de Verdons of Norfolk


The de Verdons of Norfolk, Suffolk

& Northamptonshire

The other Baronial Verdon family,

a very early off-shoot of the main line

The de Verduns of Norfolk, Suffolk and Northamptonshire are a significant branch of the family, who settled at Bressingham in Norfolk from an early date. In the 14th century, the head of the family became a Baron, like his kinsman Theobald I de Verdun of Alton Castle had before him. Their exact relationship to the main Alton line is not yet known, but we know they are the same family, even though their later heraldry used a different design, just as occurred with the de Ipstone and de Wrottesley families, who swapped their de Verdun name for a toponym, taken from their main manorial estate.

The bulk of accessible narrative about the de Verduns of Norfolk appears in Francis Blomefield’s History of the County of Norfolk, Cockayne’s Complete Peerage and Shaw’s Knights of Edward I. Beyond this one has to rely on careful searches of original charters and deeds.

Above: the arms of the de Verdon family of Norfolk, from a stained glass window inside a chapel within Brixworth Church, Northamptonshire, where the tomb effigy of Sir John de Verdon is found - he was Lord of Brixworth and many other manors in Norfolk and Suffolk. The family had arms that differed in design from the senior Alton branch - this was probably to avoid confusion between the two, on the battlefield and/or at tournaments.

The de Wrottesleys also adopted their own separate design of arms, as did the de Ipstones and other branches of the de Verdun family.

Burke’s Extinct Peerage gives the first of the family the name William de Verdun, but it is clear that this is not correct. It is Ives de Verdun, who was the founder of this branch of the family. His name is also recorded in its latinate form as ‘Ivo’ de Verdun. He is most likely to have been a son of Bertram I de Verdun, and therefore a sibling of Roland de Verdun of Normandy. The appearance of a Bertram de Verdun two generations after Ives is indicative of a wish to record the connection with the de Verduns of Staffordshire, the name of whose founder - Bertram - continues to echo down the generations to this very day, just as it has in its French form - ‘Bertrand’ - amongst the de Verduns of Normandy.

Cockayne opens his section on the Barons of ‘Verdon’ with these words: Observations. - In the early years of the 12th century the family of Verdon was settled in Norfolk as tenants of Roger Bigod, lord of Framlingham, Suffolk. For it is stated, circa 1101-07, that Ives de Verdon, Roger’s tenant, had encroached on the lands of the abbey of St. Benet Holme [this is Holme in the Norfolk Broads] at in Saxlingham, Moulton and Aslacton, Norfolk, estates which were later in the hands of the father of John, Lord Verdon. Ives also witnessed a charter which William Bigod granted to Thetford Priory, Norfolk, and granted lands and 2/3 [two thirds] of his tithes of Great Moulton to that Thetford Priory.1

In 1166, William de Verdun, most likely a son (or grandson) and heir of Ives, is recorded as holding six knights’ fees of the old feoffment held by Ives de Verdun of Hugh Bigod.2

In his chapter on Brisingham (i.e. Bressingham)3 Blomefield informs us that in William Rufus's time, the earl of Norfolk had the whole town (of Brisingham), all which he infeoffed in William de Verdun. He cites the Black Book of the Exchequer as a source for the information that Roger Bygod, father of Hugh Bygod, had infeoffed this William in six knights fees of his old feoffment, among which, this old town was reckoned at two; and this is the reason that it was all along held of the Norfolk family, as capital lords, by the Verdons, and all other owners. This feoffment was made about 1100, or before, for in 1107 this Earl Roger died.4

The reason for the discrepancy of dates between Cockayne and Blomefield isn’t clear, but what is evident is that these de Verduns held the same lands from the time of William Rufus into the 14th century, thereby confirming continued succession within the family, from one generation to another.

William de Verdun above had at least two children, sons called William and Bertram. The former was fined 1 mark in Norfolk and Suffolk in 1176-77 and, according to Cockayne, he and his brother Bertram de Verdun are mentioned regularly in the Pipe Rolls for a debt there between 1183 and 1197.5 In the first year of the reign of Richard I, they are specifically referred to in The Great Pipe Roll, under a section with the heading ‘Norfolk & Suffolk’ as Willielmus de Verdun and Bertrannus frater ejus [his brother].6

Blomefield provides a different record of this William and Bertram, writing that William de Verdun (who succeeded William, son of Ives) lived in 1207 and was succeeded by Bertram de Verdun, who he tells us was Lord of Brisingham and also of Moulton in 1212.





1 Sources provided by Cockayne (with his italics shown, but abbreviations provided in full): St. Benet of Holme, Norfolk Record Society, volume 1, page 170; Calendar of Close Rolls, 1302-07, page 513; Dugdale, Mon., volume 5, pages 143, 149. Sir William de Verdon granted a moiety of the advowson.

2 Cockayne’s source for this information: Red Book of the Exchequer, page 395.

3 'Hundred of Diss: Brisingham', An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: volume 1 (1805), pp. 49-73.

4 Blomefield provides this source reference: Fin divers. Com. 14th John.

5 Cockayne’s reference: Pipe Roll, 23 Henry II, page 130; and 29 Henry II to 9 Richard I.

6 The Great Roll of the Pipe for the first year of the reign of King Richard the First A.D. 1189-1190. Printed 1844, from the original in the custody of The Right Hon. The Master of the Rolls, under the care of Joseph Hunter, page 43.