THOMAS DE BROTHERTON (1300‑1338)  Duke of Norfolk 

St Nicholas Church 

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Thomas De Brotherton was the seventeenth child of King Edward 1st., but the first child by Edward's second wife, Margaret of France. Edward was white haired and sixty years old when he married Margaret. She herself was only seventeen. 


Thomas' mother was the daughter of Philip the Hardy, and sister of Philip IV  (The Fair) of France. His father's first wife Eleanor of Castile had died some  eight  years  earlier in 1291. In the same year Thomas' paternal grandmother, Eleanor of Provence had also died. (Wife of Henry III ) At the time of Thomas' birth in 1300, his mother was 18 years old, his father 65, and he  had two  older  brothers still living, and three elder sisters. His mother had one younger son, Edmond of Woodstock, Earl of Kent  (executed in 1330),and a younger daughter, Eleanor. (who died in 1311). His elder  brothers and sisters were, in order of birth‑

John Bottetourt,(died 1324); Eleanor, who had died in 1298, and had married firstly Alphonso King of Aragon, and who had died in 1291, and secondly Henry, count of Bar, and who died in 1302; Joan, who died  much earlier in 1265;  John  who  had  died  in 1272; Henry, who had died in 1274; another sister who died young; Joan of  Acre, who died when he was seven, in 1307, and who had two marriages and eight  children,  some  of great importance, and who will  be mentioned  later;  Alphonso, had died 1284,  ?Earl  of  Chester;  Margaret,  died 1313, who  married  John  Duke  of  Brabant; Berengaria, had died 1279; Mary, a nun,  who  died  much  later,  in 1332; Alice, who had died in 1291, the same year as her mother;  Elizabeth, died 1316  when Thomas  was  16, and who had married firstly John Count of Holland, died 1299, and secondly Humphrey De Bohun, Earl of Essex,  died 1321;  next  was Edward of Caernarvon (born there in 1284), and who was to become Edward II  in  1307  ‑more  of him later; two further children were born before Thomas, both died young, and were Beatrice; and Blanche.


His  younger brother was as stated, Edmond; and  his  younger  sister, Eleanor.  Thomas  was  named after Thomas De Corbridge, Archbishop of York,  who  christened him.


In the year of Thomas' birth, his father and his brother Edward went to fight in  Scotland  against  William Wallace, and stayed on their way north at the Abbey of Bury  St. Edmunds, leaving on May 18th. Edward his brother was accompanied throughout by Piers Gaveston (with  whom  he fell in love),  and who married his niece Margaret, third child of Joan of  Acre. Edward was created  Prince  of  Wales by his father on their return, 7th. Feb. 1301. 


There is a letter*3 in the close rolls, dated 10th. June 1300, that was sent from  Brotherton in Yorkshire, by Edward I, to Richard De Bingham and Robert Jorz,  regarding  1500  footmen to be brought to Carlisle  from  Nottingham. 


The existence of this letter is evidence that the Royal entourage  was at that time camped at Brotherton, and so Thomas was thus named "De Brotherton", Thomas being born there.    


In 1303 and 1304 they  were again fighting  in Scotland, and in 1305 they  fell out, either over Gaveston or ostensibly over the Bishop of Coventry's deer, and Edward was deprived of  all income by his father. This must have surely placed Thomas into a place of  higher favour, even allowing for the fact that he was at that time the  second  in  line to the throne.  Thomas however  was  so  much younger than his brother who became King  when  his father died on their way to the battle against the Scottish lords. 


Edward  on his accession created Gaveston Duke of Cornwall, most inappropriately. Whereas the title of Duke of Norfolk reverted to the crown on the  death of  Roger Bigot, and was granted to Thomas on 16th.December 1312, when he  was  12 years old.


A year later he obtained a grant for an annual fair at Framlingham on Monday,

Tuesday, and Wednesday at Whitsun. 


When Edward had gone to France in 1308 to be  married, he  had appointed Gaveston  as  Regent, which was exceedingly offensive. Gaveston had been married to his sister the  year before, again a shock and an insult to the lords  in view of Edwards improper  relationship  with  him.


