Robert D'Oyly

Robert D'Oyly

:"For the nephew of this Robert D'Oyly, see the article "Robert D'Oyly (Osney)"."

Robert D'Oyly (also spelt Robert D'Oyley de Liseaux, Robert Doyley, Robert de Oiley, Robert d'Oilly, Robert D'Oyley and Roberti De Oilgi) was a Norman nobleman who accompanied William the Conqueror on the Norman Conquest, his invasion of England. He died in 1091.

Robert was the son of Walter D'Oyly and elder brother to Nigel D'Oyly. He married Ealdgyth, the daughter of Wigod, the Saxon lord of Wallingford. After Wigod's death, William appointed Robert the lord of Wallingford, and ordered him to fortify Wallingford Castle between 1067 and 1071. It is believed he may have become the third High Sheriff of Berkshire around this time.

He was the uncle of his namesake, Robert Doyley, son of his brother Nigel D'Oyly, who was founder of Osney Priory, Oxford. He was also an ancestor of Henry D'Oyly, one of the major feudal barons of the Magna Carta.

"He was so powerful a man in his time, that no one durst oppose him", says one account. At Abingdon he was remembered as "a despoiler of churches and the poor until his miraculous conversion [to Christianity] ". The latter was during the economic decline that Oxford experienced between 1066 and 1086 however it is noted that Robert's own properties suffered as much waste in this time period.


Robert ordered the construction of many parts of Oxford, some of which are still around today. Oxford Castle was built under Robert's orders in 1071, and the collegiate church of St George's within the castle was founded by Robert in 1074. The church of St Peter in the East was first mentioned in 1086 as a possession of Robert's although it is possible that he merely acquired it, along with St Mary Magdalen's Church, also in the east of the city.

He is also attributed by the monks of Abingdon with the construction of a series of stone bridges at Grandpont, which form a causeway over the River Thames. This now forms the major route between the city centre and the south, and the crossing point is near St Aldate's. It is possible however that he merely fortified an older crossing point. Eights Reach, which now forms part of Shire Lake Stream in Christ Church Meadow is also attributed to Robert.


Robert owned land in Oakley, Buckinghamshire. The village was valued at £6, and its land consisted of 5¾ hides; with Oakley’s clay soil the total cultivated land would have been around 550 acres (2 km²). Robert, also, held a tenure (or burgage) in Buckingham held by a man of Azor, the son of Tote, who paid sixteen pence annually and to the King, five pence.

The Manor of Iver became part of the possessions of Robert D'Oyley, who held "Eureham" (as Iver was called in the Domesday Book), for seventeen hides. The land was sufficient for thirty ploughs. It was estimated at £22, it had been exchanged for Padbury, with Robert Clarenbold of the Marsh. The daughter of Robert D'Oyley married Miles Crispin, to whom the Manor of Iver descended.

D'Oyly also owned a considerable amount of land in Oxfordshire and in Oxford itself according to the Domesday Book in 1086:
*Oxford Castle, and the collegiate church of St George's within the castle, that was later acquired by Osney Abbey.
*The Castle Mill in Oxford. This was a possession of Earl Alfgar before the Conquest and was escheated to the Crown in 1163 following the death of Henry D'Oyly.
*The church of St Peter in the East in Oxford, that now forms part of St Edmund Hall.
*The church of St Mary Magdalen.
*42 dwellings both within and without the city wall of Oxford.
*The settlements of Watlington, Goring, Bicester, Kidlington, Water Eaton and three manors in Hook Norton.
*Land and dwellings within a further 22 Oxfordshire villages.


*"The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham," by George Lipscomb, Esq. M.D. - 1847.
*"Victoria County History of Oxford Volume I" by L. F. Salzman - 1939
*"Victoria County History of Oxford Volume IV" by Alan Crossley - 1969

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