They came as conquerors.
The first baron William de Merlay obtained land to build his castle overlooking the Wansbeck at Morpeth in about 1085.
He took a wife and established the dynasty. The Norman conquest of Northumberland was almost complete. William’s heirs would inherit the barony and they would rule the people of Morpeth for ever.
One after another, his descendants enter our story: Ranulph, William, then Roger the First, Roger the Second and Roger the Third. Equally important were their wives, those little-known young ladies: Juliana, Alice, Ada and Isobel.
The men owed military service to the kings. The women’s role was to give birth to sons.
Morpeth has its full share of medieval history: a royal market charter, the kings’ wars, childbirth at the castle, a plot to kill a hated king, the illegal killing of deer, a wicked sheriff, child marriage. It all happened here.
And ultimately? Read what happened to the de Merlay dynasty in these stories, many of which are being revealed for the first time by this acclaimed local author.
Ian Leech, Editor, Inside Morpeth
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