de Vardon of Normandy

The de Vardon (Devardon) and

Vardon families of Normandy

The family of Harry Vardon the famous golfer

It is purely coincidental that this family share the same spelling of their surname as the Vardons of Cheshire. Quite how the name 'Vardon' evolved in Normandy separately from the way in which the Verdons (de Verduns) of Cheshire's did, no one yet knows.

Two Vardon brothers fled from Normandy to Jersey after King Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes in October 1685. The Edict had been issued by protestant King Henry IV (Henry of Navarre), to protect and grant rights to the protestant - "Hugeunot" - minority. Their descendants remained in Jersey, but some relocated to England, where their most famous descendant was the famous golfer "Harry Vardon"

These Vardons from Jersey are the protestant branch of the de Vardon family (now Devardon) of Le Bas Vardon and Le Haut Vardon, below Cahan in Normandie, south west of the town of Pont D'Ouilly at the junction of the River Noireau and the Orne. Vardons still live in the area of Athis-de-l'Orne, including well known dairy farmer Jean Vardon of La Ferme de Treillebois, and the Devardons are still at Le Haut Vardon.

The Vardons of Les Tourailles, south east of Athis-de-l'Orne, details of whom are found in the Armorial des Tourailles, du Houlme et de ses environs en Basse-Normadie, Ancien fief des Turgot, written by Christophe Lallau, appear from their Huguenot connections to be the same family as the Vardons of Jersey.

The Armorial des Tourailles also mentions the de Verduns of Normandy. No evidence has yet been found to show any connection between the de Vardon and de Verdun families of Normandie. The linguistics of French suggest that it would have been most unlikely for the surname 'de Verdun' to evolve to 'Vardon' as it did in England; the opposite is more likely i.e. for the name 'Vardon' to morph into 'Verdun'. The etymology of the place names 'Verdun', 'Verdon' and 'Vardon' show a common origin. Place name dictionaries have suggested the name is Gaulish in origin, combining Ver(n) meaning 'alder' with dun meaning 'hill' and/or 'fortress'. In modern Welsh, which is related to Gaulish, the word for 'alder' is 'gwern'. This derivation is why the name is found fairly geographically spread across France, and different families took their toponyms from different places with the same or very similar name.

It is quite possible that the Vardon family of Normandy took their name from the hamlets of Le Haut Vardon and Le Bas Vardon, in the same way that the de Verdun family of Normandy took their name from land they held in the Manche called 'Verdun'.

The first mention of the name Vardon in Normandy appears to be in the early 1600s, but further investigation is required to ascertain any potential earlier mention, or possible connection with the Normandy family of de Verdun.

One hint of a possible connection can be found in the book 'The Norman people and their existing descendants in the British dominions and the United States of America, written by Henry S. King & Co., and published in 1874. In his book, King provides the following entry for the Vardon family:

VARDON. Durand Vardon, Normandy 1198 (MRS), armorially identified with Verdon.

Note: 'MRS' is an abbreviation for 'Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae', or an extract from it that appears in what King refers to as the 'Mémoires de la Société des Antiquaries de la Normandie, t. 15-17'.

However, although King wrote 'armorially identified with Verdon', he provided no other details that could enlighten us, and he does not say anything about this Vardon being related to anyone with the name 'Verdon', and no mention is made of the family of 'de Verdun'.

The origins of the de Vardon family of Normandy therefore remains a mystery to be unwrapped.