The de Verdun family of England, Normandy & Ireland 

Preface: This was originally a sub-page linked to another site, providing more information about the heraldry of the Vardons (Verdons) of Goldstone and their forebears the de Verduns of Alton (Link). However, in the process it became extended, providing more data on the broader inter-related branches of the de Verdun/Verdon families in England, Normandy and Ireland, in case this may be of added interest for anyone seeking more knowledge about this Norman family. Readers should be aware that this continues to be very much 'a work in progress' and consequently contains incomplete details, sometimes placed here purposely like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that there hasn't been time to put into the correct places, with some sections completed but interconnecting links not yet added. The intention is that further reading of the text, ensuing reflection and research, and simple moments of freer time may result in these gaps being 'plugged', enabling a fuller picture to be revealed in due course. Consequently, the text below will have unedited errors and will be being updated as and when there is time to add new information or correct and edit the current text. Details of sources have been provided throughout the text, to as great an extent as possible, so that interested readers may follow these trails more extensively, should that be of interest for them and helpful to their own research. If anyone would like to offer any corrections or request additional data be added, an email is provided at the bottom of this page to enable them to do so. However, please appreciate that this email account is not checked frequently, therefore a quick response to any messages or genealogical questions posed by readers of this page cannot be promised, but an endeavour will be made to do so.

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The de Verdun family of England, Normandy & Ireland

A brief account of the family's origins, the de Verduns of Alton Castle, Staffordshire (Verdun Barons) and their cadet branches, including the de Verdons of Norfolk (the other Verdon Barons); the de Verdons / Vardons of Fulshaw, Cheshire & Goldstone Hall, Shropshire; the Verdins of Darnhall Hall & Stoke Hall, Cheshire & Garnstone Castle, Herefordshire (Verdin Baronets); the de Verduns / Wrottesleys of Wrottesley (Wrottesley Baronets & Barons); and the link with their kinsmen the Marquesses & Counts de Verdun of La Crenne and Barenton, Normandy.


The first of the de Verdun family to emerge from the mists of history was Bertrand de Verdun, one of the companions of William the Conqueror who came to England in 1066 and was granted land there. He is remembered more often in England by the anglicised version of his name - 'Bertram', in which form the name was passed down to descendants, particularly in England and Ireland. The family name 'de Verdun' is frequently found recorded in England and Ireland as 'de Verdon' and also 'de Verdoun' and other variations evolved over time. The family are briefly chronicled in the publication 'The Battle Abbey Roll, with some account of the Norman Lineages', pages 221-224, a full transcription of which is copied further below. A more recent, extensive and in-depth history of the family was published in 2001: 'The Fortunes of a Norman Family - The de Verduns in England, Ireland and Wales, 1066-1316', by Mark S. Hagger. It is an immensely valuable and very much appreciated addition to the many texts that enlighten our knowledge of the de Verduns and is unlikely to be improved upon by any other historian in the foreseeable future. Its intentional and understandable focus on the main line of the family means that it omits useful data from French historical sources (impediment of access to which the author explains) and therefore mention of the branches of the family who continue to reside in Normandy, and whose story continued to connect with England during the times that Normandy was ruled by that country's kings. It also rather misses the importance to the de Verdun family of the fact that the Earls of Chester were also hereditary Vicomtes of Avranches. This link is relevant to understanding the de Verdun family's ongoing possession of land in Normandy and their close connection with the County Palatine of Chester. Members of the de Verdun family were in the service of the Earls of Chester and appear as witnesses to their charters in both England and Normandy.

The first historical record of the appearance of Bertram de Verdun is in a charter of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel. The original charter was destroyed in 1944. A medieval copy provides a date of mo. lxo. vio. i.e. 1066, but it doesn't seem possible for that date to be correct - the charter can be dated sometime 1068-1085 on the basis of some individuals within the charter being cited as holding specific offices, the dates of their appointment to which are known from other records. 1076 may be the correct date, since the copy may have simply omitted an extra 'x', with the original having therefore shown the date as mo. lxxo. vio. The charter records a grant by Guillelmus (William) son of Guimundi of Avranches to the Abbey of tithes at Le Luot near La Haye-Pesnel, c.10km north of Avranches. The charter mentions his friend Erneisi de Verduno (Ernée de Verdun, who may be a brother or otherwise a relative of Bertrand de Verdun) a Canon of Avranches and is signed by six people in this order: Guillelmus himself, Mathildis his wife, Bertranni de Verduno (Bertrand de Verdun), Gaufredi de Cauinne (Geoffroi de Cavigny), Radulfi de sancto Johanne (Raoul de Saint-Jean-de-Thomas) and Radulfi de Musca (Raoul de la Mouche).1

1 Sources: Cartulaire du Mont-Saint-Michel, folios 83v et 84. M. l'abbé Jean-Jacques Desroches : Annales Religieuses de l'Avranchin (1847), page 68; and Desroches : Histoire du Mont Saint-Michel et de l'ancien Diocèse d'Avranches (Caen, 1838), tome 1, page 208. Dr. Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan : The Cartulary of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel (Pub. by Shaun Tyas, 2006).

Some English historians, including Hagger and Keats-Rohan, have followed earlier historians' conclusions that the de Verdun family took their toponym from a fief called 'Verdun' near Vessey, south west of Pontorson and very close to La Crenne, the later seat of the Marquises de Verdun. However, despite the apparent logic of this, French historians and the family itself in Normandy have concluded otherwise. It is now established that the place called 'Verdun' near Vessey was not known by that name until a later date, after the time the de Verdun family had already established itself in England. 'The Battle Abbey Roll' tells us that the historians Louise de La Roque (author of Catalogue des Gentilshommes de Normandie) and François-Alexandre Aubert de La Chesnaye-Desbois both maintained that the family originated in the county of Mortaine, where one of its branches was of long continuance and that, according to M. de Gerville, the cradle of the family was Barenton, in that neighbourhood. But then seemingly contradicting itself, the Battle Abbey Roll also informs us that it is incontestable that in the twelfth century there was a fief of Verdun in the arrondissement of Avranches. This accords with conclusions of the de Verduns in Normandy, whose tradition is that the family is Norman and that their name was taken from one of their properties in the Duchy. Among the places in Normandy called 'Verdun', there was a fief of this name held by the family from an early time in the Avranchin, in the parish of Saint-Martin-des-Champs alongside that of Saint-Quentin-sur-le-Homme. This was clearly the place in the arrondissement of Avranches that is referred to in The Battle Abbey Roll, and it is almost certain that the family took its toponym from this place called 'Verdun' in the parish of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. This is certainly the considered conclusion arrived at by the family's historians in Normandy and England.

This fief of Verdun near Avranches is the earliest place of this name in Normandy that is found linked to members of the de Verdun family in early charters, most notably in one by Henry de Fougères (Actes no. 1 à 9829 - Cote 9022) in which he confirms to the Abbey of Savigny the numerous donations made to it by his family and their vassals since it was founded by his father Radulfus de Fulgeriis in 1113. One of these, Hugo son of Ansketilli, when he became a monk at Savigny had given all his land in Verdun (in Saint-Martin-des-Champs), with the consent of his feudal lord Erneisio filio Roberti de Verdun (Ernée son of Robert de Verdun); and also two acres of land given by Estormi de Verdun, with the consent of his sons Peter and Geoffrey, and land presented by Willelmus filius Gaufridi de Verdun and his brothers Walter and Rainald. Later charters of confirmation by Richard III, Bishop of Avranches in 1179 and Henry II of England c.1177-1182, confirmed grants made to the Abbey of Savigny, including that by Hugonis filii Ansketis, and by Estormi de Verdun of his two acres, and a grant by Bertranni de Verdun terram quandam juxta grangiam de Campo Botri - the same Campo Botri that is mentioned in the Fougères charter (1113-1150): terram que est inter vineam de Cambo Botri et vetus stannum de Verdun (Cote 9060 and Cote 7270).

However, there is another story of the family's origins recorded by historians who have postulated that Bertram de Verdun was a son of Godfrey III, Duke of Upper Lorraine (and later of Lower Lorraine) and Count of Verdun-sur-Meuse in Lorraine. Since this story has been repeated in many publications over time, including Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages, which told its readers that Bertram de Verdun was stated to have been a son of Godfreye, Comte de Verdun surnamed "le Caplif", it is perhaps important to examine this claim in more depth, notwithstanding the other firm tradition, reinforced by recent research, that the family's name in fact originates from a place called Verdun in the Avranchin and not from Verdun-sur-Meuse.

At some point after 1066, Bertram was given the Manor of Farnham Royal in Buckinghamshire, which had been held previously by Goda, daughter of Emma of Normandy by her husband King Æthelred the Unready, and therefore a full sister of Edward the Confessor. Goda's second husband (her first was Count Drogo of the Véxin), Count Eustace II of Boulogne married as his second wife Ida the daughter of Godfrey III, who is said to have been Bertram de Verdun's father. This would have made Bertram the brother-in-law of Goda's second husband. Perhaps this connection explains why he was granted Farnham Royal - in all likelihood we will never know for sure.

ABOVE: the entry from the Domesday Book which records that 'Bertranus de Verduno' held Ferneham (Farnham Royal) in Buckinghamshire. The image is provided by Professor John Palmer and George Slater from the University of Hull who have provided permission for it to be copied; the original graphic is presented with additional data on the 'Open Domesday' website created by Anna Powell-Smith (click to see page) :-

The following translation of the full Domesday entry for Bertram de Verdun and Farnham Royal was published in 1812 by The Rev. William Bawden in his book 'A Translation of the record called Domesday, so far as Relates to the Counties of Middlesex, Hertford, Buckingham. Oxford, and Gloucester' - on page 67, within the chapter on Buckinghamshire:




    Manor. Bertram de Verdun holds Ferneham (Farnham Royal.)  It answered for ten hides.  There is land to eight ploughs.  Five hides are in the demesne, and there are two ploughs there; and five villanes with three bordars have four ploughs, and two may yet be made.  There are two bondmen.  Meadow for two ploughs.  Pannage for six hundred hogs.  In the whole it is worth one hundred shillings; when received four pounds; and the same in King Edward’s time. Countess Goda held this manor. Of this manor Geofrey de Mandevile holds half a hide in Elmodesham (Amersham,) of which he disseized the aforesaid Bertrann whilst he was abroad in the King’s service.  This is attested by the hundred; and Ralph Tailgebosc erected a mill upon the land of Bertrann, which was not there in King Edward’s time, as is attested by the hundred.

Immediately above the entry for Bertram de Verdun is one for Ralf de Fougères ('Raoul' in Norman records), who was recorded as lord of Twyford in Lamva Hundred in 1086. This manor had also been held by 'Countess Goda' in 1066, under 'Earl Harold'. It may be coincidental or not, but it is of interest that in a charter by Ralf's son Henry de Fougères in 1150, in which he confirmed the grants by his father to the abbey of Savigny, mention is made of lands near Avranches which included some in 'Campobotri et vetus de Verdun' and 'Verdun' itself in the parish of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. The charter also mentions some members of the de Verdun family: 'Ernesio, filio Roberti de Verdun, domino suo... et Petro et Galtero et Gisleberto, patruiis ejusdem Ernesii' (Ernée son of Robert de Verdun, his lord... and Peter, Walter and Gilbert, paternal uncles of Ernée); and later on in the same charter 'Estormi de Verdun' and his sons 'Petro et Gaufrido' (Peter & Godfrey). The name 'Estormi' may equate to the old norse name 'Styrmir', which means 'Storm'. This may hint at a close relationship of some sort between the de Verdun and de Fougères families, beyond simple land connections, but no further details have yet been found that may throw more light on this. The de Fougères family took their name from Fougères in Brittany, which lies close to the border of Normandy and approximately 30km south of Avranches. Ralf de Fougères is recorded in Domesday holding other manors, including Osmondiston, otherwise called 'Scole', which Ralf was holding as Tenant-in-Chief and lord in 1086. Osmondiston-Scole is located c.8km east of Bressingham, one of the manors in the area that are cited as held by Ivo de Verdun c.1100, from Roger Bigod, Sheriff of Norfolk, and where the de Verduns of Norfolk resided until one of them moved to live at their manor of Martlesham in Suffolk. Ralf de Fougères ('Radylfi De Felgeres') was also one of a number of people listed in Domesday holding property in Thrandeston, which is c.3km south west of Scole.

Below Bertram's entry is one for Nigel d'Albini otherwise 'Aubigny' as Tenant-in-Chief of Turville in Dustenberg Hundred, Buckinghamshire. Nigel d'Aubigny married Amice, daughter of Henry de Ferrers, whose son Robert de Ferrers became the first Earl of Derby and was the father of the 2nd Robert de Ferrers, whose daughter Matilda became the first wife of Bertram III de Verdun, resulting in some de Ferrers lands passing into the hands of the de Verdun family - see below.

Returning to the origins of the first Bertram de Verdun, another story relates that Bertram's forebear, called Norman de Verdun, arrived in Normandy in the suite of Rollo, first Duke of Normandy, but this is likely to be a mix-up with the 'Norman de Verdun' who was a grandson of Bertram I de Verdun. In addition, it would be odd for Rollo the Viking to arrive with another Norseman who bore such an un-Scandinavian name as 'de Verdun'.

A book by writer and historian, the late Beryl Platts 'Scottish Hazard, Volume Two: The Flemish Heritage' (1990) supports the story of descent from the Counts of Verdun-sur-Meuse, arguing rather persuasively that some leading Normans who settled in Scotland, like the de Brus family, were members of exiled or émigré noble families from Flanders who had become tenants of lands in Normandy before 1066. On pages 59-60, in a discussion about the feudal tenants in the Cotentin, she writes about the clues to be found in heraldry:

"The lordly names, all assumed to belong to Normans because Normandy is where they were in 1066, must have their antecedents probed. The task is not so formidable; they lived boldly, publicly, and left clues - in their use of names, their marital alliances, their heraldry. Ferrers bore the mascles of Quincy. The arms of Mandeville and Vere were those of Senlis. Hay used the shield upon shield of Wavrin. Haig adopted the saltire of Praet. Some men called their homes St. Vaast, Gavere, Verdun.".

Platts continues by mentioning the first Earls of Norfolk, from whom a branch of the de Verdun family held manors in Norfolk from the beginning of the 12th century:

"The first Bigod...was Robert 'le Bigot', grandfather of the girls who would marry the two Williams d'Aubigny. He was in the service of William de Warlaing, and perhaps acted as his second-in-command. William de Jumièges, who supplied that information, added that he was married to a sister of Thurstan Goz. Richard, Thurstan's son, was made vicomte of Avranches, perhaps (as with Cotentin and Bessin) at the instigation of the king of France. David C. Douglas, in his [book] William the Conqueror, has touched on the role of the Norman vicomtes, which was both military and judicial, without examining the pedigrees of the men who attained such office. The more their antecedents are studied, the plainer it becomes that they were non-Normans, almost certainly recruited by the new French dynasty from the remnants of a Carolingian system of government further east, to teach the raw and lawless Normans some of the traditional ways of civilised life. In the case of Richard le Goz, the appointment's implications would be softened for William of Normandy because Richard has married his half sister, Emma de Conteville. Thurstan's origins are not known, but if there was supporting evidence we might guess that his unlikely surname was a shortened version of Gozelo, a name common among displaced sons of the Count of Verdun. In fact, at least some supporting evidence is there. French genealogists give Richard de Surdeval, who lived near the comital centre at Mortain, a descent from Verdun, on the Meuse; and Bertram de Verdun's presence at a place in the Avranchin called, evocatively enough, Bouillon, speaks for itself".

The reference to the name 'Gozelo' (or 'Gothelo') arises as Duke Godfrey III was the son of Gozelo I, Duke of Lower and later Upper Lorraine and Count of Verdun, who died in 1044. Godfrey's eldest younger brother was Gozelo II. The relevance of 'Bouillon' is because Godfrey III's daughter Ida's second son was Godfrey of Bouillon, who gained everlasting fame in the First Crusade. He and his knights were the first to take the walls and enter Jerusalem and he was subsequently persuaded to become ruler of Jerusalem, having refused to be made its king. After his death, his younger brother Baldwin became the first crusader king of Jerusalem. 

However, Platts appears to have overlooked some key facts. Firstly, the name 'Bouillon' exists in different forms in a variety of places across Normandy. One etymology derives it from a description of a muddy quagmire from the old French 'bouillon' based on the Roman 'bullire' (to boil), suggestive of bubbling water and brooks. The topography of Bouillon near Avranches fits this well - it is where the River Thar crossed wetlands and a pond. Secondly, the place-name 'Verdun' also exists in different places within Normandy and elsewhere in France. Its etymology is often cited as likely to be Gaulish, from 'Ver(n)' (alder) and 'Dun' (a hill and/or fortification). Thirdly, Platts misses evidence of the ancestry of Thurstan Goz. William of Jumièges, writing contemporaneously in the reign of Duke William the Conqueror, recorded that the father of Thurstan Goz was 'Ansfrid the Dane', and this ancestry has been cited by authoritative historians ever since. If one was to accept Platt's suggestion or hypothesis that the name 'Goz' is an abbreviation of 'Gozelo' and that there was a link with the Counts of Verdun, then this would probably only have been possible through a marriage to a daughter of that family. But the epithet 'le goz' may have a Breton derivation. A noble Breton family existed in the 15th-16th centuries with the name 'Le Goez' or 'Le Goz', which is related and may equate to the Breton word 'gouez' which means 'savage' / 'fierce' / 'wild'. In this way it equates to the Anglo-Norman name 'Le Savage' / 'Savage'. If this derivation is correct, then it may tell us something of Thurstan's reputation, and perhaps also hint at a close connection with Brittany. 

What Platts writes above is of additional interest because the 1st Earl of Chester of the second creation, Hugh d'Avranches succeeded his father Richard le Goz as Vicomte of Avranches and the de Verdun family held lands in Normandy and England from Hugh and his successors, descendants of his sister who had married Ranulf (II) 'de Briquessart', Vicomte of the Bessin. Ranulf's father was Ranulf (I), son of Anschitel, a man with a distinctive Scandinavian name like that of the father of Thurstan Goz. This old connection between the Earls and the de Verduns continued to be maintained over many generations. The de Verduns were granted lands in north Staffordshire, which Hagger suggests may have been granted by William II, who he tells us made large grants from the royal demesne in that county to Earl Hugh of Chester. It may also be possible that some of the de Verdun lands in Staffordshire were carved out from the Earl of Chester's lands. Whatever the answer, it was in North Staffordshire that the de Verduns built Alton Castle, which became the focus of their power and their Barony. But they also gained lands in many other counties, particularly Leicestershire and Warwickshire and in Ireland, and branches of the family became established across the country, including the de Verdun family of Norfolk who established another de Verdun Barony there. 

Even if Platts' unproven hypothesis is indicative of the family's origin, the question would still remain what it was that brought the first of the de Verdun family to Normandy. If the story of their origin from Verdun-sur-Meuse was considered at all possible, one potential connection could have been through 'Richard of Verdun', Abbot of the Abbey of Saint-Vanne from 1004-1046. Véronique Gazeau mentions this in Volume 1 of her 'Normannia Monastica' (page 238), writing:

Richard de Saint-Vanne serait venu en Normandie sous le principat de Robert le Magnifique, aux dires d'Hugues de Flavigny..... 

Translation: According to the words of Hugh of Flavigny, Richard of St. Vanne would have come into Normandy in the reign of Robert the Magnificent....

The footnote (446) to this comment provides a little more information, as follows:

HUGUES DE FLAVIGNY, Chronicon Hugonis monachi Virdunensis et Divionensis, abbatis Flaviniacensis, PERTZ (éd.), dans MGH, Scriptores, t. VIII, 1848, c.28 : «Hac crescente discordia, comitatum pater Richardus adire compellitur...». Il aurait accompagné l'archidiacre Ermenfroid pour mettre un terme à des discordes dont le détail est inconnu. Serait-ce à cette occasion que Richard de Saint-Vanne a enseigné les coutumes de Verdun à Thierry de Mathonville alors moine à Jumièges?

Translation: Hugh of Flavigny: The Chronicle of Hugh, Monk of Verdun and Dijon, Abbot of Flavigny... [cont.] "Thus, the growing discord in the County [i.e. Normandy], forced Father Richard to go... ". He would have accompanied the Archdeacon Ermenfroid to put an end to disord, details of which are unknown. Could it be on this occasion that Richard of Saint-Vanne taught the customs of Verdun to Thierry Mathonville, then a Monk at Jumièges?    

The highly respected English historian David C. Douglas in his masterful book 'William the Conqueror' (1964) also mentions Richard, abbot of Saint-Vanne of Verdun and tells us that he had close connexions with the Norman Ducal court in the latter years of Duke Richard II, and during the reign of Duke Robert I, father of William the Conqueror. Duke Richard II had funded the great pilgrimage of 1026 from France to Constantinople, led by Richard of Saint-Vanne. Douglas goes on to cite the important and influential role Richard of Saint-Vanne played in his efforts to bring about the 'Truce of God' during the public disorder and private warfare that endangered Normandy during Duke William's boyhood. Douglas described the Truce of God as an interesting juridicial development that used episcopal sanction as a means to prohibit private warfare; having first been used in central and southern France, it was to have important consequences thereafter. Thus, Richard of Abbaye Saint-Vanne de Verdun was a connecting and influential link between Normandy and Verdun-sur-Meuse when its lands and its Counts were going through a period of change and challenge in the 1040s from the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III. Richard's attempts failed in the 1030s but the Truce of God was finally accepted and imposed in 1047, after a particularly serious revolt. 

In 1046 some powerful magnates in Normandy, including a group of western vicomtes launched a revolt that began with an attempt on the life of Duke William who escaped through the night in a ride that became legendary. He made his way to his feudal overlord Henry I of France who responded by taking an army into Normandy to support William's otherwise outnumbered forces. William and Henry were victorious in the ensuing battle of Val-ès-Dunes and the Truce of God followed. Clearly this put Henry in an influential position and by his actions he demonstrated that he was willing to act to prevent instability that threatened to spill over into neighbouring parts of France, where some of his own lands were located. In view of the western vicomtes having revolted, perhaps there may have been a move to plant reliable men in the lands of rebels that may have been forfeit. This may have been another cause of the arrival of a de Verdun in the region of the Avranchin, if they hadn't already been settled there; but the close connection between the Viscounts of Avranches and the de Verduns might perhaps discourage this hypothesis, although the two families may have been related - if Platts' hypotheses are correct. The rebellious magnates included Nigel I, Vicomte of the Cotentin (the peninsular above Avranches) and Ranulf de Briquessart, Vicomte of the Bessin (the area of the old diocese of Bayeux), who had married Margaret daughter of Richard le Goz Vicomte of Avranches. Richard le Goz's father Thurstan Goz, mentioned above, had revolted against Duke William himself when Vicomte of Exmes, and King Henry of France had to intervene that time too.

Briefly returning to the challenges facing the Count de Verdun-sur-Meuse in the 1040s, this connects with Platts' mention of the 'displaced sons of the Count of Verdun', and with what David Douglas writes in his 'William the Conqueror' (page 78) when he is discussing Duke William's marriage to Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders whose lands adjoined those of Lower Lorraine:

Baldwin was already engaged in turning Flemish policy in the direction of France and away from the empire. His own marriage to Adela the daughter of the French king had been of great moment to him, and it was to be the corner-stone of Franco-Flemish relations for the ensuing forty years. Moreover, in 1049, his affairs were approaching crisis, for in that year both he and his ally, Duke Godfrey of Upper Lorraine, were being hard pressed by Emperor Henry III, and the repercussions of this struggle were felt even in England, where Edward the Confessor collected a fleet to serve if necessary against the count of Flanders.  

In 1044, the Emperor had allowed Godfrey to succeed his father Gothelo I as Duke of Upper Lorraine, but refused him Lower Lorraine, which included Verdun-sur-Meuse, despite him being its Count as his father's heir. Ironically, he was only to become Duke of Lower Lorraine after having lost Upper Lorraine. This conflict between the Emperor and his allies on one side and Godfrey III and Baldwin V on the other lasted through the 1040s into the 1050s. Emperor Henry died in 1056 and Godfrey, on the eve of Christmas in 1069, after having returned from his Tuscan exile earlier that year. He then finally became Duke of Lower Lorraine, setting up his court there at Bouillon whose impressive castle is strategically perched above the River Semois, in the Luxembourg province of modern-day Belgium. The subsequent exile of Duke Godfrey III from his father's lands would certainly have been likely to result in members of his family seeking opportunity elsewhere. If the claim of the de Verdun family's origins in Lorraine are correct, perhaps one could imagine Bertram I de Verdun arriving as an exile in the 1040s or 1050s as a member of the retinue of Matilda of Flanders, when she married Duke William of Normandy.

Some have postulated a connection between Bertram I de Verdun and a Roger de Verdun, who is cited (without any sources referenced) as having been governor of the Château of Ambriences in Normandy and son of Godfrey I, Count of Verdun-sur-Meuse, which would make him a great uncle of Bertram I de Verdun. This Roger de Verdun is said to have had a son Robert 'Grandbois' whose descendants had the surname 'd'Estouteville'. Robert is said to have been another of the companions of William the Conqueror. A detailed and excellently presented genealogy of the d'Estouteville family compiled by Etienne Pattou can be seen via this link: Famille d'Estouteville. He writes there that in relation to Robert 'Grandbois': "Est dit - par certaines sources - fils de Roger de Verdun Gouverneur du château d'Ambriences". He doesn't say any more about these sources, but one can find many pages on the internet that present this as being the case, sadly without any mention of sources. In the same way, one also finds mention of an earlier Bertram de Verdun who is said to have been another of the sons of Godfrey I, which would make him a brother to the Roger de Verdun of Ambriences. Having conferred with Etienne Pattou, who kindly shared some of the sources of the claim of an Estouteville-de Verdun connection, it is clear that Roger de Verdun remains a mystery, as does the original source of the link mentioned between the two families., and the claimed earlier Bertram de Verdun son of Godfrey I. Perhaps some new data will emerge one day. However, as it happens two members of the Estouteville and de Verdun families came together at the end of the 100 Years' War to take a leading part in the famous defence of Mont Saint-Michel, which is detailed further on in this history.

There is one other family in Normandy who are also said to be members of 'the House of Verdun', which is implied to be the family of the Counts of Verdun-sur-Meuse - their name was 'de Sourdeval', also found written as 'de Surdeval'. They took this surname from the fief they held of that name, located near Mortain, and also Barenton where an important branch of the de Verdun family once resided. One of the de Sourdeval family was recorded as being another of the companions of William the Conqueror and came to England in the contingent of their feudal lord, Robert, Count of Mortain, William the Conqueror's half-brother, and full brother to Odo Bishop of Bayeux. Their mother Herleva had been married to one of Duke Robert's favourites Herluin, who became Count of Conteville after William's birth. The three had a close relationship and William made Robert Count of Mortain c.1049, in place of the exiled William Warlenc and appointed Odo to the Bishopric of Bayeux in 1049. They were both to play an important role in the conquest of England. 

Like the de Verduns, the de Sourdevals also appear in 'The Battle Abbey Roll', where the author writes:

The Seigneurs de Sourdeval were, according to M. de Gerville, a branch of the House of Verdun, and took the name of Le Moigne in Normandy. 

Note: 'M. de Gerville' is 'Charles-Alexis-Adrien Duhérissier de Gerville', a well known antiquarian, archaeologist and historian, who came from Gerville-la-Forêt in the Manche district of Lower Normandy. He wrote many books on the area including Les Abbayes et les anciens châteaux de la Manche (1825) and Études géographiques et historiques sur le département de la Manche (1854).

This source of this reference to de Gerville's view on the origins of the de Sourdevals is revealed in Volume III of the Société de l'histoire de France's 1845 publication of Orderici Vitalis's Histoiriæ Ecclesiasticæ (note 3, page 488): 

(3) Sourdeval, département de la Manche, arrondissement de Mortain. Notre savant ami, M. de Gerville, pense que ce personnage, et les anciens seigneurs de Sourdeval en général, provenaient d'une branche cadette de la maison de Verdun. Voyez les Anciens châteaux de la Manche, III, p. 115.

It is important to note that M. de Gerville may not have intended the phrase 'House of Verdun' to refer to Verdun-sur-Meuse, but simply the de Verdun family of Normandy. The coat of arms of the de Sourdeval family was d'or fretté de sable au franc-canton du second (ref: Armorial Universel by Jouffroy d'Eschanvannes). The de Sourdevals' arms are very similar to their de Verdun kinsmen in Normandy who bear d'or fretté de sable. This is the same design used by the de Verduns of England, whose arms had one colour difference: d'or fretté de gueules. All of these varieties of coats of arms can seen on the de Verdun family tree, a link to which is provided below.

Interestingly, similar heraldry is found in the area of Lorraine, for example the arms of Neuville-Vitasse in the Flanders-Lower Lorraine border region are those of the family of 'de Neuville' and are precisely the same arms as those of the de Verduns of England (Or fretty gules). Neuville-Vitasse is in Artois, a French province that includes some of the old lands of Lower Lorraine and Flanders but could also be said to equate to much of the Comté of Boulogne. Varieties of arms of different members of the 'Neuville' family appear in the Armorial Wijnbergan of Artois, mostly differenced by designs of cantons on a shield 'Or fretty gules'. In England, this may explain the arms of the Noel family, Earls of Gainsborough (Or, fretty gules, with a canton ermine) as the Neuville family appear in the aforementioned armorial from Artois as 'Neuile'. The Armorial Wijnbergan also displays the arms of Garnier de Hamelincourt, which were or fretty gules - the same as the de Verduns of England. The 'Lameth' family of Artois also bear the same arms, but with a gold canton featuring a blue star, and again the same 'Or fretty gules' appears in the arms of the commune of d'Acheville follow the same design, differenced by a canton 'gules' (red) with a bend 'Or' (gold).

There is another interesting source of information that has suggested a link between Verdun-sur-Meuse and the de Verdun family, and its author is Dom. Antoine Augustin Calmet, a Benedictine priest from Lorraine. According to Dom Calmet the coat of arms of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse was d'or fretté de sable. These are the same arms as those of the Comtes de Verdun of Normandy, as detailed below, and their cousins in England who are said to descend from the House of Verdun have worn the same design, with one difference - d'or fretté de gueules. However, this was a mix-up by Calmet (a mix-up also possibly followed by M. de Gerville - see above), which is corrected by Constant Lapaix in his 'Armorial des Villes, Bourgs et Villages de la Lorraine' - on page 265 (2nd edition) he gives the arms of the city of Verdun as D'azur, à une fleur de lis d'or, surmontée d'une couronne royale de même. Below this he writes:

    Les anciennes armoires de Verdun étaient : D'or, à l'aigle de sable à deux têtes, couronnée, bequée et membrée de geules; c'était l'émblème des villes impériales.

Suivant Dom Calmet, l'écusson de Verdun était d'or fretté de sable. C'est une erreur que le savant bénédictin, ou plutôt son dessinateur, a commise en attribuant à l'ancienne capitale des Verodunenses, le blason d'une famille noble du nom de Verdun originaire de Normandie (1).

(1) v. Note sur un blason attribué à tort à la ville de Verdun, par M. A. Benoit. (Journ. d'Arch. lorr., 1875. - M. Abel, membre de l'Académie de Metz, prétend que Dom Calmet a fait reproduire les armes des seigneurs allemands de Daun, sur la Lieser, lesquels portaient également : d'or fretté de sable.

All of the arms described above can be seen beautifully illustrated, courtesy of Arnaud Bisval's website, which can be found via this link: Armes de Verdun. I extend my appreciation and thanks to M. Bisval for his kindness in sharing the source of this information on Calmet's claims about the heraldry of Verdun, within Lapaix's book.

