« PreviousContinue »
longer side, is about 80 yards, the breadth about 40 yards. At the opposite corner to that of the main dwelling there was formerly a tower of defence, now quite demolished, and under it was a sallyport." It is to this castle allusion is made, no doubt, in the "Calendar of State Papers," under the date 1236: "Rohesia de Verdon, having fortified a castle in her own lands, agninst the Irish, which none of her predecessors was able to do, and having prepared to raise another castle near the sea, for the greater security of the King's land, the King commands his Justiciary tc cause her to have the King's service of Meath and Uriel for forty days for this purpose." Whether she carried out her purpose of erecting the second castle, I do not know. The above extract puts an end to any doubt about the origin of the name Castle Roch. Rohesw died at the end of 1246, or in the beginning of 1247, for we find that a mandate was issued on the 22nd of February of the latter year, to John Fitz Geffrey, the Justiciary, to take into the King's hands all the lands and tenements belonging to Rohesia de Verdon. She was foundress of the Cistercian Abbey of Grace Dieu, in Leicestershire.
She left two sons, John, who succeeded to her estates, and Nicholas, who died without issue, and a daughter, who married John Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel. In 1247 John paid a fine of 1300 marks to the King to have seisin of the lands both in England and in Ireland, which bad belonged to his mother, and an order was issued to the Justiciary to allow the same. In right of these possessions so derived, he and his male descendants had a writ of summons addressed to them as barons. He was the founder of the Franciscan Monastery of Dundalk (see p. 321), the tower of which alone survives.
It will be remembered that Hugh do Lacy had a grant of the principality of Meath and of the Constableship of Ireland. "Sir Hugh, after he had conquered that territory," says Baron Finglas, "gave much thereof to lords and gentlemen to houlde of him." He died in 1181, having been killed by O'Meyey at Durrow; "and it is written in the Chronicles," says the same writer: "Quod ibi cessavit conquestus." Hugh left two sons, Walter and Hugh. Walter was succeeded by his son Gilbert, who was father of Walter, Margaret, and Matilda, or Maud. Walter dying without issue, the lordship of Meath passed to his two sisters. Margaret, the eldest, married John de Verdon, who thereby obtained the moiety of Meath, and also the office of Constable of Ireland. Maud married Geoffrey de Genneville, brother of the famous Sire de Joinville, the companion of St. Louis, and obtained the lordship of Trim. De Vcrdon's moiety was not limited on the west by the boundaries of Westmeath; it included even a portion of Roscommon.
Besides the barony of Dundalk, which he inherited from his mother, and this moiety of Meath, he had ample possessions in other parts of the country, us the castles and manors of Croom, and Castle Robert, in •county Limerick, of which he would seem to liave obtained a royal grant early in the reign of Edward I. In 1278, Alienor, the wife of John do Verdon, claimed a dower out of Qrene, Adare, Alekath (Athlacca), and •Grerooth, in Ireland. He is said to have endowed, perhaps it would be more correct to say to have added to the endowments of, the Trinitarian Priory of Adare, which had been founded, in 1230, by Thomas Fitz•Gerald, second son of the second Baron of Offaly. These lands he conveyed to Maurice Fitz Gerald, fifth Baron of Offaly, in frank marriage with Agnes de Valence, his wife, great-great-granddaughter of Dermot Mac Morrough. Adare and Croom remained in the possession of the Kildare family up to the year 1721, when Adare was sold to the ancestor of Lord Dunraven, and Croom to Croker of Ballinagard.
