Dear friends,

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Most French historians who related the English adventure in Acadia have had, more or less, sympathetic feelings for the English; no one can deny that, but you will see in the course of that story the unforeseen turn taken by the History of the Handfield Family.
Bona Arsenault, in his book History and Genealogy of the Acadians, said that a descendant of Lieutenant-Colonel John Handfield of Annapolis Royal is the Ancestor of the Handfields of the Montréal region.

Before I speak of John Handfield and his son Thomas, I will review the origins of our Family. (Photo of A. Yvon Handfield, October 2001)



In my searches, I go back only to about 1519, the information having been provided by "The Visitations" in the County of Kent in 1619 and in 1663-1668. In these documents one finds that the Handville surname is interchanged with that of Handfield. One reads, Sampson Handfield, son of Hammond Handville of Braborne. In the civil registers, for the same person, one finds Sampson, born, 1537, and the names of his children are written as Handfield, Handsfeild or Hanefeild, but more often still, as Hanvill. The marriage license of Thomas Handfield and Elizabeth Kennard, dated 13 November 1623, is issued as Hanvill, whereas in the Visitation it is Handfield.

For the period preceding 1519, it has been possible for me to come up with the genealogy with old wills. One can trace this family with reasonable ease, thanks to the numerous archives that have been preserved in England and in particular in the Armorials, which has allowed me to follow this family even with the name changes.

In consulting the armorial dictionary, British Herald, by Robson, one discovers families with the exact same surname having coats of arms that are totally different from the other; this is true for Hanvill, Handvill, etc. Thus whereas we find, in books or other documents, whatever information that is reported about these families, if it is not accompanied by their coats of arms it is impossible to determine which family it is.

What has long intrigued me in this dictionary is the similarity of the arms of families named Hanville, Handville, Hantville with those belonging to families named Hauville, Hautville and Hauteville. They are the same arms except that their colors are reversed. In the Hauteville arms, the background is sable (black) and the lion and crosses are argent (white). When we realize that only the eldest son in each family had the right to use his father's coat of arms, that the other siblings must make a change in their own armories, it becomes a matter for more research.

The Genealogical Society in London has an index containing all available information on every family surname that is either in their own library or elsewhere. I have found a fiche inscribed "Hanvile, Sir Thomas", British Museum Harlian Manuscript 6582 folio 2.

I thereupon went to the British Museum to take a look to this manuscript, recopied in 1606, and found "Battel of Faukyrk", in folio 22 under the list of participants in this battle was the name of Thomas Hauteville along with a description of his coat of arms, which turned out to be exactly like ours. I had succeeded in finding the connection between the family of De Handville and that of De Hauteville. There were at least two branches of this family in England.

But why would the person who'd made up the fiche index write Hanvile and not De Hauteville? The answer can be found in the first volume of Parlementary Writs, which contains the invitations by the Parliament of the King's High Court and the Royal Councils. Under date of 25 May 1298, listed is "Thomas de Hanville to carry out personal military service against the Scots. This was surely the same person mentioned above, the battle of Falkirk having taken place in July 1298. In a footnote at the bottom of the page is the notation: "This name is written in several ways: Hauvill, Hantville, etc".

A fact that has proved that our family is a branch of the Norman family of De Hauteville. Additional evidence, in the Grand Larousse Encyclopedia, is the statement that the author of a Latin poem "Architrenius" is John de Hanvile or de Hauteville, a Norman poet during the latter part of the 12th century. For this same person, the encyclopedia Quillet gives his name as John de Hantville or de Hauteville.

 Hauteville in England

The first mention in England of the name Hauteville, Altavilla in Latin, appears in the Domesday Book, which is the first land census made of that country. Written in Latin and prepared under orders of William the Conqueror, it ends in 1086. It is stated in this book that Ralph de Altavilla holds a Barony in Wiltshire.

Another evidence that Ralph de Altavilla left Normandy with William the Conqueror for England in 1066. In the "Dive-sur-Mer" church in Normandy where William and all his Knights attended a mass before leaving for England, a plaque has the names of all the Knights, written in Franc language. The name of Raoul Hauville, deformation of "Hauteville" and "Altavilla" in Latin is there.