Calmet's error would seem to disprove a connection between the Counts of Verdun-sur-Meuse and the family of the Counts de Verdun of Normandy, unless Calmet had other information he didn't share that indicated a relationship, and which led him to link the de Verdun family of Normandy's heraldry to that of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse. However, it appears to be far more likely that he simply presumed there was a connection, and he, M. de Gerville and others have helped perpetuate an enduring story which claimed that Bertram I de Verdun who came to England as one of the companions of William the Conqueror was a son of Godfrey III Duke of Lower Lorraine and Count of Verdun-sur-Meuse, and a brother to Ida of Lorraine whose husband Eustace II's first wife Goda had held the manor of Farnham Royal.

This story of the de Verdun family's descent from the House of Verdun in Lorraine has merit and a certain logic, particularly in view of the shared family history and heraldry with the de Sourdevals, who lived in the same area of Normandy as the de Verduns; but only if M. de Gerville intended his reference to 'the House of Verdun' to mean the dynasty from Verdun-sur-Meuse, a link that remains entirely unproven; and hadn't also made a big assumption based on a mixed-up reading of heraldry and the etymology of the origin of the family's toponym 'de Verdun'. This suggested origin of the de Verduns might be an answer to the question debated by Hagger in his book (page 225 - 'Family Identities 1066-1316') as to why the family continued to maintain the name 'de Verdun', even passing it on through the female line, when their possessions in England became far more extensive than their smaller fief of 'Verdun' in Normandy: that fief may not have been the origin of their name, but a signpost to a more historically important home of Verdun-sur-Meuse. This would certainly have been a family history worth preserving in their surname; but precisely the same argument can be made for the alternative tradition of the family's Norman origin, in which they took their toponym 'de Verdun' from their historic fief in the Avranchin.

The fact remains that all of this Lorraine connection remains a completely unproven hypothesis with no contemporary historical source to confirm it. More research into medieval records in Normandy may enlighten us more over time, but to date this is uncovering more extensive knowledge of members of the de Verdun family and their lands there, which at this point in time is strongly indicating and even confirming that the family's origins had no connection with Verdun-sur-Meuse. More recent research provides evidence that reinforces and supports the view that the correct story is the other tradition within the family — that they were Normans who took their toponym from one of their fiefs in Normandy, almost certainly 'Verdun' in the parish of Saint-Martin-des-Champs, which is located a short distance south of Avranches. Travelling south west from the village church along the D247 road for less than a kilometre one finds on the left-hand side a short cul-de-sac called 'Rue de la Baia', at the top of which is a signpost pointing to the place marked on it: 'VERDUN', named after the original fief of this name, which was an extended settlement and estate, rather than a single property.

Whose retinue Bertram I de Verdun arrived with in England is not clear. He is most likely to have arrived with forces from the Avranchin where he held his lands to which his feudal military obligations would have been attached; perhaps under the command of Hugh of Avranches - 'Hugh Lupus', later Earl of Chester, son of the Vicomte of the Avranchin Richard le Goz. The de Verduns' early history is closely linked to the hereditary Vicomtes d'Avranches. Or perhaps like the de Sourdevals, Bertram came with the men of the Count de Mortain.

An introductory account and brief overview of Bertram's family taken from 'The Battle Abbey Roll' is copied in the full transcript below.

The de Verduns of Normandy & England in 

'The Battle Abbey Roll'

The book called 'The Battle Abbey Roll, with some account of the Norman Lineages' features Norman families of England who came over with William the Conqueror. The chapter transcribed below (p 221-224) mainly focuses on the senior line who descend from Bertram I de Verdun. Although it has a number of errors and many more omissions, it otherwise provides a helpful introduction to the de Verdun family. A few notes that have been added for correction or addition, appear in blue.


       Verdoune : an illustrious name still represented in Normandy. La Roque and La Chesnaye-du-Bois both maintain that it had its origin in the county of Mortaine, where one of its branches was of long continuance; yet it is incontestable that in the twelfth century there was a fief of Verdun in the arrondissement of Avranches; and, according to M. de Gerville, the cradle of the family was Barenton, in that neighbourhood. 

       Bertram de Verdon, the founder of the great English house, in 1086 held Farnham Royal, in Buckinghamshire, by the grand serjeantry of providing a glove for the King's right hand on the day of his coronation, and supporting his right arm during the said service, so long as he bore the royal sceptre. In 1095, he attests a charter of William Rufus to St. Mary's Abbey, York, and served as Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1100.

1 It seems more likely that this holding of Farnham Royal by 'Grand Sergeanty' was a change that dated from the time of Bertram III de Verdun, when Hagger tells us that the hundred rolls state that Farnham Royal manor was 'in the hand of the lord King Henry, father of King John. And the same Henry gave the manor to Bertram de Verdun for his service' - source: Rotuli Hundredorum in Turri Londinensi, Record Commission (London, 1812, 1818), 1, p. 46. Hagger suggests that perhaps the manor had at some point been lost by the de Verduns, or the hundred rolls were simply recording the creation of the sergeanty as the new basis upon which Bertram held Farnham Royal, which from 1086 had otherwise been recorded as held directly from the King. If this sergeanty was created in the reign of Henry II then it is likely that the first time a de Verdun performed such a service was at the coronation of King Richard I at Westminster Abbey on 3rd September 1189. Records confirm that the service continued to be performed by his heirs and successors into the 19th century, or at times by someone who stood in for them.

       His son Norman followed him about 1130 and married Lescelina, the daughter of the famous Justiciar, Geoffrey de Clinton, who had great possessions in Leicestershire, and brought him Brandon in Warwickshire, where he built a castle. Alton, in North Staffordshire, was, however, his principal seat and the head of his barony.

ABOVE: the effigy of Geoffrey de Clinton erected by one of his descendants in memory of Geoffrey, his brother Osbert of Coleshill and their descendants It is to be found inside the Shrine Church of 'Our Lady of Walsingham' in Norfolk. Geoffrey was the founder of Kenilworth Castle and Priory, and well-known as Chancellor of England to Henry I. The effigy shows a model of Kenilworth Priory. He is recorded as having been the foremost of the men Henry I rose 'from the dust', and his family is said to have come from Saint-Pierre-de-Semilly, western Normandy, approximately 20km south west of Bayeux.

       The next in succession, Bertram II 2, played a considerable part in the history of his time. "His political career I date," says Eyton, "from the year 1166, when he appears in King Henry's court at Caen. On 3rd February, 1170, the King being over sea, the Constable of Normandy, Richard de Humez, and Bertram de Verdon were at Stamford (Lincolnshire). Bertram, be it known, held estates in Lincolnshire, both under the Crown and under the aforesaid Constable. What is more remarkable is that at this very juncture De Humez was Sheriff of Rutland, while at the ensuing Easter (April 5, 1170) the King, in Council at Windsor, instituted that enquiry into the conduct of the English Sheriffs which resulted in the ejectment of William Basset from the Shrievalty of Warwickshire and Leicestershire, and the substitution of Bertram de Verdon.  

2 Hagger and others have concluded that the timeframe from Bertram I in the 1060s-80s to Norman de Verdun's succession by 1129/30 was too great for his father to have been Bertram I and so have suggested that Norman's father was another with the same name - 'Bertram II', son of Bertram I, which would therefore make Norman's son 'Bertram III'. Although this view may appear entirely logical, it is predicated on the evidence of a Bertram de Verdun found witnessing a Normandy charter that was said to have been issued by Ranulf I Earl of Chester, and dated '1124X29'. However, the estimated date of this charter has now been found to be wrong. It was in fact issued by Ranulf II, who was Earl of Chester from 1129-1153, in other words after the time Norman de Verdun had inherited his father's lands. This means that the 2nd Bertram who witnessed the charter was most likely a brother to Norman de Verdun, and the same Bertram who is found witnessing other charters in England during Norman's life. This all makes it more likely that Bertram de Verdun who is found as Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1100 was 'Bertram I' the Domesday Tenant-in-Chief and Lord of Farnham Royal; and that this Bertram I was father of both the second of this name - 'Bertram II', and Norman de Verdun. If so, then Norman's heir was a 3rd Bertram, who I will refer to in the same manner as Hagger, i.e. 'Bertram III' de Verdun. However, there may still remain the possibility that Norman's father was a son of Bertram I, rather than Bertram I himself, but if this may be the case then this son's name needs clarifying. Ivo de Verdun of Norfolk who held six knights fees of Roger Bigod c.1100-1107 would seem to be of a generation that would fit with him being either Bertram I's son, as tradition has recorded, or his younger brother. Ivo could therefore have been a brother, an uncle or a great uncle of Norman de Verdun. Despite these possibilities, Bertram I remains the accepted father of Norman, in line with long-held tradition, until such time as another candidate may be identified and proven, with unquestionable evidence, to be Bertram I's son and Norman's father. There are precedents for men to marry and have heirs later in life - William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke was one such man, so it is more than possible for Bertram I to have fought at Hastings as a young man, entered royal service, become Sheriff of Yorkshire by 1100 and fathered a son - Norman - later in his career, who became his heir sometime by 1124-1130. This conclusion would provide a very simple answer as to why no other candidate as father to Norman has yet been found in any record - perhaps a hint of 'Occam's Razor' at play, until proven otherwise.

       "Meanwhile in the rebellion of 1173, Bertram de Verdon was one of those Barons whom Benedictus signalizes as having stood by the elder King. For twelve succeeding years he variously occurs as a Sheriff, as an assessor in the Curiae Regis, as a witness of royal charters in England and Normandy; and on one occasion as King Henry's ambassador to Spain. His relinquishment of the Shrievalty of Warwickshire and Leicestershire, in 1185, was not for any cause of disgrace. At this very juncture he was attending Prince John in his notable mission to Ireland; and while Hugh de Lacy figures as Constable (of Ireland) during John's vice-royalty, so has Bertram de Verdon the title of Seneschal when attesting one of the Prince's charters.

       "On June 14, 1188, William de Humez, then Constable of Normandy, and Bertram de Verdon, were assessors of the King in a Curia sitting at Geddington. Bertram de Verdon, accompanying King Richard in the crusade of 1190, died at Jaffa in 1192, and was buried at Acre." This city had been, after its capture, committed to his charge by Coeur de Lion. 

       His two sons3 were the last heirs-male of his house. The elder, Thomas, married to Eustachia Basset, had no children; and the second, Nicholas, left only one daughter, Roese, who in 1223, at the urgent recommendation of Henry III., married Theobald Le Botiller of Ireland. "Being so great an Heir, tho' she matched with a Husband of a very Honourable Family, she did not bear his sirname, but retained her own, and so did her Posterity."—Dugdale. She was early left a widow, for in 1231 she paid the customary heavy fine not to be compelled to marry again, and later in life founded the Cistercian Abbey of Grace-Dieu on one of her Leicestershire manors.4 

3  Bertram had many more than two sons

4  Grace Dieu was an Augustinian Priory; her grandfather Bertram III founded the Cistercian Abbey of Croxden.

ABOVE: Roesia de Verdun's effigy and elaborate tomb inside St. John the Baptist Church in Belton, Leicestershire, near to Grace-Dieu Priory. Roesia had founded the Priory sometime between 1235 and 1241. She endowed it with the manor and advowson of Belton and three parts of a knight's fee from the manor of Kirkby-la-Thorpe in Lincolnshire. The nuns called themselves 'The White Nuns of St. Augustine' and Grace-Dieu is believed to have been the only house of their order in England. Thankfully, Roesia's tomb was saved when Grace-Dieu was dissolved in 1538 during Henry VIII's break-up of England's monastic heritage, and moved to Belton Church. On one side of her head is a shield featuring the de Verdun coat of arms, and to the right, appropriately, there is a rose.

       John, the eldest of her four sons,5 in whom the name of Verdon was resuscitated with added splendour, married another great heiress, Margery de Lacy, the last-born of the two sisters that shared the princely possessions of their grandfather, Walter, Lord Palatine of Meath. She brought him the castle and honour of Weobley in Herefordshire, as well as a moiety of Ewyas-Lacy; and with them, the harassing duties and responsibilities of a Lord-Marcher. Accordingly, in 1249, he was ordered by the King to take up his residence on the borders, and check the inroads of the Welsh. He was slain in Ireland in 1278, and was succeeded by Theobald, the first Baron Verdon, who was summoned to parliament in 1295. He had been Constable of Ireland in 1274, and in 1290 was arraigned for high treason, and sentenced to be imprisoned, and to forfeit all his royalties at Ewyas-Lacy; but the King, taking into consideration the good service done by his ancestors, "freed him of his imprisonment for five hundred marks fine." After this, he was again in favour at Court, received several writs of summons to the Northern wars, and sat in the Parliament at Lincoln that asserted Edward's supremacy as "Lord of the whole Realm of Scotland."

5  He was her only son.

ABOVE: the arms of de Verdun family that feature within a heraldic window inside Arundel Castle; it records the marriage alliances of the FitzAlan's, including that of Roesia de Verdun's daughter Maud to John Fitzalan de jure 6th Earl of Arundel and feudal lord of Clun & Oswestry and ancestor of the current Duke of Norfolk. - special permission was very kindly given for this picture to be taken.

       Theobald II., his only surviving son—John, the eldest, had died in Ireland during his lifetime—was the second and last Lord Verdon, and Justiciar of Ireland in 1312.6  He was twice married; first, to Maud, daughter of Edmund Lord Mortimer of Wigmore, by whom he had two sons that died young, and three daughters; and secondly, to one of the co-heirs of the great Honour of Clare, Elizabeth, third daughter of Gilbert Earl of Gloucester by Joan of Acres, daughter of Edward I., and widow of John de Burgh, Earl of Ulster. This last marriage took place in 1315, and he died the year following at Alton Castle, in the thirty-fourth year of his age, leaving his wife, in Scriptural language, "great with child." The child proved a fourth daughter, and thus, for the second time, the name perished in the elder line, and the great fief of Verdon was split up among co-heiresses. Joan, who, as the eldest of these richly-dowered sisters, had the ancestral seat, Alton Castle, and the Staffordshire honour, married Lord Furnival, and died in childbed in 1334. Elizabeth, the second, had the castle and fief of Ewyas-Lacy in Herefordshire, with Stoke-upon-Terne in Shropshire, and married Bartholomew de Burghersh. Margery, the third, had another great Herefordshire estate, the honour and castle of Weobley, with Heath in Oxfordshire, and was three times married: first to William le Blund; secondly to Marcus Husee; and thirdly to John Crophull. The posthumous Isabel—to all appearance the most slenderly portioned of the four—had certain manors in Shropshire and Staffordshire, and was the wife of Lord Ferrers of Groby.

6  Theobald I de Verdon had many other sons, all survivors of whom he mentioned in his Will.

       Besides this principal line, and several minor ones alluded to by Burke—the Verdons of Draycot, Warwickshire, and Ibstock, Leicestershire; the Verdons of Darlaston and Biddulph, in Staffordshire; and the Verdons of Denston, in the same county—one, if not two more baronial houses sprung from the original stock. The first of these – wholly unnoticed by Dugdale – was seated at Brisingham in Norfolk, where William de Verdon, about the year 1100, was efoeffed of six knight’s fees by Roger, the father of Hugh Bigod. His descendant John, in 1285, claimed view of frank-pledge, assize of bread, and ale, infangthef, gallows, and free-warren in all his lands and manors in Norfolk, which had been granted to his father by Henry III. : and another Sir John was a baron of the realm in 1332. “He seems to have been a person of great hospitality, from the inventory of the establishment he left at Brisingham, to treat his tenants &c. whenever he should go there to reside.” – Banks. This Sir John, with his brother Sir Thomas, figured as tilters at the great tournament held in 1308 at Stepney, and again five years later at Dunstable. Instead of the Verdon fret, they wore Sable ove un Lyon Rampant Argent, the younger brother adding a chess-rook for a difference. Each of Sir John’s two sons had a son who left no issue : and the inheritance fell between two granddaughters, one of whom was Lady of Shelfhanger in right of her mother, Isabel Vis de Leu. 

       The other house always hitherto assigned to the stock of Verdon is one of the most famous of our baronage – that of Audley. “That the first,” says Dugdale, “who assumed this surname was a branch of that ancient and noble family of Verdon, whose chief seat was at Alton Castle, in the northern part of Staffordshire, I am very inclined to believe;7 partly by reason that Henry had the inheritance of Aldithley given to him by Nicholas de Verdon, who died in the sixteenth of Henry III., or near that time; and partly for that he bore for his arms the same ordinary that Verdon did, viz. fretté ; but distinguished with a large canton in the dexter part of the shield, and thereon a cross paté.” This origin is now denied,* notwithstanding the similarity of the coats of arms, this left unexplained;8 and it is at least clear, that Aldithley was not the grant of Nicholas de Verdon.9 “Aldithley (Audley) Baltredelez (half Balterby) and Talc (Talke in Audley) all held in 1086 by the Thane, Gamel, seem to have come, early in the reign of Henry I., into the hands of the first Adam de Audley, who divided them between his sons, Lydulph and Adam.10 In 1130, ‘Liulf de Audley’ lay under a heavy penalty for the murder of Gamel.” – Eyton. Adam II. was apparently the father of Henry de Audley, “the great territorial acquisitionist of the district,” who built the castle of Heighly, and is represented by Dugdale as the first who assumed the name.11

       I do not therefore feel justified in including the Audleys in this notice, and must reluctantly forbear to give an account of one of my favourite heroes, the Sir James Audley who fought “as long as his breath served him, in the chief of the battle” at Poictiers.12 He had vowed that whenever the King or one of his sons should be present on the field, he “would be one of the first setters-on, or else die in the pain,” and so well did he keep his word, that he was praised and rewarded by the Black Prince, as the “best doer in arms” that day. The names of his four squires, to whom he instantly transferred the prince’s bounty, declaring “That honour I have, is by their valiantness,” though not given by Froissart, have been preserved in Cheshire tradition. They were Sir Robert Fouleshurst, Sir Thomas Dutton (Sheriff of the county), Sir John Delves, and Sir John Hawkestone. All of them, bore the Audley fret on some part of their coat of arms. 

       * “There are few noble families whose early history has suffered worse at the hands of genealogists than the family of Audley. Dugdale’s Baronage, a splendid work, but from its very nature occasionally inaccurate, has been followed with such servility that his errors, by constant repetition, have almost acquired the sacredness of truth.” – Castles of Herefordshire and their Lords, by C. J. Robinson.13 

7  Dugdale was very mistaken on this point. The Audleys were not of the same stock as the de Verduns, but via marriages became cousins of the de Verduns of Darlaston - as is covered below.

8  It was not uncommon for tenants to adopt arms that were similar to those of the lords they held their land from. The arms described are those of another of the de Verduns' tenants, the 'de Draycote' family and can be seen on an old tomb inside St Margaret Draycott-le-Moors in Staffordshire: Or, fretty gules, on a canton argent a cross patonce azure. It may be that like the de Wrottesleys and de Ipstones, the de Draycotes were another branch of the de Verdun family who changed their toponym to the principal property they held in Staffordshire. The de Audley arms were 'Gules, Fretty Or', although there is a record of a seal (British Library, Cotton Charter XI, 38), of Henry de Audithelega of Chorsbury in Weston, Shropshire c.1233, which is (without colours) fretty, on a canton a cross pattée. 

9  It was an earlier grant by one of Nicholas de Verdun's forebears.

10  This may also be an error - Liulf of Aldithley had a son and heir called Adam, but it is not clear he had a brother or father with that name.

11  Liulf appears in the Pipe Roll of 1129/30 as a tenant of the de Verduns.

12  The mis-spelling of 'Poitier' here was a printing error in the original book.

13  This error about the Audleys is covered in notes above, which confirm that the Audley family held land of the de Verduns in England and Ireland. Details below about the de Verduns of Darlaston explain how the Audleys were related to that branch of the de Verdun family through marriage. Members of both families appear in records alongside each other in many old charters etc.


As mentioned in the text above, John de Verdun, son of Roesia de Verdun (sometimes also written as: Roese or Rohese), married Margery de Lacy. Amongst the de Lacy property that came to the de Verduns by this marriage was a moiety of Ludlow, where the de Lacys had built the first castle, within what had been part of the parish of Stoke Lacy. It is for this reason that the de Verdun coat of arms appears in one of the windows in the magnificent St. Laurence's Church in Ludlow. This window, along with others, has been painstakingly cleaned over the past year (2014) as part of a wonderful project of restoration and improvement of this magnificent and historic church. St. Laurence's is the largest parish church in Shropshire and its character and scale means that it seems much more like an old abbey church. A collection of beautiful photographs of the stained glass windows at St. Laurence's can be seen here (click) - they were taken by Shaun Ward, who was Director of Music and Clerk of Works and Vision Project Co-ordinator supervising the conservation of the fabric of St Laurence’s and its development for the future.

ABOVE: the arms of the de Verdun family, within a window on the north wall of St. Laurence's, Ludlow.

ABOVE - the same shield is shown within the context of the larger, beautiful window that it forms a part of.

A chart showing an incomplete family tree for the de Verdun family can be seen by clicking here (please note that it is a working draft, likely to contain mistakes and will continue to be edited as new information becomes available):

de Verdon family tree

Croxden Abbey, Staffordshire 

founded by Bertram III de Verdun

A short and attractive account of the foundation of Bertram's abbey, which was to become the burial place of many of the family is provided in 'Historic Staffordshire' by Robert K. Dent and Joseph Hill, published in 1896.

The following extract begins on page 105:

Croxden Abbey and its founder

With its five abbeys, ten priories or cells, and four nunneries, besides its venerable cathedral and six collegiate churches, Staffordshire was, in former times, bountifully endowed with monuments of the religious fervour of its Saxon and Norman nobles. Among the ruined abbeys of the county there exists no better preserved relic of early architecture than the great doorway of the Cistercian Abbey of Croxden. The reason for this is not far to seek. Within about a mile of its walls is the quarry of Hollington, yet famous for the durability of its stone; and although this, the principal entrance, is apparently of later date than the foundation of the Abbey, the perfect preservation of stonework so ancient can scarcely be equalled.

The Abbey stands between the Churnet and the Blyth, near to a streamlet called the Peake, two miles distant from the old castle of the Verduns at Alveton, or Alton, and about three miles from Rocester, where an Abbey of Black Monks had already existed from 1146. An old doggerel rhyme, not of early date, this records the founding of Croxden Abbey:

“Bertram, son of the Norman Verdun,

Founded the ancient Abbey of Croxden,

When Henry the Second was England’s King

He did perform this very great thing;

In the year one thousand one hundred and seventy-six

Upon this great work his mind he did fix;

He dedicated it unto Sainte Mary,

Of the order of Bernardine monks to be.

One hundred pounds six shillings and sevenpence

In lands he gave for its defence,

Besides many other great gifts given

By persons devout for to gain heaven.”


‘Bernardine’ is another name for the Cistercians (the White monks), who were a reformed order of Benedictine or Black monks . The account continues to tell the story of Croxden until its demise along with so many other architectural, cultural and religious treasures during the destructive dissolution of the monasteries imposed by Henry VIII.

The abbey was another example of the continuing close connection between Bertram and Richard de Humez, Constable of Normandy, in whose household he was brought up. Croxden was a 'daughter house' of the Cistercian abbey of Aunay-sur-Odon, which, according to Robert de Torigny, Richard built and later retired to.

Arcisse de Caumont in his third volume of 'Statistique monumentale du Calvados' (page 236) adds to what Robert de Torigny tells us, clarifying the foundation of 'L'Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Aunay' (otherwise: 'Aulnay'):

L'abbaye d'Aulnay était une des filles de Savigny qui furent agrégées a l'ordre de Citeaux en 1147. L'époque de sa foundation, qui l'on fixe au 15 juillet 1131, s'infere dune charte de Henru 1er., roi d'Angleterre, qui confirme les donations faites à ce monastère.

Les premiers fondateurs, Jourdain de Say, près d'Argentan, et Luce, son épouse, donnèrent le terrain où s'éleva primitivement le monastère; leurs donations furent confirmées et considérablement augmentées par Richard du Hommet, connétable du roi d'Angleterre, qui transféra l'abbaye sur la rivière d'Odon, à mille pas du premier emplacement. 


The abbey of Aulnay was one of the daughters [i.e. daughter houses] of Savigny which were brought together into the Cistercian order in 1147. The era of its foundation, which is dated at 15th July 1131, is inferred in a charter of Henry I, King of England, which confirms his donations made to the monastery. The first founders, Jordan of Say, near Argentan, and Lucy, his wife, gave the land where the original monastery was erected; their donations were confirmed and significantly increased by Richard from Hommet [i.e. Richard de Humez], constable of the King of England, who moved the abbey to beside the Odon River, a thousand paces away from the first location.

There was a connection between Jourdain de Say and Richard du Hommett (otherwise 'de Humez'). Richard's wife was Agnès de Beaumont-le-Richard, daughter and co-heiress of Jourdain de Say. This resulted in them naming one of their sons Jourdain (Jordan in English records), who along with Bertram III de Verdun accompanied Richard I on the 3rd Crusade, serving as the king's Constable. 

Richard appears to have been the son of Robert and the daughter and heiress of Guillaume du Hommet. Professor Daniel Power, in a contribution to Professor David Bates' Anglo-Norman Studies XXXV: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 2012, provides more information about the ancestry of the du Hommet family. His article comprises pages 259-286 of Bates' publication and is titled: 'Aristocratic Acta in Normandy and England, c.1150 - c. 1250: The Charters and Letters of the du Hommet Constables of Normandy'. Power mentions in his article that it complements the edition of the Hommet charters which he was then engaged in preparing for a forthcoming publication of the Pipe Roll Society: 'The Charters of the Du Hommet family, Constables of Normandy and Lords of Stamford, ed. D. Power'. This publication will definitely include records of Bertram III de Verdun, and perhaps some of the other members of his family, in view of Bertram having been brought up by, and closely associated with Richard I de Hommet, and other members of his family also appearing in records alongside Richard's descendants.

Here is an extract from Power's article, from page 262:

The male line of the later Hommet dynasty emerged further east, in the diocese of Bayeux. Henry II's constable Richard I du Hommet was the son of Robert nepos Episcopi, who in 1133 owed knight-service to the bishop of Bayeux near the new Savignac abbey of Aunay-surOdon.17 The Saint-Fromond pancarte calls Robert the nepos of Bishop Odo of Bayeux: if so, he was a close relative of the ducal dynasty.18 As well as his Norman lands, Robert also held property in Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, and Sussex.19 On the basis of the Saint-Fromond pancarte it has been conjectured that Robert married the heiress of the first Hommet dynasty, for it calls his son Richard du Hommet the nepos et heres of the earlier William du Hommet.

The footnotes accompanying the text:

17  H. Navel, 'L-enquête de 1133 sur les fiefs de l'evêché de Bayeux, BSAN 42, 194, 5-80 at 20-21: Robert owed service for La Ferriere-Duval and Roucamps (both CA, cant. Aunay) and Crépigny (CA, cant. Condé-sur-Noireau, cne. St-Jean-le-Blanc), in the bishop's honour of Le Plessis-Grimoult. 

 18  D. Bates, 'Notes sur l'aristocratie normande', Annales de Normandie 23, 1973, 7-38 at 33-7; D. Power, 'Henry, Duke of the Normans (1149/50-1189)', ini Henry II: New Interpretations, ed. Harper-Bill and Vincent, 85-128 at 109-10. Our evidence is the St-Fromond pancarte. Robert's ather has sometimes been identified as Odo's son John (for whom, see Oderic, IV, 116; VI, 378), but John was still alive in 1131 (Regista, II, no. CCLII), whereas Robert's father appears dead by Mich. 1130, and probably c. 1115 (see next note). 

19  Easton-on-the-Hill (Northants): PR. 31 Henry I, ed. Green, 65; Rot. Ob. Fin., 1999-200 (cf. CRR, VI, 85-6); HKF, III, 281-2. These imply that Robert inherited Easton from his father; cf. Spalding, Spalding Gentlemen's Society (SGS), Crowland Cartulary, fol. 208r (Richard I du Hommet) confirms the gifts of his 'ancestors' to Crowland Abbey at Easton: reproduction kindly supplied by the SGS). Great Limber, Bonby, and Stallingborough (Lincs.): 'The Lindsey Survey', in Domesday People: A Prosopography of Persons Occuring in English Documents, 1066-1086. I. Domesday Book, ed. K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, Woodbridge 1999, 77-97 at 85 (held by Robert nepos Episcopi, c. 1115); The Registrum Antiquissimum of the Cathedral Church of Lincoln VI, ed. K. Major, Lincoln 1950, 181-6. Sussex: PR. 31 Henry I, ed. Green, 55, in Alrenhale Hundred, along the east bank of the Cuckmere river (The Place-Names of Sussex, ed. A. Mawer, 2 vols, Cambridge 1929, II, 408-14); too far east to be the fief that Richard I du Hommet later held of the honour of Arundel (RBE, I, 202), for which HKF, III, 81, suggests Storrington, without providing any evidence. 

Bertram's foundation charter for Croxden, dated 1178, includes words that state that Richard de Humez was Bertram's lord and the person who brought him up - 'dominum meum qui me nutrivit'. As mentioned above in relation to David Powers' anticipated publication for the Pipe Roll Society, a continuing link between Richard and Bertram's families appears to have passed into the next generations. The foundation charter gives a lot of helpful detail about the endowment Bertram gifted it. Much of the lands he granted the abbey were located close by and are tellingly described as 'territorio patrimonii mei' (land of my patrimony - i.e. what he had inherited from his father). 

The Abbey's foundation by, and endowment given to it by Bertram is succinctly and clearly described on page 226 in Volume III of 'A History of the County of Staffordshire', published in 1970 as part of the Victoria County History series:

In 1176 Bertram de Verdun, lord of Alton, a baron of the Exchequer and a royal justice, granted land at 'Chotes', probably Cotton near Alton, to the Cistercians of Aunay-sur-Odon in Normandy as the site for an abbey. [Note 1] The first abbot, an Englishman, was elected in 1178, but the following year the monks moved to a new site at Croxden a few miles to the south. This was in a remote but fertile valley beside a tributary of the Dove, and the house was styled the abbey of the Vale of St. Mary of Croxden. The site (locus) was not dedicated until 1181.

Bertram founded Croxden Abbey for the souls of his predecessors and successors and in particular of his father and mother, of himself, and his second wife Rose, and of Richard de Humez qui me nutruit. [Note 2] The endowment consisted of Bertram's lands at Croxden (evidently including a mill), [Note 3] Alton, Madeley Holme (in Checkley), Crakemarsh (in Uttoxeter), and Musden, and also at Oaken (in Codsall) in the south of the county; a grove at Great Gate near Croxden and half a wood at Crakemarsh; land at Tugby (Leics.) and a carucate called Lees at Hartshorne (Derb.); a salt-pit at Middlewich (Ches.); a mill at Stamford (Lincs.); the service due from Achard of Stamford for land there and at Casterton (Rut.) and the 7s. due from Ralph de Normanvile for land at Burton Overy (Leics.); and the churches of Alton and Tugby. Henry II's confirmation of Bertram's charter included also Tugby's dependent chapels of East Norton and Keythorpe. [Note 4] The Verduns remained patrons of the abbey, with the Furnivalles succeeding them in the early 14th century; members of both families were buried in the abbey church. [Note 5]

The footnotes to this add further detail providing the sources for the information given:

Note 1  For this para. see Dugdale, Mon. v. 661; Annales Monastici (Rolls Ser.), i. 187; D.N.B. sub Verdon. For the suggestion that Cotton was never intended to be more than a temporary settlement pending the completion of the first buildings at Croxden see F. A. Hibbert, 'The Date of Croxden', T.N.S.F.C. xlviii. 139–41.

Note 2  For the foundation charter see Dugdale, Mon. v. 662; facsimile in C. Lynam, The Abbey of St. Mary, Croxden, from Bodl. MS. Staffs. Ch. 47.

Note 3  Except for the assarts made by his men at 'Wodehuses'; his men were also exempt from suit at the mill at Croxden, and he reserved certain rights in the land above the stream dividing Croxden from Bradley.

