Verdon, Theobald de (DNB00)

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VERDON, THEOBALD de (1248?–1309), baron, was the son of John de Verdon (d. 1274), and his wife, Margaret de Lacy. His grandfather, Theobald Butler, an Irish lord, married Rohese de Verdon, only daughter and heiress of Nicholas de Verdon, the last male representative of the Norman family of Verdon. They were lords of Farnham Royal in Buckinghamshire, of Brandon Castle in Warwickshire, and possessors of large estates in Leicestershire and Staffordshire, where their principal residence, Alveton (or Alton) Castle, was situated, and where also was their chief religious foundation, the Cistercian abbey of Croxden, established in 1176 by Bertram de Verdon [q. v.] They also acquired during the twelfth century considerable estates in Ireland. Rohese de Verdon was therefore a great heiress, who after her marriage retained her family name and arms and handed them on to her son. About 1242 she founded in her Leicestershire property at Belton in Charnwood Forest the priory of Grace Dieu for Austin canonesses (Monasticon, vi. 507; Nichols, Leicestershire, iii. 651–5). She died on 10 Feb. 1247, and was buried at Grace Dieu. At the dissolution her tomb was removed to Belton church, where it still remains. It is figured in Nichols's ‘Leicestershire’ (iii. 647). Her eldest son, John de Verdon as he was called, paid thirteen hundred marks to the king for the livery of her lands. He upheld the king's cause during the barons' wars, and Brandon Castle was demolished by the opposite party. He went on crusade with the future Edward I, and died on 21 Oct. 1274. Before 1248 he had further increased the importance of his house by his marriage with Margaret de Lacy, daughter of Gilbert de Lacy, and jointly with her sister Matilda, wife of Geoffrey de Genville, heiress of her grandfather Walter de Lacy's rich estates in Shropshire, the Welsh march, and in Ireland. This match brought to the Verdons a moiety of Weobley, of the marcher lordship of Ewyas Lacy, and of the manor of Ludlow, all Stokesay, and Stoke-on-Tern, and the half of the great Lacy palatinate of Meath in Ireland, with the office of constable of Ireland. Margaret de Lacy died in 1256. John's second wife, Eleanor, an Irish lady, left no issue (Hist. Coll. Staffordshire, vi. 1, 71). Margaret had three sons, but of these the eldest, Nicholas, and another brother, John, were slain in Ireland about July 1271 (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1252–84, p. 524). Nicholas died without issue, so that on his father's death the younger son, Theobald de Verdon, paid 100l. as relief, and was put in possession of his lands. He is returned in one inquest as then ‘twenty-two years old and more,’ and in another as twenty-six years of age (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 213, cf. p. 149). The latter seems the exacter statement. In November 1274, on paying 200 marks fine, he also got seisin of his Irish estates (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1252–84, p. 187).

In the spring of 1275 Verdon went to Ireland (ib. p. 194). The governor, Robert de Ufford, sought to diminish his authority in his Meath franchise, and, after some litigation, took Meath into the king's hands in June 1280 (ib. p. 344). In September 1284 Verdon received protection on being about to visit Ireland, then in an exceptional state of war (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, pp. 131, 132). He did not, however, go thither before June 1285. In 1289 he was again in England (ib. p. 326). In that year he was among the barons present at the great meetings at Norham about the Scots succession (‘An. Regni Scot.’ in Rishanger, p. 253). In 1291 he was called to answer for ‘divers transgressions and disorders.’ On his not appearing at Abergavenny, where the court was finally held, he was imprisoned and deprived of Ewyas Lacy (Rot. Parl. i. 81 b). The parliament of January 1292 confirmed the sentence, but as a great favour he was allowed to purchase release from prison with 500 marks, and the king promised to restore Ewyas after his death. It was only after this that, on 19 Feb. 1292, his lordship of Ewyas was taken into the king's hands. His disfavour did not last long, for on 8 June Ewyas was absolutely restored, apparently on condition of a grant of a fifteenth, which Edward promised should not prejudice his franchise (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, pp. 478, 492, 503).

In 1294 he was summoned to serve in Gascony, and in 1295 he again went to Ireland (ib. 1292–1301, p. 141), where he still remained in 1297 and 1299 (ib. pp. 321, 394). Accordingly he was allowed to send his eldest surviving son, Theobald, to represent him (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1293–1301, p. 202; Parl. Writs, i. 883) in the Scots campaigns of 1297 and 1298. He was himself at the Lincoln parliament of 1301, and signed the famous letter to the pope as ‘T. de Verdon dominus de Webbele’ [Weobley] (Chron. Edw. I and Edw. II, i. 123). He was also summoned to the parliament of Carlisle in 1307; but to this, as to some previous parliaments, he was allowed to send a proxy (Parl. Writs, i. 883). He was summoned under Edward II to the Stamford parliament of July 1309. He died on Sunday, 24 Aug. 1309, at his castle of Alveton in Staffordshire, and was buried ‘with great honour’ in the family foundation of Croxden Abbey on 12 Oct. (Monasticon, v. 661). By his wife Margaret (Hist. Coll. Staffordshire, vi. 1, 106; the pedigree in Nichols's Leicestershire, iii. 640, makes him and his son marry the same person), Verdon left several children. Their eldest son, John de Verdon, died on 13 June 1297 in Ireland. An attempt of his father to enfeoff him with some estates without royal license caused difficulties with the king (Cal. Genealogicum, p. 768). The second and youngest son, Theobald de Verdon junior (d. 1316), accordingly succeeded to his father's lands. He had been sent back from Ireland in 1298, when he was knighted on 24 June by Edward I, and took part in the Falkirk campaign. On 29 Dec. 1299 he was summoned to parliament during his father's lifetime as ‘Theobald de Verdon, junior.’ In 1313 he was made justice and lieutenant of Ireland with a salary of 500l., but after Bannockburn he was on 12 Aug. 1314 summoned to leave Ireland at once with horses and arms to fight against the Scots (Cal. Close Rolls, 1313–18, p. 193). Eyton speaks of his ‘short but brilliant career.’ He died at Alveton on 27 July 1316, and was buried at Croxden on 19 Sept. A long list of his estates is given in ‘Calendarium Inquisitionum post mortem’ (i. 284–5).

Theobald de Verdon junior married first Matilda (d. 1312), daughter of Edmund Mortimer (d. 1304), on 29 July 1302, and therefore sister to Roger Mortimer, first earl of March. By her he was the father of three daughters: 1. Joan (1304–1334), married to Thomas Furnival; 2. Elizabeth (b. 1307), married to Sir Bartholomew Burghersh; and 3. Margaret, married to Sir William Blount. Verdon married, secondly, on 4 Feb. 1316, Elizabeth de Clare [q. v.], the king's niece, sister of the deceased Earl Gilbert of Gloucester, and widow of John de Burgh, the heir of Ulster (cf. Rot. Parl. i. 352 b). After Verdon's death Elizabeth became the mother of his fourth daughter Isabella, who married Henry Ferrers, lord of Groby. As there was no son, the Verdon estates were divided among these four daughters, and the peerage passed into abeyance.

[Calendars of Documents relating to Ireland; Calendars of Patent Rolls and Close Rolls; Rymer's Fœdera; Calendarium Genealogicum; Rolls of Parliament; Parliamentary Writs, i. 882–44, ii. 1554–5; Dugdale's Monasticon, ed. Caley, Ellis, and Bandinel; Nicolas's Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope, pp. 488–9; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 471–5; Eyton's Shropshire; Nichols's Leicestershire, vol. iii.; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland.]

T. F. T.