We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Vescy [Vesci], Eustace de (1169/70–1216), baron, lord of Alnwick, Northumberland, the son of William de Vescy (d. 1183) and Burga, daughter of , lord of Cottingham, Yorkshire, came of age in 1190. He was charged a relief of 1300 marks for his barony, which consisted of 36½ fees in Northumberland and Yorkshire. He married Margaret, the illegitimate daughter of , and half-sister of Alexander II of Scotland; at Richard I's second coronation on 17 April 1194 he witnessed a royal charter in favour of his father-in-law.

At the end of 1194 Vescy was at Chinon in France with Richard I. He was one of the guarantors of the treaty between John and Renaud, count of Boulogne, on 13 August 1199. In the same year, probably later, he was sent to William the Lion of Scotland to promise him satisfaction of his rights in England; he witnessed his homage on 22 November 1200, and on 10 April 1209 was sent to meet William the Lion on his visit to England. He served King John on his expedition to Ireland in the summer of 1210. In December 1207 Vescy was pardoned of a 300 mark amercement assessed in his plea against Richard de Umfraville concerning custody of an heir.

Accused along with Robert Fitzwalter of conspiring against John in August 1212, Vescy fled to Scotland. The tale of John's attempted seduction of his wife, and the trick played on him of substituting another woman in the royal bed, which first appears in William of Newburgh, is scarcely credible, and bears some resemblance to similar stories of the king's lecherous designs on others, for example, Robert Fitzwalter's daughter. Vescy was outlawed and his lands seized; but after John's submission to the pope he was forced to invite Vescy back on 27 May 1213, although orders were sent on the same day to cripple his power by destroying his castles at Alnwick and Malton. On 18 July 1213 he was one of the recipients of John's pledge to make restitution to those persons who had suffered damages during the interdict, and his lands were restored to him the next day. In 1213 Vescy was one of six northern barons who refused to participate in John's projected Poitevin expedition, and the next year he refused to pay scutage for the campaign. On 5 November 1214 Innocent III warned him to remain loyal to the king in his disputes with the barons. He was one of the most prominent of the northern barons who led the movement to impose Magna Carta on John. He was closely associated with another Yorkshire rebel, Robert de Ros (d. 1226/7), and both were among the twenty-five appointed to see Magna Carta carried out. He was one of nine barons whom the pope excommunicated by name in September 1215. On 3 May 1216 Vescy went to John seeking reconciliation. After Louis of France landed he accompanied Alexander II of Scotland on his way to do homage to the Capetian prince. On their way in late August 1216 they laid siege to Barnard Castle, co. Durham, belonging to Hugh de Balliol, and, approaching too near, Vescy was shot through the head by an arrow. His lands were confiscated and handed over to royal allies. He left a son, William (d. 1253), who came of age in 1226.

Ralph V. Turner

Sources  

I. J. Sanders, English baronies: a study of their origin and descent, 1086–1327 (1960) · Pipe rolls · Chancery records · The letters of Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) concerning England and Wales, ed. C. R. Cheney and M. G. Cheney (1967) · Rogeri de Wendover liber qui dicitur flores historiarum, ed. H. G. Hewlett, 3 vols., Rolls Series, [84] (1886–9) · Memoriale fratris Walteri de Coventria / The historical collections of Walter of Coventry, ed. W. Stubbs, 2 vols., Rolls Series, 58 (1872–3) · R. Howlett, ed., Chronicles of the reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I, 4 vols., Rolls Series, 82 (1884–9), vols. 1–2 · L. Landon, The itinerary of King Richard I, PRSoc., new ser., 13 (1935) · J. C. Holt, Magna Carta, 2nd edn (1992)