Gamel fitz Orm

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Gamel fitz Orm

Also Known As: "of Mercia"
Death: September 1064 (59-68) (murdered by Earl Tostig of Northumberland which along with other murders caused an uprising of the Thanes of Northumberland in September of 1066 when they defeated Tostig and killed him)
Immediate Family:

Son of Orm
Husband of N.N.
Father of Gamelbar de Spofford and Orm fitz Gamel

Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Gamel fitz Orm



GAMEL a Northumbrian nobleman, son of Orm, had large possessions in cos. York, Lincoln, Derby, Stafford, Salop, and Chester. They were laid waste soon after his death. He seems to have been a man of generous feelings, shown in his princely gift of his manor of Neweton to the Church of St. Peter of York. Probably he had estates in the other Northern counties to which the Domesday survey did not extend.

From Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal, Volume 4. “Named in Domesday Book.” Page 398-399. < GoogleBooks >

ORM still held Ormsby in Cleveland, a manor held in common in the late reign by four thanes,' himself and brothers or his father and uncles. This place bears the name of his ancestor rather than himself, but indicates his Danish extraction, and means Orm's abode. Whether he was the same Orm who continued to hold and held as king's thane a manor in Azerley, or the Orm, who acquired a manor in Appletreewick in Craven, which had belonged to Cleveland, which Bruce afterwards obtained, as well as Orm's late manor in Appleton-on-Wisk, at the date of the Survey in the king's hands. He may have been the Orm, whose lands were given to Hugh Fitz Baldric; eight manors, two of them of considerable value, Hovingham and Bagby.

There can be little doubt, however, it was this Orm of Ormsby, who is mentioned by Simeon of Durham as Orm son of Gamel, and that he married Etheldritha, daughter of earl Aldred, and had a daughter and heiress Ecgfrida, whose husband Eilsi of Tees had, with her, some of the lands of the see of Durham. It was Orm's father, Gamel, son of Orm, who was murdered by earl Tostig in his chamber at York, 1064. (Florence of Worc.)

A New History of The SPOFFORTH Family", compiled by Capt. Ralph Spofforth, Yorkshire, UK, 1949. (A typewritten, unpublished family history) Page 2-3 < PDF > page 11

GAMEL - A Northumbrian nobleman, son of Orm, had large possessions in counties York, Lincoln, Derby, Stafford, Salop and Chester. These were laid waste after his death. He also held the hereditary offices of King’s fowler and Ranger of the Forest of Knaresborough. He was “craftily” slain at York in 1064 for opposing the GAMEL - A Northumbrian nobleman, son of Orm, had large possessions in counties York, Lincoln, Derby, Stafford, Salop and Chester. These were laid waste after his death. He also held the hereditary offices of King’s fowler and Ranger of the Forest of Knaresborough. He was “craftily” slain at York in 1064 for opposing the tyrannical practices of the Earl. He seems to have been a man of generous feelings shown in his princely gift of his Manor of Neweton to the Church of St. Peter at York. Probably he had estates in the other northern counties to which the Domesday survey did not extend. He did not live to see the downfall of his country and the ruins of his family and of his friends, caused by the Norman invasion, for before that he had been treacherously murdered by Tosti.

From Gamel descended another family, that of the Gambles. There are still members of that branch living, though in “Old Yorkshire” Vol. R, p. 243, it was reported that the last of the local family had just died at Helmsley, a few miles from Kirkdale. There had been Gambles living in the vicinity of Helmsley for over 300 years.

Gamel had issue two sons: -


ORM, the elder, was Lord of Wellebrune in which berewick was Kirkdale, Thormanby, Scriven and other places. He restored the old Saxon church of Kirkdale, near Helmsley, which is still standing, with an ancient sundial bearing an inscription in Saxon, “Orm, son of Gamel, bought S. Gregory’s monastery when it was all broken down and fallen and he caused it to be made anew from the ground, to Christ and S. Gregory, in the days of Edward the King and Tosti the Earl.”

And underneath this, “And Haworth made me, and Brand the Priest.” He married Ethelbritha, daughter of Ailred, Earl of Northumbria, and had descendants, one branch of whom assumed the name of “De Scriven” whose line ended temp. Ed. III in an heiress Ivana, who married William de Slingsby, to which family she conveyed Scriven with other estates, |together with the Rangership of the Forest of Knaresborough. Orm was dispossessed of a considerable portion of his estates by William the Conqueror, who bestowed them on William Malet, Governor of York Castle, at the time of the struggles of the Northumbrians under Gospatrick, for the maintenance of their independence.

