2nd Baron Mowbray (1298-1322)
Born 1286 Died 1322

Born on the 2nd November 1286, John was the eldest son of Roger de Mowbray, 1st Baron Mowbray and Rose de Clare, daughter of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Gloucester. His father having died in 1298 the young John found himself a royal ward, and as was common at the time, his wardship was purchased by one William de Braose, the Lord of Gower. Which is how John found himself betrothed to William's six year old daughter Alina de Braose. Although Alina was later to become her father's sole heiress this was to prove both a blessing and a curse as things turned out.

Although the Mowbray family seat was located in Lincolnshire at Axholme, their landholdings were primarily within Yorkshire and so the Mowbrays were traditionally expected to do their duty as northern barons and serve in the king's wars against the Scots. Thus at the age of fourteen John was in attendance as Edward I made his way north with an army. On that occasion he only accompanied the king as far as Carlisle and had to wait another five years until the year 1305 when he was permitted to join in the actual fighting.

He was knighted on the 22nd May 13061, and after attending the coronation of Edward II in 1308 John appears to have remained a loyal supporter of the new king, and was appointed to a succession of offices as well as serving in the now traditional summer campaigns against the Scots each year until 1319.2

In 1318 his father-in-law William's only son and heir (also named William) died. William de Braose subsequently decided to bestow Gower on his daughter Alina and her husband. Unfortunately for John his somewhat impecunious father-in-law also raised funds by promising to transfer his Marcher Lordship of Gower to other interested parties. This might have been trouble enough for John, but to make matters worse there was Hugh Despenser the Younger, who held the neighbouring lordship of Glamorgan and desired Gower for himself. Since Despenser was the king's favourite at the time he easily persuaded Edward II to declare the Gower as forfeit to the crown so the king could regrant it to none other than Despenser. Hence although John took steps to take control of Gower he was eventually dispossessed.

As it turned out John was not the only person who was unhappy at this turn of events. A number of other Marcher Lords were similarly disturbed at the growing power of the Despensers and joined together with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster in a confederation directed against the new favourites of the king. There were loud complaints at the Parliament of October 1320, which eventually led to open rebellion in the spring of 1321. These Contrariants as they became known, marched on London in August 1321 and a reluctant Edward II was forced to concede to their demands. The Despensers were banished and John was amongst those who received a formal pardon from Edward II.

Unfortunately matters did not end there as within six months Edward had rebuilt his support and raised an army which marched into Wales and soon forced the submission of the Contrariant leaders in the March. With the collapse of the opposition in Marcher Wales, John left to join the Earl of Lancaster who was busy looting some royal manors in the vicinity of Doncaster and had laid siege to Tickhill Castle. John thereafter remained with the Earl of Lancaster and fought at the battle of Boroughbridge, being amongst those captured after the defeat.

John was therefore amongst the two dozen or so barons condemned as traitors in the aftermath of the defeat at Boroughbridge, and so on the 23rd March 1322, together with Roger de Clifford, John found himself being drawn by three horses through the streets of York on his way to the scaffold. There he was hung in chains; the customary disembowelling and quartering being omitted on this occasion. His body was left to hang at York for the next three years before Edward II finally relented and allowed his remains to be taken down and buried at the church of the Friars Preachers in York.

Since John de Mowbray had died as a condemned traitor all the de Mowbray lands now fell into the possession of Edward II, who for good measure also imprisoned both John's widow Alice and his son John in the Tower of London. There they remained until the deposition of Edward II in January 1327.


1 Together with 300 or so others in a mass ceremony at Westminster.
2 The offices held by John during this period were; in 1312 keeper of the city and county of York; in 1313 Warden of the Marches, in 1315 captain and keeper of of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Northumberland; in 1318, governor of Scarborough and Malton castles in Yorkshire. In 1319 sent to Scotland with the authority to receive into protection all who would submit to Edward II.


  • Mowbray family history at http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/mowbrayfh/ Itsself sourced from;
    The Mowbray Journal, eds. William Mowbray and Stephen Goslin, 1976-79.
    Burke's Extinct Peerages, pp 386 - 388.
  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for MOWBRAY
    See http://1911encyclopedia.org/index.htm

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