Under King Henry II (1154-1189), one finds the name Hauteville or Hanville in the Northants, in Rutlands and in Norfolk. Later, between 1298 and 1324, one finds others in Suffolk, Norfolk, Somerset and Buckshire.

Here is another evidence that members of the Handfield Family established themselves in many regions of England since 1066 to 1500. These info come from HISTORY OF BERKSHIRE Vol IV in the Serial Victoria County History.


Another part of Kintbury, also formerly known as Inglewood (Ingelflote, Cumbrewell or Godingeflod XII and XIII century, but now as Anvilles (Hanvills, Hanfieldes XVI cent) is detached from the remainder of parish. It appears to have been held in 1086 by William de Ow who held Denford.

In the 13th century the overlordship of this manor belonged to Humphrey de Bohum, Earl of Hereford having probably passed to him from William de Ow or his heirs.

The manor remainded part of the honor of Hereford until the earldom became extinct in 1373. This fee was evidently assigned to the youngest daughter of the last Earl, Mary, who married Henry, Duke of Lancaster who ascended the throne of England as King Henry IV.

The hide wich was held by Polcehard seems to have passed eventually to Godfrey Punchard, whose widow Eleanor with her daughter Ellen was concerned in litigation respecting it in 1230. Later in the 13th century, this manor was held by Philip de Combrewell ( See Testa de Nevill). Hugh de Cumbrewell gave the estate to Stephen de Hanvill and his wife Juliana, the grant being confirmed by his son Robert de Hanvill in 1283-1284 (Assize roll 43m1). Stephen was still holding it in 1293 (Ancient Deeds C1953), but it had passed, before 1316, to Alan de Hanvill. (Parlement Writs 11 and Ancient Deeds C656).


The eldest will I have found is that of John Hanefeld, citizen and grocer of London, dated 28 March 1402. The first will registered in Canterbury is that of Simon Handfield of Watham, Kent, dated 10 October 1462. In the period between 1472 and 1531, eleven more wills were found, which would suggest that this family settled in Kent in approximately 1400 and are still there three centuries later.

 History of Hauteville

To complete this search, one must still find the history and, if possible, the origins of de Hauteville. It is in the book "The Norman People", by H.S. King (London, 1874) that I discovered, one reads "This family is, from a historical point of view, one of the most interesting in Europe. From her came the Norman Kings in Naples and Sicily.

Searches on our family brought me up to the Vikings. Here are some informations that will clarify that period of our history.

 The vikings arrive in the country of the Franks

It is in the year 820 that the first Viking ship traveled the Seine River to explore this unknown territory. Twenty years later, in 840, another came, but this time it was to pillage and ravage the city of Rouen. It took another 4 years before any of these " explorers" spent a complete winter on the Seine River, causing great worry to the region's inhabitants.

 From Norway, their country of origin


The infamous chief of the Vikings ROLLON was born in the year 855. His real name was GONGU-HROLF, son of Rognvald, Count of More, a province of Norway.

HROLF lived in Oslo, the country's capital, where he took care of animals. Once, he illegally seized some animals for which he was pursued, captured, judged and banned from his country by King Harald I, who lived in Norway from 850 to 933. Exiled, Hrolf became the leader of a group of pirates and went on pillaging anything they thought would be profitable.

Birth of Normandy

Prior to 911, Hrolf and his shipmates came to the country of the Franks and lay hands on Rouen, Evreux and Lisieux counties. In 911 they besiege the town of Chartes but they were overtrowned by King Charles' army. This later did offer to Hrolf and all his shipmates to give them enough land to settle themself in the Country but at the condition that him, Hrolf, becomes his vassal. They all agreed and the treaty was signed, that year 911, in the Church of St.Clair-on-Epte. The King gave the land and Hrolf was made Lord of Rouen. That is how the Normandy was created. Later, the King added more land and the Lord of Rouen made Duke of Normandy. This later, convert himself to Christianity and married Poppa, daughter of Wido, Lord of Senlis. And that brought the peace between them all, the Vikings and the Franks.

