Goram, they mean William de Eynsford I.
Note that the first lord is not Ralf.
Little is known of Ralf. He was not an
Anglo-Dane,15 but presumably a lay retainer from
the abbatial lands of Bee or Caen. He held nothing else,
except perhaps Croham, Surrey,16 which was
certainly held by his descendants, also of the archbishop. He
was perhaps dead before the transcription of Domesday,
certainly by 1087, when Lanfranc states that he had enfeoffed
his son, William I17 in language implying that this
was not automatic but was a position of special trust, a trust
that was later to outweigh the strict law of primogeniture in
the succession of William III. It seems that the years
1087-1089 saw the organization of the knights, the creation of
a lordship for William I on wider terms than his father's,
and, in view of the historical circumstances, the entrusting
to him of the building of the Castle on Lanfranc's authority,
not his own. A fortification of this quality, a smaller
version of the castle at Rochester that, in these very years,
Bishop Gundulf with difficulty persuaded William Rufus was
economic for him, Gundulf, to build on Rufus's behalf, would
not normally have been tolerated in private hands. After
Lanfranc's death, the long vacancy, with the lordship in royal
hands, and then Anselm's exile, would hardly have been
opportune for the founding of an archiepiscopal castle or the
permission for a private one. But the years 1087-1089, when
Lanfranc and Gundulf still stood in the confidence of Rufus,
but on the defensive, with Odo scotched, not killed, provide
the most arguable occasion for the consolidation of the militia
episcopatus, with the barony and castle of Eynsford as its
spearhead. This is 'Phase W'—see below.
A long and active life confirmed Lanfranc's view
of the abilities of William de Eynsford I. As chief tenant, we
see him managing ecclesiastical affairs, with the
general approval of Gundulf and the exiled Anselm, and with
the disapproval of the ambitious Prior Ernulf.18 Later,
he moves into a more independent position as sheriff of Kent
for a long period19 and, briefly, of London, Essex
and Hertfordshire.20 At the end of his career, he
may have overreached his powers: soon
15 Unspao occurs
as a name, e.g. at Lincoln, before the Conquest, but both Ralf
and his son, of age by 1087, had Norman names.
16 Near South Croydon station,
about TQ 336640. The Ralf that held it in Domesday may be
fltz-Unspac, or his brother-in-law, to whom William I
17 Cartulary of the Priory of
St. Gregory, Canterbury, ed. A. M. Woodcock (Camden Soc.
3rd ser., Ixxxviii, 1956), 2.
18 Patrologia Latina, ed.
Migne, CLIX, col. 233, Iviii, col. 235, Ixi (letters of
Anselm). Ernulf is surely already prior of Canterbury, not
Rochester, on this occasion.
19 This is the natural
interpretation of, e.g. Regesta Begum Anglo-Normannorum, II
(ed. Johnson and Cronne), 1093, 1189, 1191, 1497, 1867.
20 Cartul. Monasterii de
Rameseia (Rolls Ser. no. 79, 1884), I, 139—sheriff of
London, surely not far short of 1130; Pipe Boll, 31 Hen. I,
63 (of. H. Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, 298)—allowance
for what remained of his cancelled five-years farm of Essex