Even before 1066, Wido de St. Maur, a famous knight who accompanied William the Conqueror to Britain, and who fought at Hastings, was from a powerful Norman baronial family. His actual surname was not necessarily St. Maur. It could have been Du Bois, Bastille or Lafayette. But knights were then identified by their place of origin, not a surname as such, e.g.: "Robin of Loxley".
Although the Battle Abbey Roll is not regarded as a reliable reference source, Wido was listed in it as the Seigneur [Lord] of St. Maur. In fact, he was from the only place in Normandy named after St. Benedict's right-hand-man, St. Maurus of Norcia, Italy.
At the request of the Bishop of Le Mans in 543 AD, Benedict had sent his trusty Maurus to France, to establish the Benedictine Rule and to set up as many monasteries and abbeys as possible. One theory claims that he built 160 of these. Maurus died at St. Maur-sur-Loire in 584 AD, very soon after being beatified.
There are at least fifteen places in France, even today, named St.-Maur-de ... or Sur .... Wido was from St.-Maur-des-Bois, Mortain, Avranches, Lower Normandy. For centuries, his place of origin was unknown or incorrectly identified. His surname was, in fact, a locative surname. It denoted his place of origin, or his lordship of that place. His coat-of-arms bore two red chevrons on a silver field with a label of three points (in blue), as can be seen in the cartoon on the right.
The knight on the right (had he been at Hastings at all) was a Seymour. His family would not make its mark until the 1300s/1400s, but they were not even baronial until the mid-16th century, when Edward Seymour became the 1st Duke of Somerset at the time of his sister Jane's marriage to King Henry VIII.
There had been other dukes of Somerset before. However, Edward belonged to the 5th creation of dukes of Somerset, and he was the son of Sir John Seymour of Wolf Hall and Margerie Wentworth. His arms, which were untraceable before the 1300s, consisted of a golden hunting lure (not angel's wings) on a red field.
Although it had been believed for centuries that these families were one and the same, no proof has ever emerged to show that they are part of one big family called the Seymours. In chapter 4 of THE SECRET LIFE OF THE EARL ST. MAUR (1835-1869) - Was He My Great-Grandfather? you can see why they do not connect. In the mid-late 17th century, the Herald Sir William Dugdale was the first to realise that they were two separately evolved dynasties, and listed them as the 'St. Maurs' and the 'Dukes of Somerset', respectively, in his BARONAGE OF ENGLAND.
Unfortunately, the 11th Duke of Somerset, the Earl St. Maur's grandfather, revived the ancient earldom of St. Maur of Berry Pomeroy, and suddenly these Seymours became 'St. Maurs', but not by the usual inheritance channels, as they simply did not belong to the same family as the others. In 1902, the Earl's recognised illegitimate son Richard Harold St. Maur, a learned man in his own right, came by flawed information and established in his ANNALS OF THE SEYMOURS, published by Trubner, Trench, Kegan Paul, London, 1902, that the head of all the "Seymours" was one Goscelin de Sainte Maure, of the town by that name even today, in Touraine. This was a locative surname, too, but it was based on the female saint - and an early nun and martyr - Maura of Touraine.
All is explained in chapter 4 of the book, with the appropriate documentary proof from HISTORIA SABLONIENSIS (THE HISTORY OF SABLE, or L'HISTOIRE DE SABLE), a place in France, this being a compilation by Gilles de Menage. The Sainte Maures had their own coat-of-arms, different again from the other two, never ventured across the English Channel to Hastings, and their lines became extinct after the 5th generation, always based in France. In the forthcoming 3-volume series to be produced in Britain, this subject will be contained in Vol. 2.
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The Earl St Maur died at only 34 years of age but in his short yet intriguing life he managed to fight in two wars and father at least two children. But was there a third child, the authors grandfather, Mohamed U'Led Slimane? 30 years of research has uncovered more controversy than this.
The Seymour 'Wings' device is said to be based on the arms of Osmond de Centeville, a knight who guarded Richard the Fearless, the Duke of Normandy, during C10. The St. Maur arms existed in Normandy some years before 1066.
Many aspects of Medieval British and French History are linked to the St. Maur and Seymour families feudal and baronial history. Aymeric St. Maur, Grand Master of the Knights Of St. John of Jerusalem in Britain persuaded King John to sign the Magna Carta meanwhile the Seymours married into the wealthy Beauchamp family securing their social stature.