Note 4  Dugdale, Mon. v. 662. By 1220 East Norton was served by a resident chaplain and enjoyed full sacramental and parochial privileges, paying 18d. for synodals; Keythorpe was served 3 days a week: J. Nichols, Hist. and Antiquities of Leics. i(1), p. lx; ibid. iii(1), 483.

Note 5  Dugdale, Mon. v. 661-2; S.H.C. 1913, 22; Cal. Inq. p.m. vii, p. 497; Sister Mary Laurence O.P., 'St. Mary's Abbey, Croxden', T.N.S.F.C. lxxxv, pp. B3–4, and lxxxvii, pp. B53–56, 60; Lynam, Croxden, chronicle, p. x; Complete Peerage, v. 583; see below.

There are two surviving copies of Bertram III de Verdun's 'foundation' charter to Croxden Abbey. The British Library has one copy: Cotton Charter XI. 7. The other is held at The Bodleian Library in Oxford: MS. Ch. Staffs. 47. The Bodleian copy is the better one and still has a fine seal attached to it, featuring a Knight with a shield and sword battling a lion. 

A transcription of the Bodleian copy was published in 1911, with a facsimile picture, in The Abbey of St. Mary, Croxden, Staffordshire - A Monograph by Charles Lynam, F.S.A. (Publishers: Sprague & Co., Limited, 4 & 5 East Harding Street, London E.C.). 

ABOVE – a facsimile of the Bodleian Charter of Croxden Abbey, which was published in Lynam's book.

Charles Lynam's translation was presented in his book as follows:

Charter of Bertram de Verdun, about his Foundation

(from the actual document in the Cotton Library, 1668)


       BERTRAM DE VERDUN, to all his men and friends, both clerics and laics, both present and future, Greeting. Be it known to you that I have given and conceded, and by this my present Charter have confirmed, to God and to the Blessed Mary, and to the Abbey of the Valley of St. Mary of Crokesdene, which I have founded, and to the Monks there serving God, in pure and perpetual alms, for the souls of Norman de Verdun, my father, and of Lescelina, my mother, and of Richard de Humez, who brought me up, and of my predecessors ; and for the well-being of myself and Rohais my wife, and my successors, all my land of Crokesdene, with all its appurtenances, for founding the same Abbey ; except the assarts.1 which my men of W(o)deh(o)uses have made ; and except this that the Monks of the aforesaid Abbey shall take no toll from my men at their mill of Crokesden, and except this that I have retained upon the stream which divides the land of Crokesdene and the land of Bretlee, so many sites for making ponds and reservoirs, as I or my heirs may desire, and for taking land for making roads from part of the land of the Abbey near the same roads. Now this my land of Crokesdene, and whatever I had in the same vill and of the fee of Alveton, and of the fee of Madeley, and of the fee of Crakemerse, I have given to the Monks of the aforesaid Abbey in alms, with the condition that the same Abbey shall for ever remain founded in the same vill of Crokesdene in my patrimonial territory. Moreover, I have given to the same Abbey all my land of Mosedene, with all its appurtenances ; and all my land of Aka, with the wood belonging to its appurtenances ; and my salt pit of Midilwich ; and all the service which Archardus of Stanfort and his heirs owed me for his tenement which they held from me in the vill of Stanfort, and in the vill of Castretone. And my mill of Stanfort, which is between the bridge and the castle, with all its appurtenances : and all the land which I had in the same vill of Stanfort. And the service of Radulf of Normanvile and his heirs for the land which he held from me in the vill of Burton, viz. : Seven shillings annually payable at two terms, one half at Easter, and the other at the feast of St. Michael ; and all my demesne of Tokebis(a) in the vill and beyond the vill, in the wood and in the plain, in meadows and in pastures, in waters, in roads and paths, with all that burbage pertaining to the same demesne ; this excepted that I have reserved to myself and my heirs the villein services and all the ferms.2 of the same vill, and all the customs and all the services which the men of the same vill were accustomed to render to me, and that which the same men had in the wood of the same vill, all common-right, and all the easements which they were wont to have in it. I have also given to the Monks of the aforesaid Abbey half of my wood of Greth near the Abbey, with all its appurtenances, except that I have reserved for myself and my heirs the site of the pool which is between Greth and Bretlee ; and so much land as the said pool with all its overflow may be able to occupy ; and it shall be lawful for me and my heirs to raise the dam of the same pool as much as we may please. But the Monks shall not enclose their half of the wood of Greth because of the common of pasture which they and my men of Bretlee and of Alvetone ought to have jointly in the same wood of Greth.

    Moreover, I have given to the same Monks half of my wood of Crakemerse near the Abbey, with all its appurtenances, and one caracute of land in the vill of Herteshorn, with all its appurtenances, which is called Lees ; and the church of Alvetone, with all its appurtenances. And the church of Tokebi, with all its appurtenances.

    Wherefore I will and firmly establish that the aforesaid Abbey, and the Monks serving God in it, shall have and hold all these my gifts and alms, well and in peace freely and quietly, wholly, fully and honourably, in wood and in plain, in meadows and pastures and commons, in ways and paths, in gullies and streams, within the vill and without the vill, and in all things and places and liberties to them pertaining freely indepenently and quit of every services and custom and secular exaction to me and my heirs pertaining : and I forbid on the part of God and on mine that any of my heirs shall presume to withstand or in any respect to disturn this my donation.

    These being Witnesses(b) : — Robert, Prior of Kenilleworth ; Robert de Verdun ; Walter de Canvile ; Adm. de Aldithelee ; Arndapifer ; William Fitun ; Henry de Praieres ; William Pantouf ; Radulph de Biseche ; Roger Bagot ; Philip de Draicote ; Miles de Verdun ; and many others.

Footnotes from Lynam's work :

All marked in the original translation with ‘*’ and positioned in the left hand margin:

1  i.e., land newly redeemed from forest condition to cultivation.

2  i.e., rents

Additional Footnotes added to Lynam's by the author of this webpage :

(a)  Tokebi : i.e. Tugby, in Leicestershire.

(b)  Witnesses : the first names, and sometimes surnames often appear in the charter in abbreviated form. Lynam has presented them in full, as he believed they should be written. In so doing, he has made at least one mistake: ‘Arndapifer’ is written in both the Cotton and the Bodleian charters as Arn. dapifero, which is ‘Arnold the Dapifer’ i.e. ‘Arnold the Steward’. The latin word ‘dapifero’ translates as ‘Steward’ and equates to the title of ‘Seneschal’ from the French ‘Sénéchal’. Such men were in charge of a noble’s household - it is possible that the Arnold who appears in this Coxden charter was Bertram de Verdun’s own Steward 'Arnold of Barton' in Staffordshire. The Dapifer was the most senior royal officer of state in medieval France and managed the King’s household. In most cases the name 'Verdun' was abbreviated. However, the Cotton version displays some variations in spelling, for example, the British Library's copy presents Robert de Verdun's name in the list of witnesses as Robt. d Verdun; the Bodleian version is written Robt. de Verd. (in both cases the 'b' and 't' in the abbreviated Robert are combined as one letter - the 'b' being 'crossed' like a 't'. This Robert de Verdun, and 'Miles' (i.e. 'Milo') de Verdun, another of the witnesses, could not be Bertram's younger sons of the same names, in view of his eldest son Thomas being a minor when Bertram died in 1192. It is therefore most likely that Robert and Milo were Bertram's brothers. It is interesting to note the name of William Fitun in the list of witnesses - he is clearly one of the 'de Fitton' family, some of whose estates in Cheshire passed to the Newton family via marriage. Richard de Fitton gave a moiety of the Manor of Fulshaw in Cheshire to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitaller); we will hear more of the Fittons later on in respect of the de Verdons (Vardons) and Newtons of Fulshaw. The appearance of a 'de Fitton' as a witness to Bertram de Verdun's charter, may perhaps be a reflection of the links and lands that Bertram and his family had in Cheshire. 

A replica based on the Bodleian copy of the charter exists. It was clearly not modeled on the original charter, but an engraving, which was published by Richard Rawlinson in 1743. It is the appearance of the words at the bottom by the seal, shown precisely as they appear on Rawlinson's engraving, which featured his own name, that reveals what the replica was copying. The wax seal that was reproduced is not an exact replica of the one that is attached to the Bodleian charter, as can be seen from the picture of this, which is shown above.

ABOVE – the replica of the Foundation Charter of Croxden Abbey, which shows the seal of Bertram III de Verdun with a knight battling a lion - note the difference with the original Bodleian charter, pictured above. This photograph of the replica charter has been reproduced with the kind permission of the photographer Lee J. Haywood (view).

The replica of Bertram III de Verdun's charter can be found hanging on a wall of The Wilton Suite, inside The North Stafford Hotel in Stoke-on-Trent. Who commissioned it and why, is not known, nor does anyone know how it came to be in the hotel. One day someone may discover the answer to this mystery - perhaps it was created to mark an anniversary.

The same seal was attached to other charters that now appear to have been lost to history, but luckily two historians in the past had drawn reproductions of them - both of these reveal that the pattern on the shield of the knight defending himself from a lion was the historic 'fretty' pattern found on the heraldry of the de Verdun family. Since this seal dates to at least the 1170s, it displays one of the earliest confirmed coat of arms of a family in England, and which has remained in use by branches of the family to the the present day, in both England and Normandy

The first of these records can be found at the British Museum - a manuscript found cited as Harleian MS 4028, Article 143 - now folio 82r. It was recorded in Volume III of A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, published in 1808, on page 107:

Bibliothecæ Harleianæ. Num. 4028.

143. Ex Chartris Georgii Shirley Baronetti, Bertramus de Verdon’s grants to Hy. De Prayers, Sarah daughter of Norman de Beaumont, & Dorsington, & Thurlaveston &c. Test. Ada de Aldithlega, Robt. de Prayers, Norman de Verdon, Robt. Clerico de Aldithlega, &c. to which is affixed his curious Seal of himself in armour, with sword in his right hand & his shield of Arms fretty on his left, against which is a lion rampant.

This is an extract from the fuller wording of a transcription of the original charter itself, which was taken from the collection of Sir George Shirley Baronet. The full wording of the transcription is as follows:

Ex Chartis Georgii Shirley Baronetti.

Bertramus de Verdon Omnibus amicis suis et hominibus suis Francis et Anglicis suis tam futuris presentibus Salutem. Sciatis omnes me dedisse et concessisse Henerio de Prayers pro homogis et servitio suo Saram filiam Normanni de Beaumont cum sua parte totius feodi praedti [i.e. 'praedicti'] Normanni viz. totam Dorsintonam cum omnibus libtatibus [i.e. 'libertatibus'] suis et similiter Thorlavestonam cum omnibus libertatibus et tenentiis suis illi et Hereditibus suis tenends de me et heredibus meis in feodi et hereditate honorifice bene et quiete faciendu mihi et heredibus meis servitium duorum militus e'c Testibus Gilberto Pipart Ada de Aldithleya, Robto de Prayers, Ernaldo de Bartona, Dapifero Normanno de Verdon, Galfrido de Blora, Thoma de Prayers, Rico de Friuill, Roberto Clerico, de Aldithleya, Hugone de Fresnosa et multis alys e'c.

The words of the charter reveal that it concerned a grant by Bertramus de Verdon to Henry de Praers, of Dorsington and Thurlaveston, on de Praers' marriage to Sarah, daughter of Norman de Beaumont, and involved the provision of feudal military service. The men who attested the charter are: Gilbert Pipard (with whom Bertram de Verdun was often found in royal service), Adam de Audley (a tenant of, and leading member of Bertram's curia), Robert de Praers (another of Bertram's men and one of Henry de Praers' family), Arnold of Barton (Bertram's Steward/Dapifer), Norman de Verdun (Bertram's brother), Gilbert of Blore (another of Bertram's men), Thomas de Praers (another of the same family), Richard de Friuill (identity tbc), Robert the Priest of Audley, Hugh de Fresnosa (identity tbc) and multiple others. 

It would appear that Bertram had been given the marriage of Norman de Beaumont's daughter Sarah, perhaps arising from the time Bertram was Sheriff of both Warwickshire and Leicestershire 1170-1184, most likely after the conclusion of 'the Great War' of 1173-1174, in which one of the leading rebel barons taking arms against Henry II was Robert de Beaumont the Earl of Leicester. He and others forfeited their lands for their rebellion. 

The other charter that this author has found recorded with the same seal is Oxford, Queen's College Library, MS 149, fo. 69. Like the British Library's Harleian MS detailed above, it is a transcription with a drawing of the seal, and on studying the document it is clear that it is a transcription of the very same original charter, and came from the collection of the antiquary Sir Thomas Shirley, and was one of a number of manuscripts he inherited from his father Sir Gilbert Shirley of Staunton Harold in Leicestershire.

An image of from the Queen's College MS 149 fo. 69 is provided below, with the kind permission of The Provost and Fellows of The Queen's College, Oxford to whom the Copyright belongs. I am grateful for them granting me permission to reproduce a photograph of this.

Above: from a photograph of Oxford, Queen's College MS 149 fo. 69. Copyright - The Provost and Fellows of The Queen's College, Oxford. 

A glance at the text of the transcription of this charter reveals that it does not exactly match the wording recorded in the British Library's Harleian MS 4028. This may simply be an error in transcription or there were two copies of the charter. We may never know. 

The text of the Queen's College transcription has these words:

Bertramus de Verdu Omnibs amicis suis et hoibs suis Franceis et Anglicis tam futuris qam presentibs Sal't. Sciatis oms me dedisse & concessisse & har ....[?] carta mea confirmato Henrico de P'eres p homogio & servitio suo Saram filia Normani de Beaumo't cum sua parte tocis feud p'dicti Normanni videlt totam Dorsintonam &c Testo Gilberto Pipart Ada de Alditheleya, Robto de P'eres, Ernaldo de Bartona, Dapifero Normanno de Verdun, Galfrido de Blora, Thoma de Peueres, Ric de Feyuitt, Roberto Clico, de Alditheleya, Hugone de Fresnosa et multis aliis.

The fact that both the British Library and Queen's College, Oxford manuscripts include a drawing of the seal of Bertram de Verdun that matches that used in the foundation charter of Croxden Abbey, suggests that a closer inspection of the original seal at The Bodleian Library, attached to the Croxden Abbey charter (Oxford MS. Ch. Staffs. 47.), will reveal evidence of the 'fretty' pattern that continued to be used on de Verdun seals and on their heraldry over the ensuring centuries and into the present day. The print of this Croxden Abbey charter published by Lynam does indeed show small signs of the lines of a 'fretty' pattern on the seal - see picture below. A closer examination of the original will reveal more.

Above: The seal in the picture of the Croxden Abbey charter (Bodleian Library, Oxford: MS. Ch. Staffs. 47.), published in 1911 by Charles Lynam, F.S.A., in his The Abbey of St. Mary, Croxden, Staffordshire - A Monograph (Sprague & Co., Limited, 4 & 5 East Harding Street, London E.C.). 

The lion on Bertram's seal may have some personal significance to him or one of his forebears. It is interesting that the de Verduns of Norfolk, descendants of Ivo de Verdun who is cited holding six knights fees there in the early 1100s, had as their coat of arms 'sable, a lion rampant argent'. The arms of the Verdins of Darnhall Hall & Stoke Hall, Cheshire & Garnstone Castle, Herefordshire also featured a lion, and a lion is found as a crest above a shield with a 'fretty' pattern, on the tomb of George Verdon inside the ruins of the Collegiate Church of Saints Peter & Paul at Kilmallock in Co. Limerick, Ireland - he had served as 'Sovereign' of Kilmallock and died in 1632. In addition, two lions are found as supporters to a shield carved above an entrance door to an old de Verdun manor house near Barenton in Normandy.

The Norman de Verdun found recorded attesting the Dorsington charter is a brother of Bertram de Verdun. This Norman would appear to be Norman de Verdun 'of Fougerolles', a place which can be found located on maps on the north bank of a meander of the River Sélune, c.1km north of the village of Pontaubault. Verdun itself, the ancestral home of the family from which they took their toponym, lies c.2.5km NNE (3.8km by road) in the neighbouring commune of Saint Martin des Champs. In-between the two is a place called 'la Pechardière', a name that suggests it was once a vivary for fish, and where de Verduns continued to live into the 16th century.

Norman appears in charters in Normandy and is the ancestor of the de Verduns of Barenton, La Crenne, Vessey & Boucey, whose heraldry maintained the de Verdun family's 'fretty' design.

ABOVE - the impressive surviving West frontage of Croxden Abbey.

I turn now to Normandy, and the de Verduns who continue to reside there.

The de Verdun family of Barenton & La Crenne, Normandy 

Other members of the family of Bertrand (Bertram) I de Verdun

Branches of the de Verdun family existed in Normandy before 1066 and remained there after the Norman conquest of England. The family of Bertram I de Verdun, Domesday tenant-in-chief of Farnham Royal continued holding lands in Normandy whilst adding to their estates in England, and are found issuing or witnessing charters on both sides of the channel until the time of Nicholas de Verdun, son of Bertram III de Verdun, up until 1206 when King John of England lost Normandy. 

It is just possible that Bertram I had a brother, or perhaps a nephew called Ernée de Verdun. This man appears as 'Erneisi de Verduno', a Canon of the Cathedral of Saint André in Avranches, in a charter of Mont-Saint-Michel signed at Avranches, dated 1068-1085 (see above). Bertram I de Verdun appears in the same charter, signing as a witness.

It has been recorded in past publications that some de Verduns in Normandy were descended from another son of Bertrand (otherwise Bertram) I de Verdun named Roland de Verdun, who is supposed to have accompanied Duke Robert of Normandy on the First Crusade in 1096, but this claim results from a complete mix-up by English historians and this particular Roland de Verdun lived in a much later historical period than the First Crusade of Robert Duke of Normandy. Nevertheless, an early record of a Roland de Verdun appears in a number of charters in Normandy around the beginning of the 13th century, including within the cartulary of the Abbey of Montmorel, a place situated in the Avranchin on the river Sélune approximately 2km south of Ducey. In this cartulary his name is recorded in a charter, dated c.1200, as Rotholando de Verdunio (See: Scripta, acte 4596). It is of interest that the name 'Roland' (also 'Reulant') is found to have been used by the family in both Normandy and England, and is still current within the family in Normandy to this day.

Many de Verduns can be found within charters in Normandy from the 12th to the 13th century, some bearing the names Guillaume, Roland, Nicolas, Norman, Bertrand and Thomas, which echo those used by the de Verduns of England. New, significant and detailed research is identifying more such members of the family who remained in Normandy after Bertrand I de Verdun went to England, and the lands they held in the Duchy, and the continuing involvement of Bertrand's descendants in Normandy while the family still retained lands on both sides of the Channel. Careful study of original sources from England and Normandy is producing fresh insights into the most important and prominent line of de Verduns in Normandy, descended from Bertram I de Verdun, who appear to have inherited some of the family's lands in Normandy and held onto these after the loss of the Duchy by the kings of England. 

In view of the active research currently being conducted (2021) by members of the de Verdun family in England and France, all that can be said at this point is that the de Verduns of Barenton, La Crenne, Vessey & Boucey descend from a branch of Bertram I de Verdun's family. 

More data will be shared on this webpage in due course of time, when research that's underway reaches completion and final conclusions can be better presented. 

ABOVE – Mont Saint-Michel.

A later Bertrand de Verdun of the Normandy branch of the family is noted in some records as Seigneur de Verdun en Boucey, Normandie and found cited in later records in 1146. Some records also mention he was Governor of Pontorson in 1123, but this may be mix-up with Bertram III de Verdun who is known to have been given custody of Pontorson sometime by 1172, and is also found holding lands around it. Verdun in Boucey and nearby La Crenne are both situated close to Pontorson and were possessions of the de Verduns of Normandy from the 12th century into the modern era. 

That the de Verduns continue to reside in the same area to this day may suggest the possibility that they might conceivably be the senior line of the family, perhaps rather like those who went to North America, it was the younger sons who tended to carve out new opportunities overseas, leaving their older brothers holding the family's original patrimony. But this is pure hypothesis and the fact that the de Verduns of Alton, the heirs of Norman I de Verdun father of Bertram III de Verdun, held the greatest estates in the family, in both England and Normandy, leads to the conclusion that they were the senior line of the family.

The de Verduns appear to have continued to owe some allegiance to the Dukes of Normandy in the person of the Kings of England when they held Normandy and during the 100 Years' War and they consequently sometimes found themselves caught between the competing interests of France and England. In July 1346 Roland de Verdun, Seigneur of Verdun in Boucey, was tasked by the King of France with the defence of Carentan, along with another knight Nicolas de Grouchyer; they ended up joining with Edward III of England who left them in command of Carentan. The French then took the town and arrested its commanders. Roland was executed by decapitation on 14th December 1346 at La Place de Halles in Paris.

In 1419, towards the latter part of the 100 years' war, another of the family - Guillaume de Verdun, Seigneur of La Crenne, had his property confiscated by Henry V of England, who had re-established English control of Normandy after the victory at Agincourt in 1415. Guillaume was an impressive and courageous knight and refused to submit to King Henry. He became one of only 119 defenders of Mont Saint-Michel during a legendary siege by the English. 

The defenders were commanded by Louis d'Estouteville, and their names have forever afterwards been immortalised and are recorded on a plaque within the Abbey there. A source for this is Les Cent-dix-neuf Chevaliers du Mont-St-Michel. Leur histoire, leurs exploits. (1418-1450) by Albert Descoqs. Guillaume died in 1455. Louis d'Estouteville was a descendant of 'Robert Grandbois', founder of the d'Estouteville family who some sources mention as having been the son of a Roger de Verdun, governor of the Château of Ambriences (see fuller details above).

ABOVE – the name of de Verdun appears as No.20 on the plaque inside the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, recording Guillaume de Verdun's famous exploits as a defender of Mont Saint-Michel during the 100 Years' War.

ABOVE – a close up of the entry for de Verdun on the monument above.

An impressive wood carving of the coat of arms of the de Verdun family is to be found inside a chapel within the parish church of St. Peter ('Église Paroissiale Saint-Pierre'), on Mont Saint-Michel. It appears to the right of the small altar within the side chapel, as part of a set of four heraldic panels and seems to have been placed in a position of honour, for on the left of the de Verdun arms are the arms of the Dukes and/or Duchy of Normandy. At the bottom left of each of these two panels to the left of a carved helmet, is a smaller shield, both of which appear to be another presentation of the de Verdun family's arms. To the right of the de Verdun panel are the arms of Louis d'Estouteville, commander of the defenders of Mont Saint-Michel, and to the right of his arms are the arms of the Duke of Brittany. 

That the arms of Guillaume de Verdun appear with these other three makes it clear that he and his family played a significant role in the siege and this would explain why they are honoured in this way.

Outside the entrance to the church is a beautiful statue of Saint Joan of Arc (Sainte Jeanne d'Arc).

ABOVE – the wood carving of the coat of arms of the de Verdun family, inside a chapel within the 'Église Paroissiale Saint-Pierre'.

ABOVE – the same arms shown alongside the other three - arms from left to right: the Duchy of Normandy, de Verdun, d'Estouteville, the Duke of Brittany.

It is of historic interest to note that even after many hundreds of years of separation, the de Verduns of Normandy continue to share the same design of coat of arms as their kinsmen in England, with a single difference in the colour used for one charge on the shield. The senior line of the de Verdun family of Barenton and de la Crenne includes both the family of the Comte de Verdun (de Barenton) and the Marquis de Verdun (de la Crenne). In order to tell them apart the Comte de Verdun bears the historic arms - d'or fretté de sable and Marquis de Verdun bears d'argent fretté de sable. The use of the same pattern in the coat of arms of their de Verdun kinsmen in England (d'or fretté de gueules), and the de Sourdevals of Normandy (d'or fretté de sable au franc-canton du second) has already been covered in detail above.

Above and below, are accounts of the close relationship, during the Middle Ages, between the de Verduns of England and the Earls of Chester who were at the same time, hereditary Viscounts of Avranches. In view of this, it is significant and appropriate to discover that the title of Viscount of Avranches had been passed to one of the de Verduns, for Jean-Mathurin de Verdun became the very last Vicomte d'Avranches in 1741, when Louis XV appointed him to the role. However, an edict of 1749 abolished the office, but de Verdun continued to bear the honorific title until his death in 1759.

Long after the twilight of the senior branch of de Verdun Barons in England, the de Verduns of Normandy continued to thrive and achieved great prominence.

Jean-René Antoine de Verdun, second son of René Louis de Verdun Seigneur of La Crenne in Aucey by his second wife Catherine Magdeleine Plessard de Servigny, was born on 5th April 1741 at Château de la Crenne. Jean-René became Marquis de Verdun de la Crenne. He was a famous Naval Officer who not only fought in the Seven Years' War but also in the American War of Independence, and he became promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral (French: Contre-Admiral). On top of this, he took part in many important scientific expeditions and discoveries across the oceans. During this period the King made him a Knight of the Royal & Military Order of Saint Louis. He died at Versailles on 3rd August 1805.

The family's branches are detailed in Jougla de Morenas's 'Grand Armorial de France', Volume 6, Richaudeau - Zylof, page 431 - 432 (de la branche [page 432] de Fougères). A transcription of the text that accompanies the de Verdun entry into de Morenas's armorial, is provided below. The coat of arms, shown below, appears on the page in the approximate position that it is shown below.

de Verdun de la Crenne, de Ballant, de Barenton et de Passais.

34.436. — (Normandie) — D’or fretté de sa. Alias: D’arg. fretté de sa. de 6 pièces

Cette maison de chevalrerie, dont le nom apparâit en Normandie dès le XIe siècle et qui est constamment citée au cours des siècles suivants, donna plusiers Chrs croisés et fut maintenue noble par Monfaut en 1463. Une de ses branches s’établit en Angleterre lors de la Conquête et y est toujours repésentée. Elle a donné en France 2 grandes lignes dont le point de junction n’apparâit pas. 

Le 2e ligne, celle de Barenton et de Passais, remonte sa fil. prouvée à Colin de Verdun, Eyr, tr. en 1410, marié a Marguerite du Bois de Dorières (peut-être père de Guillaume, auteur de la ligne de La Crenne), dont le petit-fils Guillaume, tr. en 1478, ép. Marie Juhé de Barenton et en eut entre autres 2 fils. L’un d’eux, Jean, fit la branche des Dorières maintenue noble aux francs-fifs en 1577, éteinte peu après.

L’autre, Marguerin, Eyr, sgr de Passais, tr. en 1539, laissa de Suzanne de Malenfont 2 fils; le 2e, Michel, fut lauteur de la branche de Fougères, maintenue noble en 1635; L’aîné Julien, continue la branche de Passais qui s’allia en 1741 à 1re ligne par le marriage de Charles-Francois-Léonor, sgr de Passais et de Barenton, avec Jeanne-Julienne-Geneviève de Verdun de La Crenne. De cette union vint Charles-René, Page de la G. Ecurie en 1762, comp. à Mortain en 1789, marié en 1779 à Jeanne-Louis de Lorgeril dont il eut : — 1e Alexandre-Charles de Verdun, dit le Mqs de Verdun de La Crenne, héritier de son grand-oncle, le Mqs de La Crenne, allié en 1817 à Alyre Tardif de Vauclair, père d’Alexandre-Constant, titré Mqs de Verdun de la Crenne, mort s.p. d’Aliette de St~Gilles; — 2o Charles-Amadée-Magdelain marié en 1826 à Caroline Dericq (alias : d’Ericq) de Chasseguey et père d’Edmond, qui ép. en 1869 Alice-Marie-Thomé de Kéridec et continua. — (N. d’H. 329. — Chèvrin 205. — La Roque et Barthélémy. — P.O. 2964. — Woëlmont 3 et N.S. — carré d’H. 630 — Archives de la Manche, de l’Orne et du Calvados.).

Le 1ere, celle de la Crenne, remontait sa fil. prouvée à Guillaume de Verdun, Défenseur du Mont-St-Michel en 1423, marié en 1433 à Thomine James dont la descendance fut maintenue noble en 1599 et 1624. Elle sa divisa en 2 branches avec les 2 fils de Charles de Verdun, Eyr. sgr de La Crenne, marié en 1614 à Marguerite Payan. L’aîné Jean, continua le rameau de La Crenne, maintenue noble en 1666, qui fit ses preuves pour la G. Ecurie en 1752, pour les Chevau-Légers en 1763, pour les E.M. en 1785, pour la Marine en 1787, donna un Chef d’Escadre en 1786, fut représenté à Avranches en 1789 et s’éteignit en 1853. Le 2e René, fut auteur de la branche, également éteinte, des sgrs de Ballant, maintenue noble en 1671, qui fit ses preuves pour les E.M. en 1760 et 1766 et comp. à Avranches en 1789. 

The de Verdun family in Cheshire & their connections with the Earls of Chester, hereditary Viscounts of Avranches

As mentioned already, there were some historic connections between the de Verdons and Cheshire. Richard le Goz, Vicomte of the Avranchin had married Emma, a daughter of Herleva, by her husband Herluin de Conteville. This made their son Hugh d'Avranches ('Hugh Lupus'), 1st Earl of Chester, a nephew of Bishop Odo, Robert Count of Mortain, and also William the Conqueror who was Herluin's son by Duke Robert I of Normandy. On the death of Hugh 'Lupus', from whom the de Verduns held land both in Normandy and England, the Earldom of Chester passed to his son Richard d'Avranches. He and his wife died with William the Æthling, son of King Henry I, on the White Ship in 1120, whereupon the Earldom passed in 1121 to his first cousin Ranulf (III) 'le Meschin', son of Hugh d'Avranches's sister Margaret and Ranulf (II) de Briquessart, Vicomte of the Bessin. On Ranulf le Meschin's death, his son Ranulf (IV) 'de Gernon' became 4th Earl of Chester and also Vicomte d'Avranches.

Norman de Verdun was closely connected with Ranulf de Gernon, Earl of Chester, the grandfather of Ranulf (V) de Blondeville, from whom he held a number of manors. Historian Mark Hagger, in his book The de Verdun family in England, Ireland and Wales confirms that Norman witnessed eighteen of Ranulf de Gernon's charters - more than any other person, except Ranulf's butler. He goes on to mention that Norman clearly travelled extensively with this Ranulf as he is mentioned being with him at Rhuddlan in c.1135, at Lincoln in 1144-6 and in Carlisle in 1149, witnessing a grant by Ranulf to Lancaster Priory on the return leg of the journey. Finally, Hagger supports other sources that inform us that a Bertram de Verdun, postulated to be the son of the first of this name and therefore referenced as 'Bertram II de Verdun', father of Norman de Verdun, attested a charter in 1124 relating to Mont St. Michel in the presence of Ranulf le Meschin, Vicomte d'Avranches, the father of Ranulf de Gernon. However, this date of 1124 would appear to be incorrect - the charter was one of Ranulf II de Gernon, who succeeded his father in 1129 and died in 1153, i.e. after the time Norman de Verdun succeeded his father, which was by 1129/30. This means that the Bertram de Verdun who was a witness to this charter was likely to be Norman's brother Bertram. More research is ongoing to clarify this. In the meantime, it is helpful to refer to this 2nd Bertram, postulated to be Norman de Verdun's brother, as 'Bertram II' de Verdun, and Norman's son of the same name as 'Bertram III' de Verdun

As to the identity of Norman's father - he is quite possibly Bertram I de Verdun the Domesday Tenant-in-Chief who was lord of Farnham Royal. This has been the tradition and assumption of many historians over time. However, as mentioned above, it still remains possible that there was an intermediary generation. Ivo de Verdun of Norfolk was already well established there by the early 1100s and may well have been either a younger brother of Bertram I de Verdun, or his son. If he was his son then perhaps it is difficult to conceive of Norman de Verdun being Ivo's own brother as Norman would appear not to have come of age until well after Ivo was already established, and was clearly the heir to the lands of his own father, which included Farnham Royal. This may then suggest that Norman was the son of a hitherto un-named de Verdun; or at least, un-named in England, unless Ivo was a brother to Bertram I de Verdun. Back in Normandy, and in England there are de Verduns found in records who may have been uncles to Norman.

