Update on Richard the Clerk

We continue to advance the pre-Anstey story. Having found slightly more information about Richard the Clerk, father of Hubert de Anstey, we have rewritten page 59 of the third edition of ‘Anstey: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry‘ to the following (which will appear in the fourth edition when it is published):

Richard the Clerk is a most important figure in our story, for he was the father of Hubert, who would later become the Anstey patriarch. Therefore Richard is the ‘great x 28’ grandfather of almost all Ansteys and Anstey descendants alive today (he is the ‘great x 28’ grandfather of co-author Gary). It was in around 1080 that Richard, later to be known as ‘Richard the Clerk’ was born; a Norman by birth, educated in France and destined for the Church.[1]

After filling with credit a clerical post under the Seneschal of Normandy at Caen and in Norman Sicily, he sought a larger sphere of ambition at the English Court where he attached himself to the clerical leader, Roger le Poer. It is likely that Richard the Clerk made the journey from Normandy to England in about 1100,[2] managing to secure a lucrative position in the Chancellorship working as a treasurer’s clerk at Winchester and Westminster. Even though this sounds a somewhat menial position today, it was actually a very high level Exchequer position, and Richard would have been handsomely paid via grants of land from the Crown.

[1] Most of what we know of Richard the Clerk comes from ‘Court Life Under The Plantagenets’ by Hubert Hall (see ‘Select Medieval Anstey Bibliography’ on page 301). On page 6 of his book, the author states that Richard the Clerk was the grandfather of Richard de Anstey (of the ‘Anstey Case’ – see Chapter Two), who we know was the son of Hubert the Anstey patriarch.

[2] It is via Roger le Poer that we get this estimate. Roger le Poer was originally a priest in a small chapel in Caen, Normandy and the story goes that when the future King Henry I happened to hear mass there one day, he was impressed by him and enrolled him into his service. When Henry I became King in 1100 he made Roger le Poer Chancellor of England, effectively running the country in his absence. Then in 1102 Roger le Poer became Bishop of Salisbury, so it is clear that he was permanently based in England from 1100 onwards. As Hubert Hall states clearly on page 5 of ‘Court Life Under The Plantagenets’, “Richard attached himself to the clerical leader Roger le Poer during the sharp struggle that took place in the first decade of the 12th century”, we can surely deduce with confidence that Richard the Clerk too arrived in England in about 1100. Incidentally Roger le Poer’s son, also Roger le Poer, was Chancellor for King Stephen from 1135 to 1139; it could well have been this connection that enabled Hubert the Anstey patriarch to obtain his position with King Stephen’s wife Matilda of Boulogne (see page 61)

As always, anybody who can add to this, or has any other related comments, feel free to contact us at research@theansteystory.com.


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