Reginald de Grey, third Lord Grey of Ruthin

GREY, REGINALD de, third Lord Grey of Ruthin (1362?–1440), was the eldest surviving son and heir of Reginald, second baron Grey of Ruthin, and of his wife Eleanor, daughter of Lord Strange of Blackmere, and the grandson therefore of Roger de Grey [q. v.], the first baron, and of his wife Elizabeth Hastings. He was probably born in 1362, as he was twenty-six years old when his father’s death, at the end of July 1388, gave him the title and rich estates in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, as well as the cantreds of Duffryn Clwyd and Englefield, with the castle of Ruthin. On the death of John Hastings, heir to the earldom of Pembroke, in 1389, Grey was declared his next heir of the whole blood, in virtue of his grandmother Elizabeth’s claim as sister of John, the third baron Hastings (Nicolas, Historic Peerage, p. 239, ed. Courthope); while Hugh Hastings, great-great-grandson of John, second baron Hastings (1262-1313)[q. v.], by his second wife, Isabel le Despenser, was declared heir of the half-blood. A great suit was afterwards carried on between Grey and Edward, brother of this Hugh Hastings, in the court of the earl marshal, each party claiming to bear the arms of the Hasting family, ‘on a field or a maunche gules.’ It was one of the causes célèbres of the middle ages. It lasted from 1401 to 1410, and was finally decided in Grey’s favour. Both claimants continued to bear the title, to which neither had a right (Stubbs, Const. Hist. iii. 534; cf. Account of the Controversy, ed. Sir C. G. Young, London, 1841, fol., privately printed). Adam of Usk was counsel for Grey during the earlier stages of the suit (Chronicle, p. 56, ed. Thompson).

In October 1389 Grey was first summoned to parliament as `Reginald Grey de Ruthyn.’ In October 1394 he accompanied Richard II on his expedition to Ireland, where he claimed the lordship of Wexford as part of the Hastings estates (Courthope, p. 435). In 1398 he was again employed in Ireland, acting for a short time as governor after the death of Roger, earl of March (Gilbert, Viceroys of Ireland, p. 278). At the coronation feast of Henry IV it was Grey’s duty to spread the cloths (Adam of Use, p. 33). He became a member of Henry’s council, and in June 1401 gave the weighty advice that the question of war with France should be referred to parliament (Ord. Privy Council, i. 144).

The Welsh marches had been in a disturbed state since the fall of Richard II. A petty quarrel arose between Grey and his neighbour, Owain ab Gruffydd, lord of Glyndyfrdwy [see Glendower, Owen]. Owain claimed certain lands which Grey had in his possession, and failing to get lawful redress harried Grey’s estates with fire and sword (Ann. Henrici IV, p. 333). Another dispute quickly followed in June 1400, when a certain Gruffydd ab Davydd ab Gruffydd stole the horses from Grey’s park at Ruthin, and impudently expected to be forgiven. Grey wrote to him an angry letter concluding with some rough verses threatening ‘a rope, a ladder, and a ring, high on gallows for to hang, and thus shall be your ending’ (Hingeston, Royal and Historical Letters of the Reign of Henry IV, i. 38, Rolls Ser.; cf. Ellis, Original Letters, 2nd ser. i. 3-7). Meanwhile Owain was raising the Welsh in revolt, and bitterly complaining that Grey had withheld from him his summons to the Scots expedition until it was impossible for him to obey it, and then denouncing him as a traitor (Monk of Evesham, p. 171, ed. Hearne). All Wales was soon in confusion, and Grey recommended the sternest measures to the council. Henry’s fruitless autumn expedition, and the penal laws of January 1401, show that his advice was followed. But on 30 Jan. 1402 Owain made a raid on Ruthin, and carried off a great booty into the hills and woods. Grey seems to have remained in London till 19 Feb. (Ord. Privy Council, i. 180), but he had already arrived at Ruthin when in Lent Owain appeared again before the castle, and Grey, persuaded by his followers to attack the rebels, was lured into an ambush, taken prisoner, and carried off to the recesses of Snowdon.

