House of Warren

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The House of Warren (de la Varenne, De Garenne, De Warenne, De Warren, Warren) is an Anglo-Norman comital house that held extensive lands in France, England, Wales, and Ireland. The name is derived from the town and river of Varenne, Calais (Pays de Caux), a few miles from Dieppe in Normandy.

The ancient family seat in Normandy was Chateau Bellencombre of the banks of the Varenne, to which Duke William of Normandy added Chateau Mortimer as a reward for the loyal military service of William de Warren, the principal founder of the House.


William de Warrene, created 1st Earl of Warren (France) and Surrey (England) by the King William II, was the maternal second cousin of William I, and received about three hundred lordships in England in recompense for his service at the Battle of Hastings during the Norman Conquest of England. These included lands in Shropshire, Essex, Suffolk, Oxford, Hampshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and Sussex in addition to his lands in France. Lord Warren was appointed co-Chief Justice of England when William I was abroad in France. His principal seats were Lewes Castle in Sussex, Castle Acre in Norfolk, Conisbrough Castle in Yorkshire, Chateau de Bellencombe in Normandy, and Chateau de Mortemer in Normandy.

William married Gundreda, according to some sources a daughter of William I (her parentage is disputed), and had William de Warren, 2nd Earl of Warren and Surrey. The 2nd Earl married Isabel de Vermandois, daughter of the Count de Vermandois and niece of King Philip of France. The heraldic ams of Warren derive from Vermandois. The 2nd Earl's daughter Ada married Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, eldest son of David, King of Scotland, and had Malcolm and William, both Kings of Scotland.

William de Warren, 3rd Earl of Warren and Surrey fought in the cause of King Stephen de Blois before switching sides to support Geoffrey, Duke of Normandy and his wife Maud, the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire in her claim to the English throne. In 1147 he went on crusade with Louis, King of France, to reclaim Roman lands lost to Muslim conquest and was slain in a Saracen attack at Laodicea. It is said that his heart was brought back to England, and was buried at Lewes Priory. Here ends the paternal line of the 1st House of Warren.

The 3rd Earl's daughter and heiress Isabel de Warren married William the Conqueror's descendant, William de Blois, the son of King Stephen, known as the Earl of Mortain, Boulogne, Warren and Surrey. After his death, his widow the 4th Countess of Warren and Surrey married in 1163 Hameline Plantagenet, Viscount of Touraine, King Henry II's natural half-brother. Viscount Hameline assumed the name, arms, and lands of de Warren jure uxoris, becoming the 5th Earl of Warren and Surrey. Hereby the de Warren inheritance, previously connected by blood and marriage to the royal English House of Normandy, passed to a cadet branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet.

The 5th Lord Warren accompanied his brother, King Henry II on the papally sanctioned conquest of Ireland in 1169 where his signature appears on a number of charters. He had the honor of sword-bearer in the coronations of his nephews King Richard the Lion-Hearted and King John. The 5th Lord Warren was a member of the Privy Council where he is recorded as "Hameline, Earl of Warren, King Henry's brother". He was one of the justices of the King's court, a baron of Exchequer, and Sheriff of Sussex and Surrey in 1206. He was one of those who advised his cousin King John to put his seal to Magna Charta at Runneymede and was called "cognatus regis" because of his kinship to the royal family. He was succeeded by the 6th Earl Warren who married first Maud, daughter of William de Albini, Earl of Arundel, and secondly Maud, daughter of William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke (widow of Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk). By his second wife, the Marshaless of England and Countess of Norfolk and Warren he had John de Warren who succeeded him as the 7th Earl. The Countess of Norfolk and Warren was buried at Tinturn Abbey in Wales but her heart was deposited before the high altar at Lewes Priory.

John de Warren was five years old at his father's death, and was placed under the guardianship of Prince Peter of Savoy, the Queen's brother. In 1247 at about the age of twelve, he was married to the daughter of Hugh de Lusignan, Earl of March and Angoulême and Isabelle d'Angoulême, the widow of King John and the mother of King Henry III. The 7th Earl of Warren and Surrey was, accordingly, maternal half-brother to King Henry III of England, half-brother of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, King of the Romans, half-brother of Queen Joan, wife of King Alexander II of Scotland, and half-brother of Empress Isabella, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, and half-brother of Sir William Marshall, 2nd Earl of Pembroke whose lands in Ireland his offspring would one day inherit.

Rev. John Watson: "The Memoirs of the Ancient Earls of Warren and Surrey, and their Descendants to the Present Time Volumes I & II" London 1782

Rev. Thomas Warren F.R.S.A.: "History of the Warren Family A.D. 912-1902" Ireland 1902

Count Raoul de Warren: "La Maison de Warren 1138 - 1964" Paris 1964