Waltheof NORTHUMBERLAND Earl of Huntingdon
- Born: Abt 1036, Northumberland, England
- Marriage: Judith OF LENS 1070
- Died: 31 May 1076, Beheaded At Winchester, Hampshire, England, about age 40
- Buried: Jun 1076, Crowland, Lincolnshire, England
Ancestral File Number: V9VL-BD
1 NAME Waltheof 1St Earl Of /Huntingdon/
2 GIVN Waltheof 1St Earl Of
2 SURN Huntingdon
on the history of the Earldom of Huntingdon:
The first post-Conquest Earl of Huntingdon appears to have been Waltheof, son of Siward Earl of Northumberland and indeed Siward's successor in the latter Earldom as well. Waltheof was later beheaded for conspiring against William the Conqueror. [Burke's Peerage]
The county which gives designation to this earldom of Huntingdon was, according to Dr. Heylin, a thickly wooded forest until the reign of the 2nd Henry, when the timber was first cleared away; the chief town, from the celebrity of the forest as a chase, was called Huntingtown, which soon became abbreviated into Huntington, or Huntingdon. The Earldom of Huntingdom was conferred by William the Conqueror upon Waltheof (son of Syward, the Saxon Earl of Northumberland), who had m. the dau. of that monarch's sister, by the mother's side, Judith. He was also Earl of Northampton, and of Northumberland, but conspiring against the Normans, he was beheaded in 1073 at Winchester, leaving issue, Maud and Judith. [Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 467-8, St. Liz, Earls of Huntingdon]
Waltheof was the last of the Old English earls to survive under William I, his execution for treason in 1076 marking a significant stage in the aristocratic and tenurial revolution which followed 1066. Younger son of Siward, the Danish earl of Northumbria (1041-55) and Aelflaed, daughter of Aldred, earl of Northumbria, Waltheof received an earldom consisting of the shires of Huntingdon, Bedford, Northampton, Rutland, and Cambridge in 1065. As one of the few English magnates not from the Godwin faction, he accepted and was accepted by William I, witnessing royal charters and remaining loyal to the new regime until 1069 when he joined with the Danes in their invasion of Northumbria. He was prominent in their capture of York, hoping, no doubt, to be restored to his father's position. This opportunism is perhaps more characteristic of English magnate reactions to the political turmoil of 1065-70 than any supposed national feeling. However, the revolt and invasion were defeated by William's winter campaign of 1069-70. It is a measure of William's insecurity that when Waltheof submitted in 1070 he was restored to royal favour and, in 1072, added the earldom of Northumbria to his holdings. To bind him more tightly to the Norman dispensation, William gave him his niece Judith in marriage. But in 1075, Waltheof was implicated in the largely French revolt led by Ralph, earl of Norfolk, and Roger, earl of Hereford. Despite his lack of military action, his confession, apparent contrition and the support of Archbishop Lanfranc, Waltheof was executed on 31 May 1076.
The king's motives are obscure. Waltheof was the only prominent Englishman to be executed in the reign. Perhaps his removal was part of William's justifiably nervous response to the problem of controlling Northumbria. It may have made sense to take the chance to remove a potential --- and proven --- focus of northern discontent. Yet Waltheof's heirs were not harried, one daughter, Matilda, marrying David I of Scotland (1042-53), and another Ralph IV of Tosny, a leading Norman baron.
Waltheof is a significant reminder that the period around 1066 was transitional, with no necessarily definite beginnings or endings. Waltheof adapted to the new order, falling foul, it seems, of the ambitions and schemes of others, not least of parvenus Frenchmen. He married into the new elite, yet embodied the old. Heir to both English and Anglo-Danish traditions, it was he who completed one of the most celebrated of Anglo-Saxon blood-feuds. In 1016, Uchtred, earl of Northumbria was murdered by a northern nobleman called Thurbra
Waltheof married Judith OF LENS, daughter of Lambert OF BOULOGNE and Adelaide NORMANDY Countess Of Aumale, in 1070. (Judith OF LENS was born in 1054 in Lens, Artois, France and died after 1086.)