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THE following information concerning the family of one of the benefactors to Basingwerk Abbey, will be found interesting by those who are fond of tracing the domestic history of Flintshire; and also by those whose enquiries may have led them to study the modes and times of the changes of property, which more particularly mark the annals of such a country as Wales. Details of this kind form part and parcel of county history; and many of the shires into which Wales is divided, are still wanting in accounts of that description. We shall be glad to see similar attempts made towards extending our knowledge of the territorial history of other parts of the Principality; more especially if taken in hand by antiquaries, as able to do justice to the subject as the gentleman, to whose friendship we are indebted for this paper.—[EDD. Arch. Camb.]
NoTICE OF THE FAMILY OF ROBERT BANASTRE, ONE OF THE BENEFACTORs of BASINGWERK ABBEY.
The name of Banastre is latinized Balneator by Camden, (v. Remains, p. 157, Edit. 1674.) It was, probably, a title of office, (which may have been connected with the ceremonies of Knighthood,) and if so might be borne—like the names of Spencer, Marshall, Butler, and others—by parties having no common tie of kindred." Camden's interpretation is supported, by our sometimes finding the water bouget borne in arms, attributed to the name of Banastre.
The name occurs in the roll of Battle Abbey as that of one of the companions of the Conqueror, whom we are enabled to identify with Robert Banastre, a Norman adventurer, who had been rewarded for his services by the grant of the Lordship of Prestatyn, with the appurtenances in Englefield, besides many other lands, as is recited by his
1 In Testa de Nevil we have evidence that about the time of Henry III. parties named Banastre were holding lands in Lancashire, Shropshire, and Berkshire. In the Hundred Rolls of King Edward the First's reign the name occurs in Cambridgeshire, and in the Inquisitio post Mortem, temp. Richard II., ni Somersetshire.
descendant in a petition on the rolls of Parliament. (Ao 6to Edw. I. No. 5.)
A pedigree of the family is therein set forth, which is confirmed by other public records. The chronology is not always accurate, events being placed in the time of Richard I. which took place in the previous reign; but otherwise the circumstances of the times are correctly given and curiously illustrated.
This petition is quoted by Mr. Baines in his History of Lancashire, vol. 3, p. 640, but he appears to have confounded
Prestat'n,” in Wales, with Preston, in Amounderness, which has likewise been done by another writer.
The late Mr. Beltz also, in his Memorials of the Order of the Garter, has fallen into a mistake respecting this locality, supposing Englefield to be a place of like designation in Berkshire. We may, therefore, be excused for offering a few preliminary notices with a view of correcting these errors and of bringing together, from various sources, some scattered notices illustrative of the history of this locality.
Prestatyn is a township, containing a village built around an old hall, and lying in the parish of Melliden. It gives its name to one of the hundreds of Flintshire." This place is situated at the extremity of a range of hills which bound to the north-east the vale watered by the Clwyd, and round the foot of which runs the coast road from Holywell to Rhuddlan; it was therefore no doubt a post of great importance to the defence of this pass at such a period of incessant contest as that which extended from the Conquest down to the reign of the first Edward.
In a survey made by Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, under the division of Perveddwlad (middle country), is the Cantred of Tegeingyl, with its Comots of Cynsylt (Coleshill), Prestatyn, and Rhuddlan. This tract had been the scene of many fierce encounters between the Welsh and the Mercian Saxons, the latter people designating it Englefield. Among the relics of those struggles two very remarkable works may be traced: one of these is named Watt's Dyke, and extends from Oswestry northward to a point below Basingwerk Abbey, on
1 It was not until the division of Wales into counties by Edward I. that the name of Flintshire came into use as a territorial designation.
2 The district in question was granted under this name by Edward III. to the Black Prince, in the seventh year of his reign.
the estuary of the Dee, close to Holywell. It is attended, at unequal intervals of from five hundred yards to three miles, by another rampart named Offa's Dyke, which, commencing on the southern frontier of Wales, is finally lost in this neighbourhood. Both these defences appear to have been furnished with occasional watch-towers, and tradition avers the intervening space to have been neutral ground.
In Domesday survey Prestatyn is recorded under Atiseros hundred, in Cestrescrire, as follows:
In Prestetone & Ruestock est terra unius Carucæ; & ibi est in Dominio cum duobus bovariis ; & duobus villanis & quatuor bordariis ; ibi est Ecclesia : valet xx solidos.
It appears to have been a Berewick, attached to Robert de Roelent's share of Rhuddlan, which was“ Caput hujus terra” – Robert holding a mediety of that manor, and the appurtenances of Hugh Earl of Chester, who held of the king, and had the other half in demesne himself.
Domesday Book further recites that all these Berewicks of Englefield lay in Roelent (Rhuddlan) in King Edward's time, and then were waste, and that they were waste when Earl Hugh received them; they, consequently, appear not to have been taxed. The castle of Rhuddlan is stated to have been then newly built.
Pennant supposes the Norman appellation of Atiscros, as applied to this district
, to have been derived from a certain space round an ancient cross near Flint, known by the name of Croes-Ati.
Rhuddlan gave the title or surname to Robert, a nephew of Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, who was invested by him with this fief when he had wrested it from its native rulers, ? and, in all probability, Robert Banastre was one of the captains in this successful enterprise.
This Robert Banastre, first grantee of Prestatyn, lived a long time, says his descendant the petitioner, and had a son, Robert Banastre, who is represented to have survived until the beginning of Richard the First's reign. This causes Mr. Beltz very naturally to suspect the omission of a generation
1 The Welsh chronicles assign the construction of this work to Offa, king of Mercia, in the eighth century. The date of the construction of Watt's Dyke is uncertain, as is the derivation of the name.
*2 In 1096, 10th William II., Hugh, earl of Chester, with Hugh, earl of Shrewsbury, penetrated into Anglesey, and the latter fell there.