The Leicestershire Survey was conducted between 1124 and 1129. Its results reveal that Norman de Verdun was holding his father's lands at the time, but does not mention his father's name, nor the date on which Norman succeeded. The lands he held were in Skeffington, Tugby, Halsted, Belton, Stoney Stanton, Diseworth and Whatton. In the Pipe Roll of 31 Henry I, dated Michaelmas 1130, Norman appears as Normano de Verduim and is recorded as exempted in Staffordshire and pro terra patris sui in the Leicestershire Pipe Roll (page 76). It is not explained why he was exempted in Staffordshire (page 87), but this entry confirms that the family already had lands there, which one supposes had been gained in an earlier generation - perhaps awarded to Bertram de Verdun the Sheriff of Yorkshire for all his services. 

Of the 22 manors that Norman de Verdun held in Staffordshire, 11 had been held by the King in 1086 - all of them described as 'Waste': Alton, Biddulph, Bucknall, Denstone, Farley, Musden, Newton, Rownall, Sheen, Stanton and Wootton. The description of these manors as 'Waste' in 1086 reflects the fact that Staffordshire - in particular the northern parts - had been a battleground in the uprisings of 1069-70, and therefore encompassed the area impacted by William the Conqueror's 'Harrying of the North'. The forces of a Mercian noble from Shropshire - Eadric the Wild, had joined with the Welsh in the uprising and their combined army was defeated by King William at the Battle of Stafford in 1069. It was after this that Robert de Tosny built his castle at Stafford and thereafter he and his family bore the toponym 'de Stafford'. The 11 Staffordshire manors held by the King in 1086 and later by the de Verduns are described on a map within Hagger's in his 1998 PhD Thesis (which became his 2001 book),  as 'Lands acquired or probably acquired by 1129'. This would suggest that the de Verduns gained these estates directly from the King, if these manors hadn't otherwise been granted by the King to an intermediate tenant - perhaps the Earls of Chester, who could then have granted them to the de Verduns. This is a possibility which Hagger mentions in his book on the de Verduns (pp. 24-25), in a helpful contribution to this debate, highlighting that by the time that Henry I came to the throne there had been three and a half decades of royal service by the Verduns, and that this was 'undoubtedly this service that led to the expansion of the family's landed interests in England. Between 1086 and 1129 the single manor of Farnham Royal was supplemented by a grant, or grants, of lands in Staffordshire and Leicestershire'. The de Verduns did hold a few manors in Staffordshire from the Earls of Chester, but these were granted at a later date to Norman de Verdun. In respect of the other manors the family held in Staffordshire, the Treaty of Devizes (see below) would seem to confirm that the de Verduns' lands in Staffordshire continued to be held by the King, since the treaty intended that these lands would in future be held of the Earls of Chester, i.e. the clear implication is that they remained held of the King before the treaty was agreed. As detailed below, events meant these changes in Staffordshire were never put into effect.

The question that remains unanswered is whether it was Henry I or his predecessor William Rufus who granted Bertram de Verdun his estates. Hagger points out that William Rufus 'made substantial grants from the royal demesne in Staffordshire to Earl Hugh of Chester and so it is possible that Bertram de Verdun was granted his Staffordshire manors by William II too'. Hagger then continues in this vein by reference to Frank Barlow's discussion in his biography 'William Rufus' (p.189) of the redistribution of the royal demesne in Staffordshire, and suggests that the grant of lands there to Bertram de Verdun may have been a part of this and, if so, that it 'would also explain why Earl Hugh failed to acquire these other royal manors from the king'. However, Bertram de Verdun could only have been granted the lands in Leicestershire that had previously been held by Ivo de Grandmesnil, from 1102, in the reign of Henry I, to whom they had become forfeit after de Grandmesnil's involvement in the rebellion against the king.

Hagger makes a concluding point on Henry I's patronage of Bertram de Verdun, which is found within a footnote on page 25 of his book:

20 Henry I's patronage of Bertram de Verdun should not give reason for surprise. Bertram was active in the royal administration in September 1100, and although he fails to attest royal charters thereafter, this does not mean he was not at court. Ivo Taillebois, one of Rufus' stewards, and Gerard the chancellor, for example, witness only three or four charters between them (F. Barlow, William Rufus, p. 192). Nor was it at all unusual for Henry I to advance families who originated in the west of Normandy as the de Verduns did: J. Green, The Government of England under Henry I (Cambridge, 1986), pp 146-49; J. Green, The Aristocracy of Norman England, p. 133."

Of the other 11 Staffordshire manors Hagger lists in his 1998 Thesis: Caverswall and Oaken were held in 1086 by Robert de Tosny of Stafford as Tenant-in-Chief; and another - Kingsley, was held in 1086 by Robert's son Nigel de Stafford who held it from Ralph son of Hubert who was Tenant-in-Chief. The manors of Audley and Talke were held in 1086 by Gamal son of Gruffydd as lord and tenant-in-chief, and in 1066 by Godric (of Lawton). Balterley was held in 1086 by Wulfwin as lord and tenant-in-chief, and in 1066 by Godwin. Bradley-in-the-Moors, located very close to Alton, was held in 1086 by Robert de Bucy from Ralph son of Hubert who was tenant-in-chief; and in 1066 its lord had been Leofric brother of Leofnoth. Croxden was held in 1086 by Alwold as lord and tenant-in-chief and in 1066 Domesday records that the same Alwold held it. Perhaps 'Alward' who was recorded as lord and tenant-in-chief of Fenton in 1086 and in 1066 was the same 'Alwold'. The last of the 22 manors in Staffordshire that appear in Domesday and are listed by Hagger, was Stapenhill, held in 1086 as tenant-in-chief, and in 1066, by The Abbey of St Mary & St Modwen, Burton-upon-Trent. None of these 11 manors held were listed as 'Waste' in Domesday. One other manor that Hagger lists was 'Cotton', a township of Alton that does not appear separately in Domesday. The Book of Fees records that in the middle of the 1200s, in the time of Roesia de Verdun, Alton was still held from the king

Therefore, all we know for certain is that Norman de Verdun had come into his inheritance by 1129-1130, and that his father had clearly already greatly extended the family's estates since the single manor of Farnham Royal that Domesday reveals was held by Bertram I de Verdun.

A transcription of The Leicestershire Survey was first published in 1895 in J. H. Round's publication 'Feudal England - Historical Studies on the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries', from page 160. Round's publication presents the following information about the lands held by Norman de Verdun by 1129:

Gosecote Wap'

H[undredum] de Lodinton[e], in Sceftinton[e] [Skeffington] Norm[annus] de Verdun viij. car. et dim. Ricardus Bass[et] iij. car. et dim. In Gokebia [Tugby] Normannus de Verdun vj. car. 

H[undredum] de Tilton.— In Hallested [Halstead, just to the north of Skeffington and Tugby] Normannus de Verdun iij. car. j. virg. minus.

H[undredum] de Beltona.— In eadem villa [i.e. Belton, near Loughborough] Normannus de Verdon vj. car. In Stanton Robertus de ferr[ariis] ij. car. Ibidem [i.e. Stanton / 'Stoney Stanton'] Normannus de Verdon iij. car. 

H[undredum] de Dichesword.— In eadem villa [i.e. Diseworth] Robertus de ferr[ariis] vj. car. et j. virg. Comes cestrie vj. car. Ibidem Comes iij. car. et dim. Normannus de Verdon j. car. et ij. bov. 

H[undredum] de Shepesheved.— In Wacton[e] [Long Whatton] Normannus de Verdon ij. car. et ij. bov.

The Treaty of Devizes was signed in January 1153, between Ranulf de Gernon and Henry, Duke of Normandy (Henry III after King Stephen died in 1154). It has great relevance for the de Verdun family as the Treaty stipulated that Henry would give Ranulf 'the whole of the County of Stafford' with a few exceptions, but including the entirety of the fee of Norman de Verdun ('totum feodum Normanni de Verdun'), who had died the year before. This meant that the de Verduns would no longer hold their lands in Staffordshire as tenants-in-chief of the King, but via an intermediary feudal superior, the Earl of Chester. One of the witnesses to the treaty is Willelmo de Verdon, who is presumed to have signed as the elder representative of the family since his nephew Bertram was in his minority and being brought up in the household of Richard de Humez, Constable of Normandy. However, the Treaty of Devizes was never implemented because Earl Ranulf of Chester died in December 1153. However, the implications of the Treaty on the balance of power in the Midlands may well account for some of the defensive action taken by the Earl of Chester's regional rival Robert II de Ferrers, Earl of Derby to bolster his own position. One such move by de Ferrers was to marry his daughter Matilda to Bertram de Verdun, a marriage that brought with it the gift of many manors. Although Matilda was to die without any known surviving children and Bertram was to remarry a lady called Rohese, about whom nothing else is yet known, the manors remained in de Verdun hands. Perhaps this was because the Earl of Derby valued and therefore wished to cement his relationship with Bertram. Alternatively, Rohese was another daughter of Robert de Ferrers, or one of his family, and her maritagium was represented by the very same lands that had been given to Bertram in marriage with Matilda. It does not seem that marriage to Rohese brought any new lands to the de Verduns in England, so this may suggest she was Matilda's sister, but perhaps she may have been from Normandy and her lands held there; or her lands were some which were found held later in Cheshire by Bertram's son Henry and his descendants. All of this remains unresolved by historians.

The same William de Verdun mentioned above appears in the Cartulary of the Abbey of Mont St. Michel, which records that he held land and a mill at Tiseel and other land at a place called Croem. An article in the 'Annales de Normandie', published in 1951 (Les noms de lieux de la Manche attestes entre 911 et 1066) cites 'Tisseel' as being located in or near the commune of Dragey and canton of Sartilly. 'Tissel' is noted elsewhere with Dragey as one of the dependencies of Saint-Jean-le-Thomas, c.10km NW of Avranches and c.2km SE of Carolles. The État d'Avranchin records that in 1170 William de Verdun possessed two messuages in Avranches and Bertram de Verdun held Chavoy c.5km NE of Avranches, both directly of the King. A return of Knights' fees of Mont St. Michel in 1172 states William de Verdun had a knight's fee in Genets in the Cotentin peninsular, located by the sea directly west of Avranches and north across the bay from Mont-Saint-Michel; and that Bertram de Verdun son of Norman (i.e. Bertram III de Verdun) held half of two of the Abbey's possessions - Chavoy and Bouillon (c.2km north of Carolles) through Ralph de Fougères.

Ranulf de Gernon died at the end of 1153 and his titles and estates then passed to his son Hugh Kevelioc, who died in 1181 and was succeeded in turn by his eldest son Ranulf (V) 'de Blondeville' who was born in 1170.

Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester and 1st Earl of Lincoln, was also Vicomte d'Avranches in Normandy, like his forebears. He was a young boy when he inherited the Earldom on the death of his father Hugh de Kevelioc, son of Ranulf de Gernon. One of the men who administered his inheritance during his minority was Norman de Verdun's son, Bertram III de Verdun of Alton, who had become an influential and trusted administrator of King Henry II and then Richard I.

Bertram accompanied Richard I on crusade in 1189, and was appointed by the king as Governor of Acre in the Holy Land. The Chronicle of Croxden Abbey, a Cistercian house that Bertram had founded in 1176, records his death in 1192 with the words: Bertram de Verdun of pious memory founder died and on St. Bartholomew's Day was buried at Acre (translation published in Charles Lynam's 'The Abbey of St. Mary, Croxden, Staffordshire. A Monogram'). St. Bartholomew's Day that year is noted by Hagger to have been 25th August. It is Roger de Hoveden in his 'Gesta Regis Henrici II & Gesta Ricardi' who records that Bertram died at Jaffa. Another record states that Bertram was buried at St. John's Church in Acre. It has been suggested by Hagger that Bertram had a positive influence on Ranulf de Blondeville, who also became very close to Richard I and accompanied the King and Bertram on crusade.

Briefly picking up on mention of St. John above, it is probably pure serendipity that the Lordship of Verdone mentioned below had links with the Order of St. John. There is another connection in relation to Bertram III de Verdun - on page 46 his book on the de Verduns, Mark Haggar records an early grant of land in Cheshire by Bertram de Verdun, as follows:

In c.1190 a Bertram de Verdun granted a third of the manor of Pensby (Cheshire) to the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in Chester. The donor here might have been Bertram III, but as this appears to be the first and only time that Pensby is ever mentioned as belonging to any branch of the family, it is hard to be sure. It might be that the manor had come to the family as a direct or indirect result of Norman de Verdun's associations with Ranulf II of Chester.

Note: 'Ranulf II' refers to Ranulf de Gernon, the 2nd Earl of Chester of this family named 'Ranulf'. He was the 4th of his family to be named 'Ranulf', the first being Ranulf son of Anschitel, Vicomte of the Bessin.

Pensby is located on the Wirral. Hagger's source for this information is given as R. Stewart-Brown's article 'The Hospital of St John at Chester', published in the Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire & Cheshire, 78 (1926), pages 68 and 96.

Returning to the connection between the Earls of Chester and the de Verdun family - forty one years after a man called William de Verdun appeared in the 1153 Treaty of Devizes and thirty nine years after 'William de Verdun' (strongly believed to be the same man) appeared in the Cartulary of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, a William de Verdun is recorded who may be the same man in older age, or conceivably his son or even a nephew and younger brother of Bertram III de Verdun; or alternatively he was the William de Verdun elder son of Bertram's younger brother Ralph - see below. Matthew of Westminster records that in September 1194, Ranulf de Blondeville was one of the three sword bearers at the ceremonial re-crowning of King Richard, along with Hamelin de Warrenne and William the Lion, King of Scotland. Ranulf married Constance of Brittany, the widow of King Richard's brother Geoffrey. The two became estranged and there was conflict over the claim to succession to the throne by Arthur, her son by Geoffrey. Apparently the King and Ranulf plotted to reduce the power of Constance and in March 1195, Ranulf and Richard met at the former's castle in the town of Sainte-James-de-Beuvron to sign a charter relating to the Abbaye de Montmorel near Falaise. Those also recorded as having been present were: Roger de Chester (Ranulf's brother), Roger de Lacy (Constable of Chester), Baldwin Wake and William de Verdun. This William is unlikely be the same man who signed the Treaty of Devizes in view of that William being highly likely to be Bertram's uncle, who could (as already mentioned) be seen as signing on behalf of the family during Bertram's minority. Perhaps William who attested the Treaty of Devizes had a son also called William, who was with Earl Ranulf at Sainte-James-de-Beuvon in 1194.

Alternatively, a potentially more likely candidate may be the William de Verdun who appears in other charters of the Earl of Chester during this period of time and who Professor Geoffrey Barraclough records and discusses in his 'The Charters of the Anglo-Norman Earls of Chester, c.1071-1237'. One of these charters that William de Verdun attests is estimated by Barraclough to be dated 1188-1192. The charter appears in a volume called 'Calendar of Charter Rolls preserved in the public record office' (printed 1916), Volume V, which covered 15 Edward III-5 Henry V, that also seems to have included charters and deeds from much earlier years, including this one:-

Oct. 24. Inspeximus and confirmation in favour of the prior and convent of Westminster. Coventry of the following charters:

[Later under this heading]

10. A charter whereby Ranulf, duke of Brittany, earl of Chester and Richmond, after greeting the bishop of Chester, the archdeacon of Coventry and the clergy of the bishopric and all his men French and English, gave the tithe of all his lands, tenements and rents in Covintre to St. Mary, St. Michael, St. Chad and St. Giles and Ralph the earl's chaplain and his successors being chaplains in the chapel of St. Michael, Covintre and all chapels thereto belonging, in frank almoin, for the safety of the earl's soul and of those of his ancestors ; and also the tithe of all things which are renewed each year to the earl's profit, as of woods, meadows, pastures and waters or the like; witnesses, Gilbert son of Picot, Bertram the chamberlain, William de Verdoun, Martin son of Brito, Richard de Wygornia, Nicholas son of Liulph, William de Aula, Vincent Ad' clerk, at Covintre.

Professor Barraclough clearly believes that this William de Verdun was the son of Ralph de Verdun of Bloxham in Oxfordshire, a younger brother of Bertram III de Verdun who is cited in 1180 as custos of the castle of Tillières (sur-Avre) in Normandy and in 1203 as heir of William de Verdun. During his career Walter served as Sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire and Constable of The Tower of London. In his work on the charters of the Earls of Chester, Barraclough makes two references to this, giving different estimated dates for the death of this William de Verdun. Charter No. 259, a grant to the abbey of Montmorel in diocese of Avranches c.1191-1194, was witnessed at St. James-de-Beuvron by Guillelmo de Verdun. Barraclough's accompanying note says: William de Verdun may have been dead by 1195 (P.R.S., N.S. vii, p. 195), and was certainly dead some time before 1203 when Walter de Verdun fined as heir for his lands (ibid., xviii, p. 111). But Barraclough then contradicts himself with a note under charter No. 337, a grant of Tew (Great Tew, Oxfordshire) in 1205, which was witnessed by Willelmo de Verdun: William de Verdun died in 1205, in which year his brother Walter claimed his inheritance (P.R.S., N.S. xviii, p. 111). Hagger, in his book on the de Verdun family tells us that Walter fined 120 marks in 1204 'for having one knight's fee in Bloxham which was Ralph de Verdun's, his father, and William's, his brother, whose heir he is.' How William is cited witnessing a charter in 1205 when he was dead in 1204 remains an open question. Perhaps it may be due to the date of confirmation of the charter occuring after the charter was actually signed or a simple editorial error by Barraclough, who had anyway contradicted himself on this by providing two dates for William's death; or perhaps there were more de Verduns around at the time called 'William', in the service of Ranulf de Blondeville, Earl of Chester. The name 'William' was also found used by members of the family in Normandy, and at least one William de Verdun who appears in many of Ranulf of Chester's charter's in Normandy and England is the same person, holding land on both sides of the channel. This adds further opportunity for confusion. It is equally possible that all the William de Verduns cited in the charters of the Earls of Chester may be just two individuals.

As mentioned, the same William de Verdun appears as a witness to quite a number of Ranulf de Blondeville's charters including ones relating to Coventry, which was one of Ranulf's possessions. It is clear that William and other associates of the Earl of Chester had property interests in Coventry. In the year 1200, William de Verdun and his wife Emma are mentioned in a record relating to rent to the value of 10s 4d in Coventry being conveyed to the Abbot of Coombe Abbey, just to the east of Coventry. This snippet of information, which reveals the name of William's wife, is mentioned in Peter R. Coss's book Lordship, Knighthood and Locality : A Study in English Society c.1180-1280 and he gives as his source for this information Early Records 767.46

The person recorded as Bertram the chamberlain in Ranulf of Chester's charter above may appear at first to be Bertram III de Verdun, who has elsewhere been said to be the man who appears in other charters of Ranulf as 'Bertramo Cameraro'. Bertram had administered Ranulf's inheritance until he came of age and is recorded in quite a number of records and charters relating to the Earldom of Chester for a period of time while he was still young. In Volume I of his history of Cheshire, Ormerod provides this information on page 55, which is headed Leycester's Prolegomena:

Chap. IV. A Catalogue of the Chamberlains of Chester

...the third person listed: 

Bertramus de Verdon, chamberlain in the time of Hugh Cyveliok, and also in the time of Randle Blundeville. This Bertram was sheriff 31 and 33 Hen. 2. 1187. He lived in the reigns of Henry the Second, Richard I, and king John.

However, Ormerod was mistaken and the information he gives is not accurate. We know that Bertram III de Verdun did not live in the reign of King John as he had died whilst on crusade with Richard I, years before John became King. In addition, we know that there was another man called Bertram who appears in charters as chamberlain to the Earl of Chester, who some writers have confused with Bertram III de Verdun. Luckily records survive that clearly identify that there were two men called Bertram who were associated with the Earldom of Chester, with them both appearing as witnesses to the same charters. The one who was not a de Verdun married Mabel, daughter of William Flamenc and heiress of Meols on the Wirral. Meols was formerly called Great Meols. It was a township in West Kirby Parish of the Wirral Hundred, becoming part of Hoylake cum West Kirby civil parish.

A collection at the John Rylands Library labelled Manor of Meols, comprises fourteen old deeds relating to Great and Little Meols (Reference Numbers: GB 133 RYCH/1274-1286). It is these that prove that 'Bertram the Chamberlain' and Bertram de Verdun were not necessarily (or always) the same man, as shown below, which is a transcription of the entry from the the libraries online indexes:

Great and Little Meols (Cheshire)

Copy of Grant (n.d. [14th cent.]) | Reference: GB 133 RYCH/1274 | Language of Material: Latin

Scope and Content: Copy of a grant by H(ugh), Earl of Chester, to Bertram, his chamberlain, of Mabel, daughter of William Flamenc, and her inheritance of Meles. Witness list: 'Testibus Bertramo de Verd', Johanne, constabulario Cestr', Radulpho Dapifero de Monte Alto, Roolant de Verd', Thoma dispensatore, Giliberto filio pibot, Willelmo Barb'ap'l et multis aliis apud Cestr'.'

This is a 14th-century copy only, the original dating from c.1180. With it is a similar copy, RYCH/1274a.


Edited, with a full transcript and detailed commentary, by Geoffrey Barraclough in The charters of the Anglo-Norman Earls of Chester, c.1071-1237, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 126 (1988), pp. 199-200 (charter no. 194).

Another charter that follows this is dated after the death of Bertram III de Verdun in August 1192, whilst on crusade:

Grant (n.d. [temp. John, c.1199-1216])

Reference: GB 133 RYCH/1277

Language of Material: Latin | Scope and Content: 

Grant by Mabel, wife of Bertram the chamberlain, on the marriage of her daughter, Alicia, and William, son of Bernard. Witnesses as in [ref... RYCH/]1276.

Another charter that mentions 'Bertram the Chamberlain' is recorded in Ormerod's 'History of the County Palatine and City of Chester' (1819), within a section on 'Teverton' in Cheshire (i.e. Tiverton) within the chapter for Edisbury Hundred (Volume II, page 148), which has connections with the de Verduns of Biddulph & Darlaston. Ormerod provides a transcription of part of a charter of R. de Verdun, dean of St. John's in Chester, which concerned a grant of land in Teverton to his sister 'Lucia de Verdun':

Omnibus, &c. R. de Verdun, decanus Cestr. Sciatis me dedisse Luciae de Verdun sorori meae pro fidelitate, &c. 4 bovates terrae in Teverton, reddendo mihi annuatim, unum par calcarum vel 4d. &c. Test. [i.e. witnessed by] Ph'o de Horreby tunc Just. Cest. [i.e. Philip de Orreby then Justice of Chester] Warino de Vernun, Hamone de Mascy, Will'mo de Venables, Liulfo Vicecom', Mag'ro Alexandro, Bertramo Camerario, &c. &c.s


s Harleian MS 2038. p.65

It is not known who 'R. de Verdun' was, but since the name Roger de Verdun appears as a family name in a variety of other sources in Cheshire and Staffordshire over quite a few generations, perhaps 'R' may mean 'Roger', who might be another brother or son of Bertram III de Verdun or perhaps he is Roger, son of Henry I de Verdun of Darlaston, who is mentioned below in relation to his father's grant of Teverton to Roger's sister Alice. Whatever the answer may be, 'Teverton' or as it is known today Tiverton, occurs recorded in later records (see below) that confirm the de Verduns of Darlaston held part of Tiverton from the early 13th into the later 14th century, and that this wasn't their only land in Cheshire, as is illustrated below. As is confirmed below, the appearance of Philip de Orreby, Justice of Chester, helps suggest a date for the charter as Philip is recorded as having held the office of Justice between 1202 and 1229, thereby confirming that Bertramo Camerario could not possibly be Bertram III de Verdun as he had died before 1200.

The family's connection with Cheshire continued and in the late 14th century we find Geoffrey de Verdon designated as 'of Fulshaw' where he and his descendants were seated into the early 16th century. A part of Fulshaw and the nearby 'Lordship of Verdon' were granted to the Order of St John, with whom the de Verdons appear to have retained a connection. The descendants of Geoffrey remained settled near Fulshaw as well as other parts of Cheshire and further afield in Yorkshire. As explained below, by the mid-1600s the surname of the family had begun to change from 'Verdon' to 'Vardon', and names of places that had formed part of the Lordship of Verdon also followed suit.

The de Verdun lords of Darlaston, Staffordshire 

(also of Derbyshire & Cheshire)

Descended from Bertram III de Verdun's son, Henry I de Verdun of Darlaston

The first of the de Verduns of Bucknall, Darlaston & Biddulph was Henry I de Verdun, son of Bertram III de Verdun. It may be that the first historical record of Henry was in 1199, when he is found claiming a virgate in Levedale, by right of his wife. In 1204, when he was recorded as holding the manor of Bucknall (now a suburb to the north west of Stoke-on-Trent) from his brother Nicholas de Verdun. 

An estate map of 'Biddulph inferior' dated 1597 displays the coat of arms of the de Verdon family, featuring an annulet as a mark of cadency - this indicates that the bearer of the arms was a 5th son, or otherwise a descendant of a 5th son. Since it was the de Verduns of Darlaston who held in Biddulph, these arms on the 1597 map may be suggesting that Henry I de Verdun was the 5th son of Bertram III de Verdun; but we cannot be sure whether this assumption is correct as no other original sources have yet been found that can confirm this. Nevertheless these arms on the old 1597 estate map are worthy of note. The source for this information is a history published in 1934, written by J. G. Cavenagh-Mainwaring, a direct descendant of one of the heiresses of the last male of the senior line of the de Verduns of Darlaston. Perhaps the author of the book may have had an old seal or some other records from before 1597, which displayed these 'arms of de Verdon'.

The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford.

An Account of the Family, and its connections by marriage and descent; with special reference to the Manor of Whitmore.

With Appendices, Pedigrees and Illustrations.

Compiled by J. G. Cavenagh-Mainwaring.

Pages 126 - 130


Page 130:

The arms of de Verdon on an estate map of Biddulph inferior, dated 1597, are “Or fretty gules, an annulet of the first for difference.” 

No other details are given, and no footnote to inform readers of the whereabouts of this map. The arms as described are illustrated below. 

ABOVE: The de Verdon coat of arms on the 1597 estate map of Biddulph inferior - described as: Or fretty gules, an annulet of the first for difference - the annulet is a cadency mark for a 5th son and his male descendants.

Henry de Verdun married Hawise, daughter and heiress of Engenulf de Gresley and his wife Alina (also recorded as Aliva or Aline), and he died c.1238. Engenulf had lands with his wife in Tunstall and Chell, now parts of Stoke-on-Trent. His name also appears as Engenulph, Eugenulf and Ingenulfus. The de Gresley family also had lands in Derbyshire, at Swadlincote, Gresley and elsewhere.

Alina, the lady of Darlaston, was the heiress of her brother Ralph, and their father was Robert fitzOrme of Darlaston, one of the sons of Orme le Guidon - a name literally translated as Orme the standard bearer, and his wife who is cited in contemporary records as having been a daughter of Nicholai Vicecomitis i.e. 'Nicholas the Sheriff' of Staffordshire. It has been speculated that this Nicholas the Sheriff may have been either Nicholas de Stafford, another son of Robert de Stafford, or Nicholas de Beauchamp whose identity otherwise remains something of a mystery. An Abstract of the Contents of the Burton Abbey Chartulary (then in the possession of the Marquis of Angelsey at Beaudesert) was published in the Staffordshire Collections Volume 5, Part I in 1884. Major-General Wrottesley who provided this abstract suggests in a footnote (page 10) that some entries seems to establish the identity of Nicholas the Sheriff of Staffordshire temp. Henry I. and that he was Nicholas de Beauchamp. However, Wrottesley's use of the word 'seems' rather suggests that he wasn't entirely certain, so it remains possible that this Sheriff was Nicholas de Stafford, elder son of Robert de Stafford and the brother of Nigel de Stafford, Alina de Gresley's ancestor. His name does not appear anywhere in the Chartulary as Nicholas 'de Beauchamp', but (in the order in which these names appear in the text) as: Nicholao Vicecomiti de Stafford, Nicholaum de Stafford Vicecomitem, Nicholao Vicecomiti Staffordiæ and N. de Stafford Vicecomitem

Orme also appears in contemporary records as Ormus de Derlavestona i.e. 'of Darlaston'. He is also found mentioned as Orme le Guldon, and his first name is found given as Orm, Orme, Ormus, and Horm. Some have conjectured that Orme was the King's standard bearer, or perhaps of one of the great nobles like the Staffords. Orme's father appears in Domesday as Ricardi Forestari ('Richard the Forester') who is called 'Chief Forester of Staffordshire' by Major-General Hon. George Wrottesley, in his abstract of the Plea Rolls of Staffordshire, and elsewhere as Keeper of the king's Forest of Cannock and the New Forest of Staffordshire, which stretched from Tunstall south along the line of the Trent as far south as Tixall to the east of Stafford, and in width from the west of Stone, encompassing Darlaston, eastwards almost to Uttoxeter. Whatever the precise wording of the official appointment Richard the Forester held and royal service he owed for his lands, a number of his Staffordshire estates were located within the bounds of the then much extended Forest of Cannock, and the district to its north that later became known as the New Forest of Staffordshire.

Domesday records that Richard the Forester (also found as 'Ricardus Forestarius') held ten manors in Staffordshire as Tenant-in-Chief, from the King. These ten are entered in Domesday under the heading TERRA RICARDI FOREST’ and immediately underneath in the first entry given as RICARDI forestari. Four of these - Whitmore, Thursfield (now called 'Newchapel'), Hanford and Clayton were held from Richard by Nigel de Stafford, grandfather of Engenulf de Gresley who married Alina the great granddaughter of Richard the Forester, and their daughter Alina inherited some of the Staffordshire estates held by Richard in 1086. Some of these were subsequently inherited by Alina and Engenulph's daughter Hawise on her marriage to Henry I de Verdun, already mentioned above. The other manors Richard the Forester held in Staffordshire as tenant-in-chief were: Dimsdale, Estendone (believed to be 'Huntington' in the old parish of Cannock), Hanchurch, Knutton, Rodbaston and, lastly, Normacot whose lords in 1086 were Almer and Wulfric. In the next column he appears under another section/chapter heading for lands of the King's Thanes (Terra Tainorum Regis) simply as RICARDI holding an eleventh Staffordshire manor at (Little) Onn, which in the Domesday entry is spelled 'Anne'. 

Richard's lands in Warwickshire appear listed under the heading TERRA RICARDI FORESTARII, and within the entries for the separate estates that he held his name is also given as R. Venator ('Richard the Hunter'). These included 'three parts of Chesterton' and Kenilworth, which he held directly of King William the Conqueror as part of the King's manor of Stoneleigh. King Edward the Confessor had held Kenilworth in 1066, and it was later held by Geoffrey de Clinton, father of Henry de Verdun's grandmother Lescelina de Verdun. It is the later Book of Fees that has led historians to conclude that Richard the Forester of Warwickshire was the same man as Richard the Forester of Staffordshire, since it records that Chesterton, then held by one of his descendants Hugo de Loges for the service of forestership of Cannock in Staffordshire: Hugo de Loges tenet per forestarium de Canoc in Cestreton (Source: Liber Feodorum. The Book of Fees commonly called Testa de Nevill, Part 1. A.D. 1198-1242 page 8, A.D. 1198, Warwick and Leicester). It is suggested that this may have been the case in 1086 and that Richard may therefore have held his lands in both counties by 'forest-serjeanty'. More details are provided in Wrottesley's abstraction of the Plea Rolls of Staffordshire, in 1270:

Plea Rolls for Staffordshire: 1269-70

- abstracted by Major-General Hon. George Wrottesley

Collections for a History of Staffordshire, Volume 4

Published by The William Salt Archaeological Society, 1883.

Pages 179-180:

Roll No. 156

The second membrane, headed, “Placita coram Domino Rege, a die Paschæ, in quindecim dies, apud Westm : anno, etc., L. quarto.” [27th April, 1270.]

