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View Tree for SIR John De HolcombeSIR John De Holcombe (b. Bef. 1175, d. 1270)

John De Holcombe (son of ??? De Holcombe and ??? ???) was born Bef. 1175, and died 1270. He married Isabelle? Downe on date unknown.

 Includes NotesNotes for John De Holcombe:
The HOLCOMBE Coat-of-Arms: Azure Field, Chevron, argent, between three Turks heads in profile, couped at shoulder, wreathed about temples, sabled.

HOLCOMBE CREST: A man's head, full face, couped at the breast proper, wreathed around the temples, on an azure.

THE MOTTO: "Veritas et Fortitude" - Truth and Courage.

The wreaths around the heads indicate probably SARACEN, ancient enemy of Christianity, whom the HOLCOMBES opposed.

SIR JOHN HOLCOMBE, first found recorded in the Visitations of England, served in the War of the Crusades to Palestine, where in the 3rd Crusade (1187-1191 A. D.) in battle Sir John beheaded three Turks with one stroke of the sword, for which he was knighted by KING RICHARD, which explains the three Turks on the Holcombe Coat-of-Arms.

SIR JOHN HOLCOMBE rests in the oldest Abby in England - ABBY, Church of Dorchester. Ninety percent of the Holcombes in North America are considered direct descendants of this SIR JOHN HOLCOMBE.

Earliest Holcombes in Europe probably lived on a narrow wooded hill, and took their name from "Holt" meaning woods, and "Combe" meaning a narrow ridge. HOLCOMBE COURT, called the noblest Tudor Mansion in Devonshire has been the seat of HOLCOMBE ROGUS, the grounds of which contained 3,021 acres, in which are 7 acres of water. The earliest learned of Holcombe Rogus and Holcombe Court is that it was occupied by ROGO, the Norman, who built the mansion and that a Church was established at Holcombe Rogus prior to 17 August 1260 A. D.

The Southern branch of Holcombes began with ANDREW, of Devonshire, England, who came first to the Barbados in 1685 and thence to Virginia. Virginia was often called Barbados, Bermudas, etc. in the old records. No dates of birth for Virginia Holcombes are found prior to 1686. New Kent, Northumberland other neighboring counties of Tidewater, Va. had most of their first settlers from England.

Tradition has it that WILLIAM HOLCOMBE was in St. Stephen Parish, Northumberland Co., Va. as early as 1678, and that they were from Wales or County Devon, England. There are many variations of spelling, including Harcum, Hauhelkan, Holkam, Hollicum, Halkum, but in Burke's Armory and "Landed Gentry of England" the name is uniformly spelled Holcombe or Holtcombe (or Holcomb).

THOMAS HOLCOMBE, the first of the name Holcombe to arrive in present U. S. A. (1630 A. D.) is given by tradition a birthplace in County Devon, England, or Pembrokeshire, Wales, b. 1595, 1597 or 1601. Reports also show that he was the son of GILBERT HOLCOMBE of Hull (Hole) about 1595, and wife ANN COURTENAY, daughter of PETER OF VROTTONIN, County Cornwall, England.

GILBERT HOLCOMBE was the son of THOMAS H. HOLCOMBE of Hull, County Devon, and wife MARGARET TRETFORD (treturfe), daughter of REYNOLD TRETFORD of Cornwall, who were married in A. D. 1559.

THOMAS H. HOLCOMBE was the son of ELLIS HOLCOMBE, of Hull, and wife SUYDENHAM, daughter of THOMAS OF LYNFORD (Winford) County Dorset, England. ELLIS HOLCOMBE was the son of CHARLES HOLCOMBE, b. A. D. 1472, d. 1528, and wife JANE HOLCOMBE.

CHARLES HOLCOMBE, of Hull, was the son of ROGER HOLCOMBE (who died 20 January 1480) and wife MARGARET AVENELL, who died April 1409. She was the daughter of JOHN of BLACKPOOL, S. Moulton.

