Medieval Bendings

The Gherardini and 'Other' Connections

The name Bending is derived from a manor, held by the family in the twelfth century. Early spellings are, variously, Bending, Bendings, Bendeng, Bendenges, Bendig and Bendyn. That these are errors in transcription is shown by reversion to Bending in subsequent generations early in the family history. Later these variations in spelling persist, and in the Eastern counties of England, the name becomes Bendish or Bendyche.

The early Bendings were members of the Norman family, the Windsors, descendants of the Gherardini of Florence. The first of these to come to England was Dominus Other, who was present at the court of King Edward the Confessor, from about 1056. This man through his son Walter, was the founder of both the Windsor and the Fitzgerald families.

The preposition 'de' can refer to an hereditary origin, a place of birth, a manor or town where an individual has a dwelling, or where he performs a particular duty.

It is important to realize that, in early days, family names were not constant; thus Walter fitz Other's son is William de Windsor, and his three sons are: William de Windsor, Stephen de Bending and Hugh de Horsley. It is also possible for a man to have different names in different parts of the country. Where a family name becomes established over several generations, it usually passes from the father, but there are many instances where a mother's name is used, in order to gain some advantage.

Other (probable first name, Dominus)

Other, whose name is sometimes spelled, Othere or Otho, was a member of the Florentine family, the Gherardini. He came to the court of King Edward the Confessor in about 1056, ten years before the Norman Conquest of England. It is likely that he came via Normandy, taking advantage of Edward's encouragement towards Norman visitors, and may have made the Norman connection during William's campaigns in Italy and Sicily, during the first half of the eleventh century. It seems probable that he was well known to William of Normandy, who heaped honours on his son Walter.


His family name is perpetuated to the present day in the Fitzgerald family, (Fitz - the son of, Gerald, the Normanised form of Gherardini), the descendants of Walter's second son, Gerald. He is also remembered by the Windsor family (Earls of Plymouth) whose eldest son is always named, Other).

Walter fitz Other

Walter, the son of Other, was one of the military caste that was essential in consolidating the position of William the Conqueror after 1066. He may have been born in England, but it is not known whether he was in England at the time of the landing, or whether he joined William in Normandy, and took part in the Battle of Hastings, 1066.

Walter was a knight in the King's private retinue, and, when in 1070 William began the building of Windsor Castle, Walter was put in charge of its defence, and later became the first Constable of Windsor. Under the Norman kings, as with the kings of France, the Constable was the principal officer of a royal establishment, and was responsible for the defence of the establishment, by the knights stationed there. It was this position that conferred the name 'Windsor' upon his sons.

Windsor was built by William to control the middle reaches of the River Thames, and together with other castles, each a day's march apart, to keep open the route from London to the south coast, and thence to Normandy. Since Walter was a young man in 1070, to have been given such responsibility, shows the great respect felt for him by William.

Soon after 1070, Walter also had the important post of Warden of the King's forests in Berkshire. Although generally associated with hunting, the main recreation of the Royal household, the position was a military one, since the forests were subject to regular patrolling, as a precaution against enemies of the King. They were also regarded as the main source of provender for armies on the move, or those stationed at strategic castles.

to next page