Virney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Virney reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Virney family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Virney family lived in "Vernai, near Bayeux, Normandy. Walter de Vernai occurs in Cambridgeshire in 1158, and Richard de Vernai in Staffordshire in the time of Richard I. The Lords Willoughby de Broke descend from William de Vernai, living 1119-1148. They were first seated at Bromshulfe in Staffordshire, and in the beginning of the fourteenth century at Madeley in Herefordshire, but as early as the reign of Henry VL we find them settled in their present home in Warwickshire." [1]

Early Origins of the Virney family

The surname Virney was first found in Warwickshire where in 1442 Richard de Vernay built a stately manor house at Compton-Murdack, which as Compton-Vernay, still continues to be the family seat. His grandson, another Richard, was "in such esteem with Henry VIII., that, being informed of some infirmity in his head, he granted him a special license, dated Greenwich, January 15th, 1517, to wear his bonnet at all times and in all places, as well in the King's presence as elsewhere, according to his own pleasure, without the interruption of any man whatsoever." [1]

Apparently, Richard Verney (d.1489) with the assistance of his younger brother John Verney, Dean of Lichfield, formerly Rector of Bredon in Worcestershire, and supervisor and receiver-general to Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick (1382-1439) acquired Compton Murdack (Murdak). The Verney family had begun acquiring lands in the area surrounding Compton Murdak in the 1430s before purchasing the estate. In about 1500 the manor was renamed Compton Verney as was built c. 1442.

Wenzel Hollar (1607-1677) completed a full sketch of the stained glass windows in the manor house depicting various arms of the family and kings at the time.

"Richard Verney Esquire (afterward knight) possest it and built a great part of the house as it now standeth, wherein besides his own armes with matches, he then set up towards the upper end of the hall the armes of King Henry the Sixth, Queen Margaret, Humfrey Earl of Stafford (afterwards created Duke of Buck(ingham)), Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, and the Lord Zouch, with some others, by which it appeareth that he was one of those that adhered to the House of Lancaster".

The Earls Verney descended from Sir Ralph Verney, whose son John married a Hertfordshire heiress, the daughter of Sir Robert Whittington of Penley, Sheriff of London in 1419. They were afterwards seated at Middle Claydon, Bucks (bought by Sir Ralph in 1458), and "either he, or his son Sir John, built a capital mansion there in the reign of Henry VII., which has ever since been the chief seat of the family, but having undergone many alterations, retains no vestige of its ancient form. The more modern part was fitted up in a very magnificent manner, and furnished, with great expense, by the late Earl Verney." [1]

Early History of the Virney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Virney research. Another 136 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1419, 1465, 1642, 1703 and 1791 are included under the topic Early Virney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Virney Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Varney, Verney and others.

Early Notables of the Virney family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Edmund Verney, standard bearer to King Charles I., who fell at the battle of Edgehill in 1642. He was the father of Sir Ralph, the first Baronet, and the grandfather of Sir John, created in 1703 Baron Verney of Belturbet and Viscount of Fermanagh in Ireland. An Earldom followed...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Virney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Virney family to Ireland

Some of the Virney family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Virney family

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Virney name or one of its variants: E. Varney settled in Belfast, Maine, in 1822; H.J. Varney arrived in San Francisco in 1852.



  1. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3


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