Fitz Audelin, William (a.1140–p.1189), administrator, was son of Audelin de Aldefeld. A minor Hampshire landholder, he rose to become a member of the household (familia) of Henry II (qv). As early as 1160 he was acting for the king in financial transactions and was a regular member of the king's familia throughout the 1160s. In 1170 he was a justiciar attached to the court of Henry II's eldest son, the young King Henry, and was appointed as one of his guardians in December 1170. Fitz Audelin was sent to Ireland to prepare the way for the king, and met Henry II when he landed at Waterford in October 1171. He was one of the emissaries sent by the king to take the submission of Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair (qv), king of Connacht, on the borders of the kingdoms of Connacht and Meath. Fitz Audelin was also granted joint custody of Wexford with Philip de Hastings and Philip de Braose (qv), while that city was in royal hands. He was sent to Ireland in the spring of 1173 as the king's procurator (sometimes called ‘steward’), with a general authority to stand in the place of the king. Henry may have wished to create a provincial administration like that of Normandy in Ireland, but was unable to provide fitz Audelin with enough men or money to make his position tenable.
Fitz Audelin's career in Ireland illustrates the tenuous balance that had to be maintained between the king and his magnates. Much of our information about his Irish career comes from Gerald of Wales (qv) (Giraldus Cambrensis), who portrays him in the darkest possible light. The one action for which there is firm evidence for the period of his brief stay in Ireland was the holding of an inquisition to determine the lands held by St Mary's abbey, Dublin, before 1169. Fitz Audelin is also said to have called a synod at Waterford, wherein the bull Laudabiliter was proclaimed to the Irish church. He may also have initiated the contacts with Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair that led to the treaty of Windsor. Fitz Audelin left Ireland after the return of Richard de Clare (qv), earl of Strigoil (Strongbow), in August 1173, and witnessed the treaty of Falaise in 1174. He may have acted as the king's adviser for Irish affairs in 1175, when he witnessed a charter permitting the merchants of Chester to trade in Dublin. Fitz Audelin returned to Ireland after the death of Strongbow in the spring of 1176, with orders to take the earl's lands into the king's hands. Giraldus’ greatest complaint about fitz Audelin concerned his treatment of the Geraldines in his second period in office. He deprived the sons of Maurice fitz Gerald (qv) of their custody of Wicklow castle and revoked a grant to Robert fitz Stephen (qv) of a cantred in Uí Fáeláin (Kildare). According to Gerald of Wales, his inactivity drove John de Courcy (qv) to strike out on his own to conquer the kingdom of Ulaid early in 1177. However, Fitz Audelin's actions can also be seen as an attempt to impose a royal government on the unruly magnates of Ireland. He was recalled to England in January 1177 (although probably not in disgrace) to advise the king on a new policy for Ireland, which was put forth at the council of Oxford (May). He was replaced as the king's representative by Hugh de Lacy (qv), but when Strongbow's lands were divided into three ‘custodies’ during the minority of the heir, fitz Audelin was entrusted with the custody of Wexford. He is unattested in England before 1181, so it seems quite likely that he remained in Ireland, working to make the lordship of Ireland a reality. After 1181 he had no connection with Ireland, but clearly did not lose the king's favour, as he held crown lands in Hampshire and acted as sheriff of Cumberland in 1189. The notion that William fitz Audelin and William de Burgh were one and the same was long since refuted, though it sometimes surfaces.