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From being a resident at Battle Abbey, and entertaining a higher opinion than is expressed by many of my contemporaries for "the scum of Bretons and rags of France" that conquered and colonised England, I have felt an interest in the subject, and a desire to do my best, at all events, towards elucidating it.
LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS. My only excuse for attempting it is that it has in reality been unattempted hitherto, as Sir Bernard Burke, in his commentary on Holinshed's list, has only dealt with two hundred and nine of the best-known names, passing over the remaining four hundred and twenty without notice, and Sir Egerton Brydges' brief and peremptory annotations were evidently made in haste, and refer to an imperfect copy.
For the relics they had enshrined, a reliquary was provided, and solemnly consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester. As time went on, it became more and more an object of ambition to own an ancestor that had come over with the Conqueror; and the monks were always found willing to oblige a liberal patron by inserting his name.
"Such hath been the subtilty of some Monks of old, that, finding it acceptable unto most, to be reputed descendants to those who were Companions with Duke William in that memorable Expedition whereby he became Conqueror of this Realm, as that, to gratify them (but not without their own advantage) they inserted their Names into this antient Catalogue."—Dugdale. "Whosoever considers well shall find them always to be forged, and those names inserted which the time in every age favoured, and were never mentioned in that authenticated record." Thus its value as an authority is irretrievably lost; and though the earlier genealogists and county historians often quote and refer to it, it has latterly been altogether discredited and condemned.
In the Bayeux Tapestry, where the scene is represented, Harold is placing his right hand upon an altar in form of a feretory." But these precious bequests were not suffered to remain untouched for more than ten years from the date of the Conqueror's death.As far as we are enabled to judge, these maltreated patronymics are not found on our Roll.