Aubrey de Vere I
Aubrey (Albericus) de Vere (died circa 1112) was a tenant-in-chief in England of William the Conqueror in 1086, as well as a vassal of Geoffrey de Montbray, bishop of Coutances and of Count Alan, lord of Richmond. A much later source named his father as Alphonsus.
His origins are obscure and various regions have been proposed for his birthplace. He was probably Norman, possibly from the eponymous town of Ver/Vire in western Normandy. Late medieval sources put forward claims of descent from Charlemagne through the Counts of Flanders or Guînes. In fact, their only connection with Guînes, in Flanders, was through a short-lived marriage; Aubrey I's grandson Aubrey de Vere III married Beatrice, heiress to the county of Guînes, in the 12th century but there was no issue and their marriage was annulled.
In Domesday Book, Aubrey I and his wife held land in six counties in 1086. Both were accused therein of some unauthorized land seizures. Aubrey's estates held of the king were valued at approximately £300, putting him in roughly the middle ranks of the post-conquest barons in terms of landed wealth.
More difficult to sort out are contemporary references to "Aubrey the chamberlain" and "Aubrey of Berkshire." The Latin name Albericus was not uncommon in 11th- and 12th-century Europe. A chamberlain to Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror, bore the name Albericus, but it is unlikely that this man was Aubrey de Vere. An "Aubrey of Berkshire" was a sheriff in the early reign of Henry I; it cannot be ruled out that this man was Aubrey de Vere. His son and namesake Aubrey de Vere II held the office of royal chamberlain, so it is possible that Aubrey I had served the king in that office. Many royal household offices were hereditary.
Shortly before 1104, Aubrey's eldest son Geoffrey fell ill and was tended at Abingdon Abbey by the royal physician, Abbot Faritius. The youth recovered but suffered a relapse, died, and was buried at the abbey. His parents founded a cell of Abingdon on land they donated: Colne Priory, Essex. Within a few years, Aubrey I and his son William joined that community. Aubrey died soon after taking the Benedictine habit, William passing away not long after his father. Both were buried at the priory, establishing it as the Vere family mausoleum. Aubrey de Vere II succeeded to his father's estates.
Aubrey was married by 1086, when his wife is listed in Domesday Book as holding a manor in Essex. As his spouse's name is recorded as Beatrice in 1104 and she is named as the mother of his eldest son, she was almost certainly his wife in 1086. Beatrice attended the formal ceremony for the founding of Earl's Colne Priory. Besides Geoffrey, Aubrey II, and William mentioned above, the couple's children included Roger and Robert.
The principal estates held by Aubrey de Vere in 1086: Castle Hedingham, Beauchamp [Walter], Great Bentley, Great Canfield, Earls Colne, [White] Colne, and Dovercourt, Essex; Aldham, Belstead, Lavenham, and Waldingfield, Suffolk; Castle Camps, Hildersham, Silverley, and Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire. He possessed houses and acreage in Colchester. As tenant of Geoffrey bishop of Coutances, he held Kensington, Middlesex; Scaldwell and Wadenhoe, Northamptonshire. Of the barony of Count Alan of Brittany, he held the manors of Beauchamp Roding, Canfield, and West Wickham, Essex. His wife held Aldham, Essex, in her own right of Odo bishop of Bayeux. She was accused by Domesday jurors of expansion into Little Maplestead, Essex. Aubrey's seizures or questionable right of possession to estates included Manuden, Essex; Great Hemingford, Huntingdonshire; and Swaffham, Cambridgeshire. (Counties given are those of Domesday Book.)
- BM Cott. Vesp. B 15, f. 61, from an inscription on his tomb
- Domesday Book
- Corbett, Cambridge History of the Middle Ages
- History of the Church of Abingdon, pp. 90-91
- Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum II, p. 100, no. 981
- Cokayne, Complete Peerage vol. 10, p. 194. One or more daughters have been suggested but the evidence cited is unconvincing.