Gilbert DE LACY of Ewyas Lacy, Knight's Templar
(-By 1163)
Baderon fitz William DE MONMOUTH
(-By 1176)
Hugh DE LACY, 1st Lord of Meath
(1142-Bef 1181)
Walter DE LACY, Lord of Meath
(Abt 1172-1241)


Family Links


Walter DE LACY, Lord of Meath

  • Born: Abt 1172, Ewias Lacy, Herefordshire, England
  • Married: Nov 1200
  • Died: Shortly before 24 Feb 1241, Meath, Ireland
  • Buried: Llanthony Priory, Llanthony, Monmouth, Wales

  Orthographic variations: DE LASCY

  General Notes:

Compiler's 27 x great-grandfather

  Research Notes:

The Chronicle of Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire records that "Gilbertus de Lacy" had a son "Hugonem" who had "filium Walterum". The Red Book of the Exchequer, listing scutage payments in [1190/91], records "Walterus de Lascy" paying "xxv l xii s vi d" in Herefordshire. The Red Book of the Exchequer, listing scutage payments in [1194/95], records "Walterus de Lascy" paying "li l v s, li milites et quartam" in Herefordshire. “Walterus de Lacy filius Hugonis de Lacy” confirmed his father´s donation to Lanthony Abbey by undated charter. A manuscript which narrates the descents of the founders of Lanthony Abbey names “Hugo…et Walterus frater eius” as the sons of “Gilbertus de Lacy” but...this is chronologically improbable.

Lord of Meath. King John addressed letters to "Walter, Hugh and Robert de Lascy…" dated 23 May 1207. The Annals of Dunstable record that “Hugonem de Laci et Walterum fratrem eius” were exiled from Ireland in Aug 1210 by King John. The Red Book of the Exchequer records "Walterus de Lascy" holding two knights´ fees "in Hamme" in Hereford in [1210/12]. A charter dated 5 Jul 1215 records an agreement between King John and "Walter de Lascy" for restoration of his land in Ireland. An undated charter of Henry III King of England confirmed a donation by ”Walterus de Lacy” to the Hospital of Ludlow, Shropshire, for the souls of “Margeriæ uxoris meæ…Gilberti de Lacy filii mei”. "Walterus de Lacy" confirmed the donation by "Margeria uxor mea" to Acornbury priory, Herefordshire by charter dated to [1220/25], witnessed by “domino Willielmo de Lascy, domino Simone de Clifford, priore de Careswell, Egidio de Clifford…”. A charter of King Edward II dated 26 Jan 1326 confirmed donations to Lanthony Abbey, among which a donation by “Walterus de Lacy filius Hugonis de Lacy” for the soul of “dominæ Margeriæ uxoris meæ”.

Matthew Paris names "…Walterus de Lascy…" among those who died in 1241. 1

Walter de Lacy


By 1189, when Walter II de Lacy succeeded to the estates of his father, Hugh II, there had been a significant shift in the basis of de Lacy power, from England and Normandy to Ireland. They still had large estates in England, based on the honour of Weobley, with its castles at Weobley, Ludlow and Ewias Lacy (Longtown), and lands in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Berkshire. For these English manors he was assessed at 51¼ knights' fees in the scutages of 1190, 1194 and 1201 but in Ireland he had even more extensive lands. Henry II had granted to his father the whole of the former Kingdom of Meath, one of the 'Historic Fifths' of Ireland, a liberty which extended from Drogheda in the east to Lough Ree in the west. Today it is represented by the counties of Meath and Westmeath, southern Longford and north-west Offaly. Although this branch of the family retained important estates in Normandy, from the time of Hugh II the family's principal interest was in Ireland. Indeed, Matthew Paris referred to Walter II as 'the most distinguished of all the nobles of Ireland'. In 1205 the family's Irish interests were extended even further when Walter IIs younger brother, Hugh III, was belted earl of Ulster by king John.

These Irish lands provided the family with much wealth and both Hugh II and his son, Walter II, have come down as great benefactors of the church. The Augustinian priory of Llanthony in the vale of Ewias was completely rebuilt in its present form with generous endowments from their Irish estates; a work that was completed by the canons in two stages between c. 1180 and c. 1220. Walter II was the founder of the small Grandmontine priory at Craswall. He had been with the king on the Poitou expedition of 1214 when John stayed at Grandmont for a short time and the words used by prior Gerard Itier to describe Grandmont itself, 'stern and very cold, infertile and rocky, misty and exposed to the winds' where 'the mountain abounds in great stones for building, in streams and sand, but there is scarcely any timber for building' and 'the land ... scarcely ever suffices to provide necessaries for the soil is so infertile, sterile and barren', might well be thought equally applicable to the site Walter gave to the order 1.200 feet up in the Black Mountains.