After the 911 year treaty, some other Viking peoples came pacifically to settle themselves in Normandy. Among them a man named "Hialtt" born circa 920. I did not find out the date of his arrival but he built his house (Villa) in a place, since then, known as Altavilla in latin or Hauteville in french, in the Contentin near Valence. At the third generation it is "Tancrede" born circa 970, Lord of Hauteville, who lived in the Villa with his family. Aimé, a monk of Mount-Cassin, wrote the following about him: "Tancrede, Lord of Hauteville in the Contentin in Normandy, was living by the time of Duke Richard the Second, who had great regards for his work at the Court House and in the Army where he was serving with ten knights of his vassals. He was in the Order of the Barons who had right to have a banner in war and a war-cry."

HROLF or ROLLON or ROLLO, in latin, died 927 and his son WILLIAM LONGSWORD succeed him to the throne. He was born 900 and was assassinated December 17th 942 by order of Arnoul 1st, Lord of Flandres.

Then came RICHARD 1st, born 932. Duke 942 to 996. Illigitimate son of WILLIAM LONGSWORD and of Luitgarde, daughter of Herbert II, Lord of Vermandois. This RICHARD 1st married 960, EMMA daughter of Hugues, Duke of the Franks. She died 968. The same year, RICHARD 1st remarried Albérade, and they are the parents of MURIELLE born circa 985 who died circa 1012, and of FRÉDÉSENDE born circa 990 who died in Italy 1057, the two wifes of TANCREDE HAUTEVILLE.

From 996 to 1026, it was Duke RICHARD II, son of RICHARD 1st and of Emma. He married 1000, Judith, daughter of Conan 1st, Lord of Bretagne, and they are the parents of RICHARD III and of ROBERT 1st After RICHARD II came RICHARD III born 1001. He married in 1027, Adélaïde, daughter of Robert 1st King of the Franks but was assassinated the same year. His brother ROBERT 1st replaced him on the throne 1027 to 1035. Duke ROBERT 1st and his mistress, Herléva (Arlette) daughter of Foubert, tanner of Falaise, are the parents of WILLIAM born 1027, become Duke in 1035, aged 8 years.. KING HENRY the 1st, King of the Franks was elected "Regent" for the young Duke.

Duke WILLIAM the CONQUEROR started the conquest of England that came to an end, October 14, 1066. He was crowned King of England at Westminster on Christmas Day 1066. He died near Rouen in Normandy on September the 7th, 1087 and was, by his will, buried in the St.Étienne Monastery of Caen.

 A large family

Murielle and Fredesende, Tancrede de Hauteville's two wives, bore him a total of twelve sons and at least two daughters. The history of the life of nine of these sons is the history of the Norman conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily.( Many historians mentioned that the two spouses were sisters and daughters of Duke Richard I.) All of the history books about this part of the world recount the exploits of this family in the Middle Age, and all of the encyclopedias and encyclopedic dictionaries contain long passages on the worthy contributions made by Tancrede and his descendants.

1. William: Born around 1004, also called "Iron Arms" because of his extraordinay strenght. Leaving for Italy in 1035, he placed himself at the service of the Prince of Capoue and later to Guaymar Prince of Salerno, where he wed a lady named Guide daughter of the Prince of Salerno. He became Count of la Pouille and selected Melfe as its capital. He died in 1046 leaving no issue.

2. Dreux or Drogon: Born around 1006, he also left for Italy in 1035. Following the death of his brother William, he was named Count and Governor-General of la Pouille. He married Altrude of Salerno and had two daughters, Rocca and Gertrude, and a son named Richard. In August 1051, as he was entering the church of Mount-Allègre, he was assasinated by Riso, Lord of Monticello.

