Travels down the female line: de Berthelot / Bartelott / Barrtelott / Bartellot de Stopham family

Note dated 27/11/2013: An important update about Elizabeth Bartelott can be found here: “When the Genealogy Mistakes of Others Can Lead You Astray: Elizabeth Bartelott”

Note: a large debt of gratitude is owed to Peter Bartlett’s “History of the Bartletts of Pendomer” For a full history of the de Bertholet / Bartelott / Bartlet family, this website is a great information resource.

When tracing my family tree, I’ve had to make a number of decisions. Where to start, what branches of the family tree to follow and how long I’d spend trying to find more information about any one individual. Another choice was deciding to initially focus on the male lines of descent. While the female lines of descent are just as important, tracing the male lines has been filled with challenges, quagmires and mysteries all their own. With two busy careers, there is only so much time that can be spent on research.

However, I have had the pleasure of stumbling across some surprising and intriguing finds amongst the ladies of the family which has led to some exciting investigations. These leads have provided some brilliant detours.

One such find was Elizabeth Bartelott, wife of Charles Roane. These two are the “parents” of a majority of Roanes living in the US today.

The Roanes were a classic example of the English landed gentry. By that, I mean they were on the lower scales of nobility designated by the title “Sir”. One such Roane, Sir Robert Roane, lived at Greenwich Palace in service to King Charles II until that palace fell into ruin.

Tullesworth (now Tollsworthy) Manor, Chaldon, Surrey, England

The origin of the Roane family of Chaldon, Surrey, remains something of a mystery. Owners of  the Tullesworthy Estate, they claimed descent from Charlemagne – which is as yet unproven. Regardless, they were a respected and affluent family, a status which lasted into the early 19th century. Charles Roane’s niece Lucy Roane made a celebrated marriage with John Chetwynd, a Member of Parliament, and their son Walter would become 1st Viscount Chetwynd of Bearhaven. As a side note, John Chetwynd met an unfortunate and untimely end. His death certificate cites him dying from an excess of sneezing brought about from sniffing too much snuff.

The ancestral home of the de Stopham Bartelotts, Stopham, Sussex, England

The ancestral home of the de Stopham Bartelotts, Stopham, Sussex, England

The Bartelotts, by comparison, were an ancient English noble family of Norman decent. Rare in terms of Modern England, the Bartelotts of Stopham, Sussex are a noble house which continues to the present day. While many of the old Norman nobles in England died out or lost their family seats, the Bartelotts’ thousand-year-plus lineage and prestige continues. They have – and still do – control a vast estate.

Below is a partial family tree. For my purposes, I’ve concentrated on tracing the line that gives us Elizabeth Bartelott – yet another decision!

So why discuss this family? It was the Bartelotts who gave the Roane family its prestige in both the Old and New worlds. Understanding the Bartelotts is key to understanding the influence, power and respect the Roane family had in Virginia in the Eighteen and Nineteenth Centuries. The Roane family’s prominence was so great that the will of Charles’ father, Robert, was later published in Virginia:

The Bartelott name has undergone several variations over the centuries. The origins of the name come from 11th Century Lisieux, Normandy, France where the family name was de Berthelot. At this time, the family were lesser Norman nobles in service to a higher ranking Norman overlord, the Earl de Bryan. The name remained when they arrived in England in 1066 with William the Conqueror. A marriage with an Anglo-Saxon chieftain’s daughter saw the name change to Bartelott as well as Barrtelott. de Berthlot, Barrtelott, Bartelott and de Stopham Bartelott (and ultimately Bartlett) are all names that describe the same family in England.

The ancient church of Stopham - one of the family's main burial places

The ancient church of Stopham – one of the family’s main burial places

The family claims descent from Pepin The Great through his daughter Berthe, sister to Charlemagne, and her husband Duke of Aiglant. She had a son, Berthelot who was murdered while he was in attendance upon his uncle King Charlemagne at court. At present, I haven’t found any records indicating that Berthelot actually existed, married or produced any children. More about this claim can be found here

Adam de Bertelott
While the family’s story definitely begins with Robert de Bertelott in Lisieux, it properly starts with Adam de Bertelott when he arrives in England as part of the Normal invasion as part of his overlord, Count Guido de Brionne’s (known as Guy de Bryan once in England), retinue. Adam held the key position of Steward of Guy de Bryan’s household and estate. He was responsible for keeping order, collecting tithes, taxes and rents due to the de Bryan estate. For this, Guy de Bryan granted Adam an estate of his own. Adam had at least two sons, Robert and Radolphus (known as Ralph). Robert, the elder, went into service as Steward to the de Bryan estate.

Robert’s heirs were irrevocably tied to the de Bryans. Whever the de Bryans had lands and estates; you will find the name Bartelott. This would continue until 1405, when the male de Bryan line became extinct. There were marriages between the two families. In 1235 Amabil de Bryan de L’Isle married Ralph (de Bartelot) de Stopham and took with her a share of her father’s estates. Through the de Bryan’s, Bartelotts spread to Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire. Once the de Bryan line ran out, and after the plague decimated the population, this branch of the Bartelott family was forced to alliance themselves with new families of influence – oftentimes families descended from the female de Bryan lines.

Ralph, the younger of Adam’s sons, was established as “de Stopham”, presiding over the family seat at Stopham, Sussex. It’s worth noting that the surnames de Stopham and de Bertholott/Bartelott refer to two different branches of the same families established by Ralph and Robert. It’s a moot point, however, as Assoline de Stopham (the last of the de Stopham line) married her cousin Adam de Bartelott, forever merging these two family branches into one.

Next to the Stopham estate was the large estate owned by the Earls of Arundel who lived at Arundel Castle. As with the de Bryans, the de Stopham Bartelots continued a long and lasting relationship with the Earls of Arundel, a family of influence and royal connections. The Bartelotts accrued influence, land and prestige through their associations with the de Bryans and the Arudnels.

Middle and Later Medieval Periods

In middle and late Medieval periods, the Bartelotts were to become closely allied, through marriage, to the powerful houses of Freke, Prowte and Churchill (the Dukes of Marlborough and Winston Churchill’s ancestors).

This is brief overview of this family’s illustrious history. Although Ellizabeth Bartelott wouldn’t be born for another two hundred years, the family steadily accrued power, influence and prestige – all of which enhanced the Roane family’s standing in England when she married Charles Roane; a standing which the pair brought with them to Virginia when they emigrated.

The wealth of information available about this family is what has made my genealogical detour both rich and fascinating. Its story brought the early, middle and late medieval period in England alive in a way dry and dull history books couldn’t. For all the times I suffered in History classes learning about the Norman invasion of England in 1066…never suspecting that a potential ancestor was right there in the thick of things.

Every Roane descended from Charles and Elizabeth has this as part of their family history.