VERDON, DE (Medieval Ireland)

In 1185, Bertram III de Verdon (d. 1194) was sent to Ireland as seneschal of the Lord John. Bertram established himself in Louth, and his service was rewarded with the grant of the lordship of Dundalk in 1189. This led to a reorientation of the family’s landed interests, which had previously been concentrated in the English midlands and Normandy. The de Verdons sought to establish themselves within Anglo-Irish society through marriage. For example, Thomas (d. 1199) married his sister, Leselina, to Hugh de Lacy, endowing them with half of his Irish lands. This did not lead to cordial relations in the short term, as Nicholas (d. 1231) sought to regain these lands, resulting in a period of sustained conflict with Hugh. It was not until 1235, when Rohesia (d. 1247) recovered part of the Dundalk lands, that this dispute was settled.

The marriage of John de Verdon (d. 1274) to Margery de Lacy may have been intended to smooth over relations between the two families, but it also boosted the de Verdon family within the social hierarchy. Following the failure of the de Lacys in the male line in 1241, John became lord of the western half of Meath in Ireland and lord of Ewyas Lacy, in the Welsh March, in right of his wife. The other half of the de Lacy inheritance passed to Geoffrey de Geneville.

In 1266, John began his attempt to regain the full judicial liberties once held by Walter in Meath. This legal battle was continued by Theobald I (d. 1309), but the de Verdons were unsuccessful, although this privilege had been granted to de Geneville. The failure to secure these rights may have contributed to the reorientation of the main de Verdon line away from Ireland and toward the Welsh March, where their franchise remained wide. Nevertheless, de Verdon authority over their tenants in Louth remained strong, such that Robert (a younger brother of Theobald II) was able to lead much of the county in the still unexplained "de Verdon rebellion" in 1312.

The Gaelic Revival may also have played a part in the reorientation of the main de Verdon line. During John’s absence on crusade in 1271, his sons Nicholas and John were killed defending the family lands in Louth. Another John, the eldest son of Theobald I, was also killed by the Irish in 1297. Theobald II divided his time between England and Ireland far less equally than his immediate forbears, and he appointed his younger brother Milo as chief guardian of his lands and fees in Ireland in 1309. Arguably this did not represent a lack of interest in Ireland, but rather a sensible approach to the problem of cross-Irish Sea land-holding in a period of political uncertainty.

Theobald de Verdon had no sons. His lands were divided between his widow, Elizabeth de Clare (d. 1360), and his four daughters. The final partition was effected in 1332, custody of the lands in the interim being granted to Theobald’s brothers, Milo and Nicholas, who actively defended them during the Bruce invasion. The absentee de Verdon co-heirs eventually sold their lands in Ireland between 1366 and around 1378.

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