The Story of Alnold Cilt and the Northwood Family

Whilst researching a branch of my family I came across the name ‘Alnold Cilt’ who’s tomb remains unmarked in Minster Abbey, Isle of Sheppey, there are a few variations of this story and it’s origins stretch back to the Norman conquest of England, it’s a tale which history hasn’t been able to answer and involves the family of Norwood (or Northwood, as it was originally spelt).

Minster Abbey, Isle of Sheppey Abbey Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Sexburgha was founded in AD 664 by Queen Sexburgha Photo Credit: http://www.sheppeywebsite.co.uk/index.php?id=62

Minster Abbey, Isle of Sheppey
Abbey Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Sexburgha was founded in AD 664 by Queen Sexburgha
Photo Credit: http://www.sheppeywebsite.co.uk/index.php?id=62

The Family origins and their name began on the Isle of Sheppey, where it is said that This Alnod Cilt was Ulnoth, fourth son of earl Godwin, and younger brother to king Harold, who from the royalty of his kindred, had the addition of Cilt, a similar denomination to the Latin word Clito, with which those of royal blood were always honoured in those times Alnod (who had been imprisoned) was said to have eventually been released by William Rufus who then made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, washed in the River Jordan, and thus purified, changed his name to Jordanus, returning to Norwood Manor on the Isle of Sheppey to be near Edith, wife of King Harold, who had retired to the Nunnery of Minster Abbey.
From that day on he became known as Jordanus de Sheppey, his descendants took the title of his manor and were known as ‘de Northwood’.
The problem with this story is that Jordanus de Sheppey lived sometime between the years 1135 – 1198, and Ulnoth ‘Wulnoth’ Godwinson lived between the years 1040 – 1094. There are certainly elements of fact behind this story as firstly Ulnoth was indeed a hostage of William the conquerer and remained so (in Normandy) between the years 1051 and 1087, his freedom was only brief, an amnesty by the dying King William I, he was quickly taken back into confinement by King William II Rufus, who brought him to England. Of course, there are many explanations of Ulnoth’s enduring captivity. Even following William’s victory at Hastings (1066) over Harold and crowning as King of England in London later that year, England’s pacification remained uncertain. William may have held Ulnoth as hostage against a resurgence of a remnant of Godwinson power.
Ulnoth stayed in sometimes comfortable, if not enviable, captivity in Normandy and later in England, and died in Winchester in 1094, still a prisoner.
There is no evidence to suggest that Ulnoth had any legitimate heirs, but he was well looked after and Woman would certainly have been allowed in his quarters.
Alnod Cilt (or Jordanus de Sheppey), is more likely to have been an illegitimate child of Ulnoth, rather Ulnoth himself.
It would make reasonable sense for Alnod Cilt and his mother to be taken to the Isle Sheppey, which sits at the mouth of the River Thames, as it was easily accessible from London. Making it easier for William II Rufus to keep a watchful eye over him. The Minister Abbey, Isle of Sheppey is also the last resting place of Edith the Fair, wife / mistress of King Harold Godwinson who retired there as a Nun shortly after her husband’s death at the Battle of Hastings, 14 October 1066. If Alnod Cilt was born before 1086, (as recorded in Domesday) he may even have been in Edith’s care.

Edith discovering the body of Harold, after the Battle of Hastings. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Edith discovering the body of Harold, after the Battle of Hastings.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

This now leads us to the next mystery, did Alnod Cilt travel to the holy land and did he re-name himself Jordanus after his baptism in the river Jordan. If they are one of the same person, then Jordanus de Sheppey as he was now known would have been at least 60 years old when the first of the Northwood family were reputedly born in 1165, this may have been the case as medieval men were often much older than their wives. However, Jordanus de Sheppey could also have been a son of Alnod Cilt, which could easily have made his birth c. 1135 or earlier, making him a good age to father the first of the Northwood family which history tells us happened.
We will probably never no the full truth behind this story, and only a few snippets of fact have been left behind, Alnod Cilt lays buried in the Minster Abbey, Isle of Sheppey. His grandson Sir Stephen de Norwood (Northwood) born c. 1165 built two manor houses, the manor on the Isle of Sheppy was known as “Norwood Manor” within Sheppy and a manor in the Parish of Milton was known as “Norwood without Sheppy” and also known as “Norwood Chasteners.”

