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lauded property in those warlike times implied military service. Bishops and abbots, equally with great barons who held estates immediately of the crown, were obliged, when required. to furnish the king with armed men in proportion to their domains; but they had their feudatories under them, to aid them in this service.
The princely prelate of Durham had his barons and knights, who held estates of him on feudal tenure, and were bound to serve him in peace and war. They sat occasionally in his councils, gave martial splendor to his court, and were obliged to have horse and weapon ready for service, for they lived in a belligerent neighborhood, disturbed occasionally by civil war, and often by Scottish foray. When the banner of St. Cuthbert, the royal standard of the province, was displayed, no armed feudatory of the bishop could refuse to take the field.1
Some of these prelates, in token of the warlike duties of their diocese, engraved on their seals a knight on horseback, armed at all points, brandishing in one hand a sword, and holding forth in the other the arms of the see.2
Among the knights who held estates in the palatinate on these warlike conditions was WILLIAM DE HERTBURN, the progenitor of the Washingtons. His Norman name of William would seem to point out his national descent; and the family long continued to have Norman names of baptism. The surname of De Hertburn was
1 Robert de Graystanes, Ang. Sac. p. 746.
2 Camden, Brit. iv. 349.
taken from a village on the palatinate, which he held of the bishop in knight's fee; probably the same now called Hartburn, on the banks of the Tees. It had become a custom among the Norman families of rank, about the time of the Conquest, to take surnames from their castles or estates; it was not until some time afterwards that surnames became generally assumed by the people.1
How or when the De Hertburns first acquired possession of their village is not known. They may have been companions in arms with Robert de Brus (or Bruce), a noble knight of Normandy, rewarded by William the Conqueror with great possessions in the North, and among others, with the lordships of Hert and Hertness in the county of Durham.
The first actual mention we find of the family is in the "Bolden Book," a record of all the lands appertaining to the diocese in 1183. In this it is stated that William de Hertburn had exchanged his village of Hertburn for the manor and village of Wessyngton, likewise in the diocese; paying the bishop a quit-rent of four pounds, and engaging to attend him with two greyhounds in grand hunts, and to furnish a man-at-arms whenever military aid should be required of the palatinate.2
1 Lower, On Surnames, vol. i. p. 43. Fuller says that the custom of surnames was brought from France in Edward the Confessor's time, about fifty years before the Conquest; but did not become universally settled until some hundred years afterwards. At first they did not descend hereditarily on the family. Fuller, Church History. Roll Battle Abbey.
2 THE BOLDEN BOOK. As this ancient document gives
of Wessyngton show how strictly the rights of the chase were defined. All the game taken by him in going to the forest belonged to the bishop; all taken on returning belonged to himself.1
Hugh de Pusaz (or De Pudsay) during whose episcopate we meet with this first trace of the De Wessyngtons, was a nephew of King Stephen, and a prelate of great pretensions; fond of appearing with a train of ecclesiastics and an armed retinue. When Richard Coeur de Lion put everything at pawn and sale to raise funds for a crusade to the Holy Land, the bishop resolved to accompany him. More wealthy than his sovereign, he made magnificent preparations. Besides ships to convey his troops and retinue, he had a sumptuous galley for himself, fitted up with a throne or episcopal chair of silver, and all the household, and even culinary utensils, were of the same costly material. In a word, had not the prelate been induced to stay at home, and aid the king with his treasures, by being made one of the regents of the kingdom, and earl of Northumberland for life, the De Wessyngtons might have followed the banner of St. Cuthbert to the holy wars.
Nearly seventy years afterwards we find the family still retaining its manorial estate in the palatinate. The names of Bondo de Wessyngton and William his son appear on charters of land, granted in 1257 to religious houses. Soon after occurred the wars of the barons, in which the throne of Henry III. was shaken by the De 1 IIutchinson's Durham, vol. ii. p. 489.
Mountforts. The chivalry of the palatinate rallied under the royal standard. On the list of loyal knights who fought for their sovereign in the disastrous battle of Lewes (1264), in which the king was taken prisoner, we find the name of William Weshington, of Weshington.1
During the splendid pontificate of Anthony Beke (or Beak), the knights of the palatinate had continually to be in the saddle, or buckled in armor. The prelate was so impatient of rest that he never took more than one sleep, saying it was unbecoming a man to turn from one side to another in bed. He was perpetually, when within his diocese, either riding from one manor to another, or hunting and hawking. Twice he assisted Edward I. with all his force in invading Scotland. In the progress northward with the king, the bishop led the van, marching a day in advance of the main body, with a mercenary force, paid by himself, of one thousand foot and five hundred horse. Besides these he had his feudatories of the palatinate; six bannerets and one hundred and sixty knights, not one of whom, says an old poem, but surpassed Arthur himself, though endowed with the charmed gifts of Merlin.2 We presume the De Wessyngtons were among those preux chevaliers, as the banner of
1 This list of knights was inserted in the Bolden Book as an Additional entry. It is cited at full length by Hutchinson, Hist. Durham, vol. i. p. 220.
2 "Onques Artous pour touz ces charmes,
Si beau prisent ne ot de Merlin."
Siege of Karlavarock; an old Poem in Nor