PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England

Domesday

[Image: Excerpt from the Domesday Book]
[Image: Durham Liber Vitae, folio 38r (extract)]

Leofgifu 5 Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury, fl. 1066

Female
Author: DWP
Editorial Status: 4 of 5

Discussion of the name  

Summary

          

Leofgifu 5 was the TRE abbess of Shaftesbury. Most of the abbey’s estates were in north Dorset or south Wiltshire and lay within fifteen miles of the abbey, but one lay across the border in Somerset, several were further afield in Wiltshire and one was on the Sussex coast.

Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

Holder 1066

Shire Phil. ref. Vill Holder 1066 DB Spelling Holder 1066 Lord 1066 Tenant-in-Chief 1086 1086 subtenant Fiscal value 1066 value 1086 value Holder 1066 ID conf. Show on map
Wiltshire 12,2 Tisbury Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Edward of Salisbury 0.00 0.00 0.00 A Map
Dorset B4 Shaftesbury Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - William, king Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury 0.00 3.25 3.25 A Map
Dorset 19,10 Kingston Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury William de Briouze 0.25 0.00 0.00 A Map
Dorset 19,11 Farnham Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Aiulf 0.50 0.00 0.00 A Map
Dorset 19,11 Farnham Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury unnamed wife of Hugh fitzGrip 0.50 0.00 0.00 A Map
Dorset 19,10 Wareham Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - William, king - 1.00 0.00 0.00 A Map
Wiltshire 12,2 Tisbury Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Aubrey 'of Tisbury' 2.00 3.25 3.25 A Map
Wiltshire 12,2 Tisbury Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Thurstan the chamberlain 3.00 4.88 4.88 A Map
Wiltshire 12,2 Tisbury Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Gunfrid Mauduit 3.00 4.88 4.88 A Map
Dorset 19,1 Sixpenny Handley Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury 2 free Englishmen 4.00 2.40 2.40 A Map
Dorset 19,9 Fifehead St Quintin Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Ketil 'of Kington' 5.00 3.00 3.00 A Map
Dorset 19,12 Stoke Wake Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 5.00 4.00 4.00 A Map
Somerset 14,1 Abbas Combe Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 5.00 6.00 6.00 A Map
Wiltshire 12,4 Alvestone Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 7.00 0.00 0.00 A Map
Dorset 19,2 Hinton St Mary Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 8.00 8.00 10.00 A Map
Dorset 19,5 Compton Abbas Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 10.00 10.00 10.00 A Map
Dorset 19,6 Melbury Abbas Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 10.00 9.00 13.00 A Map
Dorset 19,8 Tarrant Hinton Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 10.00 6.00 10.00 A Map
Dorset 19,13 Mapperton Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 11.00 1.50 5.00 A Map
Dorset 19,10 Kingston Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 14.75 16.00 23.00 A Map
Dorset 19,4 Fontmell Magna Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 15.00 10.00 15.00 A Map
Wiltshire 12,2 Tisbury Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 16.00 30.00 30.00 A Map
Dorset 19,1 Sixpenny Handley Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 16.00 9.60 9.60 A Map
Wiltshire 12,6 Dinton Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 18.00 18.00 18.00 - Map
Dorset 19,7 Iwerne Minster Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 18.00 10.00 14.00 A Map
Sussex 8a,1 Felpham Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 21.00 10.00 20.00 A Map
Wiltshire 12,3 Donhead Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 33.00 22.00 22.00 A Map
Wiltshire 12,5 Liddington Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 38.00 18.00 22.00 A Map
Wiltshire 12,4 Bradford on Avon Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury - Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury - 42.00 60.00 60.00 A Map
Total               317.00 269.76 313.26  

Lord 1066

Shire Phil. ref. Vill Lord 1066 DB Spelling Holder 1066 Lord 1066 Tenant-in-Chief 1086 1086 subtenant Fiscal value 1066 value 1086 value Lord 1066 ID conf. Show on map
Dorset 55,21 Farnham Alwine 'of Farnham' Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury unnamed wife of Hugh fitzGrip Ilbert 'of Farnham' 0.50 0.50 0.50 B Map
Wiltshire 12,3 Donhead Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury 1 thegn 1.00 1.43 1.43 B Map
Wiltshire 12,6 Dinton Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Gunfrid Mauduit 2.00 2.00 2.00 B Map
Wiltshire 12,1 Beechingstoke Hearding son of Eadnoth Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Thurstan the chamberlain 5.00 3.00 5.00 B Map
Wiltshire 12,3 Donhead Leofgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury Eulalia, abbess of Shaftesbury Thurstan the chamberlain 6.00 8.57 8.57 B Map
Total               14.50 15.50 17.50  