3. Humfroy: Born around 1008, he too accompanied his brothers in 1035, and following the assassination of his brother Dreux, was named Governor-General. Pope Leon IX had been in this country with a powerful army of Lombards and Germans, the Pope was defeated. The city of Civitella (Civitate) June 17th 1053 was besieged and the Pope was made prisoner. Agreement was reached by a treaty in which the Pope granted him all the land the Normans had conquered or could conquer from the ennemy in the vicinity of Calabre and Sicily. Humfroy married Matilda, sister of Rainalfo, Duke of Sorrente and had four children; two daugthers and two sons. He died in 1057 and was buried in the Monastery of Venouse.

4. Geoffroy: Born around 1010, he inherited all the land that his father possessed in Normandy, but did not lived there long. Leaving for Italy after 1054, he became Count of Brindis and married a lady named Sicholgaite, who bore him several sons. In the book "The Norman people", he is said to have been the father of Ralph (Raoul), who had acquired a barony in Wiltshire, England, before 1086. This Ralph became the first person of our name to migrate to England and is probably our direct ancestor.

5. Serlo or Serlon: Born around 1012, lived in Normandy and was in the service of Duke Robert, father of William the Conqueror. According to Malaterra, Serlo (or Serlon) who was an exceptional warrior, gained great esteem from the Duke of Normandy. Serlo had a son named after himself who went to Italy where he took part in the Sicilian conquest with his uncle Roger I, but he was assassinated by a Saracen Lord, who had become his friend!!!

6. Robert: Born around 1015 of the second marriage, his surname was Guiscard. He joined his half-brothers in Italy in 1046. Around 1051 he wed Aubérée, daughter of the Norman Girard de Buonalbergo. In 1057, after the death of Humfroy, he inherited the title of Governor-General of la Pouille. In 1059, because of consanguinity he had to repudiate his first wife, he then, marry Sikelgaite, sister of Prince Gisolf of Salerno. She was a redoutable horse-woman at war. At her death, in 1090, she wished to be buried in the Mont-Cassin monastry because she had great "hope" for St.Benoit Aubérée had made the fortune of Robert, because at her marriage she brought him 200 Knights as dowry. She retired in Calabre in a comfortable establishment, waiting for a second and a third husband. Her remains lie in the old monastry of Venouse, pointed out by a commemorative tablet written in latin.

Robert stripped what remained of la Pouille and Calabre's Greek occupants and took the title of Duke in 1059, a title that was conferred upon him by Pope Nicholas II. In 1080, this title was restored to him by Pope Gregory VII after Robert's excommunication in 1078. He did bring the reputation of the Normans in Italy at the top level. He died July the 18th 1085 in the Isle of Céphalonie en route to Constantinople in the hope of stripping it from Emperor Alexis Comnène. His body was returned to Venouse where he was buried in the monastry of St-Trinity. A son of Robert, Boemond, one of the head of the first crusade in 1096, become the first latin Prince of Antioche. He married Constance, daughter of King Philippe I of France, and died in Italy in 1111. His descendance as Prince of Antioche ended after Boemond VI in 1268.

7. Mauger: Became Count of Capitanate.

8. Alverade: Uknown in the history of the Normans in Italy.

9. William: Born around 1024, this son must not be confused with the eldest of the brothers, who had the same name. He became Count of the Principat, and died in Rome around 1071. He had four sons and one daughter. The latter married a Venitian Lord named Dominique.

10 &11: Humbert and Tancrede: History records nothing on the life of these two. Along with Alverade, the three are unknown.

12. Roger I: The last son, Roger I, born 1031, rejoined his brothers in South Italy in 1058. With Robert Giscard he attempted to conquer Sicily, which had been held by the Saracens of Africa. The enterprise lasted 23 years, after which time he took the Title of Lord of Sicily. Later, Roger I undertake the conquest of the Malta's archipelago who ended 1090. He died at Mileto in Calabria,  June 22nd 1101 aged 70 years and was buried in the episcopal church he had ordered to built.


