MALE Æthelred Mucil/Mucel

Ealdorman of the Gaini, 9th century.

The main source for Æthelred Mucil is Asser's Life of King Alfred, which states that Ælfred's wife (name not given) was a daughter of Æthelred Mucil by his wife Eadburh, of royal Mercian descent ["... Ælfred rex, ..., uxorem de Mercia, nobilem scilicet genere, filiam Æthelredi, Gainorum comitis, qui cognominabatur Mucill, subarravit et duxit. Cuius feminae mater Eadburh nominabatur, de regali genere Merciorum regis; ..." Asser, c. 29 (pp. 24-5)]. Who the "Gaini" were is unknown, but there is nothing to the suggestion that they were connected with Gainsborough [ASC 2: 117; Asser 228]. As Stevenson noted, there are two men called "Mucel dux" (also written as "Mucael" or "Mucoel") who appear as witnesses to Mercian charters in the period 814-66 [Cart. Sax. 1: 481 (#343, AD814), 489 (#350, 26 December 814), 492 (#353, 19 March 815), 495 (#356, 816), 498 (#357, 816), 512 (#373, 26 May 823), 518 (#378, 824), 521 (#379, 30 October 824), 532 (#384, 825), 537 (#386, 825), 582 (#416, 836, two duces named Mucoel); 2: 2 (#428, bef. 840), 3 (#429, ca. 840), 5 (#430, 28 March 840, two duces named Mucel), 7 (#432, 25 December 841), 12 (#436, 841), 20 (#443, 843×4), 33 (#450, 25 December 845, two duces named Mucel), 35 (#451, 26 December 847, charter of Æthelwulf, two duces named Mucel), 39 (#454, 848, two principes named Mucel), 89 (#487, 855), 90-1 (#488-9, 855), 95 (#492, 18 April 857), 120 (#509, 25 July 864), 126 (#513, 866); Stevenson, notes in Asser, 229 & n. 4, listing in addition some charters of doubtful authenticity, 848-68]. The appearance of two men of the name in some of the charters between 836 and 848 suggests that that was a period of overlap between an older and younger man of the name, of whom the younger could be plausibly (but not certainly) identified with Æthelred Mucil. Æthelred also appears as a supposed witness to a spurious charter allegedly dated 895 ["Ego Etheldredus Ganniorum dux subscribo .+. Ego Ælwytha regina . consnecio æt subscribo .+." Cart. Sax. 2: 214 (#571)].

Date of birth: Unknown.
Place of birth:

Date of death: Unknown.
Place of death: Unknown.
There is no good reason to accept the above spurious charter as evidence that Æthelred Mucil was still alive in 895.

Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
See the Commentary section.

Spouse: Eadburh, de regali genere Merciorum regis.
[See above.]


MALE Æthelwulf, d. 902, ealdorman.
["Her gefor Aþulf ealdorman Ealhswiðe broðor ..." ASC(A) s.a. 903 (orig. 902)] He is apparently the dux/ealdorman of that name who appears in charters dated 896 [Cart. Sax. 2: 217 (#574)] and 897 [ibid., 2: 218-9 (#575)], and possibly as early as 866 [ibid., 2: 126 (#513), 140 (#522), 175 (#552)]. An item in Dugdale's Monasticon records a donation in 889 by ealdorman Æthelwulf, propinquus of king Coenwulf, of the villages of Upton and Wenlond, from an inheritance of the same Coenwulf ["Eodem anno [889] dux Athulfus, regis Kenulfi propinquus, vicos qui Uptun et Wenlond appellantur, consentientibus Ætheredo et Ægelfleda Merciorum dominis, de hæreditate ejusdem regis Kenulfi, sub testimonio regis Ælfredi, Werefritho pontificante, Wigornensi ecclesiæ dedit." Monast. Angl. 1: 609 (Worcester Mon. #41)]. If this information is correct, the relationship would presumably be through his mother Eadburh.

FEMALE Ealhswith, d. 5 December 902×3;
m. 868,
Ælfred "the Great", d. 26 October 899, king of Wessex.


Conjectured father (uncertain): Mucel, fl. 814-848, dux.
As noted above, the period 836-848 in which two duces Mucel appear in Mercian charters is most easily explained as the period of overlap between an elder and a younger Mucel. Stevenson suggested that the two Mucels were probably father and son and that the latter may have been Æthelred Mucill [Stevenson, notes to Asser, 230; see also Keynes & Lapidge (1983), 240-1, n. 57]. There is no certainty that either of these identifications is correct [see Smyth (1995), 24-8]. One of the two Mucels appears to have been the son of a certain Esne. In a 836 charter of king Wiglaf of Mercia, witnessed by two duces named Mucoel, an ealdorman named Mucel Esning (Mucel son of Esne) was granted ten hides of land at Crowle, co. Worcester ["... end Mucele Esninge ðaet ten hida lond aet Crogleage ..." (Translation: "... and to Mukel Esning the ten hides of land at Crowle ..."); "... & Mucele aldormenn ten hida lond æt Crogleage." (Translation: "... and to Mukel aldorman ten hides of land at Crowle."), Cart. Sax. 1: 583 (#416); Thorpe, 90 (translation)]. Since it is unlikely that there were three ealdormen (duces) named Mucel at that time, Mucel son of Esne was probably one of the men of that name who witnessed the charter. If the son of Esne was the elder of the two Mucels, then the father may have been the same person as the dux/comes Esne who is found witnessing Mercian charters in the period 770 to 810 [Onom. Anglo-Sax., 236].

Conjectured father (uncertain): Esne.
This conjecture is based on the identification of the above Mucel son of Esne with Æthelred Mucil. If this uncertain identification is correct, then for chronological reasons the father Esme would probably be different from the Mercian witness of 770-810.


ASC = Charles Plummer, Two of the Saxon Chronicles parallel, based on the earlier edition by John Earle, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1892-9). ASC(A) indicates the "A" manuscript of the chronicle, and similarly for the other manuscripts.

Asser = William Henry Stevenson, ed., Asser's Life of King Alfred (new impression, Oxford, 1959).

Cart. Sax. = Walter de Gray Birch, ed., Cartularium Saxonicum, 4 vols. (1885-99).

Keynes & Lapidge (1983) = Simon Keynes & Michael Lapidge, Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and other contemporary sources (Harmondsworth, 1983).

Onom. Anglo-Sax. = William George Searle, Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum (Cambridge, 1897).

Smyth (1995) = Alfred P. Smyth, King Alfred the Great (Oxford, 1995).

Thorpe (1865) = Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Diplomatarium Anglicum Ævi Saxonici (London, 1865).

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 20 June 2010.

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