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Castellan of Lisle




Notes on the Descendancy of the Family of Ensor
By Peter Lee
Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Family History Society -

If you visit the village of Ettington in
the south of the county of Warwickshire,
you will find a nineteenth century
mansion that was once the seat of
the Shirley family. Indeed the manor
and the previous house had been in
their family for over 900 years. The
building today is one of England's
grandest hotels. Engraved on a stone
wall is lettering which reads:
"When good St. Edward wore the
crown/ Saswallo here was thane:
His male stem this manor own/ Now
in Victoria's reign"
There are other families who have
claimed descendency from Saswal[l]o
including the families of de Etwall, de
Mungei, de Snitterton and Ible, De
Pecco, de Alfreton, Ingleram, de Ireton
and de Ednesour (from whom the
current family of Ensor now under
review are all descended) - but who
was Saswalo?
The Shirleys believe he was a Saxon
nobleman who for some reason benefited
under the largesse of William the
Conqueror. I beg to differ and here is
the reason. A book entitled 'The Norman
People' published in London
1989 reads : "Shirley: This family descends
from Sasualo, who held vast
estates from Henry de Ferrers 1086.
He had been supposed of Anglo-Saxon
origin, but the name does not occur
amongst the proprietor's t. Edward
Confessor (Domesd.); nor is it probable
that such vast estates (nine
knight's fees) would have been given
to an Anglo Saxon. The name is
probably foreign. Sasualo or Saswalo
was Castellan of Lisle (Keeper of the
castle of L'Isle - or the island - now
Lille in Northern France but then) -
Flanders c.1000 and 1039 founded the
Abbey of Palempin (Albert Miraeus,
Op. Diplom. i. 54) His son, Robert,
 Castellan of Lisle, had 1. Roger,
whose grandson went to the Crusade
1096, and from whose brother Hugh
descended the powerful Castellans of
Lisle. 2. Sasualo or Sigwalo, who witnessed
a charter of Baldwin, Bishop of
Tournay 1087 (ib. 60). He appears to
be the ancestor of this family, who
came to England 1066. From him descended
the families of Edensor, Ireton,
and Shirley, who bore respectively
the arms of Ferrers and Ridel.
Hence the Earls Ferrers.
As Saswalo was a nobleman of Flanders
I speculate if he was in any way
related to the Counts of Flanders who
were descended from Charlemagne
and thus entitled to claim their descendency
back to Ansigie of Austrasia
who was alive in the year 620AD?
That part we do not know for sure but
by witnessing that charter of Baldwin,
Bishop of Tournay in 1087 brings him
in close proximity to someone who
was so descended.
The connection is partially strengthened
from a book entitled
"Continental Germanic personal
names in England in old and middle
English Times" by Thorvald Forssner.
(Upsalla Press 1916). This lists the
romance name "Saxwalo a rare but
adequately recorded name" - which
strengthens Saswalo's possible German
or Carolingian ancestry. Another
connection I find on the internet in a
document written by Annette Hardie-
Stoffelen entitled "The rise of the
Flemish Families in Scotland" (www. - she talks of
"Those Flemings who had followed
Count Eustace II of Bolougne to England
in 1066 and received their territories
there from William of Normandy,
were now being offered large tracts of
Scotland because their Lady had become
that country's king."
This document goes on to talk about
the family which took the name "Hay"
The ancestor of the Scottish Hay family,
William de la Haie, came to Scotland
in the reign of King David I and
became butler to both Malcolm IV and
William the Lion. His place of origin
was named La Haie, near Loos in west
Flanders whose lords served the castellans
 of Lille…..the first castellans
of Lille descended from the noble
Fleming Saswalo of Phalempin. As
you will see later the Ensors figure in
the Scottish aristocracy and in one of
the most dramatic episodes in Scottish
family life that took place in exile in
Devonshire-the story of Lorna Doone!
However, why did Saswalo (?1025-
1115) turn up with nine manors
granted to him by Henry Seigneur de
Ferrers et Chambrey (1036-1088) and
whose descendents - the Ensor family
- adopted the crest of three horseshoes,
when horseshoes were the predominant
symbol of the Ferrers family
(old French - ferreor - or farrier or
man who shoes horses.)?
(There may have been two more men
by the name of Saswalo who also featured
in the records of Domesday.) A
Saswalo or Saxwalo (son of Peter
Bouville) who held land in Suffolk,
Finlesford, Haverhill, Creeting St. Peter
and another Saswalo - Abbott of
Peterborough's man - who held land
at Bytham in Lincolnshire. Saswalo of
Ettington also had manors in Rowbury,
Berkshire; Fairstead, Essex;
Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire; Kingham
and Rycote, and Heighton in Sussex
- this in addition to his nine manors
in Derbyshire.
Henry de Ferrers was at Hastings as he
was listed in the church of Dives-sur-
Mer, Normandy where the knights
said mass before setting sail for England
in 1066. His tenant Saswalo may
not have sailed with him, we do not
know for sure, but was sufficiently
involved with the invading de Ferrers
to hold a knight's fee for each of the
nine manors granted to him after the
Conquest. (Henry Ferrers was granted
huge tracts of land in Derbyshire, Staffordshire,
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire
and Warwickshire, 210 manors
in all, of which 114 were in Derbyshire
We know that Saswalo had at least
one son - Sewallis ( -1085?) - who
in turn had two sons namely Henry fil
Sewallis and Fulcher fil Sewallis. ( -
1105) Henry did not have any offspring
but Fulcher had the following:
1. Jordan (heir to his uncle Henry)

died without issue.
2. Henry who sold the manor of Ettington
to Sewallis (his brother) in
1129. Henry had a son Fulcher who
took the name de Ireton. A male descent
which died out in 1711. (Henry
Ireton in this line was the son in law of
Oliver Cromwell and Lord Deputy of
3. Sewallis II de Sayrle (of Sirelei, or
Shirley a village in Derbyshire) whose
descendents still live today in that village.
Sewallis married Maud Ridel of
 Halaughton Co. Derby. He held the
baronetcies: Earl Ferrers and Viscount
or Baron Tamworth, this latter title
still being held by his living descendents
today. (Robert William Saswalo
Shirley, Viscount Tamworth
[1952- ])
4. Robert, about whom we have no
further information presently.
5. Fulcherus who married twice: (1)
unknown (2) Margaret, died childless.
Son nr, 3 Sewallis had five sons:
1. Henry Shirley ( -1165) who was a
witness to the foundation of Merevale
Abbey near Atherstone in 1148. He
had a son Sewallis who married Isabel
co. heir of Robert Meynell of Langley
 Meynell, and a daughter Joanna
(heiress of John de Clinton of Essex)
2. Hugh, a priest.

3. Ralph
4. Richard
5. Dominus Fulcher de Ednesor of
Ednsor and Chatsworth (in 1190). (He
gave the church at Edensor to the Prior
of Rocester). whose children were
Thomas de Edensor, lord of the manor
of Baddesley Ensor, Polesworth, Newton
Regis and Seckington. Other children
of Dominus were, Adam,
Randolph, Henrie and Richard of
Tissington. It is from these that we
believe the extant male line of the Ensors

[text continues for the Ensor genealogy]

Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Family History Society - Journal


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