For the 'well being of the souls of myself, my wife Margaret and my son Gilbert', he made wide-ranging grants, in three charters, to the corrector, three clerks and ten lay brethren of St. Mary at Craswall. They were to receive the ninth sheaf of all grain from his English and Welsh manors, and 600 acres in the 'New Forest', between the Monnow and Leth (Llynfi?) as far as Talgarth. Later they were given 204 acres in 'my wood of Hamme', Holme Lacy, together with all the demesne and the manor house there, and the ninth sheaf of wheat, oats, barley, peas and beans from each of his Irish manors, one messuage in each of those manors and one burgage in each of his Irish towns. To his wife's foundation, the nunnery of Aconbury, he gave 30 acres of woodland at Holme Lacy, and when, in 1232, Bishop Hugh Foliot founded a hospital 'to the honour of the Lord and St. Katherine the Virgin' at Ledbury, Walter de Lacy endowed it with the tithes and rights of presentation to the churches of Weston Beggard and Yarkhill. In Ireland he founded the Cistercian abbey of Beaubec (Beybeg) as a daughter house of Beaubec in Normandy; later it became a cell of the Savignac abbey of Furness. He was also a benefactor of the Augustinian abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin and of two of his father's foundations, the Benedictine house on the demesne manor at Fore in Westmeath and the house of Augustinian canons, St. Mary's, at Kells.

The roots of Walter de Lacy's indebtedness are to be found in Ireland, for his vast estates there brought him not only wealth but also much trouble and expense and for long periods he had to devote most of his energies to the protection of his Irish inheritance. The status of the English king in Ireland was ambiguous. When Henry II granted Meath to Walter's father in 1172 it was with 'all liberties and free customs which Henry himself had or could have there'. His rights were thus almost royal, with absolute administrative and jurisdictional control — even to the exclusion of royal officials. In this respect his lordship was similar, but not identical, to that of the Welsh marcher lordship....

...[Within five years of coming] into his English and Norman inheritance, he had been outlawed and his lands had been taken back into royal hands. Like his father, he found it extremely difficult to sustain his position in Ireland without falling foul of the crown. On three occasions developments in Ireland caused a severe crisis in his relations with his feudal overlord: with Richard I between 1194 and 1198; with John from 1210 to 1214; and with Henry Ill's justiciar, Hubert de Burgh, in 1224.

John's rebellion of 1193-4 against his brother, Richard I, led to a confused situation in Ireland, where he held his lordship independently of the English crown. On his return to England in 1194 Richard asked his court for judgement against John, for rebellion and for allying with the French king whilst he himself had been held to ransom in Germany. It was whilst the king was besieging John's castle at Nottingham that Walter de Lacy's petition for the return of his Irish lands was met, not by John, but by Richard, who confirmed to Walter all the grants in Ireland made to his father by Henry II. Walter, in alliance with John de Courci, immediately descended on Meath and took prisoner John's justiciar, Peter Pipard, and many of his knights. He was fully in control of his lordship by 30 June, for on that day he granted his burgesses of Drogheda, the principal stronghold of Meath, a borough charter which conferred upon them the 'customs of Breteuil’. What Walter had not bargained for was Richard's reconciliation with John, against whom he had now technically committed treason, for John's lordship of Ireland was held not of the English king, but of the pope. Walter's conduct evidently antagonised both the brothers, for the Pipe Rolls show that action was taken against his English estates about Michaelmas, 1194.

De Lacy went into exile and it was another four years before he was able to come to terms with the crown for the return of his lands. The Herefordshire Pipe Roll for 1198 records that 'the king's good will and seizen of his lands' cost Walter 3,000 marks (£2,066-13-4). £866-13-4 was paid immediately (£200 into the English and £666-13-4 into the Norman Exchequer). The remaining £1,200 was to be met at the rate of £200 per annum at the English Exchequer. One of John's ways of maintaining control over his barons was to keep them in debt to the crown. In this instance, Richard, in his anxiety for money, anticipated his brother.

