52 residents in 52 weeks #23 Roger de Lacy

OK ‘resident’ is pushing it a bit as its pretty unlikely they ever actually lived here…or even visited here… or had even heard of the place. Neither Springhill nor Deadwenclough (the old name for the local area) ‘existed’ when they flourished and Rossendale was subject to forest law.

So who were the de Lacy and what did they have to do with Springhill?

Ilbert de Lacy was accompanying William the Conqueror, was heavily involved in the ‘Harrying of the North’ between 1169-70 and was rewarded with lands in the Pontefract area of West Yorkshire and became the first Baron Pontefract. At this time Blackburnshire (including Rossendale) was awarded to Roger de Poitou.

When de Poitou fell fro grace his lands were awarded to the de Lacy family. Published dates (in secondary sources) for this vary between 1102 and 1121, in the Baronecy of Ilbert’s son Robert (d ~ 1130), the second Baron. Clitheroe Castle was substantially built during this period.

The third Baron, Ilbert (d ~ 1141) was captured with King Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln. After his death his brother Henry (d 1177)became 4th Baron, followed by Henry’s son Robert (d 1193), the 5th Baron.

Following the death of Robert de Lacy, (5th Baron) who died childless, the Baronecy passed through:
Albreda de Lacy (m Robert de Lissours) the daughter of Robert de Lacy (2nd Baron)
her daughter, Albreda de Lissours (m Richard FitzEustace)
John FitzRichard (d 1190). John founded Stanlow Abbey in 1178.

to Roger FitzJohn (1170-1211) on the condition he changed his name to de Lacy. Roger enlarged the estate, acquiring Rochdale amongst other places.

Roger de Lacy was said to be a colourful character. There is speculation that in his earlier days he was the
Sheriff of Nottingham of ‘Robin Hood’ fame. Later he is said to have defeated the Welsh rebellion in 1210 with a collect of singers, musicians and beggars - perhaps he heard of Abijiah King of Judah in the Old Testament? However despite the relatively non-violent defeat of the rebellion his subsequent treatment of the rebels was ferocious.

Next in line were:
John (c 1192-1240), who is named on Magna Carta. He also acquired the fee of Tottington.
Edmund, (c 1230-1258)
Henry (c1251-1211). Henry apparently oversaw the movement of the monastery from Stanlow to Whalley in 1296. This probably included the transfer of the bones of Roger and John de Lacy to Whalley.
Alice de Lacy who married Thomas Earl of Lancaster. Most of her estate, including he lands in Lancashire, transferred to him as part of her marriage settlement in 1311.

Although they may rarely if ever visited the area their influence was profound:
  • Rossendale was at this time a private hunting chase for the de Lacy family and as such subject to forest law and relatively unsettled.
  • The Abbey at Whalley became the parish church for Rossendale, including the Springhill area. This necessitated a journey of 12 miles across open moor for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
  • The marriage of Alice de Lacy and Thomas of Lancaster led to the land being transferred into the Duchy of Lancaster