Select Osborne Miscellany

Here are some Osborne stories and accounts over the years:

William FitzOsbern

William FitzOsbern, born in Normandy, was the illegitimate son of Osbern the Seneschal.  He became a close friend of William of Normandy and urged him to undertake the invasion of England.  According to the Norman chroniclers, FitzOsbern led the right wing of the Norman forces at Hastings.  William called him: "his dearest friend who had done more than any other man to bring about the invasion of England."

After 1066, FitzOsbern led military campaigns in suppressing revolt around their new realm.  He held or built castles at Hereford, on the Welsh Marches (Clifford Castle), and on the Isle of Wight (Carisbrook).  His younger brother Osbern was later Bishop of Exeter.  

He died in battle in Flanders in 1071.  The death-blow was dealt by one of his own men, no doubt settling an old score.  His son Roger FitzOsbern inherited his title and estates.  In 1075 Roger led an uprising in England against King William.  It lacked general support and was quickly suppressed.  Roger forfeited his estates and was imprisoned for life.   Odericus Vitalis the Norman chronicler wrote in 1141 of the family being lost without trace: "Truly the world's glory droops and withers like the flowers of grass.  It is spent and scattered like smoke."

However, his name did live on at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, the favorite residence of Queen Victoria.

Osberns in the Domesday Book


Epping, Tilbury, Wheatley, Wickford
Bishop Osbern

Osbern the falconer
Osbern son of Ledhard

Osbern Paisforiere
Osbern d'Eu

Bishop Osbern
various places

Bishop Osbern
various places

Osbern FitzGeoffrey
Laughton, Willingdon

Bishop Osbern
Stratton, Treliever
Bishop Osbern
various places

Osbern from Ludhael
Sydeham, Tapeley

Osbern de Sacey
Clyst Gerred, Lambert, Parford, Shilston
Osbern Giffard
various places

Condicote, Long Newnton

Osbern FitzRichard
Osbern FitzRichard
various places
Osbern Giffard
Bishop Osbern
Chippenham, Britford, Homington

Osbern the Priest
Elstone, Hill Deverill, Orcheston, Sherington

Osbern Giffard
Tytherington Kellaways, Ugford
Osbern FitzRichard
various places

Hugh FitzOsbern
various places

Osbern FitzTezzo
various places

various places
Osbern FitzRichard
Ashford, Badger, Brockton, Burford, Ludford

Osbern Fisher
Carlton, Sharnbrook

Osbern FitzRichard
Easton, Keysoe, Riseley

Osbern FitzWalter
Little Barford

Osbern Giffard
Early, West Hanney
various places
Northampton Osbern Croughton, Culworth, Welton
Warwickshire Osbern FitzRichard
various places

Grafton, Wilmcote, Billesley
East Anglia

various places

Osbern the Priest
Faldingworth, Marston

Osbern d'Arcis
Redbourne, Scawby
Bishop Osbern
various places
Osbern de Wancey

Osbern Masculus

Depden, Higham, Raydon

Osbern d'Arcis
various places

Edward Osborne Dives into the Thames

While Edward Osborne was apprenticed in 1545 to William Hewett, Lord Mayor of London, it was recorded by John Stow that he made his fortune by leaping into the Thames from a window on one of the Bridge houses to save his master's infant daughter, Anne, who had been dropped into the river by her nursemaid.

The story of the rescue and their subsequent courtship was first published in 1720 by John Strype.  He wrote:

"Sir William was pleased to say, Osborn saved her and Osborn should enjoy her." 

The story also became the subject of a popular Victorian novel, The Colloquies of Edward Osborne, by Anne Manning.

Edward became an eminent member of the Clothworkers' Company.  He was a freeman of the company in 1553, took his own first apprentice in 1559, and was admitted to the livery in 1560.  His story of rescue passed into Clothworker lore.  It was painted in the lunette at one end of the plastered barrel ceiling in the drawing room of the Victorian fifth hall.

Edward married Anne in 1562 and got an estate at Barking in Essex, together with lands in the parishes of Wales and Harthill in Yorkshire.  They had five children.  On the death of his father-in-law, Sir William Hewett, in 1566, he succeeded to Hewett's extensive business, his mansion in Philpot Lane, and to his estates in Yorkshire.

Death in New York

On October 11, 1753, Danvers Osborne had dinner with his host, the lawyer Joseph Murray.  He excused himself early and went upstairs to his room.  Here he conversed with his secretary who noticed that Osborne did not look well.  When the latter departed, Osborne began burning his papers, shooing away a servant who came to check on him. 

Sometime between midnight and 4 am, Osborne snuck downstairs into the garden. The moon was full that night.  According to our best evidence, he then looped his handkerchief around a fence hook at the lower end of the garden facing the river and then inserted his head into the loop.  His body was spotted by a fisherman about 4.30 am and by an elderly petitioner named Philips Cosby around 7.30 am.

