The Normans were a pretty mean bunch back in the 11th century. If you got in the way they tended to kick your ass, as King Harold found out to his great cost at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After all, he didn’t see the point – and lost his kingdom. Amongst these marauding Normans was a Norman called Roger, a mean Norman if ever there was one.
Roger De Lacy, with his band of merry monsieurs, apparently played an important role in the Battle of Hastings. Therefore, when William, Duke of Normandy kicked off his shoes on his newly conquered England he granted an area of land, off to the west and in the middle somewhere, near the Welsh border (“ Have I beaten them too?” he asked) to Rog to call his own, in fond gratitude. Rog duly shifted his family and his monsieurs to Shropshire, tipping his cap, waving bye bye, and shouting “Merci” at the top of his voice.
Amongst those “hands” were – the P’s (we believe, they must have been), and thus the P’s settled in and around Stanton Lacy in Shropshire working for Rog. As time went on and the French lost their influence and power the P’s would hang around and procreate. It was, after all, now their home, and the ladies needed keeping warm.
In the Court Papers of Elizabeth 1 you will find a certain “Alain De P…” (my name exactly apart from the de ) complaining bitterly that he has not been paid his righteous dues for something or other – not specified.
Other French P’s appear in her Papers escorting English Nobledudes across France, lending a hand and sourcing cheese.
But the P’s, it would seem, were never really too enamoured with English Royalty. (It’s the same today.)
Perhaps Alain de P’s frustrations were to be the start of a long tussle with those who would be Kings and Queens of England, because when on a balmy summer’s morn of the 4thAugust 1644, as he was dipping his morning pheasant wing (or was that peasant wing) into his syrup cup, King Charles 1 read in his Court Papers, his daily Civil War digest, that Capt. John P…had been captured in a skirmish in Shropshire and is “ ..wounded taken partly naked” . Capt. John P… (my father’s name) fighting for the people. Good man.
What happened to Cap’n John is unknown. But the P’s went on to make the beautiful village of Bedstone their home and for a long period of the 18thcentury were Church Wardens at Bedstone.
This, of course, indicates a certain level of education since they could obviously read and write. Richard P even signed his name in the Parish Records with a grand flourish indeed. All swirls and curls – maybe it reflected his hair.
It would be a few centuries yet before the invention of contraception and so the P’s spread their seed generously. One particular P (he can’t possibly be related, honest, well, okay, the population of these islands in the 19th century was about 4m – not the 66m it is today, so he probably was) would, in the 19th century, be brought before the Bench for “bastardy”. He had spread his seed in too many fields and the judge had had enough. He was forced to pay. (He would eventually be confined to an asylum. One suspects, suffering from enough disease to warp his mind, if nothing else.)
Thus the noble stock would grow strong – with the odd exception – and there would be more stock and intrigue to come as the P’s would advance, breaking hearts and bursting blisters, towards the present day.
It might not be Downton Abbey, but it is the story of the P’s .