GAMELBEORN or GAMELBAR de SPOFORD, son of Gamel, Lord of Spofforth, Plumpton, etc. Soon avenged his father’s death by an attack on Tosti, culminating in a revolt of the Northumbrians in 1066 in which many of his bodyguard were slain. Harold traveled to York to restore tranquillity, and Morcar was made Earl of Northumberland the same year.

In 1066, Tosti induced the King of Norway to join him in an invasion of England. They stormed York and defeated Morcar, but were themselves defeated by Harold at Stamford Bridge on 23rd September 1066, in a battle in which both Tosti and the King of Norway were slain. Ten days after this victory, Harold himself was defeated and slain at Hastings.

Thus, the murder of Gamelbar’s father, leading up to the battle of Stamford Bridge, thereby preventing Harold from giving his whole energies to guarding against the impending invasion by William the Conqueror, became a potent cause of the downfall of the Anglo- Saxons.

Some historical context

Before Gamel was said to be born, the Vikings had invaded Yorkshire and established a foothold there. "The last Roman soldiers left Britain in 407 AD. Afterwards the Roman towns were abandoned and the Roman way of life disappeared from Yorkshire." [1] Eventually, trade and commerce revived and Yorkshire was composed of many small agricultural villages. This way of life was disrupted by the Viking raids in the 8th century and settlements in the 9th. "The Danish kingdom of Yorkshire lasted until 954 when it was recaptured by the English." [2] That was only two years before Gamel's birth. The Norman Invasion of 1066 happened just two years after his death. But Gamel's children lived to see the Yorkshire Rebellion of 1086. "William took drastic action. His men burned all the stores of food and the crops in the fields. They also slaughtered domestic animals and destroyed farm tools. This 'scorched earth' policy was called the Harrying [or Harrowing] of the North. As a result of it many people in Yorkshire starved to death." [3] One estimate by Anglo-Norman chronicler Orderic Vitalis said that over 100,000 died of starvation. [ Vitalis. The Ecclesiastical history of England and Normandy p. 28 Retrieved 24 February 2014 ] For more information, see Harrying of the North.

Origin of the name

"Gammel" is a name that seems to have originated in Demmark. A quick survey on Wikipedia shows many "Gammel" references in Copenhagen. (Gammel Strand (English : Old Beach) is a street and public square in central Copenhagen , Denmark . Gammel Kongevej (kiterally "Old King's Road) is the principal shopping street of Frederiksberg in Copenhagen , and Gammelholm ( lit. English : Old Islet) is a predominantly residential neighbourhood in the city centre of Copenhagen , Denmark .

According to Wiktionary, "Auceps" was a Latin word, meaning "bird-catcher or fowler," which corroborates one of the two titles he had (i.e., the king's fowler; the other was the king's forrester). Collins Dictionary ( is more specific, saying it was "a person who catches hawks." [We've often seen movies or TV shows aristocrats with their hunting birds perched on their leather-gloved hands, but haven't given much thought to how they got their birds and trained them in the first place. Apparently, Gamel was one of those people.] The occupation goes back to antiquity and was called "aucupium," and the Romans caught them in large quantities.(A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890).William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin, Ed.)

Gammel was the original forester of Henry I, King of England.[1]

'Marriage and Murder in Eleventh-century Northumbria: A Study of 'De Obsessione Dunelmi by Christopher J. Morris. Borthwick Publications, 1992 - Anglo-Saxons - 31 pages. Page 17. < GoogleBooks >


  1. In late 1063 or early 1064, Tostig had Gamal son of Orm and Ulf son of Dolfin assassinated when Gamal visited him under safe conduct.[10]
    1. 10. Walker, Ian W. (1997) Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King (Alan Sutton Publishing, Ltd.) ISBN 0-7509-1388-6
  2. BUT: according to several sites, one of which cites Simeon of Durham, it was Gamal, son of the thegn Orm son of Gamal, whom Tostig killed in the same act of treachery in which he killed Ulf son of Dolfin.
  3. cites
  4. Burke, A.P. (1897). A Genealogical Account of the Spofforth or Spofford Family, pp. 4. Google Books. < GoogleBooks > Burke's work was dismissed by Capt. Ralph Spofforth's 1949 New History of the Spofforth Family < PDF >
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Gamel fitz Orm's Timeline

September 1064
Age 64