Vernon, Richard de (DNB00)

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VERNON or Pembruge, Sir RICHARD de (d. 1451), speaker of the House of Commons, was the son of Sir Richard de Vernon (d. 1402), by Joanna or Jenetta, daughter of Sir Richard Griffin. The name of the family was derived from the châtellenie of Vernon in Normandy, which gave its name to a commune and town in the department of the Eure. It was granted by William, duke of Normandy, to Richard de Redvers. His son William took the name of Vernon. About 1052 he founded and endowed a church there, in the choir of which is his tomb and effigy in white marble with a French inscription. He died in 1060. His eldest son, Richard, accompanied Duke William to England, and was created Baron de Shipbrook in the county palatine of Chester (Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 245–51). Richard's descendant, William de Vernon, chief justice of Chester in the reign of Henry III, by his marriage with Avicia, daughter of William de Avenel, acquired part of the manor of Haddon in Derbyshire, which ultimately came into full possession of the family, and was retained by them for more than three centuries. Sir Richard Vernon, the speaker, was under age at the time of his father's death. He probably served with Henry V in France, and was knighted in 1418. He represented Derbyshire in the first parliament of Henry VI, but in 1423 was in France, and on the capture of Pont Melance was appointed by the Earl of Salisbury joint captain with Sir H. Mortimer of the town (Hall, Chron. 1809, p. 116; Holinshed, iii. 386). This Sir Richard, however, may have been a kinsman, the son of that Sir Richard Vernon of Shipbrook who was beheaded on 23 July 1403 after the battle of Shrewsbury (see Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 133; Wylie, i. 364, ii. 230, iv. 187). To the parliament which met at Leicester (known as the ‘Bats parliament’) Vernon was again returned for Derbyshire, and on 28 Feb. was presented to the king as speaker. On 1 June he gave assent on behalf of the commons to the subsidy recently voted (Rot. Parl. iv. 296, 302). His name appears in 1435 in a list handed in by Gloucester to the privy council (Nicolas, Acts of the Privy Council, iv. 303); and in the following year he contributed a hundred marks to the French war (ib. p. 323). At Michaelmas 1448 Vernon received a grant of 133l. 6s. 8d. for his services as knight-steward (Devon, Issues of the Exchequer, p. 463).

In 1450 Vernon was made treasurer of Calais, and he died in the following year. At his death, besides the Haddon property, he was possessed of the Pembruge estates of Tong, Ayleston, and Ullingwyke, Shropshire (inherited from his great-uncle, Sir Fulk), the Swynnerton estates at Harlaston, Staffordshire, and other property in Buckinghamshire and Leicestershire. He married Benedicta de Ludlow, daughter of Sir Robert Pembruge of Tong and Juliana Trussel. According to an inscription in Bakewell church, Derbyshire, they are said to have founded a chapel there in 1427. The monumental figure of a man in armour and his wife, recumbent on an alabaster tomb in Tong church, Shropshire, was thought by Dugdale (Visitation of Salop, ‘Church Notes,’ p. 18; Wylie, iv. 327, 329) to be that of Sir Fulk Pembruge; but Eyton identifies it with that of his heir Sir Richard, the speaker. A portrait was engraved by H. Shaw from the Tong monument (Evans, Cat. Engr. Portraits, No. 22385).

Vernon's eldest son, Sir William, succeeded his father as treasurer of Calais, and was the last who held for life the office of constable of England. He died in 1467, and was buried in Tong church, Shropshire, where there is a monument to him and his wife. There is also a cenotaph in the church at Vernon in Normandy. Engravings are given in Ducarel's ‘Anglo-Norman Antiquities’ (p. 43) and in Gough's ‘Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain.’ Sir William Vernon married Margaret, daughter and coheiress of Sir Robert Pype of Spernore, by whom he had seven sons and two daughters. His grandson, Sir Henry Vernon (d. 1515), married Anne Talbot, daughter of the second Earl of Shrewsbury. He was governor and treasurer to Arthur, prince of Wales, son of Henry VII, whose marriage contract he signed in 1500. A room at Haddon Hall, called the ‘Prince's chamber,’ commemorated their intimacy. He was buried at Tong. His grandson, Sir George Vernon (d. 1567), the last male of the main branch of the family, was known as ‘King of the Peak’ for his ‘magnificent manner of living and commendable hospitality’ (Camden, Britannia, ii. 303). His daughter and heiress Dorothy (d. 1584) eloped with Sir John Manners, second son of Thomas, first earl of Rutland, and became ancestress of the present dukes of Rutland, to whose family Haddon Hall now passed. The door through which Dorothy Vernon is said to have eloped is still called after her, and the Vernon name is commemorated at Haddon by engravings of their arms.

[Some account of the origin of the Vernon family is given in Thomas Stapleton's fragment, Historical Memoirs of the House of Vernon. Probably the most correct pedigrees are those given in Eyton's Antiquities of Shropshire, ii. 226, and in Gough's Sepulchral Monuments, vol. ii. pt. iii. p. 264. Those in Lipscomb's Buckingham, iv. 591, 592, and Nichols's Leicestershire, iv. 36, are obviously imperfect. See also Hist. and Antiquities of Haddon Hall, 1867; Anderson's Shropshire Antiquities, pp. 44, 47; Willis's Notitia Parliamentaria, ii. 220, iii. 308; Erdeswick's Survey of Staffordshire, ed. Harwood (for connection with Swynnertons), pp. 47, 53, 108, 161 n., 237 n., 467, 518–19 n., 522; Playfair's British Families of Antiquity, ii. 195–9; Bateman and Glover's Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, pp. 189, 240. The account in Manning's Lives of the Speakers, pp. 75, 76, is genealogically worthless.]

G. Le G. N.