DEVON AND CORNWALL NOTES AND QUERIES
A quarterly Journal devoted to the
LOCAL HISTORY ARCHAEOLOGY
BIOGRAPHY AND ANTIQUITIES
Counties of Devon and Cornwall
Volume XX1X - Part V11. October, 1963
Roger, the father of William Chievre 193
and Ralf Pomeroy( R. Thomas Cheevers)
The Devonshire Press Ltd., Higher Fleet Street, Torquay.
111.Roger, the Father of William Chievre and Ralf Pomeroy.-
The main purpose of this note is to reveal the discovery, or rediscovery, of
the common ancestor in Normandy of two families whose origins have
previously been traced back only to the founders in England. Also included
are some general observations of interest concerning the history of both
families. The reader may naturally ask why I, a third generation
Irish-Canadian, am writing about Devon and Cornwall. The answer, strangely,
lies in my Irish ancestry or more correctly Anglo-Norman-Irish ancestry. My
Norman and Anglo-Norman forbears resided in Devon for over a century, from
A.D. 1068 to 1170.
Following the Invasion and Conquest of England by William the Conqueror
the lands of the English were granted to the Companions of the Conqueror. In
A.D. 1068 the rich lands of southwestern England fell to the Normans. Among
the Companions of the Conqueror
who shared in the spoils were two brothers who had come in with the
Conquest. They were granted lands in Devon and were founders of two
extant families. Their names are recorded on the bronze tablet of the
ancient church at Dives, Normandy, which bears the names of some of the
known Companions of the Conqueror who embarked from Dives. They were
Guillaume (William) Chievre or La Chevre and Raoul (Ralf or Ralph) de la
William received the Honour of Bradninch and his brother Ralph the Honour
of Berry Pommeraie, both in Devonshire. William.s descendants were known
variously as Chevre, Chever, Chevyr, Chevyrs, Chevers and Cheevers etc. The
form .Chevers. is derived from the original Norman .Chievre. through a
variation of the original, viz .Cheever. . The .s. comes from the apostrophe
.s. of .Cheever.s son., i.e son of Cheever. Ralph.s descendants were known
variously as de La Pommeraie, de Pomerio, de la Pomerai, Pomaria, and
Pomeroy etc. The form .Pomeroy. is derived from the original .Pommeraie. and
is probably a straight Anglicisation of the name.
The English and Irish descendants of William are known today as
Cheevers, Chevers and Chivers. The Chief of the Name of the Irish Cheevers.,
following the change of spelling of the name by his grandfather from
Cheevers to Chevers, is known as Chevers. The English descendants of Ralph
are known today as Pomeroy and include the peerage Pomeroys, the Viscounts
William Chievre.s surname was the old Norman for .Goat.. The goat still
figures in the family.s armorial bearings: a demi-goat as the Crest, and
three goats, salient in the Arms. Ralph.s surname was derived from .la
Pommeraie., i.e., -the Orchard- at the family.s place of residence at la
Pommeraye, 14 kilometres west of Falaise, Calvados, Normandy. The
designation .de la Pommerair. was probably applied to Ralph for the purpose
of identification only.
From a geographical significance it became a surname and later part of the
compound place name Berry Pomeroy. (The Crests and Arms of some branches of
the Pomeroy family show a rampant lion holding between the paws an apple
ppr. The connection between the apple and the Orchard is obvious.)
Both brothers are recorded in Domesday Book as tenants-in-chief of
the Crown. Domesday Book having been written in Latin William.s surname is
recorded as .Capra. and Ralph is recorded as .Pomaria.. He is also recorded
in addition to his direct holdings from the Crown as a sub-tenant of his
In A.D. 1170 Sir William Chevre, a direct descendant of William
Chievre of the Conquest, joined Strongbow in the Anglo-Norman Invasion of
Ireland. He received a knight.s fee of land in Co. Wexford and became the
founder of the Irish branch of the family.
With no similarity in the names of William.s and Ralph.s descendants
and no similarity in their arms and crests, it would appear that there was
no connection between the two families; yet despite the difference in
surnames etc. the descendants of William Capra or Chievre and Ralph Pomaria
or Pomeroy are members of the SAME family.
My researches into my own family history revealed Sir William Chevre
as the founder of the family in Ireland, and William Chievre as the founder
of the family in England. The records of the Head of the Irish branch of the
family began with William Chievre of Devon as the first recorded member of
the family. Nothing was known of the pre-Conquest ancestry of the family.
In the Victoria County History of Devonshire William is listed as
William Capra with the note that he is recorded as Chievre in the Exchequer
Book. An interesting footnote to the article relating to William stated that
he was the brother of Ralf de Pomeroy. Mention is also made of his sister
Beatrix (Beatrice) who was one of his sub-tenants. In supplement V11 of the
Devonshire Association Transactions she is described as William.s sister and
like her brother she is surnamed Capra.
My great satisfaction in identifying a brother (Ralf) and a sister
(Beatrice) of my family.s first recorded ancestor in England
prompted me to endeavour to trace my family back beyond William.
