LOIONS: for Lions, a name derived from the castle and forest of Lions, in Normandy. “Ingelram de Lions came to England 1066, and held Corsham and Culington from the King (Mon. Angl. ii. 604). He had Ranulph, whose brother William de Lions had a grant in Norfolk from Earl Walter Giffard, and left descendants there. Ranulph had Ingelram de Lions, named Parcar, as being forester of Croxton, Leicester, by exchange with the King (Mon. Angl.). William Parcarius de Lions was a benefactor to Croxton Abbey, t. Henry II., and was brother of Hugh de Lyons, who was deprived of his estates 1203 (Nicholls, Leicester). From him descended the family of Parcar, or Parker, and the Earl of Macclesfield.”—The Norman People. The Earl’s pedigree, however, is only traced back to Thomas Le Parker, his first certain ancestor, who lived in the reign of Edward III; and his coat of arms, Gules a chevron between three leopards’ heads Or, bears no analogy to the allusive lions or lioncels of the De Lions: though it resembles one of the coats borne by the family in Normandy. Des Lions, Seigneur de Theuville, gives D’azur a trois tetes de leopard d’or.
The posterity of William de Lyons flourished at Lyons’ Manor in Weston, Norfolk, till the reign of Edward II. Roger de Lyons held Melton Constable of William de Beaufoe, Bishop of Thetford, jointly with Anchitel de Melton or de Constable. The last heir was William de Lyons, whose two daughters inherited.—Blomfield’s Norfolk. Meanwhile, the family had spread into the adjoining counties; for I find that John Lyons of Framlingham in Suffolk attended the array and muster of the Hundred of Loose in 1316 (Palgrave’s Parliamentary Writs): and Lyon or Lions Hall, in Essex, as well as Lyons Manor in the parish of Booking, were named “from an ancient family that flourished there in the reigns of Edward II. and Edward III.”—Morant’s Essex.
In Oxfordshire, John de Lyons of Begbrooke received a writ of military summons in 1322 (Palgrave’s Parliamentary Writs). This was Sir John de Lyons, Lord of Warkworth in Northamptonshire, whose genealogy is furnished by the county histories. He was sixth in descent from Nicholas de Lyons, and the son of another Sir John, who had married the co-heiress of Great Oakley and Preston Capes. His own wife, Alice, had a share in the inheritance of her father, Sir William de St. Liz; and in 1319 he made over to her “all his goods moveable and immoveable in his manor of Beckbrok, with investiture or livery of his lands.” Their only son, a third Sir John, died s. p. in 1385; and their daughter and sole heiress, Elizabeth, married first Sir Nicholas (others say Sir John) Chetwode, and secondly Richard Widville. “The tomb of this last Sir John Lyons is in the parish church. He is in plate armour; each elbow gusset is decorated with a lion’s face; his shield, charged with a lion rampant, is on h is left arm: and the upper part of it is sustained by a small lion seated on his breast: his feet rest on a couchant lion. He reposes on his helmet, surmounted by his crest, a talbot’s head issuing out of a ducal coronet.”—Baker’s Northamptonshire. A younger son of the co-heiress of Oakley, Richard de Lyons, inherited her moiety of the manor, which he held of the Honour of Huntingdon; but in 1371 his descendants in the male line failed with another Richard; and three sisters, Isabella, Cecilia, and Christina, shared the property.
Another Nicholas de Lions (from a comparison of the dates it cannot possibly have been the one already mentioned), in 1252 held the office of reeve of the city of Bristol, and held lands at Long Ashton, Somersetshire. His posterity continued there till the end of the fourteenth century; the last of the name was Thomas de Lions, “who 15 Ric. II. obtained a charter of free warren, and liberty to make a park in his manor of Long Ashton, which from this family was henceforward named Ashton-Lyons.”—Collinson’s Somerset. The mansion house of Ashton Court, a noble old structure, partly erected by the family of Lyons, still retains their devices and coat of arms. They also built the church of Long-Ashton, where some of their tombstones are to be seen. Their arms, differenced in tinctures, are nearly the same as those borne by the late Lord Lyons, who descended from a branch seated in Hampshire, where William de Lyons, in the thirteenth century, witnessed a charter of William de Redvers to Christ Church Priory. His immediate ancestor, John Lyons, of Lyons in the island of Antigua, was father of another John, seated at St. Austin’s, Hants, whose two elder sons both entered the navy. The second, Sir Edmund, was the gallant admiral who received a peerage in 1856 for his services during the Crimean War. He had lost his younger son—a young officer of the greatest promise—in the previous year at the siege of Sebastopol. Richard, the eldest, succeeded in 1858 as second Lord Lyons, and was the eminent diplomatist that for nearly half a century so ably represented his country abroad, and by his judgment, tact, and incomparable discretion, more than once warded off the threat of impending war. He was Minister at Washington in 1861, when the exasperation caused by the ‘Trent’ affair, and the seizure of Mason and Slidell, seemed to render a conflict between the two great Anglo-Saxon nationalities imminent if not inevitable. It was due to his coolness, prudence, and admirable temper, that the crisis was averted, and the danger passed over. His last post was at Paris, where he remained for twenty years, again rendering important services to the cause of peace, and gaining the respect and good-will of all. The Parisians never forgot that, when the siege was raised in 1871, he was one of the first to procure provisions for the famished capital. He was created a Viscount in 1881, and on his retirement from the Embassy in 1887. the Queen announced her intention of conferring upon him the further reward of an Earldom. He died shortly after, lamented by many attached friends, and not leaving behind him a single enemy.