A Most Remarkable Family

A History of the Lyon Family …
Author: Michael Hewitt

The following is an extract from the book with comments and editorials by David B Lyon:

Sir John de Lyons (1289-1346) was horn in Great Oakley in Northamptonshire and married ALICE DE ELIZABETH (1300-1374) from Grafton Regis in Northamptonshire. They married when she was 15 and they had two children:

  1. John Lyon (1314-unknown) who was born in Scotland.
  2. Elizabeth (1324-1371) was born in Warkworth Northamptonshire.

John Lyon (1314) (John de Lyons) married MARGERY ST JOHN (born in 1330?).

Some records says that Margery was born in Plumpton in Northamptonshire her father was John St John III who was born in Scotland in 1296 and was living in Scotland at the time in the early 1300’s, He died in 1355. If this date of birth is correct she was NOT the mother of John Lyon born in Scotland in 1340.

John Lyon (1340) was a very famous member of the family who married a daughter of in Robert II of Scotland (JEAN STEWART). He is an ANCHOR in any family search [as] there is much proof of his existence and it is easier to work forward and backward when we have a solid footing for research.

He became the Lord Chamberlain of Scotland, second to the King in terms of power and importance so that records are available, see chapter 4 for more details. We know of his death in November 1382.

Hindrances to our research in this matter:

  1. The Lyon Memorial books made mistakes because it was often unable to verify the data provided by its participants in America in 1905. Most records had been passed down over many generations and the written data was in England and Scotland. The three volumes are priceless in many ways and invaluable to researchers but most people follow the information as if it is the gospel.
  2. We have an almost crippling problem of the key persons all being mostly named John Lyon. In those days second names rarely appear in records. Even the name Lyon becomes ‘de Leonnel or ‘Lyons’. These are left­over names from the Norman influences and the French language which was then used in court.
  3. The family had moved to Glam is by the time of John (1340) but as his grandfather Sir John (1289) was named ‘Sir John of Forteviotl, the old Scottish capital, and his son John (1314) also it seems to be ‘Sir John of Forteviot” we have a problem.

The I von Memorial (The Lyon Memorial- Massachusetts Families by. A B Lyons 19O5, page 11) states;

“Baron John’s children were Sir Adam (I 290), Richard (1287), Sir John. This last Sir John of Forteyiot settled in Scotland. His son, Sir John of Forteviot was a favourite of (King) Robert II and married his daughter Jean, he was killed in a duel in 1383”.

This is erroneous on several counts, the problem is we are talking about two or three John Lyons:

  1. ‘Baron John I’ (1250-1316) had three children, the latter being ‘Sir John II’ (1290), and says that ‘he settled in Scotland’.
  2. His son, ‘Sir John III of Fortevioti (1314) was a favorite of Robert II … This really refers to the John IV (1340) who married the daughter of King Robert II and was not ‘killed in a duel in 1383 hut was actuallymurdered in his bed according to all other records, see chapter 4 for the details.
  3. This misses out the third John III (1314) who was born somewhere in Scotland and lived there until his death. He was the father of John IV (1340).
  4. The last of all these errors in the two sentences of the above quote is that ‘Sir John (1289/90) settled in Scotland — this is not correct, he returned to England by 1321 and his daughter Elizabeth Lyon was born in 1324 in Warkworth Northamptonshire England,

Many other genealogists support the idea that john (1314) was actually a John (1320) and that he was the future Chamberlain of Scotland, This is not likely as he was described as;

“He was a young man of very good parts and qualities, a very graceful and comely person and a great favourite of the King.” —(www.archive.org/stream/…/lyonmemorial00lyon_djvu. txt) [Invalid URL]

This was said by King Robert II in 1372. It is unlikely be was describing the father John (1314) who would have 58 years of age at the time but might be a good description of John (1340) who at that time who would have been 32 years of age!

In the Northamptonshire we have even more confusion, Sir john de Lyons born in 1320 was the son of Richard de Lyons (1289) who was the brother or possibly the twin of Sir John de Lyons (1289/90) who had also named his son John.

“The tomb of this last Sir John Lyons (1320) 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 his 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.”—George Baker, Northamptonshire Records.

Sir John de Lyons (1320) died in or about 1371 in Warkworth Northamptonshire.

Believing and knowing

When tracing members of families we have to be like detectives trying to solve a crime. We gather information from any relevant source that we can find and then have to discern whether that information is pertinent or whether it will lead us nowhere. It is all too easy to jump to a conclusion and to think that we know the answer to a problem when in fact we only believe that we have reached the correct conclusion.