John succeeded to the English throne in 1199. He was obliged, for the moment, to ignore the humiliation he had experienced in Ireland at Walter's hands. The latter’s estates at Lassy, Campeaux and elsewhere in Calvados were situated in a highly strategic position so de Lacy assistance was vital to John if he was to succeed in his conflict with the French king. At the same time, he sought to ensure Walter's good conduct. Between September 1199 and March 1201 de Lacy was kept in the king's entourage in France and at home—at Rouen, Caen, Falaise, Feckenham, Lincoln and Nottingham—as the witness lists of royal charters show. Further, John retained two of the most important de Lacy strongholds—Ludlow and Drogheda. Only in 1206 was the former restored for a fine of 400 marks, to be paid at 100 marks a year. Drogheda was still in John's hands at his death in 1216. In addition, in November 1200 John arranged Walter's marriage to Margaret, daughter of his then favourite, William de Braose, lord of Brecon, Builth, Radnor, Abergavenny and (from 1203) Gower, the man who had treacherously murdered many of the neighbouring Welsh lords of Gwent in his castle at Abergavenny in 1175. In the year following Walter's marriage, John handed over to Braose in return for a fine of 5,000 marks, the lordship of Limerick, which had formerly belonged to William's uncle, Philip. The royal purpose may well have been to create a counterbalance to de Lacy's Meath lordship but by 1204 even John seems to have been convinced of Walter's reliability, for he was allowed to return to Ireland 'in the king's service' and a series of royal charters for that year shows him closely associated with the royal justiciar in the government of the land.

As a result, de Lacy was in no way involved in the catastrophe of the final loss of Normandy when, on 24 June 1204, Peter de Preaux admitted the French king Philip Augustus into Rouen and, a few days later, John's last strongholds, Verneuil and Arques, also surrendered. The loss of the duchy presented the Anglo-Norman barons with the gravest dilemma they had yet faced. Should they retain their English or their Norman estates? Given the intense hostility of the English to the French king, a compromise, such as that attempted by William Marshall, to retain his lands under both monarchs, was not an option open to them. Clearly, for most their loyalty followed their major holding. Thus it was that within a year Philip Augustus granted away most of the de Lacy lands in Normandy to Andre Propensee, maire of Falaise.

The loss of Normandy had a profound impact on Irish history, for the great Anglo-Irish lords, having forfeited their Norman inheritance, were determined to secure compensation by more intensive exploitation of their Irish estates—a policy which, by 1210, led to a severe crisis in their relations with the English king.

Walter's father had completed the first stage in this process of exploitation. Conquest was followed by pacification through sub-infeudation, the granting of land in return for military and other services, and the building of castles. Indeed, at Hugh II's death in 1186, the annalist of Loch Cé tells us, Meath 'from the Shannon to the sea was full of castles and foreigners'. In the words of Giraldus Cambrensis, 'within a brief period he settled the country and reduced it to a peaceful condition ... Having made agreements on which they (the Irish) could agree ... (Hugh) hemmed them in by castles ... and compelled them to obey the laws'. Thus Hugh was 'the first to succeed in drawing profit from that which had brought others nothing but trouble'.

The next stage was to develop the economic resources of the lordship. Again techniques were used which had proved successful a century earlier in England. There was, however, one major difference. The society of pre-Norman Ireland was pastoral. Thus the parallel was with Wales, not with pre-Conquest England, and it was with their Welsh experience behind them that the de Lacys, the Marshals and the de Braose lords were able to realise rapidly the potential of a country 'not, by medieval standards, poor but ... economically underdeveloped'. The end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century thus witnessed the intensive manorialisation of demesne lands in the lordships of Meath, Leinster and Limerick. Large numbers of peasants, accustomed to the production of grain, were brought over from their estates in Wales, the marches and England. This is clearly shown by surname evidence.

From the Pipe Roll of the Dublin Exchequer from 1211-12, when the de Lacy estates were in the king's hands, we can see how far this process had gone. It presents 'a striking contrast between the grain renders of the Norman lordships and the cattle of the Irish lands' and clearly demonstrates that by 1212 the demesne lands of the de Lacys were 'intensively manorialised and producing huge quantities of surplus grain for export'. The accounts for Meath refer to a yield of some 20,000 bushels of wheat, 30,000 bushels of oats, large quantities of stock and, above all, cattle. They also show that the lordship was well provided with oxen, the plough beast of the time, and that extensive capital investment had taken place to permit the full exploitation of the natural resources of the lordship—new granges, mills, fish ponds, limekilns and bridges to facilitate the transport of agricultural produce to the ports.