WILLIAM HOLCOMBE was not the Kent County, MI immigrant Ancestor. He settled with his family in St. Stephens Parish, Northumberland County, and New Kent County, Va. before 12 October 1680 A. D. He also could have lived probably in King William (now Caroline) counties. WILLIAM HOLCOMBE is recorded as being father of a son, HENRY HOLCOMBE, b. St. Stephen's Parish, Northumberland Co. Va. 12 October 1680.

Mrs. L. D. McPherson states in her book "The Holcombes" that ROGER HOLCOMBE of Hull was the son of JOHN HOLCOMBE II and wife --FOLKEROY, daughter of WILLIAM FOLKEROY. John Holcombe II was the son of JOHN HOLCOMBE, Sr., of Hull, and wife ELIZABETH DOWNE, daughter of HUGH DOWNE, Esq., son of RALPH DOWNE, and grandson of SIR RALPH DOWNE and wife ISABELLE de la BRUER, daughter of SIR WILLIAM BRUER. Sir William Bruer was the son of GEORFREY de la BRUER, great grandson of REGINALD, EARL OF CORNWALL, son of HENRY I, King of England and descendant of WILLIAM the CONQUEROR, b. 1027, son of ROBERT OF NORMANDY.



900 AD William the Conqueror conquered England / first Norman King Henry I great-grandson of William the Conqueror / Reginald, Earl of Cornwall son of Henry I /
Geofrey de la Bruer great-grandson of Reginald (above) Isabelle de la Bruer daughter
Isabelle Downe grand-daughter; wife of John Holcombe of Hull John Holcombe of Hull son of Walter de Holocmbe (Lord of Holcombe)

cir. 1100's Sir John de Holcombe Knighted by King Richard the Lionhearted in the ***Crusade to the Holy Land. Hence the First recorded Holcombe in history.
1301 Walter Holcombe Lord of Holcomb; great-grandson to Sir John
John Holcomb of Hull grandson of Walter;
John Holcombe II son of above, son Roger
d. 1/20/1480 Roger Holcombe of Hull son Charles
b. 1472 d. 1528 Charles Holcombe of Hull son Ellis
Ellis Holcombe of Hull son Thomas
Thomas H. Holcombe of Hull sons Gilbert, Christopher, Josias
b. 1560(1) Christopher Holcombe of Hull son William
d. 1694 William Holcombe Mayor of Pembrokeshire, son William Holcombe (D) Immigrant to America, Physician


Pedigree Name Family, misc. information
(D) William Holcombe - immigrant 4 sons settled in St.Stephen's Parish,
Northcumberland, Co. Virginia (just northeast
of present day Richmond).

ADDENDUM: BEYOND THOMAS HOLCOMBE - The majority of the information in this addendum, like the preceding paper, has been taken from Elizabeth Weir McPherson's volume entitled "The Holcombes, Nation Builder's".

According to McPherson, the name Holcombe means wooded valley, from "Holt", a wood and "combe", a valley, HOOKER, a fisherman (page iv). She goes on to say that the earliest Holcombes in Europe probably lived on a narrow wooded hill and took their name from 'holt' meaning a woods, and 'combe' meaning a narrow ridge (page 5).

Again, according to McPherson, the Holcombe Coat of Arms originated with Sir John de Holcombe who served in the War of the Crusades to Palestine, where in the Third Crusade, (1187 - 1191 AD) in battle he beheaded three Turks with one stroke of his sword, for which he was knighted by King Richard in the latter part of that century - which explains the four heads on the Holcombe Coat of Arms. The motto "Veritas et Fortitudo" in English is "Truth and Courage"(page ii). As of this time I have been unable to obtain a good copy of this coat of arms.

