Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vere, Aubrey de (1340?-1400)

VERE, AUBREY de, tenth Earl of Oxford (1340?–1400), second son of John de Vere, seventh earl of Oxford [q. v.], by his wife Maud, second daughter and coheir of Giles, lord Badlesmere (d. 1338), and widow of Robert Fitzpayne, was born about 1340. In July 1360 he became steward of the royal forest of Havering in Essex, and in October 1367 was retained to ‘abide for life’ with the Black Prince, on an allowance of a hundred marks a year, and accompanied him to Aquitaine (Doyle; Cal. Pat. Rolls, Richard II, i. 161; Fœdera, iii. 837, Record ed.). Before this he had been knighted.

The Black Prince looked well after his followers, and in 1375 Vere obtained the constableship of Wallingford Castle and the stewardship of the honours of Wallingford and St. Valery, which he held until 1382 (ib. ii. 120). In the last weeks of Edward III's life he was one of the ambassadors to treat for peace with France (Fœdera, vii. 143). Early in the next reign (1 Feb. 1378) he surrendered part of his allowance from the Black Prince, and received in return the custody of Hadley Castle and the manor of Thundersley in Essex, with the crown revenue from the neighbouring town of Rayleigh (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Richard II, i. 112). Next year he was given charge of the royal parks at these places, and in 1381 the reversion of the bailiwick of the hundred of Rochford, in which Hadley and Rayleigh lay (ib. i. 371, 564). As uncle of Robert de Vere (1362–1392) [q. v.], the royal favourite, he might expect further advancement. He obtained a grant of sixty pounds a year in 1380, and of the lands of the seigneur d'Albret in the Bordelais and Medoc in 1381 (ib. i. 542; Doyle). Early in the latter year Vere appears as chamberlain of the royal household and member of the privy council, and the negotiations with the ambassadors of King Wenzel were entrusted (29 March) to him, along with the Earl of Cambridge and Hugh Segrave (ib.; Fœdera, iv. 108, Record ed.). In October 1383 he was chief commissioner to treat for a truce with France, and took part in the Scottish campaign two years later (ib. vii. 412; Dugdale, i. 194). The Merciless parliament of 1388, which condemned his nephew, the Duke of Ireland, as a traitor, included Aubrey among the partisans of Richard who were required to abjure the court, and he consequently lost his post of chamberlain of the household (Malverne, p. 116). Shortly after his nephew's death in exile [see Vere, Robert de, ninth Earl of Oxford and Duke of Ireland], the king, with the consent of the parliament, which met in January 1393, revived in Vere's favour the dignity of Earl of Oxford, on which the new earl did homage and took his seat in parliament, ‘right humbly thanking our lord the king for his good and gracious lordship’ (Rot. Parl. iii. 303). As the forfeiture of 1388 was not reversed (though the entailed estates were restored on the ground that they were not affected by it), and a special limitation to heirs male was introduced, peerage authorities lean to the view that this must be looked upon as a new creation. The subsequent reversal of the forfeiture in 1397 might be supposed to have revived the old limitation to heirs general, but the judges in 1626 decided that it did not. This decision has been much criticised (G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage, vi. 166; cf. art. Vere, Family of.

Oxford petitioned in vain for the restoration of the lord-chamberlainship of England, which had been given (1390) to Richard's half-brother, John Holland, earl of Huntingdon (Rot. Parl. iii. 166). There is some reason to believe that Oxford married his eldest son to a daughter of Huntingdon, possibly with a view to smoothing the way for the recovery of the chamberlainship (Testamenta Vetusta, p. 192; Rot. Parl. iii. 441). Huntingdon was deprived of it after the fall of Richard. In the first parliament of Henry IV the commons petitioned for its restoration to the old line, pleading that the earl was too poor to maintain himself, and that he had only abandoned the rights of his family under menaces from King Richard, and had ever since suffered from such feebleness and sickness as one who languished from palsy, having no health or discretion (ib.) He had been unable to attend the parliament of 1397, which reversed the measures of 1388 against his nephew (Dugdale, i. 195). Henry returned an unfavourable answer, intending the dignity for his half-brother, John Beaufort, and the attainder of the Duke of Ireland was revived (Wylie, i. 75). Oxford is said to have given shelter to the unfortunate Huntingdon after the abortive rising of January 1400 (ib. i. 102). He died on 23 April in that year.

Oxford married, about 1380, Alice, daughter of John, seventh lord Fitzwalter, by whom he had two sons and a daughter. His eldest son, Richard, succeeded him as eleventh Earl of Oxford, was one of the commanders at Agincourt (Wavrin, ii. 188), and died on 15 Feb. 1417, leaving a son, John de Vere, twelfth earl (1408?–1462), father of John de Vere, thirteenth earl (1443–1513) [q. v.] The tenth earl's younger son, John, died unmarried; the daughter married Sir John FitzLewis. Oxford's widow is sometimes said to have married a certain Nicholas Thorley, but this is a mistake; it was her elder son's widow who became Thorley's wife (Dugdale, i. 196; Ordinances of Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, iii. 145).

[Rotuli Parliamentorum; Rymer's Fœdera, original and Record editions; Cal. Pat. Rolls, Richard II, vols. i. and ii. 1895–7; Malverne's Chronicle in Higden's Polychronicon (Rolls Ser.), vol. ix.; Wavrin's Chronicle (Rolls Ser.); Fabyan's Chronicle, ed. Ellis; Dugdale's Baronage; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Nicolas's Testamenta Vetusta; Doyle's Official Baronage; Wylie's Hist. of Henry IV.]

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