The Barons Eure
The Ievers family claim descent from Robert FitzRoger, Sheriff of Northumberland and Lord of Werkworth and Clavering, who acquired the Buckinghamshire manor of Evre (Iver) in the late 12th century. According to ‘The History of Iver’ by Adrian Secker, the manor was granted on 16th April 1194 by Richard I ‘to our Eure ancestor’ in return for ‘a Knight’s fee’ (ie: 40 days annual military service).
His son John Fitz Robert (c. 1190-1240) of Warkworth, Northumberland was one of the 25 Surety Barons named in Magna Carta of 1215. John’s wife Ada was a sister of John de Balliol, for whom Balliol College, Oxford is named. Her nephew John Balliol was the luckless King of Scotland from 1292 to 1296.
In about 1250, FitzRobert’s sons Hugh and Robert acquired the manor of Stokesley on the River Leven in North Yorkshire through their mother’s family. The brothers adopted the surname d’Evre, later becoming simply Evre. Hugh de Eurescooped the whole lot when Robert died 21 years later. Hugh also acquired substantial lands in Northumberland, including the manor of Kirkley in Ponteland, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
JOHN DE EURE, A MEDIEVAL REBEL
Hugh’s son John de Eure (Ever) of Stokesley served as Sheriff of Yorkshire before being appointed to view the Royal Forest of Galtres in 1310. He was entrusted with ensuring there were sufficient deer in the forest for the King’s hunting pleasure. In 1316, the forest comprised 60 villages in 100,000 acres. Two years later, he was appointed assessor of the tallage, a land tax, for Northumberland and Yorkshire in 1312. He was also a commissioner of oyer and terminer (ie: a judge at the assizes).
John dispatched many horses to serve Edward II in his invasion of Scotland, which culminated in a historic victory for Robert the Bruce’s Scots at the battle of Bannockburn. John later received £12 compensation for his horses, all of which were killed. In 1317, John was accused of attacking Lewis de Beaumont, Bishop of Durham, and two cardinals travelling with him at Akeld, Northumberland. Arrested and summoned to explain himself in the south, he escaped charge by forming an alliance with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster. When Lancaster went into rebellion against Edward II in 1322, John de Eure joined his army. Both men were captured at the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322 and both were subsequently beheaded.
THE MOVE TO WITTON CASTLE
John de Eure was succeeded by his 18-year-old son John (1303-1368) who spent his life trying to regain the lands seized from his father. He finally succeeded in 1360 by paying a £400 fine to Edward III. John was ultimately succeeded by his second son Ralph Eure who was born shortly after the Black Death of 1347 annihilated between a third and a half of England’s population. Ralph was variously Sheriff of Yorkshire and Northumberland, as well as Governor of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Castle and Constable of York Castle.
He served under Richard II when he marched his army into Scotland in 1385, and was frequently employed as a negotiator with the Scots. In 1388, for instance, he orchestrated the ransom swap of the Duke of Albany’s son for Henry Percy, the celebrated ‘Hotspur’. In 1410, this corpulent old soldier was given a license from Bishop Langley of Durham to fortify, crenellate and entower his principal residence at Witton Castle, on the banks of the River Wear, near Bishop Auckland, co. Durham. Through his wife he also obtained most of the Malton estate from the de Vesci family, as well as Boughton Spittle.
SIR WILLIAM OF AGINCOURT
When Sir Ralph died in March 1422, he was succeeded at Witton by his son Sir William Eure (1396-c.1464). At the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, Sir William had fought in the retinue of his father-in-law, Henry, 3rd Lord FitzHugh, a respected diplomat who was based at Ravensworth Castle, Yorkshire.
In 1434, Sir William went on a diplomatic mission to King James I of Scotland and negotiated a truce. The truce expired in May 1436; King James was assassinated exactly one year later. Sir William’s preferred residence was the manor house of Old Malton, Yorkshire and both he and his wife Maud were interred in the adjacent monastery at Malton Abbey.
SIR RALPH & THE WAR OF THE ROSES
Sir William’s son Ralph served for the Yorkists during the Wars of the Roses and was slain at Towton Field, the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil, on Palm Sunday, 1461. It is not known how Sir Ralph died. Perhaps he was shot by a Lancastrian arrow, or cut down in the hand-to-hand combat, or maybe he drowned in the river. In any event, Towton was a great day for the House of York and directly led to Edward, Earl of March, son of the late Richard of York, taking the throne as Edward IV.
