1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Verney

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VERNEY, the name of an English family which settled first of all at Fleetmarston in Buckinghamshire, then at Penley in Hertfordshire, and filially at Middle Claydon in Buckinghamshire. Its pedigree goes back to Ralph de Verney (fl. 1216-1223), but the fortunes of the family were made by Sir Ralph Verney (d. 1478), who was lord mayor of London in 1465 and M.P. for the city in 1472. His eldest son, Sir John Verney, married Margaret, heiress of Sir Robert Whittingham of Penley, and the fourth Sir Ralph Verney married in 1525 Elizabeth, one of the six co-heiresses of John, Lord Braye. Sir Edmund Verney of Penley (d. 1600) left two sons, half-brothers, Sir Francis Verney (1584-1615), who became a soldier of fortune and a buccaneer, and died at Messina in hospital in extreme poverty, and Sir Edmund Verney (1500-1642) of Middle Claydon, Bucks. Sir Edmund accompanied Prince Charles and Buckingham on the abortive mission to Madrid in 1623, and was knight-marshal to King Charles I. When the Civil War broke out the royal standard was entrusted to him at Nottingham, and while defending it he was slain at Edgehill in 1642. His eldest son, Sir Ralph Verney (1613-1696), 1st baronet, sat for Aylesbury in both the Short and the Long parliaments. He took the side of the parliament at the outset of the Civil War, but went abroad in 1643 rather than sign the Covenant, and his estates were sequestrated in 1646. He returned to England in 1653, and, though he refused to act against Cromwell, was subsequently reconciled to the Restoration government. His brother, Sir Edmund (1616-1649), had taken the king's side, and was one of those murdered in cold blood by Cromwell's soldiers at the sack of Drogheda. Sir Ralph Verney's estates and honours descended to his son, Sir John {c. 1640-17 17), who was created Viscount Fermanagh in the Irish peerage in 1703 and was father of Ralph Verney, created Earl Verney in 1743. Earl Verney's sister, Margaret Verney, by her marriage with Sir Thomas Cave, linked the Verney family a second time with the barony of Braye, and the present Lord Braye's surname is Verney-Cave. Earl Verney's eldest son, John, predeceased him in 1737, leaving a posthumous daughter, Mary (1737-1810), who was created Baroness Fermanagh in 1792. His second son, Ralph, 2nd Earl Verney (c. 1712-1791), was a friend of Edmund Burke, who entered parliament as Verney's nominee for Wendover. Earl Verney was an ardent supporter of the Whig interest, but received no reward from the party leaders. He rebuilt Claydon House with great splendour from the plans of John Adam, but, with his financial ventures, this brought him to bankruptcy. He died childless in March 1791 and his titles became extinct.

The present Verney family, of Claydon Hall, Buckinghamshire, is descended in the male line from Felix Calvert (1596-1674) of Little Hadham, Hertfordshire. The Right Hon. Sir Harry Verney, 2nd baronet (1801-1894), was the son of General Sir Harry Calvert, G.C.B., created a baronet in 1818. He assumed the name of Verney in compliance with the will of Mary Verney, Baroness Fermanagh, mentioned above. This lady died unmarried, leaving the paternal estates and the Verney portraits to her half-sister, Catherine Calvert (Mrs Wright), known thenceforward as Mrs Verney, on whose death in 1827 they came into the possession of her cousin, Sir Harry Calvert (Verney) . Sir Harry Verney entered the House of Commons for Buckingham in 1832, and remained a member of the House with two short intervals for fifty-two years. He married in 1835 Eliza, daughter of Admiral Sir George Johnstone Hope, K.C.B., M.P., and secondly Frances Parthenope Nightingale, sister of Florence Nightingale.

Frances, Lady Verney, collected from the mass of papers preserved at Claydon House the Memoirs of the Verney Family during the Seventeenth Century, which contain a charming picture of the life and manners of the country gentlemen of that day. A second edition, abridged and corrected by Margaret M. Verney, appeared in 2 vols, in 1904. See also the Verney Papers edited for the Camden Society in 1853-1854.

The Verneys who hold the barony of Willoughby de Broke descend from the Rev. Robert Barnard, prebendary of Winchester, who married in 1793 the Hon. Louisa Verney Peyto, daughter of John Peyto, 14th Baron Willoughby de Broke, and co-heiress of her brother Henry, 16th baron. The Peytos inherited the Verney estates in Warwickshire through Margaret Greville (d. 1631), sister and heiress of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (q.v.), who married Sir Richard Verney 'of Compton Murdac, Warwickshire. Robert John Barnard, 18th Baron Willoughby de Broke, who took in 1853 the surname of Verney in lieu of Barnard, was the grandfather of the 19th Lord Willoughby de Broke (Richard Greville Verney), who sat in the House of Commons from 1895 to 1900 for S.E. Warwickshire and succeeded to the title in 1902.