04 March, 2018

The Four Daughters of Theobald de Verdon (1278-1316)

Theobald de Verdon or Verdun (8 September 1278 - 27 July 1316) was the second son of Theobald de Verdon the elder (d. 1309), and became his father's heir when his elder brother John died in June 1297. His mother was Margery de Bohun, and he was a first cousin of Edward II's brother-in-law Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford (c. 1276-1322). Edward I sent a letter to the elder Theobald de Verdon which was callous and remarkably unsympathetic even by his standards in July 1297, stating that he was "much displeased" with him for failing to attend him as ordered, owing to Verdon's "infirmity" and the death of his eldest son John. The elder Theobald's Inquisition Post Mortem was held in September 1309, and his heir the younger Theobald was said to be "aged 31 at the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary last," i.e. Theobald was born on or around 8 September 1278. (The jurors of Buckinghamshire thought he was "22 and more," and Oxfordshire "24 and more." Ahhhh, IPMs.)

 Theobald de Verdon's main seat was Alton in Staffordshire, and he also inherited lands in Shropshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Theobald married firstly Maud Mortimer (d. 1312), daughter of Edmund Mortimer and Margaret Fiennes and sister of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, later the first earl of March, and secondly Edward II's niece Elizabeth de Burgh née de Clare (d. 1360), whom he abducted from Bristol Castle in early February 1316. Maud Mortimer was the mother of Theobald's three eldest daughters, Elizabeth de Burgh of the fourth and youngest. All four de Verdon daughters shared their father's inheritance jointly and equally, a fact which was to lead to much ill-tempered squabbling and legal wrangles among them and their husbands in the early 1330s after all the women had come of age.

Theobald died a few weeks before his thirty-eighth birthday on 27 July 1316 - Elizabeth de Burgh's biographer Frances Underhill speculates that he died of typhoid, which is possible but unprovable - leaving his widow Elizabeth about one month pregnant. He was buried at Croxden Abbey in Staffordshire just a couple of miles from Alton, and thirty-nine years later Elizabeth de Burgh left the abbey money in her will. Theobald's Inquisition Post Mortem was held in October 1316 in all the counties where he had held lands. Jurors in some counties knew that his widow Elizabeth was pregnant with his posthumous child, while others did not. The ones who did pointed out correctly that Theobald's three living daughters were his heirs only if Elizabeth did not bear a son (which she did not). I'm really going to have to write a post sometime about Theobald's abduction of Elizabeth. Frances Underhill considers that Elizabeth was probably a willing participant and had arranged it with Theobald beforehand, but I find it hard to agree.

1) Joan de Verdon

Joan de Verdon, Theobald and Maud Mortimer's eldest daughter, was born at Wootton in Stanton Lacy, near Ludlow in Shropshire, on 9 August 1303. She was baptised at St Mary's Church in nearby Onibury, a village near Stokesay Castle. Her maternal grandmother Margaret Mortimer née Fiennes stayed at Stanton Lacy four miles from Onibury from around 29 September 1303 until 24 June 1304 (the feast of St Michael until the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist), presumably to be near and to support Maud de Verdon née Mortimer after the birth of her first child. Maud's date of birth is not known, but her brother Roger Mortimer of Wigmore was born in April 1287, and Maud was probably only in her mid-teens or thereabouts when she bore her first child Joan and was a few years younger than her husband, who was almost twenty-five when his eldest daughter was born. Joan de Verdon's maternal grandfather Edmund Mortimer of Wigmore died on 17 July 1304, and perhaps the knowledge that her husband was very ill was the reason for Margaret's departure from Stanton Lacy around 24 June 1304.

Joan was nine when she lost her mother, and twelve and a half when her father abducted and married the king's niece in early 1316. She herself married John Montacute, born in 1299 as the eldest son and heir of Sir William Montacute (d. 1319), in Edward II's presence at Windsor on 28 April 1317. This was just over a month after her half-sister Isabella was born, and William Montacute knew that Joan was one of her father's four heirs; if Elizabeth de Burgh had borne a boy, this would have disinherited Joan and her two sisters, Montacute might have married her to one of his younger sons, William or Edward, instead. Joan was widowed when John Montacute died unexpectedly in August 1317, the month she turned fourteen, and six months later married her second husband Thomas Furnival. Their only son William Furnival was born at Alton eight and a half years after their wedding on 23 August 1326 (as Theobald's eldest daughter, Joan inherited his main seat). Joan died in October 1334 aged thirty-one, having outlived her maternal grandmother Margaret Mortimer by only a few months. Like her father, she was buried at Croxden Abbey.