Sir Ralph was succeeded at Malton and Stokesley by his son William whose first wife Margaret was one of seven daughters born to Sir Robert Constable (1423-1488) of Flamborough, a wealthy supporter of the Yorkists and a close friend of Richard III.[i]
When he passed away, Sir William was succeeded by his son Ralph, whose prosperous career survived the reigns of Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII. Sir Ralph, who married a daughter of Lord Hastings of Fenwick, was twice sheriff of Yorkshire and once of Northumberland. He lived until 1539 and was buried at Pickering in Yorkshire.
1st BARON EURE & THE SCOTTISH BORDERS
Ralph’s son William Eure was born in 1485, the year Henry Tudor, aka Henry VII, defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and seized the Crown for the Tudors. He married a daughter of the 10th Baron Willoughby de Eresby of Parham, Suffolk. He was knighted at the Battle of Tournay in 1513 and enjoyed a distinguished career, primarily maintaining law and order on the Anglo-Scottish Borders. He was Sheriff of Durham (1519-23) and Northumberland (1526-27), as well as Lieutenant of the Middle Marches (1522/3), Warden of the East Marches (1539-1549) and Governor of Berwick Castle (1538).
On 24 Feb 1544, he was created Baron Evre by a patent of Henry VIII, apparently taking the name from Evre, now Iver, in Buckinghamshire. The barony lasted until the death of Ralph Eure, 7th Baron, in 1707. At some point the letter ‘U’ was adopted to spell the name, although it would have originally been pronounced as a ‘V’. Hence, over time, some family members began to pronounce the name ‘Eure’.
From 1538 until his death in March 1548, Baron Eure was Marshal of the Army ‘for the rear against Scotland’. During the Anglo-Scottish war of the Rough Wooing (1543-1550), the 1st Baron and his sons Ralph and Henry made numerous raids against towns and farms in the Borders.
SIR RALPH EURE
The 1st Baron’s eldest son Sir Ralph Eure of Foulbridge, Brompton, Yorkshire, became something of a Tudor icon when he managed to hold Scarborough Castle for twenty days during the Pilgrimage of Grace with a garrison of household servants. He later became the castle’s Constable and in 1544, the year his father became a Baron, he was made Warden of the East March with his father as deputy.
Sir Ralph narrowly avoided execution when a letter attributed to him was produced, in which Thomas Cromwell, the Duke of Norfolk and other members of Henry VIII’s council were criticized. He got off the charge by dint of the simple fact that he could barely write his own name, let alone a scandalous letter, and the work was deemed to be a forgery by his arch-enemy, Sir Roger Chomley.[ii]
In 1542 he became MP for Scarborough but met his death at the Battle of Ancram Moor three years later when the Earl of Angus ‘revenged the defacing of the limbs of his ancestors at Melrose upon Ralph Eure’ which sounds exceedingly gruesome.[iii] When the Earl of Arran saw his body, he remarked, ‘God have mercy on him, for he was a fell cruel man and over cruel, which many a man and fatherless bairn might rue; and, wellaway that ever such slaughter and blood-shedding should be amongst Christian men.” He was buried at Melrose Abbey.
2nd BARON EURE
As such when the first Baron Eure died two years later, the baronetcy passed to his eighteen-year-old grandson, William. The 2nd Baron Eure and his second wife Lady Margaret were the grandparents of Sir Sampson Eure. Like his father, the 2nd Baron served along the Anglo-Scottish Borders, primarily as Warden of the Middle Marches and, like his grandfather, as Captain of Berwick Castle. His brother Ralph was killed in 1557 by Sir William Kirkcaldy, one of the earliest Scottish Protestants, in a duel fought with spears.
In 1587, the 2nd Baron was dispatched as a Commissioner to negotiate with the Scots in the wake of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. His wife Margaret Dymoke was a granddaughter of Sir George Taliboys, an ill-fated warrior who had been declared a lunatic in 1517 and whose lands had been subsequently gifted to Cardinal Wolsey.
