Le Grande Francaise Connection

The journey so far into the origins of the name Midgley

For some time I had on my mind that there was another origin for the name Midgley.
Since I was a child I had puzzled why my surname, perhaps like your own, appeared twice in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Surely it would cause havoc with the Royal Mail. The thought lay at the back of my mind. I began to research, slowly at first, then a small avalanche. Tom Mitchell in Tasmania sent me an email in 1998 in which he said he had met a person who had found a reference to an origin of the name. This person had told him that a "Norman had come across the channel with William I and plonked himself and his family in Yorkshire".  I didn't follow this up for some time as I was chasing skeletons in the cupboard in the 1700's

The jig-saw puzzle began to appear when I looked more closely at the origins of the two village names.  Midgley near Halifax was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as MICLEI but the hamlet of Midgley near Wakefield did NOT appear in the D.B. but was first referred to in the 1100's as MIGELAIA. That is, the one near Wakefield developed AFTER the Normans arrived in England [1066].
The pronunciation of these names I thought might be different, after all if we try to pronounce Miclei it sounds 'softer' than Migelaia. Following up a lead I received from David and Milnethorpe Midgley in Tasmania, I found a reference to a Sir William de Miggeley. This Bill Miggeley sounded like the 'hard' pronunciation. What excited me was he had been granted lands near Wakefield in the 1300's, which I knew were adjacent to Sandal Castle the seat of the Norman family, Warrene.

Miggeley could sound more like the Migelaia from the 1100's. Thinking, thinking, have a sleep, think more, research more, move the pieces around. Perhaps they had two derivations, one pre-Norman [Miclei] and the other Norman-French. What appears to have happened is that a Thomas de Miggeley arrived in England, encouraged over by Henry II, to help defend the north of England from those pesky Scots marauders. A name with a similar derivation is that of Muschamp. This family appear as liegemen of the Gants in Lincolnshire and after loyal service were granted lands in Northumberland.

Falaise Castle the birthplace of William The Bastard, later Conquerer.

not the actual, but get the picture? The funny side of the Muschamp history at:  Muschamps by Arthur Muschamp
The Muschamp Coat of Arms at: Main Muschamp Page
Michael  Muschamp is from Leeds, in the heart of the West Riding, by God, the Normans have landed! Remember, the Normans are descended from the Vikings who settled in Normandy.

Q A question we might ask now is did the original [Thomas?] de Miggeley come with Part of the Falaise brass plaque the Conqueror or did he arrive somewhat later as Tom Mitchell has suggested.
The "Falaise Roll" with about 8-9,000 names of those who accompanied William [Guillaume]  might throw some light on this question if anyone can find a copy. The "Battle Abbey Roll",  composed of a number of subsequent and possibly fraudulent additions differs from the Falaise roll.

Falaise Castle erected on a chalk bluff, is the birthplace of William the Bastard, later William the Conqueror or William I of England. William's father was Robert the Devil, Duke of Normandy who fathered William through Herleva (Herleve)* the daughter of William the Tanner, a burgher [town councillor] of Falaise. As Herleva was not of the nobility William could not marry her, thus Herleva was married off to a Norman lord by whom she had two sons, Robert and Odo (i.e. half-brothers to William). Both half-brothers supported William in his campaign to take England, Odo later becoming the bishop of Bayeaux. It was Odo who commissioned the making of the Bayeaux tapestry.
William died from a combination of dysentry and intestinal damage due to horse-riding at A memorial to William 1st of England at Falaise the age of 60 on 6th September 1087 at Rouen  and was buried at Caen. [Rouen is is the burial place of Joan of Arc, 1431].
The Muschamp estate was situated near Falaise, it is likely that William I was Muschamp's direct feudal overlord and therefore they knew each other!

Note: Herleve is also recorded as Herlote which may be either a derivation or derived from  the term harlot [from Old French, Herlot, rascal] perhaps used by the English in a derogatory way towards the parentage of the leader of the Norman invaders."The Chronicle of the Counts of Anjou" records the son of Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy as being William an illegitimate son,  lightly referring to him  as "an upright man who conquered England". Equally the title "Count of Anjou" may have led to even more insults being thrown by the vanquished at the conquering Normans. There was no love lost between these two disparate groups during the early years of colonisation, the "Harrying of the North", when every male over the age of 15 was butchered, made sure of that.

PINE, L.G.: They Came with the Conqueror, a Study of the Modern Descendants of the Normans, London: Evans Brothers Limited., 1954. First Edition.
The Normans


© Tim Midgley,  2001, revised May 2009.