The expansion of towns and trade matched the rapid development of arable farming. The earliest urban settlement in Meath was at Drogheda. Close to the mouth of the Boyne, which, with its tributaries, provided the principal lines of communication for the lordship, it was the natural hub for trade. In 1172 Henry II had granted Dublin ‘all the liberties and free customs which the men of Bristol have'. John gave a similar charter to Cork about 1188. On his arrival in Ireland in 1194, one of Walter de Lacy's first acts was to confer on his town of Drogheda, 'on the side of Meath', a charter with the 'customs of Breteuil’, in the Hereford form as they had been given to many Welsh towns earlier in the century. By 1199 Walter had conferred the same Breteuil customs on the ancient ecclesiastical centre of Kells and on Trim, with its great castle at the head of navigation on the Boyne....

...Royal charters provide further evidence of Walter de Lacy's intensive exploitation of his Irish estates. In 1204 he persuaded John to grant him eight-day fairs at his boroughs of Trim and Kells and his important seigneurial manor of Ballymore Lough Sewdy, halfway between Athlone and Mullingar in Westmeath. In 1208 he had a royal licence to erect a mill on the Boyne at the bridge at Drogheda and a royal charter of 1215 refers, significantly, to 'all Walter de Lacy's ships'.

This economic activity was one of the key factors behind the breakdown in relations between John and his greater Irish lords, but in 1204 Walter de Lacy was still in royal favour, for John, employing his father's tactics, was now using the de Lacys to counter the rising power of their former ally, John de Courci. Throughout that year, Walter remained closely associated with the royal justiciar in the government of Ireland and, in alliance with his brother, Hugh III, he defeated John de Courci and seized his Ulster lands. Shortly afterwards, these, with the earldom of Ulster, were given by John to Hugh but by 1207 relations between the king and the de Lacys had begun to deteriorate seriously. Warren has argued that John's policy during this period was to establish a stable regime in Ireland, based on an even-handed treatment of the Anglo-Norman and Irish aristocracy. This would give a balance of power that would safeguard royal interests. Warren further argues that John 'appreciated that the colonizing of Irish land' now being pursued by Walter de Lacy, William Marshal and others was a seriously destabilising factor 'which could determine the fate of his (Irish) lordship'.

No doubt personal factors also played an important role when, in 1207 Walter de Lacy's father-in-law, William de Braose, quarrelled with John and forfeited the lordship of Limerick. The following year, de Lacy and Marshal prudently decided to accept new and more restrictive charters from John for their lordships of Meath and Leinster. This merely postponed the conflict which was triggered off by de Braose who, using his son-in-law's castle at Weobley as his base, fired the town of Leominster, then sought refuge in Ireland, first with William Marshal and after with Walter de Lacy. When John landed at the head of a formidable army in 1210, all opposition collapsed. Walter sent his knights, William Parvus, Richard de Tuyt, Richard de Futipo, Richard de Capella and Hugh Heese, to treat with him at Dublin, saying that 'Walter salutes the king as his liege lord, of whom he holds all he possesses; and prays the king to relax his ire and suffer him to approach his presence; Walter ... places all his castles and lands in the hand of the king, as his lord, to retain or restore as he pleases'. John was not prepared to relent and Walter, with his brother, Hugh, fled into exile. William de Braose did likewise but his wife, Maud, and son, William, were handed over to John by the Scots. The chroniclers are unanimous in recording their deaths by starvation in one of John's dungeons. It was three years before Walter was able to come to terms with the king.

During the period of general reconciliation following John's surrender of the realm to the pope, Walter was allowed to return to England. On 29 July 1213 the sheriff of Herefordshire, Engelard de Cigogne, was ordered to restore all de Lacy's English lands, except Ludlow, once four hostages for his good behaviour—his son, Gilbert, Miles and John Pitchard and William Furches—had been handed over. Walter accompanied the king on the Poitou expedition in 1214 and may well have been with John when he spent two days at Grandmont on 1 and 2 April. The next year, terms were agreed with the king for the return of his Irish lands. Walter had to pay a fine of 4,000 marks, of which 1,000 marks were to be paid into the Irish exchequer immediately, but the king was to retain the castle of Drogheda and that part of the town 'to the side of Meath' for a specified term. Walter's son, Gilbert, was to remain the king's hostage until the money was paid. The convention was confirmed on 27 July when John wrote to Walter's knights and free tenants in Meath, telling them that he had received their lord back into his full grace and had restored his land, and ordering them to 'be intentive to him as they were when the king took Walter's land into his hands'.

