Norman aristocracy in the British Isles

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The Norman aristocracy in the British Isles played a significant role in Great Britain and Ireland after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Commonly sweepingly referred to as "Norman", some of the new post-1066 aristocracy were also Breton, Flemish or French in ancestry: the House of Normandy, House of Plantagenet, House of Blois, House of Bruce, House of Balliol and House of Stuart were kings of either England, or Scotland, or both at some point, but they were not all "Normans".

The Normans conquered England and the various token principalities of Wales; as well as many of the so-called 'kingdoms' of Ireland from 1169. The process in Scotland was somewhat different, as they came by invitation of monarchs there (notably David 1st who reigned 1124-53), and a few also intermarried with the native aristocracy.

With the Reformation and the advent of Protestantism, and a further cultural shift back to Northern Europe following the UK Revolution of 1688, there was a growing influence of some Dutch and Germans into the aristocracy.


Arms House Title Origin Reign Details
Normandy King of England
Duke of Normandy
Normans 1066–1141 A Danish patriarchy, they conquered Normandy 890-900. In 1066 Duke William also became King of England.
Blois King of England French 1135–1154 Culturally Franco-Norman, they were also Counts of Blois. Only one King, Stephen.
England COA.png
Plantagenet King of England
King of France
Lord of Ireland
Prince of Wales
French 1154–1485 Originally from Anjou they also competed with the Capetians for the French crown; some of their relatives were Kings of Jerusalem. An illegitimate line continues to exist in the peerage of England as the Dukes of Beaufort.
Balliol COA.png
Balliol King of Scotland French 1292–1332 Origins in Bailleul-en-Vimeau, (canton of Hallencourt, Somme), Picardy. In 1292 John de Balliol was crowned King of Scotland, in right of his descent through his mother from King David 1st. He abdicated in 1296. His son Edward (d.1363-65, s.p.), was briefly also King, Sept - Dec 1332.
Bruce COA.png
Bruce King of Scotland
King of Ireland
Anglo-Norman 1306–1371 Original surname de Brus, from Brix, Manche, in Valognesand canton, and said to have come to England with The Conqueror. Received lands in Yorkshire. 2nd son went to Scotland.[1]
Stuart COA.png
Stewart King of Scotland
King of England
King of Ireland
King of Great Britain
Anglo-Breton 1371–1707 This family are descended from Walter FitzFleald and his spouse Christian, daughter of Alan IV Duke of Brittany, 'Fergant' (d.1119). He or his son Alan came to England where they had a grant of the castle of Oswestry, in Shropshire. After Alan the family surname became FitzAlan. Alan's 3rd son, Walter, went to Scotland where he became High Steward, from whence the surname Stewart comes.[2][3]

Kingdom of England

Arms House Premier title Origin Titled period Details
Spencer Duke of Marlborough
Earl Spencer
Earl of Winchester
Baron le Despenser
Anglo-Norman 1264–present Surname originally le Despenser. Origins obscure and possibly native English, but they were Dispensators (Stewards), hence the surname, to the Earls of Chester in the 13th century, from whom they held land.[4] Descendants include Winston Spencer-Churchill and Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales.

Kingdom of Scotland

Arms House Premier title Origin Titled period Details
Sutherland Earl of Sutherland Flemish 1160–present Original house descended from Hugh Freskin or Moray (d. bef. 1172), said to be Flemish, or possibly Norman. His grandson, who became Bishop of Caithness, was cannonised as St. Gilbert Moray soon after his death, 1 Apr 1245.[5]

Lordship & Kingdom of Ireland

Arms House Premier title Origin Titled period Details
De Clare.png
de Clare Titular Lord of Leinster Norman 1169–1318 Richard FitzGilbert or de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, 'Strongbow' (d.1176), arrived from Wales and married into the MacMurrough dynasty, claiming Leinster for a short time.
FitzGerald Barons of Kerry and Lixnaw, Barons of Offaly, Earls of Kildare[6] Norman 1169–present Commonly known as The Geraldines, descendants of Gerald of Windsor, arrived with 'Strongbow' and were granted land by him in co.Kildare. A branch fought with the MacCarthys for Desmond. Some were involved in the Desmond Rebellions during Tudor times.
de Burgh Earls of Ulster Anglo-Norman c1200–present This family descended from Walter de Burgh, Lord of Burgh-next-Aylsham, Norfolk. William de Burgh (d.1205/6) was Lord of Connaught and his son Richard was Justiciary of Ireland 1228-32.[7] The modern family of Burke claim descent.
Hamilton Duke of Abercorn Scots 1608–present The Hamilton of Innerwick, East Lothian, family had very large grants during the Plantation of Ireland, and are represented by the Hamilton Baronets of Castle Hamilton.[8] Also, James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Abercorn, a 3rd-great grandson of Scotland's King James II, received large grants of land in the Barony of Strabane, co.Tyrone, c1615, where he built a castle. They also became members of the Irish Peerage.[9]
Lynch Lynch-Blosse baronets Anglo-Norman 1500s–present Stephen FitzArthur Lynch was Mayor of Galway in 1546 & 1560. His grandson Henry was made a Baronet of Ireland 8 June 1622. The 6th Baronet (d.1775) assumed the additional surname of Blosse having married an heiress.[10]


  1. Farrar, William, D.Litt., editor, Early Yorkshire Charters, vol.iii, Edinburgh, 1916, p.457.
  2. Simpson, David, The Genealogical and Chronological History of the Stuarts, Edinburgh, 1713, p.22.
  3. Mackenzie, A.M., D.Litt., The Rise of the Stewarts, London, 1935, p.8-9.
  4. Cockayne, G.E., The Complete Peerage, edited by the Hon. Vicary Gibbs & H. Arthur Doubleday, vol.iv, London, 1916, p.287-9 and notes.
  5. Cockayne, G.E., The Complete Peerage, edited by Geoffrey H. White, vol. xii, part 1, London, 1953, p.537-8 and notes.
  6. Cockayne, G.E., The Complete Peerage, edited by the Hon. Vicary Gibbs, H. Arthur Doubleday & Lord Howard de Walden, vol.vii, London, 1929, pps:200-216 and 218-245.
  7. Cockayne, G.E., The Complete Peerage, edited by Geoffrey H. White, M.A., &c., and R.S.Lea, M.A., vol.xii, part 2, London, 1959, p.171-2n.
  8. Hamilton, Lt.-Col. George, solicitor in England, The History of the House of Hamilton, Edinburgh, 1933, p.500.
  9. Anderson, RCS., Dr. John, Memoirs of the House of Hamilton, Edinburgh, 1825. There is no evidence that this family's origins are anything but Scots.
  10. Townend, Peter, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, London, 105th edition, 1970, p.286.