       Warw.   The King, by the same Thomas, sued the said Richard for a messuage and four carucates of land and 20 marks of annual rent in Cestreton, in which Richard had no entry except as above.

       Richard appeared, and defended his right to the lands, and stated that a certain Richard le Venur,1 his ancestor, had held the said tenement in the time of St. Edward the King of England, by Sergeanty, and from the said Richard the tenements had descended from heir to heir of the heirs procreated of the said Richard to Hugh de Loges his father, whose heir he is, and the said Hugh his father, after the death of Hugh, grandfather of Richard, entered into the said tenements, and held them by Sergeanty of the present King, as his son and heir, and he asked that the Lord the King, if it was his pleasure (si placeat), should show cause in what way Hugh his father had changed his status in the said lands and tenements within the King's own reign, so that after his death they should revert to the King.

       And Thomas replied that Hugh de Loges, father of Richard, had the custody of the Hayes and Royal Forest of Kanoc, and held the said tenements of the King by Sergeanty......

    1 Richard Chenvin was the chief Forester of Staffordshire A.D. 1086 (Domesday Book). 

The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire (edited by H. Arthur Doubleday and William Page F.S.A.) has more to tell us about Richard the Forester and provides further confirmation of his role as custodian of the Forest of Cannock.

A History of Warwickshire - Volume I (James Street, Haymarket. 1904)

Extract from page 281:


    Richard the forester, whose name is entered as if he were a serjeant rather than a baron,2 was the forester of Cannock Chase and held a fief in Staffordshire and Warwickshire larger than those of some of the barons ; in Staffordshire, indeed, his lands are entered amongst those of the other tenants-in-chief.  It should be observed that in the Warwickshire Domesday he is thrice styled Richard the huntsman (venator) ; for the offices of forester and huntsman were closely connected.  In the neighbouring county of Northamptonshire the baronial family of Engaine combined a hunting tenure with a forestership in fee, and the Waleran ‘venator’ of Domesday in Hants and Wiltshire was also a forester in fee.  We learn a good deal from the Testa de Nevill, under Warwickshire, about Richard and his descendants3 down to Hugh de Loges who held his office under Henry III., and are also given some detailed information on his manors.  It is expressly stated that he founded the church of Chesterton and that his son and successor gave it to Kenilworth Priory.

       At Kenilworth itself Richard had a holding entered separately from the rest of his fief on account of its being a member of the king’s manor of Stoneleigh.4 

       2  In the schedule of names he heads a group as ‘Richard and other thegns and Serjeants of the King,’ and he occupies in the text a corresponding position.

       3  ‘Willelmus Bastardus quando perquisivit Angliam dedit cuidam servienti suo Ricardo Cheven (sic) tres partes de Cestreton cum aliis feodis pertinentibus ad Castreton (sic) ad custodiendam forestam suam de Kanoc per x marcas solvendas domino Regi pro ballia forestæ,’ etc. (pp. 86, 87, 51, 62, 93).

       4  See p. 294 below.

The page numbers given in footnote '3' above are from the Testa de Nevill sive Liber Feodorum in Curia Scaccarii - Temp. Hen. III. & Edw. I. published in 1807 (see via this link). The edition of the Testa de Nevill published in 1923 provides an easier transcription without the medieval latin abbreviations for words, as follows, from page 1274 to page 1275:

A.D. 1251 - 1252


    Willelmus Bastardus quando perquisivit Angliam dedit cuidam servienti suo Ricardo Chineu 4 tres partes de Cestreton’ cum aliis feodis pertinentibus ad Cestreton’ ad custodiendam forestam suam de Kanoc pro x.m. solvendis domino regi pro balliva foreste et pro aliis tenementis pertinentibus etc.

4  Read Chiven


William the Bastard when he inquired into England [i.e. at the time of the Domesday Survey], gave to one of his servants a certain Richard Chiven three parts of Chesterton with other fees pertaining to Chesterton for the guarding of his [i.e. the king's] forest of Cannock, for 10 marks to be paid to the lord King for the bailiwick of the forest and for other tenements that pertained to it.

It has been suggested that 'Ricardo Cheven' was the son of one of the king's thanes in Staffordshire called 'Chenuin' or 'Chenvin'. As mentioned above, Richard the Forester has been equated with the 'Ricardi' who held Little Onn in Domesday, the details appearing within the section detailing Terra Tainorum Regis. The Thanes are named, with their lands, in this order: Chenuin (otherwise 'Chenvin'), Udi, Alric, Aluric, Almarus, Dunning, Leving, Ulwin, Gamel, Sperri, Ricard, Alricus, Alwold, Otha, Levild, and Alward. Rev. Robert Eyton discusses this in his work on the Staffordshire Domesday Survey.

Domesday Studies: An Analysis and Digest of the Staffordshire Survey

The Rev. Robert W. Eyton, Late Rector of Ryton, Salop.

London: Published by Trubner & Co., 57 and 59, Ludgate Hill. 1881.

Chapter IV - The Domesday Fiefs of Staffordshire

Page 55 to 56, 'Lands of Chenuin, and other Thanes of King William':

       Sir William Dugdale, when giving account of the Warwickshire Manor of Chesterton, seems to suggest that Richard and Chenuin were two names of one person, and that that person was Richard Forester, also called Richard Venator in the Warwickshire Survey. I bow to so great an authority.

       At this rate, two Warwickshire estates (Chesterton was one of them), which Domesday attributes to Richard Venator, and six Warwickshire estates, which Domesday attributes to Richard Forester, were all in one man's fief.

       Erdeswick, after some little assumption as to the Domesday position of the person whom he calls "Chenene," says — "Which Chenene had issue, Richard de Chenene, I think, who had issue Margery, married to William Croke [sic], who had issue William that was hanged, and Margery, married to Robert Broche [sic), who had issue Margery, married to Hugh de Leges [sic], who had issue Hugh de Leges, that lived in Henry the Third's time."

       The curious and seemingly well-preserved traditions which guided both Dugdale and Erdeswick were rehearsed at an inquest on Warwickshire Serjeantries, held, if I mistake not, at least 160 years after Domesday. It was distinctly pointed out that "Richard Cheven" was a serviens (or serjeant) of William the Conqueror, to whom the King gave lands in Chesterton and elsewhere for the service of keeping (custodiendi) the Forest of "Kanoc" (Cannock). The descent of estate from Cheven to "Croc," and from "Croc" to "Broc," and so on to "De Loges," is well and circumstantially made out. (See Testa de Nevill, pp. 86, 87, &c.) In another Record I find Hugh de Loges holding Rodbaston as part of the same serjeantry.

       Now, whereas Rodbaston was of the Domesday Fief of Richard Forester, and Chesterton of the Domesday Fief of Richard Venator, it seems clear that there were not two Domesday Serjeants, but one, and that his name was Richard Cheven.

       This matter may seem irrelevant to Domesday, but it was necessary to give some detailed proof of coincidences which exhibit the Great Record as speaking of the same person under so many aspects and so many names.

       I ought to add that Codsall, the only Staffordshire estate expressly given to Chenuin in Domesday, remained in no such succession as Chesterton and Rodbaston. In Henry II.'s time it had passed to Stephen de Beauchamp.

This leaves us with the impression that whilst 'Richard Cheven' may be the same man as 'Richard the Forester' and 'Richard the Huntsman', he may not have had any connection with the King's Thane called 'Chenuin' / Chenvin, even though Erdeswick's words suggest that 'Chenvin' was the father of 'Richard de Chenene' who was the same man as 'Richard the Forester'? If the Thane was the father of Richard the Forester, one might have expected Codsall to pass into the ownership of Richard's descendants, unless it passed into the hands of a sibling of Richard. The other uncertainty is how the estates of Richard the Forester in Warwickshire passed into the ownership of his descendants the de Loges family (seemingly with the forestership of Cannock), whilst those in Staffordshire were generally inherited by the descendants of Richard's son Orme of Darlaston. Perhaps Richard's inheritances in both counties were split among several of his children.

I return to the the descendants of Orme.

Alina of Darlaston's 1st cousin Emma, daughter of Radulphus ('Ralph') fitzOrm married Adam de Audley, son of Liulf de Audley (otherwise recorded as 'Aldithley'), who was one of the English tenants of the de Verduns of Alton. Hagger tells us that Orme of Darlaston was another of the de Verduns' English tenants, holding lands in Fenton, Biddulph and Bucknall from the de Verdons.

The Darlaston held by the family is the small settlement located south of Stoke-on-Trent, a few miles west of Stone, on the other side of the River Trent, not the other place by Wolverhampton in south Staffordshire. Darlaston is the site of 'Wulferecester', now marked on maps as 'Bury Bank', traditionally said to have been the location of a palace of King Wulfere of Mercia. Whatever the precise truth may be, the older name and tradition suggests that it was an important centre of power within Mercia. The parish of Biddulph adjoins the Cheshire parish of Astbury and the villages are only a few miles apart. At one time, the Verdons of Astbury parish (see below) had also held lands in the parish of Biddulph, but this was entirely coincidental since they inherited them through marriage with another family.

Hawise de Gresley brought in marriage to Henry de Verdun, her manors of Darlaston and Nether Biddulph in Staffordshire along with the advowson of the church at Biddulph, and other property in Derbyshire including Swadlincote. Darlaston had been confirmed to her grandfather Robert fitzOrme by the Abbott of Burton Abbey. Henry and Hawise, and their descendants came to hold other estates in Staffordshire and Cheshire. For example, in 1199 Henry claimed a virgate in Levedale, Staffordshire, in his wife's right (ref: Staffordshire Historical Collections Vol. I, pp. 163, 165). The de Verduns continued to hold this land generations later. Hawise's ancestor, Robert de Stafford had held 3 hides in Levedale in 1086. The de Gresleys were the same family as the de Staffords. Engenulf's father was William fitzNigel of Gresley founder of Gresley Priory, son of Nigel de Stafford. Nigel was the son of Robert de Stafford and his wife Avice de Clare, said to have been a daughter of Richard fitz Gilbert by his wife Rohese Giffard. Richard fitz Gilbert was the son of Gilbert, Count of Brionne who was son of Geoffrey, Count of Eu illegitimate son of Duke Richard I of Normandy, nicknamed sans peur', whose great grandson was William the Conqueror. 

Robert de Stafford was a son of Roger de Tosny (otherwise Toeni, son of Ralph/Raoul I de Tosny), hereditary Standard-bearer to the Duke of Normandy, and was a younger brother to Raoul (Ralph) II de Tosny who is otherwise found mentioned with the toponym 'de Conches'. Raoul was one of the companions of William the Conqueror whose presence at the Battle of Hastings is cited by William of Poitiers. His brother Robert de Stafford is also thought to have been present and appears mentioned with his brother Ralph in some of the Rolls of William's companions, most notably the list of names carved on the wall inside the church of Notre-Dame at Dives-sur-Mere. The two brothers were rewarded by King William with extensive estates in England. Domesday records that Robert held more than 130 manors, the majority in Staffordshire where he was the greatest magnate, holding 81 manors. In his history The Gresleys of Drakelow, Falconer Madan shared an anecdote about Raoul's involvement at Hastings, which is taken from The Roman de Rou. The tradition recorded there was that Duke William asked Raoul to carry his standard as was his hereditary right, but Raoul declined to do so as he wished to take a fuller part in the fighting alongside the Duke. The honour of carrying the standard was then offered to Walter Giffard, who also declined it, so it was carried by Turstin fitz Rollo le Blanc. Madan provides these words from the original Roman de Rou by Robert Wace:


Portez, dist il, mon gonfannon, | Ne vos voil faire se dreit non : | Par dreit e par anceisorie | Deivent estre de Normendie | Vostre parent gonfanier, | Mult furent tuit boen chevalier.

Edgar Taylor, provides an extended account of this story in his Master Wace, his chronicle of the Norman Conquest from the Roman de Rou translated with notes and illustrations, published in 1837. It is a great traditional story to have been passed on down the ages. Its veracity is impossible to establish and it was probably embellished over time as it was retold. However, it is such a vibrant tale that Edgar Taylor records in his version that this is worth sharing in its entirety, whilst leaving latin scholars of the original Roman de Rou to debate the quality of Taylor's translation.

From pages 169-171 of Chapter XVII - 'Who was chosen to carry the Duke's Gonfanon':

   The duke called a serving man, and ordered him to bring forth the gonfanon which the pope had sent him ; and he who bore it having unfolded it, the duke took it, reared it, and called to Raol de Conches3; “Bear my gonfanon,” said he, “for I would not but do you right ; by right and by ancestry your line are standard bearers of Normandy, and very good knights have they all been.” “Many thanks to you,” said Raol, “for acknowledging our right; but by my faith, the gonfanon shall not this day be borne by me. To-day I claim quittance of the service, for I would serve you in other guise. I will go with you into the battle, and will fight the English as long as life shall last, and know that my hand will be worth any twenty of such men.”

   Then the duke turned another way, and called to him Galtier Giffart4. “Do thou take this gonfanon,” said he, “and bear it in the battle.” But Galtier Giffart answered, “Sire, for God's mercy look at my white and bald head; my strength has fallen away, and my breath become shorter. The standard should be borne by one who can endure long labour; I shall be in the battle, and you have not any man who will serve you more truly; I will strike with my sword till it shall be died in your enemies’ blood.”

   Then the duke said fiercely, “By the splendour of God5, my lords, I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great need.” “Sire,” said Giffart, “not so ! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse from any felony towards you ; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both soldiers and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as I now have ; and if God please, I will serve you : if need be, I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours.”

   “By my faith,” quoth the duke, “I always loved thee, and now I love thee more ; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the better for it all thy days.” Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised, Tosteins Fitz Rou le blanc6, by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux7. To him he delivered the gonfanon; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly, and with good heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheritance on that account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold their inheritance for ever.

It is no doubt pure coincidence that one of Raoul II de Tosny's nephew's descendants married a descendant of 'Orme the Standard-bearer' (see above). 

The father of Robert de Stafford is confirmed by evidence found in a number of old charters, one of which was Henry I's charter to Conches - Professor Judith Green mentions this in her 'The Aristocracy of Norman England' (1997), in which she writes that Robert of Stafford was a younger son of Roger de Tosny, and the source she gives for this is 'Gallia Christiana, XI': Henry I's charter for Conches included confirmation of a charter of Robert of Stafford son of Roger de Tosny. The charter was made by Robert with the consent of his son Nicholas - filio meo Nicholao. The same source is quoted to support the view that Robert de Stafford was the son of Roger de Tosny, in 'The Gresleys of Drakelow', which is mentioned above and was published in 1899 by the William Salt Archaeological Society (Collections for a History of Staffordshire). A confirmation to Wootton Wawen Priory in Warwickshire recorded by Dugdale in his 'Monasticon Anglicanum' (page 994, Vol.6, Part 2, James Bohn edition, 1846) provides more insight into the Stafford-de Tosny link: Confirmatio Robertus de Stafford, de Ecclesia de Wotton....avus meus Robertus de Toenio, et pater meus Nicolaus de Stafford, which translates as 'Robert de grandfather Robert de Tosny [first 'de Stafford'] and my father Nicholas de Stafford'. The heading of this entry is Wotton-Wawen, in agro Warwicensi, Cella Abbatiae de Conchis in Normannia, which thereby confirms that Wotton Wawen was a daughter house of the Abbey of Conches. 

Sources appear to suggest that Roger de Tosny may have had two wives. It is said by some that his first wife was Estefania, daughter of Raymond Count of Barcelona and his wife Ermesinde of Carcassonne, the marriage occurring after Roger went with other Normans to help the Christian rulers of Northern Spain in their wars against the Moors, who threatened from the south. At the time, the widowed Ermesinde, was Regent of Barcelona during the minority of her son. The chronicler and monk Adémar de Chabannes (d. 1034) relates some of the earliest recorded tales about Roger's adventuring in Spain and is the first to mention that Ermesinde gave her daughter in marriage to him, but Adémar does not provide a name for this daughter - it is others who provide the name 'Estefania'. Roger's second wife - or perhaps only wife if the marriage to 'Estefania' is an error - was called Godehildis, otherwise recorded as 'Gotelina'. Falconer Madan in his book The Gresley's of Drakelow, stated that Godehildis was the daughter of Raymond and Ermesinde and mother of Roger's sons Raoul/Ralph II de Tosny and Robert de Stafford, and does not mention Estefania. Other historians have made the same claim, with the result that there has been uncertainty expressed over which lady was Ralph's mother. Orderic Vitalis and William of Jumièges both only record that Godehildis was Roger's wife. William of Jumièges says that she was the mother of Ralph de Tosny, and therefore by implication his younger brother Robert de Stafford, but he does not provide any mention of Godehildis's parentage. Whether Godehildis was Catalan, the daughter of Ermesinde or not, or perhaps Norman with no connection with Spain, appears to be unknown. What is apparent is that she was the mother of Roger's sons Ralph and Robert. 

William of Jumièges tells us that Roger & Godehildis's eldest son Raoul/Ralph de Tosny had a daughter named after her grandmother, which would seem to provide further evidence that this younger Ralph and his brother Robert de Stafford were the sons of Godehildis. The younger Godehildis, daughter of Ralph, married as her first husband Robert de Neubourg a younger son of Henry de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Warwick and his wife Margaret a daughter of Geoffrey II Count of Perche and Count of Mortagne ("Il prit pour femme la sœur de Roger du Ternois, fille de Raoul II, nommée Godechilde" - from page 308 of the edition of published in 1826 by M. Guizot, Professeur D’histoire Moderne à l’académie de Paris). Other sources, including Orderic Vitalis, confirm that she married Baldwin de Boulogne, son of Count Eustace II of Boulogne and Ida of Lorraine, daughter of Godfrey III, Duke of Lower Lorraine and Count of Verdun-sur-Meuse. If her marriage to Robert de Neubourg did indeed occur as William of Jumièges tells us, then the logic of chronology suggests she married him first, because she went with Baldwin on the expedition to the Holy Land and died before he became the first King of Jerusalem.

After Roger de Tosny's death in 1040, during a war with Roger de Beaumont - part of a wider set of private feuds between the nobility of Normandy during the unstable years of Duke William's minority, Godehildis was married to Richard, Count of Évreux, who was the son of Robert, Archbishop of Rouen and Count of Évreux, whose father was Duke Richard I of Normandy. 

Professor David Douglas provides some interesting details about the de Tosny family in his book on William the Conqueror, which has been cited above, and this particular excerpt is worth including here:-


From: William the Conqueror, by David Douglas (Methuen paperback edition, 1983 reprint, page 86): 

Tosny is the earliest family to be discovered in Normandy wherein a territorial appellation is found to be descendable in the manner of a surname, and the succession which has here been displayed is thus of exceptional interest. Similarly, the marriage alliances formed by members of this family are symptomatic of its growing power. Not only did the widow of Roger I marry a count of Évreux, but his sister linked Normandy to Maine by allying herself with Guy to Laval, and one of his daughters married William fitz Osbern, steward of Normandy, and later Earl of Hereford.2 Nor was the old English aristocracy itself to be unaffected by the Tosny fortunes, for Ralph IV of Tosny (the son of the man who fought at Hastings) married a daughter of Waltheof, son of Earl Siward of Northumbria.3 A better illustration of the expanding influence of a rising Norman family in the eleventh century could hardly be obtained.

[Douglas's accompanying footnotes] 

2 Cal. Doc. France, no. 1171 ; Le Prévost, Eure, vol. I, p. 415.

3 Ord. Vit., vol. iv, p. 198 ; Vita et Passio Waldevi (ed. Michel), p. 126.

The Gresley's became Baronets of Drakelow in Derbyshire, south of Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire and west of nearby Swadlincote, which was itself located south west of Weston-on-Trent and Aston-on-Trent, home to other de Verdons (see below).

ABOVE: Sir Peter de Gresley, who died c.1310 - published in the 'Collections for a History of Staffordshire 1899' under the volume title of The Gresleys of Drakelow, An Account of the Family, and Notes of its connections by Marriage and Descent from the Norman Conquest to the Present Day; compiled by Falconer Madan MA.

Henry I de Verdun and his brother Nicholas de Verdun are found together in 1223 attesting Henry de Audley's foundation charter of Hulton (Hilton) Abbey in Staffordshire. Their names appear as Nicholao de Verdon and Henrico de Verdun in the full transcription of this Carta Fundationis, which was published in Volume 5 of the expanded 1846 edition of Monasticon Anglicanum, by Sir William Dugdale, Knight, Garter Principal King at Arms

Henry de Verdun is known to have been Sheriff of Staffordshire and Shropshire (the roles were combined from 1204 to 1344), and also Coroner, in succession to Henry de Deneston. This is revealed in the Plea Rolls of Staffordshire for 1228, in a case from the Hundred of Offelawe, recorded under the Pleas of the Crown heard at Lichfield:

Collections for a History of Staffordshire, Volume 4, 1883, pp 68-75

Pleas of the Crown.Roll No.30. Hundred of Offelawe. m. 11.

Robert de Bosco, accused of the death of John Buche, before M. de Patushill and his associate Justiciaries last itinerent withdrew himself; and Henry de Anestun (de Deneston) then Sheriff and Coroner, was commanded to put him in exigenda and to outlaw him, because it was testified that he was guilty; and Henry de Verdun, Sheriff and Coroner, states that he [i.e. Robert de Bosco] was not outlawed.... The sureties of Henry the Sheriff [i.e. Henry de Deneston] are Geoffrey de Greselega [Gresley], John fitz Philip, and Milo de Verdun [Henry's brother]..... 

As mentioned above, the de Verduns of Darlaston had lands and connections in Cheshire, which included 'Tiverton', already referred to above having been granted c.1208 by R. de Verdun, Dean of Chester, to his sister Luciae, which Ormerod recorded in his History of Cheshire (Vol. II, p. 276). A slightly expanded transcription of the same charter, translated into English, appeared in The Cheshire Sheaf, 29th December 1920, page 114; Notes / [4212] Some Cheshire Deeds (continued from No. [4200]. The introductory description reads: Some Cheshire Deeds. The following notes of deeds have been taken from Volume No.3 of the Shakerley MSS., in the possession of Sir Walter Shakerley Bt. of Somerford Park, Congleton, who kindly allowed me to examine some of the volumes. Most of the collections are the work of William Vernon of Shakerley and Somerford, the Cheshire Antiquary. The name of the 'author' of these words is provided at the bottom of the set of printed and transcribed deeds - R. Stewart Brown. 

This transcription helpfully records the full list of witnesses, which enables us to date it approximately, and also throws up connections between some of the witnesses that provides a good suggestion about the identity of 'R. de Verdun':

Tiverton: R. de Verdun, Dean of Chester had given to Lucy de Verdun his sister, for fealty and service, 4 bovates in Teverton of his demesne and two of the land of Rushtcorn. Rent a pair of spurs or 3d at St. Martin. Witn: Ph. de Orreby then Justice of Chester; Warin de Vernun, Ha. de Mascy, Wm. de Venables, Liulf sheriff, Master Alexander, Bertram chamberlain [not as some have thought, Bertram de Verdun], Alex. de ____, Hen. Torpelegh, Rob. de Pulle, John de Sancta Maria, Ran. Dubold (ay), Ric. son of Radulf, Rad. Farrede "juvene", Alex. of Oxford. 

Date: [About 1208]


- Teverton, known today as Tiverton, is in the parish of Bunbury almost exactly midway between Chester and Nantwich, Cheshire. 

- Rushtcorn (Runcorn) is c.5km north east of Tiverton, c.6 miles east of Winsford and c.2 miles north east of Tarporley

- Philip de Orreby is noted as Justice of Chester 1202-1229 [source: Cheshire Sheaf, 3rd Series, Volume XX, page 61]. This helps confirm that 'Bertram chamberlain' cannot be Bertram III de Verdun as he died on Crusade in 1192. 

- Bertram chamberlain - as already detailed above, he is easily confused with Bertram III de Verdun, who once acted as chamberlain of the Earldom of Chester during the minority of Ranulf de Blondeville. In this particular deed, 'Bertram the Chamberlain' is the man who Hugh Kevelioc, Earl of Chester granted in marriage Maud, daughter of William Flamenc, along with her inheritance of Meols.  

The next time the de Verduns' estate in Tiverton is mentioned, it was in the hands of Henry I de Verdun. This perhaps suggests that Lucy may have been his daughter, and 'R. de Verdun' may have been Henry's son 'Roger de Verdun', in which case perhaps the suggested date of 'About 1208' is probably not correct and be later in the period during which Philip de Orreby was Justice of Chester. If Lucy and 'R. de Verdun' were of an earlier generation, then conceivably they may have been siblings of Henry de Verdun. At this point, no records have emerged to confirm one way or another. 

Returning to Ormerod's history (Volume II), his sub-chapter on 'Tiverton' continues on page 149 with these words:

Henry de Verdont, shortly afterwards, in the time of king John, or Henry the Third, granted by deeds without date, to Matthew son of Matthew de Hulgreve, an estate in Teverton, with the homages and services thereunto annexed, in free marriage with Alice de Verdon, his daughter; which grant was confirmed by Roger de Verdon, her brother, in 1232. Henry de Verdon sealed with two lions indorsed.

This Matthew de Hulgreveu, the representative of a younger branch of the Vernon family, resided at Hulgreve, near Minshull, where his family continued until the extinction of the male line, in the person of Henry de Hulgreve, anno 13 Ric. II.


t Harleian MS 2038. p.74

u The Hulgreve pedigree will be found in the account of Hulgreve.

Tiverton's connection between the de Verdun and de Hulgreve families is mentioned again in 'Parentia : Genealogical Memoirs', by George Ormerod DCL FRS of Tyldsley & Sedbury Park. Published within this is A Memoir of the Cheshire Domesday Roll, formerly preserved in the Exchequer of that Palatinate to which are appended A Calendar of Fragments of this lost record collected by the author and Notices of the Justiciaries of Chester in the Thirteenth Century. On page 13, under the sub-heading of 'In the time of Sir William de Vernon. 1229-1232 (itself part of a section that begins on page 11: Calendar of such entries in the Cheshire Domesday Roll as have been recovered from the documents cited.) appears the following:

16. Enrollment of grant by Henry de Verdon of vi bovates, etc., in Teverton, in frank marriage with Alice his daughter, to Matthew son of Matthew de Hulgreve, 1231. (F. 19.)

17. Enrollment of grant by Matthew de Hulgreve, to Matthew his eldest son, of half his lands in Hulgreve, Herdeswic, and Fudac, saving the capital messuage therein, and with engagement not to give, sell, or pledge, the other moiety, or divert it from said son or his heirs by Alice his wife, 1231. (F. 20.)

The man mentioned above in relation to Tiverton is Henry I de Verdun

A third of Teverton was still in the possession of the de Verdons in 1394 - we know this thanks to a record in the “Recognizance Rolls of Chester”, which are the Chancery Rolls of the Palatinate of Chester and contain enrolments of Charters, Letters Patent, Commissions and other documents. Here is the relevant extract:

1394, November 18th: (Beston, Beeston - cont.)

John de [Beeston], and Margaret, his wife, writ of livery to, on finding of an inquisition, viz., that Alice, who was the wife of William de Hulgreve of Teverton, died seized to herself, and her heirs of her body, and the body of the said William, her husband, of the gift of Hugh de Tofte, chaplain, of land in Erdeswyck called “Mayonesegh,” which John de Olton gave to Matthew de Hulgreve and Matthew, his son; of a third of the manor of Teverton, held of John de Verdon in socage; and of land in Minshull Vernon called Hulgreve, held of Ralph de Vernon, Kt, in socage, and by the service of six heads of barbed arrows; and that Margaret wife of the said John, and daughter of the said Alice, was next heir, and of the age of 24. [18 & 19 Ric.2. m. 1 d. (3), (5), (6).]

John son of William de Beston, John de Golburn, of Horton, and Richard Wodener, of Chester, tailor, sureties for the relief of. [Ibid. (4).]


Henry I de Verdun is mentioned in another early Cheshire deed, which refers to other lands he held in the county. A translation of this deed was published in The Cheshire Sheaf, page 97, November 1920, under the heading 'Some Early Cheshire Deeds - continued from No. 4160'.



Henry de Verdon gave to Roger his son two shillings and twopence farthing rent which Wm. de Norleg held of him in Chester at Gloverston and an assart in the vill of Louton which Keneric held of him, and lands which Adam de Faradon held of him and Wm Clerk in Middlecliff and his plot near the mill rendering 4 barbed arrows. 

Wtn. Wm. Parton, Rob. de Sumerton, Ivo de Aston, Ran. de Bovile, Rob. Salmon, Wm Chanu, Alex. de Bonebury, Patric de Bonebury, Rob. son of Wm. Chanu, Simon de Tyrisford, Wm. Clerk of Louton.

S. d. verie ancient.

T. +SIG HENRICI DE VERDUN, in a rundle 2 lyons counter saleant.

Added Note:

Henry's seal of '2 lyons counter saleant' is the same as that described above in the Tiverton deed as 'two lions indorsed'. 

Mention of Ivo de Aston may help date this deed, since Ivo's brother Robert fitz Payne (son of Robert fitz Payne who lived c.1166) died in 1233, and his brother Noel is mentioned in 1203.

The places mentioned are:

Gloverston (otherwise known as Gloverstone and Castle Gloverstone), was an area between Chester Castle and the City of Chester.

Louton is Lowton, a place c.7 miles south of Wigan in Lancashire, between Manchester and Liverpool.

Middlecliff may refer to Middle Cliff near Bradnop c.2.5km south east of Leek in Staffordshire (and c.5km north of Ipstones in Staffordshire). There is a Middle Cliff Farm there. Or it may refer to an as yet unidentified place in Cheshire.

Roger the son of Henry de Verdon, who received the rent of Gloverston at Chester, may have been the same man as 'R. de Verdun', Dean of Chester, who is mentioned above.

In 1293, during the 21st year if the reign of Edward I, Henry III de Verdun appears in the Stafford Eyre (Plea No.75), bringing a Writ of Right concerning the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary the Virgin at Combermere, Cheshire, specifically the Manor of East Grange (E. Graunge). Henry de Verdoun is named as the main plaintiff, with Braal (or C.), Philip (N. de), son of aunt of H. de Verdoun being recorded as another plaintiff. Other family names that are mentioned in this case are listed as:

Robert, ancestor of Henry de Verdoun & father of Aline.

Aline, daughter of Robert.

Hawise (Hauyse), daughter of Aline.

Petronilla (Pernele), daughter of Aline.

Henry, son of Dionisia.

Felice, daughter of Dionisia & sister of Henry & mother of Philip Braal.

Henry (I), son of Hawise & father of Henry de Verdoun.

This list of people, referencing their relationships, is a useful confirmation of some of the family's genealogy. The opening line is noted as: 

H. de Verdoun e N. de C. le fyz de sa Aunte porterunt un bref de dreyt, e demanderunt le maner de E.

The identity of N. de C., the son of Henry's Aunt, is not clear. 

A long list of Serjeants / Justices is given, some of whom are referenced as representing Henry de Verdun. The list appears to repeat almost all of the same names, sometimes multiple times. For simplicity, the repetitions are omitted from those extracted from the source and listed below, except where they may be a note of potential interest, added after their name:

Huntingdon, Ralph de Sjt Huntindone (for P Braal)

Spigurnel, Henry le Sjt

Kyngeshemede, Adam de Sjt Kynge (for P Verdoun) [P Verdoun - is this Henry? One assumes so.]

Louther, Hugh Sjt Lowyere

Howard, William Sjt

Kyngeshemede, Adam de Sjt Kynge

Berewyk, John de J Berewyke

Spigurnel, Henry le Sjt (for D)

Howard, William Sjt (mentioned)

Berewyk, John de J Berewyke

Cave, Hugh de J Kave

Hurste (for P Verdoun) (perhaps Est) [P Verdoun - is this Henry? One assumes so.]