The ten years from 1213, when he returned from his second period of exile, to 1223, the year of Henry III's 'partial' coming of age, must have been amongst the most fruitful of Walter's career. The Barnwell annalist spoke for most Englishmen when he said of John 'he was a pillager of his subjects ... they forsook him and, ultimately, little mourned his death'. De Lacy, too, had been plundered by John but in the last desperate and isolated months of his life he was one of that small group, drawn predominantly from the Welsh march and Ireland, that stood by him and, after his death, served his young son and heir with equal loyalty through the early and difficult years of his reign.

Anxious to curb the growing power of the de Braose brothers, Giles and Reginald, John re-established de Lacy in the southern march. Ludlow Castle was returned to him in April 1215 and the next year he was granted the shrievalty of the county and custody of the royal castle at Hereford. After the death of Giles de Braose, his brother-in-law and the leader of the anti-royalist party in the county, he was appointed guardian of the see during the vacancy. In addition John accorded him the privilege of hunting in the royal Forest of Dean....

...After his return Walter spent most of his time in the marches but was with John in the autumn of 1216 when he ravaged the eastern counties. On 9 October, after being well feasted by the burgesses of Lynn, the king suddenly developed the illness from which he died ten days later. He seems to have had prevision that death was at hand, for, in one of the last formal acts of his reign, he sought to expiate the crime that had ranked so high with all the chroniclers—the deaths, by starvation, of Walter de Lacy's mother-in-law, Maud de Braose, and William, her son. 'In contemplation of our Lord', John granted de Lacy's wife 'three carucates of land to be assarted and cultivated in our forest of Aconbury for the establishment of a house of nuns who are to pray for the repose of the soul of her father, William de Braose, her mother Maud, and her brother William'.

John died at the bishop of Lincoln's castle at Newark on 18 October 1216. Prominent amongst the lay executors of his will were the lords of the southern march - Walter de Lacy, William Marshal and John of Monmouth. John's nine-year-old heir was hurriedly crowned at Gloucester on 28 October by a small group of loyalists led by William Marshal. The first meeting of the new royal council with William Marshal as rector regni, regent, took place at Bristol Castle on 11 November and comprised the full strength of the loyalist leadership at the time. Ten of the 24 laymen present had strong interests in the southern march—William and John Marshal, Walter de Lacy, John of Monmouth, Walter II de Clifford, Roger I de Clifford of Tenbury, William Cantelupe, Hugh and Robert de Mortimer and Walter Beauchamp. The first six were also amongst those responsible for the re-issue, with some omissions, of Magna Carta. Two of the articles omitted related to the Jews: number 10, which forbade the charging of interest during the minority of a debtor's heirs; and number 11, which safeguarded the widow's dower. Publication of these, and other, articles 'weighty and doubtful' was 'deferred till we shall have taken counsel more fully'....

....By autumn 1217 the civil war was ended and by March 1218 the fear of a Welsh attack had passed. De Lacy was sent to escort 'Llewelyn, prince of North Wales', who, having extracted the peace terms he desired from the council of regency, was to meet the young king at Worcester and do homage at Woodstock. Internal peace established, the council, of which de Lacy was a prominent member, now had the opportunity to consider much-needed measures to revive the economy. One was to reassure those members of England's Jewish communities who had survived the tribulations of John's reign and to encourage the return of others—all the more necessary because of the rising tide of anti-Semitism associated with the preparations for the crusade preached by the pope in 1215. These measures were so successful that there was an influx of Jews from abroad, principally from France. The wardens of the Cinque Ports, who had created difficulties for some of these immigrants, were ordered to present no impediments, apart from taking sureties that the newcomers would, in due course, register themselves with the Justices of the Jews.

At Hereford, it was Walter de Lacy who, as sheriff, was responsible for implementing the new policy towards the Jews. He was to 'make known throughout his bailiwick that they had been granted the king's firm peace'. He was to protect them against any 'gravamen or molestation' from the general populace and was to resist any attempt on the part of the recently-appointed bishop, Hugh de Mapenore, to implead them for debt in his ecclesiastical courts, for such jurisdiction belonged to the king alone. These were all privileges originally accorded by John's charter of 1201, which the council of regency now reconfirmed. Quite new, however, was the council's decision that the Jews residing in the town were to have their own 'community'. This represents a profound change in the status of the Hereford Jewry. Not only could it have its own archa, or chest, but also the power to negotiate the purchase from the crown such privileges as the continued use of tallies and dispensation from wearing the 'badge of shame'....

