Gervase Paganell

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Gervase Paganell inherited the feudal barony of Dudley (which included Dudley Castle) around the year 1150. However, after rebelling against King Henry II, his castle was demolished. Gervase founded the Cluniac Priory of St James in Dudley and probably founded the Church of St Thomas in Dudley. He died in 1194.

The Paganells of Dudley Castle[edit]

The ruins of Dudley Priory, founded by Gervase Paganell following the wishes of his father, Ralph

The first of the family of Paganell to hold Dudley Castle and the barony of Dudley was Fulke Paganell around the year of 1100. Dudley Castle was originally a wooden Norman castle, built by Ansculf de Picquigny, a follower of William the Conqueror.[1] At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, the castle was in the possession of his son William fitz Ansculf together with manors in the Home counties and the English Midlands, which were rewards for services to the Conqueror. Dudley Castle was the caput of the feudal barony. The Paganell family had origins in Normandy, where Fulke's father William was Lord of Moutiers Hubert.[2] It is not clear how Fulke came into possession of the barony of Dudley. One suggestion is that he married Beatrice ferch William, a daughter of William FitzAnsculf,[1] but it cannot be ruled out that he may have benefited from the previous owner being dispossessed after a failed rebellion.[3] The family name is still attached to one of their former Buckinghamshire possessions, Newport Pagnell.

Dudley Castle was converted to a stone fortification by Fulke or by Fulke's son and heir Ralph.[3] In the struggle for power between King Stephen and Matilda, a period of history known as The Anarchy, Ralph took the side of Matilda, resulting in the castle being besieged by Stephen in 1138.[4] Since the castle survived the siege, it is assumed the castle had been rebuilt in stone by that time. Ralph was made Governor of the Castle of Nottingham in 1140.[5] Ralph's successor to the barony was his son, Gervase.

Gervase Paganell[edit]

A stone carving showing the seal of Gervase Paganell, situated near the ruins of Dudley Priory

Although the exact date of Gervase becoming Lord of Dudley is not known, he had inherited by 1150.[3] By 1154, he had married, his wife being the recently widowed Countess Isabel. [3] She had been previously married to Simon de Senlis and was the daughter of Robert, Earl of Leicester.[6]

In 1166, he was assessed as holding 55 and two-thirds knight's fees.[1] Gervase was involved in a failed rebellion against King Henry II in 1173–4 that resulted in an order that the castle be demolished. He was later restored to the king's favour after making him a payment of a fine of 500 marks.[7] It is not clear how much of the original stone castle was demolished but it is usually assumed that the site remained an unfortified manor house until the second half of the 13th century.[8]

Gervase founded a Cluniac priory in Dudley dedicated to St James,[9][10] fulfilling a wish of his father, Ralph.[11] It is also thought that he founded the Church of St Thomas in Dudley.[12] The church was originally dedicated to Thomas Becket who was killed in 1170 and canonized in 1173.

Gervase attended the coronation of King Richard I in 1189. [6]

When he died in 1194, his heir was his sister Hawise, who had married John de Somery. Their son, Ralph de Somery became the next baron.[13]


  1. ^ a b c "Parishes: Dudley | British History Online". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  2. ^ Nichols, John Gough (1870). The Herald and Genealogist. J.G.Nichols and R.C. Nicols.
  3. ^ a b c d Hemingway, John (2006). An Illustrated Chronicle of the Castle and Barony of Dudley 1070-1757. Dudley: The Friends of Dudley Castle. pp. 21–28. ISBN 9780955343803.
  4. ^ Chandler, G.; Hannah, I.C. (1949). Dudley: As it was and as it is to-day. London: B.T.Batsford Ltd. p. 17.
  5. ^ The William Salt Archaeological Society (1888). Collections for a history of Staffordshire. Vol. 9. London: Harrison and Sons. pp. 8.
  6. ^ a b Stephen, Leslie (1885). Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 43. New York: Macmillan. p. 38. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  7. ^ Coss, Peter (2004). Paynel, Gervase (d. 1194). Oxford: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  8. ^ "The Friends of Dudley Castle - The history of Dudley Castle". Archived from the original on 2014-10-10. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  9. ^ BBC. "Short Walks 4: Priory Park and Wren's Nest". Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  10. ^ Historic England. "PRIORY PARK, DUDLEY, Dudley (1001650)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  11. ^ Chitham, Edward (3 February 2014). The Story of Dudley. The History Press. ISBN 9780750956871.
  12. ^ "Saint Thomas's Church" (PDF). Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  13. ^ Hemingway, John (2006). An Illustrated Chronicle of the Castle and Barony of Dudley 1070-1757. Dudley: The Friends of Dudley Castle. p. 29. ISBN 9780955343803.