The case is published by the Staffordshire Record Society in 1885, within their Staffordshire Historical Collections Volume 6, Part 1, as follows:

Plea Rolls for Staffordshire: 21 Edward I (January)

Staffordshire Assize Roll, 21 E. I.

(this Roll also mentions quite a few other cases various de Verduns and their relatives were involved in at the time)

"Pleas 'de juratis et assisis' before John de Berewik, Thomas de Normanville, William de Bereford, John de Lichegrevus, and Hugh de Cave, Justices Itinerant in co. Stafford, on the Morrow of the Epiphany, 21 E. I." [7th January, 1293].

Henry de Verdun and Philip de Braal sued the Abbot of Cumbermere for the manor of Erlyde (Yarlet). The Abbot appeared, and a concord was made by which the said Henry and Philip acknowledged the manor to be the right of the Abbot and his Church of St. Mary and St. Michael of Cumbermere, and the Abbot acknowledged he owed the said Henry 100 marks. m. 29.

The case is referred to again in Volume XII. New Series (1909), of Collections for a History of Srtaffordshire, edited by The William Salt Archaelogical Society, page 106-7 'Walter Chetwyn's "History of Pirehill Hundred" where he writes about the history of 'Yarlett', which may perhaps be the location of the manor of 'East Grange' mentioned above. 'Yarlet' (as spelled today) is over a mile south of Aston-by-Stone, Staffordshire, so quite close to the de Verduns' manor of Darlaston:


"Domesday" records land for six plough teams here; (1086) two ox teams in the demesne and two serfs, while four villeins, and four boors, had one team, five acres of meadow, the value of £1 10s. The over-lordship soon passed to the de Laci's [i.e. de Lacy], who held many manors of Earl Roger [de Montgomery] ⎯ probably on Robert de Belesme's rebellion and forfeiture : under de Lacy, it was held by the Baskervilles, who may have been descendants, very possibly, of the Domesday tenant Robert. In A.D. 1164 it is entered (Vol. 1, Staff. Hist. Coll., p. 50) as the "grey monks manor," who owed a fine for erecting a mill in the royal forest; but no steps were to be taken for its recovery until the king's return from abroad. In 1169-70, this fine was paid; the confirmation by Hugh de Lasci (sic) 2nd baron of the name, of Robert Baskerville's grant to Combermere Abbey of this manor, with half the vills of Aston, Enneston and Baginhold, together with the waste of Longmore, is given below ; besides an " Inspeximus " of that of Henry II. by King Ed. I. The suit of A.D. 1221-3 (Vol. IV, Staff. Hist. Colls., p. 26) brought by Walter (2) de Baskerville against Fromond de Tareaton to compel payment of the rent, by which he held his tenement in Erlide, gives us the Abbot's testimony, that the land belonged to the Abbey by gift of Walter de Baskerville, father of the Walter now suing, at a rent of 40s., which rent Walter de Baskerville had given to Fromond for a sparrowhawk yearly, valued at 2s. This was the acknowledgment Fromond had never paid; the Abbot is to answer for it, deducting the amount from his 40s. rent.

Subsequently, Randle, Fromond's son, sold the 40^. rent for 36 marcs to Cumbermere, the surrender is witnessed by James de Audley and sealed with this coat, "2 lyons passant impaled with barry of 6."

Yarlett had passed, it seems, into the de Verdons' hands in 7 Ed. I. (i.e., the overlordship). For the pleas, Vol. VII, p. 93, shew Henry de Verdon suing the Abbot for 1½ hides here, and in 21 Ed. I., p. 240, Henry de Verdon and Philip de Braal again sued the Abbot for this manor. For 100 marks they consent to surrender their claim. In Pope Nicholas' Taxation, Yarlett contains four carucates each valued at 15s.

The Public Record Office throws up another helpful insight into the de Verdun family of Darlaston's connections with Cheshire, within the Chester County Pleas in the 20th/21st year of the reign of Edward I. In this case it relates to the testament of Thomas de Staundon (or Standon), Rector of Rostherne, which is located 4.5km south east of High Legh ('Legh', which is also mentioned below), 12km south west of Gatley and 10km north west of Fulshaw. Thomas's executors were Henry III de Verdun of Darlaston, and Robert de Bromlegh. Henry's grandfather Henry I de Verdun was a son of Bertram III de Verdun, whose close involvement with Cheshire is mentioned above. Henry III de Verdun had married a sister of Vivian de Standon (Staundon) who had a brother called Thomas, no doubt the same man as Thomas de Staundon the Rector, which would perhaps explain how Henry came to be Thomas's executor. Perhaps he played a role in Thomas being appointed Rector of Rostherne. Henry named his son Vivian de Verdun after his brother-in-law.

The following entry appears in the Chester County Pleas 20-21 Edward I, ref: Chester 29/7 m. 2d, and is dated 18th August 1293, in Chester.


Ric’s de Mascy recognouit se debere Hugoni de Dutton’ Mag’ro Rob’to de Bromlegh’ & Henr’ de Verdun Executor’ testamenti Thom’ de Staundon’ Rector’ Eccl’ie de Routhestorn in qatuor mrcis strlingor p decimis garbar de Tatton’ ad soluend’ vnam medietate’ ad Natiuitatem s’ci Joh’is Bapt’e px’m sequ’2. & ad f’m o’ium s’cor px’m sequ’3 aliam medietatem sine vltriori dil’oe. Et ni fecrit vult & concedit q’d vic’ Cestr’ fieri faciat prd’cam pecuniam de trris & catall’ suis prfatis Hugoni Rob’to & Henr’ sine dil’oe reddend’



Richard de Mascy recognized that he owes to Hugh de Dutton, master Robert de Bromlegh and Henry de Verdun, executors of the testament of Thomas de Staundon rector of the church of Rostherne, 4 marks sterling for the tithe sheaves of Tatton, to pay half at Midsummer next and at All Saints then next following the other half, without further delay. And if he do not, he wills and grants that the sheriff of Chester may cause the money aforesaid to be raised from his lands and chattels, to be rendered to the aforesaid Hugh, Robert and Henry without delay.


Thom’ de Legh’ recognouit se debere Hugoni de Dutton’ Mag’ro Rob’to de Bromlegh’ & Henr’ de Verdun in duodecim marcis strlingor ad soluend’ ad trmi’os prd’cos p deci’a garbar de Legh’ Et nisi fecit vult & concedit q’d vic’ fieri faciat prd’cam pecuniam de trris & catall’ suis in forma prd’ca



Thomas de Legh recognized that he owes Hugh de Dutton, master Robert de Bromlegh and Henry de Verdun 12 marks sterling to pay at the terms aforesaid for the tithe sheaves of Legh. And if he do not, he wills and grants that the sheriff may cause the money aforesaid to be raised from his lands and chattels, in form aforesaid.


1 this whole entry is crossed through, the debt having been paid

2 Thursday 24 June 1294

3 Monday 1 November 1294

4 this whole entry is crossed through, the debt having been paid

The transcription and translation above is the work of David Bethell of The Original Record, and has been reproduced here with his permission. 

Either before or after this case was recorded, a 'Jordan de Verdon' is mentioned in another old document relating to Legh that also mentions Sir Richard de Mascy and Thomas de Legh. This may well suggest that Jordan was closely related to Henry III de Verdun - in fact, he seems to have been Henry III de Verdun's brother. Ormerod in his History of Cheshire, in writing of 'Legh' (i.e. High Legh, c.15km WSW of Gatley and the same distance NNW of Wilmslow) wrote of one half of a moiety having been purchased by Sir Richard Massy of Tatton, towards the middle of Edward the First's reign, which lasted from 16th November 1272 to 7th July 1307). Ormerod then produces a transcription of a copy of a deed of this partition, as follows:

Hæc est partitio terrarum in villa de Legh. Inter dominum Ricardum de Massy, militem, et Thomam de Legh ex unâ parte ; et Hugonem quondam dominum de medietate villæ de Legh, et Johannem filium et hæredem ejusdem Hugonis, et Matthæum de Alpraham custodem ejusdem Johannis, ex alterâ parte ; videlicet, quod terra et tenementa subscripta remaneant in perpetuùm domino Ricardo de Massy et Thomæ de Legh, et hæredibus eorum seu assignatis, in campo Jordani de Verdon sex acræ. And so of several other parcels. Lib. C. fol. 267. 9, 10. This was in the reign of Edward the First. The original penès Legh de West Hall, l665.

A rough translation of the Latin reads:

This is a division of the lands of the village of Leigh. Between lord Richard de Massy, knight, and Thomas de Legh on the one part; and Hugh once lord of a moiety of the village of Legh, and John son and heir of the same Hugh, and Matthew de Alpraham guardian of the same John, on the other part; namely that land and tenements signed in perpetuity to lord Richard de Massy and Thomas de Legh, their heirs or assigns, six acres in the land [or otherwise 'field'?] of Jordan de Verdon.

That Jordan de Verdon was the son of Henry II de Verdon (de Verdun) of Darlaston is further suggested by the appearance in 1327 of 'Henry son of Jordan de Verdon'. He is mentioned in the Calendar of Patent Rolls covering the years 1327 - 1330 within the reign of Edward III (published in 1891). The entry appears on page 121 within 'Membrane 15. This and other membranes seem to record a very large number of pardons for crimes committed before the Coronation of Edward III on 1st February 1327. These crimes may have been committed sometime during the period of instability before and after the arrival back in England of Prince Edward, his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. The pardons are dated before the murder of Edward III's father Edward II at Berkeley Castle, who had been imprisoned there by his Roger Mortimer. One story records that a message from Berkeley Castle was received by Prince Edward at Lincoln Castle, informing him that his father had died on 21st September 1327, but there are other theories. One recent and powerfully argued claim that Edward II died many years later on the continent, where he even met with Edward III, is covered with great detail and fascinating detective work by Ian Mortimer in his magnificent biography 'The Perfect King, The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation'. Whatever the truth may have been, Edward III's reign began formally on 25th January 1327 at a time when his father was still alive and the country was suffering a period of instability, with Roger Mortimer acting as de facto ruler of England alongside Isabella. It was not until 1330 that Edward III was able to become his own man, seize the power of kingship and have Mortimer executed. Perhaps the long list of pardons related to the acts connected with the conflict between Edward II and his nobles, or scores settled between parties who took advantage of a power vacuum that encouraged anarchy.

The entry in the Patent Rolls does not tell us whose side (if any) Henry de Verdon (son of Jordan) may have been on, but it may be more likely that those being pardoned had been supportive of Mortimer, hence the young King having to pardon them. The entry reads as follows:


Membrane 15 - cont.

1327. July 11. Topclif'.

William son of Thomas Legh, Robert Legh, John de Rodeyard, John de Legh, Thomas Danyers, Geoffrey le Byroun, William de Chetelton, for the deaths of William de Modburghlegh, Henry son of Jordan de Verdon, William son of Roger de Modburghlegh, Hugh Reynald and Thomas de Dounes, killed after the coronation, with the condition.

The same incident is referred to in the Patent Rolls for a second time, almost two weeks later, when the pardon of another of the guilty men is recorded, as follows:


Membrane 25 - cont.

1327. July 27. Hayden

Pardon to Philip Ferour of Glastyngbury for the death of Richard Greygrom, killed before the coronation, on condition of his serving against the Scots. By p.s.

The like to the following : —  .....two other cases are mentioned then:

Roger Hervy for the deaths of William de Modburle, Henry le Verdoun, William son of Roger de Modburle and Hugh Reynald, before the coronation.

It has been postulated that 'with the condition' may have referred to them having been pardoned on the condition that they served in the King's army against the Scots. This is confirmed by an entry in the Calendar of Patent Rolls in 1327, Membrane 4:

1327. July 18 [at] Todhou. [i.e. 'Tudhoe' a manor south of Durham]

Protection, with clause volumus, until Michaelman, for Roger Hervy, going to Scotland by command.

The like for the following : -

Thomas Danyers, Geoffrey Byron, John de Rodeyard, William de Leghe, John de Leghe, William de Chetelton, William Wylym, and Simon de Holand, who is going with the king. 

A look at the people who are named above may throw some light on their relationships:

(Sir) William de Modburghlegh (otherwise 'de Mobberley') : Sheriff of Cheshire in the 13th year of the reign of Edward II (1319/1320). The spelling of his name in the Patent Rolls comes from an old formation of the placename 'Mobberley', which was held by his family. It is located c.5km south east of Rostherne, the same distance west of Fulshaw & Wilmslow and c.10km south east of High Legh. His father was William de Mobberley and according to various records he married Maud / Matilda daughter and heiress of Robert Downes of Chorley juxta Werford and his wife Maud / Matilda de Fitton, sister of Sir Edmund de Fitton, Lord of Fitton. This Chorley is the place that is known today as 'Alderley Edge', and used to be a township of Wilmslow parish; 'Werford' is Great Warford, next to Chorley to the west. Edmund gave Robert Downes all his lands in Chorley in free marriage with his sister Maud, who is sometimes noted as 'Marjory'. William and Maud had seven daughters and one son, Sir Ralph de Mobberley who served under The Black Prince and is said to have captained a company of mounted archers and died near Rheims in France 35 Edward III (1360/61). Ralph was still young when his father was killed and he became a Ward of Sir John Arderne of Aldford 3 Edward III (1329), whose wife was Alice, daughter of Sir Hugh de Venables, Baron of Kinderton. In the Chamberlain's Accounts within 'Receipts of the Earldom of Chester' (17th Dec 1326 - 19th Sept 1327) is a record that confirms a link between Sir Hugh de Venables and William de Mobberley: For a certain fine of 50l. which Hugh de Venables, son and heir of Sir Hugh de Venables, made in the exchequer of Chester for William de Moburle for a certain fine of 240l. made by the said William for having the lands and tenements of the said Hugh, son of Hugh, until the full age of the said Hugh, he does not answer this year, because the said fine of 50l. was atterminated by this King's writ of privy seal at the exchequer of Chester dated the . . . day of Feb. in the first year of his reign....[cont]. It is perhaps likely that it was this younger Hugh de Venables who is found mentioned as the husband of William de Mobberley's daughter Elizabeth. If so, her brother Ralph de Mobberley became Ward of his sister's husband Hugh's brother-in-law (Sir John Arderne). Sir John's son John Arderne married Jane, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard de Stokeport and widow of Sir Nicholas de Eton (Eaton, Cheshire) and although they had no children, Ormerod tells us that John enjoyed the manors of Stokeport, Poynton and Woodford for life. Woodford is a place where the de Verdons also had land. His father, Sir John Arderne gave the marriage of Ralph de Mobberley to John Pulford of Pulford in 1329 and he ended up marrying Pulford's own daughter Vincenta, who does not seem to have been legitimate since Ormerod's pedigree for the Pulfords informs us that John's sister Joan was his sole sister and heiress. Joan married as her first husband, Thomas de Belgrave and secondly Sir Robert Grosvenor.

Geoffrey le Byroun (Byron) : he is likely to have been the ancestor, or a member of the same family as the later Byrons of Buglawton, a township and chapelry in the parish of Astbury, Cheshire, located to the east of Congleton. There appear to have been close connections and further involvements between Geoffrey le Byroun and the de Verdun family. An example is a legal dispute recorded in Easter 1341: Geoffrey Byroun and his wife Anabel were sued by Joan the widow of Henry III de Verdun (an Uncle of Henry the son of Jordan de Verdun) and her new husband Stephen de Irton for the next presentation to the church of Bydulf (Biddulph). This appears in Major General The Hon G. Wrottesley's 'Pedigrees from the Plea Rolls' (page 39).

William de Chetleton : Keeper of the Forest of Delamere in Cheshire whose family were from 'Chetelton' (or Chettleton) i.e. Cheddleton, located just to the south west of Leek, in Staffordshire, not far from some of the lands of the de Verduns of Darlaston, Bucknall and Biddulph. The Chettleton family held the manor of Baddington in Cheshire as mesne lords and William de Chettleton held a knights fee of Bramhall from James de Audley; he later obtained the manor of Bramhall (Bromhale) 19 Edward II (1325) from Gilbert de Legh, Chaplain. Bramhall is c.2 miles north north west of Woodford and Poynton. It is clear that William had quite a reputation well before the incident in which Henry de Verdon was killed. In The Rev. William Beresford and Samuel B. Beresford's book 'Beresford of Beresford - Part 1 : A History of the Manor of Beresford, in the County of Stafford' it is written (from page 130): In the Plea Rolls of 1324 we have William de Cheddleton arraigned as a common malefactor and disturber of the peace, and a maintainer of false quarrels, and that he collected unknown malefactors and rode armed about the country to the terror of the people, and he was of the society of James and John sons of William de Stafford and had insulted the Abbot of Deulacres three years before, so that the Abbot dared not leave the doors of his monastery. Moreover the said William with some others had entered the park of Thomas de Furnival of Alton and had taken one of his beasts. (see: H. S. C., X. 50.). Furnival had gained the de Verdun castle and lands of Alton through marriage with Joan, one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Theobald II de Verdun. The history of Beresford continues the story on page 31: This was no doubt a political quarrel. William de Cheddleton was a most turbulent subject during the reign of Edward II. but one of the best in the reign of Edward III.—a better king. When he was now arraigned for his outbreak he was committed to prison until Vivian de Standon, William de Chetwynde, John de Ipstones, James son of William de Stafford, and Adam de Beresford came and paid his fine, and were sureties for his good behaviour even to the extent of risking all they had. And a great risk it was. For Cheddleton soon broke out again. The very next year he headed a band consisting of his brothers, with Thomas son of Ralph de Rudyerd, and others, and beat William Maunche, the servant of the Abbot of Deulacres, at Leek. (H. S. C., X. 51.) And again Adam de Beresford, William de Beresford, and two others, rescue him by becoming sureties. About the year 1324, a famous quarrel broke out between the lord of Ipstones and “the lady of Ingestre” with regard to the advowson of Church Eaton, near Stafford. Both church and manor-house there were beseiged, and some blood was shed. The county was divided into two hostile camps ; but the culprits, on being brought to trial, were told that they might escape prison if they could find persons of “sufficient” weight to bail them out. Adam de Beresford, amongst others, performed this good office for Isabella, the lady of Ingestre, together with several who were implicated among whom are sundry Astons, Rudyerds, Cheddletons, and Chetwyndes, with Peter le Barbour, Stephen de Beghtirton, John le Mercer with one eye, etc. (H. S. C., X., 72, 73, 74.).

It is worth noting the mention of Vivian de Standon above, who one assumes was a friend of William de Cheddleton in 1324, in view of the fact that he helped to pay the fine that released William from prison and was one of the people who provided sureties for his subsequent good behaviour. Another listed as having joined Vivian in doing this was John de Ipstones, whose ancestral surname was de Verdun. It was only three years after this that William de Chetleton was involved in the killing of Henry de Verdun, a nephew of Vivian's aunt the wife of Henry (III) de Verdun of Darlaston. Quite how Vivian stood on the matter can only be guessed at. We know that his own father, also called Vivian de Standon, had run into trouble himself - records state that he was outlawed and killed in 1318. These were troubled times.

Four years after being pardoned with others for the death of Henry de Verdon above, William de Chetelton appears in a long list of men who were involved in a complex legal case involving theft, burglary, murder and the harbouring of felons in Derbyshire, 5 Edward III (1331/2) - Source: 'Report on the Manuscripts of Lord Middleton, preserved at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire', Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1911. His name appears as follows [page 274]: '...William de Chetelton, knight, John de Leghe, knight, Robert de Legh...'. It is likely that these two Leghs are the same people who were involved with William in the killing of Henry de Verdon and others listed above. The case involved more than one inquisition, the Jurors of Bakewell, Ashbourne, Derby, Nottingham, and the Jurors of the Peak (presumably the Forest of the Peak). William and the two Legh brothers are mentioned again further on [page 276]: 'The jurors of the town of Asshebourn present, amongst other things, that William de Chetelton, knight, John de Lye, knight, Robert, his brother [these are probably the two Legh brothers], Thomas de Bucstones, dwelling in Baukwell, William, his brother, dwelling in Eyom [Eyam, co. Derby], Thomas le Procuratour, Thomas de Rysbergh, Eustace de Folevyle, Robert, his brother, John de Gloucestria, and John de Grymmesby are aiders of the said James Coterel and received him at Bauquell about the feast of St. Scholastica, in the 6th year. The jurors of the first inquest of the Peak.....'. James Coterel appears to have been the leader of a large band of outlaws who committed the wide ranging crimes that the case was concerned with. But in view of the very large number of others who were connected with the case, some being relatively high-standing members of society, it must have represented a serious outbreak of lawlessness, feuding and perhaps a degree of rebellion. A more surprising note in this case seems to suggest they had tried to send letters as if from the king himself [page 278]: '...William de Chetelton, knight, John de Leghe, knight, Robert de Legh,... rode armed in co. Derby publicly and secretly, and sent letters under the royal stile (sub stilo regio) to William de Birchovere for 20l., which they had, and to Thomas Cort of Edenesovere [Edensor, co. Derby] for 40s., of which they had 20s., in the fifth and sixth years of the reign.'. The whole incredible saga is recorded in a Roll of thirteen rolls containing the legal proceedings presented before Richard de Grey, Henry de Grey, John Darcy 'le neveu', Nicholas de Langeford, John de Twyford and Richard de la Pole. These men had been appointed to oversee the case by letters patent dated at Westminster, 23 March, 6 Edward III - Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1330-1334, p. 295.

If the disturbances detailed above are a reflection of the unsettled state of England at the time, then perhaps it was no surprise that Edward III began the Hundred Years' War in 1337, collecting an army that probably recruited many troublemakers and united them with their opponents in England, redirecting all their energies in common cause against France.

The parentage of Henry III de Verdun adds further evidence to bolster the argument that Jordan de Verdon was his brother. Their father Henry II de Verdun of Darlaston married Amice, sister of Roger de Pyvelesdon (otherwise occurring spelt 'Pulesdon' or 'Puleston') - the name 'Jordan' occurs with some regularity in Amice and Roger's family at this time, and one of the bearers of the name may be Amice's own brother. Puleston is a hamlet in the parish of Chetwynd just to the north of Newport, Shropshire. It is only after Henry's marriage to Amice that the name 'Jordan' appears in the de Verdun family.

The de Verduns and de Pyvelesdons appear mentioned together in a number of records. It is one extract of a charter that appears in the Collections for a History of Staffordshire of 1911 that provides a specific mention of Amice being the sister of Roger de Pyvelesdon. This is found on page 421, in a chapter headed 'Staffordshire Cartulary 1200-1327'. The first half of the page provides a genealogical chart that explains the inter-relationships between people who are mentioned in the transcription of a charter dated c.1244-50, on page 420: The agreement betwixt Henry de Verdon and Thomas, son of Roger de Bidulf, concerning Suit of Court. The pedigree is entitled 'Lords of Aston and Walton by Stone'.

The Roger de Pywelsdon detailed above, who married Joan, daughter of Robert de Walton and widow of Thomas de Venables, appears to be the son of 'Domino Rogero de Piuelisdon', mentioned in the text of an old charter that appears below the pedigree. A transcription of the charter, dated c.1252-56, appears in the the Staffordshire Cartulary and records Hawise, daughter of Henry I de Verdon, releasing to her brother Henry II de Verdon (husband of Amice) all the rights she had of her father, in Biddulph. The text below appears printed underneath the pedigree shown above:

Collections for a History of Staffordshire, 1911

edited by The William Salt Archaeological Society.

Staffordshire Cartulary. 1200-1327. Page 421.

[1252-6.] Hawise the daughter of Henry de Verdon releases to her brother Henry.1

      Noverint universi has literas visuri vel audituri quod ego Hawisia filia Henrici de Verdoyn dedi et concessi et quieteclammavi Henrico fratri meo et heredibus suis et assignatis suis totum jus meum et clamum quod habui et habere potui in tota illa terra cum omnibus pertinenciis quam predictus Henricus pater meus dedit mihi in villa de Bidolf, ita, videlicet, quod ego predicta Hawysia et heredes mei nunquam decetero jus nec clamum in predicta terra exigere possumus nec debemus. Et quare volo quod hec mea concessio et quietaclamacio rata sit et in perpetuum robur optineat firmitatis presentes literas sigilli mei impressione corroboravi. Hiis testibus, Domino Roberto tunc tempore Abbate de Lillishul, Domino T. de Chetewynd, Domino Rogero de Piuelisdon, Magistro Thome filio suo2, Domino Philippo persona de Northbury, Roberto Marescallo, Rogero filio Orm de Derlastona et multis aliis.

      Robert, Abbot of Lilleshull, must be Robert of Ercall, who was abbot in 1253-4, between Richard, abbot 1240-52, and Ralf, abbot in 1256. (Eyton, Salop, Vol. IX.) 

      Roger de Pulesdon (Pyvelsdon), see above. His sister Amice married Henry de Verdon the younger.

Added Footnotes that do not appear in the original text:

1  The same Latin charter had been published two years earlier in another of the Collections for a History of Staffordshire - Volume XII, New Series (1909). It appears on page 12 under the heading of 'Biddulph Deeds', within a transcription of 'Collections for a History of Pirehill by Walter Chetwynd Esq, A.D. 1679' (with notes by Rev. F. Parker). The same work includes mentions of many other members of the de Verdon family.

2  Lord Roger of Pulesdon and Master Thomas, his son. This must be Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon who died in 1272 and in whose memory 'The Puleston Cross' was erected in Newport, Shropshire; his eldest son appears in other records referred to as 'Master Thomas'. On this basis, the note stating that Roger de Pulesdon (Pyvelsdon)'s sister married Henry de Verdon the younger seems to tell us that Amice was the aunt of Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon who died in 1294 at Caernarvon. See the discussion below on the sumised relationship between Sir Roger's daughter Alice (de Harley) and Amice (de Verdun).

There is a degree of confusion over the precise connections between different members of the de Pyvelesdon family, complicated by the frequent use of the same personal names within and between its different branches. Walter Chetwynd, in his ‘History of Pirehill Hundred’ has perhaps come closer than most people to mapping the family accurately, but even this is not without faults. ‘[W. Chetwynd’s Pedigree of Puylesdon, etc]’ is found within the version of his history published in ‘Collections for a History of Staffordshire’ by the William Salt Archaeological Society in 1914 (page 74). However, the reason for the certainty of the statement above, that Amice who married Henry de Verdon was the sister of Roger de Pyvelesdon, is the evidence arising from a Staffordshire Assize in 1277. The following Assize Roll from 1277 provides further material about Amice:

Plea Rolls of the Reign of Edward I.

Published in: Collections for a History of Staffordshire, Part 1, Volume VI. (1885). Page 91-92.


Assizes taken at Kynefare in co. Stafford on the Tuesday after the Quindene of Holy Trinity, before S. de Boffa and Magister Thomas de Sudington, Justices assigned, etc., 5 E. I. [8th June 1277]

Staff. An assize, etc., if Amice the widow of Henry de Verdun of Derlaweston (Darlaston), William Donne of Derlaveston, and seven others named, had unjustly disseised Geoffrey de Waleton of a messuage and a virgate of land in Aston near Stone. Amice stated that Engelard de Akton had demised the tenement to one Henry Manipeny for term of his life for a rent of 6s. annually, and Engelard had afterwards enfeoffed one Roger de Puvelesdon of the rent of 6s., together with all his right in the tenement after the death of Henry; and Roger being in good seisin of the tenement had given the rent to Henry de Verdun in frank marriage with the said Amice his sister, together with all his right in the tenement after the death of Henry Manipeny; and afterwards the said Henry de Verdun had given the same rent to Geoffrey de Waleton and Petronilla his wife in frank marriage. And after the death of Henry Manipeny she, Amice, had entered into the tenemant as of her maritagium.

Explanatory notes, not included with the text:

Geoffrey de Waleton: he appears not to have been the brother of Ivo de Walton, who married Petronilla FitzPayne, but rather a later Geoffrey de Walton who also married a lady called 'Petronilla'.

Petronilla: she seems to be a later Petronilla, who one must conclude was the daughter of Henry II de Verdun and Amice de Pyvelesdon, on the basis that it is clearly stated that Henry granted the rent on the land in Aston 'to Geoffrey de Waleton and Petronilla his wife in frank marriage'.

Maritagium: i.e. the portion of an estate/land that was given as part of a dowery/marriage contract by a father to his daughter, or in his place a son to his sister, as in this case to Amice by her brother Roger, on her marriage to Henry II de Verdun.

8th June 1277: this date of the Assize was arrived at on the basis that Holy Trinity (Trinity Sunday) is the Sunday after Pentecost, which is itself seven weeks after Easter Sunday, and the 'Quindene' is the fifteenth day after a day, including that day itself (i.e. 14 days later). The source used for dates in the 13th century is the very helpful 'A Medieval English Calendar'. 

The existence of at least three different Roger de Pyvelesdons living at around the same time can cause a degree of confusion over which was which. Some records say that Roger, husband of Joan was the son of Jordan de Pyvelesdon. There were a few of the family with the name 'Jordan'. What the following deed confirms is that Roger de Pyvelesdon who married Joan de Walton, widow of Thomas de Venables, was not the same man as 'Roger son of Jordan de Pyvelesdon, who is still found living after Joan's husband had died.

Collections for a History of Staffordshire. The William Salt Archaeological Society.

Part I, Volume VI. 1885. Page 72:


No date or heading (probably Michaelmas, 3, E. I). [if so, the date is 29th Sept 1275]

Staff. Roger de Pivelesdon and Joan his wife give half a mark for license of concord with Roger son of Jordan de Pivelesdon in a plea of warranty of charter.1 m. 15, dorso. 

1 See Fine No. 10, Staffordshire Fines, temp. E. I. It is dated on the morrow of St. Martin, 3 E. I. (19th November, 1275), and gives the date of the Roll. By the terms of the fine Roger son of Jordan grants 3 carucates of land, and 22½ marks of rent in Aston, Burston, Stoke, and Walton, Levedale, Chatwelle, and Barton to Roger de Pyveleston and Joan his wife, for which they gave him 100. 

Through his marriage to Joan (de Walton), widow of Thomas de Venables, Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon appears to have gained some lands in Cheshire at Astbury. This is discovered from some deeds that are found in the Public Record Office:

A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient deeds in the Public Record Office.

Published 1915. Volume IV, pages 11 and 144:

[Chester.] C. 3856. Grant by Richard Sauvage to Sir Roger de Peulisdon and Joan his wife of all his tenement in the manor of Neubolt of the gift of Thomas de Venablys, late lord of Neubolt, and William, late lord of Astbur', saving the messuage with buildings thereon, and the curtilage within the bounds of the town of Astbur', for 101. 10s. paid down. Witnesses : Sir William, baron of Kinderton, Sir Richard de Massy, and Sir Richard de Sondbach, knights, Ralph, lord of Morton, Ranulf, lord of Astbur', Richard de Suethenam, Gralom de Morton, and other.

[Chester.] C. 4888. Grant by Richard Sauvage to Sir Roger de Pulysdon and Joan his wife of the whole tenement in the manor of Neubold which he had by the gift of Thomas de Venablys, late lord of Neubold, and William, late lord of Astebur', saving to him and his heirs a messuage with buildings thereon and a curtilage in Astebur' ; to hold to them and their assigns, viz. to whom and when they please to give it (tarn in lecto mortali quam extra) in fee and heredity ; for this they gave him 10Z. 10s. beforehand. Witnesses : Sir William, baron of Kyndirton, Sir Richard de Mascy and Sir Richard de Sondbache, knights, Ralph, lord of Morton, Ranulf, lord of Astebur', Gralom de Morton, Robert de Rod', Richard de Swethenam, Peter the clerk, and other. Cf. C. 3856.

