William de Tracy , Sir

William de Tracy , Sir

b: ABT 1143
From Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies 1841:

William de Tracy lived in the reign of Henry II and held lands of his brother, Ralph de Sudely, by one knight's fee, which was probably the manor of Todington, for it appears by Doomsday Book, that it was held by the Lord Sudley, of the manor of Sudley, and in the reign of Edward I the Tracys are expressly said to be possessed of it, and this William, in a deed of Otwell, Lord of Sudley, son and heir of the said Ralph, is called his uncle; but that this is the same Sir William Tracy, who was concerned in the assassination of Thomas a Becket, does not appear, although Fuller, in his Worthies, makes the assassin to be Sir William Tracy, of Toddington, whom he describes as "a man of high birth, state, of stomach, a favourite of the king's, and his daily attendant;" but, says Collins, "I am not of his opinion, and 'tis evident, there were others of the same name living at the time."

From Genealogists' Magazine, Vol 28 No. 2, June 2004 "Illegitimate lines of descent from Henry I" by M L Bierbrier.

Many (blood) lines lead .... back to Henry I of England who, through his numerous bastards, is the gateway ancestor to early medieval royal descents. However, the problem of the number and names of Henry's illegitimate offspring remains a thorny issue.

"A thorough study was made by G. White in 'The Complete Peerage XI, Appendix D, 105-121, who arrived at the grand total of twenty-four. The position was reviewed by Walter Lee Shepherd in 'The New England Genealogical and Historical Register 119 (1965), 96-97, who lowered the total to twenty-one. Now, in the light of most recent research, the question has again been considered by Kathleen Thompson in 'The Journal of Medieval History 29 (2003), 129-151. She critically reviews the accepted list and arrives at a total of nineteen plus two doubtfuls, but not the same twenty-one as Shepherd........"

Note that Henry I was the fourth son of William the Conqueror, so a descendant of one was a descendant of the other.

According to the article the latest list (9 males including 2 doubtfuls; and 12 females)....

It includes on the male side:
1 Robert Earl of Gloucester, b. c1090, d. at Bristol 31 Oct 1147. He left numerous English and Scottish descendants through the de Clares, Earls of Gloucester, and the later Earls of Chester. They include John Balliol and Robert Bruce, Kings of Scotland... One of Robert's younger sons, Richard, inherited Creully in Normandy, and his line can be traced as minor gentry until at least the seventeenth century......... there is an off chance that through this family or others the male line of Henry I and William the Conqueror may still be intact in France.
6 William de Tracy who left numerous English descendants through the Sudeley/Tracy family [there is a problem here with dates, for Henry died in 1135 and the birth date I have so far for this William is 1143. Perhaps Kathleen Thompson's article throws light on this. ARJ.]

and on the female side:
1 Maud (mother Edith), drowned in the White Ship 25 Nov 1120, m. 1103 Routrou, Count of Perche (d. 1144) and left descendants in France through the Counts of Alencon.

Account of Henry II and Thomas a Becket, from an academic website:

"Henry II and Thomas a Becket

Henry had achieved many things during his reign, but his changes in the courts and to trials ran into problems with the Church. This was part of a larger conflict which many mediaeval kings had with the Church. It was a powerful and wealthy organisation, controlling a quarter of all lands, and only partially under royal control. Senior church figures were answerable to the Pope as well as the King, and they played one off against the other. They had the powerful threat of excommunication -expulsion from the church -and the Pope could place a country which disobeyed him under an INTERDICT, where the churches were completely closed and church services halted.

The Benefit of Clergy
The most obvious example of church privilege were the church courts which tried and sentenced members of the church. This so-called BENEFIT OF CLERGY extended to all with a connection with the church, not just priests. To claim immunity from the royal courts, a simple test was applied -reading a passage in Latin. Once a person was shown to be a Member of the church, he was entitled to trial in a church court. These imposed much lighter punishments, and could not award the death penalty, preferring pilgrimages and other penances.
To a king committed to overhauling the legal system and providing fair and consistent justice in his realm, the church courts were an obvious target. It would bring the additional benefit of establishing his power over the church generally.

Becket becomes Archbishop
Henry saw his chance when Theobald, the old Archbishop of Canterbury died. Henry used his influence to have his friend Thomas Becket ordained as the new Archbishop, planning to persuade him to reform the church courts .
Becket was the son of a rich merchant. As a young man he had trained in the household of Archbishop Theobald before Henry heard of him and drew him into royal service. The two men became friends, hunting and working together, and Becket was soon appointed Chancellor. This was an important post, meaning that he controlled the day to day running of the country, particularly when Henry was abroad. He was famous for his rich lifestyle and courtly ways. However, he was reluctant to co-operate with the King's plan.
In 1162 Becket became Archbishop, and found himself facing hostility from the church, which saw him as the King's man. However, Becket changed. He followed a strict religious life, wearing a hair shirt, eating plain food and attending church services.