Profile

Leofgifu 5 occurs by name only in the Exon entry (193b1) relating to Abbas Combe and where she is noted as both Leueua abbatissa and the TRE holder, whereas the corresponding Domesday Book entry records the TRE holder as ‘St Edward’s Church’ without mention of either an Abbess Leofgifu or Shaftesbury Abbey. Although Abbas Combe is not otherwise mentioned among the holdings of Shaftesbury it does correspond to the bounds of a tenth-century grant of five hides at ‘Henstridge’ that can be associated with the abbey and its chartulary (Kelly 1996: 73-6 re S 570), while a dedication to St Edward is known to have alternated with the abbey’s original dedication to the Virgin (see below). It is therefore reasonable to assume that Leofgifu 5 was indeed the TRE abbess of Shaftesbury and that all TRE references to that office refer to her.

As Shaftesbury’s abbess, Leofgifu 5 was the head of the second-wealthiest nunnery in England at the time of the Conquest (Kelly 1996: xiii) and thus would have been one of the most important women in the kingdom, so it is unfortunate that we know nothing else about her. We do know, however, that one Eulalia was abbess between 1074 and 1111 (Foot 2000, ii 168; Knowles et al. 2001: 219, 295), so presumably Leofgifu 5 had died, retired or been replaced before this.

Shaftesbury Abbey had been founded by King Alfred (Alfred 8), whose daughter Æthelgifu 4 was its first abbess. Its ongoing links with the West Saxon dynasty were further enhanced in 1001 when King Æthelred II (Æthelred 32) had the supposed remains of his half-brother, King Edward the Martyr (Edward 12), translated to the abbey (Kelly 1996: xiv). This association with ‘St Edward’ subsequently began to vie or combine with the abbey’s original dedication to the Virgin Mary.

There is potential for confusion between Leofgifu 5 and Leofgifu 6, who was also recorded as an abbess TRE in DB and held an eight-hide estate at Reading. The combination of the same name and distinctive title would normally suggest that both references were to the same individual (e.g. Morgan 1979: DB Berks 15,2 Notes), but there are good grounds for believing otherwise in this instance. Firstly, it is likely that Reading was itself the site of a small nunnery TRE (Foot 2000: 145-7; Knowles et al. 2001: 218, 294). Secondly, there is no other evidence to suggest that Shaftesbury Abbey had ever held or claimed an estate at Reading (cf. Kelly 1996, xxii-xxvii), which would have been a long way from Shaftesbury’s main holdings. Thirdly, DB records that the Reading estate was in King Edward’s (Edward 15) lordship TRE and had passed to Battle Abbey by 1086, and these features too set this estate apart from those recorded as held by Shaftesbury Abbey TRE. Although it is perhaps possible that Reading was a private estate of Leofgifu 5, it is far more likely that Abbess Leofgifu 5 and Abbess Leofgifu 6 were separate individuals rather than being the same person.

It is also unlikely that Leofgifu 5 is the same as Leofgifu 12, although the shared name and the proximity of Leofgifu 12’s estate at Blandford St Mary to Shaftesbury Abbey’s core territory could indicate otherwise. Yet there is no known link between Blandford St Mary and any of Shaftesbury Abbey’s pre- or post-Conquest holdings, nor does DB suggest that Leofgifu 12 held any office. Furthermore, the Blandford estate was held by Aiulf the Chamberlain in 1086 and (unless Leofgifu 6’s estate at Reading be included) the only other contemporary evidence for the alienation of any of Shaftesbury’s pre-Conquest estates was that two of the four seized by Earl Harold were not restored by King William but retained by himself and Robert, count of Mortain (cf. Kelly 1996: xxvi-xxvii). It remains possible that Blandford was a private holding of Leofgifu 5, but the balance of probability is just in favour of Leofgifu 12 being a different person.

Bibliography

Foot 2000: S. Foot, Veiled Women: The Disappearance of Nuns from Anglo-Saxon England, Studies in Early Medieval Britain 1, 2 vols. (2000)

Kelly 1996: S. E. Kelly, ed., Charters of Shaftesbury Abbey, Anglo-Saxon Charters 5 (Oxford, 1996), xiii-xv, xxii-xxvii, 73-6.

Knowles et al. 2001: The Heads of Religious Houses in England and Wales I: 940-1216, ed. D. Knowles, C. N. L. Brooke and V. C. M. London, 2nd edn (Cambridge, 2001)

Morgan 1979: Domesday Book 5: Berkshire, ed. P. Morgan (Chichester, 1979)

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