Hereward the Wake ("watchful one") is believed to be the son of Leofric of Bourn. As a young man Hereward was banished from Lincolnshire by Edward the Confessor as a troublemaker.
After William the Conqueror gained control of England Hereward's lands were given to Oger the Breton. Hereward now took revenge by establishing a gang of rebels who attacked Normans settlers in Lincolnshire.
In 1070 Hereward joined the invading Danes under King Sweyn and helped plunder Peterborough. In June 1070 Hereward seized the isle of Ely. He was later joined by Morcar, the Earl of Northumbria.
In 1071 William led an expedition against the rebels on the the isle of Ely. Morcar surrendered but Hereward and a few others escaped through the marshes. It is not known what happened to Hereward the Wake after this date.