Clare, Elizabeth de (DNB00)
CLARE, ELIZABETH de (d. 1360), founder of Clare College, Cambridge, the third daughter of Gilbert de Clare, ninth earl of Clare [q. v.], and Princess Joan, the daughter of Edward I, was born at Acre while her father was on the crusade of 1271. Her father died suddenly on 8 Nov. 1295, and as she was her mother's third daughter she could not have been born much before or after 1291-2. She was married early in life to John de Burgh, the son of Richard de Burgh, second earl of Ulster and fourth earl of Connaught [q. v.], who, however, died in his father's lifetime (1313). In the next year her brother Gilbert [see Clare, Gilbert de, tenth Earl], fell at the battle of Bannockburn (1314). By this event the vast estates of the De Clares, the earldoms of Gloucester and Hertford, were divided between the three sisters, Eleanor, Margaret, and Elizabeth. The last-named received the estate of Clare, and hence became known as the lady of Clare ('Domina Claræ'). The hand of these heiresses was a prize to be aimed at by the most powerful men in the country, and one which the king, as their uncle and guardian, reserved for his favourites. Eleanor was married successively to Hugh de Spencer and Lord Zouch of Mortimer; Margaret to Piers Gaveston and Hugh, lord Audley, who assumed in her right the earldom of Gloucester. Elizabeth by her first husband had one son, William, who became third Earl of Ulster at his grandfather's death [see Burgh, William de, sixth earl of Connaught and third earl of Ulster, 1312-1332]. In 1315 Elizabeth de Clare (or de Burgh, for she called herself both) married, a second time, Theobald, lord Verdon, who however died in the following year. She then married, a third time, Robert (or Roger) Damory, baron of Armoy, by whom she had two daughters: Elizabeth, who married Lord Bardolph; and Eleanor, who married John de Raleigh. Her third husband Damory was attainted for taking part with Thomas, earl of Lancaster in 1321, and was pardoned, but died the same year; and from that time she enjoyed in her own right a large portion of the property of the earldom of Gloucester. She appears to have maintained a high character for piety and love of learning. Among her other acts of beneficence was that which is perpetuated in the name of a college in Cambridge. University Hall had been founded in 1326 for the maintenance of fifteen scholars, but in 1336 its revenues were found to be insufficient, and Lady de Clare obtained various grants of ecclesiastical preferments for it, and otherwise helped it so liberally that by 1346 it began to be called Clare Hall; and in 1359 Lady de Clare gave it formally as its founder a body of statutes, which are dated from her residence at Bardfield in Essex. At her death, which occurred on 4 Nov. 1360, her heiress was her granddaughter Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of her son William de Burgh. In her will, in which she calls herself Elizabeth de Burgh, lady of Clare, she left considerable legacies in money, plate, and books to the college which she had founded, as well as to other religious establishments in and near Cambridge and other parts of the eastern counties. She was buried at Ware, Hertfordshire, by the side of her third husband.
[Cooper's Memorials of Cambridge, vol. i.; Leland's Collectanea, pp. 356, 462-3, 474, 555; Nichols's Royal Wills, pp. 21-43; Mullinger's Hist. Univ. of Camb.]