ONffroy de Verez, An Historical Account


Return from Outremer

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Jamaica, England, Constantinople, Turkey, Peru, New Orleans

1490 - 1660
Return to France from Outremer

In 1490, Marin Onfroy made the arduous journey from Outremer back to France. Outremer was the name given to the region ringing the eastern Mediterranean Sea which was home to the holiest of Christian sites including Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Antioch.

Battle of Hattin300 years before, his ancestors had joined the hundreds of thousands of kings, princes, knights, foot soldiers and commoners from throughout Europe who had “taken the cross”, swearing a binding oath to make the journey to Outremer to recapture and defend the Christian holy places from Islam in the epic struggle that came to be called the Crusades.

Marin Onfroy returned to France from Philadelphia d’Asie, a fortified crusader outpost located in eastern Turkey near the modern city of Usak. Before re-entering France, Marin Onfroy traveled to Spain as part of a military expedition. While in Spain, he made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelle in northwestern Spain. It was believed that Saint James, the brother of Jesus, had preached there and that holy relics venerated there were his bones. In making the long detour to Santiago de Compostelle on his way to France, Marin Onfroy was following in the tradition of his fore-bearers. For hundreds of years, European Christians had made their pilgrimages to the holy places such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Mount Gargano in Italy and Santiago de Compostelle in Spain. It was believed that a Christian who made a pilgrimage with a truly devout heart would be absolved of all his sins committed on earth.

Marin Onfroy appleFrom Spain, Marin Onfroy returned to the province of Véret in Lower Normandy establishing a homestead at the Chateau de Saint Laurent de Mer. His family would live there for centuries eventually taking the surname de Véret, later de Vérez. Marin Onfroy is remembered in the lore of the people of Normandy for discovering a new and delightful strain of cider apple while passing through Biscaye, the Basque country of northern Spain. He brought this cider apple back with him to France and cultivated it. where it was widely adopted and grown in the region and the apple was named the Marin Onfroy apple. Marin Onfroy and the discovery of the apple were celebrated in poetry as part of the rich cultural heritage of Normandy and the apple is used to this day to produce fine ciders and Calvados brandies in the Normandy and Bretagne and regions of France.

Chart Recognitionnaire from Francois I

In 1542, Marin Onffroy petitioned the king, King Francois I, for a declaration that his family was of the French nobility. In 1543, at the Chateau de Fontainebleau, Francois I issued a charte recognitionnaire which consisted of ten carefully inscribed pages, a copy of which still exists in the archives of the Onffroy family. The chart not only affirmed the family’s nobility but also their their descendence from the powerful Hauteville dynasty who had conquered and subsequently ruled southern Italy and Sicily. Marin Onfroy became Marquis de Vérez in the province of Bayeux and lord of Saint Laurent sur Mer, de Véret, d’Aubigny, d’Agnersville, de la Pyramiére, des Varennes, and de la Roziére,

Charte RecognitionnaireMarin Onfroy had a son, also named Marin. This second Marin, in turn, had one daughter, Marie and three sons, Jean, Pierre and Marcel. These three sons split the familial lands. Jean Onffroy took Le Grand Véret, Pierre Onffroy Le Viel Véret, and Marcel Onffroy the land and mill of Saint Laurent. In 1599, the Onffroy family was again affirmed as noble. The descendants of Marcel Onffroy later left Véret to travel afar and joined the surname, de Vérez, pronounced the same as Véret, to their last name.

During World War II, the beaches of Saint Laurent sur Mer and Véret became forever known when on June 5th and 6th, 1944, the allied forces under Dwight D. Eisenhower came ashore here at code-named Omaha Beach. In an interesting confluence of time and space, Paul D. Onffroy de Vérez was a young military intelligence officer under Eisenhower and came ashore a few days after the assault to comb the wreckage of the German fortifications for useful maps, books, records or other military artifacts left by the Germans. He did not know he was treading the ground of his ancestors.

Several generations of Onffroys were born, lived and died in Véret. Jean (or Jehan) Onffroy was married to Jeanne Herbelyne and died in 1579. His son, Charles Onffroy was married to Christine Le Poutrel on May 15, 1589. In the next generation, Francois Onffroy was married to Perrette Blondel in 1627. The son of Francois, also named Francois, was married to Jeanne Hebert on May 1, 1611. He was again confirmed noble in 1666.

Francois’s sons,Nicholas and Jehan Onffroy, joined the court of Louis XIV as membesr of the Regiment de Maison. In 1661, they opened a new chapter for the Onffroy family when they set sail for Hispaniola in the West Indies.