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Richard FitzGilbert de Clare
Lord of Clare and Tonbridge. He was the founder of the feudal lordship and house of Clare. He was lord of Bienfaite and Orbec in Normandy. He came to England with William the Conqueror, participated in the conquest of England, and was rewarded with extensive possessions in both England and Normandy. At the time of the General Survey towards the close of William's reign, he is called Richard de Tonebruge from his seat at Tonebruge (Tonbridge or Tunbridge), in Kent, "which town and castle he obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury, in lieu of the castle of Brion in Normandy." The Domesday Book refers to him as "Ricardus Filius Gisleberti Comitis." He held "38 lordships in Surrey, 35 in Essex, three in Cambridgeshire, with some others in Wiltshire and Devon, and 95 in Suffolk." The Suffolk lordships were attached to the honor of Clare, "which honor, with the castle of Clare, as also the castle of Tonbridge in Kent, he obtained, becoming thus lord of Clare and of Tonbridge." Clare had been an important stronghold in Angle-Saxon times. During the King's absence he was joint chief justiciar, or regent of England, along with William de Warenne, and as such suppressed the revolt of 1075. By his marriage to Rohese Giffard, sister of Walter Giffard, later earl of Buckingham, his descendants a century later were to inherit half the Giffard estates. He had retired from active participation in affairs by April, 1088, becoming a monk of Bec at the priory he and his wife had reestablished at St. Neots as a cell of the Priory of Bec Harlouin. He died in May, 1089 or 1090, and was buried at St. Neots Priory. By the time of his death, he had laid secure territorial foundations for the house of Clare.
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