Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mowbray, John de (1286-1322)

MOWBRAY, JOHN (I) de, eighth Baron Mowbray (1286–1322), was great-grandson of William de Mowbray, fourth baron [q. v.], and son of Roger (III) de Mowbray, seventh baron (1266–1298). The latter in 1282 had entailed his lordships of Thirsk, Kirkby-Malzeard, Burton-in-Lonsdale, Hovingham, Melton Mowbray, and Epworth, with the whole Isle of Axholme, upon the heirs of his body, with remainder to Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, and his heirs; he was summoned to the Shrewsbury 'parliament' of 1283 which condemned David of Wales, and to the parliaments of 1294-6, and died at Ghent in 1297 (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 126; Monast. Angl. vi. 320; Rep. on Dignity of a Peer, App. pp. 54, 65, 71, 76-7; cf. Grainge, Vale of Mowbray, pp. 360-3). He was buried at Fountains Abbey, where his effigy is still preserved. John's mother was Roysia, sister of Gilbert, earl of Gloucester and Clare, who is strangely identified by Dugdale with the Earl Gilbert who died in 1230 (Baronage, i. 209; cf. Monast. Angl. vi. 320). The inclusion of the Lacys in the Mowbray entail lends some probability to the conjecture that she was a daughter of Richard, earl of Gloucester (d. 1262), and Maud, aunt of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln.

John de Mowbray, who was born on 2 Nov. 1286, was a boy of eleven at his father's death, and Edward immediately granted his ' marriage to William de Brewes (Braose or Brewose), lord of Bramber and Gower, who married him in 1298 at Swansea to Alicia (or Alina), the elder of his two daughters (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 126, 421; Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 555; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 358). With the uneasy inheritance of Gower went Bramber and other Sussex manors.

He was very early called upon to perform the duties of a northern baron in the Scottish wars. In June 1301 he received a summons to attend Edward, prince of Wales, to Carlisle (Rep. on Dignity of. a Peer, App. p. 138). Five years later he served throughout the last Scottish expedition of the old king, Edward I, who before starting gave him livery of his lands, though he was not yet of age, and dubbed him knight, with the Prince of Wales and some three hundred other young men of noble families, at Westminster on Whitsunday 22 May 1306 (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 126).

Returning after the king's death, Mowbray was summoned to Edward II's first parliament at Northampton in October 1307, and henceforward received a summons to all the parliaments of the reign down to that of July 1321 (Rep. on Dignity of a Peer, App. pp. 174, 308). After attending the king's coronation in the February following he was ordered to Scotland in August, a summons repeated every summer for the next three years (ib. pp. 177, 181, 192-3, 202, 207). In 1311 he came into possession of the lands of his grandmother, Maud, who had inherited the best part of the lands of her father, William de Beauchamp of Bedford, including Bedford Castle (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 126, 224).

In the first great crisis of the reign Mowbray was faithful to the king, possibly through jealousy of his neighbour, Henry de Percy, who had disputed his custody of the Forest of Galtres outside York (Cal. of Close Rolls, 1307–13, p. 514). As keeper of the county and city of York he was ordered on 31 July 131-2 to arrest Percy for permitting the death of Gaveston, and, on 15 Aug., in conjunction with the sheriff, to take the city into the king's hands if necessary (ib. pp. 468, 477 ; Fœdera, iii. 173, Record ed.)

From 1314 the Scottish war again absorbed Mowbray's attention. There was not a summer from that year to 1319 that he was not called out to do service against the Scots (Rep. on Dignity of a Peer). It is not quite certain, however, that he was the John de Mowbray who was a warden of the Scottish marches in the year of Bannockburn, and one of four ' capitanei etcustodes partium ultra Trentam ' appointed in January 1315, on the recommendation of a meeting of northern barons at York (Dugdale, i. 126 ; Letters from Northern Registers, pp. 237, 247-8 ; Registrum Palatinum Dunelmense, ii. 1034). This may have been the Scottish John de Mowbray who was also lord of Bolton in Cumberland, and fought and negotiated against Bruce, meeting his death at last in the defeat of Balliol at Annan in December 1332 (Rot. Parl. i. 160, 163 ; Chron. de Lanercost, pp. 204, 270 ; Chron. de Melsa, ii. 367 ; Fœdera, ii. 474 ; cf. Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 194-7).

