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de Lacy

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The Lacy arms

de Lacy (Laci, Lacie, Lascy, Lacey, Lassey) is the surname of an old Norman family which originated from Lassy, Calvados. The family took part in the Norman Conquest of England and the later Norman invasion of Ireland. The name is first recorded for Hugh de Lacy (1020–1085). His sons, Walter and Ilbert, left Normandy and travelled to England with William the Conqueror.[1][better source needed] The awards of land by the Conqueror to the de Lacy sons led to two distinct branches of the family: the northern branch, centred on Blackburnshire and west Yorkshire was held by Ilbert's descendants; the southern branch of Marcher Lords, centred on Herefordshire and Shropshire, was held by Walter's descendants.

Until 1361, the northern branch of the family held the great Lordship of Bowland before it passed through marriage to the Duchy of Lancaster. They were also Barons of Pontefract and later (via two female lines) Earls of Lincoln.

The southern branch of the family became substantial landholders in the Lordship of Ireland and was linked to the Scottish royal family; Elizabeth de Burgh, great-granddaughter of Walter de Lacy, married Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.

Lords of Pontefract, Bowland and Clitheroe[edit]

Pontefract Castle
Bowland, northern England
Clitheroe Castle, founded by Robert de Lacy

Brothers Ilbert and Walter de Lacy jointly held the Norman lands of the Bishop of Bayeux.[2] They participated in the Norman conquest of England. While there is evidence that Ilbert fought at William's side at Hastings,[3] there is no record of Walter fighting at Hastings. Ilbert was a major participant in the Harrying of the North (1069–70) which effectively ended the quasi-independence of the region through large-scale destruction that resulted in the relative "pacification" of the local population and the replacement of local Anglo-Danish lords with Normans. In return, he received vast grants of land in West Yorkshire, where he built Pontefract Castle.

The Honour of Pontefract, which included the manor of Stanbury, was maintained by Ilbert's direct male descendants for the next three generations until 1192. It continued in the female line until 1348.

Some of the English holdings lost by Roger the Poitevin due to his rebellion were awarded to Robert de Lacy, the son of Ilbert de Lacy.[4][5] In 1102, King Henry I of England granted the fee of the ancient wapentake of Blackburnshire and further holdings in Hornby,[6] and the vills of Chipping, Aighton and Dutton in Amounderness to de Lacy while confirming his possession of the Lordship of Bowland.[7] These lands formed the basis of what became known as the Honour of Clitheroe.

John de Lacy (d.1240), a descendant via a female line whose father, Roger Fitz John, Constable of Chester, adopted the surname "de Lacy", gained more titles, including that of the Earldom of Lincoln in 1221.

Notable family members[edit]

Arms of John de Lacy,
2nd Earl of Lincoln [1]

Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Lassy (Normandy) (c. 1020 – 27 March 1085, Hereford)

Lords of Weobley and Ludlow[edit]

The counties considered to be the Welsh Marches (in red)
Site of Weobley Castle

Walter de Lacy, the son of Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Lassy, was granted the lordship of Weobley in Herefordshire after the Conquest.[8] He is already attested in the Welsh Marches by 1069.[14] By the time of Walter's death, he held blocks of land in Herefordshire (including Holme Lacy) along the border with Wales with another group of lands centered on Ludlow in Shropshire. These groupings allowed Walter to help defend the England–Wales border against Welsh raids. He also had smaller holdings in Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. Walter was second in the region only to William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford and his son, Roger de Breteuil although he was not subordinate to them. After the latter's rebellion against the king in 1075 (which Walter de Lacy helped to ensure failed) Walter became the leading baron in the region.

Notable family members[edit]

  • Walter de Lacy (died 1085), son of Hugh de Lacy, who received lands in Herefordshire and Shropshire
    • Roger de Lacy[15] (died after 1106), eldest son of Walter, who built Ludlow Castle. Following his banishment from England, his English estates were confiscated.
      • Gilbert de Lacy (died after 1163), son of Roger, who inherited his father's estates in Normandy only. He succeeded in recovering his father's lands about Longtown, Weobley and Ludlow. He became a Templar in the 1150s and granted the Templars Guiting in Gloucestershire.
        • Robert de Lacy, eldest son of Gilbert, who predeceased his father
        • Hugh de Lacy, younger son of Gilbert, who inherited his father's estates. He was later awarded the Lordship of Meath in Ireland.
    • Hugh de Lacy (died before 1115), younger son of Walter, who received the English lands upon his brother's banishment. The de Lacy lands then passed to Pain fitzJohn (a relation by marriage) and others.
    • Walter de Lacy, Abbot of Gloucester Abbey, son of Walter[8]

Lordship of Meath[edit]

Arms of Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath [2]
Trim Castle, County Meath, Ireland