Stephen recorded as a son of Jordan de Sheppy, lived during the reigns of Richard I and King John, (1189 – 1216) his Isle of Sheppey manor was granted by the crown, his mansion was moated round and encompassed with a park, well wooded, and stored with abundance of deer and wild boars. Hence, he assumed the name of Northwood, which was borne by all his descendants.
The first time the surname Norwood occurs, is in a court case in the year 1206. At this time, Stephen is also recorded as Stephen, son of Jordan of Sheppey or Stephen son of Cecily. The earliest dated occurrence of Stephen is in the tax rolls for the years 1198-1202 still existing in the public record office in Chancery Lane, London. He occurs with his mother, Cecily, and his brother William. Since Jordan is not mentioned, he is assumed to be dead by this time.” Stephen’s approximate birthdate of 1165 is based on the fact that he paid to have King John re-confirm his grants that he received from King Richard I around the year 1185. He would have had to be of age at that time so his birthdate is guessed to be the near 1165 figure. [James Dempsey, “Norwood – Northwood families of Kent Warwickshire and Gloucestershire”, 1987]

Stephen’s name can be found in a variety of ways because before the year 1200, the use of surnames or spelling had not been rigidly adopted. In tax rolls for the years 1214 and 1219, Northwood Manor has become well-known enough for Stephen to identify himself as “Stephen of Norwood”.

Family Connection

Godwin “Earl of Wessex” (1001 – 1053)

is my 29th great grandfather

Wulnoth GODWINSON (1040 – 1094)

son of Godwin “Earl of Wessex”

Alnod Cilt (1086 – 1165)

is my 27th great grandfather

Jordanus de SHEPPEY (1135 – 1198)

son of Alnod Cilt

Sir Stephen de NORTHWOOD Knt (1165 – )

son of Jordanus de SHEPPEY

Sir Roger ‘Baron of Shepey’ de NORTHWOOD (1191 – )

son of Sir Stephen de NORTHWOOD Knt

Jone ‘of Shepey’ de NORTHWOOD (1223 – )

daughter of Sir Roger ‘Baron of Shepey’ de NORTHWOOD

Sir William “Baron of Seyliard” de LA SEYLIARD (1251 – )

son of Jone ‘of Shepey’ de NORTHWOOD

Robert de LA SEYLIARD (1280 – )

son of Sir William “Baron of Seyliard” de LA SEYLIARD

Gilbert de LA SEYLIARD (1314 – )

son of Robert de LA SEYLIARD

William ‘of Kent’ SEYLIARD (1346 – 1392)

son of Gilbert de LA SEYLIARD

John ‘of Seyliard in Hever’ SEYLIARD (1388 – 1449)

son of William ‘of Kent’ SEYLIARD

Robert SEYLIARD (1415 – )

son of John ‘of Seyliard in Hever’ SEYLIARD

John SEYLIARD (1436 – )

son of Robert SEYLIARD

John SEYLIARD (1456 – 1492)

son of John SEYLIARD

Thomas SEYLIARD (1476 – 1535)

son of John SEYLIARD

William ‘Citizen and Merchant Tailor of London’ SEYLIARD (1514 – 1569)

son of Thomas SEYLIARD

Isabel SEILEARDE (1537 – 1597)

daughter of William ‘Citizen and Merchant Tailor of London’ SEYLIARD

John ‘of Clifford’s Inn’ CHEICKE Gent (1575 – )

son of Isabel SEILEARDE

John CHEICKE (1598 – )

son of John ‘of Clifford’s Inn’ CHEICKE Gent

Thomas CHEICKE (1621 – )

son of John CHEICKE

Thomas CHICK (1672 – 1709)

son of Thomas CHEICKE

Thomas ‘of Wivenhoe’ CHICK (1700 – 1743)

son of Thomas CHICK

Thomas CHICK (1722 – 1753)

son of Thomas ‘of Wivenhoe’ CHICK

Thomas CHICK (1745 – 1801)

son of Thomas CHICK

Lucy CHICK (1775 – 1860)

daughter of Thomas CHICK

Hannah ROUSE (1824 – 1912)

daughter of Lucy CHICK

Charles BARRITT (1861 – 1902)

son of Hannah ROUSE

Hannah Maud Mabel BARRITT (1890 – 1957)

daughter of Charles BARRITT

Rosie May JANES (1930 – 1997)

daughter of Hannah Maud Mabel BARRITT

Stephen Robert KUTA (1956 – )

son of Rosie May JANES

Stephen Robert KUTA

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10 thoughts on “The Story of Alnold Cilt and the Northwood Family

    • I often think the same, gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘Gateway Ancestor’ 🙂 hope your research is coming along well too 🙂 and thank you Amy 🙂

  1. I’ve emailed you, I have recently been researching my family lineage and I believe we may be related distantly 🙂 Your research is great.

  2. Stephen, love you site and all info. My husband, James Alan Norwood is a descendent of the same line. We will be in England this June to walk the way his de Northwoode fore fathers walked! We have been in contact with the Priest at the Abbey and hope to make brass rubbings. We would like to find out more about Norwood Manor. So excited about this adventure!! By the way, we are from Montgomery, Alabama.,USA.

  3. I really enjoyed your findings. I actually have a book that from 1977 that is titled Norwood family and their Royal Heritage. If it is correct then we also go back to Alnod.
    My 2 great grandmother was Susannah V. Norwood.

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