Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Berkeley, Family of
BERKELEY, Family of. The first tenant of Berkeley after the conquest was Roger, who in 1086 held lands in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire (Domesday, i. 73, 162, 168; Monasticon, i. 549). He bequeathed his lands to his nephew William (Pipe Roll 31 Hen. I, p. 133), founder of the abbey of Kingswood (Monast. v. 425). By this time probably a Norman castle had been built at Berkeley; for Henry spent Easter there in 1121 (Anglo-Saxon Chron.) and Roger, the son and successor of William, having fallen into the hands of Walter, the brother of Miles, earl of Hereford, in the time of the anarchy, was cruelly tortured to make him give up his castle (Gesta Stephani). His son Roger lost some of his lands, and in 12 Hen. II part of Berkeley was held by Robert FitzHarding. As at that date Roger held certain fees of the honour of Berkeley, for which he did no service to Robert, it may be supposed that he had forfeited some part of his estate by opposition to Henry FitzEmpress; that of these forfeited lands part had been granted by the crown to Robert FitzHarding; and that the honour, with the castle of Berkeley, was perhaps still in the king's hand (Liber Niger Scacc. i. 165, 171). An alliance was made between the rival families; for Roger married his daughter Alicia to Maurice, the eldest son of Robert FitzHarding, giving Slimbridge as her marriage portion. In spite of these losses, Roger of Berkeley, as he was still called, retained large estates, and his house was represented in the elder line by the Berkeleys of Dursley (Testa de Nevill, 77), extinct in 1382, and in the younger by the Berkeleys of Cubberley, extinct in 1404 (Fosbroke, Smyth).
The house of Robert FitzHarding, which has held the castle of Berkeley for seven hundred years, descends in the male line from Eadnoth, the ‘staller’ of Edward the Confessor and of Harold, the son of Godwine (Codex Dipl. iv. 204; Freeman, Norman Conquest, iv. 757), who fell in battle against the sons of Harold in 1067. Of his son Harding (Codex Dipl. iv. 234) William of Malmesbury, speaking of him as then alive, tells us (Gest. Reg. iii. 254) that he was ‘better used to whet his tongue in strife than to wield his arms in war.’ This Harding may probably be identified with the Harding who, in 1062, subscribed the confessor's Waltham charter as ‘reginæ pincerna’ (Codex Dipl. iv. 159), and continued after the Conquest in the household of Eadgyth, appearing as a witness to the sale of Combe to Bishop Gisa, transacted in Eadgyth's presence at Wilton in 1072 (Liber Albus, ii. 254 fo. Chapter Records, Wells). In 1086 he held lands in Gloucestershire in pledge of a certain Brihtric, who held them in the time of Edward the Confessor (Domesday, i. 170 b, and Freeman, as above). It is safe to assume that Robert FitzHarding was his son. It is possible that Harding had an elder son, Nicolas, the ancestor of the family of Meriet (Smyth's Lives, p. 19, n. A, ed. Maclean). If this was so, the younger son soon outstripped the elder in wealth. Whether the honour of Berkeley was in the king's hands in 12 Hen. II, or had already passed to the new family, it is certain that before long it was granted to the house of Eadnoth; and on the accession of Richard I Maurice, the son of Robert and the husband of Alicia, procured a charter from the king granting him the lordship of Berkeley Hernesse, to be held by him and his heirs in barony (Lords' Committee, 1829). This charter does not imply that a new grant was made. Like many others of the same date, it probably confirmed a former grant, and Robert FitzHarding is to be held the first lord of Berkeley of the new line. This Robert founded St. Augustine's, in Bristol, as a priory of black canons (Monast. vi. 363). His grandson, Robert [q. v.], the son of Maurice, having joined the baronial party against John, was excommunicated and his castle was seized by the king (Wendover, iii. 297, where, by a confusion arising from the headquarters of the barons being at Brackley, Robert is called De Brackele; but the connection of the name with that of his kinsman, Maurice de Gant, marks the lord of Berkeley; see also p. 356 and Close Rolls 18 John, p. 276). Robert, dying without issue in 1219, was succeeded by his brother Thomas, who obtained seisin of his lands on 5 March 1220 (Close Rolls 4 Hen. III). His