See also: Homes of our Ancestors: Castles, Chateaus and Manors

One of my favorite characters in my wife Nancy’s family tree is Herleva of Falaise, the mother of William the Conqueror (b. 1027). Of course, William, the great Norman/Viking, conquered England and nearly destroyed half the nation while doing so. History books cover the matter thoroughly. But the history I learned growing up never contained the stories that only a Geoffrey Chaucer would dare tell. But here, in a nutshell, author Lars Brownworth (from “The Normans, From Raiders To Kings”) captures the very essence of the Whittington women!  Admittedly, a thousand years before our time, but Herleva knew who she was, what she wanted and how she would reach her goal.

From: Lars Brownworth, Chapter 4:

“According to one legend, still recounted by tour guides at Falaise, it all started when Robert, the young Duke of Normandy, saw Herleva from the roof of his castle tower. The walkway on the roof still looks down on the dyeing trenches cut into stone in the courtyard below, which can be seen to this day from the tower ramparts above. The traditional way of dyeing leather or garments was to trample barefoot on the garments which were awash in the liquid dye in these trenches. Herleva, legend goes, seeing the Duke on his ramparts above, raised her skirts perhaps a bit more than necessary in order to attract the Duke’s eye. The latter was immediately smitten and ordered her brought in (as was customary for any woman that caught the Duke’s eye) through the back door. Herleva refused, saying she would only enter the Duke’s castle on horseback through the front gate, and not as an ordinary commoner. The Duke, filled with lust, could only agree. In a few days, Herleva, dressed in the finest her father could provide, and sitting on a white horse, rode proudly through the front gate, her head held high. This gave Herleva a semi-official status as the Duke’s mistress.”

And, of course, she later gave birth to Robert’s son, William, in 1027. From that wonderful moment in 1027 we have the following descendants (starting most recently and going back in time).

Whittington’s have two different paths to the Royals of Europe. This first pathway takes one through the Osbornes and Sullivans and the Gateway Immigrant, Obadiah Bruehn to the Plantagenants. The second pathway found further down the page links the family via the Whittingtons and Littletons and the gateway immigrant, Nathaniel Littleton.


43) Laurel Sullivan 1895-1995 m Clifford Whittington 1892-1971

42) Julia Ozbun 1868-1956 m Thomas Sullivan 1869-1903

41) Mary Post 1840-1933 m Marcus Ozbun 1834-1912

40) Emily Carey 1814-1881 m Abiather Post 1797-1874

39) Mary Wood 1781-1877 m William Carey 1779-1844

38) Abigail Kitchell 1748-1835 m Joseph Wood 1747-1822

37) John Kitchell 1713-1777 m Keziah Ball 1723-1789

36) Sarah Bruen 1679-1745 m Abraham Kitchell 1679-1741

35) John Bruen 1646-1695 m Esther Lawrence 1651-1697

34) Obadiah Bruen 1606-1680 m Sarah Seeley 1609-1684

33) John Bruen 1560-1625 m Anne Fox 1580-1606

32) Lady Dorothy Holford 1537-1587 m John Bruen 1509-1587

31) Sir Thomas Holford 1508-1569 m Lady Jane Booth 1500-1569

30) Sir John Holford 1482-1545 m Margery Brereton 1486-1544

29) Sir George Holford 1456-1507 m Isabel Leigh 1454-1481

28) Maud Bulkley 1430-1466 m Sir Thomas Holford 1428-1473

27) Lady Margaret Molineux 1389-1481 m Sir William Bulkley 1385-1459

26) Lady Elizabeth Stanley m Richard Molyneux

25) Lady Joan Goushill 1401-1466  m. Thomas Lord Stanley 1405-1459

24) Lady Elizabeth FitzAllen  1366-1425   m. Sir Robert Goushill 1350-1403

23) Elizabeth de Bohun  1350-1585  m Richard Fitz Alan, Earl of Arundel 1346-1397

22) William de Bohun  1312-1360 m Elizabeth de Badlesmere 1313-1356

21) Elizabeth of Rhuddlan (Princess) 1282-1316 m Humphrey Bohun 1276-1321

20)King Edward I (Longshanks) 1239-1307 m Queen Eleanor of Castile 1244-1290

19) King Henry III (Plantagenets) 1206-1272 m Eleanor Provence Berenger 1217-1291

18) King John I 1167-1216 m Isabella of Angoulême

17) King Henry II 1133-1189 m Eleanor of Aquitane 1122-1204

16) Empress Matilda 1102-1167 m King Geoffrey 1113-1151

15) King Henry I 1068-1135 m Matilda of Scotland 1080-1118

14) William the Conqueror 1027-1087 m Matilda of Flanders 1031-1083

Matilda’s Royal Ancestors (See Below for William’s)

13) Baldwin V, Count of Flanders m Adele, daughter of Robert II, King of France

12) Baldwin IV m Ogive of Luxembourg

11) Arnulf II, Count of Flanders,  m Alice, daughter of Count of Vermandois

10) Baldwin II, Count of Flanders m Elstrude, daughter of Alfred the Great, King of England

9) Princess Judith, widow of Athelwulf, King of England, m. Baldwin I

8) Charles II (the Bald) m Ermentrude, Countess of Orleans

7) Louis I m Judith, Countess of Guelph-Otterf

6) Charlemagne (742-840) m Hildegarde of Soabia

5) Pepin the Short m Bertha, daughter of Charibert, Count of Laon

4) Charles Martel m Rotrude of Trier

3) Pepin of Heristal m Plectrude

2) Begga m Ansegishl, son of Araulf

1) Pepin the Elder (530-639) father of Bega

 William the Conqueror’s Ancestors

13) Robert, Duke of Normandy m Herleva

12) Richard II, Duke of Normandy m Gunnora

11) Richard I, Duke of Normandy

10) William I, Count of Normandy

9) Rollo the Viking (846-932) m Poppa of Bayeux

A second link to the Plantagenants is found in the Whittington tree. This path takes us from Whittingtons to Nathaniel Littleton (Accomack, Va 1620) back in time to Number 20 on the list above, Edward I, Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots. Note the difference: Littleton’s descend from the wife Marguerite, while Obadiah Bruehn descended from a second wife, Eleanor of Castile.

  1. Edward I King of England (1231- 1307) m. Marguerite de France (1279-1318) his name was also Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots. She was a Capetian Family member, daughter of King Philip III of France and Maria de Brabant
  2. Thomas of Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk (1300-1338) m. Alice de Hales
  3. Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk (1322-1399) m. John de Segrave (1315-1353)
  4. Elizabeth de Segrave m. John de Mowbray
  5. Thomas Gray m. Joan de Mowbray
  6. John Gray m. Joan Cherleton
  7. Henry Gray m. Antigone of Gloucester
  8. Elizabeth Grey m. Roger Kynaston
  9. Jane Kynaston m. Roger Thornes
  10. John Thornes m. Elizabeth Astley
  11. Richard Thornes m. Margaret Fychan
  12. Alice Thornes m. Rev. John Littleton
  13. Sir Edward Littleton m. Dame Mary Walter
  14. Nathaniel Littleton m. Ann Southy
  15. Southy Littleton m Sarah Bowman
  16. Esther Littleton m William Whittington
  17. For a continuation of the Whittington tree to the present day click on this.


To see how the Rich and Famous lived visit: Homes of our Ancestors: Castle, Chateaus and Manors