Grey remained in his ‘harsh and severe prison’ all the summer. The defeat of Edmund Mortimer, and the discomfiture of the king’s expedition in the autumn, led him to make terms. He still rejected Owain’s constant pressure to form an alliance with his old enemy, though Owain’s terms of ransom were ten thousand marks, six thousand to be paid down upon Martinmas day (11 Nov.) before his release, while his eldest son was to remain as a hostage as security for the remainder. Grey petitioned the king to consent to the arrangement, and in the October parliament the commons took up his cause, and a commission was appointed to negotiate with the Welsh rebel (Rot. Parl. iii. 487; Fœdera, viii. 279; Ann. Henrici IV, p. 349; Adam of Use, p. 75, erroneously makes the ransom 16,000l.) The king allowed his feoffees to sell his manor of Hartley in Kent, and remitted the fines for absenteeism due from his Irish estates (‘Pat. 4 Henry IV,’ p. 2 m. 33, in Dugdale’s Baronage, i. 717). The king himself contributed to the ransom, ‘because he knew Grey to be a valiant and loyal knight.’ Grey was soon released, and on 29 Jan. 1404 was in London (Wylie, Hist. Henry IV, i. 305). On 23 Nov. 1409 he was ordered, with the other great lords of the northern marches, to continue the war against the Welsh, as the rebels had paid no regard to the truce (Fœdera, viii. 611). His name appears but seldom in the transactions of the council for the rest of Henry IV’s reign. He never seems to have recovered from the financial embarrassment caused by the large sum he had to pay for his release.

In Henry V’s reign Grey was appointed, on 17 April 1415, one of the council which, under Bedford as regent, was appointed to govern England during the king’s absence in France (Ord. Privy Council, ii. 157). In April 1416 he was one of those sent to meet the Emperor Sigismund at Dartford (ib. ii. 194). In 1416 he bound himself by indenture to serve Henry in France. In 1421 and 1425 he also served in France. He was present in 1426 at the parliament at Leicester. He died on 30 Sept. 1440.

Grey was twice married. His first wife was Margaret, the daughter of William, lord Roos, by whom he had a son, Sir John Grey, K.G., a very distinguished soldier, who fought at Agincourt and was deputy of Ireland from 1427 to 1428, but who died before his father, leaving by his wife, Constance Holland, two sons, Edmund, afterwards earl of Kent [q. v.], and Thomas, who was in 1449 made Baron of Rougemont. Reginald’s second wife was Joan, the daughter and heiress of Sir William de Astley. She was the widow of Thomas Ranley of Farnborough, Warwickshire, and married Grey before February 1416 (Thirty-seventh Report of Deputy-keeper of Records, p. 318). She had by Grey three sons, of whom the eldest, Edward, was summoned to parliament in 1446 as Lord Ferrers of Groby [see under Grey, John, Lord Ferrers of Groby, 1432-1461]. The other children of the second marriage were John and Robert Grey. The title of Grey of Ruthin is still borne by Reginald’s descendants in the female line.

[Dugdale’s Baronage, i. 716-17; Nicolas’s Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope, pp. 33, 222, 226, 239, 394; Collins’s Peerage, ii. 513-16, ed. 1779; Rolls of Parliament, vol. iii.; Rymer’s Fœdera, vols. viii. and ix., original edit.; Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, vols. i. ii. and iii., ed. Nicolas; Hingeston’s Royal and Historical Letters of Henry IV (Rolls Ser.); Ellis’s Original Letters, 2nd ser. vol. i.; Annales Henrici IV, published along with Trokelowe (Rolls Ser.); Cont. Eulogium Historiarum, vol. iii. (Rolls Ser.); Walsingham’s Historia Anglicana (Rolls Ser.); Adam of Usk, ed. Thompson; Monk of Evesham’s Hist. of Richard II, ed. Hearne; Wylie’s Hist. of Henry IV.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
Grey, Reginald de by Thomas Frederick Tout

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