The two family lines that qualify for research purposes are the Norfolk line and the Northamptonshire lines both of which claim the fatherhood of this John Lyon (1314) at the beginning of the 14th century. No one to my knowledge has claimed that there is any other family lineage that is verifiable in any way in this matter. To see the whole table go to Maps and Illustrations in the front of the book.


The Norfolk Line
10 Sir John de Leonne was born 1225-1316 – married Marjory de Ackle (Northampton) sons John (13) Adam (12)
13 Sir John de Lyons born 1250-1316 – Sons Adam (14), Richard (15) and John (16), he died Warkworlh.
16 Sir John Lyon born 1289 in Warkworth. Lived in Scotland for a few years – son John (20) see Northamptonshire line.
20 John Lyon horn 1314 $ee Northamptonshire line (14)


A quick look at the John Lyons in the extract from the Norfolk line shows No. 13 as the father of Adam and Richard, both born in Norfolk. John on the other hand and was born in Northamptonshire at Warkworth. His father, John (1250) died at Warkworth so he would in all probability have moved to Warkworth before the birth of his son John (16),

Sir John born in 1289 No. 16 in Warkworth had a son John No.20 who was born in Scotland in 1314. He also had a daughter, Elizabeth who was born in 1124at Warkworth.


The Northamptonshire Line
9 Sir John de Lyons was born 1268 married Margery de Oakley, he died 1312 – Sons Adam (1285), Richard (11), John (10)
10 Sir John de Lyons was born 1289/90 married Alice de St Liz, he died 1346 – Children John (14), Elizabeth (15)
11 Richard de Lyons was born 1289 married Elizabeth de Senlis (St Liz), died after 1349 – Children John (12), Elizabeth (13)
12 Sir John de Lyons was born 1320-1395 – no known issue – died in Northamptonshire
13 Elizabeth Lyons 1330-1371 daughter of Richard (11)
14 Sir John Baron of Forteviot Forgundenny and Drumgawan was born 1314 in Scotland
15 Elizabeth Lyons was born 1324 married Sir Nicholas Chetwode and Richard de Wydeville, sister of John (14), born in Warkworth.


Lyon Memorial says:

“ The last Sir John No. 10 in the chart above is the one who has been mistaken for John of Glamis. The John de Lyons (1314) who in 1334 was summoned to attend the King with horses and arms at Roxburgh”. (Rot. Scot_ 1. 3061); and

in 1343 had charters for lands in Perth and Aberdeen, who obtained the return of Glamis, and whose son was the Grand Chamberlain of Scotland, was a descendant of Richard of Northampton (1242)” (Lyon Memorial – New York Families descended from the immigrant Thomas Lyon of. Rye with introductory chapter by Dr. G W A Lyon on the English Lyon families 1907)

King David had possessions there (in Northamptonshire) – and may have been a cousin of the last Sir John (1314)

Problems about Sir John Lyon (1289)

Wikipedia says:

“Sir John Lyon was the son of John Lyon (c. 1290 – ?), feudal Baron of Forteviot and Forgandennv, who was born in Norfolk, England. Sir John is widely accepted as being the progenitor of Clan Lyon, claim verified by renowned historian Sir lain Moncreiffe of that Ilk. His origins were French, his surname being an anglicized version of the Norman – de Leonne”.


I must disagree with Sir lain who states that Sir John No. 10 above (1289) ‘was ‘ born in Norfolk’, this is unfounded as has been shown in chapters I and 2. He was born in Warkworth Northamptonshire. He states that Sir John is widely accepted as the ‘progenitor of the Clan Lyon’.

There are so many John Lyons al this time it is almost impossible in the context to state which one. No John Lyon in my opinion has ever headed a Lyon clan. The Lyon family were Normans originally and Scottish clans are not usually Normans, they were Celts. They have no claim to be a Scottish clan which might hurt some people’s feelings but would find full support from any true Scot Some of the ill- feeling generated against the family by members of Scottish clans such as instigated the murder of John Lyon (1340) may well have been partly caused by a distrust and dislike of the ‘foreigners and outsiders from Normandy!

