SixthRomeo.com Authors' Pages: Gerald Spencer and Marcela Basteri.
Barukh atah Adonai . . . shehekhyanu vekiymanu vehigianu lazman hazeh
Spencer Family History:
The origins of the Spencer name come from the 11th Century A.D. in Norman England, after the conquest of England by William the
Conquerer in 1066. One of the Norman knights, who accompanied William's order of knights, was Robert the DiSpencer. He was the
son of Amauri d'Abbetot. The name Spencer or DeSpencer comes from the Latin dispensarius, or 'le dispencer' in Norman French,
according to historians. The term 'spence' also means a kitchen. However the intended meaning of Spencer was 'Steward' or 'Stewart',
one who is entrusted with the management of property and finances, and that surname also derives from the same source. Robert
DeSpencer had fought along side William in his invasion of England, and was rewarded by William for his support with land grants in
County Bedford. His children who took the surname, married into the royal blood which descended from English, French and Spanish
royalty lines. In 1086 Robert was granted the Motte and the Bailey Castle in Tamworth Burgess.
Robert's son was named William and he married Alix De Burgoyne and had two sons, named Thurston and Richard, born about the
beginning of the twelth century. Thurston inherited the castle and lands and married a noblewoman who bore him five sons- Almaric,
Walter, Hugh, Galfridus and Thomas. The oldest son, Almaric, married Eldai Blewett and their son was named Thurston, and he moved
first to London where he lived with his wife Lucia, and their son Geoffrey was born at Ellington, Lincolnshire, England and died in 1251.
Geoffrey's sons were named Geoffrey and Hugh, born in Worcestershire and Rutolandshire, England, respectively, during the last
decade of the twelth century.
Hugh Le DeSpencer, the Elder, great great grandson of Thurston was born about 1262 and supported King Edward I in the war against
his rival, the Earl of Lancaster. He served in the Welsh war but was fined 2,000 marks because he married, without the king's license,
Isabel, daughter of William Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, the widow of Patrick of Chaworth. He accompanied Edward to Scotland and
fought in the Battle of Dunbar (I) and the expediition against Flanders in 1297. The King used him to negotiate for peace between
Edward I and the King of the Romans and the King of France. He served again in Scotland and then was sent to negociate with France
which led to the peace of 1303. In 1305 he was sent to see Pope Clement V at Lyons and obtained a Papal bull which absolved King
Edward from the oaths he had been forced to take to his people. When Edward II was coronated as King, Hugh carried part of the royal
insignia. He defended the king's favorite, Gaveston, in 1308 against the league of barons, which alienated him from the barons who
regarded him as a deserter from their cause. The parliament, which met at Northampton, declared his dismissal from the council (Vita
Edwardi II, ii. 158; annales Paulini, i. 264). He was soon back in the favor of the King and received the castles of Devises and
Marlborough and soon became the chief adviser to the King. In 1312 he was sent, along with Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, to
attempt to secure London for the King, but a riot ensued and they fled the city (Annales Londondienses, i. 215).
After the murder of Gaveston by the barons, Hugh Despencer became the head of the court party and plotted with the King to exact
revenge against the barons. He bitterly opposed the Earl of Lancaster, and accompanied the King on his disastrous expedition to
Scotland in 1314, and the defeat at Bannockburn, which placed the King at the mercy of Lancaster, Hugh was forced to resign from the
court and the council. However, in 1318, when the king had recouped his strength and was ready to oppose Lancaster, Hugh joined the
other lords of the same party. At approximately this time, his son, Hugh Despencer, the younger, joined the King's side, and father and
son received large land grants from the crown. They were hated by the barons and were accused of acts of oppression and wrongdoing.
Because they were of noble family, they held the most prominent place in the party against Lancaster's plans, and sought after their
own advancement through alliance with the King in opposing Lancaster. Because of their greed and amibition, they used their influence
from the King for their own purposes. Hugh the younger began a quarrel with Humphrey Bohun, earl of Hereford, and the latter formed
a league against the Despencers, which included the lords of the Welsh marches and other powerful nobles, who in 1321 ravaged the
Despencers' lands and captured their castles in Wales and destroyed their manors and fences around their chaces in England. The King
tried to interfere on their behalf but was persuaded to call a parliament and the King was pressured by parliament to consent to the
banishment of the Despencers. Finally, he consented to the banishment and in July, 1321, the charges against them were formally
stated and considered in parliament, which caused the estrangement of the King from his people, since parliament had usurped his
authoriy and wouldn't allow the Despencers to see the King. The elder Despencer went abroad, but by December of 1321 the King had
obtained a condemnation of the sentence from the convocation of the clergy, and on January 1, 1322, Archbishop Reynolds declared it
illegal and the elder Despencer returned, joined the King in attacking his enemies.
