"The name of hoskins is also found in Glamorgan and Monmouth in the fifteenth century, which lends colour to the theory of a Welsh origin for the Western Branches of the family."
From "A History of The Hoskins Family of Devon and Dorset" by W. G. Hoskins
"Both the Dorset and the Herefordshire branches of our family have arms similar to those of the Herberts, which suggest a common origin for branches somewhere within the sway of the Herberts in Glamorgan"
 From "A History of The Hoskins Family of Devon and Dorset" by W. G. Hoskins

"For this reason, we must assume rather that our family originated independently somewhere in the western counties between Herefordshire and south Wiltshire, and it may have come ultimately from over the Welsh Border."

From "A History of The Hoskins Family of Devon and Dorset" by W. G. Hoskins  (Preface Page ii) 


"Not much is known of his family before the year 1558, but the name indicates their Welsh extraction. In the middle of the fifteenth century they were owners of property in the parish of Llanwarne, and in 1510 a John Hoskyns was a lessee of Abbey property, which the family later purchased upon the dissolution of the religious houses.  Aubrey records that Hoskyns' ancestors held the office of cupbearer to the' prior of Llanthony."

From "The Life,  Letters, and Writings of John Hoskyns" by Louise Brown Osborn 
"The first step in this process lay in the establishment of Norman appendages or suburbs, to the English boroughs which the conquerors found already established along the border. Thus small colonies of French and Normans were located near the English communities of Hereford, Bristol, Shrewsbury, and others." 
From: The Normans in South Wales, 1070-1171 Dr. Lynn H. Nelson


Wales Overview

Prior to living in Dorset, the family lived in the border area between England and Wales. More specifically, they lived in the Southwestern part of Herefordshire. This area was called Ergyng and became an English administrative cantref sometime before the Norman Conquest. ( From the Anthony Hoskins Speculation/Theory)
Wales is the starting place for Anthony Hoskins' direct male ancestor in the British Isles. Since his haplogroup is not native to the island, then his ancestor must have arrived in Britain via migration. With the Anthony Hoskins Haplotype originating in Denmark/Northern Germany along with the close matches from Normandy, it is logical to assume this migrating ancestor moved into Wales with the Norman influx.  This overall movement is consistent with the known history of the Normans or North Men from Denmark. 
As noted in the Hoskins Surname section, the Hoskins name occurs at one of its highest frequencies in the Monmouthshire-Glamorgan area.  Close DNA matches with the Morgan name along with other traditional Welsh names, is a further connection to this area. This information when coupled with the Germanic/Norman origins of the Hoskins surname make a compelling case for the direct male acestor of Anthony Hoskins being a part of this Norman migration into Southeastern Wales. (For more information about Normans in Southern Wales see: The Normans in South Wales, 1070-1171.)  
The family appears to have moved out of Monmouthshire, from near the Llanthony Priory, into southwestern Hereforshire in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries.  This is a very short move since this area is contiguous to Monmouthshire. Probably, the family had traversed this boundary before.  This area was previously known as Ergyng/Archenfield and was under the control of William fitzOsbern, a Norman Marcher Lord. Within Ergyng was a castle name Ewyas Harold, it was built by a Norman named Osbern Pentecost and later re-fortified by FitzOsbern.  The following quote is from a book entitled: A History of Herefordshire” by John and Margaret West:   "When FitzOsbern gave wasteland for the castle of Ewias to Walter de Lacy, it was no coincidence that the Lacy tenants were named William and Osbern."  This quote shows that the name Osbern, the base name for Hoskins, was prevalent in this area due to the influences of both FitzOsbern and Osbern Pentecost.
Finally, all the ingredients come together in this area; the occurrence of similar DNA patterns, the frequency of the surname along with a history that is compatible with these fact. This combination of information establishes Wales as the settling point in the British Isles for Anthony Hoskins' ancient migrating ancestor from Normandy and Denmark.


Archenfield is the English name for an area of western Herefordshire in England. It is known, in Welsh, as Ergyng. Originally a Welsh kingdom, which degenerated into a mere cantref, the name derives from the old Roman town of Ariconium at Weston-under-Penyard. Since the English took over the region, sometime before the Norman Conquest, it has stretched between the River Monnow and River Wye, but was once much larger. The Domesday Book recorded that the Welsh of Archenfield were allowed to retain their old rights and privileges in return for forming an advance and rear guard when the King's army entered or left Wales. The area remained somewhat in limbo, neither in England nor Wales, until the 16th century Laws in Wales Acts tidied up the situation. It remained a Welsh- speaking region until the 17th century.