grandson, also named (1) Thomas, took an active part in the wars of Edward I against the Welsh, the Scots, and the French. As he received a writ of summons to the parliament of 1295, the date fixed by lawyers as a period of limitation, he is reckoned as the first baron of Berkeley who held and transmitted an hereditary peerage (Lords' Report, App. i. 67). His name is also to be found among the barons who, on 12 Feb. 1301, wrote to Pope Boniface VIII on the subject of his claim to the lordship of Scotland (Fœd. i. 926, 927; Hemingb. ii. 209). As the lords of Berkeley held Bedminster and Redcliff, they were brought into conflict with the burghers of Bristol, who sought to add these estates to their town, and were very jealous of the jurisdiction which the lords exercised in them. This jealousy led to open violence in 1303, and a long struggle ensued between the burghers and the Lord Thomas and his son Maurice (Parl. and Close Rolls 33 Ed. I; Seyer, Hist. of Bristol, ii. 77; Smyth, Lives, 195–200). Shortly before the death of Edward I, Thomas was sent on an embassy to Rome. In the next reign he was taken prisoner at the battle of Bannockburn. He died in 1321, and was succeeded by his son (2) Maurice. A writ of summons was sent to Maurice in 1308 during the lifetime of his father, and thus a dignity was created independent of that which was derived from the writ of 1295 (Nicolas). During the famous insurrection at Bristol Maurice had the satisfaction of being employed against his old enemies, and was made the keeper of the castle and of the town. Having married Margaret, daughter of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, earl of March, and widow of the Earl of Oxford, he joined the confederacy of the barons against the Despensers, and took part with Hugh of Audley in ravaging their Welsh lands. The Mortimers, however, were forced to submit to the king in January 1322, and Maurice followed their example. He was imprisoned at Wallingford until his death in 1326 (Adam Mur. 33, 36, 40). Queen Isabella released his son (3) Thomas from prison, and gave back the Berkeley estates, for which he paid a relief, 'ut pro baronia' (Lords Comm.) The story told by Froissart (bk. i. c. 162) of the gallantry and capture, at the battle of Poitiers, of a young knight who announced himself as Thomas, lord of Berkeley, has usually (Dugdale) been attributed to this lord. As, however, the chronicler states that this was the first time the young knight unfurled his banner, it is more likely that he was Maurice, the eldest son of Lord Thomas (Smith). In 23 Ed. III this lord levied a fine of his estates at Berkeley and other places, and in 26 Ed. III of the manor of Portbury, by which he settled them on his son Maurice and the heirs male of his body, with remainder to the heirs male of his own body by his second wife Catherine, with remainder to his right heirs. He died in 1361. From his youngest son John descended the Berkeleys of Beyerston Castle, a family of considerable wealth and importance during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which fell into decay early in the seventeenth century (Smyth).
From Sir Maurice (d. at Calais 1346–7), the second son of (2) Lord Maurice, came the Berkeleys of Stoke Gifford, Gloucestershire, of Bruton and of Pylle, Somerset (now represented by Edward Berkeley-Portman, Baron, 1837, and Viscount Portman, 1873), and of Boycourt, Kent. His son Maurice (d. 1385) married Catherine, daughter of John, Lord Bottetourt. From him came the three brothers. Sir Charles Berkeley (d. 1688), Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia [q. v.], and John, first Lord Berkeley of Stratton [q. v.] This title became extinct in 1773. Sir Charles second son Charles was created by Charles II baron Berkeley of Rathdown, and Viscount Fitzhardinge (Irish honours), and in 1664 Baron Bottetourt of Langport and Earl of Falmouth in England. The earldom became Extinct on his death, 3 June 1665. In 1763 Norborne Berkeley claimed a summons as Baron Bottetourt, he being a lineal descendant of Sir Maurice Berkeley and his wife Catherine. He received a summons in 1764. On his death in 1776 the Bottetourt title again fell into abeyance, until it was revived in 1803 in favour of Henry Somerset, fifth duke of Beaufort. Sir William Berkeley, brother of Charles, earl of Falmouth, who died in battle with the Dutch in June 1665, is noticed below.