The knight in chain mail armour
This Crusader cannot be identified with certainty, but there are claims that he is Sir John de Holcombe (died 1270) or William de Valance the Younger (died 1282). This effigy is one of the best pieces of C13th funerary sculpture in England. Unusually life-like, in the act of drawing his sword, with every detail of his clothing and armour there for you to see and touch, this knight probably went on one of the Crusades to the Holy Land as indicated by the fact that his legs are crossed.

Knighthood and Chivalry
The terms are often confused, and often needlessly distinguished. The term knighthood comes from the English word knight (from Old English cniht, boy, servant, cf. German Knecht) while chivalry comes from the French chevalerie, from chevalier or knight (Low Latin caballus for horse). In modern English, chivalry means the ideals, virtues, or characteristics of knights. The phrases "orders of chivalry" and "orders of knighthood" are essentially synonymous.

The German translation for "knight" is Ritter (literally, rider). The Latin term in the Middle Ages was miles, since a knight was by definition a professional soldier. In modern times, the Classical Latin term eques was preferred.

The Emergence of knights
Succintly, a knight was a professional soldier. The old "citizens' armies" of Antiquity had been replaced by professional armies. This trend was reinforced by the appearance in the 8th century of the stirrup, which made mounted men much more powerful and turned cavalry into the most important element of medieval armies. But being a mounted soldier was expensive, since it required enough income to buy and sustain a horse and the equipment (armor, weapons) to go with it. Thus, those who were too poor to provide this service became mere peasants, attached to the land.

In feudal society as it emerged in the 10th century, everyone held land from someone else in exchange for goods or services of some kind. Men who were not free provided a portion of their crops and labor services. Men who were free provided military service, either personally or (if they were rich enough) using others' services. Thus, a man who held his estate in knight's fee owed service as a knight to his lord. A more sizeable vassal, when called by his liege, would summon his knights and form a contingent in his liege's army.

The Development of Knighthood
Knighthood was originally a professional association. It included those men who could afford to make and maintain the heavy capital investment required by mounted warfare (horse and armor). It emerges in the 11th century, and its members are nobles (members of the great land-owning families) as well as small land-holders, free men, craftsmen, etc (in Spain, caballeros villanos were common until the 14th c.). It must be understood that, even in the feudal era, the boundaries of knighthood were quite fluid. Anyone who, by luck or effort, managed to obtain the training and equipment to be a knight, could eventually enter that class. In Flanders, there is a famous case of a family of servile (i.e., unfree) origin who entered into knighthood and became castellans of ??? in the 12th c.

In the course of the 12th century, a social and ethical dimension is added to this professional aspect. The strong influence of Cluny monks, who try to give an ethos to savage warfare, leads to the definition of the true miles Christi, a soldier who follows a certain code of behavior, which we now call chivalric. Starting in the second half of the 12th century, literature (gests and Arthurian romances) also provides a model for the knightly community, as well as a means of glorifying it.

Knighthood and Nobility
Thus, knights were not necessarily nobles, nor were nobles necessarily knights. The noble class and the knightly class slowly came to merge from the late 12th century onward. Nobles become knights with increasing frequency. The French prince (future king Louis VI) was knighted without the knowledge of his father who remains distrustful of a rather heterogeneous professional class, but thereafter every French king is knighted (Favier 1993). Conversely, heredity enters the knightly class in the 13th century. The son of a knight is automatically a squire, thus making him eligible for knighthood on the basis of his ancestry; at the same time, knighthood is more and more restricted to descendants of knights by various legal restrictions imposed over the course of the 13th century. In the late 13th century, a decision of the Parliament in Paris forbade the count of Artois from making unfree men into knights without the king's consent; interesting to note, the two men who had been so knighted were allowed to remain knights subject to the payment of a fine. This marked both the closure of the knightly class as well as the beginnings of a new form of access, by purchase.

In England, the evolution was different: those who held land in knight's fee but did not wish to take up the profession could pay a tax. Knighthood did not become a hereditary class in England, and instead the knightly class (those eligible to be knights) became the nucleus of the gentry.

