Feudal barony of Okehampton

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"A view of Okehampton Castle and town taken in the park", 1772 drawing by Francis Towne (1739–1816), Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA
Remains of Okehampton Castle today

The feudal barony of Okehampton was a very large feudal barony, the largest mediaeval fiefdom in the county of Devon, England,[1] whose caput was Okehampton Castle and manor. It was one of eight feudal baronies in Devonshire which existed during the mediaeval era.[2]


First folio of listing of Devonshire manors held by Baldwin the Sheriff, forming the feudal barony of Okehampton, Domesday Book, 1086.

The first holder of the feudal barony of Okehampton was Baldwin FitzGilbert (dead by Jan 1091) called in the Latin Domesday Book of 1086 Baldvinus Vicecomes, "Baldwin the Viscount" (of Devon), which office equated to the earlier Saxon office of Sheriff of Devon. As younger son of Gilbert, Count of Brionne, he was cousin of William the Conqueror.[1] His fiefdom listed in Domesday Book comprised 176 land-holdings, mostly manors, but 2 of which, listed first, comprised groups of houses in Barnstaple and Exeter. The third holding listed for his fiefdom is Okehampton: Ipse Balduin ten(et) de rege Ochementone, ibi sedet castellum ("Baldwin himself (i.e. in demesne) holds Okehampton from the king, there sits his castle"). The nature of the feudal land tenure for feudal barons was per baroniam, that is to say they were bound to serve the king as one of his barons, which involved onerous duties not only of attending parliaments to advise the king but also of providing knights and soldiers for military service to the royal army for specified periods each year. The baron himself was frequently present in battle.


The descent of Okehampton in the family of Baldwin fitzGilbert was as follows:[3]

  • Baldwin FitzGilbert (dead by Jan 1091), Sheriff of Devon. All three of his sons died successively without children.
  • William FitzBaldwin (died 1096), son of Baldwin, died without children
  • Robert FitzBaldwin (died 1101), brother of William, died without children
  • Richard FitzBaldwin (died 1137), brother of Robert, Sheriff of Devon in 1096 and/or 1116,[citation needed] died without children. He founded Brightley Abbey[4]

The ownership of Okehampton then becomes obscure for two decades,[3] before it was held by a descendant of Baldwin fitzGilbert.

  • Maud d'Avranches (died 1173), daughter and sole-heiress of Robert d'Avranches, who was son of William fitzWimund by a daughter of Baldwin fitzGilbert.[5] She married firstly William de Curci (died pre 1162), by him having a daughter Hawise. As a widow, she would remarry to Robert FitzRoy (died 1172), a natural son of King Henry I of England. By her second husband Maud had a further daughter, Maud du Sap (died 1224). Maud du Sap, following her father's death, became a royal ward, and King Henry II married her to Reginald I de Courtenay (died 1190).
  • Hawise de Curci (died 1219), daughter Maud by William de Curci, married the step-son of her half-sister, Reginald de Courtenay. Through this marriage, the barony came into the possession of the Courtenay family.


Arms of Courtenay: Or, three torteaux

List of constituent manors[edit]

The barony comprised originally the following manors held in-chief per baroniam by Baldwin the Sheriff, in order of Domesday Book listing:[11]

No. Name of manor Hundred Baldwin's tenant Pre-1066 tenant
1 19 houses in Exeter Hundred Unknown Lordship of King Edward the Confessor
2 6 destroyed houses in Barnstaple Hundred Unknown Unknown
3 Okehampton Lifton in demesne Osferth
4 Chichacott Lifton Roger Brictmer
5 Bratton Clovelly Lifton in demesne Brictric
6 Boasley Lifton Rolf Brictric
7 Bridestowe Lifton Ralpf de Pomeroy Edmer
8 Germansweek Lifton Rainer Ednoth
9 Lewtrenchard Lifton Roger de Meulles Brictric
10 Warson Lifton Roger of Meulles Waddell
11 Kelly Lifton Modbert Osferth
12 Dunterton Lifton Ralph de Bruyère Brictmer
13 Guscott Lifton Colwin Brictric
14 Sampford Courtenay Torrington in demesne Norman
15 Belstone Torrington Richard Osferth
16 Dunsland Torrington Cadio Wulfric
17 Monkokehampton Torrington Baldwin's tenant re 1066 tenant
18 Exbourne Torrington Roger Aelmer
19 Highampton Torrington Roger Brictmer
20 Lashbrook Torrington Roger Algar Long
21 Bradford Torrington in demesne Algar Long
22 Kigbeare Torrington Rainer Saewin
23 Inwardleigh Torrington Otelin Ingvar
24 Oak Torrington Richard Osgot
25 Gorhuish Torrington Bernard Alnoth
26 Broadwood Kelly Torrington Modbert Leofric
27 Honeychurch Torrington Walter Alwin Black
28 Middlecott Torrington Ranulf Alwold
29 Brixton Torrington Richard Wulfnoth
30 Middlecott Torrington Richard Alwold
31 Ashmansworthy Hartland Gilbert Brictmer
32 Yarnscombe Hartland Robert Godwin
33 Parkham Merton Richard Algar
34 Little Torrington Merton Baldwin's tenant Edmer
35 Heanton Satchville Merton Ralph de Bruyere Edwin
36 Potheridge Merton Aubrey Ulf
37 Stockleigh Merton Aubrey Colwin
38 Woolladon Merton Aubrey Saewin
39 Meeth Merton Bernard Alnoth
40 Landcross Merton Robert Aelfeva
41 Woolleigh Merton Colwin Alsi
42 Helescane Merton William Edric
43 Chawleigh Shebbear in demesne Siward
44 Dolton Shebbear William son of Wimund Ulf


  1. ^ a b Thorn & Thorn, part 2, chapter 16
  2. ^ Sanders, Contents, pp. ix-xi; the others being Bampton, Bradninch, Great Torrington, Barnstaple, Berry Pomeroy, Totnes, Plympton
  3. ^ a b Sanders, p.69
  4. ^ GEC Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.309
  5. ^ Keats-Rohan, Domesday Descendants, p. 263
  6. ^ Sanders, pp.70,138
  7. ^ a b c Sanders, p.70
  8. ^ a b Sanders, p.138
  9. ^ Pole, p.5
  10. ^ Historic England. "OKEHAMPTON CASTLE (440855)". PastScape. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  11. ^ Thorne & Thorne, part 1, chap.16


  • Thorn, Caroline; Thorn, Frank (1985). "chapter 16". Domesday Book. John Morris. vol.9. Devon: Phillimore Press. pp. parts 1 & 2, holdings of Baldwin the Sheriff.
  • Sanders, I.J. (1960). English Baronies: A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327. Oxford. pp. 69–70, Barony of Okehampton.
  • Pole, William (1791). Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon. London. pp. 2–5, Barony of Okehampton.