....Although the English Jewry had been ravaged in the later part of John's reign, de Lacy knew well a number of the flourishing communities across the channel. Connections had been severed with the Jewries of Normandy, already in serious decline by the time the duchy fell into the hands of the French king, but were maintained with those important Jewries in the Angevin lands of Poitou and Saintonge, including la Rochelle. It was here that de Lacy landed with John for the Poitevin expedition in 1214.

One of the largest, and certainly culturally the most important Jewish community north of the Alps was at Narbonne. During the 12th and 13th centuries it enjoyed a period of exceptional stability and prosperity. Within the city there were two separate Jewries, the Grand Jewry, under the protection of the count, and the Little Jewry, within the archbishop's jurisdiction. In 1217 the Jewish population of Narbonne amounted to about 1,000 souls. It had established itself, at an early date, as a major Hebrew cultural centre with the famous rabbinic schools, the Vielles Ecoles, corresponding to the Hebrew YesHiva, and the Ecoles Inferieures, corresponding to the Hebrew Yeshiva le talmudim. Such was their reputation that some authorities have suggested that the European rabbinate originated here. Certainly, the Saragossan rabbi, Sheshet ben Isaac Beneviste, called the schools of Narbonne, by a play with the Hebrew Nev Birinah, 'the lighthouse of science'.

This was the city to which de Lacy was sent in April 1214 to buy horses. It must have made a profound impression on him. Founded in 118 B.C., described by Martial as pulcherrima, it had been, with Lyons, the most populous town of Roman Gaul. In the 12th century it was still famed for the opulence of its citizens, based on their Mediterranean trade. The presence of the two Jewries, safely behind the ramparts facing the river Aude, the one clustering in the streets to the north and east of the Palais des Vicomtes and the other by the Palais Archiepiscopal and St. Just's cathedral, was clear testimony to the unwavering support given by the counts of Narbonne to the Jews within their domain. The achievements and reputation of the Narbonne schools gave equally clear testimony to the Jews' intellectual capacity. For the visitor from the north all this provided a remarkable insight into the benefits that could accrue, to both Christian and Hebrew, from such a harmonious relationship.

Only sixteen months after his visit to Narbonne, Walter de Lacy was sheriff of Herefordshire, an office he held until 1223. During those seven years a similarly harmonious relationship was established between Hamo, whose wealth and status made him the natural head of the Jewish community at Hereford, and de Lacy who, as king's representative, was especially charged with the well-being of that community. It is said that the Jews, in arranging their settlement in Hereford, explicitly stated that in times of danger they should be allowed to shelter in the castle. This reflects the authority Hamo had. The meetings in the castle between these two, the one soldier and great landowner, the other financier, scholar, connoisseur and bibliophile, must have been remarkable occasions. Both were invested with much power, yet both were vulnerable. Outwardly their power rested on land and the sword for one and gold and the pen for the other, but in reality for both it rested, ultimately, on the authority of the crown. Of the two, the power of de Lacy proved to be the most short-lived, for when he died be was blind, without male heirs and his inheritance was wasted.

With the Welsh de Lacy's relations were far from harmonious. William Marshal the younger succeeded his father, the regent, as earl of Pembroke and lord of Striguil in 1219. A deep personal antagonism developed rapidly between him and the Welsh prince, Llewelyn, posing grave problems for those trying to maintain peace on the march. There was open conflict between the two in 1220; and in 1223, when Llewelyn attacked the castles at Kinnersley, Whittington and Builth, war broke out between English and Welsh. Hubert de Burgh, the able but self-seeking justiciar, assembled an army at Hereford which quickly brought Llewelyn to terms. Under the guise of a concern for national security, he sought to enhance his own position in the march by the establishment of a stronghold at New Montgomery.

Peace, apparently, firmly re-established the services of de Lacy and his fellow marchers were no longer indispensable. After seven years' tenure of the shrievalty he was suddenly replaced, on 15 November, by a royal officer, Ralf fitz Nicholas. This was not an isolated incident, for the next month thirteen other shires were placed in new hands and the custody of twenty-five castles previously in baronial hands was transferred. Linked to the declaration of the king's partial coming of age, these actions reflected de Burgh's desire to re-establish royal authority over local government.