See also my page on women knights.

The End of Knighthood
As a military institution, knighthood was on the wane from the late 13th century on. The end of feudal society meant that sovereigns gained a monopoly on war-making, and the old form of military service owed to one's immediate lord became obsolete. Kings still summoned their knights for wars, but increasingly they turned to other sources of manpower, namely mercenaries whose use became common in the 14th century. The war preparations of Henry V of England, which are well-documented, show how the king formed an army: he signed dozens of contracts (or indentures) with individuals who pledged to provide a specified number of men-at-arms and archers (usually 3 archers for each man-at-arm) at muster time.

The development of gunpowder and increasingly more powerful archery meant that the use of massive cavalry charges to break enemy lines and carry swift victory could not be relied upon, and the dominance of cavalry came to an end. If any battle summed up this change, it was the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The charging French knights, compressed by the terrain and the English arrows into a fragmented and ever constricted line of attack, reached the English line without any room to maneuver, and it only took a few fallen horses to prevent all other knights from moving in any direction. Thus, in half-an-hour the battle was decided, and thousands of French knights lay prisoners. The fear of a second attack prompted the English to kill them on the spot, and the French nobility was horribly decimated in a single day. The French learned their lesson; Charles VII, who finally expelled the English, formed the first standing, professional army in Europe.

The chivalric ideals continued to live on, perhaps precisely because the reality of knighthood had disappeared, and a free rein was given to romanticizing. The French king François Ier insisted on being knighted on the battlefield of his first victory at Marignano in 1515. Tournaments, pas d'armes were favorite entertainment at the French court of the 16th century. More and more elaborate suits of armor were forged for pure display, in increasingly baroque imitations of earlier models. Ariosto's poetic retelling of the crusades popularized the figures of Orlando and Ruggiero and extended the knightly myth for another 200 years. In the 19th century, when no one read Ariosto anymore, Sir Walter Scott and Romanticism took up the cause.

Orders of Knighthood
The origins of orders of knighthood are in the Crusades. In the Latin Orient, a new institution emerged, in which knights (professional soldiers) associated themselves under a strict, quasi-monastic rule of life, for the purpose of protecting pilgrims and defending Christian conquests in the Holy Land. In the 14th century, just as the original military-monastic orders were searching for a new mission after the loss of the Holy Land, kings began creating orders of their own, modelled in part on these original orders, but with a different purpose, to bind their nobility to themselves. Still later, in the late 16th century, these monarchical orders were imitated in form by the new orders of merit which became common throughout Europe.

Because each institution tried to use the prestige of the previous one by imitating it, the term "order of knighthood" has been passed on and is now used for modern awards and decorations which are neither orders nor composed of knights. In modern society, only a very few orders survive from the times of the Crusades, and most "orders of knighthood" awarded by sovereigns or governments (such as the English Garter or the Spanish Golden Fleece) are, in spite of their historical connection, awards of merit.

I discuss orders of knighthood at greater length.

Heraldry and Knighthood
The relations between heraldry, nobility and knighthood are often completely misunderstood. Briefly stated, heraldry appeared in the landed aristocracy and quickly spread to the knightly class in the 12th century, at a time when knighthood and nobility remain very distinct classes. Over the course of the 13th century, knighthood and nobility came to merge, just as heraldry spread far beyond either class to be used by all classes of society. Thus, heraldry is not particularly linked to nobility, although the most easily documented uses of heraldry are among nobles, simply because nobles were the elite.

The initial development of heraldry certainly owes a lot to the practices of the knightly class, in particular the growing fashion of tournaments, which became more and more popular from the 13th century, just as knighthood as a military institution was on the wane. Tournaments were the occasion to display coats of arms, and heralds, who were originally a specialized group of minstrels, became responsible for identifying and cataloguing the arms of participants. Their knowledge of coats of arms also helped them identify fighters in battle and dead on the battlefield, and for this reason heralds became associated with battles, truces, declarations of war, in an official capacity.

