Thomas de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley

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Arms of Berkeley: Gules, a chevron between ten crosses pattée six in chief and four in base argent

Thomas de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley (c. 1245– 23 July 1321) [1] , The Wise, [2] feudal baron of Berkeley, of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England, was a peer, soldier and diplomat. [3] His epithet, and that of each previous and subsequent head of his family, was coined by John Smyth of Nibley (d.1641), steward of the Berkeley estates, the biographer of the family and author of "Lives of the Berkeleys".

Contents

Origins

Thomas de Berkeley was born around 1245 [4] at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, the son of Sir Maurice de Berkeley, feudal baron of Berkeley, by his wife Isabel FitzRoy, [5] a paternal granddaughter of King John (1199-1216) through his bastard son Richard FitzRoy.

Career

He fought in the Battle of Evesham in 1265. [5] He inherited the feudal baron of Berkeley in 1281 following the death of his father and on 28 June 1283 was created 1st Baron Berkeley by writ of summons to Parliament by King Edward I (1272-1307). In June 1292 he was a commissioner to examine the claims to the crown of Scotland. [5] He was on an embassy to France in January 1296 and held the office of Vice-Constable of England in 1297. [5] He fought in the Battle of Falkirk on 22 July 1298 and was present at the Siege of Caerlaverock, Scotland, in July 1300. [5] He was on an embassy to Pope Clement V in July 1307. [5] He fought in the Battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, where he was taken prisoner, and obliged to pay a large sum for his ransom. [5]

Marriage and descendants

In 1267 Thomas de Berkeley married Joan de Ferrers, a daughter of William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby, by his wife Margaret de Quincy, [5] a daughter of Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester. By his wife he had the following children:

Death & succession

He died at Berkeley Castle on 23 July 1321 and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son Maurice de Berkeley, 2nd Baron Berkeley. [5]

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Baron Berkeley title in the Peerage of England

The title Baron Berkeley originated as a feudal title and was subsequently created twice in the Peerage of England by writ. It was first granted by writ to Thomas de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley (1245–1321), 6th feudal Baron Berkeley, in 1295, but the title of that creation became extinct at the death of his great-great-grandson, the fifth Baron by writ, when no male heirs to the barony by writ remained, although the feudal barony continued. The next creation by writ was in 1421, for the last baron's nephew and heir James Berkeley. His son and successor William was created Viscount Berkeley in 1481, Earl of Nottingham in 1483, and Marquess of Berkeley in 1488. He had no surviving male issue, so the Marquessate and his other non-inherited titles became extinct on his death in 1491, whilst the barony passed de jure to his younger brother Maurice. However William had disinherited Maurice because he considered him to have brought shame on the noble House of Berkeley by marrying beneath his status to Isabel, daughter of Philip Mead of Wraxhall, an Alderman and Mayor of Bristol. Instead he bequeathed the castle, lands and lordships comprising the Barony of Berkeley to King Henry VII and his heirs male, failing which to descend to William's own rightful heirs. Thus on the death of King Edward VI in 1553, Henry VII's unmarried grandson, the Berkeley inheritance returned to the family. Therefore, Maurice and his descendants from 1492 to 1553 were de jure barons only, until the return of the title to the senior heir Henry, becoming de facto 7th Baron in 1553. Upon his death he was succeeded by his relative George Harding.

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References

  1. Smyth, John (1883). The Berkeley manuscripts. The lives of the Berkeleys, lords of the honour, castle and manor of Berkeley, in the county of Gloucester, from 1066 to 1618;. Robarts - University of Toronto. Gloucester, Printed by J. Bellows.
  2. Cokayne
  3. Smyth, John (1883). The Berkeley manuscripts. The lives of the Berkeleys, lords of the honour, castle and manor of Berkeley, in the county of Gloucester, from 1066 to 1618; p. 154. Robarts - University of Toronto. Gloucester, Printed by J. Bellows.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 G. E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume II, pages 127 & 128
  5. John Burke & John Bernard Burke (1844), Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland (hardback), London: John Russell Smith
  6. Smyth's Lives of the Berkeleys cited in Chitty, Henry; Phillipot, John (1885), The Visitation of the County of Gloucestershire taken in the year 1623, London: The Harleian Society, p. 206, retrieved 13 March 2017
Peerage of England
Preceded by
new creation
Baron Berkeley
1295–1321
Succeeded by
Maurice de Berkeley