In this year, 1315, Mowbray was reimbursed for the expense to which he had been put for the defence of Yorkshire when he was sheriff by a charge of five hundred marks on the revenues of Penrith and Sowerby-in-Tyndale (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 126). Next year he was ordered to array the commons of five Yorkshire wapentakes for the Scottish war. and in 1317 was appointed governor of Malton and Scarborough (ib.) But three years after this the damnosa hcereditas of his wife in Gower involved him in a dispute with the king's powerful favourites, the Despensers, which proved fatal to him and to many active sympathisers of greater political prominence. It appears that his father-in-law, William de Brewes, had at some date, of which we are not precisely informed, made a special grant of his lordship of Gower in the marches of Wales to Mowbray and his wife, who was his only child, and their heirs, with remainder to Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and lord of Brecon, the grandson of one of the coheiresses of an earlier William de Brewes (ib. pp. 182, 420 ; cf. Cal. of Pat. Rolls, 1327-30, p. 248). But the king's greedy favourite, Hugh le Despenser the younger, was desirous of adding Gower to his neighbouring lordship of Glamorgan, and when Mowbray entered into possession without the formality of a royal license, he insisted that the fief was thereby forfeited to the crown, and induced the king to order legal proceedings against Mowbray (Monk of Malmesbury in Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II, ii. 254-5). Hereford and the other great lords-marcher whose interests were threatened by Despenser upheld Mowbray's contention that the king's license had never been necessary in the marches. Despenser scoffed at the law and customs of the marches, and more than hinted that those who appealed to them were guilty of treason (ib.) The situation, which was strained in the October parliament of 1320, became acutely critical in the early months of 1321. The discontented barons withdrew to the marches, and on 30 Jan. the king issued writs to twenty-nine lords, including Mowbray, forbidding them to assemble together for political purposes (Rep. on Dignity of a Peer, App. p. 302). In March they entered and harried Glamorgan. The writer of the ' Annales Paulini' (Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II, i. 293) adds that before the final breach the Earl of Hereford persuaded the king to allow him to enter into a contract with De Brewes to take possession of the fief in dispute, for the benefit, as he said, of his nephew, the Prince of Wales. A later and less trustworthy version of these events makes De Brewes, who, though 'perdives a parentela,' was 'dissipator substantise sibi relictæ,' sell Gower three times over to Hereford, to Roger Mortimer of Chirk, jointly with his nephew, Roger Mortimer of Wigmore and to Hugh le Despenser (Trokelowe, p. 107, followed by Walsingham, i. 159).

Mowbray was summoned to the parliament of July 1321 which condemned the Despensers to exile (Parl. Writs, n. ii. 163-8 ; Rep. on Dignity of a Peer, App. p. 308). He received a pardon on 20 Aug. along with Hereford and the other leaders of the triumphant party (ib.) But the king took up arms in the autumn, on 12 Nov. forbade Mowbray and others to assemble at Doncaster, and in January 1322 brought the Mortimers to their knees, while the northern barons still lingered over the siege of Tickhill (ib. p. 310). Mowbray took part in this siege, and his men did much damage in the neighbourhood (Rot. Parl. i. 406, 408, 410, cf. p. 406). He accompanied the Earl of Lancaster in his southward march, and in his retreat from Burton-on-Trent to Boroughbridge, where the battle was fought, on 16 March, in which Hereford was slain, and Lancaster, Mowbray, and Clifford captured by Sir Andrew Harclay (Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon in Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II, ii. 74). On 23 March, the day after Lancaster's trial and beheading at Pontefract, Mowbray and Clifford, condemned by the same body of peers, were drawn by horses, and hung in iron chains at York (ib. p. 78; Chron. de Melsa, ii. 342; Annales Paulini, i. 302; Murimuth, p. 36; Walsingham, i. 165). It was long before the king and the Despensers would suffer Mowbray's body to be taken down from the gallows (Knighton, col. 2541).

Grainge, in his 'Vale of Mowbray' (p. 58), mentions a tradition still current in the vale in his time, that Mowbray was caught and hastily executed at Chophead Loaning, between Thirsk and Upsall, and his armour hung upon an oak, and that at midnight it may yet be heard creaking, when the east wind comes soughing up the road from the heights of Black Hambleton.'

The king took all Mowbray's lands into his own hands, his widow Alina and his son John were imprisoned in the Tower, and under pressure she divested herself of her rights in Bramber and the rest of her Sussex inheritance in favour of the elder Despenser, reserving a life interest only to her father, William de Brewes (Dugdale, Monast. Angl. vi. 320; Baronage, i. 126; Rot. Parl. ii. 418, 436). She afterwards alleged that Despenser got the manor of Witham in Kent from De Brewes, at a time when he was 'frantiqe and not in good memory,' merely on a promise to release his daughter and grandson (ib.) The younger Despenser also secured the reversion of Mowbray's Bedfordshire manors of Stotfold, Haime, and Wilton, held for life by De Brewse (Cal. of Ancient Deeds, A. 98). The historian of St. Albans tells us that Mowbray, with the other lords of his party, had supported the rebellious prior of the cell of Bynham against Abbot Hugh (1308-1326), to whom they wrote letters, ' refertas 11011 tantum precibus quantum minis implicitis,' because Despenser took the other side (Gesta Abbatum, ii. 141).

An inquisition post mortem of his estates was held on their restoration to his son John de Mowbray II [q. v.] in 1327 (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 127; Grainge, pp. 363-5).

[Rolls of Parliament, vol. iii.; Lords' Rep. on the Dignity of a Peer; Parliamentary Writs; Rymer's Fœdera, Record ed.; Cal. of Ancient Deeds; Cal. of Close Rolls, 1307–1313; Trokelowe, Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II, Murimuth, Chronicon de Melsa, Walsingham's Historia Anglicana and Gesta Abbatum S. Albani, all in the Rolls Ser.; Chron. de Lanercost, Maitland Club ed.; Knighton in Twysden's Decem Scriptores; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 126, and Monasticon Anglicanum (ed. Caley, Ellis, and Bandinel), vi. 320, where the sixteenth-century account of the Mowbrays written at Newburgh Priory is printed; G. T. Clark's Cartæ de Glamorgan, i. 271, 283; Stubbs's Const. Hist. ii. 345, 350.]

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