(Picture from the Eywas Lacy Study Group's:  The History of Ewyas Lacy )

A Visual Sense of Wales............

The Three Choirs Express 4th October 2008



Cardiff Bay, Wales Webcam


 Herefordshire /  Monmouthshire Map



Ergyng was a Welsh kingdom of the sub-Roman and early medieval period. It is referred to by the English as Archenfield.The kingdom lay mostly in what is now western Herefordshire in England, its heartland between the River Monnow and River Wye. However, it also spread into modern Monmouthshire and east of the Wye, where sits the old Roman town of Ariconium (at Weston-under-Penyard) from which its name derives. Presumably this was the first capital.

The area was originally part of the kingdom of Glywysing (modern Glamorgan) and Gwent, but seems to have become independent under King Peibio Clafrog in the mid-  6th century. Peibio was the grandfather of Saint Dubricius, the first Bishop of Ergyng and an important figure in the establishment of Christianity in South Wales. Dubricius' cousin, Gwrgan Fawr (the Great) was one of its most important monarchs and may have obtained sway over Glamorgan as far as the River Neath. However, his grandson, Athrwys may have been the last monarch of an independent kingdom, which seems to have fallen back under the control of Gwent after his death around 655.   Ergyng eventually became an administrative cantref and, sometime before the Norman conquest of England, was taken over by the English.

William fitzOsbern

William fitzOsbern (cir 1020 – February 22, 1071), Seigneur de Breteuil, was a relative and close counsellor of William the Conqueror who became one of the great magnates of early Norman England. He was created Earl of Hereford in 1067, one of the first peerage titles in the English peerage.He was the son of Osbern the Steward, a nephew of Duchess Gunnor, the wife of Duke Richard I of Normandy.
Osbern became the steward of his cousin Duke Robert I of Normandy, and when Robert left the duchy to his young son William, Osbern was one of duke William's guardians. He was killed defending the person of duke William against an assassination attempt, sometime around 1040.

Osbern had married Emma, a daughter of count Rodolf of Ivry, who was a half- brother of Richard I. Through her he inherited a large property in central Normandy, including the honors of Pacy and Breteuil.

William fitzOsbern was probably raised at the court of his cousin and namesake duke William, and like his father became one of the ducal stewards. He was one of the earliest and most vigorous advocates of the invasion of England, and tradition holds that he convinced the doubters amongst the Norman barons of the feasibility of the invasion.

fitzOsbern's younger brother Osbern was one of Edward the Confessor's chaplains, and possessed the rich church of Bosham in Sussex, and was well- placed to pass along intelligence on the situation in England. He later became bishop of Exeter.

As duke William took control of England (becoming William I of England), fitzOsbern was given charge of the Isle of Wight, and then in 1067 was given the status of an earl. He is generally considered earl of Hereford, though his authority may have extended to some of the neighbouring shires as well. In any case, that part of England was not yet under Norman control; the understanding must have been that fitzOsbern was to take charge of their conquest when he was able.

Also for the central part of 1067 the king returned to Normandy, leaving fitzOsbern (along with Odo of Bayeux) in charge of England. The king was back in England in 1068, and fitzOsbern accompanied him in the subdual of southwest England. He attended the king's Whitsun court in May, and then himself paid a visit to Normandy, where he fell ill for some months.

In February or March of 1069 fitzOsbern was given charge of the new castle at York, but he returned south in time to attend the king's Easter court in April. Anglo-Saxon resistance in the west Midlands was subdued later in 1069, and it is likely fitzOsbern played a major part in this, though the details are not certain. During this time fitzOsbern and his followers pushed on into Wales, beginning the conquest of Gwent.

As part of the assertion of Norman control over England (and Wales), fitzOsbern was one of the major Norman castle builders. Early castles attributed to him include Carisbrooke, Chepstow (Striguil), Wigmore, and Monmouth, as well as creating or improving the fortifications of the towns of Hereford and Shrewsbury.

