Vescy, John de (DNB00)

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VESCY, JOHN de (d. 1289), baron, was eldest son of William de Vescy (d. 1253), and elder brother of William de Vescy [q. v.] In 1253, on the death of his father in Gascony, he succeeded to the family estates. These included the barony of Alnwick and a large property in Northumberland, besides Malton and considerable estates in Yorkshire. John was then under age, and Henry III gave great offence to the Vescy family by conferring the wardship of his estates on one of his foreign kinsmen, probably Peter of Savoy, Queen Eleanor's uncle (Matt. Paris, Hist. Major, v. 410). He was one of the young barons who were attracted by the brilliant personality of Simon de Montfort, and espoused the popular cause during the barons' wars (Rishanger, De Bello, Camden Soc.). He was summoned to the great parliament of January 1265, and was wounded and taken prisoner at Evesham (Flores Hist. iii. 6; Waverley Annals, p. 365). He was released and admitted to compound for his estates after the Dictum de Kenilworth. There is a Northumbrian legend that he took home with him to Alnwick one of Simon's feet, which was preserved in the priory, shod with a silver shoe, till the dissolution. In 1267 he associated some of the northern barons with himself in another rising. However, early in the year Edward went north and forced him to submit (Fordun, i. 303). The king's son treated him with such leniency that ever after he was his devoted friend (Wykes, pp. 197–8). He took the cross and attended Edward on his crusade to Palestine (Archives de l'Orient Latin, ii. 631). He was one of the two barons who led Eleanor of Castile from the presence of her husband when he was operated upon for his famous poisoned wound (Hemingburgh, i. 336). In 1273 he was made governor of Scarborough Castle. In 1275 he took part in the Scottish expedition which defeated Godred, king of Man (Chron. de Lanercost, p. 98). He now stood so well at court that he was in 1279 married to Mary of Lusignan, sister to Hugh, count of La Marche, the bridegroom covenanting with Hugh to restore 9,500l. tournois, if she died without issue. Mary died very shortly, and in 1280 John married again. His second wife was the high-born Isabella de Beaumont, sister of Louis de Beaumont (afterwards bishop of Durham) [q. v.] and of Henry de Beaumont (afterwards lord of Man). Vescy bargained with Queen Eleanor, his wife's kinswoman, to pay her 550l. in silver if the lady died without issue. Edward I granted the bridegroom lands in Northumberland and Kent, the latter including Eltham.

John served in Wales in 1277 and 1282. He became the king's secretary and counsellor, and was sent in February 1282 with Antony Bek I [q. v.] to Aragon to negotiate a marriage between Alfonso, son of King Peter, and Edward's daughter Eleanor, and in August signed the contract as proxy at Huesca (Fœdera, i. 593, 602, 615). In June 1285 he was sent with two others to negotiate the marriage between Edward's daughter Elizabeth and the son of the Count of Holland (ib. i. 658). In 1288 he was one of the hostages given by Edward I to the king of Aragon (ib. i. 693). He died in 1289, without issue, and was buried at Alnwick (Lanercost, p. 122). His heart, as a mark of signal favour, was buried in 1290 with the hearts of Queen Eleanor and her eldest son, Alfonso, in the great Blackfriars church in London (‘Ann. Londin.’ in Chron. Edw. I and Edw. II, i. 99). His brother William succeeded to his estates. His widow played a notable part in the reign of Edward II, as a strong friend of the king and queen, procuring the advancement of her brothers, and being specially banished by the ordinances of 1311, though she soon came back. She died about 1335.

[Authorities cited in text, and in art. Vescy, William de.]

T. F. T.