2) Elizabeth de Verdon

I haven't been able to find Elizabeth's proof of age which would gave her exact date of birth; apparently it is no longer extant. She was the second of Theobald and Maud's three daughters and her sisters were born in 1303 and 1310, and her father's IPM, taken in October 1316, states that Elizabeth was either ten or twelve then. A letter dated 11 June 1320 states that she had already proved her age, and as she was already married, 'proving her age' means proving that she had turned fourteen. Elizabeth was therefore certainly born before 11 June 1306, late in Edward I's reign, and probably not too long before as her coming of age appears to have been the major factor in prompting her husband to petition Edward II complaining about Alton being given to Joan de Verdon and Thomas Furnival, which the king responded to in the letter of 11 June 1320.

Edward II gave the marriage rights of Elizabeth and her younger sister Margery to his court favourite and nephew-in-law Sir Roger Damory in 1318. Sometime before 11 June 1320, Elizabeth married Bartholomew, Lord Burghersh, whose mother Maud Badlesmere was the sister of Bartholomew Badlesmere, executed by Edward II as a Contrariant in April 1322. Elizabeth de Verdon and Bartholomew Burghersh's daughter Joan Mohun née Burghersh lived until 1404 and was the mother-in-law of William Montacute, earl of Salisbury (d. 1397) and Edward of York, second duke of York (d. 1415), and their granddaughter Elizabeth Burghersh (d. 1409) married Edward, Lord Despenser (1336-75) and was the mother of Thomas Despenser, earl of Gloucester (1373-1400). Elizabeth Burghersh née de Verdon died in May 1360.

3) Margery de Verdon

Maud Mortimer's youngest daughter, Margery was born at Alton, Staffordshire on 10 August 1310 (the feast of St Laurence in Edward II's fourth regnal year) and named after her paternal grandmother Margery de Verdon née de Bohun. Unlike her two elder sisters, she was born after the death of her paternal grandfather Theobald the elder in 1309 and therefore after her father had inherited the Verdon lands. Margery was baptised at Alton on the day of her birth, and a John de Hodinet announced her birth to her father at Croxden, two miles away; a Henry de Athelaxton was in Theobald's presence at the time and also heard the announcement, as he stated when Margery proved her age in February 1327. Later on 10 August 1310, Theobald de Verdon went hunting near Alton with a Richard de Dolverne, and Dolverne shot a buck. Possibly the hunt was intended for Theobald to celebrate his daughter's birth, or perhaps, given the general attitude of the time, to commiserate with himself that he now had three daughters but no son. Margery de Verdon was only two years old when she lost her mother, and five and a half when her father abducted his second wife.

Margery married firstly Sir William le Blount, an adherent of Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester (d. 1345) and his attorney, secondly Sir Mark Husee, and thirdly Sir John Crophull. She might have lived until as late as 1377. William le Blount witnessed a charter of Henry, earl of Lancaster on 1 July 1332, and had gone overseas in the earl's company in 1329/30 with Henry Ferrers of Groby, husband of Margery's younger half-sister Isabella de Verdon. He was dead by November 1337, apparently (going by a couple of entries on the Patent Roll which I assume is him) killed in Liverpool while he was sheriff of Lancashire. Otherwise, I know very little about Margery's husbands, or about her life.

4) Isabella de Verdon

Theobald's youngest daughter, born on 21 March 1317 eight months after his death, to his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh née de Clare. Isabella de Verdon was born at Amesbury Priory in Wiltshire and named after her godmother Queen Isabella, who was escorted the few miles to the priory from the royal palace of Clarendon to attend the christening on the same day as the birth. Isabella's other godmother was her great-aunt, Edward II's sister Mary the nun of Amesbury, and her christening was conducted by Roger Martival, bishop of Salisbury. Edward II himself sent a silver cup as a christening gift. As well as her three older de Verdon half-sisters, Isabella was also the younger half-sister of William de Burgh, earl of Ulster (1312-1333), and the older half-sister of Elizabeth, Lady Bardolf, née Damory (1318-1361/62), the only (surviving) child of her mother's third marriage.

Isabella married Henry, Lord Ferrers of Groby in the late 1320s or 1330. Like her brother-in-law William le Blount, Henry was a staunch Lancastrian adherent. Their son and heir was William, Lord Ferrers (1333-71) and they had daughters Elizabeth, titular countess of Atholl, and Philippa, who would have been countess of Warwick but her husband Guy Beauchamp died in 1360 in his father's lifetime. Henry Ferrers of Groby presented a petition at an unknown date complaining that Roger Mortimer, first earl of March, had engineered an unfair division of the Verdon estate, benefiting his three nieces Joan, Elizabeth and Margery to the exclusion of their half-sister Isabella, who was not his niece. Isabella Ferrers née de Verdon died in July 1349 at age thirty-two, possibly a victim of the Black Death. Her mother Elizabeth de Burgh outlived her by more than eleven years.


Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-17, no. 187.
Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, no. 54.
Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-26, no. 83-86, 389, 395.

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