After the battle of Boroughbridge at which Lancaster was defeated, he assisted the King in Lancaster's trial and condemnation, and was
created Earl of Winchester by the parliament held at York. Unfortunately, the Despencers were hated by Queen Isabella, who had gone
to France as an ambassador to her brother Charles IV. War between the two countries seemed imminent, and the queen refused the
king's summons, until the Despencers were removed from power, and the Queen plotted to overthrow the elder Despencer and his son.
They persuaded the King to outlaw the Queen and her son, who was with her, but she arrived in England with an armed force in
September 1326 and issued a proclamation against the Despencers. The king fled before her army, and he sent Hugh the elder to
secure the town and castle of Bristol, but the Queen marched to Berkely, where she recaptured the castle previously held by the
Despencers and returned it to its owner, Thomas, Lord Berkeley. Then she marched to Bristol, where most of the people were on her
side and turned the elder Hugh over to the queen. The next day, October 27, 1326, he was sentenced to death, and executed as a
traitor by being hanged from a gallows 50 feet high, drawn, deboweled (See Braveheart) and beheaded, his body given to the dogs
after four days, his head was sent to Winchester. Hugh and his nephew Edward Le DeSpencer had strongly supported Tewkesbury
Abbey in Gloucestershire, and between the two of them, completed the Choir, the Roof, and the Chevet Chapels during the reigns of
Edward II, III, Richard II and Henry IV, between 1307 and 1413, and the remains of his body was entombed there. His son, Hugh Le
DeSpencer, the Younger, had accompanied King Edward II in his flight from London to Cardiff in Wales, where they sought refuge in the
Despencers' castles at Caerphilly and Neath. The queen sent William de la Zouche and Rhys ap Howel to capture them, and they
surrendered on November 16, 1326 at Llantrissaint, and were brought to Hereford where the queen was waiting. The younger Hugh
was charged with piracy, complicity in the murder of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and was condemned and was excuted as a traitor with
a death similar to his father, and his head was send to London where it was placed on London Bridge. *(2).
Geoffrey Le DeSpencer, who died about 1242, married Emma De St. John, on December 29, 1229, and they had one son named John.
John later married a lady named Anne at Defford, Worcestershire, England and their son was named William, who lived until about
1328, and married an unknown lady about 1299 at Defford. The product of their union was named John, who lived in Defford until his
death, after 1386. He and his wife, Alice Deverall, the daughter of Sir Giles Deverell, had a son they named Nicholas. Nicholas lived at
Defford and married Joan Pollard about 1365 at Kent and their son Thomas was born after 1366 and lived at Badly, Nothamptonshire,
England. The son of Thomas was the famous Henry G. Spencer, born after 1392 who lived at Badly and married Isabella Lincoln, the
daughter of Henry Lincoln, at Hodnell, Northamptonshire, England.
It was about this time, 1392, that the De Spencer family dropped the French appellation De, and simply became known as Spencer.
Henry G. Spencer had four sons, named Thomas, William, Nicholas and John, and one daughter named Margaret. Four U.S. Presidents,
Princess Diana Spencer, and Winston Churchill, among other noted people from the past, could trace their ancestry back to Henry and
Isabella, through their sons and daughter. Henry lived until the sixteenth year of King Edward IV, about 1477. One of Henry's
executors, John, the youngest son, married a woman with the family name Warsted, and had three sons, John, Thomas and William, the
latter was born about 1444. William married Elizabeth Empson, the daughter of Sir Peter Empson and Elizabeth Jospeh about 1469 at
Towcester, Northamptonshire, England and later had two sons, John and Thomas.