Lord Thomas (5), grandson of the Lord Thomas who died m 1361, was one of the commissioners appointed by parliament to renounce sentence of deposition on Richard I (Knighton, ii. 2760; Traison et Mort, 219). He was a warden of the Welsh Marches, and did good service by sea against Owen Glendower and his French allies (Walsingham, ii. 272). He married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Warine, lord l'Isle, and covenanted for himself and his heirs to bear the arms of l'Isle (Nicolas, L'Isle Peerage), He died 1417, leaving his nephew James, son of his brother James, his heir male; but the heir of his body was his only daughter Elizabeth, married to Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, by whom she had three daughters, of whom the eldest, Margaret, mamed John, earl of Shrewsbury. On the death of Lord Thomas the Earl and Countess of Warwick took possession of Berkeley Castle, and did not surrender it until (6) James was found the right heir on a writ of diem clausit supremum. The barony of Berkeley then passed to James, summoned to parliament 1421-61, while the Countess of Warwick took the lands of her mother and such lands of her father as were not settled in tail male. The countess died in 1423 and the earl in 1439. As this Lord James was summoned as seised of Berkeley while the Countess of Warwick was her father's heir, it appears that the tenure of Berkeley Castle did at that time constitute a right and confer a dignity. If, however, claim by tenure is set aside, the summons to Lord James must be regarded as the origin of the present barony, while the baronies created by writ of 25 Ea. I and 2 Ed. II are now in abeyance (Nicolas). Lord James (d. 1462) married Isabel, daughter and coheiress of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk. Among the minor troubles of the reign of Henry VI must be reckoned the strife between Lord James and his cousin, the Countess of Warwick, supported by her son, Lord l'Isle, in the course of which the Earl of Shrewsbury seized Isabel, Lord James's wife, at Gloucester, and kept her in prison until her death. The sole heir of the Countess Margaret in 1829 appears to have been Sir Thomas Shelley Sidney (Nicolas). From Thomas, youngest son of Lord James, was descended Chief-Baron Sir Robert Berkeley, d. 1666 [q. v.], of Spetchley, from whom in the male line is descended Robert Berkeley, Esq., of Spetchley (b. 1823). William (7), the eldest son of James, summoned as baron 1467, was created viscount by Edward IV by patent 12 April 1481, Earl of Nottingham by Richard III 28 June 1483, Earl Alarshal 1485, and Marquis of Berkeley 1488, with remainder to the heirs of his body. In order to spite his brother (8) Maurice, who was his heir presumptive, he suffered a recovery of the castle and lands of Berkeley, and so gained the fee simple, convening the same to be held to his own use in tail general, with remainder to the king (Henry VII) in tail male, with remainder to his own heirs. Accordingly, on his death without issue, the castle passed for a while from the house of Berkeley, and his brother Maurice, not being seised of it, received no summons to parliament, and was described as a commoner (Lords' Comm. No. 31, 32). It has, however, been proved that his son (9) Maurice received a summons (14 Hen. VIII); for a letter is extant addressed to him while governor of Calais by Lord Chief-Baron John FitzJames and others, and dated 6 May 1523, in which the writers advise him to obey the summons, though he had not the rome in the parlement chamber that the lordds of Berkeley have hadde of olde time.' By which it appears that this writ of 14 Hen. VIII created a new barony, the old barony by tenure (claimed in 1829) being suspended while the Berkeleys were disseised of the castle. On the other hand, (10) Lord Thomas, son of this Maurice, though disseised of the castle, took his seat in the precedence of the barony of 1295 Nicolas, L'Isle Peerage). Although the Berkeleys lost the lordship of the castle by the settlement made by the Marquis "William, they appear to have enjoyed the building as constables of the king until, on the death of Edward VI, the castle reverted to (12) Henry, the grandson of (10) Thomas, special livery being made of the estates in 1 Philip and Mary, he being a minor. It is to be noted that this lord, though seised of the castle, yet had a lower place in parliament than his grandfather, being below the Lords Abergavenny, Audley, and Strange, who would not have been entitled to sit above him had it been held that his barony had been conferred by writ of 23 Ed. I. This lord was a mighty hunter. Queen Elizabeth visited Berkeley in 1663, when, as it happened, Lord Henry was absent from the castle. As was often the case, the royal visit caused great havoc in the deer park. In great wrath Lord Henry had the land disparked. When the queen heard it, she sent to bid him beware of his words and actions; for the Earl of Leicester greatly desired the castle for himself (Smyth). Lord Henry died in 1613. His first wife was Catherine, daughter of Henry Howard, earl of Surrey. He was succeeded by his grandson, (13) George [q. v.], who died 1668. The next lord, (14) also named George, who died 1698 [q. v.], petitioned in May 1661 for a higher place in the House of Lords than that assigned