Those who are familiar with the reign of King Henry IV and the various rebellions of the Percy family will be quite aware of the battle of Bramham Moor on 19th February 1408, the last roll of the dice for Henry Percy 1st earl of Northumberland. However it is not Percy, despite his obvious Mortimer connections, whom I want to focus on today, instead I will be looking at his rather obscure ally, Thomas Bardolf, 5th Baron Bardolf.
As always, the article is subject to change.
Thomas Bardolf is not mentioned in the 1384 will of his Father, William Bardolf, who leaves a fragment of the true cross to “whomsoever his heir male may be.” It is not possible that Thomas was in utero at the death of his Father because he had a younger brother. Of course it is entirely possible that William Bardolf’s will is not complete, but this does not explain his not knowing who his heir male would be. [1.]
It is known that in 1366 Agnes’ Father Michael de Poynings paid Queen Philippa for the wardship and marriage of the seventeen year old William whose father had died three years earlier. Thomas’ Mother Agnes is referred to as Lady Bardolf by her Mother in her 1369 will suggesting that the pair were already married, or at the very least betrothed. William was born in 1349, Agnes was probably the eldest daughter of her parents and was probably a little younger than William but not by much. They would have four children, Thomas, William, Cecily and Elizabeth but it is not known in which order these children were actually born.
Thomas is commonly thought to have been born on December 22nd 1369 although this is by no means certain. His sisters Cecily and Elizabeth both appear to have been born in the first half of the 1370’s and were of a similar age to their husbands, the former marrying Sir Brian Stapleton of Ingham and the latter marrying (firstly) Robert de Scales, 5th Baron Scales (b.1372) and then Sir Henry Percy. If we are to accept that 1369 date of birth then Thomas was had just turned sixteen when his father died in January 1386. William’s death left Thomas, albeit still underage, very wealthy and the owner of extensive lands spread across England. The widowed Agnes also held substantial lands in dower and would not remain a widow for very long.
Thomas’ father William Bardolf had an impressive lineage. His Father was John Bardolf, 3rd Baron Bardolf, son of Thomas Bardolf, 2nd Baron Bardolf and Agnes Grandison who is thought to be a daughter of William Grandison, 1st Baron Grandison. [2.] John died in Italy in July 1363. William’s Mother was Elizabeth d’Amory, the daughter of Roger d’Amory a one time favourite of Edward II before being supplanted by Hugh le Despenser the Younger. Roger d’Amory, thanks to the favour shown to him by Edward II was given Elizabeth de Clare, Edward’s niece in marriage. [3.] Elizabeth was the youngest daughter of Gilbert de Clare 6th earl of Hertford by his wife Joan of Acre, a daughter of King Edward I.
The family of Thomas’ mother Agnes was rather less grand. However through Agnes we begin to see the links that would lead Thomas to Bramham Moor in 1408. Agnes was the daughter of Michael de Poynings, 1st Baron Poynings of Sussex and his wife Joan. Michael was a retainer of the earls of Arundel and fought at the battle of Crecy in 1346. His close links to the FitzAlan Arundel’s (also of Sussex) can be seen in his will, he leaves his widow a cup enamelled with the arms of Arundel and also left bequests to Chicester Cathedral in Sussex where his patron Richard FitzAlan, 10th earl of Arundel was later buried. Agnes had two brothers, Thomas and Richard. The eldest brother Thomas married Blanche de Mowbray, a granddaughter of Henry, 3rd earl of Lancaster [4.] She would marry twice more after Thomas Poynings death, her last husband was sir John Wiltshire, a close friend of Richard Fitzalan, 11th earl of Arundel.[5.] The younger brother Richard married Isabel de Grey, a daughter of Robert de Grey, 4th baron Grey de Rotherfield (d.1388). Richard died in Spain in 1387 campaigning with John of Gaunt.
Before 10th April 1386 Thomas Bardolf gained a stepfather. Agnes Bardolf nee Poynings remarried very soon after William’s death. Her choice in second husband was probably the influence of Richard Fitzalan 11th earl of Arundel, and indeed, was his own nephew (in law, via his first wife) sir Thomas Mortimer. Mortimer was the illegitimate son of Roger Mortimer, 2nd earl of March and an unknown Mother born circa 1346/50. This marriage came at a critical time in both Arundel and Thomas’ careers but first it is worth taking a look at the two mens relationship.
