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Aubigny, William d' [William de Albini; known as William d'Aubigny Pincerna]locked

(d. 1139)
  • J. F. A. Mason

Aubigny, William d' [William de Albini; known as William d'Aubigny Pincerna] (d. 1139), administrator and baron, was the eldest surviving son of Roger d'Aubigny and his wife, Amice (or Avice). Roger and his father William were benefactors of the Benedictine abbey of Lessay, in western Normandy, and came from St Martin-d'Aubigny (Manche) (unwarrantedly Latinized as Albini, a form that itself has many variants) near Coutances. Although other men from the Cotentin prospered in England after Henry I's accession, and Henry I himself has sometimes been credited with the rise of William d'Aubigny, William was in England several years before 1100. He is not named in Domesday Book, but he witnessed an important royal charter in 1091, and was a considerable person in Norfolk by 1092–5, when he was the third named lay addressee, after Roger (I) Bigod and the sheriff, in a royal writ concerning Ramsey Abbey. He held at least one coastal manor in Norfolk, Happisburgh.

Largely thanks to the generosity of Henry I, d'Aubigny built up a substantial estate, mostly in Norfolk—where by 1135 he had enfeoffed twenty-two knights on his demesne—and Kent. Among the d'Aubigny manors in Norfolk were (Old) Buckenham, later the caput of the honour, and Wymondham. William founded a Benedictine priory; the priory church had a fine Norman nave which survives as part of the parish church. The early castle at Old Buckenham, probably also built by William, was later given to the priory for building materials. He was also a benefactor to Thetford Priory.

After 1100 d'Aubigny's involvement in royal business became much heavier, and his attestations therefore more frequent; in March 1101, as a witness to the royal treaty with the count of Flanders, he appeared for the first time as the king's butler (pincerna regis), and as such one of the chief officers of the royal household. He witnessed royal documents regularly throughout the reign (some 120 of them by 1130), though mention of his butlership is usually omitted; as a curialis he itinerated laboriously with the king, and about one-quarter of his attestations were made in Normandy. In England the pipe roll of 1130 also shows him away from court, holding pleas in Essex and Lincolnshire, sometimes with Richard Basset.

William d'Aubigny was present at Stephen's Easter court in 1136, together with another butler, Eudo Martel. According to John of Oxenedes, writing much later, he died on All Saints' day (1 November) 1139; but from another document (Reg. RAN, 3.973) it seems that he was dead by June 1139. He married Maud (Matilda), daughter of Roger Bigod; their son William d'Aubigny (d. 1176) was created earl of Arundel and was the ancestor of the earls of Arundel of the d'Aubigny and Fitzalan families.


  • [Nigel, bishop of Ely ?], ‘Constitutio domus regis’, in R. Fitz Nigel [R. Fitzneale], Dialogus de scaccario / The course of the exchequer, ed. and trans. C. Johnson (1950), 128–35
  • J. A. Green, The government of England under Henry I (1986) [229–30]
  • C. W. Hollister, Monarchy, magnates, and institutions in the Anglo-Norman world (1986)
  • J. H. Round, The king's serjeants and officers of state (1911), 140–65
  • Chronica Johannis de Oxenedes, ed. H. Ellis, Rolls Series, 13 (1859)
H. W. C. Davis & others, eds., , 4 vols. (1913–69)