Saturday, April 28, 2012

Skeffington/Verdun links

Last night, in the excitement of publishing my article about our patriach Bertram de Verdun, I forgot to include a vital element of data: namely, explicit evidence of the existence of a Skeffington/Verdun link. I had mentioned rapidly a celebrated book:
Nichols, John
The History and Antiquities
of the County of Leicester
4 vols (1795–1815) London, Nichols & Son
What was the precise passage in Nichols that mentions explicitly an association between the Skeffingtons and a member of the Verdun family? Here it is (with possible spelling inaccuracies):
In the same year [1273], John lord of Verdun, at his death, held of the king in capite the manors of Cottesbach, Newbold, Skeffington, Tugby, Halifed, Belton, Gracedieu, Sharnford, Bocardescote, Sutton, Naneby, Bariston and Alveton, with their several honours and members; and Theobald de Verdun, his next heir, was then aged 22 years and upwards. This Theobald was afterwards constable of Ireland, and possessed the advowson of Skeffington in 1301, 1310 and 1312.
Here are the arms of the Verdun family:

The expression "in capite" means that, by the laws of England at that time, it was the king himself who gave these manors to John de Verdun. Towards the end of the extract, the term "advowson" indicates the right to recommend a member of the Anglican clergy for a vacant benefice, or to make such an appointment. Clearly, Theobald de Verdun ruled the roost in the village of Skeffington at the start of the 14th century.

Here is the seal of the Verdun family:

But what do we know about the Verdun family earlier on? If a Verdun fellow were so highly placed in the Skeffington village context at the end of the 13th century, then it's highly probable that his ancestors were already there at the time of the Conquest. That's to say, John de Verdun and his son Theobald didn't just appear in the village of Skeffington in the final quarter of the 13th century. Historical facts unmentioned by John Nichols add weight to that conclusion.

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