31 January, 2020

The Fourteenth-Century Mowbrays

A (long!) post about the influential English noble family who became dukes of Norfolk at the end of the fourteenth century.

Roger, first Lord Mowbray, was probably born not too long before 7 November 1257 (as Edward I took his homage and allowed him to enter his late father Roger's lands on 7 November 1278), and died shortly before 21 November 1297. [1] He had made an excellent marriage to Rohese de Clare, one of the daughters of Richard de Clare (1222-62), earl of Gloucester and Hertford, and Maud de Lacy (1223-89), daughter of Margaret de Quincy (d. 1266), countess of Lincoln. Rohese's siblings included Edward I's son-in-law Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare (1243-95), earl of Gloucester and Hertford, Margaret (d. 1312), countess of Cornwall, and Isabel, who married the Italian marquis of Montferrat. Roger Mowbray and Rohese de Clare's marriage was arranged in July 1270 by their mothers, Maud, dowager countess of Gloucester, and Maud, Lady Mowbray and Lestrange. Rohese's brother Earl Gilbert 'the Red' was one of the witnesses to the bond. [2]

Roger and Rohese's son and heir was John Mowbray. When Roger's inquisition post mortem was held in January 1298, John was said to be "aged 11 on the day of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist, 25 Edward I"; "aged 12 and more at the feast of the Assumption, 25 Edward I"; "aged 13 at the feast of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist, 25 Edward I"; "aged 11 at the feast of St. Cuthbert last"; "aged 12 and more." [3] These give possible dates of birth of 29 August 1284, 15 August 1285, 20 March 1286, or 29 August 1286. John Mowbray was "not yet of full age" on 1 June 1306 when Edward I allowed him full seisin of his father's lands, "for the good service he will do for the king in the present army of Scotland." [4] Therefore John didn't have to prove his age when he turned twenty-one, and we don't know his exact date of birth. From the grant by Edward I, we know he was certainly born after 1 June 1285, and he was probably born sometime in the second half of August 1285 or in the second half of August 1286, perhaps on the Beheading of St John the Baptist (29 August) as stated in some of his father's inquisitions, which might his explain his being given the name John. John Mowbray was one of the hundreds of men knighted with Edward of Caernarfon, prince of Wales, duke of Aquitaine, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu, at Westminster on 22 May 1306, and was just a year or two younger than Edward.

On 29 November 1298 a year after the death of John's father Roger, Edward I made a "[g]rant to William de Brewosa, staying with the king in Flanders, of the marriage of John son and heir of Roger de Moubray, tenant in chief, so that he cause the said John to be married to Alina his daughter. Mandate to Roesia, late the wife of the said Roger, to deliver the said John to be married." [5] William de Brewosa's name is usually spelt 'Braose' nowadays, and he was lord of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales and of Bramber in Sussex. William's heirs were his two daughters, Alina or Aline, and Joan, who married Sir James de Bohun of Midhurst.

This statement by Edward I implies that John Mowbray and Aline de Braose married fairly soon after 29 November 1298, and the Complete Peerage says they married in Swansea in 1298. [6] John was then twelve or thirteen, and I have no idea how old Aline was. Her sister Joan was old enough to give birth in 1300, and was most probably older than Aline. John Mowbray and Aline had a son and heir, John the younger, born in Hovingham, Yorkshire on 29 November 1310. John the father was ill at the time and because of the worry over her husband's condition, Aline gave birth a few days prematurely, according to her son's proof of age taken in August 1329 (like his father, he was allowed to come into his lands before he turned twenty-one). Edward II's cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster paid a messenger twenty shillings for bringing him the news of the birth, and as it happened, John Mowbray the son later married Thomas's niece Joan of Lancaster. [7]

John Mowbray the father joined the Contrariant rebellion against Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger - who was married to John's first cousin Eleanor de Clare - and was executed in York on 23 March 1322, alongside Roger, Lord Clifford. He was about thirty-five at the time. Cruelly, Edward II imprisoned John's widow Aline and their son John in the Tower of London, even though young John was only eleven when his father was executed. During his despotic period as the king's untouchable favourite in the 1320s, Hugh Despenser the Younger took the Gower Peninsula from Aline's father William de Braose, and after Hugh's downfall Aline made her feelings about him perfectly clear, calling him "the evil traitor" (le malveis tretre). [8]

A petition from Aline, c. 1327, referring to 'le malveis tretre Hugh le Despencier le fyz'

Young John Mowbray besieged the castle of Tickhill in early 1326, still only fifteen years old, with Robert Clifford, the twenty-year-old brother and heir of the executed Roger, Lord Clifford. John's maternal grandfather William de Braose died shortly before 1 May 1326, and his heirs were his daughter Aline and her nephew John de Bohun (b. 1300), son of her late sister Joan (d. 1316). William's much younger widow Isabel, Aline's stepmother, was given permission to marry the Gascon Simon de Montbreton, a close ally of Edward II and the Despensers, on 13 May 1326. [9] Aline herself married a second husband, Sir Richard Peshale, and died shortly before 20 July 1331. [10]

