(?) Pre Cheynes and Cheneys found in Le Fief de Quesneto

M, #91
      From R. W. L. Chesney, Le Fief de Quesneto, page 1:
"Students of the medieval period have shown by their various publications that these families, and those which have similar names, such as Chedney, Chasteney, Chene, etc., have a common origin in the medieval Quesneto or Caisneto, a latinised form of Quesnai or Caisnei, a place-name in Normandy. Although there are several such places in that country, and it has been suggested that any of these might have been the original homestead, there would appear to be little doubt that ‘the fief of le Quesnay near St. Saens’ quoted by Stapleton [1], which is confirmed by Loyd [2], is probably the true one.

"The village of le Quesnay is some 8 to 10 miles west of St. Saens, and in the early part of the 11th century was part of the land held by Roger de Mortimer of Duke William. Roger’s castle of Mortuomari, some 14 miles to the east, on the Ponthieu border, was the scene of a battle in 1054, and owing to an indiscretion on his part at that time he forfeited his castle and its associated lands, including le Quesnay, and they became the property of William de Warenne. This William already held land from his father Rodolf, and this included Louvetot in the canton of Caudebec and Allouville-Bellefosse in the canton of Yvetot [3]; but with acquisition of Mortimer he made Bellencombre the caput of his honor. Bellencombre, which is about 8 miles northeast of le Quesnay, is situated on the river Varenne which rises just above St. Saens and fringes the oak-forest of Eawy on its way to the sea at Dieppe; and it was from a hamlet called Varenne near the mouth of this river that the name of de Warenne originated. As the use of surnames was then becoming the fashion, the holders of the ‘fief de Quesneto’ adopted that of their locality, an oak-wood, and were known as ‘de Quesneto’ or ‘de Caisneto’ and sometimes ‘de Querceto’; and, as will be seen, they remained under-tenants of de Warenne in Normandy, and later, in England for several generations.

"It has been established from the express evidence available [4] that William de Warenne was present with Duke William at Hastings in 1066; and it may be assumed that the majority of his under-tenants accompanied him. Later charters will show that a Ralf de Caisneto (12628) “came with William the bastard at the Conquest”.

"Although the earliest recorded form of the family name is found in the Domesday Book, I:17, there is a later record, from the Leger Book of Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire [5], in which it is stated that an Osberto de Casneto (3871) was lord of Caenby and Glentham in that county “long before the coming of the Conqueror”; and as it is well known that Edward the Confessor encouraged Normans to settle in England, it is quite possible that this statement in the Leger Book is founded upon fact. Although Barlings provides the only documentary evidence of the existance of Osberto, it is of interest to note that the Dutchess of Cleveland [6] speaks of a Raoul and Osbern de Quesnai who are entered on the Dives Roll of the Companions of the Conqueror [7].

"Prior to the Domesday Survey there is nothing recorded about the activities of the family de Caisneto, but as it is there stated that they held land as under-tenants of de Warenne it is highly probable that they did so from the time of Hastings, and were probably involved with him in suppressing the numerous uprisings against Duke William. In 1077 de Warenne and his wife, Gundrada, founded a Priory of Benedictines outside their castle at Lewes in Sussex; and in 1084 a cell to this was established by him at Castleacre in Norfolk. Just prior to his death in 1088 he was created Earl of Surrey [8]."
"[1] Stapleton, T. Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae, 1180-1203 Thomas II, p. cxvii (m): “William de Quesnay (de Caisneto) derived from the fief of Le Quesnai near St. Saens.”
"[2] Loyd, Lewis C. The Origins of some Anglo-Norman Families, Harleian Society Publication, Vol. 103, 1951.
"[3] Loyd, Lewis C. Origin of the Family Warenne. Yorkshire Archeological Journal, Vol xxx1, 1934.
"[4] Douglas, D.C. Companions of the Conqueror. ‘History’ Vol 28, 1943.
"[5] Dugdale, W. Monasticon Anglicanum. Vol. vii. p.917, 1718.
"[6] Cleveland, Duchess of The Battle Abbey Roll. 1889.
"[7] Cleveland, Duchess of The Battle Abbey Roll. 1889, referring to the Roll compiled by M. Leopold Delisle and inaugurated in the Church of Dives on the coast of Normandy, 1866.
"[8] Warenne, Wm. de National Dictionary of Biography."