Since the pedigree from the Staffordshire Cartulary above shows that Sir Roger was dead in 1294 and Thomas de Venables also, then either the deeds above were signed just after Thomas died and/or just before Sir Roger died. We know that if Amice was the sister or aunt of Roger de Pyvelesdon who married Joan, then she was not the daughter of Jordan de Pyvelesdon, whose wife was Alice, a daughter of Adam de Chetwynd

From careful examination of the evidence, it is most likely, if not certain, that Amice was the sister of Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon the elder who died in 1272, and whose memorial cross is mentioned below. A discussion of this is helpfully detailed by Haydn Puleston Jones on his website with a history of the Puleston family, on the page covering Amice's father Richard and his children - see: Sir Richard de Pyvelesdon

Evidence that Roger Pyvelesdon who married Joan de Walton/Venables was the same man killed at Caernarvon in 1295 is provided by C.G.O. Bridgeman's 'Notes on the Manors of Aston and Walton, near Stone, in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries A.D.', published in the 1913 Volume of Collections for a History of Staffordshire. Bridgeman provides details of the three Roger de Pyvelesdons who were operating at this time: Roger the son of Jordan de Pyvelesdon and Roger the son of Thomas de Pyvelesdon both lived into the early 1300s. The only other Roger de Pyvelesdon of the late 13th century was the son of Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon whose memorial cross stands in Newport, Shropshire, next to St. Nicholas's Church. This 3rd Roger died in 1294 at Caernarvon, killed in the Welsh revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn, which began at Michaelmas 1294 and continued into 1295. What is clear from original sources is that Roger de Pyvelesdon who married Joan de Walton/Veneables was confirmed dead by 1296, and otherwise mentioned as having died in 1294 or at least by 1295. Roger de Pywelesdon was present at Stafford in August 1294, to give evidence at the 'Proof of age' of Edmund the son and heir of Nicholas, baron of Stafford (Calendar of Inq. P.M. and other analogous documents, Vol. 3, Edward I). At Canterbury, September 1295, the executors of the Will of Roger de Peulesdon, late Sheriff were ordered to deliver to the new Sheriff, Thomas de Anvers, rolls, writs and other memoranda touching the county in their keeping (Calendar of Fine Rolls, Vol. 1, Edward I 1272-1307). All of these records appear to indicate and confirm that Roger who married Joan de Walton/Venables was the same man who was killed at Caernarvon in 1294, the son of Sir Roger who died in 1272, and whose descendants lived at Emral in Flintshire. Since this Roger's son Sir Richard is cited as the son of Agnes, daughter of David 'le Clerk' of Malpas, one must assume that Roger's marriage to Joan was a second marriage.

Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon who died in 1272 had a daughter Alice, who married Sir Robert de Harley, son of Sir Nicholas de Harley, Lord of Harley in Shropshire, whose father was Sir William de Harley a Crusader who is said to have been made a knight of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The marriage between Alice and Robert is confirmed by a charter of 1255 in which Roger de Pyvelesdon grants rent payable by one of his tenants - William de Dirwill (Dunval), in Farlow, Shropshire, to Robert de Harlegh in frank marriage with Roger's daughter Alice. Robert and Alice had a son and heir Sir Richard de Harley, and according to other records another son Philip de Harley. Sir Richard's son, another Sir Robert de Harley was Sheriff of Shropshire in 1302 and fought at the Battle of Crécy in 1346. These dates from 1255 to the 1300s may appear to place Amice in the same generation as Alice, but her husband Henry II de Verdun was clearly of the same generation as Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon who died in 1272 and was Alice's father.

In 1285, Roger the younger, son of Sir Roger, is found mentioned as Sheriff of both Shropshire and Staffordshire, at the same time. The source for this is the confirmation of a charter of Henry III, found within the Calendar of Charter Rolls, Vol. II, Henry III - Edward I, 1257-1300 (published in 1906):


confirmation also of the recognition made by Hugh de Leeg, Robert de Wodecote etc ...before Roger de Pyvelesdon, sheriff of Salop and Stafford ......touching on the lawing of dogs in the lands of the said abbot and convent. [of Lilleshall]

One of Roger's last acts was earlier in 1294, at Emral in Wales, when he was a witness to the grant by Sir Richard de Pyvelesdon of Emral of all his land and messuages in Breddesmere (Bridgmere), Cheshire to Philip de Chetwynd in frank marriage with his (Richard's) daughter Isabella. The witnesses were recorded as: 

Dominis Roberto de Bromlegh, Rogero de Pyvelesdon militibus ('knights'), Philippo de Barinton, Rogero de Aston, Galfrido de Wasteneys, Thoma de Aldelime, Henrico de Verdon (son of Amice de Pyvelesdon and Henry II de Verdun), Roberto le Marescal de Aston ('Robert le Marshall', 2nd cousin of Joan de Walton/Venables' son William de Venables), Johanne de Cressewelle, Rogero filio Jordani de Pyvelesdon, Viviano de Chetewynd et aliis.

The grant was dated at Emberal anno regni regis Edwardi vicessimo secundo.

Amice's son, or brother-in-law, Roger de Verdun, Rector of Biddulph, was guardian of William de Venables, son of Thomas de Venables and Joan de Walton (later wife of Roger de Pyvelesdon), as confirmed below in relation to Astbury Church in Cheshire. In view of later links between Astbury and the Verdon/Vardon family, it is interesting to see these earlier connections with this church.

It is clear from the Staffordshire Assize Roll in the 56th year of the reign of King Henry III, that when Henry II de Verdon died in 1272, he did so before his son Henry had come of age. This tells us that Henry had been born in, or sometime after 1251. '56 Hen III' ran from 28th October 1271 to 27th October 1272, and the king died less than a month later on 16th November 1272. A series of entries in the Roll records conflicting claims of wardship over the underage Henry de Verdun, with one making an interesting reference to land held for knight's service, and the right and obligation for the feudal superior to knight the son of the de Verdun who was enfoeffed there.   

A transcription of this particular Staffordshire Assize Roll was published by The William Salt Archaeological Society in 1883. It provides some interesting extracts that relate to Henry, his wife Amice and their son Henry, as follows:

Collections for a History of Staffordshire

Edited by The William Salt Archaeological Society.

Volume IV. 1883

From pages 1 to 217: Plea Rolls, temp. Henry III.  Suits affecting Staffordshire tenants, taken from the Plea Rolls of the reign of Henry III., and abstracted into English by Major-General Hon. George Wrottesley 


Page 191 - section heading:

Headed, Placita de juratis et assisis apud Lichefeld, in Comitatu Stafford, in crastino Sanctæ Trinitatis, coram R. Hengham et sociis suis Justiciariis, anno regni Regis Henrici, filii Regis Johannis, L. sexto.”  [in the right-hand margin is written in pencil ‘1272’]




    2  As a complete transcript in English of this Roll was made for the late Mr. William Salt, and is now in the Wm. Salt Library, the more important suits only have been abstracted for printing in the present volume.

Page 201:

    An assize if Henry de Verdon, the father of Henry de Verdon, was seised, &c., of 62s. rent in Bockenhale (Bucknall) and Bidulf when he died, &c., which John de Verdon holds [this is Sir John de Verdon, son of Roesia de Verdun, daughter of Nicholas de Verdun, and her husband Theobald le Botiller].  John appeared and conceded that Henry the father had died seised of the rent, and that Henry is his next heir, and stated he claimed nothing beyond the custody of the tenement until the full age of Henry, inasmuch as the said Henry the father had held the tenement of him (sic, left unfinished). m. 16.

Before continuation of the various claims of wardship of the young Henry de Verdun, there is a mention of a tenant holding land of Henry de Verdon and Felicia his wife in Wombourne, which is located in South Staffordshire . 'Felicia' is no doubt a mis-spelling / mis-representation of 'Amice' / 'Amicia':

M. 19 b. “ Placita apud Stafford.”


    William, son of Walter de Overton, was sued by Henry de Verdon and Felicia his wife for suit and service owing for a free tenement which he holds of them in Womburne. A concord was made by which William acknowledged the tenement to be the right of Henry and Felicia, to be held of them by the service of 6 marks, m. 196, dorso.

Then on page 204, headed 'Plea Rolls of the Reign of Henry III.', the records return to the wardship of young Henry de Verdun, firstly the claim of Sir Robert de Staundon based on Henry de Verdun senior's Knight's service owed for his land in Levedale. Amice's brother Roger de Pyvelesdon is also mentioned:

    Amice, the widow of Henry de Verdun, was summoned to render up to Robert de Staundon, Henry, son and heir of the said Henry, who is within age, and whose wardship and marriage belonged to Robert, inasmuch as Henry the father held of him by Knight's service his land in Levedale, viz., by the service of a small fee of Morteyne, rendering for the scutage of 40s. two marks, and less or more in proportion, and he being in seisin of the homage and scutage of the said Henry, Amice had abducted from him the heir, by which he had been damaged to the extent of 100 marks.

    Amice appeared and did not deny the facts as stated, and was ordered to deliver up the heir, and as the heir was not present, nor in these parts, to find pledges, viz., John de Houton and Roger de Pyvelesdon, to deliver the heir to Robert at Salop at fifteen days from Michaelmas.    m. 20, dorso.

Then on page 206, the claim to young Henry de Verdun's cousin Geoffrey de Gresley is detailed, at an assize held at Derby. Geoffrey's claim was based on Knight's service given to him by Henry's father Henry, for land he held of him. The Knight's service the Jury describe provides an interesting insight into what this service encompassed and what obligations rested with the superior lord, including making the eldest son a Knight: The jury say that the ancestors of the said Henry had always from the date of the charter performed military service to the ancestors of the said Geoffrey, such as rendering scutage when it fell due, and aid to marry his eldest daughter, and to make his eldest son a Knight and other things pertaining to Knight’s service. The full entry is copied below:

Page 206:

    Derby. An assize, &c., if Henry de Verdun, father of Henry de Verdun the younger, was seised, &c., of 40s. rent in Swartlingcote when he died, and of which rent Geoffrey de Griseley [i.e. ‘de Greseley’] had deforced him.  Geoffrey appeared and stated he claimed nothing but wardship, by reason of the non-age of the said Henry, inasmuch as his father had held the tenement of him by Knight’s service.  Henry stated that his father Henry had never held the said rent of Geoffrey by Knight’s service, because he held it in soccage, and by certain service, viz., for four farthings as his purparty, inasmuch as one Robert de Gresele, the abavus of Geoffrey, had enfeoffed one Ingold his brother, the ancestor of Henry, of certain tenements, rendering for them yearly 12 farthings for all service, and he produced the Charter of Robert the ancestor of the said Geoffrey to this effect.

    Geoffrey stated that notwithstanding the charter, he and his ancestors from the date of it had always been in seisin of those things which were appurtenant to Knight's service for the said tenements, and which had been always rendered by the ancestors of the said Henry.1

    The jury say that the ancestors of the said Henry had always from the date of the charter performed military service to the ancestors of the said Geoffrey, such as rendering scutage when it fell due, and aid to marry his eldest daughter, and to make his eldest son a Knight and other things pertaining to Knight’s service, and they had rendered suit of Court from three weeks to three weeks, and the Sheriffs aid.  Henry is therefore in misericordiâ, but his tine is remitted because he is under age.  m. 29, dorso.

    1  If land was held for a fixed or certain rent, the tenure was by soccage, unless proved to be otherwise. If however the deed of feoffment contained the words “salvo servitio Regis” the land was liable to scutage, and was a tenure by Knight’s service, notwithstanding the payment of a fixed rent.

The activity continued at Lichfield on 'the morrow of Trinity', and shows that a third person had become involved - Philippa de Dutton, the daughter of Vivian de Standon and wife of Thomas de Dutton, therefore the sister of Robert de Standon. The competing claims had clearly become rather entwined. The 'Robert de Ferrars' who is mentioned is Robert de Ferrars of Mere. A footnote in Walter Chetwynd's History of Pirehill Hundred edited by Rev. F. Parker and published in 'Collections for a History of Staffordshire', Vol. XII. New Series, 1909, page 242 states: Philippa de Dutton was eldest daughter of Vivian de Staundon ; and a deed in the St. Thomas Cartulary (Staff. Hist. Colls., Vol. VII), seems to show that Vivian de Staundon gave a quarter of Maer and Aston to his daughter Philippa in franc marriage with Tho. de Dutton. What I suspect Vivian really gave was the seigneury over the fourth part only, since it is clear they acquired seisin of the land through Rob. de Ferrars. Vivian de Staundon was dead in 34 H. III. (a.d. 1250)

Precisely what connection gave cause for Philippa de Dutton to bring a claim against Amice de Verdun in a plea of marriage of heir is not clear, but the case is recorded immediately above a separate action between Amice de Verdun and Robert de Staundon in a plea of wardship, and below another case involving Roys de Staundon:

Staffordshire Assize Roll, 56 H. III.

Page 207:

Essoins “de malo veniendi,” taken at Lichfeld on the morrow of

    Trinity, 56 H. III.



    Roys de Staundon puts in her place Gervase de Levedale or John de Hopes versus Adam de Chetwynde, in a plea of trespass.

    Philippa de Dutton puts in her place Alexander de Banvile or John de Offeleg versus Amicia de Verdun, in a plea of marriage (of heir), and versus Robert de Ferrars in a plea of land. m. 36.

    Amice de Verdun puts in her place Elias de Verdun versus Robert de Staundon and Geoffrey de Gresele in a plea of wardship. m. 36, dorso.

The outcome of these legal cases is not recorded in the Plea Rolls, but one might guess that Robert de Staundon (otherwise 'Standon') came out top, because young Henry de Verdun ended up being married to Sir Robert's own daughter. 

Sir Robert de Staundon was a well known figure in Staffordshire and had gone on crusade with Prince Edward - the future King Edward I. It has been suggested that Robert's family were members of the de Stafford family who took a new toponymic surname from the principle manor they were granted - Standon, which was located about 7km west of of the de Verdun's home at Darlaston. The young Henry de Verdun ended up marrying a sister of Vivian de Staundon (otherwise 'Standon'), who is referred to in a deed of 1286 as Sir Vivian de Staundon, one of at least three sons of this same Robert de Staundon; the other two younger sons were Robert de Staundon and Thomas de Staundon. So, despite Amice's efforts to remove her son from Robert's grip, it seems likely that Elias de Verdun was either not able to win the case as her attorney, or a mutually acceptable dynastic compromise was arrived at that resulted in Amice's son marrying Robert's daughter. This mention of Elias begs a question - who was he? It is not impossible that he was a brother of Amice's late husband Henry II de Verdon.

Vivian de Staundon appears mentioned in a legal case with Jordan de Pyvelesdon, in 1320, as recorded by Edward Salt, Rector of Standon, in his 'The History of Standon : Parish, Manour, and Church' (1888):

In A.D. 1293, Vivian de Staundon had stood as surety to produce Margaret Bagenholt, who had harboured her outlawed son. In an original deed, which is at the Wm. Salt Library, Stafford, "Thomas de Halthton, John de Chetwewynde, Robert de Dutton, John Ipstones, Vivian de Staundon, Roger (parson of Blumenhall [i.e. Blymhill), Vivian de Chetwynde, William de Weston Jones, Robert, son of Robert de Dutton, Jordon de Penvelesdon, and James de Toddemore are bound to Sir Roger de Swynnerton, Chivaler, in a sum of 500 marks, by a recognizance made in Chancery, 15 Edward II., A.D. 1322, of which 500 marks the said Sir Roger de Swynnerton now grants, for himself and his heirs, to the said Vivian de Staundon, that if the said Vivian shall keep the peace towards him and do him no manner of wrong, that the said recognizance of 500 marks shall be void, and no effect. Witnessed by Monsr. James de Audeley, Monsr. Robert de Knytheley, Monsr. Thomas de Oyle, Geoffrey de Wasteneys, and John de bromley. Dated at Swynnerton, A.D. 1322." 

It appears as if Amice lived a very long life if it is she who appears mentioned as Amicia de Verdun in the Exchequer Subsidy Roll for the Hundred of Pirehill in Staffordshire in 1327, under Derleston and is recorded as paying 3s 2d. An alternative suggestion is that this may have been the widow of Henry III de Verdun, and therefore the sister of Vivian de Staundon, who is otherwise found unnamed elsewhere. If so it is her son who appears at the top of the list of people under Darlaston - Viviano de Verdon who pays 4s 6d, and another son Henr' de Verdon who pays 2s 2d. Vivian de Staundon is listed under Staundon and pays 6s, and Jordano de Peulesdon under Flossebroke (i.e. Flashbrook) and pays 8d. Jordan would be the son of Sir Roger de Pulesdon who was killed at Caernarvon in 1294.

An earlier Jordan de Pyvelesdon, who is quite likely to be a brother of Roger de Pyvelesdon who died in 1272, is found witnessing a charter with the same Roger de Pyvelesdon, whereby William de Ercall made grants to the Priory of St Leonard and the White Nuns of Brewood. The charter either preceded or followed a connected Fine levied at Shrewsbury on 3rd February 1256 between Agnes, Prioress of St. Leonard of Brewood, Plaintiff and William de Ercalew. The details are provided on page 85-86 of Volume IX of The Rev. R. W. Eyton's 'Antiquities of Shropshire':

William de Ercal, for the souls of himself and his wife Emma, gives to St. Leonard and to the White Nuns of Brewode a ninth of the sheaves, of two carucates, and one carucate, in his demesnes of La More and Ercal respectively, he not being bound to pay the said ninths to the House of Wombrugg according to a Cyrograph made between himself and the said House. He further gives to Brewode a ninth of his hay near Tyrne except that of Wennemore-meadow. As security he gives power of distress on Ercal Mill, to the extent of 20 measures of best corn. He further gives the Nuns 40 feet of land near his Court of La More to make a Weir. 

Witnesses: Robert Corbet, Lord of Morton, Roger Corbet of Hedleg, John fitz Hugh, Sir Hamund le Strange, Odo de Hodnet, Roger de Pyvelsdon, and Jurdan de Pyvelesdon.1

Footnote from the original text:

1 Newport Evidences

Additional note: The source that Eyton cites here as 'Newport Evidences' are Reverend J. B. Blakeway's extracts from Newport deeds that are preserved along with Blakeway's other MSS., at the Bodleian Library.

La More was where the Prioress of St. Leonard's grange was built.

The well known 'Puleston Cross' in Newport by St. Nicholas's Church was erected in the 1280s to the memory of Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon, father of Alice de Harley, Jordan and Roger de Pyvelesdon and their other siblings, and either the brother or father of Amice de Verdun. Recent investigation during a redevelopment around the site in 2010 concluded that this historic market cross has stood on the same spot since c.1280. A more precise date may be suggested by mention of a deed signed by Roger, son of Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon in 1285 - the deed is mentioned in the book 'The Early Pulestons' by Mrs Sunter Harrison of Wrexham, published in 1975, who wrote: Roger died in 1272, the same year as Henry III, whom he had served so faithfully. There is a deed signed in 1285 by a Roger Puleston, his son, it refers to a landmark in the settlement of certain lands in and near the vill of Puleston. This landmark is described as 'The Cross set up for the soul of Roger de Puleston who died in 1272'. Sunter goes on to say that Roger died leaving a wife, Agnes [suggested missing words: 'and a son called'] Jordan who had letters of protection from Henry III to go to the Holy Land; this was Jordan de Pyvelesdon, who appears in official records having been given letters of protection to go on crusade, after being involved in the Baron's War against Henry III (with his brother-in-law Henry de Verdun - see below).

I am indebted to historian Haydn Puleston Jones for the information he has shared with me about the de Pyvelesdon / Puleston family. His excellent website 'Puleston Jones Family History' is the most extensive accessible source of data on the early de Pyvelesdons, and is a valuable resource for those researching the family. Here is his page that covers Sir Roger de Pyvelesdon, to whom Newport's Puleston Cross is dedicated: click here

ABOVE – The Puleston Cross in front of St. Nicholas's Church, Newport, Shropshire.

As mentioned above, Henry II de Verdun had died in 1272. It appears that along with many others from Staffordshire including his wife's relative Jordan de Puleston, he had been part of Simon de Montfort's rebellion against Henry III. The Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry III 1258-1266 (Collections for a History of Staffordshire, 1911) records that the lands of Henry de Verdon of Darlaston and Hugh de Weston of Weston-under-Lizeard were given to Thomas Corbet. These lands were later redeemed by Henry de Verdun. This is mentioned in Volume 8 of The Collections for a History of Staffordshire:

Collections for a History of Staffordshire

Edited by The William Salt Archaeological Society.

Volume VIII. 1887

Pages 4 - 5, within chapter heading: Notes on the Military Service performed by Staffordshire Tenants during the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries.

The Barons’ war, 48 to 51 Hen. III

A.D. 1264 to A.D. 1266

In some suits Coram Rege of Hillary Term, 56 Hen. III., respecting the amount of redemption to be paid for the forfeited estates of Henry de Verdun and Hugh de Weston, it was testified that the whole of the county of Stafford was against the King, and juries from the counties of Worcester and Warwick were summoned in consequence to decide the cases. The Chronicles however bear testimoney to the loyalty of three at least of the principal tenants of Staffordshire. These were Philip Marmion, James de Audeley, and Roger de Somery. On the other hand, Robert Earl of Ferrars, and Hugh le Despencer the Justiciary of England, and Ralph Basset of Drayton took a leading part in favour of Simon de Montfort and his adherents. With regard to the head of the House of Stafford there is no evidence as to the part he took. Robert de Stafford at this time was a man advanced in life, and it is probable he remained neutral during the strife. Of the lesser tenants, William Bagot of the Hyde, Adam de Brimpton, William Wyther, and Hugh de Okeover, remained loyal to the Crown. The following are shown by the Rolls to have been in arms against the King : 

Robert de Staundon

Henry de Verdun of Darlaston

Philip de Mutton

William de Handsacre

William Trumwyne

Robert de Pipe

John fitz Philip

Hugh de Weston

Geoffrey de Gresley

John de Audley of Blore

Robert de Knighteley

Henry de Charnes

Roger Bagot of Brinton

William de Parles

Roger de Walton

John de Swynnerton

 Richard de Loges

Gilbert le Mareschal of Aston

Richard de Bromley

William de Harecourt

Bertram de Burgo

William de Rideware

Jordan de Pulestone

Richard de Flotesbroc (Flashbrook)

Richard de Vernon

Philip Noel

Giles de Erdington

Robert de Melbourne of Hoarcross

Geoffrey de Aston

Henry de Wyverstone

There are many relatives mentioned above. These include Robert de Staundon, who is listed above Henry de Verdun of Darlaston - he is Sir Robert, whose daughter married Henry's son Henry (III), brother of Jordan de Verdun and father of Vivian de Verdun. Geoffrey de Gresley is one of Henry de Verdon's Gresley relatives, and the man who appears with Robert de Staundon against Henry's widow Amice's attorney Elias de Verdun, in the dispute over wardship of her son Henry - see above. Gilbert le Mareschal (/Marshall) of Aston is the first cousin of Thomas de Venables, first husband of Joan de Walton, whose second husband was Amice's brother Roger de Pyvelesdon (see pedigree featured above). Richard de Bromley is likely to be related to Robert de Bromlegh/Bromley who was, with Henry III de Verdon, executor of Thomas de Staundon, Rector of Rostherne.

An entry in the Plea Rolls of Henry III records further details of Henry II de Verdun's efforts to redeem him lands, in 1268 and 1272:

Collections for a History of Staffordshire

Edited by The William Salt Archaeological Society.

Volume IV. 1883.

Plea Rolls of the Reign of Henry III.

Pages 164-165:

Mich., 51 H. III. — HILLARY, 52 H. III. 

ROLL No. 131.

“De Quindena Sancti Hillarii” [27th January, 1268.] 

    Staff. A precept was sent to the Sheriff stating, that whereas on the occasion of the transgression of Henry de Verdun at the time of the disturbances, the King by his charter had given the redemption of all the lands and tenements of the said Henry in Derlaweston to his beloved Thomas Corbet, to hold according to the form of the Dictum de Kenilworth, the said Henry denied that he should be forced to redeem his lands ; and the King, wishing to do justice, commanded the Sheriff to cause the said Henry to appear this day ; and the said Thomas by his attorney stated that the said Henry was against the King during the disturbances, being of the retinue of Ralph Basset of Drayton, during all the depredations, burning of houses, &c., committed to the damage of the King’s friends, and he was also in the town of Stafford with the armed force which held the town against the King's liegeman Hamon le Strange, and he was also at Cestrefeud (Chesterfield) against the King at the time of the capture of that town, and he produced proofs of the same.

    Henry appeared and denied all enmity to the King, and stated it was true the said Ralph Basset had taken him, with many others of the county, to Stafford, but it was against his will, and he had never done any injury to those who were on the King's side, nor was he anywhere else in arms against the King, and he appealed to a jury. The Sheriff is therefore commanded to summon a jury (here the record stops abruptly), m. 26, dorso.

Clearly Thomas Corbet had proven to be reluctant to surrender Henry de Verdun's lands, as a later roll two year's later makes clear:

Pages 184-185:


ROLL No. 167.


Headed, Placita coram Domino Rege in Octabis Sancti Hillarii, anno regni Regis Henrici, filii Regis Johannis, Lmo. sexto. [20th January, 1272.]

    Staff. In the suit of Henry de Verdun versus Thomas Corbet, respecting the redemption of the lands of Henry in Darlaston, under the provisions of the Dictum de Kenilworth, the Sheriff is ordered to summon a jury at a mouth from Easter ; and “because it was testified that the whole of the county of Stafford was against the King,” the Sheriff of Worcestershire is ordered to summon eight Knights and others of his county, and the Sheriff of Warwickshire the same number from his county, who were not against the King, in order to form the jury. m. 8.

It is quite possible that Jordan de Verdon was named after an uncle or other relative called Jordan de Pyvelesdon, although the name Jordan was not uncommon in this period and others close to the family had borne it; for example, Jordan de Humez, son of Richard de Humez in whose household Bertram III de Verdun had been brought up (see above). 

As already mentioned, Henry III de Verdun married a sister of Vivian de Standon, and with her Henry had at least four children - his heir Vivian de Verdon, Thomas de Verdon, Roger de Verdon the Rector of Biddulph, and (yet another) Henry de Verdon who is cited as an executor to his father's estate.

Roger de Verdon, brother of Vivian, is recorded in connection with St. Mary's Church in Astbury, the original parish church of Congleton. This record appears in the Cheshire Court Rolls under the heading 'County Court of St. Peter's Chair, 22nd February 1288-89, a case is recorded as follows:

Abbot of St. Werburgh's, Chester v. [versus] William son of Thomas de Venables; advowson of Astebury church. The abbot said he last presented one Mr John de Stanlegh, clerk, in time of peace, and he was duly instituted by the Bishop of Chester. The church is now vacant by his death. William being under age, his guardian Roger de Verdun said the matter must be adjourned till he came of age; meantime it was alleged that though the abbot presented the last incumbent he was not the true patron at the time but an intruder (quasi male fidei occupator), the heirs being unwilling. 

The extract continues without further mention of Roger. However, this was not the only early record that mentions within it both Astbury and one of the de Verduns. In the late 16th century one of the Verdons settled in Congleton and his family appear in Astbury's parish registers thereafter (see below). 

Vivian de Verdon had clearly succeeded his father before 1316 since he is recorded as holding Darlaston & Bucknall at this date. He married Joan, daughter of Walter de Toke (who was alive in 1347 and holding some interest in Rodburne and Egginton). In 1322 he is recorded as Patron of Biddulph Church with Joan his wife, when his younger brother Roger de Verdon accolite was appointed as Rector of Biddulph on the death of Alexander de Verdon. In 1343 Vivian appears recorded as heir to the advowson of Biddulph, although he must have died before Easter 1342 as Joan is mentioned alongside her new husband Stephen de Irton, in the Plea Rolls: De Banco. Easter 15th Edward III, m. 37. [Edward's reign was 25th Jan. 1327 to 21st June 1377]. He appears to be the same man who is mentioned in the Plea Rolls (de Banco Mich. 16 Edward III) 1342 as Stephen de Ireton, the bailiff of the Honor of Lancaster, in relation to the manor of Bradewell - a few miles north of Newcastle-under-Lyme. He then became Sheriff of Lancashire 1344-45.

Plea Rolls - from: Collections for a History of Staffordshire, Volume XII (published in 1891). Page 18:

De Banco Mich. 16 E. III.

Staff. James de Audeleye sued Philip de Chetewynd for the manor of Bradewalle, and Philip had made default, and the Sheriff had been ordered to take the manor into the King's hand, and the Sheriff returned that he had sent the writ to Stephen de Ireton, the bailiff of the Honor of Lancaster, who had done nothing in the matter. The Sheriff was therefore ordered, as before by writ of "non omittas propter libertatem," to take the manor into the King's hand and to summon the said Philip for five weeks from Easter Day. m. 589.

Vivian and Joan had at least one child, Sir John de Verdon who inherited Darlaston, Biddulph, Bucknall and other land from his father. He married Eva, whose parentage is not known, sometime around the year 1345, according to some authorities. 

A biography of Sir John de Verdon of Darlaston is provided in The William Salt Archaeological Society's 'Collections for a History of Staffordshire', Series 3, 1917, in the chapter providing details of Staffordshire Members of Parliament during the reign of Edward III. A transcription of the text of this biography in the publication is provided below:

Staffordshire Members of Parliament - Edward III.

pages 91-92:

Parliament of 1351.

Summoned by Writs of 25 November 1350, to meet 9 February 1351 ; dissolved 1 March 1351. This Parliament enacted the Statute of Labourers, and was concerned simply to get serfs to work in their lords' fields. Sir William de Shareshill of Patshull, C.J., acted as Speaker.1 

County:    John de Verdon  ..   ..   ..   (I)

                Thomas Adam  ..   ..   ..   ..  (2)

                        returned by the same Thomas Adam, deputy sheriff.

Stafford:    John de Byrleye  ..   ..   ..   (3)

                  Richard de Shelford ..   ..   (4)

(I)  (Sir) John de Verdon of Darlaston, M.P. Staffs 1351, 1373, 1376.

    Born c. 1320 ; son and heir of Vivian de V. of the same (dead in 1340), by Jane, daughter and coheiress of Sir Robert de Tok of Anslow M.P.,2 whose second husband was Stephen de Ireton, M.P.3 Sir Simon Degge calls him lord of Darlaston, Biddulph, Bucknall, and Anslow.4 He married, c. 1345, Eve —, and by her had coheiresses, Ermyntrude, who married Ralph de Hooton, and Jane, who married John de Whitmore. He must not be confused with Sir John de Verdon of Brixworth, Northants, nor with that man's son, Sir John de V. le fitz, nor with (possibly another) Sir John de V. of Draycote, Warwickshire — who were slightly earlier in date, sat often in Parliament and occur very frequently on the Rolls.

    Very early in his career, in 1338, John son of Vivian de V. is charged with hunting in Needwood chase.5 He was knighted by 1353 ; Commissioner of Array 1351 (after he had been M.P.), 1356, and 1380 ; J.P. Staffordshire 1377 till death ; sheriff 1373-4, 1379-80, returning himself to Parliament in 1373. Now there had been a law passed in 1372 that no sheriff should [- page 92] be eligible for Parliament, and that if returned he should have no wages ; in spite of this in 1373 Verdon returned himself. This never happened again in Staffordshire ; the sheriff ceased to return himself. Probably the following entry on the Rolls of the Court of the King's Bench pertains to the same transaction : "John Verdon, sheriff of Staffordshire, was fined half a mark because he had not returned his writs of the Morrow of St Martin (12 November) before the Octaves of St. Martin (18 November)" ; and Parliament met on November 21st. perhaps he postponed the Returns to avoid the penalty.1 In 1373 he and Eve his wife settled Darlaston on their daughters and their husbands,2 and a further settlement was made in 1388 after Sir John's death, when Ermyntrude got Darlaston and Jane the rest. He must have died 1382/7.

Footnotes at the bottom of page 91:

1  For Sir William de Shareshill see Dict. Nat. Biog. : and for his grandson Sir William Shareshill, M.P., see Parl. 1386.

2  Parl. 1309.

3  Parl. 1348.

4  Harwood : Erdiswick 8.

5  P.R. 

Footnotes at the bottom of page 92:

1  S.C. XIII. 118.

2  S.C. XI. 181

As the biography above confirms, Sir John de Verdon was the last Sheriff of Staffordshire to return himself to Parliament. 

