John de Lacy

John de Lacy was the son of Roger de Lacy and his wife, Maud, or Matilda, de Clere (not to be confused with his daughter Maud who married Richard de Clare).

He was still a minor when his father died in 1211 and at a young age was thrown into the troubles of that reign.  In September 1213 he paid a huge fine to the King John of 7000 marks, repayable over the coming three years, for possession of his father’s estates which comprised more than 100 knights’ fees along with the baronies of Pontefract, Clitheroe, Penwortham, Widnes and Halton.  He took an oath and signed a charter confirming the terms of payment which included a clause that if he left the king’s service and joined his enemies he would forfeit all the lands.  Twenty of his tenants guaranteed these terms and agreed that they would remain loyal to the king even if their lord turned against him.  He was also forced to surrender his castles at Pontefract and Donington to be garrisoned by the king at his own expense.

At first John de Lacy appeared to be loyal to King John. The king had pardoned him the final 1000 marks of his fine in return for the faithful service he had received from his father, Roger de lacy, and which he hoped to receive from John de Lacy as well.   In 1214 John de Lacy accompanied the king to Poitou.  In June he was given some respite in the terms of his payments and Castle Donington was returned to him.  He was one of the few barons to take the cross with the king on 4th March 1215 and on the following day was pardoned the 4200 marks which he still owed to the king for his inheritance.  But in June 1215 he was named as one of the baronial council of 25 at Runymede and his name appears on the Magna Carta – an act for which he was excommunicated by the Pope.  However, King John did not abide by the terms of the charter and he captured Castle Donington on 1st January 1216, forcing John de Lacy to make terms with him and surrender his younger brother as a hostage.  In the April he was restored to his manor of Lytham in Oxfordshire.  In May he was in Kent with the king, but later rebelled again.  After John’s death he supported the new king, Henry III, under the regency of William Marshal.

In May 1218, he accompanied Ranulph, earl of Chester on crusade and made an award at Damietta for the establishment of a chapel at Pontefract in honour of the holy sepulchre and the holy cross.  He returned with Ranulph in 1220 and the following year was married to his niece.

John de Lacy was first married to Alice de l’Aigle but she died, possibly in childbirth, and was buried at Norton Priory.  In 1221 he married Margaret who was the daughter of Robert de Quincy and Hawise, who was the sister of Ranulf, earl of Chester.  It was agreed before Ranulf’s death that his title of earl of Lincoln should pass through his sister Hawise to John as her son-in-law.  On 22nd November 1232, John was granted the third penny of the county of Lincolnshire although Ranulf’s principal barony, Bolingbroke was retained by Hawise until her death in 1243.

John de Lacy became influential at court during the reign of Henry III and had a ceremonial role at the coronation of Queen Eleanor.  But he began to suffer ill health and died on 22nd July 1240.  He was buried near his father, Roger de Lacy, at Stanlaw Abbey and his remains were later removed to Whalley when the monks transferred there.

John and Margaret had a son, Edmund, who was born in 1230.  Their daughter Maud was married to Richard de Clare, heir to the earldom of Gloucester.

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