John was made a Knight and married Isabel Graunt, the daughter of Walter Graunt and Elizabeth Rudinge about 1485. The union of
John and Isabel produced three sons and three daughters, named William, Thomas and Anthony, Jane, Elizabeth and Dorothy, all born
near the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century. William married Susan Knightley, the daughter of Richard Knightley
and Jane Skenard. William and Susan were married about 1514 at Fawsley, Northamptonshire, England, and they had one son, John,
born in 1517, and five daughters, Isabel, Jane, Dorothy, Anne and Marie. John lived at Fawsley, but married Catherine Kitson, daughter
of Thomas Kitson and Margaret Donington. The marriage of John and Catherine took place in 1545 at Hengrave, in Suffolk County,
England, and they had five sons, John, Thomas, William, Richard and Edward, and five daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth, Katherine, Mary
and Anne, between 1546 and 1563. John, who was born about 1551 in Wormleighton, Warwickshire, England, married Mary Catlin on
September 11, 1566 in London, Middlesex, England. Mary was the daughter of Robert Catlin and Anne Boles. The only child of John and
Mary was named Robert Spencer at his birth in 1570 at Wormleighton. He married Margaret Willoughby, the daughter of Francis
Willoughby and Elizabeth Lyttleton. Robert and Margaret were wed on Feb. 15, 1586 at Brighton, Northamptonshire, England, and the
marriage produced seven children between 1588 and 1595, William, Margaret, Elizabeth, John, Richard, Edward and Mary. William
married Penelope Wriothesley in 1615 at Tichfield, Southamptonshire, England.*(1) She was the daughter of Henry Wriothesly and
Elizabeth Vernon. Penelope Wriothesley was probably acquainted with the famous writer and playwright, William Shakespeare,
because her father was his patron, and was acknowledged as such by Shakespeare in one of his writings. William Spencer and
Penelope had thirteen children, named Robert, Margaret, Mary, Anne, Catherine, Alice, Richard, Thomas, John, Rachel, Elizabeth, Henry
and William. Robert married a woman named Jane, who may have been a cousin, at Yarton, Oxfordshire, England and their son was
named James who married a woman named Isabello.
The only son and heir of Henry was Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland. Born in Paris on 4 August 1640, he died at Althorp on 28
September 1702 and is also buried at Brington. In 1665 he married the beautiful Lady Anne Digby, youngest daughter of George Digby,
2nd Earl of Bristol and Anne Russell (daughter of Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford). More wealth came their way when Anne
inherited all her brother’s estates in 1698.
Robert was a lady-killer and had several mistresses, whilst his wife was little better: she had her gallants. Throughout his career,
Robert, known as Sunderland, showed himself to be an intriguer — treacherous, profligate and rapacious. He supported James II whilst
maintaining secret meetings with William of Orange. On James’ fall he declared he was a protestant and so, in April 1697, he was
made Lord Chamberlain, although he resigned the following December. Sunderland and Anne had three sons and four daughters. One of
these sons was the Statesman and Bibliophile, Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, Whig M.P. for Tiverton. He was born in 1674
and died on 19 April 1722. He held high office under Queen Anne and George I, being prime minister in 1718 until he was ruined by the
South Sea Bubble. This man was thrice married: 1) in 1695 to Lady Arabella Cavendish, who died 1698; 2) in January 1700 to Lady
Anne Churchill, 2nd daughter of the Duke of Marlborough and Sarah Jennings. (Anne is said to have converted her mother to Whiggism
and was her father’s favourite. Sadly she died at the age of 28 in April 1716); 3) on 5 Dee. 1717, Judith, daughter of Benjamin
Tichborne, a very wealthy man. When Charles Spencer died, Judith married Robert Sutton, K.B. and died herself in 1749.
From his second marriage, to Anne Churchill, Charles had issue including Charles Spencer, who succeeded his aunt Henrietta as 3rd
Duke of Marlborough, and the Hon. John Spencer (1708-1746), ancestor of Diana, HRH The Princess of Wales. The third Duke was
born 22 November 1706 and died, aged 52, of fever at Munster on 20 October 1758. He was a brigadier general and had commanded a
brigade at Dettingen in 1743. His wife was Elizabeth Trevor, whom he had married in 1732 and who died in 1761; she was the
daughter of Thomas, 2nd Lord Trevor of Bromham, who had been created a peer specifically to assist Parliament get the Treaty of
Utrecht onto the books in 1713.
