The Marisco Years

Lundy Under Norman Rule

The documented history of Lundy began with the de Marisco family whose exploits were to set the tone of Island life for the next 700 years.

The first mention of Norman ownership was by the de Newmarch family in around 1100. 

It seems the de Newmarchs leased the Island to the de Mariscos sometime around 1150 which is when the fun began.  In 1155 Henry II acceded the throne and commanded that the title to Lundy be given to the Knights Templar.

The de Mariscos refused to surrender the Island, using it as a base for piratical raids on passing shipping and the North Devon coast, and allying themselves with the French and Scots against the crown.

In 1238 the then family head, William de Marisco, was implicated in a plot against Henry III. In 1242 the king ordered a raid on the Island and William, along with 16 accomplices, was captured.  They were taken to London where William was found guilty of treason and hung, drawn and quartered.

In order to secure Lundy against future misuse Henry III had the castle constructed.  This was completed by May 1244 and garrisoned by a Constable, 40 sergeants and 4 mariners.  At the time it wasn’t known as the Marisco Castle but the family had one more appearance to make.

A later William de Marisco persuaded Edward I in 1281 that he had the rightful title to the Island and that the rebellious behaviour of his father’s cousin had nothing to with him.  A couple of Mariscos later, Olivia (the wife of this William’s son John) had possession of Lundy until her death in 1321 and that was finally the end of the family’s residence.

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