A recent assessment of the evidence (Carlton & Rushworth 1998) concluded that it is probable that the Umfravilles were established in Redesdale and Coquetdale at some point during the reign of Henry I, with an outside possibility that they acquired the liberty during the last decade of the 11th century.
There is clear evidence to suggest that they had acquired the ten Coquetdale and Breamish valley townships which lay within the barony of Alnwick, adjoining the liberty, before the death of Henry I, and they were certainly well entrenched in the north by the 1120s. Robert de Umfraville (probably the original Robert cum barba) appears as a witness to Scottish royal charters from 1120 onwards. His sons, Odinel and Gilbert, subsequently feature in the same way.
During the latter part of the reign of David I, when Northumberland fell under the effective control of the Scottish king, the Umfravilles became important members of that kingdom's new feudal aristocracy, with a small estate in Stirlingshire as well as their Northumbrian holdings (Ritchie 1954, 144; Tuck 1986, 3).
Hedley has even suggested that it was David's son, Henry, Earl of Northumberland between 1139-52, who was responsible for the award of Redesdale to the Umfravilles at some point after 1139 (1968, 209; cf. Lomas 1996, 19, 158), and whether or not this is correct the link between the earl and the Umfraville lineage was clearly strong. Gilbert, indeed, served as constable both of earl Henry and of the latter's successor, William (1152-57), David's younger grandson (who was eventually to become king himself as William the Lion - 1165-1214).