In 1070 trouble arose in Flanders, where king William's brother-in-law Baldwin VI of Flanders had died, leaving his county and his young sons in the hands of his widow Richilde, Countess of Mons and Hainaut. Her control of Flanders was challenged by the brother of her late husband, Robert the Frisian. Looking for help, she offered herself in marriage to fitzOsbern. He could not resist the chance to become also count of the rich principality in the German Empire, close to Normandy. He hurried with his army, but nevertheless was defeated by the Count of Flanders: fitzOsbern lost his life in the Battle of Cassel on February 22, 1071.

fitzOsbern married first Adeliza, daughter of Roger I of Tosny. One assumes that he also married Richilde shortly before the Battle of Cassel. He was succeeded in Normandy by his eldest son, William of Breteuil, and in England and Wales by his younger son, Roger de Breteuil. His daughter Emma married Ralph de Gael, 1st Earl of Norfolk . He lived in Carisbrooke Castle.


David C. Douglas, "The Ancestors of William Fitz Osbern", English Historical Review, 59 (1944), 62-79

Chris P. Lewis, "The early earls of Norman England", Anglo-Norman Studies, 13 (1991), 207-23

Lynn Nelson, The Normans in South Wales, 1070-1171 (see especially pages 24-33 in chapter 2)

W.E. Wightman, "The palatine earldom of William fitz Osbern in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire (1066-1071)", English Historical Review, 77 (1962), 6-17

Hoskins in Herefordshire

Ewyas Harold Castle

Ewyas Harold lies at the Southern end of the Golden Valley. The castle, c300yds west of the church, occupies the end of a spur running out from the west side of the valley.

Description of the site today.

This castle is a remarkable example of a motte and bailey earthwork. The almost circular motte measures an average of 74m NW – SE and 64m transversely. It rises 13m above the ditch, which separates it from the spur. The motte is 10m above the kidney shaped bailey.   There is no indication of a ditch separating the motte and bailey but it may have been infilled. The bailey is defended by scarp slopes, ramparts and ditches with an original entrance most likely on the North. To the South is a lower, outer bailey and excavations within it have provided indications that the original village was located in this area. Also to the South is an area, which may have once contained fishponds.

The motte is built of stones and clay, and stone scattered around the crest may indicate a shell keep.

Foundation and history of the site.

This is a very historically important castle as it is one of only 4 pre-conquest castles in the country. Along with Hereford Castle and Richards Castle it helps demonstrate the importance of Herefordshire as a border county at the time of the Norman Conquest.

It is unclear why the castle is called Ewyas harold but it has been suggested that it was after the first resident lord of the castle, Harold, who founded a religious house against the castle walls. Harold's son Robertus de Ewyas founded the Abbey of Dore at the commencement of Stephen's reign (1135) and built the parish church of Ewyas Harold. (Robinson - Castles of Herefordshire and their Lords)

c1050: The castle is believed to have been built by Osbern Pentecost. The castle of Osbern is thought to have been built on the existing foundations of an English burgh, laid down a century previously. He built his keep upon the mound and put a wall on the earthworks defending the platform of the lower bailey.

To the English natives the idea of building a private fortress so that you might lord it over your tenants was an alien idea, and not one that was welcome. They felt that these castles were a threat to their freedom and gladly supported Earl Godwin in his order that the castles of the Normans be destroyed.

1052: Earl Godwin is returned from exile. Godwin was returned to his power and it was decided that the French lords should be exiled or even executed. Some of the Normans of King Edward the Confessor’s court retreated to the castle. They were outlawed and all fled except for Osbern, who surrendered his castle to Earl Leofric. The castle was dismantled and the lands of Ewyas given to Osberns nephew.

1067-71: The castle is re-fortified by William fitz Osbern, Earl of Hereford, having been damaged by Earl Godwin or the Welsh. The plan of the new castle appears to have followed the structure of the original, with improvements that the advancement of technology allowed.

pre 1086: Alfred of Marlborough holds the land and castle. It had 281 hides of land and was worth £302 4s 0d per annum. At the death of Alfred his daughter was denied claim to his land and the main parts went to Harold of Ewyas and Bernard de Neufmarche. It was probably Robert the son of Harold who gave the castle its present name. He was also responsible for its reconstruction.

1100: Harold founded a priory located within the outer bailey of the castle – the foundation charter refers to a chapel dedicated to St Nicholas and served by monks.

Sybilia de Ewyas, the eventual heiress of the castle married Robert de Tregoz in the early 13th century and Ewyas Harold remained with his descendants until the property became divided at the death of John de Tregoz in 1300. The castle was passed in dowry to Roger de la Warre. When Roger died the castle was seized by the king and Henry IV later granted it to Sir Philip de la Vache, who was made knight of the garter in 1309 for his service during the French Wars.

