MOWBRAY, JOHN (VI), third Duke of Norfolk, hereditary Earl Marshal of England, and fifth Earl of Nottingham (1415–1461), was the only son of John Mowbray V [q. v.] and his wife, Catherine Nevill. He was born on 12 Sept. 1415 (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 131). Before he was eleven years old he figured in a ceremony designed to mark the reconciliation of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and Bishop Beaufort. On Whitsunday (19 May) 1426 he was knighted by the infant king, Henry VI (Leland, Col- lectanea, ii. 490 ; Fœdera, x. 356 ; Ramsay, Lancaster and York, i. 368). He was still under age at his father’s death in October 1432, and his estates were in the custody of Humphrey of Gloucester until 1436 (Ord. Privy Council, iv. 132; cf. Rot. Parl. iv. 433). Nevertheless, he was summoned to the council in November 1434 (Ord. Privy Council, iv. 287, 300) . In August 1436 he served under Gloucester in the army which had been intended to relieve Calais, but arrived after the Duke of Burgundy had raised the siege, and made an inglorious raid into Flanders (Stevenson, Wars of the English in France, u. p. xlix; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 61 ; Hardyng, p. 396). The onerous post of warden of the east march towards Scotland and captain of Berwick was in March 1437 entrusted to Norfolk for a year, and at the end of that time he was appointed a guardian of the truce concluded with Scotland (Doyle, Official Baronage ; Paston Letters, i. 41). In 1439 he was one of the English ambassadors in the great peace conference near Oye, between Calais and Gravelines (Fcedera, x. 728 ; Wavrin [1431-47], p. 264 ; Ord. Privy Council, v. 334-407). In the summer of 1441 he was ordered to inquire into the government of Norwich, in consequence of disturbances in that city (DOYLE). The disturbances were renewed in the following year, and the populace, irritated by the exactions of the prior of Christchurch, held the town against Norfolk (Will. Worc. p. 763 ; Chron. of London, ed. Nicolas, p. 131). When the riot was quelled the civic franchises were withdrawn, and Norfolk, by the royal command, installed Sir John Clifton as captain of the citv (ib. Ord. Privy Council, v. 229, 244). The council on 5 March 1443 specially thanked him for his services (ib. p. 235). Two years later (11 March 1445) Norfolk’s ducal title, which had received parliamentary recognition in 1425, during Henry’s minority, was confirmed by the king’s letters patent, and precedence was assigned him next to the Duke of Exeter (Rot. Parl. v. 446). In October 1446 he obtained permission, then rarely sought by men of rank, to go on pilgrimage to Rome and other holy places (Doyle). He returned in time to join an embassy to France in July 1447 to treat of the surrender of Maine (ib.)
At the beginning of 1450 (Paston Letters, i. introd. p. 1) popular opinion accused the Duke of Suffolk of keeping Norfolk in the background :
The White Lion is laid to sleep
Thorough the envy of th’ Apè Clog.
Later in 1450 Richard, duke of York, came over from Ireland, after the murder of the Duke of Suffolk, and entered into a rivalry with Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset, for the direction of the royal policy. York’s wife, Cecily Nevill, was the youngest sister of Norfolk’s mother, while Norfolk’s wife, Eleanor Bourchier, was sister of Viscount Bourchier, who had married York’s sister. Norfolk at once became the chief supporter of York, who was thus connected with him by a double family tie. He may have been aggrieved, too, that the dukes of Somerset had been expressly given precedence over himself on the ground of ‘nighness of blood and great zeal to do the king service ‘ (Ord. Privy Council, v. 255). About the middle of August, before York’s actual return, Norfolk went down to his chief seat, Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, whither he summoned ‘ certain notable knights and squires ‘ of Norfolk, to commune with him for the ‘ sad rule and governance ‘ of that county, ‘which standeth right indisposed ‘ (Paston Letters, i. 139, 143). In the first days of September it was rumoured in Norwich that, along with the Earl of Oxford, Lord Scales, and others, he had been entrusted with a commission of oyer and terminer to inquire into the wrongs and violences that prevailed in Norfolk (ib. p. 145). He met his ‘uncle of York ‘ at Bury St. Edmunds on Thursday, 15 Oct., and, after being together until nine o’clock on Friday, they settled who should be knights of the shire for Norfolk in the parliament summoned for 6 Nov. (ib. p. 160). Only one of their nominees, however, was returned. A week after the meeting at Bury Norfolk ordered John Paston to join him at Ipswich on 8 Nov. on his way to parliament, ‘with as many cleanly people as ye may get for our worship at this time’ (ib. p. 162). About 18 Nov. he and York arrived in London, both with a ‘ grete multytude of defensabylle men,’ and he supported his kinsman in the fierce struggle with Somerset which ensued (Gregory, p. 195; Will. Worc. p. 770). In March 1451 he held sessions of oyer and terminer at Norwich, and in July he and York were ordered to meet the king at Canterbury (Paston Letters, i. 123, 216 ; Ramsay, Lancaster and York, ii. 146). He does not appear, however, to have joined York in his futile armed demonstration of February 1452 (Wavrin [1447-71], p. 265 ; Paston Letters, i. cxlviii, 232). Yet he thought it necessary to take advantage of the king’s Good-Friday amnesty, and sued out a pardon on 23 June (ib. i. lxxxiii). At the instance of Somerset and Queen Margaret