B. “Harrying of the North”…. or don`t mess with Bill !

How the Mittons became the first Norman resident family of Clitheroe

The Harrying of the North 1069-70 and on over a 3 year period was a response to the strong resistance to Norman rule shown by the Northumbrian people. It was sparked by the murder of King William l of England newly-appointed Northumbria earl, Robert de Comines, in 1069.

Ilbert de Lacy accompanied William on a campaign to subdue further rebellion on the part of Northumbria Saxons from his rule. It was a brutal slaughter and pillaging of Yorkshire by the King accompanied by a huge army beginning winter of 1069-1070.  Farm implements were destroyed to deny the local population the means for survival and lands were salted to make agricultural useless for years. The scorched land devastation was to the extent that 100,000 people starved to death.The pillage wrought by William was to impress upon the local population the futility of further resistance to Norman rule.

Yorkshire descended into a worse state when the Conqueror died than it had been in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and that its recovery was hardly in prospect even in 1100 AD. Many of the manor holdings recorded in the Doomsday book including “Mit-tune” are referred to as “wasta”. Meaning of no agricultural value or otherwise.

Following the Harrying of the North, many of the key positions formerly held by the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy were given to Normans. However, despite the creation of a new Norman elite, Anglo-Saxon culture remained vibrant. The early Normans practiced a form of apartheid toward their conquered people.

Ilbert de Lacy was a major participant in the Harrying of the North (1069–70) which effectively ended the quasi-independence of the region through large-scale destruction that resulted in the relative “pacification” of the local population and the replacement of local AngloDanish lords with Normans to which Ilbert de Lacy was a principle. As such, Ilbert de Lacy received from the Conquerer vast grants of land in West Yorkshire, where he built Pontefract Castle. It was to secure the area from further rebellion and Scots incursions.

This is how Ilberts grandson Ralph the Red, (abet an illegitimate one) eventually came to Clitheroe in 1102 through a grant of manors from Ilberts son and heir Robert de Lacy the attributed father of Ralph the Red. The Harrying of the North was the precursor as to how the de Mitton’s became established in this area 30 years later by the documented Nov. 23, 1102 manor grants from Robert de Lacy. The major manor was along the old southern border of Northumbria. and Mercer on the Ribble river. The north side of the Ribble was “Mitune” with the ancient border to the south-side of the river, the kingdom of Mercer.

The Honour of Pontefract, which included the manor of Mitton was maintained by Ilbert’s direct male descendants for the next three generations until 1192 and the death of Robert (3rd. Robert) de Lacy. He was the last of the first Normand bloodline de Lacy’s who died without a male heir. The second de Lacy line then began through a female connected de Lacy line to a grandson, Roger Fitz-Eustace who took the surname de Lacy from his maternal grandmother whose great grandfather was Ilbert de Lacy of the conquest. That 2nd.scion line succession eventually ended in 1348 with the death of Alice de Lacy, the sole surviving daughter of Henry de Lacy, third Earl of Lincoln and he the last of the great de Lacy Barons of Pontefract and Lords of Bowland. He was the last member of his family to hold that title. Henry like Robert in 1192 also died with out a male heir in 1311 with only daughter Alice surviving. That male de Lacy succession ceased upon the death of Henry de Lacy. de Lacy’s lands were eventually subsumed into the Duchy of Lancaster circa 1353. The de Mittons were terminated from their manor after 1311 by the new paramount feudal lord Thomas Plantagenet, husband of Alice de Lacy. The de Mitton family feudal magna manor holdings had coincided for 208 years with the de Lacy`s as Lords of Bowland. With Henry de Lacy death the de Mittons tenure as Lord of their surname manor ended by 1312.