The Lyon Memorial also slates:

“Baron John’s No. 9 above (1250) children were Sir Adam (1285), Richard (1287), Sir John (1290). This last Sir John of Forteviot settled in Scotland. His Son Sir John of Forteviot 1320, was the favorite of Robert II and married his daughter Jean, he was killed in a duel 1383 and it is from this John that have descended the Scottish Earls of Strathmore, whose lineage is found in Burke and whose reference is made in the preface of the Rolfe edition of Macbeth”. (The Lyon Memorial page 11)

I hope that this clarifies the problems and the suggestions for solving the conundrums of the early days of the Lyon Family.

Even professional genealogists find these types of problems baffling. I hope this helps the amateurs like myself. to simply apply logic to such problems. I could not find my great, great grandfather James Hewitt for months. He was listed on his son Charles’s marriage certificate as being deceased in 1851. His name was in the Holy Trinity Parish register in Hull, East Yorkshire, in 1811 as Charles’ father. I could not find him anywhere until someone said have you looked in the criminal registers?

I soon found him, imprisoned for seven years for stealing a shirt in Northampton in 1833. Hewas sent to Van Dieman’s Land, now Tasmania, to do his time. Ile was killed in 1837 and never returned to England, his wife died in a mental institution in 1861 in Hull, and she never attended her son Charles’s wedding. There are many Hewitts in Tasmania today, I wonder how many are my relatives?
















The Norfolk Line Years Age
Roger de Leonne 1040
Paganus de Leonne 1080
Hugo de Leonibus 1113
Ernald Lyon 1150-1175 25
John de Leonibus sons Pagan (6) and Walter (7) 1175
Pagan Lyon (de Leonibus) married Ivette de Ferrers sons John (10) and Thomas (11) 1200-1242 42
Walter de Leonibus married Alicia sons Henry (8) and William (9) 1205-1266 61
Sir Henry de Leonibus – land in Sussex – no issue 1230
William de Leonibus 1235
Sir John de Leonne – married Margory de Ackle (Northampton) – sons John (13) and Adam (12) 1225-1316 91
Thomas Lyon 1230
Sir Adam de Lyons 1355
Sir John de Lyons – sons Adam (14), Richard (15) and John (16) died Warkworth 1250-1316 66
Sir Adam de Lyon born Norfolk – sons John (18) and Adam (19) 1285
Sir Richard Lyon born Norfolk – daughters Isabella, Cecilia, Christina and son Richard (17) 1287
Sir John Lyon born in Warkworth. Settled in Scotland. – see Northamptonshire line for John Lyon born 1314 in Scotland and sister Elizabeth 1324 born Warkworth 1289-1246 57
Richard Lyon in London – Sheriff of London 1374; a Vintner 1310-1381 71
Sir John Lyon – sons Richard (20), John (21) and Henry (22) 1320
Adam de Lyon 1325
Sir Richard Lyon born of Oxford, Cambridge and Huntington 1350
Sir John Lyon born Kingsland Suffolk and Norfolk 1353
Sir Henry Lyon born in Norfolk – later moved to in Ruislip (Middlesex) 1355
This line becomes the Middlesex Line through Sir Henry Lyon (22)



  The Northamptonshire or Warkworth Line Years Age
Nicholas de Lyons
John de Lyons arrived from Normandy 1080
John de Lyons son John (4) 1100
John de Lyons married Elizabeth de Warkworth 1170 son Richard (5) 1140
Richard de Lyons married Maud from Warkworth son Roger (6) 1174-1205 31
Roger de Lyons married Haeise son Roger (7) 1199-1250 51
Roger de Lyons married Joan de Napton sons Richard (8) and John (1247-1288) unknown 1225-1250 25
Richard de Lyons married Emma – son John (9) 1242
Sir John de Lyons was born 1268 married Margery de Oakley, he died 1312 – Sons Adam (1285), Richard (11), John (10) 1268-1312 44
Sir John de Lyons was born 1289/90 married Alice de St Liz, he died 1346 – Children John (14), Elizabeth (15) 1289-1349 57
Richard de Lyons was born 1289 married Elizabeth de Senlis (St Liz), died after 1349 – Children John (12), Elizabeth (13) 1289-1349 60
Sir John de Lyons was born 1320-1395 – no known issue – died in Northamptonshire and is buried there 1320-1385 65
Elizabeth Lyons 1330-1371 daughter of Richard (11) 1330-1371 41
Sir John Baron of Forteviot Forgundenny and Drumgawan was born 1314 in Scotland 1314
Elizabeth Lyons was born 1324 married Sir Nicholas Chetwode and Richard de Wydeville, sister of John (14), born in Warkworth. 1324


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