Male Est 1100 -

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  • Name Hugh FICHET  [1
    Born Est 1100 
    Gender Male 
    • Hugh Fichet and his wife Basilea were undoubtedly involved in the beginning of the Malets of Enmore, but there are two different theories as to how. Arthur Malet, writing in 1885 and using as his base a theory put forward earlier by Sir William Pole, suggests that Hugh Fichet was the biological father of Baldwin Malet, who came into possession of the Enmore estates sometime in the first half of the 12th century. According to this theory, Hugh was born a Malet, but changed his name to Fichet when his father fell into disfavour with the King and was banished from England. The main argument for this comes from a deed of land in which Baldwin describes Hugh Fichet as his father and Basilea as his mother (written in Latin).

      G.E.G. Malet, writing in 1938-9 in "The Genealogist" magazine, argues that the Latin terms used in the deed could equally be interpreted as meaning "Father-In-Law" and "Mother-In-Law", and therefore there is no reason to follow Sir William Pole's theory. He posits that it is much more likely that Baldwin was a younger son of Robert Malet, Baron of Curry Mallet, who married Emma, step-daughter of Hugh Fichet, and heiress to the Enmore Estates, held by her mother Basilea in her own right.

      The latter theory has been followed here, but the former is presented for interest below.

      Excerpt from "Notices of an English Branch of the Malet Family", by Arthur Malet, published 1885, pp 24-27:


      When William Malet, the son of Robert, was expelled from England in 1109, the family name of that branch disappeared for a time; but we know, from its reappearance in the next generation, that a representative was left, though from stress of circumstances he was compelled to change his name, and live in obscurity. This supposed fact is thus stated by Sir Wm. Pole (Sir A. M.'s MSS., vol.i, sup. 2,p. 2): " The Lord William Malet, son of Robert, was banished by King Henry I in 1109, whereupon his younger son Hugh called himself Fichet, from whom descended divers families, who retained that name-- as that of Spaxton, Merige, Strengston, and others; but Baldwin, eldest son of Sir Hugh Fichet, returned unto the former name of Malet, which was upon reconciliation of that family unto King Henry's favour; and this seemeth likely by the seal annexed unto the deed." There are, or were in the time of Sir Wm. Pole, two deeds of Baldwin Malet's extant, in both of which he expressly states his father's name to be Hugh Fichet; and the seal to one of them is thus described by Sir Wm. Pole: "The seal is very large: on one side a man armed with sword and shield on foot cap-a-pied with sword in his right hand striking at a lyon leaping upon him; on the other side two men talking together in gownes, the one having a crown on his head; the circumscription sigillum Baldwini Malet." The explanation of this remarkable seal being, that it symbolised the rebellion of William Malet on the one side, and the reconciliation of the King to Baldwin Malet on the other. I see no reason to dissent from this explanation, the facts of the rebellion and reconciliation being undoubted.

      As to the change of name by Hugh from Malet to Fichet, there was great reason for it: Henry I must have deemed his a treasonable family. The grandfather, Robert, one of the great nobles of the kingdom, had been banished, his honours in England taken from him, and his princely estate confiscated; the father, William, a landless man (in England), had in his turn conspired, and been banished. Surely, whatever the age of Hugh may have been, whether he were an elder brother of Ernest, the undoubted son of William, or a younger, who remained in England while his elder brother accompanied his father to Normandy, if he were to live in England, there was a necessity that he should not be exposed to the supicions [sic] of the King. The change of name would ensure concealment, and the modest appanage evidently bestowed on him by his Somerset cousin (both Robert Malet and Gilbert the Seneschal were his contemporaries ) would suffice for his maintenance. We must not picture to ourselves Enmore then the lordly residence which it became in after days; this time was not far removed from the period of the general Survey, when it was thus entered: "Goisford tenuit de Rogero [de Corcelles] Animere, Algar tenuit T.R.E. et geldabat pro una hida; terra est iiii carucatae; in dominio est i carucata et ii servi et iii villani et iii bordarii cum iii carucatis ibi lxviii Acrae silvae, valuit et valet xl solidi." Mr. Seebohm, in his book on the English village community, tells us that the carucate is generally identical with the normal hide of 120 acres, and on that calculation the amount of land would be about 480 acres, while the cultivated land in demesne on which the tax was levied, was one hide, or 120 acres -- certainly a modest maintenance for a young man of such parentage as Hugh.

      There can be no doubt that Enmore was held by Hugh under the Baron Malet, as Hugh's son Baldwin was returned by Baron Wm. Malet in 1156 as holding it of him on the tenure of military service, and we find in a later day that it was held by the Malet of the time under Beauchamp, who possessed it in right of his wife, who inherited it from Mabilia, one of the daughters and heiresses of William the last Baron Malet, who married Hugh de Vivonia.

      It would seem that a change of name to elude observation was not singular in those days; at least we have another instance when , after the battle of Evesham in 1265, the 49 Henry III, Simon de Montford's son Richard retired to Beaconsfield under the name (probably his wife's ) of Wellesbourne, under which appellation he became a crusader under Prince Edward.

      I am not sure that the following extract applies to such a change of name as Malet into Fichet, but it seems to me to have some bearing on the practice of changing or dropping names, and as such to be of interest. It is from La Roque's Origine des Noms, p. 98:--

      "Il est manifeste que le changement de noms semble eteindre des races avant qu'elles le soient, et it en est arrive des inconveniens tres prejudiciables; et sans exprimer les exemples que je pourrois en rapporter, je diray seulement qu'un Duc d'Alencon, de las maison de France, se servit de ce moyen pour exclure de leur pretensions les legitimes heritiers des anciencs Comtes d'alencon de la maison de Montgomery, parce qu'ils avoient quitte le nom Malet, que leurs predecesseurs portoient conjointement avec celuy de Graville." To this there is a marginal note, "Monsieur l'Abbe du Perron en ses memoires de la Maison de Graville," but I have failed to discover the Abbe du Perron's work.

      Hugh Fichet married Basilea, and had issue Baldwin Malet, his heir to the Enmore property. Sir Wm. Pole states that he left other sons, who retained the name of Fichet, from whom several families of that name descended, and my brother, Mr. O. Warre Malet, has seen in a window of the chapel of Denham Place, near Slough, belonging to Mr. Way, the Fichet arms, impaled with those of Hill, Mr. Way's ancestor, with the following inscription:-- "Robertus Hill Arm: obt. temp: R: II =Isabella Soror et Haeres Thomae Fitchet Com. Som . Militis."

      The arms of the Fichets were* imitated from those of the Barons Malet, being "Gules a lyon rampant or debruised with a
      bend ermine, and with a bend argent, and on the bend three escallops."

      * Sir A. M.'s MSS, vol. i, sup. 2, p. 102
    SW Group
    Person ID I7006  Southwest
    Last Modified 24 Jan 2010 

    Family Basilea,   b. Est 1100 
    Married Est 1140  [1
    +1. Emma,   b. Est 1122
    Family ID F2330  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S1806] Article, Malets of Enmore, Origin of, Malet, G. E. G., (June 1939), M8B908S397.

    2. [S1780] Family History, Malet, Arthur, Arthur Malet, (Harrison & Sons, St. Martin's Lane, London, England, MDCCCLXXXV (1885)), M8W994S136., pp 24-27.