At  his  own wedding Edward  was  most  indiscrete,  and  appeared  more  in  love with Gaveston  than  with  his  own  wife.  Edward  later  persisted  with this relationship  to  the  point  of  causing  civil  war, but Gaveston was eventually executed  at Warwick by the Earls.


In the same year Edward III was born, on  13th  November, and this was to be followed on 16th.December by the grant of a title and lands to Thomas. In the following year the  strength gained by Robert the Bruce in various forays  led into 1314 and the  Battle  of  Bannockburn,  when Sir Philip Mowbray gave up Stirling castle, and then the English cavalry under Edward  were heavily defeated. 


In  1316,  the  Earl  of  Pembroke  was sent by Edward II to Avignon on a mission to the pope. On the way  back  he was captured by a French knight, who claimed that Edward owed him money for military service. Edward paid a ransom of 2,500 pounds. Pembroke founded the "middle party",  and  one  of his supporters was the young Thomas of Brotherton, who was by then Earl of Norfolk. 


After Gaveston's death Edward gave favours to others, and Hugh Despenser became  gradually increasing in favour. Hugh Despenser the  younger  was married by influence of the king to Eleanor De Clare, daughter of the Duke of Gloucester,  and thus acquired the Lordship of Glamorgan. He acquired various other lands, mainly from the  King, but it was his dealings with the lands of Sir William De Braose, which finally  aroused the enmity of the marcher lords. Sir William De Braose, Lord of Gower was the last male in a great family that had fallen into poverty. He hoped to find a purchaser for his lands among the marcher lords, but died in the middle of his negotiations.


His son in law, Sir John Mowbray, in accordance with the accepted 'Customs of the March', at once seized his lands of Gower and Swansea in right of his wife. Despenser, seeing a  good  opportunity  for  further acquisition, suggested to the king that under English law, Mowbray  should have had a Royal licence to take possession of the Braose lands. The King agreed,  to the horror of the Marcher Lords.


Civil war threatened, and  in 1321 judgement was given in Parliament against the Despensers. Hugh the elder submitted, and, banished, departed from Harwich, seen off there by the King! The younger Despenser  became a pirate  in  company  with some sailors of the Cinque Ports. 


It  should  be  remembered at  this  point  that  Mary  Roos,  Thomas  De Brotherton's second wife had  been married formerly to none other than Sir William Braose until his death, and  Edward De Brotherton his son, was later married to Beatrix, the daughter of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. Again, Thomas was the Earl Marshal from 1315, and it can hardly be that he was a disinterested party in all of this. 


An  event  in  1321  involved Thomas. On 13th.October, Queen Isabella was travelling on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. She requested a nights lodging at Leeds Castle  (Maidstone, Kent), one of  the Royal Castles. Lady  Badlesmere, whose husband was absent, but unpopular at court, and governor of the castle, refused her entry. The  Queen  ordered  her  men to force entry, and six of them were killed. Thomas of Brotherton was amongst those  summoned to the seige,  along  with his brother, the Earl of Kent. The castle fell  after a weeks seige, and on their way to  assist  Lady  Baddlesmere had been the two Mortimers. 


Now  the king had an excuse to  attack the Lords, and proceeded to do so with the  strong army thus summoned, and Thomas must surely have  been  involved  in all this.  The Mortimers surrendered without a fight. Mowbray, with others, fled north to join  Lancaster.  The  Mortimers were sent to the tower.


In 1322, Lancaster*5 was defeated (17th.March). He was beheaded on the 22nd.March at Pontefract,  having been sentenced to death  in  the  Great Hall  there  at  Pontefract  as a traitor.  Again, Thomas De Brotherton must have been amongst those present.


Mowbray was later hanged at York.  A hundred years later a Mowbray was to become  Duke of Norfolk, and this through his mother, Grand‑daughter  (I think) of Thomas De Brotherton, and descended through Margaret, his daughter by Alice Hales.  


