of the Norfolk village in the Tas valley, Saxlingham, and a look at what happened in those painful years that followed upon the Normal intrusion. Coming soon.