20 January, 2015

Gilbert de Clare, Lord of Thomond

A fairly short post about a man who has often been confused with his first cousin of the same name, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester. The Gilbert de Clare in question was ten years older than his cousin the earl, and was lord of Thomond in Ireland. It was this Gilbert, of Thomond, who was in the future Edward II's household before his accession and who, with Piers Gaveston, was removed by the king when Edward quarrelled with his father in 1305. Edward sent pleading letters to his stepmother Marguerite and sister Elizabeth, asking them to intervene with his father so that he could have Piers and Gilbert back. (Melodramatically, Edward wrote "If we had those two, along with the others whom we have, we would be much unburdened from the anguish we have endured, and still suffer from one day to the next.") Gilbert de Clare the future earl of Gloucester did not live in his uncle Edward of Caernarfon's household, but in that of his step-grandmother Queen Marguerite.

To clarify, there were three Gilbert de Clares in this period:

- Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (1243-1295), involved in the barons' wars of the 1260s when he was a very young man, married firstly to Henry III's niece Alice de Lusignan and secondly to Edward I's daughter Joan of Acre. He was thus Edward of Caernarfon's brother-in-law, though forty years his senior.

- Gilbert the Red's only son and heir Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (c. 10 May 1291-24 June 1314), eldest grandchild of Edward I, nephew of Edward II though only seven years his junior, killed at the battle of Bannockburn, married to the earl of Ulster's daughter Maud de Burgh.

- Gilbert the Red's nephew Gilbert de Clare, lord of Thomond, the man under discussion here (1281-1307), elder son and heir of Gilbert the Red's younger brother Thomas de Clare, lord of Thomond (c. 1245-1287), married as her first husband Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister Isabel, later Lady Hastings. This Gilbert's father Thomas de Clare is probably best known for helping the future Edward I escape from the custody of his uncle Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, in 1265.

Gilbert de Clare, lord of Thomond, was born in Limerick, Ireland on 3 February 1281; he proved that he had come of age, twenty-one, in 1302 (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1300-1307, pp. 54-55, see here). Gilbert was the elder son of Thomas de Clare and the Irish noblewoman Juliana Fitzmaurice. At an uncertain date, perhaps in 1306 when Gilbert's first cousin Eleanor de Clare (eldest daughter of his uncle Earl Gilbert 'the Red') married Hugh Despenser the Younger, Gilbert married Hugh's sister Isabel. Edward I "of his special grace" allowed Gilbert custody of his lands in Ireland on 18 September 1299, even though he was well underage at the time, only eighteen. (Calendar of Close Rolls 1296-1302, pp. 272, 366; Ibid. 1302-1307, p. 17; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1272-1307, p. 427.) In October 1306, Gilbert was, with Piers Gaveston, Sir Giles Argentein and the nineteen-year Roger Mortimer, future earl of March, one of twenty-two young knights whose lands were temporarily seized by Edward I as they had gone jousting overseas without his permission. (Fine Rolls 1272-1307, pp. 543-544; Close Rolls 1302-1307, pp. 481-482.)

As a close friend of Edward of Caernarfon and Piers Gaveston, Gilbert of Thomond was surely delighted when Edward succeeded his father as king in July 1307. Sadly, he did not live long enough to enjoy it. He died at the age of twenty-six shortly before 16 November 1307, only four months into Edward II's reign, when the escheators in Ireland and southern England were ordered to "take into the king's hands the lands late of Gilbert son of Thomas de Clare, deceased, tenant in chief." (Fine Rolls 1307-1319, pp. 8, 10.) His heir was his younger brother Richard, who in Gilbert's Inq. Post Mortem at the beginning of 1308 was said to be either twenty-two or twenty-four years old, placing his date of birth somewhere between 1283 and 1285. (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-1327, p. 13;, p. 13.) Their father Thomas died on 29 August 1287 when his children were still all very young. Richard de Clare was killed in Ireland in June 1318, leaving his infant son Thomas as his heir; young Thomas died still a child in 1321, so that Gilbert of Thomond's ultimate heirs were his sisters Maud, Lady Clifford and Margaret, Lady Badlesmere. His first cousin Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, also died childless, and his heirs were also his sisters: Eleanor Despenser, Margaret Gaveston Audley and Elizabeth de Burgh.


Christy K Robinson said...

Good article, and clearly unraveled. The de Clares, in both Hertford and Gloucester lines (which were eventually reunited), were rife with Richards and Gilberts, as were the de Bohuns of Hereford with Humphrey after Humphrey. And then to complicate genealogy studies further, some chucklehead amateur genealogists have confused Hereford and Hertford.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post ... looks like the de Clares and the de Bohuns shared the same lack of imagination concerning names that afflicted the Despensers (or is it de Spensers?)


Anerje said...

Do you know what killed this Gilbert de Clare? At least he lived to see Edward crowned.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Christy and Esther!

Anerje, no, unfortunately. I do wonder what would kill a man of 26!

Gabriele Campbell said...

Well, in that time something as 'harmless' as an appendicitis could kill a healthy young man.

Even as late as WW2, lung inflammation could kill a boy (my uncle died of it at the age of 11) since what there was in the way of penicilline went mostly to the army.