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William d'Aubigny (died 1139) - Wikipedia

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William d'Aubigny (died 1139), sometimes William de Albini, was an Anglo-Norman baron and administrator who served successive kings of England and acquired large estates in Norfolk. From his title of Butler (pincerna in medieval Latin) to King Henry I of England, he was called William d'Aubigny Pincerna to distinguish him from other men of the same name.[2]


South door of Saint-Martin-d'Aubigny church

From a family originating in the village of Saint-Martin-d'Aubigny in Normandy and born before 1070, he was the eldest surviving son of Roger d'Aubigny and his wife Amice or Avice.[2] His brother was Nigel d'Aubigny.


Not mentioned as a landholder in the 1086 Domesday Book, he was associated with King William II of England by 1091 and in that decade is recorded as an important landholder in the county of Norfolk.[2]

His involvement in central government increased after 1100, when Henry I became king of England. In 1101 he was a witness to the treaty in which Robert II, Count of Flanders pledged military support to Henry and is named there as pincerna, evidence that he was one of the chief officers of the royal household. As part of the king's court, he travelled with him and spent about a quarter of his time in Normandy rather than England. By 1130 he was also a royal judge, hearing cases in Essex and in Lincolnshire.[2]

His Norfolk estates grew over the years, until in 1135 he had 22 knights holding lands in his barony there, and he also had lands in Kent. At Old Buckenham, the first castle was probably built in his time, as was the nave of Wymondham Priory, now part of the parish church,[2] which he founded in 1107.[3] He was also a benefactor to his father-in-law's foundation of Thetford Priory and, in Normandy, to the Benedictine abbey of Lessay that his father had supported.[2]

When Stephen became king in 1135, William initially retained his place at court, but had died by June 1139,[2] and was buried at Wymondham.

Founder of Wymondham Priory[edit]

William d'Aubigny, chief butler to King Henry I, founded the Priory of Wymondham in Norfolk, on or before 1107 A.D. The Priory of Wymondham was a subordinate cell to the Monastery of St. Alban's [St. Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire] at the time of its foundation. The Priory of Wymondham continued as a subordinate cell of St. Albans Abbey until the Priory of Wymondham was converted into an independent abbey in 1448 A.D. by a bull obtained from Pope Nicholas V. When William d'Aubigny founded the Priory of Wyondham, the Abbot of St. Alban's in Hertfordshire was Richard d'Aubigny, probably a close relation of William d'Aubigny. Richard d'Aubigny was Abbot of St. Alban's from 1097 A.D. until his death in 1119 A.D. [4]


He married Maud, daughter of Roger Bigod, and their son William became Earl of Arundel.[2]