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Alan la Zouche (or de la, also Zouch) Baron Zouche (d. 1270) was an Anglo-Norman nobleman and soldier.


The surname "de la Zouch, de la Zouche" may derive from de la ouche, i.e. ouche: nf (feminine noun) – 1: vieilli (aged); jardin potager ou planté d'arbres fruitiers, près de la maison (potager/kitchen garden or orchard near the house); 2: terrain fertile (fertile land).[1]

He was the son of Roger de la Zouche and the grandson of Alan de la Zouche. This elder Alan, the first of the family to be established in England, was a younger son of ‘Galfridus vicecomes,’ that is, in all probability of Geoffrey, viscount of Porhoet in Brittany (d. 1141); his elder brother, Eudes de Porhoet, was for a few years count of Brittany, but with a disputed title, and his uncle, also named Alan, was founder of the viscounty of Rohan. Under Henry II Alan de Porhoet, or de la Zouch, established himself in England, and married Adeliza or Alice de Belmeis, sole heiress of the house of Belmeis [cf. Belmeis, Richard de], her inheritance including Tong Castle in Shropshire, Ashby (afterwards called Ashby-de-la-Zouch) in Leicestershire, North Molton in Devonshire, and other lands in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere. As her husband, Alan de la Zouch became an important personage at Henry II's court. Their sons, William de la Zouch (d. 1199) and Roger de la Zouch (d. 1238?), succeeded in turn to these estates. Roger's Breton connection was almost fatal to him in 1204, but he managed to regain John's favour, and devoted himself to that king to the last. In the first year of Henry III's reign he was rewarded by receiving grants of the forfeited estates of his kinsmen, the viscounts of Rohan. He died before 3 November 1238.
Early service

On 15 June 1242 Alan was summoned to attend the king Henry III with horses and arms in Gascony. He was at La Sauve in October, at Bordeaux in March and April 1243, and at La Réole in November. Before 6 August 1250 Zouch was appointed justice of Chester and of the four cantreds in North Wales. Matthew Paris says that he got this office by outbidding his predecessor, John de Grey. He offered to pay a ferm of twelve hundred marks instead of five hundred. Zouch boasted that Wales was nearly all reduced to obedience to the English laws, but his high-handed acts provoked royal interference and censure. He continued in office as the Lord Edward's deputy after the king's grant of Chester and Wales to his eldest son.
In Ireland

Ireland had been among the lands which Edward had received from Henry III in 1254. In the spring of 1256 Zouch was sent to there on the service of the Lord Edward, and soon afterwards he was appointed justiciar of Ireland under Edward, his first official mandate being dated 27 June 1256. [2] In 1257 he was still in Ireland. On 28 June 1258 he received a mandate from the king, now under the control of the barons, not to admit any justice or other officer appointed by Edward to Ireland unless the appointment had the consent of the king and the barons. However, he ceased to hold office soon after this, Stephen Longespee being found acting as justiciar in October 1258.

During the barons' wars Zouch adhered to the king. He was on 9 July 1261 appointed sheriff of Northamptonshire, receiving in October a letter from the king urging him to keep his office despite any baronial interlopers. He remained sheriff until 1264, and sometimes ignored the provisions of Magna Carta by acting as justice itinerant in his own shire and also in Buckinghamshire and Hampshire. In 1261 he was also made justice of the forests south of Trent, and in 1263 king's seneschal. In April 1262 he held forest pleas at Worcester.

On 12 December 1263 he was one of the royalist barons who agreed to submit all points of dispute to the arbitration of Louis IX. According to some accounts he was taken prisoner early in the battle of Lewes by John Giffard. He escaped almost immediately and took refuge in Lewes Priory, where he is said to have been found after the fight disguised as a monk.

In the summer of 1266 he was one of the committee of twelve arbitrators appointed to arrange the terms of the surrender of Kenilworth Castle. On 23 June 1267, after the peace between Henry III and Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester, he was appointed warden of London and constable of the Tower. He continued in office until Michaelmas, whereupon his tenure was prolonged until Easter 1268.

In 1270 Zouch had a suit against Earl Warenne with regard to a certain estate. On 19 June the trial was proceeding before the justices in banco at Westminster Hall, and Zouch seemed likely to win the case. He was murderously attacked by Earl Warenne and his followers. Roger, his son, was wounded and driven from the hall; Alan himself was seriously injured and left on the spot. He was still surviving when, on 4 August, Warenne made his peace with the crown and agreed to pay a substantial compensation to the injured Zouches. He died on 10 August, and on 20 October his son Roger received seisin of his estate.

Zouch was a benefactor of the Knights Templars, to whom he gave lands at Sibford, and to the Belmeis family foundation of Buildwas Abbey, after having carried on protracted lawsuits with that house.


 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1900). "Zouche, Alan la". Dictionary of National Biography 63. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Notes of the french word "ouche"

O'Mahony, Charles (1912). The Viceroys of Ireland. p. 22.


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Zouche, Alan la". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

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