Osborne's brief tenure merited hardly a single sentence in any of the leading histories of New York.  One scholar's contribution was a single line: "He was found hanging from a tree in the garden of the governor's mansion," which somehow manages to be incorrect on two counts.  Other scholars seemed not to be aware that he even existed.

We have few sources about the Osborne episode.  The best is a small folder at the New York Historical Society, under misc. mss Osborne, which contains copies of depositions given by the witnesses on October 14.  It allows us to reconstruct a fairly detailed narrative.  Another source is a brief account in William Smith Jr's History of the Province of New York.  Finally, there is a fragmentary analysis in Smith and Livingston's 1758 Report on the Military Operations in North America. 

These accounts concur in asserting that the death was a suicide; and there are good reasons for thinking so.  But there was enough shady stuff going on that there may be reason to consider it murder, with a definite culprit - Oliver DeLancey, operating under the direction of the conniving and powerful politician James DeLancey.

The Osbornes' Hunting Trip

Nuckolls related the following story about the Osborne family in 1760 during their early years in Virginia:

"An incident occurred with the Osborne brothers in their newly operated territory that tells of the dangers and exposures to which pioneer settlers were exposed.  Enoch Osborne and his brothers Solomon and Ephraim went into what is now Wautauga, North Carolina on a hunting trip, deer being plentiful that season.  Getting wet by a shower of rain and wet bushes, they struck up camp in the evening and lay down to rest and sleep, hanging up their clothes by the campfire to dry. 

The Indians surprised them by shooting into the camp.  They killed Solomon.  An Indian chased Enoch some distance, but then lost him in the dark.  Ephraim, after fleeing from camp, carefully crept back to his horse that was fastened to a tree, loosed him and rode home.  Enoch returned home without shoes and in his night clothing."

A Mystery Crime Weekend in the Hamptons

It is the early 1920's and you have arrived at the famous Maidstone Arms, a bed and breakfast inn.  The inn is located in the up-and-coming East Hampton area on Long Island and the building dates back to the 1600's.  The beautiful grounds include quaint cottages for the guests, a lovely manicured garden, a relaxing pond, and an ancient cemetery.  The Maidstone Arms was originally the home of the Osborne family and was also used as a tannery for nearly a century.  Now travellers from all over the state of New York and beyond frequent the inn to relax, honeymoon, and vacation.

But all is not so tranquil at the Maidstone Arms.  Since the disappearance of the previous owner, Donald Osborne, staff and guests have reported ghostly sightings of the man appearing all over the grounds and other strange happenings at the inn.  The rumors of the spectre terrified the guests and panicked the staff. A medium was finally brought in to find the source of the supernatural occurrences and to find out how to put the spirit to rest.

Joseph Osborn and Footbolt

Joseph Rowe Osborn, born in 1852, was a colorful character with an apparent multitude of talents.  He was a lay preacher, mining speculator, public servant, teetotaler and local politician.  Although not a drinker, he joined the Thomas Hardy & Sons wine company in 1881, eventually becoming a partner and director.

Joe was also an enthusiastic patron of the turf and was one of the most successful racehorse owners in South Australia in the early 1900's.  When his colt, a chestnut named Footbolt, delivered a winning streak of six races, Joe was able to purchase the first of the d'Arenberg vineyards and establish what are now the oldest vineyards in McLaren Vale.  These vineyards have passed through four generations of Osborns, from son  Frank to grandson d'Arry  and great grandson Chester.

It was fitting, therefore, that the premier wine of this vineyard should bear the great racehorse's name.  The 2005 Footbolt Shiraz exhibits aromas of satsuma plums, cherries and cranberries with driedfloral herbs, spice and dark chocolate.  The expressive palate delivers luscious red fruit, plums and blueberries with licorice and spice among cedar oak and savory tannins.  This wine is approachable now and will gain considerable complexity with age.

Reader Feedback - Adam Osborne and His Family

Adam Osborne was a British PC pioneer with his Osborne laptop computer in the early 1980's.  He came from a talented family.  His uncle Harold was a scholar and editor of the British Journal of Aesthetics.and his father Arthur a writer of spiritual books.

Kind regards
Anastasia Kershaw (

PS.  Arthur Osborne, born in London in 1906 to middle class parents, had gotten interested in Eastern spirituality from an early age.  He married in Poland shortly before World War II.  However, the family of his wife Lucia rejected him for not being Jewish.  They soon left Poland and eventually settled in south India in 1942 near the ashram of a sage known as Sri Bhagvan Ramana Maharshi.  It was there that Arthur wrote his books on philosophy and comparative theology and it was there that their son Adam was born.

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