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The vast majority of English nobles were the numerous local feudal lords who held no formal title but whose nobility was not in doubt. Firstly, it meant that the pool of noble marriage partners available for the earls and their immediate families was considerably extended outside their own limited family groups.The resulting exogamous pattern of marriages was reflected in the marriage policies of the English royal family which, in addition to European dynastic marriages, did not hesitate to marry into English families of the lesser nobility.

William I King of England granted extensive estates to Norman barons as a reward for their part in the conquest of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom.

The complexity of this task implies the rapid implementation of a sophisticated bureaucracy.

The inevitable conclusion is that the territorial epithet was not considered exclusive at the time.

Reference to these early earls as "Earl in [county]" rather than "Earl of [county]" may therefore more accurately reflect contemporary reality.

Although they acquired considerable power in the counties in which their main estates lay, during the immediate post-conquest period contemporary records rarely show titles such as "Earl of [county]", the territorial qualification being gradually applied over time.

As late as 1161, Hawise, widow of William de Roumare Earl of Lincoln, described herself as "Hadewysia comitissa de Rumara".

A notable example is provided by the Tosny family (see the document NORMANDY NOBILITY).

The first post-conquest earldoms were Chester, Hereford, Huntingdon (with Northampton), Kent, Norfolk and Shrewsbury (Shropshire).

Few earldoms were created during the post-conquest period.

However, the earls represented only a small proportion of the English nobility.

The grants to the same individual frequently included property in many different parts of the country.

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