Thomas married Alice Lacey, daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, and  his household  expenses  for  one year from Michaelmas 1313 (year of  Bannockburn), was 8000 pounds, and about 1/3 that of the king. The Despensers were restored, and given vast  lands and titles in Wales. Thomas was obliged by his brother to give a life  grant of the title and  honour of Chepstow and of the Welsh lands that had belonged to the Bigod  Earls  of  Norfolk.  Other  lands came from the Mowbrays and Mortimers.


Regarding the local connection:

It  seems to me that it  may well have been this action that caused Thomas to  subsequently spend his time in Norfolk and also to cement a friendship with the families of the Mortimers, and very likely I feel to have led to the introduction to  his  second wife, the widow of William De Braose, daughter of William, Lord Roos, presumed  by  me  to  be  at  Roos  Hall, Beccles   (Now an Elizabethan  rebuild).  


There is a letter kept at the public record office in Norwich, written from Thomas De Brotherton to his tailors in Yarmouth.*4


Also note that Thomas' grand‑daughter Joan was born at Bungay very close by. (another ex‑Castle of the Bigods)  Furthermore, as Thomas was only 22 years of age it must be that sometime in this period  he  met and married his first wife, Alice, daughter of Sir Roger Hales of Harwich, but whose family I suggest founded  Hales Hall at Hales*6, which is very near to the towns of Beccles  and  Bungay, and  also to the Hamlet of Brotherton at Hopton, which is thought by Coppinger*4a to  have  derived its name from Broder, a freeman in the time of Domesday (1087). There must be the possibility  however, under  these  circumstances, of some connection with the name of Thomas De Brotherton, who may quite possibly have given his name to it.                          

In the  book of pleas, kept in the Guildhall of Norwich, one spelling of Thomas' name was "Thomas of Broderton", which could again be an indication that there was  indeed a connection with Broder. Again, it is certainly true that Great Yarmouth and Norwich were amongst the most important towns in the land in the 14th.century.


A bust of Edward I, the arms of Thomas De Brotherton, and of Edward  III, and  of    his sons were displayed on the ceiling of the great church of St.Nicholas in Great Yarmouth after the battle of Sluys. Also the shield of Edward III is prominently displayed in the very centre of the rood screen in the village Church of St.John at  Lound.  The  neighbouring  village of Ashby is represented  only  by  its  church. There, the  entire village  has  been swept away in the enclosures of 18th.century. It is pure surmision that there could  similarly  have been a larger presence in the 14th.century at "Broderton".  Hugh  Despenser became Edward's favourite instead of  Gaveston,  and  was universally hated. Queen  Isabella went on a mission to France, and there secured support to effectively declare  war on Despenser who is thought to  have had a similar relationship with her husband as had Gaveston, albeit more discrete. 

Lound Run by P Rumbelow.

Lound Church.

Mortimer had escaped from the Tower, and when  Isabella  returned with a force from France, she came to Norfolk and stayed first at Thomas' castle at Walton on the Naze.*7  


Thomas De Brotherton was part of the army of Isabella's that marched on London, together with Mortimer and Henry of Leicester. Edward had occupied  the tower, but faced by this army  and a hostile city, retreated to Wales with the two Despensers, Arundel, Surrey, and Robert Baldock. 



The Earl of  Winchester  surrendered in Bristol, and was condemned to a traitor's death by Thomas, Mortimer, and Kent. Edward became a hunted fugitive. On 16th.November 1326 he was found or betrayed at the Abbey of Neath, along with Despenser and Baldock. Arundel was captured in Shropshire. Despenser was condemned, and executed in a  most  unpleasant way.- The sentence of treason always included castration.


The King was imprisoned at Kenilworth, and deposed by Parliament. He was forced to  abdicate  on  condition  that then  his son would be crowned in his place, which he was on 1st.Feb.1327, whilst Edward II  remained in custody at Kenilworth. Later he was spirited from place to place in secret, and was eventually murdered in a dungeon at Berkeley castle (in July). Queen Isabella's support naturally declined as  did that for her  lover, Mortimer. Edward III was very young at this time. His mother's lover, Mortimer was  arrested  a few years later and executed, in 1330.


Isabella was banished from court and allowed to live out her days at Castle Rising in Norfolk.  


