Hamelin de Ballon

Location of Ballon in ancient province of Maine

Hamelin de Ballon (or Baalun, Baalan, Balun, Balodun, Balon, etc.),[1] alias Hamelin de Barham (b ca. 1060,[2] died 5 March 1105/6, or earlier 1090, per the Battle Abbey Roll) was an early Norman Baron and the first Baron Abergavenny and Lord of Over Gwent and Abergavenny, titles granted shortly after the Norman conquest of England and Wales by William the Conqueror; he also served William Rufus.[3]


He was from France, from the ancient manor of Ballon, today a commune in the department of Sarthe in the modern region of Pays-de-la-Loire. This was in the ancient province of Maine which was invaded and conquered by Duke William of Normandy in the early 1060s, just before his invasion of England.

He was a son of Drogo (or Dru) de Ballon and was accompanied to England by his brothers, Wynebald de Ballon (or Winebald de Ballon), and Wynoc. "Three of the name, the sons of Drogo de Baladon, Hamelin, Wynoc, and Wynebald (the Guinebaud de Balon of the Dives Roll) came to England with the Conqueror. Hamelin received vast grants in Wales and Cornwall, and built a strong castle at Abergavenny, now".[4] It is not known if he was present at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, but he and his brothers certainly came to England with the Conqueror.

Rewards and duties

Hamelin de Ballon was rewarded with land in Cornwall and in south east Wales, in what was to become the Welsh Marches, and charged with its speedy and successful conquest and management. He sited the early motte and bailey version of Abergavenny Castle and organised the early Norman protection of the settlement of what became the town of Abergavenny around 1075. Together with his brother Winebald (now Lord of Carleon), he also founded the Benedictine Priory in the town as an alien cell of St Vincent, Le Mans, c. c. 1087/1100. He was already a benefactor of the latter foundation.[3][5]


Hamelin had two sons, both of whom predeceased him without issue, William de Ballon and Matthew de Ballon.[6] His heir to the barony of Much Marcle was thus his daughter Emmeline de Ballon, who married Reginald (d.1145/6), son of Roger, Earl of Hereford.[7]

Hamelin was succeeded in the lands and the de facto title Baron Abergavenny by his nephew Brien FitzCount, son of his sister Lucie,[8][9] who was also lord of Grosmont Castle. His brother Wynebald or Winebald was married, and had a son Roger, and both were living in 1092;[10] it is not clear why Hamelin passed his honours to his sister's son, rather than to his brother or brother's son.

Brien's two sons were lepers, and their father allegedly placed them in the priory of Bergavenny (founded by his maternal uncle) before departing for the Holy Land where he died on Crusade. FitzCount left his lands and honours in Abergavenny to his cousin Walter (son of Eunice de Balun), who had married Bertha de Balun. Walter and Bertha were parents of Miles de Gloucester, 1st Earl of Hereford through whom the Welsh lands came to the de Braose family through his second daughter Bertha; the main honours passed to the de Bohun family along with the office of High Constable of England. The de Braose family eventually had co-heiresses, and the husband of one of these daughters inherited the Abergavenny lands and was first created Baron Bergavenny by Henry III. Thus the Barons Bergavenny came by their title and lands via a series of inheritances stretching back to Hamelin.[11]

The parentage of Emeline de Balun, wife of Renaud or Reginald de Gael

Monastic charters (confirmed by King Richard I) state that Emeline de Balun was wife of Renaud de Gael (or de Breteuil), grandson of William FitzOsbern. "A charter of Richard I King of England confirmed donations to Godstow nunnery, Oxfordshire including the donation by “Reginaldi filii comitis et Emelinæ uxoris eius…hæredum suorum Eatonam”, by undated charter[221]." This proves that Emeline was the wife of Renaud alias Reginald, son of Roger FitzOsbern. An undated charter states “Reginaldus filius Rogeri comitis Herefordiæ et Emelina uxor sua” and “filios et filias meas Wilelmum…Reginaldum et Hamelinum necnon Agnetem et Julianam” donated property “Eatonam” to Godstow.[12] Her parentage and marriage are confirmed by the military fee certifications in the Red Book of the Exchequer, in 1166, which record the knights´ fees held from "Willelmus filius Reginaldi" (William, son of Reginald, son of Roger, son of William FitzOsbern) in Herefordshire and name "Hamelinus de Balun avus suus"[223]. " Emeline was thus daughter of Hamelin de Balun but probably not this Hamelin de Balun unless she was an illegitimate daughter (since he died childless and left his lands to a sister's illegitimate son). There remains another Hamelin de Balun (d. 1104), in the service of Robert of Mortain, who was more likely to be Emeline's father. However, William de Ballon, son of Renaud, claimed Abergavenny in 1166 in the right of his mother.


  1. The name is best modernised to conform with the modern French cartographic spelling of Ballon, Sarthe
  2. Hamelin de Barham; Hamelin de Ballon (Balun / Baeluns) , lord of Much Marcle, Herefordshire; lord of Abergavenny , on site Monastice Wales. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  3. 1 2 Studies in peerage and family history, John Round, pp. 198-205, (Westminster 1901).
  4. "Baloun" entry in The Battle Abbey Roll. vol.I of three volumes]
  5. Event detail for site: Abergavenny c. 1100: Foundation, on site Monastice Wales. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  6. Sanders, I.J. English Baronies: A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Oxford, 1960, p.66, feudal barony of Much Marcle, note 2
  7. Sanders, p.66
  8. Battle Abbey, vol. 1
  9. Thomas Christopher Banks "The dormant and extinct baronage of England" : or, An historical and genealogical account of the lives, public employments, and most memorable actions of the English nobility who have flourished from the Norman conquest to ... 1806[-1837] , vol II. pp.1-2, T. Bensley, Bolt Court, 1808
  10. Battle Abbey, vol. 1. "Of Drogo de Baladon's second son, Wynoc, we hear nothing; but the third, Wynebald, was a great baron in the time of Henry I., and the benefactor of two religious houses. "With the consent of Roger his son," he gave his lordship of Rodeford, his mill at Fromelade, and half a hide at Ameneye, to St. Peter's at Gloucester; and Bridesthorne, the church of Hardwicke, &c, in Hertfordshire to the monks of Bermondsey in 1092.—Chauncy's Herts. But I can find no subsequent mention of Roger.."
  11. <See Banks for a fuller account of the descent on pp. 2-3 of Vol. II
  12. <From this charter (and this webpage), their children's names are listed as William, Reginald, Hamelin, Agnes, and Juliana, and possibly a deceased son Matthew.

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