de Verduns of Weston & Aston-on-Trent

The de Verduns of Weston & Aston,


(also connected with Cheshire)

A branch of de Verdons had estates at Aston-on-Trent, once a part of the Manor of Weston in Derbyshire and are mentioned quite a lot in the Cartulary of the Abbey of St. Werburgh in Chester.

The Manor of Weston was a royal manor. In 1009 King Ethelred the Unready confirmed the boundaries of the Manor of Weston ('Westune') in a charter, which mentions its lands as comprising what is now known as Shardlow, Great Wilne, Church Wilne, Crich, Smalley, Morley, Weston and Aston-on-Trent. After the conquest, King William I gave the Manor of Weston to his nephew Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester. Aston-on-Trent comprised two estates - one was a berwick of the Manor of Weston and the other was listed in the Domesday Book as part of the lands given by the king to Henry de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, who owned other land in the area including Barrow-on-Trent. In 1092, Hugh d'Avranches transformed the existing church at Chester dedicated to St. Werburgh into a Benedictine abbey, and in 1093, he gifted the Manor of Weston to the new Abbey of St. Werburgh, and at some point he also gifted the advowson of the Rectory of Aston to St. Werburgh's.

The first of the de Verduns of Weston & Aston was a certain William de Verdun. He married a local heiress - Alice daughter of Robert fitzWalter. She had inherited lands at Aston-on-Trent, Shardlow and Wilne (Great Wilne) in Derbyshire from her father, who was also known as Robert de Morley. These lands passed to William and Alice's son, the second William de Verdun of this family. Robert fitzWalter was born c.1130s. He had married Dina, daughter of Robert the son of Hardulf, from Osgathorpe in neighbouring Leicestershire. Hardulf is very likely to have been one of the original pre-Norman conquest Mercian landowners in the area. As it happens, Dina held lands in Osgarthorpe from Bertram III de Verdun, son of Norman de Verdun and his wife Lecelina de Clinton. Bertram III de Verdun had married as his first wife Matilda (or Maud), daughter of Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, son of Henry de Ferrers mentioned above - this connection may be how Osgathorpe came to be held by Bertram. It may be that this also provides more than a hint about the origin of the first William de Verdun of Aston, and how he came to marry Alice. The other important alternative or additional connection may have come from the Earl of Chester, who (as mentioned above) was also Vicomte of Avranches in Normandy, where some de Verduns were his tenants.

As it happens, there is a William de Verdun who had very close connections with Ranulf III 'de Blondeville', Earl of Chester (whose estate was administered during his minority by Bertram III de Verdun) and is mentioned above in 1195 as having been in Normandy with King Richard I, Ranulf and his brother Roger of Chester. This William de Verdun was either the uncle or younger brother of Bertram III de Verdun, whose other brothers were Herbert de Verdun of Ipstones in Staffordshire and Ralph de Verdun of Bloxham in Oxfordshire. I believe William de Verdun, companion of Ranulf, Earl of Chester and who also held lands in Normandy, probably of Ranulf as Vicomte d'Avranches, may be the same man or perhaps more likely the father of Sir William de Verdun, Knight who married Alice daughter of Robert fitzWalter and is ancestor of the de Verduns of Derbyshire, who appear with such frequency in the Cartulary of St. Werburgh's Abbey in Chester.

Bertram III de Verdun is said to have had his children by his second wife Roesia ___? - they were: Thomas (who married Eustacia Bassett and died without issue in 1199), Nicholas (who married Clementina and died in 1231), Bertram (who married Sibilla), Milo (who had sons Nicholas and William), Robert (who married Joan?, daughter & co-heir of Henry de Bourton of Ibstock), Henry (who married Hawise de Gresley, held Bucknall of his brother Nicholas and was ancestor of the de Verdons of Biddulph & Darlaston), Agnes (who married Robert FitzWilliam), and Lescelina (who married Hugh II de Lacy, 1st Earl of Ulster). This Hugh de Lacy was the 2nd son of the first Hugh de Lacy, and the younger brother of Walter de Lacy who was Lord of Meath, Ludlow and Ewias Lacy. It was Walter's granddaughter Margaret, daughter of Gilbert, who married Sir John de Verdun, son of the great heiress Roesia de Verdun, daughter of Lescelina's brother Nicholas de Verdun, by her husband Theobald le Botiller.

Alice de Verdun's father Robert de Morley (also known as Robert fitzWalter) was born c.1130s. He witnessed a grant of land to his wife's father and also confirmed a sale by him in 1186. After the death of his father-in-law, land in Osgathorpe was confirmed to him. Between 1186 and 1194, he granted the advowson of Morley to St. Werburgh's Abbey in Chester. He predeceased his wife Dina sometime before 1201. Dina and Robert are known to have had at least three children, all daughters: Alice, Amphelia and Ysolt (also recorded as Yseuda).

Alice's husband William de Verdun died c.1228. The Cartulary of St. Werburgh's Abbey mentions Wiliam and his heir, also William, quite a few times. For example, one record is a Quitclaim by Sir William de Verdon the elder Knight to William his son and heir of all his right in the pasture of Cowholm (this is dated sometime between 1200 & 1226). Sometime between 1228 and 1240, the Cartulary records a Quitclaim by William de Verdon the younger to Walter (de Pinchbeck), Abbot of Chester, of all his right in the pasture of Cowholm. William de Verdon (the elder) also made a grant of a virgate of land to his son William. At some point before 1226, William de Verdon the younger granted this same virgate of land in Aston-on-Trent to Hugh, Abbot of Chester. The Cartulary also records that William de Verdon the elder granted to Roger, Chaplain of Aston, a toft lying between the land of John de Verdon and that of Richard Curtis. This John de Verdon may be a brother of William de Verdon the younger.

William II de Verdun of Aston had a son and heir Arnold de Verdun, who records confirm was living sometime between 1249 and 1265. The Cartulary records a Quitclaim by Arnold, son of William de Verdon the younger to Thomas, abbot of Chester, of the lands in Aston (Upon Trent), Shardlow, and (Great) Wilne, which he demanded of him by writ of right in the county court of Nottingham; and of the capital messuage, etc, of William de Verdon in Aston; with all other lands etc., which he gave to the Abbey in Aston, Shardlow, Wilne and Morley (this is dated c.1249-65).

Arnold was succeeded in turn by his son William III de Verdun of Aston, who was active between 1250 and 1300 and is mentioned with his father in the Cartulary of the Abbey of St. Werburgh.