Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomas of Brotherton
THOMAS of Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk and Marshal of England (1300–1338), was the eldest child of Edward I by his second wife, Margaret, the sister of Philip the Fair. Edward II was his half-brother. He was born on 1 June 1300 at Brotherton, near Pontefract, where his parents were halting on their way to Scotland (Chron. Lanercost, p. 193). He was called Thomas because of the successful invocation of St. Thomas of Canterbury by his mother during the pains of labour. A story is told that the life of the child was despaired of in his infancy, but that his health was restored by the substitution of an English nurse for the Frenchwoman to whom his mother had entrusted him (Ann. Edwardi I in Rishanger, pp. 438–9, Rolls Ser.). Edward I destined for Thomas the earldom of Cornwall, which escheated to the crown on 1 Oct. 1300, on the death, without heirs, of Earl Edmund, the son of Richard, king of the Romans (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 169), and some of the chroniclers (Worcester Annals, p. 547; Trokelowe, p. 74) say that the grant was actually made. On his deathbed Edward specially urged upon his eldest son the obligation of caring for his two half-brothers. Edward II, however, soon conferred Cornwall on his favourite, Piers Gaveston [q. v.] Nevertheless he made handsome provision for Thomas. In September 1310 he granted to Thomas and his brother Edmund of Woodstock [q. v.] jointly the castle and honour of Strigul (Chepstow) for their maintenance (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13, p. 279), and in October 1311 he granted Thomas seisin of the honour (Flores Hist. iii. 334). Larger provision followed. The earldom of Norfolk and the dignity of earl marshal, which Roger Bigod, fifth earl of Norfolk [q. v.], had surrendered to the crown and had received back entailed on the heirs of his body, had recently escheated to the king on Roger's death without children. On 16 Dec. 1312 Edward II created Thomas Earl of Norfolk, with remainder to the heirs of his body, and on 18 March the boy of twelve received a summons to parliament, which was repeated in January and May 1313 (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13, pp. 564, 584). He also obtained the grant of all the lands in England, Wales, and Ireland that had escheated on Roger Bigod's death, and on 10 Feb. 1316 he was further created marshal of England, thus being precisely invested with the dignities and estates of the previous earl. He got the last fragment of the estate in 1317, when Alice, the dowager countess, died (ib. 1313–1318, p. 504). On 20 May 1317 Thomas received his first summons to meet at Newcastle in July to serve against ‘Scotch rebels’ (ib. 1313–18, p. 473).
In the early part of 1319 Thomas acted as warden of England during Edward II's absence in the field against the Scots, holding on 24 March of that year a session along with the chief ministers in the chapter-house of St. Paul's, where they summoned before them J. de Wengrave, the mayor; Wengrave was engaged in a controversy with the community with regard to municipal elections, which was appeased at Thomas's intervention (Ann. Paulini, pp. 285–6). After being knighted, on 15 July, Thomas proceeded to Newcastle, where a great army was mustering against Scotland. He crossed the border on 29 Aug., but nothing resulted from the invasion save the vain siege of Berwick (Monk of Malmesbury, pp. 241–2; Ann. Paulini, p. 286).
