The Duke Family in Southwestern England: After A.D.1400 65
The Heirs of John Duke 65
The Duke Family: Secular and Sacred Office 66
William Duke, Mayor of Exeter 66
Poer Family 67
William and London 70
William Duke’s Heirs 70
The Joy of Real Estate 73
Page 6 of website 75
Subsequent Generations 75
The Prideaux Family 76
The Duke Family in the Early Seventeenth Century 76
Branches of the Otterton Family 77
The Duke Family in Hampshire (Southampton) 79
Kent and Surrey 80
Emigration and Exile 81
The Devonshire Family and its Branches 81
The English Civil War 82
The Duke Family and the Duke of Monmouth 88
The English Duke Family in Later Times 89
Dukes in America 91
The Duke Family in England: The Early Centuries
Notes by Lynn S. Teague, July 1999
The following is research on the Duke family of various parts of southern England, believed to be the origin of the Duke(s) families of Virginia, Barbados, and South Carolina. Other families named “Duke” exist in England. In some cases, the English name Duke may be a shortening of Marmaduke; this is said to be a source of the name “Duke” in the north.1
The Duke(s) family of southern England is of Anglo-Norman origin. Originally, the Normans were Danish Vikings who were raiding throughout France. They were given Normandy, at the mouth of the Seine, to encourage them to settle down. They intermarried with the Franks already resident along the northern French coast.2
The Normans rapidly adopted the local language after settling in France. This contrasts with their practice when they moved on to England. There, they continued to speak (and write in) Norman French, or Anglo-Norman, for several hundred years.3 They also maintained estates in Normandy after the conquest of England.
The Duke family first appears in known English records in the late 1100's. The name “Duke” or “Dukes” was originally le Duc, a term that was used to mean “leader” before the term became associated with a specific rank of the nobility. In southern England, the form Le Duc persists for several centuries.
A Dictionary of British Surnames states that the name is derived from "ME duc, duk(e), douk, doke, OFr duc 'leader of an army, captain'."4 The term is derived from a title in the administration of the Carolingian Empire, and was equivalent to the term “ealerdom” that was native to the Scandinavian origins of the Normans and the “alderman” of Anglo-Saxon England. The ealerdom, and le duc, was the representative of the royal ruler among local leaders.5
There is a parallel with Anglo-Saxon practices in these functions of the “duc”:6
During Ethelred’s reign one of the king’s local bailiffs (‘reeves’) in each shire had come to be known as the ‘shire-reeve’ or sheriff. He was the king’s chief executive agent in the shire, and gradually assumed more and more of the alderman’s functions. The sheriff was responsible for collecting royal revenues and the profits of justice, but he also belonged to the growing community of local thegns. In the shire court he could announce the king’s will to the gentry of the shire, take a big part in day-to-day business, and add the weight of royal authority to action against oppressive magnates.
The Earliest Recorded Members of the Duke Family in England
These establish some connections with Normandy. It is possibly that some of those identified with Normandy were actually born in England, since at this time residence in both locations was common and many who lived in England continued to think of Normandy as their principal residence.
A History of English Surnames gives the following references to members of the le Duc family in England:13
The Osbert le Duket (as the name appears in the original Pipe Rolls) mentioned in Devonshire probably is an error. Usually, “Duket” is not a variant of “Duc” but a different name altogether.
The reference to Henry Dukes in 1214 is a record of his having been fined one-half mark, with many others, for joining with William de Buckingham in depriving Simon de Barton of his free holding in Barton.14 Barton was located in Bidford Parish in southwestern Warwickshire, immediately west of Temple Grafton, held by the Knights Templar until their dissolution and subsequently by the Knights Hospitallers. Both the time and the location suggest that Henry and Herbert le Duc, Knight Templar in Shropshire a few years earlier, might have been brothers. There is no evidence of a succeeding generation in this area, however.
The Knights Templar, the order of which Herbert le Duc was a member, were established in 1118 and became one of the two major military orders of the Middle Ages, created to protect travellers on the road of the Holy Land and ultimately among the most prominent of the groups of medieval crusaders. In 1185, the year that Herbert le Duke’s membership is noted, they built Temple Church in London, which was later to become the Temple of the Inns of Court.15 Herbert le Duc is likely to have served with Richard I (Coeur de Lion) on the Third Crusade, against Saladin, which Richard began in July 1190.
The reference to a member of the Duke family in England in 1185 is the earliest that the present author has found, although it is quickly followed by quite a few others. At this time, there was still considerable movement between Normandy and England. During the 34 years of the reign of Henry II (1154-89), he spent 21 years on the continent, and only 13 in England.16 It is probable that the Ducs had been living in England for at least three generations by 1185 to produce the number of scattered references that have been found for the late 1100’s and the 1200's. If there were several generations in place by 1185, this would date their appearance in England at or near the time of the conquest in 1066. It is estimated that the conquest involved about 7000 men and the names of most of them are unknown. Early references in the Domesday Book are often by first name and location only, providing an ample number of early Normans who cannot be associated with their descendants only a few generations later. The history of the family suggests that the area in and surrounding London represented the earliest identifiable English home of the family that we are tracing.
We also find examples of different, and presumably independent, early forms of the Duke surname in other areas at this time. In 1210 Godefridi Duc was mentioned in the vicinity of Sutton, Northamptonshire.17 Ralph f. Duc is found in Lincolnshire:18
Radulfus f. Duc habet j caballum precium iiij s. et ij iuvencos precium v. S. et duos vitulos precium ij s., xxti vj oves precium ix s. et j suillam precium iiij d. et j quarterium frumenti precium xl d. et j summam ordei precium ij s. et dim. summam a[v]ene [preci]um vj d. Summa xve xxij d.
This tells us that Ralph f. [filius, son of] Duc of the Aswardhun Wapentake of Lincolnshire had 1 packhorse, 2 young horses, 2 calves, 26 sheep, a pig, a quantity of corn, and other items. The whole was valued at 15 s 22 d. This record reflects the same Norman impulse toward meticulous administration that produced the Domesday Book.
The name of Reginald le Duc is listed in Yorkshire in 1199,19 and takes the same form as that of the Normans in southern England, but there is no evidence that he established a family line there.