All this was quickly overshadowed by events in Ireland. Responsibility for the southern march since 1216 had meant that Walter's visits to Ireland had been few and brief. In the autumn of 1220 he made a short visit to his Irish estates which had been in the custody of his half-brother, William 'Gorm' Lacy, for the last five years. Since the death of John the council of regency, under pressure from de Lacy, had been commanding Geoffrey de Marisco, the Irish justiciar, to hand back the castle and town of Drogheda which had been retained by the king throughout his reign. Now de Lacy agreed that it should remain in royal hands, in return for which he was to receive £20 per annum and the tallage of the town. Drogheda being thus lost, his task on his return was to ensure the security of Meath by the completion of the great stone keep at Trim, now the effective centre of his lordship. According to the Annals of Loch Cé, he launched an attack on Breifne where, to intimidate enemies and hearten friends, he "performed a great hosting, to the crannog of O'Reilly ... obtaining hostages and great power'. He was in Ireland again for part of 1221 and returned briefly in 1222.

This was not enough to counteract the years of neglect which his Irish interests had suffered since 1210. When his exiled brother, Hugh, returned to Ireland in 1223, attempting to re-establish his position in Ulster by force of arms, Walter could not restrain William 'Gorm' and many of his own vassals from rising in support. The best he do was to accept the council's proposal that Ludlow and Trim castles should be handed over to the crown for two years as surety for his good conduct and that he accompany William Marshal the younger in the campaign against Hugh, William ‘Gorm' and his own men of Meath. In May 1225 Walter had to submit to the judgement of the royal court, that he pay 3,000 marks for 'seizin of the lands of his knights and free tenants in Ireland ... because they went against the king in Hugh de Lacy's war'. Technically, much of this money was recoverable from those of his men who had risen in revolt but Walter obtained little.

After 1225 Walter de Lacy avoided further conflict with the crown and thus additional fines. Yet in 1234-5 £2,747-1-10, more than half of the total, was outstanding on the fines of 1215 and 1225 and a writ of 1238 refers to 'the great debt' which Walter still owed to the king. When he died in 1241 he was beset by debts. The Fine Rolls show that at this time he owed Jewish moneylenders £955-13-4, of which £725 was due to the heirs of Hamo, £150-13-4 to David of Oxford, £40 to Blanche of Hereford and £40 to Cuntessa of Hereford. Larger sums were due to the crown.... 2


21 Jul 1219, Westminster

Order to the barons of the Exchequer that since the king has granted Walter de Lacy respite, until Michaelmas in the third year, from rendering his account for the county of Herefordshire, they are to cause him to have peace in the meantime...

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 3 Hen. III, 344


15 Jun 1221, Blyth

To the barons of the Exchequer. Order to place in respite, until Michaelmas in the fifth year, the demand for scutage that they make from Walter de Lacy for 51 knights’ fees and three parts of a knight’s fee, of which he has paid 20 m. for ten knights’ fees, and the demand that they make from the same Walter for 200 m. for pledging Thomas of Erdington and 10 m. for pledging Roger de Tuyt , and the demand they make from Walter of Clifford for 100 m. for pledging the aforesaid Thomas of Erdington, until the same term...

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 5 Hen. III, 191


30 Apr 1224, Herefordshire

Order to the sheriff of Herefordshire to place in respite the demand he makes from Walter de Lacy by summons of the Exchequer for £10 of the first scutage of the king, until Michaelmas in the eighth year...

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 8 Hen. III, 170


21 Apr 1225, Westminster

William of Worcester has made fine with the king for having four cantreds in Munster , saving the right to each of those five cantreds formerly of Phillip of Worcester, his uncle, namely the cantred of Slievardagh, the cantred of Comsey, the cantred of Offa, and the cantred of Muscry, by rendering 300 m. to the king within three years from Michaelmas in the ninth year, namely 100 m. each year until that fine is paid. Order to Earl W. Marshal, justiciar of Ireland , that, having accepted security from William for rendering the aforesaid 300 m. to the king within three years, he is to cause him to have full seisin without delay of the aforesaid four cantreds with the castle of Knockgraffon , saving to Richard de Burgh the fifth cantred, namely the cantred of Eoghanacht Cashel, which Walter de Lacy gave to him in marriage with Egidia, his daughter, and saving to the king the homage of the aforesaid Richard for the tenement that he holds of the king within the aforesaid cantreds.

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 9 Hen. III, 171


3 Feb 1226, Reading

Order to the sheriff of Herefordshire to place in respite, until upon his view at the Exchequer in the tenth year, the demand he makes by summons of the Exchequer from Walter de Lacy for £10 from the first scutage of the king...

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 10 Hen. III, 87


11 May 1227, Windsor

The king has given respite to Walter de Lacy , until the morrow of St. John the Baptist in the eleventh year, from the 200 m. that are exacted from him by summons of the Exchequer for the pledge for Thomas of Erdington...