In 1331 Thomas De Brotherton obtained a  confirmation in tail general of all the castles, manors and lands previously of Roger Bigot, then valued at 6,000  marks, (4,000 pounds)  per annum, and was also made the King's server. He resided at Framlingham castle, and dying in 1338 was interred at the Abbey church of Bury St.Edmunds. Thomas' son Edward became Earl of Norfolk at Thomas' death, but died in the same year, having first married Beatrix, daughter of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. The inheritance then went to his sisters as co‑heirs, but for her lifetime the manor and castle of Framlingham was granted by the King to Mary, their stepmother as the grant of Edward II, was to Thomas and his wife. 


Alice, Thomas' daughter died in Mary's lifetime and the inheritance then passed to the lady Joan Montacute,  who was Alices' daughter. Born at Bungay castle  in 1348, she died in 1375,having been married to William De Ufford, Earl of Suffolk, who survived her,and who and held Framlingham for  life. That castle with titles seems to have then been granted to Margaret, daughter of Alice and Thomas who survived until  1400,  and was  created countess of Norfolk by Richard II on 24th.Sept

1397. This then led to the title being passed down the Mowbray line. It was the Countess who therefore caused the arms of De Brotherton to be carried subsequently by  the Mowbrays and Howards to this day (incorporated in their later more complex coats of arms).

It is a mystery for the present, as to whether Thomas' line might have been continued to the present day, at least on the female side. In olden times the family name sometimes continued by a switch to the mother's surname. A Pedigree of the Howard family in a booklet published as a guide to Castle Howard, suggests that this possibility exists, since it gives a complete succession on the female side, his daughter, previously unknown to me, being Elizabeth Plantaganet, who, after marrying John, Lord Mowbray, is the direct antecedent of Thomas De Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. Reversion of any male in this line, such as a second son, to the name De Brotherton, could give continuance of the line.

The Three Lions Rampant upon a shield seen outside of the south porch of St.Nicholas Church today are the Arms of Thomas De Brotherton.



*3 In the Public Record Office at Chancery Lane, London.

*4 This letter at the P.R.O. in Norwich

*4a Coppinger was professor of Law at Victoria University Manchester, and published the "Manors of Suffolk" in 1906.

*5 Cousin to Thomas and Edward, born 1278.

    There is considerable detail concerning the household of Thomas of Lancaster in            "Chapters in Medieval Administrative History" by Tout. (1920, vol.II, p.184)

*6 There was a deed of Hales Hall, as belonging to Roger De Hales, mentioned in               Armstrong's History of Norfolk, but the date of the deed is not recorded.

*7 The castle at Walton has long since disappeared into the sea.


J. C. Mantell the composer and organist

John (Johann) Christian Mantell was an immigrant friend of Handel’s who came to Yarmouth as organist at St. Nicholas’. He held concerts at the Town Hall and at the Ship Inn. Yarmouth was looking for an organist, having installed the new and very fine church organ. It is thought that Mantell may have been recommended for the post by Handel. Mantell came from Erfurt in Germany, where he had the surname Schiedermantel. Clearly a “mouthful” in this country, he adopted a shortened version. In 1734, Mantell was to be found at South Benfleet. Coming to Yarmouth around 1748, he stayed until his death in 1761. As organist, Mantell was paid £80 a year, but out of this he had to employ another at St. Georges. Later the salary decreased to £40 a year and even to £20, so Mantell then occupied both posts himself. Mantell was a fine composer and as a friend and colleague of Handel, he sponsored the latter’s opera “Faramondo” in 1737. In turn, Handel sponsored Mantell’s printed music.*3 Mantell  then developed an illness in which his arm was affected. He went to Aachen to take the waters, and within 6 weeks was able to resume his musical activities. Mantell died in Yarmouth in 1761, and was buried in St. Nicholas’ Church, near to the organ. Executor of his will, which is registered with the prerogative court at Canterbury, was Eaton the bookseller. Mantell had also been especially friendly with Mayor Ellys, but in his will he left all his possessions to his brother.*4


*3 Mantell’s music is now in the British Library.

*4 this research by Robert Hallman.