The De Watone ( Whatton) Family

Robert (de Watone) was born in the mid 11th century in Poix, Picardy the youngest son of Gautier de Tirel, Seigneur de Poix. Robert had no real chance of inheriting any of his fathers land and so had to make his own way in the world. At some point prior to 1066 he entered the service of Gilbert de Gand (aka Gilbert de Ghent). Along with Gilbert he joined William, Duke of Normandy in the invasion and later conquest of England in 1066.

After the conquest Gilbert was granted a number of manors in England by William, one of them being Whatton and Gilbert installed his man Robert as tenant, presumably in recognition of service, in the Manor of Whatton. At that time the Whatton (Watone) included not only the present parish of Whatton but also one of the three manors of Aslockton(Haslachstone) and one of the two manors of Hawkesworth(Hochesuorde).

We do not know either whom Robert married or when, but he did have a son Sir William de Watone who was described as “Dominus Willielmus de Watuna”, Lord of Watone and “tempore Hen I”, in other words in the time of Henry the first, who reigned from 1100 to 1135. In his history of the Whatton Family published in 1825 in the Gentleman’s Magazine, Henry-Watkinson Whatton of Loughborough Parks writes “he[William] had a strong castellated mansion (the only vestige of which is an elevated mound encompassed by a fosse) with jurisdiction over the lordship, and the vills, and hamlets adjoining”. It must be remembered that Henry would have seen the village before it was ‘re-developed’ by Thomas Dickinson Hall in the 1840s and the elevated mound he describes is no longer clearly visible. The general consensus is that the Manor house was located on the site of what now is Whatton Grange (built by TD Hall in the 1860s for his eldest son)Sir William was also a beneficiary of Blythe Abbey. Like his father we do not know who or when he married, but we do know that he had two sons Robert and Walter.

It appears that the three Manors (Whatton, Aslockton and Hawkesworth) were split as Robert was described as being “Lord of Watone” and Walter as the “Lord of Holesworde (Hawkesworth) and Haslacton (Aslockton)”.

Not much is known about Robert other than he had no male heir and it was his daughter Adelina who was to inherit the manor of Whatton. Adelina married William Heriz who clearly died as she later married Adam de Newmarche bringing the manor with her. It was Adelina who gave the Church to Welbeck Abbey, in 1195, an act which was later confirmed by her son , Adam Newmarche in the reign of Edward I which provides an approximate date of between 1272 and 1307. The Lordship of the manor passed with Adelina’s second marriage to the Newmarche family.

Whilst the Watone family name was no longer the ‘tour de force’ in the Manor of Whatton after Adelina’s marriage to Adam de Newmarche there still remained echoes in Whatton and the surrounding areas. As we mentioned earlier Adelina’s uncle Walter was described as the ‘Lord of the Manors of Aslockton and Hawkseworth’ and it was Walters children that would both leave a mark in Whatton and influence the future of Aslockton and Long Whatton in Leicestershire.

Gregg Redford