Deep Roots – Norwegian, French and English Ancestors 860 – 1500 AD

Background of the Name Fitz Randolph

The name Randolph is said to have come from the old Norse name Reignwolf, meaning big wolf, or Rannulfr, meaning shield wolf, or the old German word Rannulf, meaning raven wolf.  Through centuries, and migrations from Norway and Germany through Normandy and on to England, there were many permutations and spellings of the name.  In these times most people were illiterate, and whatever public records were kept were in Latin, so it is no wonder that so many variations existed.  Some variations in English spelling include Ranolf, Ranulf, Ranulfus, Radulph, Randolph, Rolf, Rollo and Ralph.

Fitz is the term meaning “son of“, being as near as the Normans could come to saying “Filius“, the Latin word for son.  Thus evolved the name Fitz Randolph.


Viking Line of Ancestry (through marriage)

1.          Rolf the Norsman, 860 – 932, First Duke of Normandy, married Gisela, daughter of King Charles III

2.          William “Longsword”, Second Duke of Normandy, married Luetgarde, daughter of Heribert II

3.          Richard I, 933 – 996, married Emma, later married Gonnora.

4.          Avicia, daughter of Richard I, married Geoffrey, Duke of Normandy, a male ancestor of the Fitz Randolph family and #5 below.

Viking / Norman Male Line of Ancestry – 21 generations to my emigrant ancestor

1.          Gurvand, Count of Rennes, died 877

2.          Judicael, Count of Rennes, died 888

3.          Juhel, Count of Rennes, died 952

4.          Conan I, married twice, died in 992

5.          Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany.  Married Avicia, daughter of Richard I, a descendent of Rolf the Norsman.  Feoffrey died 1008, Avicia died 1034.

6.          Eudo, Duke of Brittany, 999 – 1079, married Agnes, daughter of Alan.  Eudo is said to have outfitted one hundred ships and recruited nearly 25% of the forces that accompanied William the Conqueror when he invaded England in 1066.  Eudo’s son, Alan Rufus, was commander of the invading forced provided by Eudo, and he was a close associate of William the Conqueror.  On October 14, 1066 William’s army of Normans defeated the British at the Battle of Hastings and he was crowned King William I.  King William sent Alan Rufus to live in the North and protect against a Scottish attack.  Alan Rufus became the first Earl of Richmond.  Alan Rufus died without issue, and gave holdings to his brother Ribald.

7.          Ribald, 1050 – 1131, married Beatrix, daughter of Ivo Tellebois

8.          Ralph, 1080 – 1195, married Agatha, daughter of Robert de Brus

9.          Robert Fitz Randolph, 1110 – 1185, married Helewisa, daughter of Ralph de Glanville

10.      Ranulph Fitz Robert, married Mary Bigod, daughter of Roger Bigod, died 1252

11.      Ranulph Fitz Ranllph, Lord of Spennithorne, 1220 – 1294, married Bertrama, widow of Roger de Ingoldsby

12.      Ralph Fitz Ranulph, Lord of Spennithorne, 1300 – 1343, married Isabel

13.      John Fitz Randolph, Lord of Spennithorne, 1325 – 1368, married Maud de Campia in 1343

14.      Ranulph Fitz John, Lord of Spennithorne, 1345 – 1388

15.      John Fitz Ranulph, 1374 – 1405, beheaded in part for rebellion against Henry Percy

16.      Ralph Fitz John, Lord of Spennithorne, 1398 – 1457, married Elizabeth

17.      John Fitz Randolph, Lord of Spennithorne, 1420 – 1474, married Joan Conyers, daughter of Christopher Conyers, Knight of Hornby  NOTE – This generation is where the Patronymic naming system ended, and the last name continued from father to son.  John Fitz Randolph literally meant John, son of Randolph (Ralph).  His sons used the name Fitz Randolph as the family name, while other families chose to drop the Fitz and use only the last name as the family name.  In addition to son John below, they had a son Christopher Fitz Randolph who was Vicar of the parish in Kirky-in-Ashfield.

18.      John Fitz Randolph, 1455 – 114, younger brother of Sir Ralph Fitz Randolph, Lord of Spennithorne.

19.      Christopher Fitz Randolph, 1495 – 1570.  He married Jane Langton (1499 – 1573), daughter of Culthbert Langton and heiress of Langton Hall.

20.      Christopher Fitz Randolph, 1530 – 1588

21.      Edward Fitz Randolph, 1565 – 1647.  Married Alice Thompson in 1589, Frances Howes in 1605.  Edward Fitz Randolph, born in 1607 to Edward and Frances Fitz Randolph, emigrated to Massachussets in 1630 and is my emigrant ancestor.

Middleham Castle

Alan Rufus died without issue and gave his brother Ribald property including some overlooking Middleham in Yorkshire.  Robert FR , grandson of Ribald and heir to the property started construction of a castle there.  It was 210 by 180 feet, with a deep moat, located overlooking the Ure River between Masham and Leyburn in Yorkshire.  Following the English Civil War and the beheading of King Charles I, there was much destruction of churches and castles across England.  Middleham Castle was partly destroyed in that process.


Spennithorne was a parish at the lower end of Wensleydale, Nottinghamshire, on the North bank of the Ure River.  Ribald came into possession of Spennithorne by grant from Alan Rufus and it stayed in the family for many generations.  Around the middle of the 13th century it was given to Ranulph, who founded the family of Fitz Randall or Fitz Randolph of Spennithorne.

Langton Hall

This is the Langton family home, and is standing today.  Christopher Fitz Randolph (#19 above) married Jane Langton who was the heiress to the hall.

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