I’ve researched the Aubrey branch of my family tree back to Saunder de Sancto Alberico, aka Aubrey, of Normandy. He arrived with William the Conquerer in 1066. Earlier, he produced a son, Sir Reginald Aubrey, born c1060, who married Isabel de Clare. The de Clare family produced William the Conqueror so it’s clear that all these noble families were close.
Sir Reginald was a member of an army commanded by Bernard Newmarche. This army fought the Welsh c1093 in the Brycheiniog (Brecknock) region of Wales. After numerous battles, Newmarche granted Sir Reginald the manors of Abercynrig and Slwch. Unrest continued, so Newmarche’s forces stayed at his castle in present day Brecon until the early 1100s. By that time, through their land-grab, the Aubreys had established themselves in the Brecon Beacons.
The line continued through another Reginald to William. Marriages to other noble families, such as the Gunters, ensured that the Aubreys consolidated their position in society then prospered. William produced a son, William, who produced a son, Thomas, born c1190 in Abercynrig. A hundred years after their arrival in Brecon, the Aubreys were now one of the leading noble families.
Five Thomases take us to Richard Aubrey, born c1350 in Abercynrig. Abercynrig Manor in the parish of Llanfrynach is located just over a mile north of Llanfrynach village and just over two miles southeast of Brecon. Aubrey ownership of the manor house is listed as follows:
Reginald Aubrey, born c1095
William, born c1125
William, born c1160
Thomas, born c1190
Thomas, born c1220
Thomas, born c1255
Thomas, born c1285
Thomas, born c1315
Richard, born c1350
Walter, born c1380
Morgan, born c1410
Jenkin, born c1435
Hopkin, born c1465
William, born c1480
Richard, born c1510
Dr William Aubrey, born 1529
Sir Edward Aubrey, born c1550
Sir William Aubrey, born 1583
The succession of father to son was broken in the 1550s when Richard Aubrey sold Abercynrig to his cousin Dr William Aubrey, an anti-Puritan lawyer and judge.
William Aubrey, born c1480, disinherited his sons Morgan and John, my direct ancestor Richard therefore inheriting. Morgan went to London where he established a trade in salt and silk. This made him a wealthy man. Later, he moved to Herefordshire, took over the estate of Clehonger, and established a cadet branch of the family.
Dr William Aubrey was born in 1529 at Cantref, Brecknockshire, the second son of Thomas Aubrey MD and Agnes Vaughan. He was educated at Christ’s College, Brecon, then Oxford. He entered Oxford c1543 and obtained a degree in 1547. Two years later he was made a Bachelor of Civil Law and five years after that a Doctor of Civil Law.
After a distinguished career at Oxford, Dr William Aubrey became a prominent member of the group of Welsh civil lawyers who played a notable role in ecclesiastical, judicial and diplomatic affairs during Elizabeth I’s reign.
John Aubrey, the seventeenth-century antiquary, left an account of his great-grandfather, William, praising his ‘rare skill and science in the law’, and ‘sound judgment and good experience therein.’
John described William as of ‘medium build and somewhat inclining to fatness of visage, with a grave countenance and a delicate, quick, lively and piercing black eye.’
Although he lived most of his life in London or Kent, William considered himself a Welshman. He bought land off family members and became one of the largest landowners in Brecon. Indeed, he was able to ride ‘nine miles together in his own land.’
Through his Welsh and English lands, William acquired an income of £2,500 a year, approximately £350,000 a year in today’s money. He wrote, ‘God of his goodness hath very plentifully bestowed upon me.’
William married Wilgiford and the couple produced three sons and six daughters. He died on 25 June 1595 and was buried at Old St Paul’s on 24 July. It’s suggested that his chief clerk, his ‘loving and trusty servant’ Hugh Georges, proved the will on 29 July, then ran away to Ireland with the money. Antiquary and great-grandson John Aubrey stated somewhat tersely, “Georges cosened (deceived) all the legatees.”