(Bef 1056-1138)
Eustace FitzJohn of Alnwick, Constable of Cheshire
(Bef 1100-1157)


Family Links

1. Beatrix de Vescy

2. Agnes FitzWilliam

Eustace FitzJohn of Alnwick, Constable of Cheshire 3 4

  • Born: Bef 1100
  • Marriage (1): Beatrix de Vescy 1
  • Marriage (2): Agnes FitzWilliam after 1115 2
  • Died: 3 Jul 1157 2 3

  General Notes:

EUSTACE FitzJohn (before 1100-1157). A charter of King Henry I dated 1133 is witnessed by Payn FitzJohn, Eustache and William his brothers. "…Eustachius filius Johannis…" witnessed the charter of Ramsey abbey dated to [1133/37] which records that "Walterus de Bolebeche…Heylenius uxor sua et Hugo filius suus" donated "terram de Waltone". "Walter de Gaunt" founded Bridlington priory, with the assent of Henry I King of England, by undated charter, witnessed by "…Eustace FitzJohn…". An undated charter records the foundation of Alnwick Abbey, Northumberland by "Eustachius filius Johannis", for the soul of "Ivonis de Vescy" and the health of "Willielmi de Vescy filii mei". "Eustachius filius Johannis…et uxor mea Agneta" founded Watton priory by charter dated to [1150].

m firstly BEATRICE de Vescy, daughter of YVES de Vescy Lord of Alnwick and Malton, Yorkshire & his wife [Alda Tyson]. A manuscript concerning the founders of Watton priory records the marriage of "Eustachius filius Johannis" and "filia et hærede Ivonis de Vescey", adding that she died giving birth to their son William. An undated charter recording the foundation of Alnwick Abbey, Northumberland recites a donation by "Willielmi de Vescy, filii Eustachii, filii Johannis",for the souls of "patris mei Eustachii et matris meæ Beatricis".

m secondly as her first husband, AGNES, daughter of WILLIAM FitzNeel Constable of Chester, Baron of Halton & his wife ---. "Eustachius filius Johannis…et uxor mea Agneta" founded Watton priory by charter dated to [1150]. "Agnes filia Willelmi constabularii Cestrie" confirmed an exchange of property made by "dominus Eustachius vir meus" with the nuns of Watton, for the souls of "Ricardi filii mei et Galfridi", by charter dated to [1150/57], witnessed by "…Rogerus filius Willelmi constabularii…". Agnes married secondly (after 1157) Robert FitzCount.

Eustace & his first wife had one child: William.

Eustace & his second wife had two children: Richard and Geoffrey.

[FMG/Medieval Lands]


EUSTACE FITZJOHN, brother and heir male, was born before 1100. He became possessed of his father's manor of Saxlingham and made a further gift of 20s. therefrom to Gloucester Abbey. Like his brothers he became a trusted officer of Henry I. He first appears as a witness to a royal charter before 1120 (1116-19), after which he constantly attests Henry I's charters, &c. In 1130 he and William de Luvetot were keepers of Tickhill Castle and the Honor of Blyth, and Eustace farmed Aldborough and Knaresborough. He was acting then as a Justice itinerant in the north, usually with Walter Espec. He is said to have become an intimate friend of Henry I, who granted him large estates and made him Constable of Bamburgh Castle. In consequence of his 1st marriage, he held Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and Malton Castle in Yorkshire. He was at Stephen's Easter court at Westminster in 1136 and later was with him at Clarendon. When Stephen advanced against the King of Scots early in 1138 and pursued him across the border, Eustace was in his army; but the King, hearing that some of his barons were traitors, arrested Eustace, and deprived him of the command of the castles which Henry had entrusted to him. Angered by this treatment Eustace, when the King of Scots invaded England later in the year, joined him and marched with him into Yorkshire, where he put David in possession of Malton Castle. At the Battle of the Standard, 22 August 1138, he fought in David's army, in Prince Henry's division beside the men of Cumberland and Teviotdale, but he was wounded and escaped with difficulty to his castle.

In or before 1139 he became Constable of Chester in right of his 2nd wife. In 1139, when peace had been concluded between England and Scotland and Stephen had given Northumberland to Prince Henry, the Prince confirmed to Eustace all the grants which he had received from Henry I and made him further grants of lands. Eustace was evidently reconciled to Stephen, as he was with the King at Stamford before Easter 1142. During the remainder of the reign he seems to have remained quiescent, living as a great baron of the north, where he even coined his own silver pennies. On 30 November 1143 he was one of those who arranged a truce between the rival bishops of Durham. He is also found attesting, as Constable of Chester, charters of the Earls of Chester. In February 1154/5 he was probably with Henry II at York; about June 1157 he was with him at Waltham; and in the following month he took part in the King's expedition into North Wales. He founded Alnwick Abbey for Premonstratensian canons, and between 1147 and 1154 he founded Gilbertian Convents at Watton and Malton. He was a benefactor to the Abbeys of Gloucester, Fountains, and Bridlington.