Their son, George Spencer, became the 4th Duke of Marlborough at the age of nineteen. He was born on 26 January 1739 and died at
Blenheim on 29 January 1817. During his lifetime he was Ensigny in Coldstream Guards 1755, Captain of 20th Foot 1756, Lord
Lieutenant of Oxford 1760, Bearer of Sceptre and Cross at the coronation of George III, Lord Chamberlain 1762 and instituted as a
Knight of the Garter in 1771. On 23 August 1762 he married Lady Caroline Russell, daughter of John, 4th Duke of Bedford; she died on
26 November 1811.
We now have a change of surname because their son, George, 5th Duke of Marlborough, took the additional name of Churchill by royal
license in 1817. The Churchill surname is interesting in its origin and could perhaps be the subject of another article. Burke’s Peerage
gives the family origin as coming from Gitto de Leon whose son was Wandril de Leon, Lord of Courcil. The name then changed from "de
Courcil" to "de Chirchil" and ultimately "Churchill".
George was born on 6 March 1766 and died at Blenheim on 5 March 1840, having married in 1791 Susan, 2nd daughter of John
Stewart, 7th Earl of Galloway. Lady Soames has written an excellent biography, The Profligate Duke (London: Collins 1987).
The 6th Duke of Marlborough became the title of their son, George Spencer Churchill, born 1793 and died 1857. He too married three
times. His first wife, Lady Jane Stewart, daughter of the Earl of Galloway, was mother to his son, John Winston Spencer Churchill, 7th
Duke; but he later married Charlotte Flower, daughter of Viscount Ashbrook; and then Jane, daughter of the Hon. Edward Stewart.
There is a tradition that the Spencer Family fled England after the defeat of the Royal cause of Charles I in 1647/48.*(3) The
constitution of all representative or governing bodies was affected, especially that of the Bermuda Company, where William Spencer
was a member of the Bermuda Company. It is believed that William was imprisoned and his wife kept under observation, but during the
dead of night, the family surreptitiously boarded a ship bound to Bermuda where they eventually arrived with no worldly goods except
a chair in which a Bible was hidden beneath a seat. The infant son Nicholas is supposed to have been the first of the name in Bermuda,
though he apparently didn't remain in Bermuda, but immigrated to America to Virginia and Philadelphia.
Refer to page for North American Spencer Lines.
Throughout the history of the last millenium (1000-2000 AD) the Spencer name has been famous throughout the world. Probably the
most famous Spencer was Princess Diana Spencer (1961-1997), the wife of Prince Charles and mother of two sons. George John
Spencer, the 2nd earl of Spencer was a British public official elected to the House of Commons in 1780. Prime minister William Pitt
appointed him to the first lord of the admiralty in 1794, and he was responsible for the selection of Horatio Nelson to command the fleet
that won the famous naval battle of Aboukir in 1798. He left office in 1801, but later served as home secretary. His son, John Charles
Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer, was chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons under Lord Earl Gray. He joined with
Lord John Russell to formulate and pass the Reform Bill of 1832 through the Commons.
Refer to page for North American Spencer Lines.
The Spencer Dynasty has lines, also, in Portugal, France and Italy.
*(1)The Visitation of the County of Warwick in 1619.
*(2)Annales Londonienses, Annales Paulini, Bridlington, Vita Edwardi II, T. de la Moore's Vita et Mors Edwards II in Chronicles of
Edward I and Edward II, i. ii. ed. Dr. W. Stubbs, Rolls Ser., J. Trokelowe, ed. Riley, Rolls Ser
*(3) Bermuda Settlers of the 17th Century by Julia E. Mercer.
*(4)Turkeyfoot, Pennsylvania genealogy compiled by Eber Cockley, publisher of the Meyersdale, Pennsylvania newspaper, compiled
for Anne Spencer Stallman.
Material by Glenn Abernathy and Janet Daniels.
06SEP2006: (Typical) R1B1 393=13 390=23 19=15 391=11 385a=11 385b=14 426=12 388=12 439=13 389-1=13
392=13 389-2=29 458=15 459a=9 459b=10 455=10 454=11 447=25 437=15 448=19 449=28 464a=15 464b=15
464c=16 464d=17 460=10 GATA H4=12 YCA II a=19 YCA II b=23 456=17 607=15 576=17 570=15 CDY a=35 CDY
b=39 442=12 438=12 :06SEP2006
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