The De Laci Family Estates
The Honour of Pontefract
In 1067 Ilbert de Laci (named from Lassy# in Normandy) was granted many of the existing manors in Calderdale by William I following the Norman Invasion. His estates in Yorkshire filled seven pages of the Domesday Book. Later these estates came to be known as The Honour of Pontefract. Ilbert was born at Pontefrete in Normandy from which the town of Pontefract today takes its name.
Prior to the Norman Invasion Pontefract was called by its Anglian-Danish/Viking name of Cherchebi (1086 D.B.). In O.E. this means 'village with a church'. The -bi or -by suffix is particularly Danish in origin, it is known that the invading Danes in the 800's accepted Christianity quickly once exposed to it.
Later in about 1124 South Kirkby was termed Sudkirkebi to distinguish it from the Kirkby now lost5.
Between 1068 and 1080, Ilbert had built a castle at "broken bridge" or Pontefrete (now Pontefract). In 1090 it was recorded as Pontefracto (Latin: Pons + fractus or 'broken bridge')
Ilbert held 164 manors in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. His lands in Yorkshire alone fill seven pages of the Domesday Book4. Part of the lands in Calderdale formed what was then known as the "honour of Pontefract" which included 156 townships1. By 1084-1086 Huddersfield was part of the de Laci estate, the honour of Pontefract7. At the time of Domesday they also held Heptonstall and thus controlled the upper Calder valley and passes.
We know that he gave grants to churches in South Kirkby, Featherstone, Cawthorne,(in 1086 the Anglian, Ailric is described as being the Lord of the Wapentake* of Staincross which included the Manors of Brierley [Brearley],Cawthorne1 [Caltorne]
In 1158 Adam the son of Swein and grandson of Ailric of Cawthorne
died. He was probably the last
Anglo-Danish Lord of the manor of Cawthorne. The village
of Hoylandswaine was named after Swein. Adam
Fitz-Swein succeeded Swein but had no sons. Adam's two daughters,
Amabil [Amabel] and Matilda inherited the estates. The eastern
portion went to Matilda with the manor at Brierley and the western
portion went to Amabil centred on the manor of Cawthorne. The
Lordship probably was aquired by the Beaumonts i.e.Bellomonte ( after
Bello Monte in Calvados, Normandy) sometime after this1.
According to Hunter6, the estates now passed to Henry's half sister Albreda [Aubrey] de Lizours, the daughter of Henry's mother by her second husband Robert de Lizours of Sprotborough. But Hunter later showed by examining Pipe Rolls that it is more likely that Albreda was Henry's cousin and the grand-daughter [seems unlikely] of the first Robert de Laci.
The best interpretation however by Glover, places Albreda de Laci
as the sister to the Ilbert II de Laci. She married
Robert de Lizours. They produced a daughter, Albreda
de Lizours who married firstly Sir William Fitz-Godric/FitzWilliam
de ClairFait, Lord of Hampole and Emley (whose son
was Sir FitzWilliam, Lord of Elmley) and secondly Richard
Fitz-Eustace, Lord of Halton, made the Constable
of Chester, who died before 1178. Richard appears to have begun
a feudal alliance with the earls of Chester, who became the overlords
of De Laci family. This probably began with Hugh Le Meschines,
the third earl of Chester who was pitched along with William The
Lyon, King of the Scots, Robert de Beaumont, 3rd earl of Leicester
and the young prince Henry against the prince's father Henry II [Curtmantle].
By Richard FitzEustace, Albreda had a son, John Fitz-Euctace
who died in 1190 pre-deceasing his mother, leaving a son, Roger
de Lizours (taking Albreda's father's name of Lizours),
heir both to the De Laci and Fitz-Eustace estates. However Albreda
caused her grandson, Roger de Lizours to quit all claims
to the de Lizour estates.
Bellomonte - tenants and under tenants in the honour of Pontefract.