The Cheevers family had not been traced beyond William Chievre but it
seemed possible that the records of the Pomeroy branch of the family might
provide additional information regarding the family.s ancestry. William and
Ralf being brothers, the ancestry of one brother would naturally apply to
the other. Unfortunately the peerage works I consulted did not trace the
Pomeroy family back beyond .Ralph de la Pomeria., founder of the Devon and
Cornwall branches of the Pomeroy family and ancestors of the Viscounts
In the History and Genealogy of the Pomeroy Family, Vols.1 & 11 published
in 1912 and Part 111 in 1922, the author Colonel Albert A. Pomeroy traces
the family back to .Radulphus De La Pommeraie., the ancestor of the Pomeroys
in England. Brief mention of Ralph.s brother William is found in Vol.1 and
Part 111 where he is designated as .Capra., .Chevre. and .Chievre.. Another
brother .Huge., and their sister .Beatrice. are also mentioned. Most
interesting of all is the tantalisingly brief mention of the father of
William and Ralph - Roger- who is described by Colonel Pomeroy as being
recorded, with his son William Capra, as a benefactor to the Abbey of St.
Mary Du Val, Normandy. The Colonel refers in a note to page 536 of the
.Calendar of Documents, France. as the
Documentary source of this statement. At least three times in his
work Colonel Pomeroy refers to Roger, as not having a surname, but
consultation of the .Calendar of Documents preserved in France illustrative
of the history of Great Britain and Ireland., page 536, Vol.1, A.D.
918-1206, reveals two glaring omissions by Colonel Pomeroy. Although the
.Calendar of Documents, France. does not record Roger.s gift to the Abbey in
full, but merely mentions it in
parenthesis, I discovered that Roger did indeed have a surname and I also
learned the name of his wife; two very important details in the history of
both families which were either overlooked or ignored by Colonel Pomeroy.
The .Calendar of Documents, France. describes Roger as ROGER CAPRA,
and gives his wife.s name as Petronilla. The Rev. J.R. O.Donnell of the
Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, Canada, has translated a
transcript of the document mentioned in the Calendar as follows:
.I Roger Chievre (becomes Cheevers in English from the Norman form)
have, with the consent of my wife Petronilla and my son William, given to
God and the Church of St. Mary of the Valley 20 acres of land at Cauville
(about 22 acres today; Cauville is approximately 9 miles from Le Havre) and
in Delbot.s mill about 10 sesters of grist and six sesters of wheat for my
soul and the souls of my forefathers..
In the Latin records of Normandy Roger the ancestor of the Cheevers
and Pomeroy families, is described as .Capra. and his son William and
daughter Beatrice are both described in English (Norman) Latin records as
.Capra.. From the fact that the Chievre surname was used by Roger and his
son William and daughter Beatrice, it may be concluded that the English
Pomeroys would have borne the same surname had not Ralph and his descendants
been known as of .the Orchard..
From the History and Genealogy of the Pomeroy Family we learn that
Beatrice was sub-tenant of her brothers William and Ralph. Following the
Conquest she was Abbess of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael.s Mount,
Cornwall. This association with St. Michael.s Mount by the Chievre branch of
the family was followed about a century later by an interesting association
with the Mount by the Pomeroy branch of the family. One of Beatrice.s
Pomeroy kinsmen, one Henry de Pomeroy, was a staunch supporter of Prince
John against his brother King Richard 1. Henry Pomeroy was forced to flee to
St. Michael.s Mount where he held out until capture was inevitable. St.
Michael.s Mount then became the scene of a most unusual suicide. Rather than
face capture and death at the hands of the executioner and subsequent
confiscation of his estates Henry called in his surgeon and had himself bled
Both the Irish Cheevers and the English Pomeroy branches of the
families attained Peerage honours. In Ireland Edward Cheevers the Head of
the family, was raised to the Peerage as Viscount Mount Leinster and Baron
of Bannow, 23 August 1689,by James 11. Lord Mount Leinster served as A.D.C.
to his Majesty at the Battle of the Boyne and accompanied the King into
exile to France where his Lordship died in 1709.
In England Arthur Pomeroy was elevated to the Peerage as Baron
Harberton, 10 October 1783, and was advanced to a Viscouncy, 5 July, 1791.
The Viscounts Harberton descend from the Pomeroys of
Ingesdon (now Ilsington), Devon.
Both family surnames, Cheevers and Pomeroy, have survived down
through the centuries as place names. In Devon the name Pomeroy has
Been perpetuated by the village and castle of Berry Pomeroy. In Ireland the
name Cheevers has been perpetuated by the Townland of Cheeverstown,
Co.Dublin and Cheeverstown Castle. The Down survey map of the Barony of
Uppercross, 1655, the Census of Ireland, 1659 and the Book of Survey and
Distribution (date about 1660) all give the old form of .Ballycheevers..
Some branches of both families can claim royal descent. The Pomeroy
royal descent is somewhat circumstantial, according to one source Goslin,
son of Ralph Pomeroy, married a natural daughter of King Henry 1 named
Rohais. Still Another source states that Goslin.s wife Emma .appears. to
have been one of the natural daughters of Henry 1.
The Cheevers royal descent is traced from the marriage of Sir Walter
Cheevers, of Ballyhealy, Co.Wexford, and Lady Eleanor St.Lawrence, daughter
of Nicholas St. Lawrence, 16th Baron of Howth, and a direct descendant of
King Edward 111. Lady Eleanor
possessed a double descent from King Edward 1 by virtue of her
descent from John of Gaunt, son of Edward 111 and great-grandson of Edward
1, and by descent from Edmund, Earl of Kent, son of Edward 1.
Descent can be traced by the two families not only from two
Companions of the Conqueror, but by virtue of their royal descent, from the
R. Thomas Cheevers.
n.b. Copy is inscribed .To Hyacinth- with best wishes,