Lewis’s Geneology

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 81, Summer 1999 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

by James O’Fee

The Norman knight William de Warenne was one of the most powerful of William the Conqueror’s barons. (His bones lie in Battle Abbey.) De Warrenne was given lands in Sussex. He built Lewes (sic) Castle and is buried (I think) in Lewes Priory. (I lived in Lewes for a while, the county town of East Sussex.) William de Warenne married Gundreda, reputed to be a bastard daughter of William the Conqueror (how else would she have gained so rich a husband?). Though Gundreda, wife of William de Warenne, C. S. Lewis was descended from William the Conqueror and Charlemagne!

The Warrens established an Irish branch quite early in County Cork. Through the aristocratic Warren connection, C. S. Lewis was also descended from the Plantagenet Kings of England, Kings of France, of Scots, and Princes of Wales. And from the Founder of Clare College, Cambridge. Not bad for someone who once said he came from ‘Welsh farming stock’.

Gundreda Ewart, cousin of C. S. Lewis, was named after Gundreda de Warrenne. C. S. Lewis called his cousin “the most beautiful woman I have ever seen” (‘Surprised by Joy’, Chap III, p 42). The daughter of Gundreda Ewart, Primrose Henderson last summer guided a party of American visitors around St Mark’s church; and Mrs Henderson has given the C. S. Lewis Centenary Group an outline family tree of the Warren family. The tree is now lodged in the C. S. Lewis Archive, in the Public Record Office, Belfast.