William [I] Bellomonte may have acquired his interest at Huddersfield between 1190 and 1200. This tenancy may have been a direct one rather than an under tenancy, given by Roger 'Helle' de Laci [d.1211]. William [II] de Bellomonte or Beaumont was the lord at the manor of Cawthorne, part of the honour of Pontefract.1 He was survived by his widow, Alice le Strange. William II's eldest son, Sir Richard de Bellomonte married Annabella who later as a widow was given a grant of land at "Hodresfield" [ Huddersfield] by Henry de Laci, earl of Lincoln.1 It has been suggested by Whittaker that this grant of land was provided in order that the Bellomontes would provide safe passage to and from Pontefract to the Laci castle at Halton [near Runcorn] Cheshire. The line of the earls of Lincoln became a large branch of the de Laci family with notables such as Henry de Laci. William I's grandson [William III] may have aquired Crosland by marrying Elizabeth Crosland and also gained lands at South Kirkby which could have previously been under tenancies, the mesne lord having been Roger de Montbegon, Lord of Hornby who died s.p. in 1227-8. Montbegon's lands appear to have descended from his mother Matilda FitzAdam, who held the manor of Brierley, S.E. of Wakefield. She was one of two daughters of Adam FitzSwein. The Beaumonts also aquired some lands at Lepton near Huddersfield.14
William III may be the knight
whose blazon is given in the Galloway Roll : William de
Beaumont : GULES A LION RAMPANT ARG a label of three points azure semy of
The very numerous place-names in Normandy ending in ville have usually the name of the early settler as a prefix, often little changed, as in Tancarville, Etouteville, Omonville, Benoitville, Lamberville, Normanville, or now disguised, as in Bellengreville (Berenger), Amfreville (Humphrey), Psalmonville (Salomon), Rauville (Ralph), Tourville (Torf), &c.17
Roger is thought by some to have been commanding Tickhill and Nottingham Castle during the period of Richard's absence. The entry for Roger de Laci in the Dictionary of National Biography16 may be correct in stating that Roger was entrusted with Nottingham and Tickhill castles in 1192. The third crusade against the Saracens lasted from December 1189 to1192. The D.N.B. also provides a quote that "Dugdale's statement that he was present at the sieges of Acre and Damietta is due to the confusion with his father and son".14 Roger's father, John I FitzRichard, constable of Chester, perished, according to Howden, during the third crusade on 11th October 1190 at Tyre whilst John II, Roger's son was born about 1190 which would see him aged about 29 if he left for Damietta  on the fifth crusade presumably with his overlord Ranulf de Blondeville later called "The Crusader". Other companions were the aged Saher III de Quincy, his son Robert [and perhaps his second son Roger] and William "Stronghand" Albini of Arundel. Saher III died on his way to Jerusalem in the same year, this crusade continued until 1222. John is known to have issued a charter at Damietta about 1218 [Pontefract Chartulary No. 21].14 John II de Laci was constable of Chester for Ranulf de Blondeville and also John Ceann mhor Le Scot de Huntingdon for whom he witnessed a charter [K.J. Stringer].
Rose de Laci d. of Earl of Ulster
Roger 'Helle' de Laci
John's son was Edmund de Laci Constable of Chester born 1230 died 1258. From 1240 to his death he held the position of Lord of the Honour of Pontfract. Edmund was granted a manor at Stanbury near Haworth, being granted a charter in 1234-1235 with five other manors being granted to Edmund in November 1249.12 A road strategically connected the castles of Pontefract and Clitheroe running from Pontefract through Bradford Dale, Haworth and over the Pennines at Colne Edge to Clitheroe, Ightenhill [Gawthorpe near Burnley] and the abbey at Whalley. This road never left De Laci lands, connecting the two distinct administrative centres of the honours of Pontefract and Clitheroe.
Edmund left a son, Henry de Laci born 1251. He became a close confidant of Edward I and in 1278 received the earldom of Lincoln and Lordship of the honour of Pontefract. In 1272 Edward I granted the right for Henry de Laci to hold a market at Almondbury on each Monday. Henry died in 1311 and was buried at St. Paul's London.
The Laci name lingered in the western part of the region. John
Lacy married Ann, Alice de Eland they had
three children an eldest son, a daughter who married Henry
Murgatroyd and a second son, Gilbert Lacy born
abt. 1400. This Gilbert married Johanna Soothill
[Sotehill] born abt. 1400, daughter of Lord Gerald Soothill
[b. abt. 1375]
From the time of Henry Bolingbroke's coronation [Henry IV] to the present, the honour of Pontefract has been vested in the Crown. The honour of Pontefract is a separate Crown estate, managed by its own officers as part of the Duchy of Lancaster.
1. Pratt, Charles T., History of Cawthorne, 1881.
2. Whitaker, Thomas, Dunham, LL.D., F.S.A., Vicar of Whalley - A History of the Original parish of Whalley and honour of Clitheroe, 4th edition, revised and enlarged, by John Gough Nichols, F.S.A.and the Rev. Ponsonby A.Lyons, B.A. Vol. 1. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1872.
3. Dodsworth Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford*
4. The Domesday Book was in the Chapter House, Westminster from1696 having formerly been deposited in Winchester Cathedral.
5. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names, O.U.P., 1997.
6. Hunter, Joseph, Revd., South Yorkshire, History of the Deanery of Doncaster, 1828 [2 vols]
7. Baines, Thomas, Yorkshire Past and Present quoting Whitaker, T.D., Loidis and Elmete p. 347.
8. Faull, M.L. & Stinson, M. (Eds.), Domesday Book for Yorkshire, Phillimore, Chichester, 1986.
9. Wighton, W.E., The Lacy Family in England & Normandy, 1066-1194, Oxford, 1966.
10. Calendar of Close Rolls.
11. Burton John, Monasticon Eboracennse, London, 1758.
12. From Calendar of Charter Rolls, VI, Henry III 1226-57 , p. 346 reference given to Tom Lee by Smith Midgley.
13. Stringer, K.J. [ed.]. Essays on the Nobility of Medieval Scotland. John Donald, Edinburgh. 1985. p.50
14. E-mail from Edward Beaumont Edward has much unpublished work relating to the Bellomontes of West Yorkshire.
15. Whitaker, T. D. An History of the Original parish of Whalley and Honour of Clitheroe. George Routledge and Sons. London 1872.
16. Dictionary of National Biography
17. Complete Peerage. vol iv, (1916), p. 131n.
# Lassy is in the Canton, Conde Sur Noiseau in the arrondissment of Vise of the Department of Calvados.8 This is marked on modern maps as VASSY, 35 km east of Falaise, which is in Calvados, Normandy.
* Dodsworth died in 1654, he obtained the de Lacis religious history from John Stanhope.
Copyright © Tim Midgley1999, links revised July 2023.
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