* The Sires and Seigneurs of Harnes *



There is record of a Flemish noble named Pierre de Beaufremez (Petrus de Brafermeis), who about 1287 married Marotte (Marotain) de Harnes. Although Marotte bears the surname of Harnes, her relationship to the House of Harnes is not known. A few members of the Beaufremez family, probably descendants of Pierre and Marotte, are referred to over the next three centuries as Sires of Harnes, but again their relationship to the Mayorality (County) of Harnes is not known. However, a seigniory of Harnes does appear in the mid- to late-15th century, just after Jean d'Ailly, the last Mayor of Harnes, sold the castle of Harnes, and the title Mayor of Harnes in 1458 to the Abbey of St. Peters of Ghent. We next hear that Jean de Beaufremez (d. 1557), a counselor to Philip's father the Emperor Charles V, is called a Seigneur of Harnes.

The seigniory of Harnes was a feudal fief that was separate from the County of Harnes, and located some distance away in the County of Tournai. It was located at the village of Rumes, which today is on the border between Belgium and France. These lands originally belonged to the Abbey of St. Winnoc at Bergues, by an arrangement that was probably similar to the donation of the Land of Harnes in 970 to the Abbey of St. Peter's of Ghent. However, this holding by the year 1200 was no longer part of St. Winnoc's Abbey, but was owned by Michael of Harnes, the knight-trouvere, who was also constable of Flanders. The name of Harnes from that point on is associated with the fief at Rumes.

The french words "sire" amd "seigneur" both translate as lord. However, there is subtlety in meaning, which is lost in this oversimplification. A "sire" translates to a "gentleman of rank", whereas a "seigneur" is a feudal lord with authority over a feudal estate known as a "seigniory" or "seigneurie". As such, sire is merely a title of honor awarded to a noble, whereas a seignior has actual authority over an estate with lands. A list of the Seigneurs of Harnes that we have found mention of in the records now follows.

The House of Ailly

(1458-1492) - Jean de Ailly (d. 1492) was Mayor of Harnes for the Abbey of St. Peters of Ghent, and he also bore the title Seigneur of Harnes. When he sold the castle of Harnes and the title of Mayor in 1458 back to the Abbey, it seems likely that he retained control of the seigniory of Harnes at Rumes in the former County of Tournai (Artois). However, it is not known if he was still Seigneur of Harnes when he died.

Ownership of the seigniory of Harnes during the period of 1458 to 1514 is still to be determined.

(?-1514) - Jacques Survilly was Seigneur of Harnes when he sold the seigniory to Jean de Ruffault. It is not known if Jacques Survilly was related to the Jean de Ailly above.

The House of Beaufremez

The lords of Beaufremez (Bauffremez, Beaufermez) are a branch of the House of Wavrin, who were the hereditary stewards of the County Flanders at the same time the office of constable was held by the lords of Harnes. The line descends from Henri de Wavrin, an illegitimate son of Hellin I of Wavrin (1155-1191), the Steward of Flanders for Count Philip I (1143-1191) of Flanders. Hellin made Henri lord of a newly created seigniory of Beaufremez that was made up of lands in the vicinity of the village of Fournes, which is adjacent to Wavrin. This seigniory eventually grew to include Fournes, along with adjacent properties that the seigneurs acquired by inheritance or purchase. This line descends to the Jean de Beaufremez below.

(1514-1526) - Jean (Jacques) de Ruffault purchased the seigniory of Harnes in 1514 from the above. Jean included Harnes in the dowry for his daughter Isabeau Ruffault, and it was conveyed in 1526 to Jean Beaufremez upon the latter's marriage to Isabeau.