The quarrel begins
Henry soon began to demand changes to the church courts, and he was surprised when Becket refused to listen to him. The friendship soon turned to hostility when Becket made it clear that Becket would take the church's side against him.
A possible solution was found. In 1164 Henry called a royal council meeting at his hunting lodge at Clarendon. Here, the Constitutions of Clarendon were drawn up, under which the church maintained the right to try members of the clergy, but they were then sent to the royal courts for sentence if they were found guilty. On the face of it this seemed a reasonable compromise and Becket at first agreed to accept it. When he later changed his mind Henry grew furious and for his own safety, Becket fled to France.
Between 1164 and 1170 Becket lived in France as a monk, sending out streams of letters complaining about Henry. These gained him little sympathy, until the Pope, tiring of the situation, threatened Henry with an interdict unless he resolved his quarrel with Becket.
In July 1170 a meeting was arranged, and Henry agreed that Becket should return to England as long as Becket did not take action against any who had opposed him in the past. On his return, Becket excommunicated three bishops who had sided with the king by performing Beckets duties in his prolonged absence. This made Becket very unpopular with the nobles.

Becket's death. 29th December 1170
One particular noble, Ranulf de Broc, openly challenged Becket by hunting over his land and stealing a consignment of his wine. Becket promptly excommunicated him on 25th December 1170, despite having agreed to leave the tenants in chief alone. News travelled swiftly to Henry, who was in Normandy.
During a feast, Henry uttered in exasperation the famous words, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest".
Four knights, hoping to please the king, left court and rode to the Channel, crossed and rode to Canterbury. Here, they broke into Beckets house only to find that he was in the Cathedral. They burst through a connecting door with drawn swords, scattering the monks before them. They intended to drag Becket outside, but he clung to a pillar. One of the knights lost his patience and hacked at his head with a sword. Becket fell to the ground dying as the others knights joined in. Then, panicking, they fled back to France.

The Aftermath
Henry was furious, not with remorse, but with the realisation of the position he was in. The horror of the deed shocked Europe. Henry acted quickly, turning his planned invasion of Ireland into a crusade on behalf of the church and bringing Ireland back into the Roman Catholic Church. This happened in 1171, but the situation became worse. Some powerful barons joined Henry's sons, Henry and Richard, against their father. The Pope declared Becket a saint in 1173 and the Kings of France and Scotland declared war. Word came of miracles connected with those who prayed at Beckets tomb in Canterbury.
In desperation, Henry decided on a public penance. He walked barefoot through the streets of Canterbury, and prayed for a day and a night at the tomb, after being whipped by bishops and monks. This, in 1174, coincided with the capture of the Scots king, and his sons making peace. People linked the two events, increasing the myth of Beckets power. People were quick to forget Beckets faults, seeing him as a martyr.

The remainder of Henry's reign was far from happy. He fell out with his sons again and, in 1189, Henry was defeated by his two surviving sons, Richard and John. He died soon afterwards, heartbroken.

Henry was not missed by his family or his barons, but he was missed by his people. He had restored order following Stephen's reign, controlled the barons, ruled vast lands and established a better judicial system. His attempts to control the Church were justified, even if his methods were not. Following his experiences no other Mediaeval king attempted to reform the Church. It is ironic that he is remembered not for his successes, but for his one failure".
  • ABT 1143 - Birth -
  • 1165 - Fact -
  • 29 DEC 1170 - Fact -
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) John de Sudely
Marriage1140to Grace de Traci
FatherHarold de Sudeley
PARENT (F) Grace de Traci
Marriage1140to John de Sudely
FatherHenri de Traci
MWilliam de Tracy , Sir
BirthABT 1143
Marriageto ?
MRalph de Sudely
Marriageto Emma de Beauchamp
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) William de Tracy , Sir
BirthABT 1143
Marriageto ?
FatherJohn de Sudely
MotherGrace de Traci
MOliver Tracy , Sir
Marriageto ?
[S11621] International Genealogical Index (in FamilySearch by Intellectual Reserve Inc, Salt Lake City) Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons, LDS)
[S21908] 'Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 8th Edition' 1846
[S21797] 'Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies' 1841
Descendancy Chart