Thursday, July 17, 2014

Roger de Vernon - The first of the Vernons.

In 1844 the Victorian historian Thomas Stapleton first suggested that the father of the first lord of Vernon, Hugh, was named Roger. This was based upon the an entry in the foundation charter for the Abbey aux Dames in Caen which stated:

Billeheld, the daughter of Roger, gave what her father had granted to her at Vernon when she married, with the agreement of her nephew William, of whose fief it was held, and for which queen Mathilda gave money from her revenue.[1]

Given that the lord of Vernon at the time abbey was founded was William, the son of Hugh de Vernon, Stapleton suggested that Billiheld would have been a sister of Hugh, and Roger their father. There was however always the slight possibility that Billiheld was a maternal aunt of William.

Stapleton has been proved to be correct though by the discovery of a charter from 1031 which specifically states that Hugh was the son of Roger:

Notum sit omnibus Christi fidelibus, qualiter ego Hugo filius Rogeri de Vernum dedi sancto Petro et sancto Audoeno aecclesiam de Furcas quȩ dicitur sancti Petri cum decima ad eam pertinente eo rationis tenore ut anima mea, patris etiam mei, matrisque supradictis sanctis intercedentibus veniam apud Deum consequatur.[2]

This records the grant of the church of St Peter in Fourques to the Abbey of St Ouen in Rouen which probably relates to the present day Saint Paul de Fourques or St Eloi de Fourques.

Roger though remains illusive. Little more can be discovered about him at the moment. Hugh and Billeheld would have been born in the first decade or two of the 1000s, and so Roger was probably born in the last quarter of the 900s. He clearly held land at Vernon due to the fact he was able to gift some to his daughter Billeheld, and was given the descriptive name 'of Vernon.' As such, 1000 years on, this shadowy figure can currently can be said to be the first of the Vernon family.

[1]               See Stapleton, Magni Rotuli Scaccari Normanniae, (London 1844), p.cclxxviii. D.Bates (ed), Regesta Regum Anglo Normannorum, The Acta of William I (1066-1087), (Clarendon Press, 1998), p.273

[2]               Acte n°2688 dans Chartes originales antérieures à 1121 conservées en France, Cédric GIRAUD, Jean-Baptiste RENAULT et Benoît-Michel TOCK, éds., Nancy : Centre de Médiévistique Jean Schneider; éds électronique : Orléans : Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes, 2010. (Telma). En abrégé, citer : « Charte Artem/CMJS n°2688»[En ligne] 

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