(1526-1557) - Jean de Beaufremez (d. 1557) was a counselor to Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, and he became Seigneur of Harnes upon his 1526 marriage to Isabeau Ruffault, the daughter of the above Jean de Ruffault. Jean de Beaufremez was also the seigneur of Salomé, which at one time had been both a holding of the Abbey of St. Peters of Ghent, as well as part of the Mayorality of Harnes. He acquired the seigniory from either his distant cousin Wallerand de Bauffremez (d. 1551), or more likely from Wallerand's son Francois (d. 1559), probably by purchase. Today the coat of arms for the town are the same as those that were carried by the lords of Beaufremez. However, Jean did not own the seigniory of Beaufremez, as it was held by one of his cousins in the Beaufremez family.

(1557-1573) - Francois de Beaufremez (c.1508-1573), Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above. He was married first to Marie Pottes, with whom no children were born, and second to Madeline Hannette de Bercus (d. 1609), with whom he had the son who follows.

(1573-?) - Francois de Beaufremez, Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above Francois and his second wife Madeline de Bercus. He married Marie (Jeanne) de Longueval towards the end of the XVIth century. His younger brother Jean de Beaufremez was Sire of Ailly.

(?-1626?) - Robert de Beaufremez (d. 1654), Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above, and a lieutenant-colonel in the service of the Emperor (probably Ferdinand III). He sold the seigniory of Harnes to either Marc de Stappens, the King of Spain, or to an intermediary who then sold the seigniory to Stappens.

The House of Stappens

(1626-?) - Marc de Stappens, Seigneur of Harnes and Roeulx, purchased the seigniory of Harnes on August 12, 1626 in a deal sanctioned by King Phllippe IV of Spain. It is not known if Stappens made the purchase directly from Robert de Beaufremez, or from an intermediary. He married Anne de Zinneghem, and they had the son who follows.

(?-1677) - Jean-Baptiste de Stappens (c.1639-1667), Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above, and married Marie-Francoise van Caloen (1627-1698).

(1677-1716) - Francois-Adrien de Stappens (1655-1716), Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above, and became Burgermaster of the city of Bruges. He married Anne-Barbe van de Woestyrne (d. 1711).

(1716-1742) - Jean-Francois-Guillaume de Stappens (d. 1742), Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above, and like his father he also served as Burgermaster of the city of Bruges. He married Anne-Rosalie Stauthals (c.1687-1745).

(1742-1777) - Valentin de Stappens (1713-1777), Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above. He was married first to Jeanne-Brigitte-Francois de Nieulant (1710-1752), and second to Marie-Therese Dammerin d'Hoverlant (c.1717-1792).

(1777-1784?) - Phillipe-Francoios-Corneille de Stappens (1742-1784), Seigneur of Harnes, was the son of the above Valentin and his first wife Jeanne de Nieulant. He married Marie-Petronille van Outryve (1748-1814). Some sources indicate that the seigniory of Harnes continued to be held by the Stappens family until 1789 when titles of nobililty in France and Spanish Flanders fell victim to the French Revolution. If such is the case, then the seigniory of Harnes in 1784 passed to his son, who follows.

Louis-Phillippe-Marie-Ghislaine de Stappens (1773-1812) was the son of the above. If he inherited his father's titles, which is yet to be confirmed, then he would have lost them following the 1789 annexation of the Netherlands by the Republic of France. He married Julienne De Brouwere (1775-1842)

Adele-Louise-Marie-Ghislaine de Stappens d'Harnes (1799-1854) was the daughter of the above. She is sometimes mentioned as Dame de Harnes, which implies that she attempted her to resurrect her father's titles after the downfall of the French Republic and the restoration of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. She married Georges Chantrell (1795-1867), a counselor of Bruges, and they had children.

The House of Dubois-Sale

There is much confusion regarding a seigniory of Harnes that was held in the 18th century by the Dubois family, as it seems to coexist with a second, separate seigniory of the same name held first by by the House of Beaufremez and later by the House of Stappens. Though apparently separate, it seems that these two seigniories are still somehow closely related.

