When the Earl Roger of Montgomery passed away in 1094, his estates were divided between his eldest son, Robert of Belleme, who inherited the Norman estates, and his next son, Hugh, who inherited the English estates, including the Lordship of Oswestry.

Hugh died shortly after, so Robert inherited the Lordship and held onto it until 1102, when King Henry I took possession of the Lordship and granted it to Alan FitzFlaad of Dol. The FitzFlaad’s were ancestors of the FitzAlans, who, despite numerous interruptions by warfare and occupation by the Welsh, held onto the Lordship until 1580, when the Lordship would become a branch of the Duchy of Norfolk.

By the 1130s, England was being torn apart by the forces of King Stephen and the forces of Empress Matilda and the House of Plantagenet in a bloody civil war which would later be called ‘The Anarchy’. As a consequence, the FitzAlans abandoned Oswestry and sought exile in Europe.

If you read our recent article which addressed the question of whether Oswestry was an English town or a Welsh town, you will recall that it was around 1149 that the Kingdom of Powys, under the command of Prince Madog, took this conflict as an excuse to occupy the Lordship and annex it into the Kingdom.

By 1153, the Treaty of Wallingford was signed, ending ‘The Anarchy’ and restoring King Stephen to the throne, on the condition that upon the King’s death, the Empresses son, Henry II, would assume the throne. By 1154, Henry II assumed the throne and by 1157, reoccupied the Lordship and granted ownership back to the FitzAlans, with William FitzAlan at the helm.

Three years later, in 1160, William died, but his heir, also named ‘William’, was not of age to inherit the Lordship, so ownership reverted back to King Henry II until William was old enough. It was during this period that the King used Oswestry as a base to launch a campaign to reoccupy Wales.

In 1188, Oswestry received a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was travelling the whole of Wales and saw the Lordship as the end of his circuit. The purpose of his visit was to recruit volunteers to fight for him as part of the impending Third Crusade. The visit was welcomed by William FitzAlan II, who was now ruling the Lordship.

Finally, in 1190, William FitzAlan II granted Oswestry its first Charter, thus granting it the status of ‘market town’. This Charter provided for the Wednesday market to be held as a legal requirement. Although this Charter has since been repealed and replaced by Acts of Parliament and bylaws, Oswestry still holds its Wednesday markets to this date.

It is also worth noting that the Charter also provided for the adoption of the name ‘Oswestry’. Before this, the town was referred to as ‘Blancminster’, which roughly translates from Norman into English as ‘White Minister’.

Next time, Hidden Oswestry looks at Oswestry during the Thirteenth Century.


‘Oswestry through the ages’ [Page 6], by John Pryce-Jones (1991); and

- Wikipedia:

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_de_Montgomery,

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswestry#Saxon_times,

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswestry#The_Conquest,

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswestry#Border_town, and

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswestry#Market_town.