Roger de Lacy (1170–1211)

Roger de Lacy (1170–1211), Baron of Pontefract, Lord of Bowland, Lord of Blackburnshire, Baron of Halton, Constable of Chester, Sheriff of Yorkshire and Cumberland, also known as Roger le Constable, was a notable English soldier, crusader and baron in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.

Roger de Lacy
Coat of arms of Roger de Lacy, recorded by Matthew Paris in Chronica Majora.[1]
TitleBaron of Pontefract
Lord of Bowland
Lord of Blackburnshire
Baron of Halton
Spouse(s)Maud de Clere
ChildrenJohn de Lacy, 2nd Earl of Lincoln
Parent(s)John FitzRichard
Alice de Essex

Family and Provenance

Roger de Lacy was also known as Roger FitzJohn (son of John, constable of Chester)[2] and during the time that he was hoping to inherit his grandmother's de Lisours lands as Roger de Lisours.[3] He was the son of John fitz Richard (son of Richard), Baron of Halton, Lord of Bowland, Lord of Flamborough and Constable of Chester. Roger became Baron of Pontefract on the death of his paternal grandmother Albreda de Lisours (-aft.1194) who had inherited the Barony in her own right as 1st-cousin and heir to Robert de Lacy (−1193), Baron of Pontefract. In agreements with his grandmother Roger adopted the name of de Lacy, received the right to inherit the Barony of Pontefract and its lands, and the lands of Bowland, and Blackburnshire. He gave up all claims to his grandmother's de Lisours lands. He also gave his younger brother Robert le Constable the Flamborough lands that he had inherited from his father. He married Maud (or Matilda) de Clere (not of the de Clare family).

Service to Kings Richard and John

Roger's great-grandfather, Robert de Lacy, had failed to support King Henry I during his power struggle with his brother and the King had confiscated Pontefract Castle from the family earlier in the 12th century;[4] Roger paid King Richard I 3,000 marks for the Honour of Pontefract, though the King retained possession of the castle itself. Roger accompanied his father and King Richard for the Third Crusade, succeeding to the title when his father died at the siege of Tyre.[5]

Accession of King John

At the accession of King John of England, Roger was a person of great eminence, for we find him shortly after the coronation of that prince, deputed with the Sheriff of Northumberland, and other great men, to conduct William, King of Scotland, to Lincoln, where the English king had fixed to give him an interview. King John gave de Lacy Pontefract Castle in 1199, the year he ascended the throne.

Military service

Siege of Acre

Roger was the Constable of Chester, and joined Richard the Lionheart for the Third Crusade. Roger assisted at the Siege of Acre, in 1192 and clearly earned the favour and the trust of King Richard as a soldier and loyal subject as judged by his subsequent service.

Château Gaillard

King Richard reconquered some castles along his Norman border from Philip II of France in 1196 and de Lacy was likely in his retinue. In 1203, de Lacy was the commander of the Château Gaillard in Normandy, when it was besieged and finally taken by Philip, marking the loss of mainland Normandy by the Plantagenêts. Under de Lacy's command the defence of the castle was lengthy, and it fell only after an eight-month siege on 8 March 1204. After the siege, de Lacy returned to England to begin work reinforcing Pontefract Castle.

Siege of Rothelan

In the time of this Roger, Ranulph, Earl of Chester, having entered Wales at the head of some forces, was compelled, by superior numbers, to shut himself up in the castle of Rothelan (Rhuddlan Castle), where, being closely besieged by the Welsh, he sent for aid to the Constable of Chester. Hugh Lupus, the 1st Earl of Chester, in his charter of foundation of the Abbey of St. Werberg, at Chester, had given a privilege to the frequenters of Chester fair, "That they should not be apprehended for theft, or any other offense during the time of the fair, unless the crime was committed therein."[6] This privilege made the fair, of course, the resort of thieves and vagabonds from all parts of the kingdom. Accordingly, the Constable, Roger de Lacy, forthwith marched to his relief, at the head of a concourse of people, then collected at the fair of Chester, consisting of minstrels, and loose characters of all description, forming altogether so numerous a body, that the besiegers, at their approach, mistaking them for soldiers, immediately raised the siege. For this timely service, the Earl of Chester conferred upon De Lacy and his heirs, the patronage of all the minstrels in those parts, which patronage the Constable transferred to his steward; and was enjoyed for many years afterwards.[6]

High Sheriff

He was appointed High Sheriff of Cumberland for the years 1204 to 1209.[7]

Death and succession

Roger died in 1211, and was succeeded by his son, John de Lacy, 2nd Earl of Lincoln. He was buried at Stanlow Abbey.


  1. Lewis, S (1987), The Art of Matthew Paris in Chronica Majora, California Studies in the History of Art (series vol. 21), Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, p. 448, ISBN 0-520-04981-0
  2. Some references show Roger de Lacy as Roger FitzEustace but this is not correct as he was not the son of Eustace, his father was, and FitzEustace did not become a surname.
  3. Certainly Lisors near Lyons-la-Forêt, Normandy
  4. "Pontefract Castle Index". Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2008.
  5. Nickson 1887, p. 144.
  6. Burke, John, A general and heraldic dictionary of the peerages of England, Ireland, and Scotland (1831) Pg 301
  7. "The History of the Worthies of England , volume 1 by Fuller". Retrieved 21 July 2011.
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