William de Noers, Steward of King William I

Last Modified: Apr 28 2017

Domesday_BookWhile there is no evidence to suggest any connection to my ancestors, it is interesting to look at some of the people through the ages who have carried the name Noers, Norreys, Norris or Nurse.

We will start with William de Noers, Steward of King William I (The Conqueror). It is possible that William de Noers was a descendant of Gilbert de Noyers, mentioned in an earlier blog post on the etymology of the surname Nurse, but we have no proof that this is the case.

The name of William de Noers (d. after 1086) appears in the "Domesday Book", an extensive census of England taken in 1086 by William the Conqueror.[1] William de Noers was described in this survey as an "under-tenant", meaning that he was under the jurisdiction of another greater lord, in this case William the Bishop of Thetford. William de Noers received 33 manors from William the Conqueror, King of England, probably as a result of his service during the Battle of Hastings.

He was said to have stood very high in the eyes of the King. According to one record, he was the Steward of King William. This position was the sixth highest-ranking position in the English kingdom, after the King himself. William de Noers also held a manor in Suffolk County (where his name was spelled Willielmus de Noers) and in Cambridge County (spelled Willielmus de Nouueres).

In addition he was placed in charge of the lands of Bishop Stigand "in the King's hand", which lands included many manors in Norfolk. Bishop Stigand died in 1072 after having fallen out of pleasure with the King. He had held large land holdings prior to his death, some of which were passed to William de Noers.

William de Noers was a baron, but was not mentioned extensively in royal documentation. His name has not been found outside of the "Domesday Book."

That William de Noers acquired as much land as he did in the aftermath of the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, and that he held a position of influence under the Conqueror, would seem to indicate that many of his descendants in England would also have influence in the new government, at least initially.

As much of William de Noers holdings were in Norfolk, it is possible, although almost impossible to prove, that the “Nurses” found in the King’s Lynn area are descendants of William de Noers.

Bibliography and Notes

[1] Website of Steven D. Norris,  - http://pweb.netcom.com/~enorrste/newpage1.html

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