In addition to his substantial land holdings in Herefordshire and Shropshire, England as 4th Baron de Lacy, Hugh de Lacy was also a substantial land holder in Ireland. Following his participation in the Norman invasion of Ireland, he was granted the lands of a Gaelic medieval kingdom by the Anglo-Norman King Henry II of England in 1172 by the service of fifty knights. The Lordship of Meath was an extensive seigniorial liberty in medieval Ireland with almost royal authority. The Lordship was roughly co-extensive with the Kingdom of Meath. At its greatest extent, it included all of the modern counties of Fingal, Meath (which takes its name from the kingdom), Westmeath as well as parts of counties Cavan, Kildare, Longford, Louth and Offaly. The Lordship's caput was Trim Castle. With an area of 30,000 m2, it is the largest castle in Ireland. The design of the central three-storey keep (also known as a donjon or great tower) is unique for a Norman keep being of cruciform shape, with twenty corners.

These lords were reliant on their own aggression for laying claim to their lands and for securing them. Castles, by virtue of their defensive and offensive capabilities as well as their symbolic status, were indispensable for dominating the area of the lordship.[16] Known as a great builder of castles, by c. 1200, de Lacy had settlements all over the lordship, either in his own hands or the hands of his barons. With his son Walter (1180–1240) he built Trim Castle and Kilkea Castle. Some time after 1196, Walter granted "the whole land of Rathtowth" to his younger brother, Hugh. This sub-division, named the Barony of Ratoath, was perhaps the first instance of the use of the term barony in Ireland for a division of a county. By letters patent from John, King of England,[17] the prescriptive barony was granted to Walter de Lacy and his heirs in perpetuity in 1208.

Notable family members[edit]

Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath (before 1135 – 25 July 1186) was the great-grandson of Walter de Lacy of the Norman Conquest.

Other possible notable members of the family[edit]

Several later families claim descent from the Hiberno-Norman Lacys.

The Lacy baronets of Ampton Hall, granted their title in the 20th century, derive from a Wexford Lacy family that claim descent from the Anglo-Norman de Lacy family.

It is claimed that a Limerick Lacy family that gave rise to several continental generals were descendants of Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath, but this claim has been challenged by Synnott,[19] who suggested that the Limerick families may have originated as Lees, a name of frequent occurrence in Limerick records from the 12th to the 15th centuries. Members of this family include:

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Battle Abbey Roll – Names of Normans following William the Conqueror - Lacy can be found in Volume 1.
  2. ^ Lewis "Lacy, Walter de (d. 1085)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ Adalae Comitissae (To Countess Adela), by Baudri, abbot of Bourgeuil, who suggests that Ilbert led the feint that led to the death of King Harold).
  4. ^ VCH Lancaster 6 pp.230-234
  5. ^ William Farrer; J. Brownbill, eds. (1911). The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Lancashire. Vol. 6. Constable and Company. pp. 57, 273, 280.
  6. ^ "The Medieval Borough of Hornby (Lancashire)", pp 187-92, Alan G Crosby, ed., Of Names and Places: Selected Writings of Mary Higham (English Place-Name Society 2007)
  7. ^ VCH Lancaster 1 p.282
  8. ^ a b c Keats-Rohan Domesday People p. 452
  9. ^ a b c d e VCH Lancaster 1 pp.312-319
  10. ^ The Legacy of the de Lacy, Lacey, Lacy Family, 1066-1994. Lacey, G. (1994), p25. Publ: G. Lacey.
  11. ^ Nickson 1887, p. 144.
  12. ^ Farnham, G; Thompson, AH (1926). "The Castle and Manor of Castle Donington" (PDF). Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. Vol. 14. pp. 33–40.
  13. ^ VCH Lancaster 6 pp.56-61
  14. ^ Green Aristocracy of Norman England p. 44.
  15. ^ Roger of Lacy, Lassy. Alternative spellings: Roger de Laci, Roger de Lacie, Roger de Lascy.
  16. ^ The Irish Story – Joanna Pierce, "The Castle in the Lordship of Ireland, 1177-1310".
  17. ^ John, previously Prince, Lord of Ireland and Earl of Mortain, was crowned King of England in 1199: "Rex Angliae, Dominus Hiberniae, Dux Normanniae et Aquitanniae, et Comes Andegaviae, coronatus fuit in festo ascensionis Dominicae, A.D. 1199"
  18. ^ Richardson, D. & Everingham, K.G., Magna Carta ancestry: a study in colonial and medieval families
  19. ^ Nicholas J. Synnott. "Notes on the Family of De Lacy in Ireland" The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1919, vol. 9, pp. 113-131


Barons of Halton -additional reading

  • Starkey, H. F. Old Runcorn, Halton Borough Council, 1990.
  • Whimperley, Arthur. Halton Castle: An Introduction & Visitors' Handbook, 1981.
  • Whimperley, Arthur. The Barons of Halton, MailBook Publishing, Widnes, 1986.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]