John Mowbray's marriage was granted to Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, on 28 February 1327 the month after Edward II's forced abdication, and he married Joan, fourth of Henry's six daughters, before 4 June 1328. [11] Joan was probably born around 1313/15. Their only son, inevitably also named John, was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire around Midsummer 1340. [12] They also had two daughters, probably older than John: Eleanor, Lady Warr and Blanche, Lady Poynings. Their father arranged his daughters' future marriages in 1342/43. [13] Although Joan of Lancaster was not an heiress as she had a brother, and hence brought the Mowbrays no lands, the Lancaster connection meant that the Mowbrays were closely related to a lot of important people: the Arundels, the Percys, the de Burghs, the Uffords, etc. John Mowbray (b. 1340) was a nephew of Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster, and a first cousin of Blanche, duchess of Lancaster (1342-68), Edward III's daughter-in-law and Henry IV's mother.

Joan of Lancaster, Lady Mowbray, died on 7 July 1349 when her son was nine. Her widower John Mowbray (b. November 1310) married his second wife Elizabeth, daughter of John de Vere (b. c. 1312), earl of Oxford, and widow of the earl of Devon's son Sir Hugh Courtenay, in or before March 1351. Elizabeth was pregnant in May 1351, though she and John Mowbray did not have any surviving children that I know of. [14] Mowbray was slightly older than his new father-in-law, and he and the earl of Oxford really did not get along well; in 1353 Mowbray's brother-in-law from his first marriage, the duke of Lancaster, had to mediate between them and managed to settle their dispute. Rather startlingly, John Mowbray was claiming that he did not need to provide any food, drink or clothing for Elizabeth and her attendants or even for any children the couple might have. Her father Oxford, not surprisingly, objected to this strenuously. [15]

John Mowbray the son (b. June 1340) received a papal dispensation to marry Elizabeth Segrave on 25 March 1349, a few months before his mother Joan of Lancaster died. John's uncle Henry, earl and later first duke of Lancaster, requested the dispensation "to make peace between the lords John de Mowbray and John de Segrave and their successors, between whom, they being near neighbours, quarrels and scandals may arise." The couple were married by 10 August 1349, although John was still only nine years old. [16] Elizabeth was born in Croxton Abbey, Leicestershire on 25 October 1338 so was twenty months her husband's senior, and was the sole heir of her father John, Lord Segrave (1315-53). [17] She was also a co-heir, with her much younger half-sister Anne Manny (1354-84), to their mother Margaret, countess of Norfolk (c. 1322-99), Edward I's granddaughter, though ultimately Margaret outlived both her daughters and Anne's only child John Hastings, earl of Pembroke (1372-89), leaving her Mowbray/Segrave descendants as her sole heirs. Elizabeth Segrave was born just a few weeks after the death of her maternal grandfather Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk, the elder of Edward II's half-brothers.

John Mowbray the father (b. November 1310) died on 4 October 1361, aged fifty, leaving his son John, who had turned twenty-one around Midsummer that year, as his heir. Mowbray's widow Elizabeth de Vere (d. 1375) and her third husband Sir William Cosynton later surrendered themselves to debtors' prison in London after Elizabeth's stepson John (b. 1340) sued them for wasting his estates given to her in dower. [18] John Mowbray the son and Elizabeth Segrave had a daughter and two sons: Eleanor, born on or just before 25 March 1364; John, born either on 1 June or 1 August 1365; and Thomas, probably born on or about 22 March 1367. [19] Thomas's IPM says he was thirty-three years and twenty-six weeks old when he died on 22 September 1399, which would place his date of birth around 22 March 1366. If his brother John was born in August 1365, this is impossible, and even if John was born on 1 June 1365 it is unlikely (albeit perhaps not impossible), given that women were "off limits" to their husbands until their purification forty days after childbirth, that Thomas was born only nine months and some weeks after his brother. To add to the confusion, two sets of jurors at their father's IPM stated that John was born in 1364, either at Whitsun or the feast of St Peter in Chains, but this is also impossible as his older sister Eleanor was born in March 1364. I imagine Thomas Mowbray was probably born in March 1367, not March 1366.

John Mowbray (b. 1340) left England shortly after 10 October 1367, and was "slain by Saracens" on his way to the Holy Land sometime between 17 June and 9 October 1368, aged only twenty-eight, leaving his three small children. As he died "in parts beyond seas", the jurors at his inquisition post mortem gave wildly varying dates for his death, and added disclaimers that they only 'thought' or 'understood' that he died on such and such a date "according to reports which came to England." [20] I can't find a date of death for his wife Elizabeth Segrave, Lady Mowbray, but she must have died before John, as his IPM records that he held several manors "by the courtesy of England of the inheritance of Elizabeth his wife, daughter and heir of John de Segrave," and that can only have been the case if she was dead. Perhaps she died after giving birth to Thomas. On 18 April 1372, John and Elizabeth's orphaned sons John and Thomas Mowbray were put in the care of their great-aunt Blanche of Lancaster, Lady Wake (d. 1380), Joan of Lancaster's eldest sister. [21] Elizabeth Segrave Mowbray's mother Margaret, countess and later duchess of Norfolk, outlived her by many years, but then, Margaret outlived just about everyone.

