Part of the Dossiers Secret placed in the Bibliothèque
Nationale in Paris during the 1960s
The first name of this list Jean de Gisors (1133–1220) was a
Norman lord of the fortress of
Normandy, where meetings were traditionally convened between English and
French kings. It was here, in 1188, a squabble occurred that involved the
cutting of an elm.
Initially he was a vassal of the king of England - Henry II and then
Richard I. During this time he also owned property in Sussex and the manor
of Titchfield in Hampshire in England.
Sometime between 1170 and 1180 he purchased the manor of Buckland,
Hampshire from the de Port family. On this newly purchased land he founded
the town of Portsmouth as one end of a trade route between England and
France. The original settlement of Portsmouth was a planned town on a
medieval grid pattern, of which other examples can be found in places like
Salisbury. Much of this original grid pattern is still visible in the Old
Portsmouth district of Portsmouth.
One of the first acts ordered by de Gisors in Portsmouth was the
donation of land to the Augustinian canons of
Southwick Priory so that they could build a chapel "to the glorious
honour of the martyr Thomas of Canterbury, one time Archbishop, on (my)
land which is called Sudewede, the island of Portsea", Thomas Becket
having spent much time in Gisors. This foundation of the Church of St
Thomas of Canterbury was to eventually become Portsmouth Cathedral.
However the royal patronage of de Gisors was not to last, as after his
support for an unsuccessful rebellion in Normandy in 1193 he paid the
price by forfeiting all his lands, including Portsmouth, to Richard I.