he dismissed some of his advisers ‘who owed good will and service unto the Duke of York and others’ (ib. pp. 243, 305). In Norfolk, where he declared his intention of bearing ‘the principal rule and governance next the king,’ and was addressed as ‘your Highness’ and ‘Prince and Sovereign next our Sovereign Lord ‘ (1455), his interests were in some cases opposed to those of the friends of York (ib. pp. 228-30, 248). On Henry’s becoming insane in the autumn of 1453, Norfolk demanded an inquiry into Somerset’s administration (ib. p. 259). But by January 1454, if not earlier, his influence with York had been overshadowed by that of the Nevills ; he did not obtain any], office on York’s becoming protector, and was not called to the council until 16 April (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 174). Even after that he was rarely present. In July he was ordered to be prepared to prove his charges against Somerset on 28 Oct. following (ib. p. 219). He was not present at the first battle of St. Albans (22 May 1455), but is said to have come up the day after with a force of six thousand men (Paston Letters, i. 333). The number can hardly be correct. York having summoned a parliament for 9 July, Norfolk nominated his cousin, John Howard, afterwards Duke of Norfolk himself, and Sir Roger Chamberlain to be knights of the shire for Norfolk, and the duchess wrote in their favour to John Paston, who had again aspired to the position, urging that her lord needed in parliament ‘such persons as long unto him and be of his menial servants’ (ib. p. 337). Though some objected to Howard as having ‘no livelihood or conversement’ in the shire, he was duly elected (ib. pp. 340-1). Whether or not Norfolk was kept in the background by the Nevill influence, we hear nothing more of him until November 1456, when he made a pilgrimage on foot from Framlingham to the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham (ib. p. 411). In the August of the following year he asked and obtained permission to go on pilgrimage to various holy places in Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Picardy, and Cologne, and to the blood of our Saviour at Windesnake, as well as to Rome and Jerusalem, for the recovery of the king’s health (Fœdera, xi. 405 ; Dugdale, i. 131). This seems to suggest that he was now leaning to the court party. There is no record of his having performed his vow, and he was summoned to a council in January 1458 (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 292). He does not appear to have figured in the ‘ loveday ‘ procession of 25 March 1458, when the leaders of the rival factions were paired off with each other (cf. ib. vi. 297). When York, Warwick, and Salisbury again took up arms in 1459, Norfolk kept aloof from them, and in the Coventry parliament which attainted them after their flight he took (11 Dec.) the special oath to the Lancastrian succession (Rot. Parl. v. 351). Early in the following February he was commissioned, along with some un- doubted Lancastrians, to raise forces in Norfolk and Suffolk to resist an expected landing of Warwick there (Fœdera, xi. 440 ; Paston Letters, i. 514). Immediately after he was appointed a guardian of the truce with Scotland.
When the Nevills returned from Calais in June 1460 and turned the tables at Northampton, Norfolk again adhered to the Yorkist cause ; but he may very well have been one of the lords who in October refused to transfer the crown to the Duke of York (Rot. Parl. v. 375). He seems to have been left in London with Warwick, when York and Salisbury went north in December to meet their death at Wakefield, and he shared Warwick’s defeat by Queen Margaret’s troops at St. Albans on 17 Feb. 1461 (Will. Worc. p. 776; Gregory, pp. 211-12; Chron. ed. Davies, p. 107; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 155). Escaping from the battle, he was present at the meeting of Yorkist lords at Baynards Castle on 3 March, which decided that Edward, duke of York, should be king, and accompanied him next day to his enthronement at Westminster (Will. Worc. p. 777). Shortly after he went north with the new king and fought at Towton (29 March), ‘like a second Ajax’ says the classical Whethamstede (i. 409 ; Will. Worc. p. 777; Three Fifteenth- Century Chronicles, p. 161). A younger contemporary who wrote, however, after 1514, and was connected with the hoase of Norfolk, asserts that the duke brought up fresh troops whom he had been raising in Norfolk, and turned the scale at a critical point in the battle (fragment printed by Hearne ad ped. Chron. Sprott, and in Chron. of the White Rose, p. 9). The concurrence of contemporary testimony makes very doubtful Hall’s statement (p. 256) that he was kept away from the battle by sickness. Apparently he returned south with the king, for on 5 June he was at Framlingham, and on the 28th officiated as earl-marshal at Edward’s coronation (Doyle; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 162). He was rewarded with the offices of steward and chief justice of the royal forests south of Trent (11 July) and constable of Scarborough Castle (12 Aug. ; Doyle). But Edward refused to recognise Norfolk’s forcible seizure from John Paston of Sir John Fastolf s castle of Caistor near Yarmouth, to which he had no shadow of right (Paston Letters, ii. 14). Paston appealed to the king, and in a few months Norfolk was obliged to withdraw (ib. ii. xiii). He did not long survive this rebuff. He died on 6 Nov. 1461, and was buried at Thetford Priory (Report on the Dignity of a Peer, App. v. 326; Paston Letters, ii. 247; Dugdale, i. 131).