3rd BARON EURE
Following the death of the 2nd Baron in 1594, the baronetcy passed to his eldest son Ralph Eure (1558-1617) who was born at Berwick Castle in 1558. He was made Warden of the Middle Marches in Northumberland in 1586. He also served as Sheriff of Yorkshire from his succession to the baronetcy in 1594 to the accession of James I as King of Great Britain in 1603, when the concept of Borders Wardens became void.
The 3rd Baron later represented the King as Ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, and later to the Danes. From 1607 until his death in 1617, the 3rd Baron was Lord President of the Council of Wales.
He had one son William by his first wife and none by his second, Lady Hunsdon. The 3rd Baron’s younger brother Sir Francis Eure was father of Sir Sampson Eure, from whom the Ievers of Ireland may feasibly descend, and to him we will return anon.
4th BARON EURE
Upon his death in 1617, the 3rd Baron was succeeded by his only son William. The 4th Baron was made a Knight of the Bath at the Coronation of King James I in 1603. However, the family fortunes sank during his tenure and, despite selling both Witton and Jarrow, he was so badly in debt that he had to garrison the family mansion at Malton in July 1632 and withstand a siege from Sheriff Layton. When ‘Black Tom’ Wentworth ordered cannon from Scarborough to breach the walls, ‘the stout old lord submitted.’[iv]
By his wife Lucia, or Lucy, the 4th Baron had two sons, who both predeceased him, and three daughters. His eldest son, the Hon. Ralph Eure of Bishop Middleham, married Catherine Arundell, a daughter of the defiantly Catholic 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour, but he was killed in a duel in 1640, aged about 38, leaving a son William who succeeded as 5th Baron Eure.[v] In another alliance with a prominent Catholic family, Ralph’s sister Mary married the Duke of Norfolk’s grandson Sir William Howard of Naworth Castle, Cumberland.
The 4th Baron’s younger son Colonel William Eure commanded a regiment of horse in the Royalist army but was killed in action at the battle of Marston Moor on 2nd July 1644. He was buried at York Minster, leaving three daughters, two of whom subsequently inherited much of the remaining Eure family property. Alas, these two daughters were destined for unhappy times. One married Thomas Danby, of Farnley, Yorkshire, first Mayor of Leeds, who was killed in a tavern in London in 1667. The other, Mary, married William Palmes, of Lindley, Yorkshire. The two sisters quarrelled over their inheritance and in 1665, under a writ of partition, ‘the family mansion was pulled down and, stone by stone, was divided between the unyielding sisters. In 1712, William Palmes sold the manors of Old and New Malton, together with the lodge and entrance gateway, to Sir Thomas Wentworth, from whom they descended to the Earl Fitzwilliam.’[vi]
The 4th Baron died on 28th June 1646 and was succeeded by his grandson. Little is known of the 5th Baron save that he died on 25th June 1652 and was succeeded by his second cousin once removed.
6th BARON EURE
Sir Sampson Eure’s nephew George Eure, son of his older brother Horatio, had been in line to inherit the baronetcy ever since the death of the 4th Baron’s son and heir at Marston Moor in 1644, This must have caused considerable consternation is some quarters because, like the mysterious Isaac Eure, the bachelor George was a supporter of Parliament during the Civil War, unlike his younger brother Colonel Sampson Eure who served for the Royalists.
Despite inheriting the Eure peerage, but not the estates, in 1652, George sat in the House of Commons as Member for Yorkshire in Barebone’s Parliament of 1653. He was also returned for the First and Second Protectorate Parliaments called by Cromwell in 1654 and 1656, as MP for East Riding and North Riding respectively. He was the only peer to sit in Cromwell’s ‘Other House’ in 1657 but somehow survived the Restoration intact and died a bachelor in October 1672.
7th BARON EURE
The 6th Baron’s brother Ralph succeeded as the 7th and last Baron Eure. In Glover’s Visitation it is said that in early life Ralph worked as a woollen-draper in London, alongside his brother Sampson. In 1680-1681, the 7th Baron joined the Duke of Monmouth in petitioning Charles II against the Catholics. He is also believed to have been amongst those who presented James, Duke of York, as a Popish recusant. When he died without issue on 27th April 1707, the baronetcy granted by Henry VIII 162 years earlier became extinct.