In 1321 Thomas, being summoned with his brother Edmund to the siege of Leeds Castle in Kent (Flores Hist. iii. 199), adhered to the king's side, and is described as ‘strenuous for his age’ (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 263). He took a prominent part in persuading Mortimer to submit (Murimuth, p. 35). Yet in September 1326 he was one of the first to join Queen Isabella [q. v.] on her landing at Orwell. The landing-place was within his estates (Murimuth, p. 46). On 27 Oct. he was one of the peers who condemned the elder Despenser at Bristol (Ann. Paulini, p. 317). In May 1327 he was ordered to raise troops against the Scots. He was chief of a royal commission sent to Bury St. Edmunds to appease one of the constant quarrels between the abbey and the townsmen (ib. p. 334). He was bribed to accept the rule of Isabella and Mortimer by lavish grants of the forfeited estates of the Despensers and others, and was so closely attached to Mortimer that he married his son Edward to Beatrice, Mortimer's daughter, and attended the solemn tournament at Hereford with which they celebrated the match (Murimuth, p. 578; G. Le Baker, p. 42). But he soon became discontented with the rule of Isabella and Mortimer, and joined the conference of magnates which met on 2 Jan. 1329 at St. Paul's (cf. details in Knighton, and in the notes to G. Le Baker, pp. 217–20, ed. Thompson, from MS. Brut Chron.); he acted with his brother Edmund, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishop of London as envoys from the barons to the government; but the defection of Henry of Lancaster broke up the combination (Ann. Paulini, p. 344). On 17 Feb. 1330 Thomas and Edmund escorted the young queen Philippa on her solemn entry into London the day before her coronation (ib. p. 349). Luckier than Edmund, Thomas gave no opportunity to the jealousy of Mortimer, and survived to welcome Edward III's attainment of power. On 17–19 June 1331 he fought along with the king on the side of Sir Robert de Morley [q. v.] in a famous tournament at Stepney, riding, gorgeously attired, through London on 16 June, and making an offering at St. Paul's (ib. pp. 353–354). In 1337 he was employed in arraying Welsh soldiers for the king's wars (Fœdera, iii. 986). Knighton (ii. 4) says that he was one of the lords who accompanied Edward III to Antwerp in July 1338, but the other chroniclers do not seem to substantiate this. Thomas died next month (August 1338), and was buried in the choir of the abbey church, where a monument was erected to him that perished after the dissolution at Bury St. Edmunds. In September Edward, at Antwerp, appointed William de Montacute, first earl of Salisbury [q. v.], his successor as marshal (Fœdera, iii. 1060).
Thomas married, first, Alice, daughter of Sir Roger Hales of Harwich; and, secondly, Mary, daughter of William, lord Roos, and widow of Sir William de Braose. Mary Roos survived her husband, married Ralph, lord Cobham, and died in 1362. Thomas's only son, Edward, was born of his first wife, and married Beatrice, daughter of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March [q. v.], but died without issue in his father's lifetime. His widow, who subsequently married Thomas de Braose (d. 1361), died herself in 1384. She founded a fraternity of lay brothers within the Franciscan priory at Fisherton, Wiltshire, and also a chantry for six priests at the same place.
Thomas's estates were divided between his two daughters, Margaret and Alice. Alice married Sir Edward de Montacute, brother of William, earl of Salisbury, and had by him a daughter Joan, who married William de Ufford, the last earl of Suffolk [q. v.] of his house. On the death of her niece Joan, countess of Suffolk, daughter of Alice, Margaret became in 1375 the sole heiress of her father's estates. On the accession of Richard II she petitioned to be allowed to act as marshal at the coronation, but the request was politely shelved (Munim. Gildhall. Lond. ii. 458). She married, first, John Segrave, third lord Segrave [q. v.], by whom she had a daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, married to John, lord Mowbray (d. 1368), to whose son, Thomas Mowbray, first duke of Norfolk [q. v.], the estates and titles ultimately went. Margaret married, secondly, Sir Walter Manny [q. v.], who died in 1372. She was created on 29 Sept. 1397 Duchess of Norfolk for life, on the same day that her grandson, Thomas Mowbray, was made Duke of Norfolk. She died on 24 March 1400, and was buried in the church of the London Franciscans at Newgate.[Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 63–4; Nicolas's Hist. Peerage, ed. Courthope, p. 351; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage, vi. 40–1; Sandford's Genealogical History, pp. 205–6; Cals. of Patent Rolls, Edward I 1292–1307, Edward II 1327–1338; Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–23; Rymer's Fœdera; Annales Monastici; Rishanger; Flores Hist.; Knighton; Chron. Edward I, Edward II, and Murimuth, the last six in Rolls Ser.; Chron. Geoffrey le Baker, ed. E. M. Thompson.]