Roger I Lord of Sicily

His son, Roger II, (1101-1154) Duke of Sicily who at one time become in possession of  the South Italia, Sicily  and Malta, was crowned King, in the church of Palermo on Christmas Day 1130, by Anti-Pope Anaclet II, and once more by Pope Innocent II in 1139. In 1147, the battle-fleet of  Roger II attacked and destroyed the Cities of Thebes and Corinth. During his lifetime, Roger II reunited together the Archipelago of Malta, the Isle of Sicily and the South of Italy like one country. He died in February 1154. His son William I succeed him and died 1166. William II succeed William I in 1166 and died 1189. Tancrede, illegitimate son of Roger 11, claimed the succession and died 1194. William III, son of Tancrede, succeed his father but died obsccurely  in 1198.

Constance de Hauteville, posthumous daughter of Roger II, born 1154, married in 1186, Henry VI de Hohenstaufen son of the german Emperor Frederic  Barbarossa. She was crowned Empress in Roma in 1191. She become mother on December  26, 1194, of the future Frederic II to who she was Regent. She had him crowned King of Sicily in 1198, the year she died. The death of Constance de Hauteville put an end to the Regency of the Hauteville family in the mediterranean sea area  because of a lack of descent.

 Death of Tancrede

Tancrede and his second wife, Frédésende, ended their days in the south of Italy. She died in 1057 and was buried in the monastery of Ste. Euphémie on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and himself in 1041, at the monastery of the Trinity in Venouse where Robert Guiscard had created the Pantheon of Hauteville. He had the bodies of all of the deceased in the family transported there for re-burial and he himself was buried there.

 The armories

Recognition of the accomplishments of the Hauteville family allow me to risk speculation concerning the armories.:

The lion: The lion was the Norman emblem used in Italy. The Hauteville sarcophagus which still lie today in the Cathedral of Palermo are adorned by "Fighting Lions" except for that of Constance, who was the last of the Hautevilles and married to Henry VI.

The nine crosses: Here, two explanations are possible. The first: of Tancrede twelve sons, nine went into combat in the south of Italy or surrounding areas. The second explanation is even more plausible. Nine descendants of the family took part in the first crusade. One cross appeals more than anything else for a crusader.

The crowned eagle: In the royal palace in Palermo, today, the seat of the Sicilian National Assembly, the hall named for "Roger" is adorned by an eagle, and the armories in the city of Palermo display a "fasce" of an eagle with a Duke's crown, like those in our Coats of Arms. If this isn't proof, it is certainly an odd coincidence. The custom of arms made its debut during the period of the crusades.

On the lower banner we find the family motto: "JUSTUS NEC TIMIDUS" wich can be translated from latin to "JUST NOT FEARFUL".

 Members of the family who participated in the first Crusade

1. Boemond. One of the heads, first son of Robert Guiscard.

2. Guy. Fourth son of Robert Guiscard.

3. William de Grantmesnil. Husband of Mabille, daughter of Robert Guiscard.

4. Richard. Son of William, Count of Principat, ninth son of Tancrede and Frédésende.

5. Ranulfe. Brother of above.

6. Roger. Son of Richard. (no.4)

7. William. Brother of above.

8. Tancrede*. One of the chiefs. Son of Emma, daughter of Robert Guiscard who was married to Eudes Bonmarchis.

9. William. Brother of above. Killed at the siege of Ninive.

*The Italian poet, Le Tasse, made Tancrede his model for knights in his poem"Jerusalem Delivered"(La Jérusalem délivrée). It was also this Tancrede who in 1099 secured as spoils of war the immense treasure of the Mosque of Omar of Jerusalem.

 Some of the Hauteville monuments erected by the royal family that still exist today:

-La chapelle Palatine du Palais Royal.(The Palatine chapel of the Royal Palace) King Roger II, 1130.

-Various parts of the Royal Palace, King Roger II.

-L'église de la Martorana de Palerme.(Church of the Martorana of Palermo) King Roger II, 1143.

-La cathédrale de Monreale.(Cathedral of Monreale) King William II, 1172.

-La cathédrale de Palerme.(Cathedral of Palermo) King William II, 1184.

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