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THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES
PAPERS AND PROCEEDINGS-PART IV. FOURTH QUARTER, 1895.
THE DEVERDONS OF LOUTH.
Bi The SEV. DENIS MURPHY, S.J., LL.D., M.R.I.A., Vice-president.
A T a former meeting I brought before our Society the history of an ancient Anglo-Norman family which played an important part in the government of the country, some of whom, too, earned fame of no ordinary kind by their courage and ability in the career of arms in foreign lands. That sketch, I have some reason to believe, was of interest not only to some Members of our Society, but to others outside it. And now, following the same plan as then, I would give the early history of the de Verdons, "one of the most potent families that ever settled in Ireland, as illustrious and ancient a race of peers as flourished in England since the Norman Conquest." These are the words of Lynch, author of the "Feudal Dignities of Ireland."
Bertram de Verdon was settled by William the Conqueror in Leicestershire. He was succeeded by his son, Norman, who took to wife one of the family of Clinton, founder of Kenihvorth Castle. Their son was Bertram, Sheriff of Warwick and Leicester, who resided at Alveton Castle, in Staffordshire.
The first mention of the name in Irish history, so far as I know, occurs in the Anglo-Norman poem, the author of which is said to be Maurice Regan, the "Latimer" or Secretary of Dermot Mac Morrough, of unblessed memory. I may remark that this poem has been published lately, edited with great care by Mr. Orpen, a Member of our Society.
JODK. R.8.A.I., VOL. V., PT. IV., 5Th 8KB. 2 A
Here is the passage which refers to de Verdon. It occurs at line
The Bertram do Verdon mentioned in this poem, the grandson of" Bertram who was companion in arms of William the Conqueror, received grants of land in Louth, namely, Clonruorc and Dundalk, probably at the same time, and, no doubt, under the same conditions as Ulster was granted to John de Courcy, "if he could conquer it by force." Soon after Dundalk was walled in, to protect it from the incursions of the northern Irish, the MacMahons of Uriel, and the Magennises of Down. Here Bertram established a house for Trinitarians for the Redemption of Captives, commonly called Crutched Friars, or Crossbearers, because they wore on the breast of their habit a cross partly blue and partly red. But Lopez, the historian of the English, Scotch, and Irish Provinces of the Order, gives 1296 as the date of its foundation in his "Notieias Historieas," p. 33: Madrid, 1714. This priory was dedicated to St. Leonard; later it became a hospital for the aged poor and infirm. Bertram was made Seneschal of Ireland, as we learn from the Charters in which Henry II. conferred the barony of Naas, and endowed the Abbey of Baltinglass; and in u document by which John, Earl of Moreton, Henry's son, and successor of Richard I., gave a grant of lands to the Archbishop of Dublin, to support the See of Glendalough, in 1203.
In the "State Papers " we have an account rendered by Bertram of wheat, oats, and hogs, sent to the army of Ireland; of money advanced to a master and three seamen; and for the passage to Ireland of nine ships with the men of John, the King's son, and their harness; and for a ship to carry his own supplies. He seems to have resided in, or rather near, the city of Dublin, as his house, called Bertram's Court, was outside the city wall, on the southern side of Rochel-street, between the New Gate and St. Nicholas' Gate. It was in existence up to a short time ago. The famous Giraldus Cambrensis was the guest of de Verdon here, as he tells us in his "Biography," cap. xiii., speaking in the third person of himself with his usual modesty: "Giraldus, while in the island during the summer and winter, and up to the following Easter,
dwelt with the Seneschal of Ireland, Bertram de Verdon, having heen chosen as the companion of the Prince and witness of what was to be done, that he might indulge his tastes the more freely, not only in bringing facts together, but setting them forth in due order."
Bertram followed Richard Cceur-de-Lion to Palestine, and died at Jaffa in 1192. I may remark that there is a seal of Bertram de Verdon in vol. ii. of Dr. Gilbert's "Facsimiles of the National MSS. of Ireland," taken from an ancient document in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It is too indistinct, however, to allow a copy to be made of it.
Clonmoro Castle, Co. Louth.
Nicholas succeeded Bertram. In 1204 he obtained from King John license to enter into possession of thi3 father's lands. He gave to St. Thomas' Abbey, Dublin, the tithes of two knights' fees within the precints of the first castle he should build in his lands in Louth. He took part with the barons in the dispute between them and the King, which ended in the wresting from him of Magna Charta; the result was that his lands were seized by the Crown. He took the King's side, however, in his dispute with Pope Innocent III., about the intruding of de Gray, Bishop of Norwich, into the primatial See of Canterbury. We have a Declaration from William Marshal, Myler Fitz Henry, and Nicholas Verdon, that "they lately heard, with grief and astonishment, that the Pope proposed to absolve the subjects of the King from their fealty because the king resisted the injury done to him in the matter of the church of Canterbury"; and they profess themselves "ready to live or to die with the King, and to the last they will faithfully and inseparably adhere to him." As everyone knows, this dispute led to the interdict, which lasted for six years. This same de Gray was Viceroy of Ireland from 1210 to 1213. A sketch of his career in this country will be found in Rev. Dr. Stokes's "Ireland and the Anglo-Norman Church," page 242.
In 1217 the King ordered his Justiciary to give Nicholas de Verdon seisin of half the cantred of De Ponte Ferrardi, retaining in the King's hands the vill itself of De Ponte; also to restore to him the castle of Dundalk, whereof he was disseised "because he went against the King in the war." In 1230 he had a grant of a fair at his manor of Dundalk, to last for eight days from the Vigil of St. Martin, i.e. from the 10th to the 17th of November; of a market at his manor of Clonmore; and of a new warren on his demesne lands of Ferrard, "where no one is to hunt the hare under a penalty of £10." He died in 1231, for in the beginning of the following year the King ordered seisin of his goods to be given to his executors.
Nicholas was succeeded by his daughter Rohesia, or Rose. Inheriting the vast estates of her father not only in Ireland, but in England, she had many a suitor, no doubt. Things were managed very differently then from the way they are now. In 1225 the King addressed a special letter to Bohesia, recommending her to marry Theobald le Buteler, of the Ormond family. He had already asked her father to use his influence with his daughter for the same end. The marriage took place; but Rohesia proved a true champion of woman's rights, for she retained her maiden name, very probably, as a writer in "Notes and Queries" suggests, because she was so great an heiress, and gave it to her posterity, who were, in consequence, Verdous, not Butlers. Moreover,
Tower of Franciscan Convent, Dundalk.
she erected the castle known as Roch Castle, properly Rose's Castle, one of the strongest outposts of the borders of the Pale. It stands on a rock west of Dundalk. Wright describes it in his "Louthiana," published in 1758: "It stands very high, and commands a view of all the neighbouring country round it. The area within the rampart walls resembles the form of a triangle, or rather inclining to that of a semicircle, following the irregular form of the hill, and taking all advantage of the rock it is placed upon. The great chord, which is the front or