To fight fire with fire, it was necessary for the western European armies to create cavalries of their own. But an ordinary citizen could not afford the maintenance and care of a trained war-horse, let alone its purchase. Furthermore, horsemanship skills needed practice, and the average citizen had no time for that, because he had to feed his family. This usually involved working the land, which not only put food on the tenant farmer's table but put money in his landlord's pocket.

It was the Roman practice of commendation that brought on the birth of knighthood. A Roman soldier would attach himself to a superior officer, promising military service in return for some kind of support, usually a grant of land known as a benefice. European leaders such as Charlemagne adopted this practice; they would grant parcels of land (complete with serfs) to their best warriors.In return, each warrior (who was now a lord himself) would use the income from his land to equip himself with a horse and weapons. And, now that he had the leisure time of a land-owner, he would practice horsemanship and horse weaponry so that he might better serve his liege-lord.

The land grants did not end with one distribution -- each warrior-cum-lord would divide up his land and grant parcels of it to retainers, who would then follow the same procedure. The land would be divided and re-divided until what was left was the minimum required amount of land to support a knight. This was usually 12 hides (about 1500 acres), but it depended on the quality of the specific land and how much food or other natural resources it could produce. It cost 30 marks a year to support a knight.

The knight of Europe therefore had his origins in military and economic need. His role was as a warrior, and in some cases he was little more than a thug rewarded for his viciousness. But if a knight was to succeed, he had to take his role in the military seriously. As time went on, success required more than brawn: it required loyalty to his liege-lord in society as well as strategy and ingenuity on the battlefield.

Third Crusade History

The third crusade was originally led by the great king of Germany, but the other two kings were, King Richard from England, and King Phillip Augustus from France. King Frederick was soon to meet his fate on this crusade. When they were crossing a mountain stream, somewhere in present day Turkey, he forgot his age and that he couldn't swim anyway, he crossed too, and drowned.

This left the crusade without a leader. So they put the second most able leader, King Richard the Lion Heart. Richard was a strong leader that was always willing to do things for his people. As a boy much of Richard's time was spent was spent fighting with his brothers and father, which also gave him quite a bit of fighting background.

During the crusade Richard never stopped getting bad news , such as the news that his brother John was still planning to overthrow him. Once in a battle against Saladin's armies Richards horse fell out from underneath him, Saladin saw and sent his servant out with two new fresh horses and a message," A gift from one king to another." This shows that Saladin was truly a kind person. Another show of his sensitivity was when a plague spread around Richards camp and Richard also got it. The legend said that during the time that Richard was ill Saladin would send out a basket of fresh fruits everyday, and in return Richard would send him a thank you present of two falcons, a prized bird for its unique hunting skills.

When they went home they went only in the glory that they had been brave enough to go on the crusade and that they had been good enough fighters to live. They were happy because they were going home to their families in Europe, and the thought that they were definately going to heaven. This was the word of the Priests and Popes. There were just a couple of problems, they hadn't gotten the land, and some were dead, there was also sure to be an uproar about King Fredericks death.

Some Notable Houses


The oldest houses in Branscombe are Church Living, on the main road just north of Saint Winifred's, Edge Barton and Hole House, both within half a mile of each other in the northern part of the parish. The latter two are perched on ledges, half-way up the steep sides of the same valley. They are fortified against attack from below by walls.

Hole House is said to have been built in 1075 by Simon de Holcomb, a Saxon bowman who fought at the Battle of Hastings. Legend has it he took up residence in Branscombe after being evicted by the victorious Normans from his manor at Farringdon. Hole House then became the home of the Holcombes for over 500 years. Most famous of the line was Sir John de Holcomb, who died in the Crusades and who, with his wife, Isabella Downe of Rousdon, a direct descendant of Henry I, owned most of the land between Branscombe and Lyme Regis. Sir John is buried at Dorchester Abbey, near Oxford, in one of the finest surviving Crusader tombs.

