Lacie, now called Lassy, the place from which this great Norman family derived its name, is on the road from Vere to Auvray. Of its earlier lords we know nothing, and Wace's "Cil de Lacie" and "Le Chevalier de Lacie," do not enlighten us. Neither do we receive much assistance from his French or English annotators, who refer us to Dugdale and the English genealogists.
From them we learn that a Walter and an Ilbert de Lacy were certainly present at Senlac, though how related to each other they have no evidence, nor can we venture to suggest which was the "Sire de Lacie" of the poet, and which "the Chevalier," if we are to consider them two distinct personages. That they were brothers, however, is fairly presumable, from the fact that the mother of Ilbert de Lacy, Emma, is named in a charter, and Walter had a daughter Emma, named according to custom after her grandmother. No particular deed of arms is attributed to either; but the Sire de Lacie is named as one of a party of seven or eight knights who charged the English in company, "fearing neither prince nor pope. Many a man did they overthrow, many did they wound, and many a good horse did they kill." As early as the third year of William's reign, 1069, Walter de Lacy was sent into Wales with William Fitz Osbern and other tried soldiers, against the people of Brecknock, led by their Prince of Wales, Rhys ap Owen, Cadogan ap Blethyn, and Meredith ap Owen, whom they attacked and defeated with great slaughter.
Subsequently he assisted Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester, and Urso d'Abitot, then sheriff of that county, in preventing the passing of the Severn by the Earls of Hereford and Norfolk, with the object of effecting a junction of their forces.
His death, however, was not on the field of battle, nor was he shorn a monk in some abbey according to a prevalent custom of the period.
Having founded the Church of St. Peter at Hereford, and taking much interest in the building, when the work was nearly finished, he mounted a ladder to inspect some portion of it, when his foot slipping, he fell and was killed on the spot (6 kalends of April, 1084).
He was buried in the chapter-house of the Cathedral at Gloucester, to which Emmeline, his wife, for the health of his soul, gave five hides of land at Duntesborne.
By this lady, whoever she was, he left three sons, Roger, Hugh and Walter, the last a monk in the Abbey of St. Peter at Gloucester; and two daughters, Ermeline and Emma.
Dying before the compilation of Domesday, we cannot be certain what was his reward in lands and honours for the services he had rendered his sovereign; but in that precious record we find his son and successor, Roger, in possession of ninety-six lordships, sixty-five of which were in Gloucestershire, besides four carucates of land lying within the limits of the Castle of Civia, which King William had bestowed on his father. Conspiring, however, against William Rufus, first with Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and afterwards witli Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, he was banished the realm and all his lands given to his brother Hugh, the founder of Llanthony Priory, who, dying without issue, left his great inheritance between his two sisters above named. Ermeline had no children; but Emma, [An Emma de Lacie, probably the aunt of this Emma, took the veil in the Convent of St. Amand de Rouen before 1069.] by a husband unnamed, had issue, a son, Gilbert, who assumed the name of Lacy and became the ancestor of the great lord of Ulster and conqueror of the largest part of Ireland.
ILBERT DE LACY
The other companion of the Conqueror received for his services at Senlac, the castle and town of Pontefract and all that part of the county of Lancaster then as now called Blackburnshire, with other lands of vast extent, so that at the time of the general survey he possessed one hundred and seventy lordships, the greater portion of them in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire, and obtained from King William Rufus a confirmation of all those customs belonging to his Castle at Pontefract, which he had enjoyed in the time of King William his father.
By his wife, a lady named Hawise, he left two sons, Robert and Hugh, the former of whom completed the building of the Abbey of St. Oswald at Nostell, the foundation of which was commenced by his father, and amply endowed it.
This true line of Lacy terminated with the grandson of the above Robert, and the Constables of Chester and the Earls of Lincoln, who assumed the name, inherited the lands and honours, but not a drop of the Lacy blood, as it would be inferred from the polite peerages in which the reader would naturally look for information. As frequently we find it to be the case, they need not the flattering unction applied to them, being descended from equally ancient and valiant progenitors, the families of the De Lizures and the Fitz Nigels, barons of Halton, united in the persons of Richard Fitz Eustace, Constable of Chester, in right of his mother Agnes, the first wife of Henry de Lacy, by her former husband, Eustace Fitz John, and of Albreda, daughter of Robert de Lizures, by the second wife and widow of the said Henry.
Added to this site through the courtesy of Fred L. Curry, who provided a photocopy of the section.