|Richard fitz Gilbert|
1st Lord of Clare
|Lord of the Honor of Clare||1066-1090|
|Successor||Gilbert fitz Richard|
Duchy of Normandy, France
|Buried||St. Neot's Priory, Huntingdonshire, England|
|Father||Gilbert, Count of Brionne|
Richard fitz Gilbert (before 1035-c. 1090) was a Norman lord who participated in the Norman conquest of England in 1066, and was styled "de Bienfaite", "de Clare", and of "Tonbridge"[n 1] from his holdings.
He was the son of Gilbert, Count of Brionne in Normandy (fitz was a variant spelling of filz > French fils, that means "son"). Gilbert was a guardian of the young duke William and when he was killed by Ralph de Wacy in 1040, his two older sons Richard and Gilbert fled to Flanders. On his later return to Normandy Richard was rewarded with the lordship of Bienfaite and Orbec in Normandy. In 1066, Richard came into England with his kinsman William the Conqueror, and received from him great advancement in honour and possessions.
The Dictionary of National Biography and other sources are vague and sometimes contradictory about when the name de Clare came into common usage, but what we do know is that Richard fitz Gilbert (of Tonbridge), the earliest identifiable progenitor of the family, is once referred to as Richard of Clare in the Suffolk return of the Domesday Book.
He was rewarded with 176 lordships and large grants of land in England, including the right to build the castles of Clare and of Tonbridge. Richard fitz Gilbert received the lordship of Clare, in Suffolk, where parts of the wall of Clare Castle still stand. He was thus Lord of Clare. Some contemporaneous and later sources called him Earl of Clare, though many modern sources view the title as a "styled title".
He served as Joint Chief Justiciar in William's absence, and played a major part in suppressing the revolt of 1075.
On the Conqueror's death, Richard and other great Norman barons, including Odo of Bayeux, Robert, Count of Mortain, and Geoffrey of Coutances, led a rebellion against the rule of William Rufus in order to place Robert Curthose on the throne. However, most Normans in England remained loyal. William Rufus and his army successfully attacked the rebel strongholds at Tonbridge, Pevensey and Rochester.