More, Thomas de la (DNB00)

MORE or MOORE, Sir THOMAS de la (fl. 1327–1347), alleged chronicler, passed for three centuries as the unquestioned author of a short chronicle entitled ‘Vita et Mors Edwardi Secundi, Gallice conscripta a generosissimo milite Thoma de la Moore, et in Latinum reducta ab alio quodam ejus synchrono,’ first printed by Camden in his ‘Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica,’ &c., in 1603, and re-edited for the Rolls Series by Bishop Stubbs in 1883 in the second volume of ‘Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II.’ This chronicle, from which historians have drawn some of the most graphic details of Edward II's last days, was regarded as a contemporary Latin translation of a supposed French work by More, whence Geoffrey Baker [q. v.] or Galfrid le Baker de Swynebroke was also credited with having drawn his chronicle extending from 1303 to 1356. But Bishop Stubbs has proved that the ‘Vita et Mors’ usually associated with More's name is nothing but an abstract and extract from Baker's chronicle (Pref. to his edition, p. lxxi). He still thought it possible, however, that the lost French original of the latter, written by Sir Thomas de la Moore, might some day be recovered. Mr. Maunde Thompson has, however, come to the conclusion that no such original ever existed. Its existence was inferred from the passage in Galfrid le Baker (ed. Thompson, p. 27), where, in speaking of the deputation which went to Kenilworth in January 1327, to receive the king's abdication, he adds: ‘Quorum comitivam, aderens predicto episcopo Wintoniensi, tu generose miles qui hec vidisti et in Gallico scripsisti, cuius ego sum talis qualis interpres, te dico domine Thoma de la More, tua sapienti et inclita presencia decorasti.’ But Mr. Thompson is almost certainly right in holding that Baker is obviously only acknowledging his indebtedness to Sir Thomas de la Moore's account of a scene in which Moore had himself played a part (Preface, pp. vii-viii).

The patron who has thus by a singular chance for so long been regarded as the real author of his protégê's work was said by Camden in his preface, with a vague reference to ancient records, to have belonged to a Gloucestershire family of knightly rank, and to have served in the Scottish wars of Edward I, who knighted him. On this hint Sir Robert Atkyns made him the eldest son of Richard de la More of Eldland. in the parish of Bitton, Gloucestershire, who was knight of the shire for that county in 1290, and died in 1292 (Hist. of Gloucestershire, p. 287). Tanner accepted Atkyns's statement without question (Bibl. Brit. Hib. p. 531). But Bishop Stubbs has shown that it is erroneous, and that Galfrid le Baker's patron, who was in Bishop Stratford's train, perhaps as a young man, in 1327, may be safely identified with a Sir Thomas de la More of Mora or Moor (now Northmoor), in southern Oxfordshire, only eleven miles south-east of Swinebrook, who sat as knight of the shire for Oxfordshire in the first two parliaments of 1340, and served on the great committee appointed in the second session to sit from day to day until the business was finished and the petitions turned into a statute (Stubbs, Preface, p. lxi; Rot. Parl. ii. 113). His position as a person of weight in his county was shown by his re-election in 1343 and 1351. It was at his instance, Galfrid le Baker tells us, that he wrote his shorter chronicle, finished in 1347, and in his larger chronicle, besides the passage already quoted, he once addresses him as 'miles reverende' (ed. Thompson, p. 30). It is quite likely, therefore, that he was still alive when Baker wrote the final lines of this chronicle in 1358. It is not, indeed, impossible that he may be the Sir Thomas de la More who in 1370 was constable or vice-warden of Porchester Castle under the Earl of Arundel (Devon, Issue Roll, 5, 243, 372, 424; Fœdera, iii. 880; Stubbs, p. lxiii). The family of de la More, which was long seated at Northmoor, may perhaps, Bishop Stubbs thinks, have been connected with the Berkshire family of de la More or de la Mare (ib.} A Sir Thomas de la More, who was apparently a member of this family, was sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1370.

The 'Vita et Mors' ascribed to de la More exists in three manuscripts of the second half of the sixteenth century: 1. MS. Cotton, Vitellius E. 5, ff. 261-70, copied, perhaps, by Samuel Daniel (1562–1619) [q. v.], the historian, from a transcript by Laurence Nowell, brother of Alexander Nowell, dean of St. Paul's, who himself died dean of Lichfield in 1576 (Stubbs, Preface, p. lxvi). 2. MS. Inner Temple, Petyt, A. 7, ff. 303-14, formerly belonging to John Foxe the martyrologist. 3. MS. Harleian, 310. That numbered 81 in the Jekyll MSB. is no longer forthcoming (ib.)

[Authorities in the text; Baker's Chronicle, edited by Dr. Giles for the Caxton Society, 1841, and by Dr. E. Maunde Thompson, at Oxford, 1889. See also art. Baker, Geoffrey.]

J. T-t.