He married, 1stly, Beatrice, only daughter and heir of Yves DE VESCY, lord of Alnwick and Malton, by [it is said] "Alda" only daughter and heir of William Tyson, also lord of Alnwick and Malton. She died in childbirth. He married, 2ndly, Agnes, elder sister and coheir of William and daughter of William FITZNEEL, both Barons of Halton in the palatinate of Chester and Constables of Chester. Eustace died in July 1157, being slain when part of Henry II's army was ambushed in the pass of Consyllt, near Basingwerk, in North Wales. His widow married Robert FITZCOUNT, apparently an illegitimate son of an Earl of Chester. He became Constable of Chester jure uxoris and died in or before 1166.

[Complete Peerage XII/2:272-4, (transcribed by Dave Utzinger)]


James Tait ("Knight-Service in Cheshire" [English Historical Review 57], 450) says that after William, son of William FitzNigel died without issue, Earl Ranulph granted the constableship to Eustace FitzJohn, husband of Agnes, eldest sister and coheiress of William II. The actual charter by which Earl Ranulph granted the honor is printed in _A Medieval Miscellany for Doris Mary Stenton_[Pipe Roll Society, 1962] uder the authorship of Geoffrey Barraclough ("Some charters of the Earls of Chester"), 28-9. Barraclough states that Eustace fitz John's first wife, the heiress of Ivo de Vesci, died in childbirth, and that he then married Agnes, sister of William, constable of Chester, who succeeded his father [the Domesday baron] in the barony of Halton about 1130. After William [II] died childess, his inheritance was divided between his two sisters, Agnes, and Matilda, wife of Albert Grelley, lord of Manchester.

At one point, when Earl Ranulf was 'at loggerheads' with King David of Scotland, Eustace had sided with Scotland (remember, this was during the reign and struggle of King Stephan). After the battle of Lincoln (2 Feb. 1141), Ranulf was forced into league with the Empress Matilda against Stephan, and the Earl and Eustace were again on the same side. The date of the charter by which Eustace fitz John succeeded to the constableship is estimated to be about 1144-5. He would not have granted it to an enemy,and the grant specifically states it was hereditary ("Eustachius et heredes sui"). Eustace was also a Justice itinerant, commanded Scottish troops against Stephen at the battle of Standard in 1138, and founded the Abbeys of Alnwick, Old Malton and Watton. He was slain in Wales in 1157.


Eustace Fitz-John (nephew and heir of Serlo de Burgh, founder of Knaresborough Castle), one of the most powerful of the northern barons and a great favourite with King Henry I. With his two brothers, he was a witness to the foundation of the abbey of Cirencester, co. Gloucester, 1133. He m. 1st, Agnes, eldest dau. of William Fitz Nigel, Baron of Halton, constable of Chester. By this lady he acquired the Barony of Halton, and had an only son, Richard Fitz-Eustace. Eustace Fitz-John m. 2ndly, Beatrice, only dau. and heiress of Yvo de Vesci, Lord of Alnwick, in Northumberland, and of Malton, in Yorkshire, by whom he had issue, William, progenitor of the great baronial house of de Vesci.

[Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 121, Clavering, Barons Clavering]


Eustace Fitz-John, nephew and heir of Serlo de Burgh (of the great family of Burgh), the founder of Knaresborough Castle, in Yorkshire, and son of John, called Monoculus, from having but one eye, is said by an historian of the period in which he lived, to have been "one of the chiefest peers of England," and of intimate familiarity with King Henry I, as also a person of great wisdom and singular judgment in councils. He had immense grants from the crown and was constituted governor of the castle of Bamburg, in Northumberland, temp. Henry I, of which governorship, however, he was deprived by King Stephen, but he subsequently enjoyed the favour of that monarch. He fell the ensuing reign, anno, 1157, in an engagement with the Welsh, "a great and aged man, and of the chiefest English peers, most eminent for his wealth and wisdom." By his first wife, the heiress of Vesci, he had two sons, and by Agnes, his 2nd wife, dau. of William FitzNigel, Baron of Halton, and constable of Chester, he left another son, called Richard Fitz-Eustace.

[Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 555, Vesci, Barons Vesci]

  Death Notes:


Eustace married Beatrix de Vescy.1 (Beatrix de Vescy was born about 1095 and died after 1115.). The cause of her death was In childbirth.

Eustace next married Agnes FitzWilliam, daughter of William I FitzNeel Constable of Cheshire and de Widness, after 1115.2 (Agnes FitzWilliam was born about 1094 and died in 1166.)


1 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), XII/2:273-274.

2 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), XII/2:274.

3 William Henry Turton, <i>The Plantagenet Ancestry</i> (1968), 95.

4 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), XII/2:272-274.

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