"Of this ancient family, seated in the county of York, were divers persons," says Dugdale, "of great note many ages since." They had apparently come over with the Breton contingent of the Conqueror's army. Their ancestor, "Picot," an important vassal of Earl Alan of Richmond's in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (Domesday), is identified by means of an early Survey of the fiefs of the latter county, made about the year 1108. He is there entered as "Picotus de Laceles," holding some land of Roger Marmion, "whose sister or daughter he may have married, as Roger de Laceles was his successor and son. We probably have a brother of Picot in William de Loceles, who occurs in the Survey as holding Strailley, in Bedfordshire, of Hugo de Belcamp."—A. S. Ellis. They were Barons of Messie in Normandy, and "derived their name from Lacella, near Falaise, which, with its church, belonged in 1154 to the Abbey of St. Sauveur, Evreux (Gall. Christ. IX.). William de Lacelles, who in 1165 held two fees in Yorkshire, was plaintiff in a suit against his uncle Ralph for Lacelle and the barony of Messie, which Ralph yielded to him as his inheritance. (Memoires de la Societe des Antiquaires de la Normandie, XV., 92.)"—The Norman People.

Picot probably died soon after 1108. His son Roger de Lacelles is mentioned in 1131 as one of the "men" of Earl Stephen of Richmond, and held Scruton and Kirkby in the North Riding. After him we hear of Picot, Roger and Robert Fitz Picot, and, lastly, of another Roger, who was summoned to parliament as a baron in 1294 and the two following years. He died shortly after his last writ of summons, leaving by his wife Isabel, the heiress of Thomas Fitz Thomas, four daughters his co-heirs: 1. Matilda, married first Robert de Hilton, of Swine in Holderness, and secondly, Sir Peter Tilliol; 2. Theophania, the wife of Ralph Fitz Randolph; 3. Johanna, the first wife of Thomas de Culwen; 4. Avicia, married to Sir Robert le Constable of Hailsham. His brother Richard was seated at Escrick, where his posterity continued for one hundred and twenty-seven years longer; but to none of his lineage was the writ of summons ever again repeated.

The collateral branches were numerous. Duncan de Lascells, in the reign of Coeur de Lion, acquired Bolton in Cumberland through Christian de Bastingthwaite; and their descendants held it for three generations.—Hutchinson's Cumberland. John de Lascells, mentioned in the Pipe Roll of 1131, "was probably ancestor of the Lascelles of Otterington in Holderness, and settled there by the Earl of Albemarle."—A. S. Ellis. Jordan and his brother Turgis are found in the same record. Jordan's grants to Nostel Priory were confirmed by Henry II. in 1154; and about the year 1146, his sons Gerard and Alan were benefactors to Byland Abbey (Mon. Angl. i. 1032). Alan's son Simon in 1165 held three fees of De Lacy, and "may have been the same Simon who had a duel with Adam Fitz Peter about land at Birkin, which he recovered by overcoming him (Pipe Roll, 5 Ric. I.). Branches of the family remained at Escrick, until 1424, and in Notts, until after 1700: and another branch is now represented by Robert Morley Lascelles, Esquire, of Slingsby. This time-honoured name is also now associated with the Yorkshire Earldom of Harewood."—Ibid.

In this latter case, however, there is considerable doubt and difficulty in determining the descent.[1] Lord Harewood's pedigree begins with John Lascelles, seated at Hinderskelfe (now called Castle Howard) in the time of Ed. II.), and "thought (by Collins) to be a younger son of the house of Sowerby and Brackenbury, who bore the arms without the bordure." This coat, Sable a cross flory within a bordure Or, is not that of Roger Lord Lascelles, which was Argent three chaplets of roses vermaux, within a border engrailed Sable. The author of 'The Norman People' declares their ancestor to have been the Simon de Lacelles mentioned in the Liber Niger, "from whose son John descend lineally the Earls of Harewood." Here we are at once met by a formidable hiatus in the line of descent; for a blank of no less than one hundred and twenty-five years intervenes between these two Johns—John the son of Simon and John of Hinderskelfe.

The latter, at all events, is the recognized and undoubted progenitor of the present house. His son was called filius Johannis, or Jackson, and for the next seven generations his descendants successively bore this name. About the end of the fifteenth century, they removed to Gawthorpe, also in the North Riding, where Harewood House was afterwards built, and thence to Stank and Northallerton. Daniel, the sixteenth child born to Francis Lascelles of Stank and Northallerton, served as High Sheriff in 1719, and was the father of two sons who settled in Barbadoes, where the younger, Henry, became Collector of the Customs. This Henry, who had married a West Indian, eventually inherited the estates, including Harewood, bought a few years before: and his son Edwin was created Baron Harewood of Harewood Castle in 1790. But he died childless in 1795 J and his cousin Edward, who became the head of the family, received first the barony, in the following year, and a Viscountcy and Earldom in 1812. Both these peers had been born at St. Michael's in Barbadoes.

  1. "Yet how far those genealogists may be correct, who have consimilitated the descent of the Lascels family of the present day, with the blood of the illustrious baron in the time of Edward I., is not for controversy here; although the assertion is a pretty evident proof, that these gentle historians had never read the epitaph made by Henry Lascels, Esq., the collector of the Crown revenues at Barbadoes, who departed out of this transitory world anno 1753; for had that celebrated epitaph ever met their eye it is to be imagined their ideas of the noble lineage of the Baron of Harewood would have been confined to a more recent and a more humble extraction."—Banks.

-- Cleveland

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