Their son was Theobald, who, from his ample possessions both in England and in Ireland, sat as Baron in the Parliaments of both .countries. In the Parliament of 1275, with the Eurls of Pembroke, Gloucester, and Norfolk, he granted the customs on merchandise to the Grown. He attended the Parliaments of 1290 and 1300, which sat at Westminster, and in the first Parliament held in Ireland, the eight barons who attended it were—Geoffrey de Genneville, John Fitz Thomas, Theobald Lc Buteler, Theobald de Verdon, and Robert de Bermingham. The exact date of this Parliament is uncertain; it was held between 1289 and 1303. But he did not hold all his possessions in peace. A branch of the de Lacys, descended from Robert, to whom his cousin Hugh had given the lands of Rathwire, in Westmeath, namely, Walter and Hugh, saw with discontent the lordship of Meath, founded by their kinsman, through failure of heirs male come into the possession of .de Verdon and others. They were encouraged and aided in their attempts to get hold of them by the Red Earl of Ulster, for, as the author of the "Annals of Clonmacnois" remarks, "there raigned more disscentions, strifes, warres, and debates, betweene the Englishmen themselves in the beginning of the Conquest of this kingdom, than between the Irishmen, as by perusing the warres betw een the Lasies of Meath, John Courscy, Earl of Ulster, William Marshall, and the English of Meath and Munster, Muc Gerald, the Burkes, Butlers, and Cogann, may appear." Again, in 1306, de Verdon was besieged in Athlone Castle by some of the Anglo-Irish. He died in 1308. Hanmer, in his "Chronicle," makes mention of Lord Richard Verdon and Lord John Verdon, who, with Walter de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, and many other Knights, were slain by the King of Connaught in 1271.
He was succeeded by his son Theobald, who, in 1310, had a livery of his father's estates, and received a royal mandate for an annuity which his ancestors had from the town of Drogheda, as also from the castle of Blacagh; and the Serjeantship of Meath was found, by Inquisition, to be held hereditarily under this Lord Theobald, and many other rights, which he inherited from de Lacy, were then recognised and enforced. He married the daughter of Roger de Mortimer ten years before.
In 1311 our Annals make mention of "deVerdon's Game." It seems to have been a rising of Robert de Verdon and his followers against the King. His adherents were Walter de la Pulle, Roger de Clynton, John le Fleming, Simon Cookeley, Thomas and John le Blond, Symon Scrle, Philip Chaumbre, John Peppard, John Fitzsimon Dillon, Adam Jordan. The Viceroy, John Wogan, led an army "to check their wickedness," but was utterly defeated, "miserabiliter conjecture," and Nicholas Avenel, Patrick Roche, and many others were slain. However, the insurgents submitted soon after, for many of them presented themselves at the King's prison in Dublin expecting pardon, which it would seem they obtained. But a fine of £50 was imposed on the county of Louth. This same Robert was killed five years after in an
encounter between the burgesses of Dundalk, whose leader he was most probably, and the O'Haulons, though two hundred of the Irish were slain in the fight. "Aimiger bellicosus," a warlike knight, is the title given him in the document which contains an account of this rising. It will be found in the Appendix to the second volume of Dr. Gilbert's "Chartulary of St, Mary's Abbey."
In 1314, Theobald became Justiciary. He does not seem to have held that office for more than a few months. His seal, which I submit, is found in the first volume of "Vetusta Monumenta," published by the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1747; the drawing has been made by Mr. T. J. Westropp; the legend is: "Sigillum Theobaldi de Verdon, Constabularii HibernioD." As I have already pointed out, Bertram de Verdon was made Seneschal of Ireland by Henry II. His heirs seem to have dropped that title, and wefindTheobald assuming that of Constable. The reason given by Lynch is that, when John de Verdon, Bertram's grandson, married De Laey's eldest daughter, the title of Constable passed to him; and as it was a higher one than that of Seneschal, this was dropped, and the other used. In a document dated October 29th, 1310, written at his Castle of Alveton, appointing his brother Milo guardian of all his estates in Ireland, he styles himself, ' Thebaude de Verdon Conestable d'Irlande.' In 1315 he was summoned to the parliament held in the 9th of Edward II. as Lord of Heth in Oxfordshire. We find him also styled Lord of Brenny, i.e. Breffny, or O'Reilly's country, the present county Cavan. He died in 1317 leaving four daughters co-heiresses by his two wives, Maud, daughter of Lord Mortimer, and Elizabeth, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and of Joanna, daughter of King Edward I., viz. Joan, who married Lord Furnival, ancestor of the Earls of Shrewsbury; Elizabeth, Baron Burgersh ; Margery, William le Blunt, nnd in second marriage Cruise of Rathmore; Isabel, William de Ferrprs, and his estates were divided between them. "Sir Theobald," says Baron Finglas, "had no heirs but daughters, which were married in England, to the Lord Furnival and others, who dwelled still in England, and tooke suche profits as they could get for a while, and sent some small defence for their lands in Ireland; so as within a few years after, all their portions were lost except certain mannors wythin the English Pale, whyche Thomas, Baron of Slane, and Sir Robert Hollywood, Sir John Cruise, and Sir John Bedlowe purchased in King Richard the Second's time. And this hath been the decaie of half of Meyth, which did not obey the King's laws this hundred years and more."