First, it is known that Jean de Beaufremex (Baufremez), who in 1526 became seigneur of Harnes (at Rumes), married Isabeau Ruffault and had three daughters - Marie, Isabeau and Marguerite. Each of these women in succession bore the title Dame du Bois, with the youngest daughter Marguerite becoming Dame du Bois in 1602 on the death of her sister Isabeau. This would seem to indicate the existence of a seigniory of de Bois. The seigniory of Beaufremez at the same time was held by Wallerand du Bois de Fiennes, who is named in an act of Feb 7, 1600 by the Archduke Albert of the Holy Roman Empire. Interestingly, the coat of arms borne by Walleran's family seem to be the same as those born by Isabeau Ruffault's family. Also, Walleran and his heirs resided at or near the village of Wicres, which is adjacent to Fournes, where the seigniory of Beaufremez was located.

Second, it is also known that a small chapel known as the Hermitage of Notre Dame was located in "du Bois de Harnes (the woods of Harnes)". This is probably the same chapel that Pascallet (1857) writes about in connection with Englebert of Harnes, who Pascallet (1857) says in the 1500s built "built a chapel near his home in the woods of Harnes". We do not known just where "the woods of Harnes" were, but they were definitely near the town of Harnes. Also, they clearly were not located in the seigniory of Harnes at Rumes (near Tournai).

The above indicate that there was a seigniory of du Bois that was held in the early 1600s by the heirs of Jean de Beaufremez, and this may be the same as the seigniory of "du Bois de Harnes" that was held a hundred years later by the family of Dubois-Sale. Also, there existed at the same time a chapel (hermitage) in the woods of Harnes, which translate in French to "du Bois de Harnes". Furthermore, these woods were near the town of Harnes, which also places them near the towns of Salomé, Wicres, and Fournes where the lords of Beaufremz and the lords of Dubois both had homes. All of these places are in France. And yet there is also the separate Seigniory of Harnes at Rumes (near Tournai), which is also held by members of both the Beaufremez and Stappens families. Tournai is also where several members of the Dubois-Sale family are interred. A seigniory of Harnes at Rumes near Tournai (Belgium) clearly existed, but did a second, separate seigniory of Harnes also exist a mere 15 miles away in Artois (France) near the town of Harnes?. The answer still eludes us.

(?-1706) - Guillaume-Francois-Joseph Dubois (1674-1706) is called seigneur of Harnes, but we do not know when nor where he came by the title, which does not appear to have been held by his father Jean-Baptiste Dubois. It also appears that there were two seigniories of Harnes at this time, one in France held by the House of Dubois-Sale that was probably located near the town of Harnes, and another in modern Belgium held by the House of Stappens at the town of Rumes (near Tournai). Guillaume-Francois Dubois married Jeanne-Joseph Sale (1663-1757), but died a young man. He is interred at Anderleck, whereas his wife, who survived him by many years, is buried near her husband's older brother Jean-Baptiste Dubois (1665-1746), Seigneur of Inchy in the floor of Saint Nicolas Church in Tournai.

(1706-1784) - Antoine-Guillaume Dubois (c.1699-1784) was the son of the above. Presumably, he became Seigneur of Harnes following the 1706 death of his father, and both he and his uncle Jean-Baptiste-Ignace du Bois (1665-1746), Seigneur of Inchy, were confirmed on August 12, 1722 as members of the nobility by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. Both were subsequently knighted on August 8, 1731 by the Emperor. Antoine-Guillaume Dubois was then created Baron de Harnes many years later on Oct 1, 1777 by Emperor Joseph II (Le Noblesse Belge, 1898, p. 289).

(1784-1790) - Antoine-Bernard Dubois (d. 1790), Baron of Harnes, was the son of the above and Marie-Claire-Antoinette de Forest. He died without issue, probably a victim of the French Revolution, and was succeeded as baron by his sister.

(1790-?) - Marie-Francoise-Eulalie Dubois (1754-1819) was the sister of the preceding, and became baroness of Harnes on the death of her brother. It is likely that she lost her title as baroness when the French Republic gained control of the Netherlands, executed many of the nobility, and sold their lands to farmers. She married Albert-Joseph de Cazier (d. 1833), who follows.

