Open main menu

Baliol, John de (d.1269) (DNB00)

BALIOL, JOHN de (d. 1269), of Barnard Castle, founder of Balliol College, Oxford, was the son of Hugh, the grandson of Eustace, and the great-grandson of Bernard de Baliol the younger [q. v.]. He married Devorguila, one of the daughters of Alan of Galloway, constable of Scotland, by Margaret, eldest daughter of David, earl of Huntington, brother of William the Lion. In his own right and that of his wife, coheiress of two great inheritances, Baliol was one of the wealthiest barons of his time, possessing, it is said, as many as thirty knights' fees in England, besides one-half of the lands of Galloway; though his possession of the latter must have been precarious during the reign of Alexander II, who favoured the claim of Roger de Quincey, husband of Helen, the elder daughter of Alan of Galloway, to the whole, while the Galwegians supported Alan's natural son, Thomas de Galloway. According to the Chronicle of Lanercost, Thomas de Galloway, being taken prisoner in 1235, was committed to the custody of Baliol, who kept him in the dungeons of Barnard Castle, where he remained until, in extreme old age, he was released at the instance of Edward I.

Baliol was one of the regents of Scotland during the minority of Alexander III, but was deprived of that office and his lands forfeited for treason in 1255, when a new regency was appointed through the influence of Henry III. Making terms with that monarch, Baliol escaped the consequences of his forfeiture, and sided with Henry in the barons' war (1258-65). He was taken prisoner at Lewes, but, having been released, did all that was in his power to support the royal cause, along with the barons of the north, against Simon de Montfort. About the year 1263 he gave the first lands for the endowment of the college at Oxford, which received his name, and this endowment was largely increased by his will, and after his death by his widow, Devorguila. He died in 1269, leaving three sons, Hugh, Alexander, and John, who succeeded to the family estates by the death of his elder brothers, without issue, and afterwards became king of Scotland. Devorguila survived her husband, dying 28 Jan. 1290. There is a writ in the 'Memorial Rolls of Edward I,' dated 1 June 1290, ordering the customary inquisition after her death.

[Historical Documents, Scotland, 1286-1408, arranged by Rev. J. Stevenson, i. 155; Acts Parl. Scotland, vol. i.; Fordun; Chronicle of Lanercost. The work of Henry Savage, master of Baliol College, entitled Balio-Fergus, Oxford, 1664, is untrustworthy as to the Baliol genealogy, but gives some interesting particulars as to the endowments of the college by the Baliols, and its first statutes made by Devorguila.]

Æ. M.