Baldwin FitzGilbert

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Map showing manors in Normandy associated with the origins of Baldwin FitzGilbert
Attributed arms of Baldwin FitzGilbert (d.1090): Chequy or and azure, over-all two bars argent according to Pole (d.1635)[1]
Surviving motte and ruins of keep of Okehampton Castle, built by Baldwin FitzGilbert and caput of his feudal barony of Okehampton

Baldwin FitzGilbert (died 1090) (alias Baldwin the Sheriff, Baldwin of Exeter, Baldwin de Meulles/Moels and Baldwin du Sap) was an Anglo-Norman magnate and one of the 52 Devon Domesday Book tenants-in-chief of King William the Conqueror.


He was originally from Meulles or nearby Le Sap, in Calvados, Normandy. He was a younger son of Gilbert, Count of Brionne and Count of Eu, in Normandy.


Together with his eldest brother Richard FitzGilbert, in 1066 Baldwin accompanied William Duke of Normandy in the Norman Conquest of England.[2]

Following William the Conqueror's successful siege of the Saxon city of Exeter, that king appointed Baldwin castellan of the newly built Rougemont Castle in Exeter, a royal castle, and appointed him hereditary Sheriff of Devon, which position he held until his death. Exeter Castle was thenceforth the official seat of the Sheriff of Devon. King William I also granted him the very large feudal barony of Okehampton in Devon, at the caput of which he built Okehampton Castle.[3][4]

English landholdings[edit]

Baldwin's fiefdom in Devon was the largest in that county,[5] listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as comprising 176 holdings, mostly manors or estates, except the first two listed holdings which consisted of groups of houses in Exeter and Barnstaple.[6] He is listed in the Domesday Book as "Baldvinus Vicecomes", literally translated as "Baldwin the Viscount", a Norman title signifying deputy to the Count of Devon, another Norman title called in the Anglo-Saxon language "Earl of Devon", which office was almost synonymous with the Sheriff of Devon, an Anglo-Saxon office, for which reason Baldwin is commonly known as "Baldwin the Sheriff".[7] These landholdings comprised the feudal barony of Okehampton, later held by the Courtenay family, later also feudal barons of Plympton and Earls of Devon.

Marriage & progeny[edit]

He married twice, firstly to Albreda and secondly to Emma. He had three sons, all of whom died childless, and one, possibly two, daughters:[8]

  • Richard FitzBaldwin, eldest son and heir.
  • William FitzBaldwin
  • Robert FitzBaldwin
  • Adeliza FitzBaldwin, her father's ultimate sole heiress.
  • Matilda FitzBaldwin (uncertain). She married William fitzWimund, who is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding land at Dolton, Devon in North Tawton Hundred, from his father-in-law Baldwin.[9]

Death and succession[edit]

Baldwin died in 1090. Following the deaths of his three sons without heirs, his daughter Adeliza was his ultimate sole heiress.


  1. ^ Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, pp.444 (Baldwin de Sap)& 474 (Brioniis, see p.2 "Baldwin de Sap or de Brioniis")
  2. ^ William Rufus (1983), p. 162, confirming his father and brother
  3. ^ Barlow, p. 446.
  4. ^ Essay On The Belle-Balliol Dynasty - Historical Study On The Belle-Balliol Dynasty
  5. ^ Thorn & Thorn, part 2 (notes), chap.16
  6. ^ Thorn, Caroline & Frank, (eds.) Domesday Book, (Morris, John, gen.ed.) Vol. 9, Devon, Parts 1 & 2, Phillimore Press, Chichester, 1985, part 1, chapter 16: 1-176
  7. ^ The heading at the start of the listing of his Devon lands is Terra(e) Baldvini Vicecomitis ("lands of Baldwin the Viscount" (genitive case)
  8. ^ Barlow, p. 469.
  9. ^ Keats-Rohan, K. S. B. (1999). Domesday People: A Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents, 1066–1166: Domesday Book. Ipswich, UK: Boydell Press. p. 162. ISBN 9780851157221.