John Mowbray, born in 1365 and the heir of the Mowbrays, was made earl of Nottingham at Richard II's coronation in July 1377, but died on 8 or 10 February 1383 at the age of seventeen, unmarried. The jurors at his IPM estimated his brother and heir Thomas's death as anywhere between fifteen and nineteen, this latter age obviously being impossible as that would have made him older than John. [22] A few days later on 20 February 1383, Richard II promised to give Thomas Mowbray all his possessions in the king's hands if he married the heiress Elizabeth Lestrange of Blackmere, born c. 6 December 1373. Elizabeth, however, died on 23 August 1383, and Thomas married the earl of Arundel's daughter, also Elizabeth, widow of the earl of Salisbury's son William Montacute (d. August 1382). Richard II pardoned Thomas Mowbray a few years later for marrying without royal licence, and made him first duke of Norfolk in September 1397. [23] Thomas Mowbray is well-known to anyone who's read Shakespeare's play about Richard II as Henry of Lancaster's adversary in 1398, and the king exiled him from England for life in October that year.

When Margaret, formerly countess and now duchess of Norfolk in her own right, finally died on 24 March 1399, her rightful heir was her grandson Thomas Mowbray, who had also inherited the Segrave lands of his grandfather, Margaret's long-dead first husband John Segrave. Thomas Mowbray only outlived his grandmother by six months and died in exile in Venice on 22 September 1399, probably aged thirty-two (or thirty-three, according to his IPM). His heir was his and Elizabeth Arundel's elder son Thomas Mowbray, born 17 September 1385, who was executed by his uncle-in-law Henry IV in June 1405 leaving no children. [24] The Mowbray heir therefore was Thomas's (b. March 1366/67) younger son John, born in Calais on 3 August 1390, who married Katherine, daughter of Ralph Neville and Joan Beaufort, earl and countess of Westmorland. Thomas Mowbray, earl of Nottingham, was keeper of the port of Calais, and had gone back to England at the time of his second son's birth; evidently Elizabeth was too pregnant to be able to accompany him. She sent a servant named John Kendale over the Channel to inform Thomas of their son's birth and to ask what he wished the boy to be named, and John Mowbray's baptism took place six days after he was born, after Kendale returned to Calais with Thomas's instructions. Robert Gousell, one of Earl Thomas's squires, "carried a sword erect to the [Mowbrays'] house" after the baptism. [25] Probably in 1401, Robert married Thomas's widow Elizabeth, dowager duchess of Norfolk and countess of Nottingham, sister of the earl of Arundel, and was the father of two of her daughters. 


1) Calendar of Close Rolls 1288-96, p. 22; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1272-1307, p. 392; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1291-1300, no. 472.
2) Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, C.6087.
3) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 472.
4) CCR 1302-07, pp. 390, 422.
5) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1292-1301, p. 323.
6) Complete Peerage, vol. 9, p. 379.
7) CIPM 1327-36, no. 250.
8) The National Archives SC 8/173/8631.
9) CPR 1324-27, p. 267; CIPM 1317-27, no. 53 (Joan), no. 433 (John de Bohun), no. 701 (William de Braose).
10) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 267.
11) CPR 1327-30, p. 26; Kenneth Fowler, The King's Lieutenant: Henry of Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster 1310-1361 (1969), p. 256 note 16.
12) CIPM 1361-65, no. 144.
13) The National Archives BCM /D/1/1/9 and 10.
14) Calendar of Papal Letters 1342-62, pp. 375, 385.
15) TNA BCM/D/1/1/5.
16) CPL 1342-62, p. 305; Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 151; CPR 1348-50, p. 373; CCR 1349-54, p. 51; TNA BCM/D/1/1/13 and 14.
17) CIPM 1352-60, nos. 116, 121.
18) CIPM 1361-65, no. 144; CPR 1367-70, p. 244.
19) CPR 1367-70, p. 237 (Eleanor); CIPM 1365-69, no. 397 (John); CIPM 1399-1405, no. 268 (Thomas).
20) CPR 1367-70, pp. 22, 158; Complete Peerage, vol. 9, p. 384; CIPM 1365-69, no. 397.
21) CCR 1369-74, p. 370.
22) CIPM 1377-84, nos. 819-29.
23) CPR 1381-85, pp. 229, 236; CPR 1389-92, p. 16; CIPM 1374-77, no. 105; CIPM 1377-84, nos. 1022-27; Calendar of Charter Rolls 1341-1417, p. 369.
24) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 264, 268.
25) CIPM 1405-13, no. 336.

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