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 11 Hen. III, 231


25 May 1230, Hereford

Order to the sheriff of Herefordshire to place in respite, until 15 days from the Nativity of St. John the Baptist in the fourteenth year, the demand of 100 m. that he makes by summons of the Exchequer from Walter de Lacy for the prest of Poitou in the time of King John etc., and the demand of £12 that he makes from him by summons of the Exchequer for two prests of Wales from the time of the same King John etc...

11 Jul 1230

Order to the sheriff of Herefordshire to place in respite, until Michaelmas in the fourteenth year, the demand he makes by summons of the Exchequer from Walter de Lacy for several prests of the time of King John, the king’s father, etc...

6 Nov 1230

The king has granted to Walter de Lacy that, of the debts he owes him, for which he made fine with him to render 400 m. per annum at the Exchequer of Dublin, he may render 200 m. to the king at the Exchequer in England , namely 100 m. at Easter in the fifteenth year, 100 m. at Michaelmas in the same year, and thus from year to year...

Order to the barons of the Exchequer that since the king has granted to Walter de Lacy that he may render 200 m. per annum at the Exchequer in England at the terms as above of the debts he owed him, for which he made fine to render 400 m. per annum at the Exchequer of Dublin, they are to cause this to be enrolled thus.

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 14 Hen. III, 363, 402; 15 Hen. III, 14, 15


After 29 Nov 1235

The abbot of Stratford Langthorne gives the king 15 m. for having his confirmation, to the use of the abbot of Beaubec in Ireland, of the lands and liberties which Walter de Lacy gave to the same abbey in Ireland, as is more fully contained in the king’s confirmation that the abbot of Beaubec has concerning this.

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 20 Hen. III, 42


13 May 1236

To the barons of the Exchequer. The king has granted to his beloved and faithful Walter de Lacy that, of the 200 m. which he ought to have rendered to him in the nineteenth year, he may render 50 m. at the Exchequer at Michaelmas in the twentieth year, 50 m. at Easter in the twenty-first year, and, afterwards, 200 m. each year as he was previously accustomed to render.

15 May 1236

To the barons of the Exchequer. The king has granted to his beloved and faithful Walter de Lacy that, for all the arrears which he owes him at the Exchequer, he may render 50 m. at the Exchequer of Michaelmas in the twentieth year and 50 m. at the Exchequer of Easter in the twenty-first year, notwithstanding that the king had previously granted him that he was to render 100 m. at the aforesaid terms of the 200 m. he ought to have rendered in the nineteenth year...

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 20 Hen. III, 274, 276


24 Feb 1241

Order to the sheriffs of Herefordshire and Shropshire to take all lands formerly of Walter de Lacy into the king’s hand and to keep them safely until they have command otherwise.

Calendar of Fine Rolls, 25 Hen. III, 230

5 Mar 1241, Oxford

Appointment, during pleasure, of Walter de the custody of all the lands and castles late of Walter de Lacy in Ireland, to answer for them at the Exchequer of Dublin...

7 Mar 1241, Wallingford

Mandate to the justiciary of Ireland and G. de Turvill, treasurer of Ireland, to assign to Walter de Godarvill, whom the king has sent to Ireland to keep the lands of Walter de Lacy, a fixed sum at the Exchequer of Dublin, or a parcel of the said lands, for his maintenance.

Calendar of Patent Rolls, Hen. III, vol. 3, pp. 246, 247


4 May 1242, Marwell

Mandate to W. archbishop of York, and William de Cantilupo to assign out of the lands in the king's hands with the heirs of Walter de Lacy, to Margery late his wife, reasonable dower, to the value of a third part of the lands whereof the said heirs are vouched to warranty in the king's court by charters of the said Walter against the said Margery when suing her dower of the said lands.

Calendar of Patent Rolls, Hen. III, vol. 3, p. 287

  Marriage Information:

Walter married Margery DE BRAOSE, daughter of William DE BRAOSE, 11th Lord Abergavenny, Mathilde DE SAINT-VALÉRY, Dame de la Haye, in Nov 1200. (Margery DE BRAOSE was born about 1177 in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales and died after 1255.)


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy: Walter de Lacy.

2 Extract from "The History of Ewyas Lacy. An ancient Hundred of South-West Herefordshire," citing the paper “Hereford Gold: Irish, Welsh and English Land Part 2 – the Clients of the Jewish Community at Hereford 1179-1253” by Joe Hillaby, published in the Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club, Volume XLV, 1985..

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