Honour of Richmond

The Honour of Richmond (or English feudal barony of Richmond) in north-west Yorkshire was granted to Count Alan Rufus (also known as Alain le Roux) by King William the Conqueror sometime during 1069 to 1071, although the date is uncertain. It was gifted as thanks for his services at the Conquest. The extensive district was previously held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia who died in 1071. The district is probably mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but its limits are uncertain.[1]

The honour comprised 60 knight's fees and was one of the most important fiefdoms in Norman England.[2] According to the 14th-century Genealogia of the lords of Richmond, Alan Rufus built a stronghold in the district. The buildings were later known as Richmond Castle which is alluded to in the Domesday survey as forming a ‘castlery’.[3]


The composition of the Honour of Richmond in 1071
The location of the Honour in England

The district consisted of three main land divisions; the wapentakes of Hang, of Gilling and of Hallikeld. The first two of these correspond to later medieval civil land divisions or wapentakes: the third is less easily defined.

The Gilling territory consisted mainly of land which lay between the River Tees and the River Swale, with the Tees forming the northern border which separated the land from that granted to the Bishop of Durham. The western border was the watershed of the Pennine Hills and the southern border was the watershed between the River Ure and the Swale. The River Wiske formed the eastern border. The manor of Gilling, close to the boundary, was the caput of the barony until Count Alan moved it to Richmond Castle. The division of Hang, or Hangshire, had the River Swale as its northern boundary; its western boundary was the Pennine watershed and its southern boundary was the watershed with the River Wharfe and the River Nidd. The eastern border followed small streams and minor landmarks from the previous watershed to the Swale. The wapentake meeting place was situated on the Hang Beck in Finghall parish. The third part of the territory, Hallikeld, consisted of the parishes lying between the River Ure and the River Swale until their confluence at Ellenthorpe.

The Honour of Richmond, being 60 km (37 mi) from east to west and 45 km (28 mi) from north to south, comprised most of the land between the River Tees and the River Ure and ranged in its landscape from the bleak mountainous areas of the Pennines to the fertile lowlands of the Vale of York.

Richmond castle was in ruins by 1540 but was restored centuries later and is now a tourist attraction.[4]

List of feudal barons of RichmondEdit

The feudal barons of Richmond were usually referred to as Lords of Richmond. The Honour of Richmond was sometimes held separately from the titles Earl of Richmond, and later Duke of Richmond. Grants were sometimes partial, and sometimes included or excluded Richmond Castle as noted in the list below. The descent of the barony was as follows:[5]


  1. ^ However, Ranulph never ruled Richmond or Brittany during their marriage.
  2. ^ A charter made by Alix before her marriage to Peter I deals with the Honour of Richmond; Alix also styled herself Countess of Richmond before her husband received the Earldom from King Henry III. See Judith Everard and Michael Jones, The Charters of Duchess Constance and Her Family (1171–1221), The Boydell Press, 1999, pp 169–171.
  3. ^ Although King John allowed her to use the titles Duchess of Brittany and Countess of Richmond, she was imprisoned by English kings and never ruled. See Judith Everard and Michael Jones, The Charters of Duchess Constance and Her Family (1171–1221), The Boydell Press, 1999, pp 164–165.


  1. ^ "THE HONOUR AND CASTLE OF RICHMOND". British History. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2019. The date of the grant is uncertain, and no charter remains to bear witness to it. The most likely date in that case would seem to be 1069, when Edwin was still living ... If the evidence of the so-called charter is inaccurate on this point as on others the grant may have been delayed until after the death of Edwin in 1071.
  2. ^ Butler, Lawrence (2003). "4.The origins of the honour of Richmond and its castles". In Robert Liddiard (ed.). Anglo Norman Castles. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press. pp. 91–95. ISBN 0-85115-904-4.
  3. ^ "THE HONOUR AND CASTLE OF RICHMOND". British History. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2019. ... the early poem which contains the first mention of it yet discovered says that William the Conqueror gave Count Alan Richmond 'a good castle fair and strong.' (fn. 259) This statement may, however, be due to poetic licence.
  4. ^ "HISTORY OF RICHMOND CASTLE". English Heritage. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2019. By 1540 the castle was derelict, but it later became a popular tourist destination.
  5. ^ Sanders, I.J., English Baronies, A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086–1327, Oxford, 1960, pp.140–1, Barony of Richmond
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sanders, p.140
  7. ^ CPR Henry III Vol 3 1232-1247. 156.

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