In 1365 Sir John de Verdon is cited as patron of Biddulph Church, on the appointment that year of John de Brett as Rector, after the resignation of Reginald de Caynton. In 1371 Sir John de Verdon Kt is recorded as Patron of Biddulph again on appointment of William de Montgomery as Rector of Biddulph. John continues to be recorded as patron on the appointment of the next two priests in 1376 and 1382, but by 1403 the patron of the church is recorded as “Hulton Abbey”.

John and Eva seem to have had no sons as their heirs were two daughters - Ermentrude and Joan. Ermentrude de Verdon married Ralph de Houton. In 1374, or according to other records, 1373, Sir John de Verdon and his wife Eva are recorded as having settled 2 messuages and 12 marks of rent in Bokenale and Bedulf (i.e. Bucknall & Biddulph) and two parts of the manor of Darlaston on Ralph de Houton and Ermentrude his wife, their daughter. It has been supposed that Ralph was one of the 'de Hooton' family from Hooton in Cheshire, located just north of Ellesmere Port on the River Mersey. Another settlement was made after Sir John's death, in 1388, when Darlaston was settled on Ermentrude. It is the date of this settlement, and mention of Sir John as patron of Biddulph that suggests that he died sometime between 1382 and 1387.

John and Eva's younger daughter Joan de Verdon married John de Whitmore, Lord of Whitmore in Staffordshire, to whom she may have been distantly related as the Whitmores appear in some pedigrees as descendants of Richard le Forester, father of Orme, and also through marriage from the de Gresleys. The Whitmore's coat of arms was identical in basic 'fretty' design to the de Verdons; but in their case the shield is 'Vert Fretty Or' (i.e. green background with a gold fretty). Two other families who were connected to the de Verduns also shared this 'fretty' heraldry. The better known of the two were the de Audley family, who were related to the de Verduns and the de Whitmores. Adam de Audley, son of Liulf of Aldithley married Emma, daughter of Radulphus fitzOrm the brother of Robert fitzOrm, whose daughter Alina (Emma's 1st cousin) became the mother-in-law of Henry I de Verdun. Adam's son Henry de Audley was granted (or re-granted) Audley by Henry's brother Nicholas de Verdun of Alton, sometime before 1227, and was Constable to Nicholas and Henry's brother-in-law Hugh de Lacy, Earl of Ulster. The Audley's arms are Gules Fretty Or (red with a gold fretty on top). The other family whose arms also had a fretty design in their heraldry was the Draycott family (de Draycott) of Staffordshire; they were tenants of the de Verdons and their arms are recorded as Or, fretty gules, on a canton argent a cross patonce azure (gold background, with a red fretty on top, and a silver canton in the corner of the shield with a blue cross 'patonce' in design). These arms are found painted on medieval de Draycott tombs inside St Margaret's Church, Draycott in the Moors. Erdeswicke in his Survey of Staffordshire gives the canton with colours reversed, with this explanation (pages 191-192): Sir Philip Dracote, the son of Hugh, having married Alicia de Colevile, bare a compone coat of Verdon and Colevile; that is, Gold, fretted Red, and on a Blue canton a cross pattée Silver: for Colevile of Cambridge-shire bare, Silver, a Red cross pattée

Perhaps it was not coincidence that these interconnected families all had arms that shared the same underlying design, differenced by colour and in the case of the Draycotts, a canton. The de Sourdeval branch of the de Verdun family in Normandy also had a canton in their arms.

ABOVE – coats of arms of the interrelated de Audley, de Whitmore and de Verdun families, illustrating the similarity of their heraldry:-

Note: The image of the Audley shield below is reproduced with kind permission from Brian Audley, and is taken from the excellent 'The Audley Family History Website', which provides some wonderful illustrations of their heraldry - see here. and here. The de Whitmore shield is to be found inside Bridgnorth's old Town Hall in Shropshire. The Town Hall was built in 1652, in the middle of the High Street and remains to this day the most famous and quintessential image of Bridgnorth. 

John & Joan de Whitmore's daughter Elizabeth de Whitmore married James Boghey, which James and Elizabeth had issue John, who had issue James, who had issue Robert, father of Humphrey; father of Robert whose sole daughter and heir (Alicia by name) was married to Edward Manwaring, a third brother of sir Ranulf Mesvillwaring, of Pever, in Cheshire, knt.; which Edward and Alice had issue Edward Manwaring, now lord of Whitmore, Nether-Biddulph, Ansedeley, vulgariter, Annesley, and a part of Buckenhall.” This information appears on pages 8-9 of Sampson Erdeswicke’s ‘A Survey of Staffordshire containing the Antiquities of that County' etc, collated by Thomas Hardwood. Alice Boghey’s marriage to Edward Mainwaring brought Whitmore into that family, and their descendants the Cavanagh-Mainwaring family still live at Whitmore Hall.

Thus, Sir John de Verdon of Darlaston & Biddulph was the last of the main line of his branch of the family. A younger line continued through Jordan de Verdon, who seems to have been John's Great Uncle, son of Henry II de Verdon and his wife Amice de Pyvelesdon. To follow the story of Jordan's family we need to turn once more to Cheshire.

The Lordship of Verdon and the de Verdons of Woodford and Fulshaw, Cheshire

- later also known by the family name 'Vardon'

Descended from Jordan de Verdun of Darlaston and through marriage, from Theobald II de Verdun, 2nd Baron Verdun of Alton, Staffordshire. 

In the thirteenth century mention is found of 'The Lordship of Verdon' in Cheshire within records from Derbyshire relating to the County of Chester. They inform us that it was given to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It clearly gained its name from one of the de Verdun family. Perhaps it was held originally by William de Verdun (Bertram III de Verdun's uncle, cousin or brother), who as mentioned above was one of the companions and knights of the Earl of Chester. Alternatively the Lordship of Verdon may have gained its name from a connection with Norman de Verdun or his son Bertram III de Verdun, or from Sir William de Verdun Knight, who married Alice de Morley of Derbyshire daughter of Robert fitzWalter. His family appears frequently in the cartulary of St. Werburgh's Abbey Chester, holding lands from the abbey which had been a gift from Earl Hugh d'Avranches of Chester. This Sir William de Verdun may be closely related in some way to the earlier William de Verdun, companion of the Earl of Chester in Normandy and England - conceivably his son in view of Alice's father being born c.1130; or a son or nephew of Bertram III de Verdun (see separate page / chapter)

There appears to be a link between 'the lordship of Verdon' and a place called Fulshaw - both in Cheshire, and the Order of St. John. This is suggested by an entry in J. Charles Fox's 'The Churches of Derbyshire, Volume 3', in a section discussing the Preceptory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem at Yeaveley in Derbyshire, as follows: 

A chartulary of all the English possessions of the Order, which was drawn up by Brother John Stillingflete, mentions that William Meynell, Lord of Yeaveley, gave many lands and tenements there situate to the preceptory of that name, in the year 1268. Other benefactors of the preceptory there enumerated are William Montgomery and Oliver Fouu [?], who jointly have certain lands; Albert Bussell, who gave them the lordship of Verdone, Cheshire; Ranulph, Earl of Cheshire, the donor of a messuage, an acre of land and common pasture rights in the town of Frodsham, et plum alia bona; Margeria de Carun, who granted certain lands and tenements at Longford; Richard de Fitton, the donor of the lordship of Fulshaw, Cheshire; Robert de Bakepuze, who appropriated to the Hospitallers the church of Barrow, in this county [i.e. Derbyshire], and also certain lands in that parish in the reign of Henry II. And Ascuit Musard, who, in the same reign, appropriated to the preceptory half the church of Staveley an appropriation subsequently rendered more valuable by the gift to that moiety, by Walter Abitot, of twenty-two acres of land with common rights at Barlow. 

The source of this is Sir William Dugdale's Monasticon Anglicanum : A History of the Abbies and other Monasteries, Hospitals, Frieries and Cathedral and Collegiate Churches with their Dependencies in England and Wales. It was originally published in Latin by Sir William Dugdale, Kt., in six volumes from 1817. A new edition by John Caley Esq FRS and SA and Sir Henry Ellis was published by Bulkeley Bandinel in London, 1830. Within this is the record that reveals the gift of the Lordship of Verdon, and of Fulshaw, to the Order of St John of Jerusalem. It points out Charles Fox's transcription error of 'Bussell', which should have read 'Russell'. How or why Albert Russell gained the Lordship of Verdon is not yet known. We also do not know whether Albert Russell was a member of the same family as the Russell family of Denby, Derbyshire (from the du Rozel/Rosel family of Normandy), from whom Newtons and Verdons of Fulshaw are descended through the marriage of a Rossell heiress of Denby to Lawrence Lowe (see further below).

Monasticon Anglicanum

- from the section / chapter beginning on page 831 entitled:


De Nominibus Fundatorum Hosp. S. Johannis Jerusalem in Anglia

[Ex cod. MS. In Officio Armorum (L. 17.) fol. 141 a.]

The entry we seek is on page 835, with the page heading of 'Temple, London:

                               Yeveleye Praeceptoria

    Albertus Russell dedit eidem dominium de Verdone in com. Cestriae [the lordship/manor of Verdon in the County of Chester]

five entries below is one relating to Fulshaw:

    Ricardus de Fitton dedit dominium de Fulshawe, cum pertinentiis in dicto com. Cestriæ. [the lordship/manor of Fulshaw with its appurtenances in the aforementioned County of Chester]

A descendant of the first Jordan de Verdun, mentioned above in relation to 'Legh' and the de Verduns of Darlaston, married the heiress of an estate at Fulshaw, in the Parish of Wilmslow, Cheshire and subsequently their descendants became known as the Verdons of Fulshaw. By the later 1600s, the family's surname had evolved to 'Vardon'. They had originally held land in or near Woodford, a township in the parish of Prestbury. It seems that the family gave its name to the settlement of Vardentown (previously: 'Verdontown') in Over Alderley, near Prestbury in Cheshire. Perhaps this may be the very same place that is referred to as the Lordship of Verdone. Intriguingly, in 1445 an Edward Verdon appears in the Vale Royal's list of the names of the Knights, Gentlemen, and Freeholders in Cheshire in Macclesfield Hundred - historian and antiquarian J. P. Earwaker publishes this in his book on East Cheshire (Chapter : General History, pages 16-17) in the following manner: Edward Verdon (Holding of St. John of Jerusalem). His correct name may have been 'Edmund', like others of the family; not all names published in King's 'Vale Royal' were correctly recorded.

Verdon House and Verdon Bridge in the township of Hough in the parish of Wilmslow became marked on maps with a new spelling in the 20th century, perhaps based on the way in which the names were pronounced by that time: 'Vardon House Farm' and 'Varden Bridge'. The record from Dudgdale that refers to the lordship of Verdon appears to be dated 1434. Woodford, Prestbury, Over Alderley, Hough, Wilmslow and Fulshaw are all located very close to each other. J.H. Hanshall, in his The History of the County Palatine of Chester, wrote (page 520-522):


Contains the Townships of Chorley, Fulshaw, Morley, Dean Row, Hough, Styall


    Anciently called Le Bolyn, is about seven miles from Macclesfield, on the Manchester road, and what is very singular, the township is confined to the Church and the Church Yard. The great divisions of the parish, are included in Bollin Fee, Pownall Fee, Chorley, and Fulshaw. - At a very early period, the whole was held by the Fittons. The name "Bolyn" arose from its situation on the banks of the Bollen. Rd. Fyton, temp. Hen. III [who reigned 19th October 1216 to 16th November 1272], granted Fulshaw to the Order of St. John of  Jerusalem. By an Inq. of the 30th of the same King [i.e. 19th Oct 1246-18th Oct 1247], the manor of Bolyn is described as being held by the service of attending the King's army at Chester, with all the family of Fitton, armed with bows, &c. - This family continued here in the direct male till the death of Peter Fitton*, without issue, whose sister and heiress Johanna, married Richard Venables of the Kinderton family. .........

        * 42 Edward III [i.e. sometime between 25th January 1369 and 24th January 1370]


    Was given by Richard Fytun to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and the Duke of Leeds, as lessee under the Crown of the property belonging to the ancient Preceptory of the Order at Iveley, in Derbyshire, holds a Court Leet and Baron for the manor.  

    The Lands of the township, were granted by the Order to Richard del Short, and Robert Crosse de Fulshagh, by deed dated at Malcheburne, Michaelmas, 1277. In the 5th Elizabeth, Humphrey Newton obtained the manor by fine, of Thomas de Verdon; and in the 39th of Elizabeth, William Newton disposed of the manor for £200. to Thomas Leigh, Esq. It was subsequently (1666) divided between the Newtons, and the Lathoms, of Hawthorn Hall. The Newton moiety was soon after sold to Roger Wilbraham; and in 1682, he sold it to Mr. Samuel Finney, Esq. The other moiety passed to John Leigh, Esq. and was afterwards in several hands. In 1787, Mr. Page, of Hawthorn Hall, had possession; but in 1800 it was sold in portions to various purchasers. 

    Fulshaw Hall is a venerable brick house, with nay windows, and gables.

Earwaker mentions Thomas de Verdon of Fulshaw again on page 157 of Volume I of his East Cheshire: Past and Present; or A History of the Hundred of Macclesfield, in the County Palatine of Chester. From Original Records:

The possessions of the Leghs of Adlington in this township have already been referred to. Amongst the Fulshaw deeds is one dated 1492, which is sufficiently interesting to be given in its entirety, in the quaint English of the time of Henry VII. By it certain persons, including the Rector of Wilmslow, and one of the priests serving there, testify that the lands the Leghs held in Fulshaw were held of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, to whom, as previously described, the whole township had been given in the 13th century. This deed is as follows: b

For asmoch as it is meritorie and nedefull for every true cristin man to beire recorde in maters of trouth : We Sr Randull Davemport parson of Wymeslowe, Charles Davemport, Sr William Damport prest for the parish of Wilmeslowe, John Torkynton, Thomas Damport 1 of ffulshaw, gentilmen, Thomas Preston, Thomas Hogh, Robt Janny, Thomas Rile, yomen, Hugh Burges, Laurence Burges, husbandmen, Testifie that alle the lande that Thomas Legh of Adlyngton hath or any of his ancestres ever had in ffulshawe within the parish aforesaid, is holden of the lorde of Seynt Johns paying to ye same lord xxvs by yere. Also we sey for truth that Thomas Verdon of ffulshawe aforseid hath received the seid rent of ccvs as Depute and Resceyver of and for the seid lorde and paide as well by olde Robyn Legh of Adlyngton as by Robert his son and also paide by the seid Thomas Legh unto nowe of late for this v yeres next afore the date hereof :  Also be it known that I Richard Bowrs late of ffulshawe husbandman, testifie and sey for trouth that my fader, my brether and I have received the said rent of xxvs by the space of xxv yere and more. In wittenes that this oure writing is goode and true We the said Sr Rondull, Charles, SrWilliam, John, Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Robert, Thomas, Hugh, Laurence and Richard have set oure sealles. Yeven the ffirst day of Aprill the yere of the reigne of kynge Henry the vijth the vijth [1492].

Footnote from the original text: 

b  Fulshaw deeds. Cheshire MSS., vol. ii., copied from the original deed.

Additional footnote:

1  Thomas Davenport of Fulshaw, descended from a branch of the Davenports of Davenport, whose connection with the Newtons and Verdons is detailed further below.

It appears that Thomas Verdon (de Verdon) was the Deputy & Receiver for the Lord of the Manor of St. John of Jerusalem, as the Manor of Fulshaw had become known; hence Earwaker's reference to 'the lorde of Seynt Johns'. The Order of St. John no longer appeared to have owned the manor at the time of the Deed above, but its name was still attached to it. The Order had also held the nearby 'Lordship of Verdon'.

The 'Seynt Johns' name applied to the manor of Fulshaw is also referred to within 'Magna Britannia, being A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties of Great Britain, by the Rev. Daniel Lysons, AM FRS and LS, Rector of Rodmarton in Gloucestershire and Samuel Lysons Esq FRS and FAS, Keeper of His Majesty's Records in the Tower of London : Volume the Second, containing Cambridgeshire and The County Palatine of Chester' (Published 1810):

Page 820, Magna Britannia:

The manor of Fulshaw, which had passed from the family of Fulshaw, to that of Fitton, was given, as before-mentioned, to the prior and convent of St. John of Jerusalem; early in Queen Elizabeth's reign it belonged to Edmund Verdon Esq., whose son conveyed it to William Newton : this manor is claimed, by inheritance probably from the Newtons, by the trustees for the infant son of Peter Davenport Finney, who died in 1800 : the Duke of Leeds holds courts here for Fulshaw, as appendant to the preceptory of Iveley in Derbyshire, formerly belonging to the knights-hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem : the courts were formerly held at Fulshaw, now at Rostherne. The manor of St. John of Jerusalem, as it is called, consists of free-rents and royalties; the tenants of the manor are free from all tolls of bridges, markets, and fairs, and from attendance at assizes, sessions, &c. &c. The lords of the fee had in ancient times the probate of Wills within their jurisdiction, which were kept and registered by the steward of the court. This manor was demised by King Charles I. to Robert Wirrall Gent. Nathaniel Booth Esq., afterwards Lord Delamere, became lessee in or about the year 1731: the lease has been in the Duke of Leeds's family, nearly fifty years. Fulshaw-Hall is now occupied by ______ Tipping Esq.

In his later 19th century Gazetteer covering this part of Cheshire, Samuel Bagshaw also notes that the Manor of Fulshaw had been given by the de Fitton family to the Prior & Convent of St. John of Jerusalem, and that in King Henry VIII's reign it belonged to Edmund Verdon, son of Thomas Verdon of Fulshaw. These men descended from a Nicholas de Verdon who lived, or had lands at Romiley near Stockport, Cheshire in the reign of King Edward III.

Some of the de Verduns also appear in The Cheshire Court Rolls. On 13th April 1260, in the 44th year of the reign of King Henry III, an earlier 'Nicholas de Verdun' is mentioned in the County Court Roll of Cheshire as a proxy witness in a case brought by the attorney of the Abbot of Chester against Richard the son of William the Clerk of Chester. The attorney claimed that Richard was the abbots man for land at Upton, held by rendering yearly a pair of spurs, and that he had wrongfully withdrawn his service. The Upton in question may be the small settlement of Upton in the parish of Prestbury, near Macclesfield or perhaps the village of Upton just to the north of Chester.

116. Dom. John de Campeden, attorney of the Abbot of Chester v[ersus] Richard the son of William the Clerk of Chester; claiming that Richard was the abbots man for land at Upton, held by rendering yearly a pair of spurs, and that he had wrongfully withdrawn his service. He offered proof by the body of a certain William, who said he was present when Richard paid the said rent on St. John the Baptist's day in the 43rd year of King Henry [24 June, 1259], and who placed his security into the justiciar's hand at one o'clock (?) (vadium suum in manu Iusticiarii porexit ut ad horam unius didi) and found pledges, viz. Michael de Goristr' and Richard le Rowe of Tidulstan, so that if William could not perform the said proof (disracionem) Nicholas de Verdun would do it, and if not Thomas de Hol would. Richard defends; he says that there is a special writ in cases like the present, for homage, service and customs withheld, but the writ is not used in time of war. The countty decided that this was a sufficient reply. ..... the passage continues further onwards from this point.

Added notes to the text above:

The Abbot of Chester : according to J.H. Hansall's 'The History of the County Palatine of Chester' (page 229) the Abbot in 1260 was Thomas Capenhurst, who died on 28th March 1265.

Richard le Rowe of Tidulstan : Tidulstan is 'Tilstone Fearnall', which is east of and adjoins Tiverton, where the de Verduns held land.

Michael de Goristr' : his identity is as yet unknown.

Nicholas de Verdun : see further discussion below.

Thomas de Hole : he is likely to be related to John de Hoole, who is said to have been Lord of Hoole, which was located just to the north east of the old boundary of Chester, with Upton close by to the north west. John de Hoole is said to have sold land there to the Abbot of Chester during the reign of Edward II - this is mentioned on page 722 of Magna Britannia being A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties of Great Britain by the Rev. Daniel Lysons, Rector of Rodmarton in Gloucestershire and Samuel Lysoons Esq, Keeper of his Majesty’s Records in the Tower of London. Volume II, Part II, Containing The County Palatine of Chester, published in 1810. Extract:- Hoole-old-hall, now a farm-house, is said to have been the abbot of Chester’s grange: it is certain that the abbot had an entire estate here, which he purchased of John de Hoole, Lord of Hoole, in the reign of Edward II.; but it may be observed that Hoole-old-hall, now the property of Dr. Penelope Ward, was bought of Sir William Bunbury, whose ancestor David de Bunbury purchased of the Calveleys certain lands, which had been the property of John de Hoole above-mentioned. 1 (Footnote 1 - Villare Cestriense)

The first de Verdun to be named 'Nicholas' was the 2nd son of Bertram III de Verdun, husband of Clementina and father of Roesia de Verdun. He died in 1231, so is not the person named above. The next Nicholas de Verdun to be born was the son of Milo de Verdun who was a younger brother of the first Nicholas. Milo appears at the court of his niece Roesia at Alton with his sons Nicholas de Verdun and William de Verdun, and elsewhere appears with a third son Thomas de Verdun. The third Nicholas to be born into the family was the son of John de Verdun, Roesia's son and heir by Theobald le Botiller; this Nicholas married Basilia de Cogan, had no children and died in Ireland in 1271. The inquisition on Nicholas's death mentions that his younger brother and heir Theobald I de Verdun was born c.1248. Theobald and Nicholas's father had married their mother Margery de Lacy by Easter 1242. Assuming that Nicholas was born c.9 months later at the earliest, then if he was the man mentioned above in 1260, he would have had to have been aged c.17 at the time. This rather suggests that the Nicholas de Verdun who appears mentioned in Cheshire in 1260 is probably the son of Milo de Verdun. As mentioned above, 'Upton' could be the village near Chester. However, if it isn't, but the name instead refers to another Upton in the parish of Prestbury near Macclesfield, this may lead to an alternative suggestion about the identity of this Nicholas de Verdun - he may be one of the Verdons of Woodford and Fulshaw, who are mentioned below and produced a later Nicholas de Verdon. The reason for suggesting this, is that the old parish of Prestbury included Upton, Woodford, Newton, Poynton, Macclesfield and Macclesfield Forest - all places connected with the Verdons or related families. However, Thomas de Hole who is mentioned above is likely to be related to John de Hoole who appears in later records as Lord of Hoole, located outside Chester south-east of Upton.

A William de Verdon of the County of Chester is mentioned in the Rolls of the Forest of the Peak during the reign of Edward I in relation to an event that occurred in the reign of Henry III. The entry on the Rolls appears under the heading 'Amercements in default' (Roll II D):

Wm. le Parker, of Bredbury, and Wm. de Verdon, of County Chester, one doe at Milne (St. S. and Jude, 54 Hy. III). 

The default was clearly quite overdue, the fine having been levied in the 54th year (1261) of the reign of Edward I's father King Henry III, who had died on 16th November 1272. The Saints day helps provide an exact date since it is the Feast Day of the Apostle Saints Simon and Jude - 28th October 1261. If one is tempted to see this William de Verdon as being akin to 'Robin Hood' and other outlaws who took deer, there is no need as a study of the Rolls of the Forest of the Peak confirms that he was in quite high-born company or otherwise high-placed company. It seems there were many caught out by this, hunting with 'greyhounds' and other hounds. For example: John Lord de Queenbury, Matthew, Lord of Ospring, Peter, Prior of Eccles-field; William, Vicar of Glossop and even Juonis de Elington, then Bailiff of Peak! Quite how the Bailiff of the Peak became caught by Forest regulations he himself was probably involved in enforcing, one can only guess at, but it illustrates a proactive and perhaps enthusiastic regime focused on collecting fines and taxes.

This William could well be the son of Milo de Verdun, and therefore Nicholas and Thomas's brother. Bredbury, where William's 'partner in crime' came from, is c.6 miles from Gatley, where it was recorded in 1290 that William de Verdoun previously held land, and only c.1.5 miles from Romilly which is also mentioned below in relation to the de Verdon family.

Almost thirty years later, three more of the family appear in the same Chester County Court Rolls mentioned above. Firstly 'Theobald I de Verdun' (son of John de Verdun and grandson of Roesia de Verdun) is mentioned in a case dated 18th January 1289 relating to land at Weston by Bertumlegh (i.e. Weston, near Barthomley, just south east of Crewe and c.17km south west of Congleton). 

98. Thomas son of Roger de Chorlton v. [i.e. versus] Theobald de Verdun, Stephen de Holdich, Robert de Knypeslegh, Nicholas Monerell, Richard the Clerk, Henry Dun, Elkoc del Halle, Thomas de Baltredelegh and Peter de Baltredelegh; disseisin in Weston by Bertumlegh. The defendants did not appear, but the assize was taken. The jury said that the moorland had never been bounded nor had any certain quantity been assigned to any town. Therefore Thomas had not been diseased of the portion he claimed (4 perches by 20 perches), and was amerced (40d). Pledge : Henry de Shavington.

No further information is provided to explain how and why Theobald came to be involved with this matter, but it is another example of de Verdun connections with lands in Cheshire that have mostly remained unmentioned by historians of the family whose work has understandably tended to focus on their core holdings in places like Staffordshire and Ireland.

A few months after this mention of Theobald, Jordan de Verdon (mentioned above as having held land at High Legh and in relation to his son Henry de Verdon who was killed by members of the Legh family) appears in the same Court Rolls in relation to land at Poynton near Woodford that was the focus of a legal dispute. The case is recorded at the County Court on Tuesday, St. Alphege's Day, 17th year of the reign of King Edward I (i.e. 19th April 1289). It concerned a messuage, carucate of land, &c. in Ponyngton (i.e. Poynton, south of Stockport and Romilly and Gatley, which is mentioned below), and less than two miles east of Woodford. A seemingly remarkable number of men were involved in this dispute, in one capacity or another. The case is referenced in the records (compiled by R. Holmes) as '125a', and being between John de Montalt and Ellen his wife against Richard de Vernun, Richard de Stokport and many many others, whose names follow on from Richard de Stokport:

Roger & William de Stokport, John de Mottrum, Thomas de Neuton [i.e. Newton], William Pygod, Jordan de Bradbur', Geoffrey & William de Bradbury [these three are members of the de Bradbury/Bredbury family], Simon le Webster, Hugh Crocket, William le Walker, Richard son of Richard Joye, John & William sons of Emma de Bradbury [i.e. 'de Bredbury'], Thomas Quyot, Roger Poycche, William de Rugweye, Thomas son of Stephen de Bradbury ['de Bredbury'], William de Lychaseles, Richard Momsela, Simon son of Robert del Wode, Hugh son of William de Celdelawe, Geoffrey le Potter, William de Crokuile, Jordan his brother, Alexander son of William the Miller, Thomas de Ellehall, Gilbert & Adam del Sherch, Randle God, Roger son of Randle God, John de Coroun, Richard son of Thomas de Neuton [i.e. Newton], Hugh de Foxwist, William son of Thomas de Eccles, William le Harper, Jordan de Verdun, William de Meynwaring [i.e. Mainwaring], Warin de Wermingham, Thomas son of the chaplain of Adlington, Alexander son of Jordan de Bradbury [yet another of the 'de Bredbury' family], William son of Robert de Adelyngton, Richard de Wytelegh, Adam son of John de Haregrave, Makyn Mot, Richard Ben, Henry Cley, Adam del Dych, Henry de la Porte, William Costenoght, Richard son of Walter del Hus, Richard de Ryehull, Richard le Mascy 1, Richard Brasce, Robert Sparkes, William le Blunt, William his father, Richard son of the same William, Thomas Prudelove, Richard son of Adam Sparks, William Crapald, Hugh de Baggelegh, Robert del Hogh of Merpil, Simon his brother, Hugh de Wyberislegh, Richard le Grosvenor, Thomas de Tornside, Roger Prest, Hugh de Sidbothume, John de Bromhal, Roger Longware, William de Disteley [one of the 'Disley' family], Henry his brother, Richard de Riel' and others;

Note  1 : It seems quite likely 'Richard de Mascy' above may be the same person as 'Sir Richard de Mascy', also mentioned with Jordan de Verdon in relation to land at High Legh, above, and with Henry de Verdon in the Chester County Pleas, 1293. If not, perhaps he is a close relative.

[and finally after all these names the record comes to the point of the dispute] 

messuage, carucate of land, &c. in Ponyngton [i.e. Poynton]. Richard de Vernun answered as tenant, stating that William de Vernun granted the same to Walter de Vernun by charter, with reversion to grantor in default of issue. Walter died without issue, so that the tenement reverted to Richard as next heir to William the grantor. Plaintiffs said they entered on St. Thomas the Martyr's day last past [29 Dec., 1288] by grant of the said Walter de Vernun, and at their seisin were present John de Mottrum and other bailiffs of the aforesaid Richard de Stokport and Richard Vernun (simplex clamium ex parte domino rum suorum inponentes). They had had possession in peace until the Saturday before Ash Wednesday when Richard de Vernun and the others ejected them. The jury gave a verdict for the plaintiffs.

(note 1: R. Holme's notes end here).

Ormerod in his History of Cheshire provided a pedigree of the Barons of Stockport, which is perhaps why one might find John de Montalt & his wife Ellen in dispute with Richard de Stokport - the pedigree shows that Elena (de Malbanc), the widow of Sir Robert de Stokeport, remarried as her 2nd husband John de Montalt, seneschal of Chester. Sir Robert's heir was Sir Richard de Stokeport, lord of Stockport in succession to his father. Perhaps, there may have been some argument over Elena's dower - a common issue that arose in that era. Ormerod shows that Sir Robert & Elena's younger son was Roger de Stokeport of Woodford, and that Sir Robert's sister Margaret had married William de Vernon of Harlaston - perhaps the William de Vernun who is mentioned above. According to Burke's 'A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerages of England, Ireland and Scotland, Extinct, Dormant, and in Abeyance', John de Montalt was the elder son of Roger de Montalt, who was deemed one of the greatest feudal barons in the realm, temp. Henry III., and accompanied Prince Edward to the Holy Land. Burke tells us (p.355) that Roger married Cecilia, second sister, and one of the co-heirs of Hugh de Albini, Earl of Arundel, and that John's sister Leucha married Philip de Orreby, the younger.

In the following year, 1290, 'William de Verdoun' appears in the Macclesfield Eyre Roll (included within the Cheshire Court Rolls) in relation to land previously held by him at Gaticlyve (Gatley) by Cheadle, west of Stockport. This section of the rolls refers to there being 24 jurors. There is mention of 'Amercements' and then 'Fines', and under the latter appears the following note:

Geoffrey de Chedle holds 14 houses with hearths, each with an occupier, in Chedle; and these used to render all kinds of forinsee services as puture of the sergeants and sustenance for their dogs, and the pursuit and leading in of animals taken in distraints. The like services used to be rendered also by lands formerly held by Adam the reeve of Crosacres, Walter son of Adam, Robert son of Matthew, Walter de Brumlegh, Adam de Bosco, Filke de Swaynescroft, Roger de Smalwode, all in Echles; William de Verdoun, Jordan de Gaticlyve, Hamme, Adam de Gaticlyve, [blank] son-in-law of Adam the reeve, [blank] Pocke de Gateclyve, all in Gaticlyve [which is an old name for 'Gatley']; and Richard de Hegreve in Hegreve. These services have been withdrawn for a long time, to the loss of the king and queen; and Jordan de Tyderington, Robert de Dounes, Richard de Cappesthorn, Adam son of Roger de Aldridelegh, Richard de Sotingham, Adam the Rede of Hendebiry, John de Astul, Hamon de Hemigshawe, Hugh de Bradeford, William son of Henry de Rode, Adam Balle and Henry de Faleghes were ordered to make inquiry and certify the steward at Michaelmas next at Makelisfeld