Most large houses of this vintage will have included some kind of private family chapel originally, and there are traces of a fourteenth-century mortuary chapel at Hole, possibly a chantry, where prayers would be said for departed ancestors, the cost covered by a provision in the lord's will.

The house was extensively re-built in the late sixteenth-century. Some interesting graffiti can be found on a stone mantelpiece in one room. The names of Gilbert, Josias and Christopher Holcombe were carved there in 1577, when they were children.

The house was sold out of the family by Gilbert, in 1601. Gilbert's son, Thomas, believed to have been born at Hole House, is said to have emigrated to America in 1630, on the "Mary and John", and founded the American branch of the family that survives today. However, recent research argues this particular Thomas Holcomb may in fact have come from Warwickshire.

The Beginning

May 5, 1121

I'm a serf that has finally decided to join a crusade. By the way, my name is Edward. I work on a large estate outside of London. I am in the best knight training course along with 200 other peasants. For ten years we have been training. I wear the finest armor and bear the best weapons.When we go to represent and fight for our lord, we have to look nice. I left behind 50 workers on the estate I work on, with my wife and children.

King Richard and his men, ten lords with their men along with my serfs and myself, are going to meet right outside the town gates, at sunrise, the morning of December 27th.

The day has come now, and the soldier count is at 10,000 and still going. My lord and King Richard started a conversation. Something about being ready to take back Jerusalem. Then something about if we won we would come back alive, victorious, and have Jerusalem once again. If we lost we could come back dead, and nothing to show for our work with scars. Then they went on to talk about the things that made us take this great risk. They said the major reason they took the chance was for their faith in the lord. Then he shouted out to no one in particular, " It's the will of God that brings us together like this, in order to take back the holy city of Jerusalem.!" As soon as he finished the trumpets sounded. We were off.

The Fights

July 13, 1135

I marvel at the way King Richard controls his troops. He seems so calm as he watches he massacres going on about him, I heard him boldly saying to a troop once"the maximum number of soldiers dead at the end of the day is here!"

We have traveled so much I do not know where we are, but I do find it quite miraculous that King Richard always seems to know where he's going. He has done a very good job of keeping his head high considering all that has been going on around here lately, like the news that still comes of his brothers plan to overthrow him. Also the sadness we all faced when we fought out that we weren't going back to our homes, and families in Europe.

I now hear the war cry! I must go and fight for God.

The Return....

January 7, 1235

We are on our way back to England. Now, 3,000 men left out of the 30,000 that went on the crusade. The men all drove sad looks on their faces nothing at all was achieved on the crusade. We will return as losers to England. We will be a disgrace to our people. 150 out of the 200 men I brought with me survived. I was greatly pleased with my men, and I think their families will be happy to see them. I was congratulated by Richard himself. Although I lost a lot of money on this crusade, I am lucky that I still have lots left. I am also lucky that I don't have any debts to suffer like many other crusading lords.

One day we got a letter from a messenger that had been sent all the way from England. With him he had a note saying that Richards brother John was going to over throw him. Therefore Richard immediately ordered for a carriage to come and take him home as soon as possible.

Richard has gone now and has left me in charge of the army. We have 50 more miles and we are all so sore and tired. I wonder why I put myself through this endless torture. Although now I realize that out of the torturous fights, I will now go to heaven. For I have pleased the Pope. All the men in my camp have also got their own rewards waiting for them at home like family, a place in heaven, and other things such as just getting away from manorial life, and not having to go back to that, as feudalism has started to decline because of the lack of feudal lords such as myself.

More About John De Holcombe:
Burial: Unknown, Abbey, Church of Dorchester, England.

More About John De Holcombe and Isabelle? Downe:
Marriage: Unknown

Children of John De Holcombe and Isabelle? Downe are:
  1. +John De Holcombe, b. Bef. 1270, d. date unknown.
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