Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Comin, Robert de

COMIN, COMINES, or CUMIN, ROBERT DE, Earl of Northumberland (d. 1069), was apparently a native of Flanders to judge from his name. He was one of the barons who followed William I in his invasion of England, and so commended himself to the king by his military skill that he was chosen at the end of 1068 for the difficult task of reducing the north of England to obedience. William I conferred on him the earldom of Northumberland, vacant by the flight of Gospatric ; and in January 1069 Comin set out from Gloucester with forces which are variously estimated at five hundred, seven hundred, and nine hundred men. The winter was severe, and Comin advanced unopposed to the city of Durham. The bishop of Durham, Ethelwin, advanced to meet him, and warned him of the ill-will of the men of the bishopric; he advised him not to enter the city. Comin disregarded his warning, and Ethel win did all he could to protect him from the results of his rashness by lodging him and his chief knights in his own house next to the cathedral. The Normans treated Durham as a captured town, and the news of their doings spread into Northumberland. The men of the Tyne rose, forced the gates of Durham in the night, and massacred the Norman soldiers. Comin vainly took refuge in the bishop's house ; it was set on fire, and he was slaughtered. The failure of this expedition was William I's first experience of the intractability of the northern folk, and was one of the causes of his severity in the 'harrying of the north.' Comin was the founder of the family of Comyn, many of whom played an important part in the history of Scotland [see Comyn.]

[Ordericus Vitalis, Hist. Eccl. 512 c; Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum, a. a. 1069, and Hist. Eccl. Dunelmensis, iii. 15 ; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s. a. 1068; Freeman's Norman Conquest, iv. 234-40.]

M. C.