In December 1381 Edmund Mortimer, 3rd earl of March had died. His seven year old son Roger, now the 4th earl of March assumed the Lieutenancy of Ireland with his uncle Thomas Mortimer acting as deputy, but in charge. This experiment, with a child in the post, did not work and in 1383 the Mortimer family returned to England. As Roger Mortimer 4th earl was still a minor his estates were given over to a group of nobles, namely Arundel himself, Thomas de Beauchamp 12th earl of Warwick [6.], Henry Percy, 1st earl of Northumberland, and John Nevill, 3rd Baron Nevill de Raby. Wardship of the boy was granted to Arundel initially but at the behest of his Mother Joan of Kent, King Richard II granted custody of Roger to his uterine half-brother Thomas Holand, 2nd earl of Kent. Despite this, Roger would remain very close to his uncle Thomas Mortimer and this would probably have brought the teenaged Thomas Bardolf further into the Mortimer sphere. Further to the relationship between Arundel and Thomas Mortimer it must be remembered that Thomas Mortimer’s eldest niece Elizabeth Mortimer was married to Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy the son and heir of Henry Percy 1st earl of Northumberland. Later, Agnes’ youngest daughter Elizabeth would marry as her second husband Sir Henry Percy, grandson of the the above Henry Percy, 1st earl of Northumberland by his son Thomas Percy (d.1387) and Elizabeth Strathbogie of Atholl. Towards the end of the 1380’s the widowed Arundel would go one step further, marring his own great niece (by marriage) Philippa Mortimer, daughter of the 3rd earl of March and niece to Thomas Mortimer.
Marriage to Agnes Bardolf made Thomas Mortimer a relatively wealthy man. After his arraignment for treason in 1397 officials would spend months listing the various properties Thomas held in right of his wife. We have no way of knowing how close Thomas Bardolf was to his new stepfather but the choices and allegiances of his later career are a good indicator that the relationship was a positive one.
- William Bardolph, Lord of Wormegaye, at my manor of Cathorpe in the county of Lincoln, September 12th 1384. My body is to be buried in the quire of the church of the Friars Carmelites at Lenne (Lynn?). To my heir male, whomsoever he be, a part of the very cross of our lord, set in gold.
- If this is correct then Agnes Grandison was a sister of Catherine Grandison, countess of Salisbury, making William a first cousin to William Montague, 2nd earl of Salisbury, Philippa Montague, countess of March, and Elizabeth Montague, Baroness le Despencer.
- Roger was Elizabeth’s third husband, she had previously been married to John de Burgh, heir to the earldom of Ulster, however John died when their only child, William Donn de Burgh was an infant. Elizabeth returned to England only to be kidnapped by Theobald de Verdun, they married but Verdun died leaving Elizabeth pregnant, she gave birth to his posthumous daughter Isabel de Verdun. By her Fathers first marriage to Maude Mortimer (sister of Roger Mortimer, 1st earl of March), Isabel de Verdun had three older half sisters. Just a few weeks after giving birth to Isabel, Elizabeth was married to Roger d’Amory. She was, however, to be widowed a third time. Roger, along with the Mortimers, the earl of Lancaster and the earl of Hereford rebelled against Edward II and the hated Despencers. He fought at the battle of Boroughbridge in early 1322 and was captured. He was due to be executed but died beforehand. Thus William was also a first cousin of Elizabeth de Burgh, wife of Lionel duke of Clarence and therefore a second cousin to Edmund Mortimer 3rd earl of March, the half brother of the illegitimate Thomas Mortimer who would marry William’s widow Agnes.
- Blanche’s sister Matilda was the wife of the above mentioned William Donn de Burgh, 3rd earl of Ulster and was the Mother of Elizabeth de Burgh, wife of Lionel of Clarence. Therefore Agnes’ sister in law Blanche was the first cousin of Agnes’ husband’s William’s first cousin Elizabeth de Burgh.
- The earls of Arundel had Mortimer blood. John FitzAlan, 7th earl of Arundel married Isabel Mortimer, a daughter of Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Wigmore and his wife Maud de Braose in 1260. Isabel was the paternal aunt of Roger Mortimer 1st earl of March and he would have Isabel’s grandson Edmund FitzAlan 9th earl of Arundel put to death in November 1326. Richard FitzAlan 11th earl of Arundel was also the uncle (in law) of Edmund Mortimer, 3rd earl of March and his illegitimate half brother Thomas Mortimer through his marriage to their aunt Elizabeth de Bohun, the half sister of their Father, Roger Mortimer 2nd earl of March.
- Warwick was the son of Thomas Beauchamp, 11th earl of Warwick and his wife Katherine Mortimer, daughter of Roger Mortimer, 1st earl of March. He was the first cousin of Roger Mortimer 2nd earl of March and therefore second cousin to Edmund Mortimer, 3rd earl of March and Thomas Mortimer.