1403: In this year custody was given to Sir William Beauchamp, Lord of Abergavenny, with the intention that it was to be fortified against Owain Glyn Dwr. From Sir William's heirs it passed to the Nevilles.

1538: It is noted that the castle is ‘ruinous and gone’(Leland, Itinerary).

1645: In this year Charles I passed through Ewyas Harold and Symonds (his antiquarian officer) noted the church and the castle. The castle could have given them no shelter being in its ruinous state.

Despite being one of the most important castles in the country due to its foundation prior to the Norman Conquest, Ewyas Harold played little part in any events of historical importance. It is possible that King John stayed here during his visits to the Welsh Border and it may have been Owain Glyn Dwr who reduced it to ruins during his raids into Herefordshire. 

Llanthony Priory

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Llanthony Priory is a partly ruined [1] former Augustinian priory [2] in the secluded Vale of Ewyas, a steep sided once glaciated valley within the Black Mountains area of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Monmouthshire, south east Wales. It lies seven miles north of Abergavenny on an old road to Hay on Wye at Llanthony. The main ruins are under the care of Cadw and entrance is free.
The priory dates back to around the year 1100, when Norman nobleman William de Lacy reputedly came upon a ruined chapel of St. David in this location, and was inspired to devote himself to solitary prayer and study. He was joined by Ersinius, a former Chaplain to Queen Matilda, the wife of King Henry I, and then a band of followers. A church was built on the site, dedicated to St John the Baptist, and consecrated in 1108. By 1118, a group of around 40 monks from England founded there an Augustinian priory, the first in Wales.
In 1135, after persistent attacks from the local Welsh population, the monks retreated to Gloucester where they founded a daughter cell, Llanthony Secunda. However, around 1186 another member of the de Lacy family, Hugh the fifth baron, endowed the estate with funds from his Irish estates to rebuild the priory church, and this work was completed by 1217.
The Priory became one of the great medieval buildings in Wales, in a mixture of Norman and Gothic architectural styles. Renewed building took place around 1325, with a new gatehouse. On Palm Sunday, April 4th 1327, the deposed Edward II stayed at the Priory on his way from Kenilworth Castle to Berkeley Castle, where he is alleged to have been murdered.
Following Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion in the early fifteenth century, the Priory seems to have been barely functioning. In 1481 it was formally merged with its daughter cell in Gloucester, and after 1538 both houses were suppressed by Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The 18th and 19th centuries
The buildings at Llanthony gradually decayed after the Dissolution to a ruin by the end of the eighteenth century, when they were bought by Colonel Sir Mark Wood, the owner of Piercefield House near Chepstow, who converted some of the buildings into a domestic house [3] and shooting box. He then sold the estate in 1807 to the poet Walter Savage Landor.
Landor needed an Act of Parliament, passed in 1809, to be allowed to pull down some of Wood's buildings and construct a house, which was never finished. He wanted to become a model country gentleman, planting trees, importing sheep from Spain, and improving the roads. There is still an avenue of trees in the area known as "Landor's Larches" and many old chestnuts have been dated back to his time.
Landor described the idylls of country life, including the nightingales and glow-worms in the valley to his friend Robert Southey. However the idyll was not to last long as for the next three years Landor was worried by the combined vexation of neighbours and tenants, lawyers and lords-lieutenant and even the Bishop of St David's. Many of his troubles stemmed from petty squabbles, arising from his headstrong and impetuous nature. He wasted money trying to improve the land, and the condition of the poorer inhabitants. The final straw was when he let his farmland to one Betham who was incompetent and extravagant and paid no rent. After an expensive action to recover the debts from Betham he had had enough, and decided to leave the country, abandoning Llanthony to his creditors - which was principally his mother. The estate was administered in his absence by his mother and cousin, but many of the buildings continued to disintegrate thereafter.
Later history
The ruins have attracted artists over the years, including JMW Turner who painted them from the opposite hillside. The abbey was acquired by the Knight family in the 20th century.
Wood’s house later became the small Abbey Hotel. The remaining ruins are protected by Cadw.
The Offa's Dyke Path runs close by on the Hatterall Ridge above the Llanthony Valley and also marks the English Welsh border here.