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”.

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. His was to secure the area from further rebellion and Scots incursions.

This is how his 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 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 with the documented Nov. 23, 1102 manor grant from Ralph the Reds father Robert de Lacy along the old Northumbria souther border of Northumberland on the north side of the Ribble at “Mitune”.

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.) de Lacy the last of the first line of Norman de Lacy who died without a male heir. The second de Lacy line then began through a female primogenitor connected de Lacy line with Roger Fitz-Eustace who took the surname de Lacy from his maternal grandmother whose great grandfather was Ilbert de Lacey of the conquest. That 2nd.scion line finally ended in 1348 with the death of Alice de Lacy the sole survivor of Henry de Lacy, third Earl of Lincoln and the last of the great de Lacy’s as Barons of Pontefract and Bowland. Henry like Robert in 1192 also died with out a male heir in 1311. That last male de Lacy barony ceased upon the death of Henry de Lacy ll. The de Lacy’s lands were eventually subsumed into the Duchy of Lancaster. The de Mittons were supplanted 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 until the death of Henry de Lacy in 1311. He being the last male de Lacy to be the Lord of Bowland. With Henry de Lacy death the de Mittons tenure as Lord of their surname manor ended..