Norfolk married, before July 1437, Eleanor, daughter of William Bourchier, earl of Eu, and Anne of Gloucester, granddaughter of Edward III, a sister therefore of Viscount Bourchier and half-sister of Humphrey Stafford, first duke of Buckingham (ib.; Ord. Privy Council, v. 56). She bore him one son, John Mowbray VII (1444-1476), whom she outlived (Paston Letters, iii. 154). This John, fourth duke of Norfolk, was born on 18 Oct. 1444, and on 24 March 1451 the earldoms of Surrey and Warrenne were revived in his favour. They had become extinct on the death in 1415 of Thomas, earl of Arundel, whose sister, Elizabeth Fitzalan, married his great-grandfather, Thomas Mowbray I, first duke of Norfolk [q. v.] (Dugdale, i. 131; Doyle; Nicholas, Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope). The fourth duke makes a great figure in the ‘Paston Correspondence.’ Maintaining his father’s ,baseless claim to Caistor Castle, he besieged and took it in September 1469, during the confusion of that year, and kept possession, with a short interval during the Lancastrian restoration of 1470-1, until his sudden death on 17 Jan. 1476, when it was recovered by the Pastons (Paston Letters, ii. 366, 383; iii. xiii, 148). He transferred his Gower and Chepstow estates to William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke (d. 1469), in exchange for certain manors in Norfolk and Suffolk (Rot. Parl. vi. 292). By his wife, Elizabeth Talbot, daughter of the great Earl of Shrewsbury, he left only a daughter, Anne Mowbray (b. 10 Dec. 1472), and his honours, with the exception of the baronies of Mowbray and Segrave and probably the earldom of Norfolk, became extinct (Nicolas, Historic Peerage) Anne Mowbray, the last of her line, was married (15 Jan. 1478) to Richard, duke of York, second son of Edward IV, who had been created Earl of Nottingham, Earl Warrenne, and Duke of Norfolk. But her husband was murdered in the Tower before the marriage was consummated, and Duchess Anne died without issue, and was buried in the chapel of St. Erasmus in Westminster Abbey (Dugdale). The Mowbray and other baronies fell into abeyance between the descendants of her great grand-aunts Margaret and Isabel, daughters of Thomas Mowbray, first duke of Norfolk [q. v.] Margaret had married Sir Robert Howard, and their son, John Howard [q. v.], ‘Jockey of Norfolk,’ was created Duke of Norfolk and earl marshal of England on 28 June 1483. Isabel Mowbray married James, baron Berkeley (d. 1462), and her son William, created Earl of Nottingham (28 June 1483) and Marquis of Berkeley (28 Jan. 1488), sold the Axholme and Yorkshire estates of the Mowbrays to Thomas Stanley, first earl of Derby (Storehouse, Isle of Axholme, p. 140). His descendants, the earls of Berkeley, called themselves Barons of Mowbray, Segrave, and Breuse of Gower.[Rotuli Parliamentorum; Lords’ Report on the Dignity of a Peer; Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, ed. Palgrave; Rymer’s Fœdera, original ed.; Wavrin’s Chronique, Register of Abbot Whethamstede, and Annals of William Worcester (printed at the end of Stevenson’s Wars of the English in France) in Rolls Series; English Chronicle, 1377-1461, ed. Davies, ‘Gregory’s’ Chronicle (Gregory’s authorship is now abandoned: see English Historical Review, viii. 565), in Collections of a London Citizen, and Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, all published by the Camden Society; Chronicle of London, ed. Harris Nicolas; Hardyng’s Chronicle, ed. Ellis, 1812; Chronicles of the White Rose, 1845; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner; Dugdale’s Baronage; Nicolas’s Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope; Doyle’s Official Baronage; Stubbs’s Constitutional History, vol. iii.; Ramsay’s Lancaster and York; Pauli’s Gesehichte Englands, vol. v.]
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39
Mowbray, John (1415-1461) by James Tait