There is in the "State Papers" (1515-1575), a petition of Richard Plnnket of Rathmore, claiming the O'Reilly's country, as "being descended from Margery, whose daughter and heiress married Sir Thomas Plunket, knight, from whom the petitioner descended." It is worthy of remark that the title of Seneschal was revived in 1444 in favour of John Talbot when he was created Earl of Shrewsbury, as his wife was descended from Lord Furnival who had in marriage the eldest daughter of Theobald de Verdon, and his descendant Lord Furnival, who died in 1446, left a daughter and heiress Maud Neville, who married Lord Talbot, and in this way he became possessed of his wife's portion of Theobald de Verdon's estate in Meath, as also of Alveston, now Alton Towers. Sir Henry Piers says in his "Chorographical Description of Westmeath," that the memory of Theobald de Verdon was preserved in the neighbourhood of Loughscudy even in his time (1682), in the name of the district Maghera Tibbot, i. e. Theobald's Plain.
Theobald had a brother named Milo, or Miles. He had in marriage the daughter of Richard de Exeter. It would seem that in the battle of Faughart in which Edward Bruce was slain, he was one of the chief leaders on the side of the English, "one of the divers captains of worthie fame," as Holinshed styles them. This is the brief account given of the battle in the Red Book of the Exchequer: "On the sabbath day, October 14th, 1318, all the Scots betwee n Dundalk and Faughart were defeated, and Edward le Bruys, John de Soules, and very many other chiefs of Scotland were slain by John de Bermingham, Alilo de Verdon, and Hugh de Stapleton, the chief leaders of the people of Uriel and Meath, and thus by the hands of the people and the right hand of God, the people of God were saved from the slavery intended for them." Friar Clynn of Kilkenny puts it more briefly: '' On the feast of St. Callixtus Pope, Edward de Brus was slain at Dundalk by John de Bremingham and Milo de Verdon."
In 1318 there was a dispute between the friars of the Grey Friary of Trim and the Dominicans of Mullingar respecting the burial of Rosine de Verdon. Wadding says the controversy was referred by the Pope to the Prior of Tristernagh, the Archdeacon, and the Chanter of Meath. How it ended history saith not.
In 1320 Nicholas succeeded to the honours and possessions of his brother Theobald, and in right thereof sat in the parliament held in Dublin in 1324. Grace's "Annals" say "the Lord Nicholas Verdon was buried in Drogheda on Palm Sunday, 1347, with great pomp and solemnity, many chiefs being present." To trace this portion of the family further would be a very difficult, perhaps an impossible, task. Like many more of the Anglo-Norman families, it fell from its high estate, in consequence, no doubt, of the wars and subsequent confiscations of which this country was so long the theatre. In 1624 died Christopher, seised in fee by a long line of ancestral succession of the manor of Clonmore and other estates, leaving three sons, the eldest of whom, John, his heir, was then twenty-two years of age. This John was attainted in 1642. His descendant, John, was attainted in 1691. A namesake of his, recommended to the Holy See by James II., was Bishop of Ferns from 1709 to 1728.
A branch of the Verdon family established itself in Limerick. In 1553, William Verdon was Mayor of the city. I have already pointed out how, so early as the time of Edward I. John de Verdon, had a grant of the neighbouring manor of Adare. In the Parliament of 1585 we find John Verdon one of the two members returned for the borough of Kilmallock. In 1579 he was Sovereign of the town. In 1584 he was one of the Grand Jury "that sat in Cork to decide as to the gentlemen and freeholders as well in action of rebellion with James Fitzmaurice, as with the late Earl of Desmond."
Close to the door of the church there is a fine monument, erected to the memory of a member of this family, bearing the following inscription; the contracted words of the original are given here in full:—
"Post luctuosum obitum ejus parentum geneiosi herois Gtorgii Verdoni quondam consulis Killocensis qui obiit 2° Maii anno Salutis nostras 1632°, necnon matronoe religiosissimae Anastasiae Vordonoe qua* obiit 18° Decembris anno Domini 1597, Jacobus Verdonus films et haeres eorum hoc monumentum fieri curavit anno Domini
"Non fugiam: prius experiar: non mors mihi terror."
The date of erection is not given.