Rene-Albert-Joseph Cazier (1753-1833) was the husband of the preceding. Although he likely inherited any lands and titles that his wife still possessed when she predeceased him, he does not appear to have ever been called a seigneur or a baron of Harnes, which makes it likely that the barony of Harnes was dissolved sometime before 1792 by the French Republic. He died without issue and left his wealth, lands and titles to the church, specifically Saint Nicolas at Tournai in Hainaut, Belgium, where at least two members his wife's family are buried in the floor of the church.





       Beaufremez and Ruffault

    Carpentier, Jean le (1664), Histoire Genealogique des Pais-Bas, ou Histoire de Cambray et du Cambresis, etc., Chex les Autheur, p. 197-199.

    DeMarquette, Albert (1867), Histoire Generale du Comte de Harnes en Artois, Jusu’a 1789 et de la Connetablie de Flandre: Imprimerie de Lefebvre-Ducrocq, Lille, 3 tomes. (reprinted 2006 by Livres d’Histoire, Paris), v. II, p. 78-89 (Chapter VIII).

    Fremeux, Henri (1887), Histoire Genealogique de la Famille Ruffault Originaire de la Flandre Wallonne 1313 a 1636, Imprimeur des Societes Scientifique et Litteraires de Douai, p. 77-81.

    Gaillaird, J. (1858), Bruges et le Franc ou leur Magistrature et leur Noblesse avec Donnees Historique et Genealogique sur chaque Famille, Chez l'auteur J. Gailliard, Bruges, p. 420-421.

    Goethals, Felix Victor (1866), Histoire de la Maison de Wavrin, Impremiere de Polack-Divivier, p. 5-23 (Wavrin), 133-138 (Bauffremez-Langlee), and 141-153 (Bauffremez-Salome).

       Dubois and Cazier

    Decq, Auguste (1863), Annuarie de la Noblesse de Belgique, Auguste Decq, Libraire-Editeur, Bruxelles, 17th Annee, p. 67.

    DeMarquette, Albert (1867), Histoire Generale du Comte de Harnes en Artois, Jusu’a 1789 et de la Connetablie de Flandre: Imprimerie de Lefebvre-Ducrocq, Lille, 3 tomes. (reprinted 2006 by Livres d’Histoire, Paris), v. II, p. 78-89 (Chapter VIII).

    Herissey, Charles (1906), Dictionnarire des Familles Francaises Ancienne or Notables a la fin de XIXth Siecle, Imprimerie de Charles Herissey, Evreux, v. 15, p. 33-34.

    Jacobs, Jean (1760), Nobiliaire des Pays-Bas et do Comte de Bourgogne, Chez Jean Jacobs, Louvain, p. 693-694.

    Norguet, M. (1868), Bulletin de la Commission Historique du Departement de Nord, Imprimeire de L. Danel, Lille, v. X, p. 288-291.

    Remy, H. (1833), Recueil des Lois et Arretes Royaux de la Belgique, Chez H. Remy, Imprimeur du Roiz, Bruxelles, v. 8, p. 324, no. 1219.


    DeMarquette, Albert (1867), Histoire Generale du Comte de Harnes en Artois, Jusu’a 1789 et de la Connetablie de Flandre: Imprimerie de Lefebvre-Ducrocq, Lille, 3 tomes. (reprinted 2006 by Livres d’Histoire, Paris), v. II, p. 78-89 (Chapter VIII).

    Monnom (1898), La Noblesse de Belgique: Annuaire 1898, Imprimerie Veuve Monnom, Bruxelles, 1st Part, p. 123-142.

    van Dyck, F. (1854), Recueil Heraldique avec des Notices Genealogiques et Historique sur un Grand Nombre de Familles Nobles et Patriciennes de la Ville et du Franconat de Bruges, Imprimerie de C. de Moor, Bruges, p. 420-423.

    Vlaminck, Aph. de (1875), Filiations de Familles de la Flandre Dresses sur Pieces Authentique ou d'Apres des Manuscrits Anciens, C.Vyt, Libraire, Gand, v. II, p. 123-124.




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