to him, claiming precedence of the Lords la Warr, Abergavenny, and Audley, on the ground that the seisin of the castle of Berkeley conferred a barony precedent to the writ of 1295, and alleging that (9) Maurice, not being seised of the castle, received a summons only as a puisne baron. The claim remained undecided as late as 1673, at which date it disappears. Lord Berkeley was created Viscount Dursley and Earl of Berkeley by patent 11 Sept. 1679. His fifth daughter, the Lady Henrietta, was notorious for her elopement with her brother-in-law, Ford, Lord Grey of Werke (Trial of Ford, Lord Grey of Werke; A New Vision of Lady G—'s, 1682; Luttrell, Diary, i. 229, 234, 239; Macaulay, i. 530). She died unmarried in 1710. Charles (15), second earl, was in July 1689 called to the House of Lords as Baron Berkeley of Berkeley, his father being then alive. From that year till 1695 he was envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the States of Holland. He died in 1710, and was succeeded by his second son, (16) James, third earl [q. v.], who married Lady Louisa Lennox, and died in 1736. His only son was (17) Augustus, fourth earl, who was a general in the army, held a command against the rebels in 1745, and died 9 Jan. 1755. The second surviving son of this earl was George Cranfield Berkeley, the admiral [q. v.] The fifth earl, (18) Frederick Augustus, was a minor at his father's death, and took his seat 8 June 1766. He married Mary, daughter of William Cole, at Lambeth, 16 May 1796, a previous marriage having, it was alleged, been celebrated between them at Berkeley by the vicar of the parish 30 March 1785. This alleged ceremony was, however, kept secret until after the Lambeth marriage, the lady being known between the two dates as Miss Tudor. By this lady Earl Berkeley had his eldest son, William Fitzhardinge, born 1786, his second son, Maurice Frederick Fitzhardinge, his fifth son, Thomas Moreton Fitzhardinge, born 19 Oct. 1796, his sixth son, Charles Grantley Fitzhardinge [q. v.], and other children. After the Lambeth marriage a certificate of the Berkeley ceremony was produced, having been recovered, it was alleged, binder very strange circumstances. The earl having announced his former marriage, his eldest son William, commonly called Viscount Dursley, and at that time M.P. for the county of Gloucester, obtained leave in 1799 to lay his pedigree before the lords committee of privileges, and in 1801, in a suit to perpetuate testimony, the earl made a deposition giving full 5art iculars concerning the Berkeley ceremony, the earl died in 1810, and his son William applied to be summoned as next earl. In March 1811 the committee of privileges decided that the Berkeley marriage was not then proved, and that the petitioner's claim was not made out. Colonel William Berkeley received the castle of Berkeley and the other estates of the late earl by will, and on 2 July, after the adverse decision of the lords' committee, claimed a writ of summons as baron, pleading his right as seised of the castle. The claim was fully laid before the committee of privileges 1828-9. It was based on points to which reference has been made above, viz. (to mention the chief arguments) that the barony described in the charter of 1 Ric. I was precedent to the writ of 23 Ed. I; that in 6 Hen. V the baronial dignity did not descend to the heir-general of Lord Thomas, but followed the seisin of the castle, which was then in (6) James, his nephew and heir male; that (8) Maurice, the heir-at-law of the Earl of Nottingham, was not summoned, being disseised of the castle, and that his son did not sit as a peer. But besides other difficulties, which may be fathered from the above, it had been declared by the king in council in 1669 that barony by tenure was 'not in being, and so not fit to be revived. The lords pronounced no judgment on this case. In 1831, however, Colonel Berkeley was created Baron Segrave of Berkeley, and in 1841 Earl Fitzhardinge. He died unmarried 10 Oct. 1857, and his titles thus became extinct. His next brother and heir, the Right Hon. Maurice F. Fitzhardinge Berkeley [q. v.], was in 1861 created Baron Fitzhardinge, and on his death, in 1867, was succeeded by his son, F. W. Fitzhardinge, Baron Fitzhardinge, born 1826, living 1885. On the failure of Colonel Berkeley to prove the alleged Berkeley marriage of his mother, the right to the earldom of Berkeley vested in (19) Thomas Moreton Fitzhardinge Berkeley, the eldest of the sons born after the Lambeth marriage. But although earl de jure he refused to claim his right. He died unmarried 27 Aug. 1882. On his death the earldom of Berkeley descended to George Lennox Rawdon Berkeley, seventh earl (born 1827, living 1885), the son of Sir G. H. F. Berkeley, K.C.B.. eldest son of Admiral Sir G. Cranfield Berkeley, brother of Frederick Augustus, fifth earl. The barony descended to Louisa Mary, daughter of Craven Fitzhardinge Berkeley [q. v.]
[Smyth's Lives of the Berkeleys, ed. Sir J. Maclean, 1 vol. privately printed, 1883; Fosbroke's Berkeley MSS.; Sir H. Nicolas's L'Isle Peerage Claim and Historic Peerage; Minutes of Lords' Committee of Privileges, No. 12, 1829; Address to the Peers by Mary, Countess of Berkeley, 1811; Lords' Reports on Dignity of a Peer; Dugdale's Baronage; Banks' Extinct and Dormant Peerages.]