3rd Baron Mowbray (1327-1361)
Lord of Gower (1327-1354)
Born 1310 Died 1361

John de Mowbray was born on the 29th November 1310 at Hovingham in Yorkshire, being the eldest son of John de Mowbray, 2nd Baron Mowbray and Alice de Braose. His father John had been one of the Contrariants opposed to the rising power of the Despensers and was captured after the battle of Boroughbridge and later executed as a traitor at York on the 23rd March 1322. Together with his mother Alice, the young John then found himself a resident of the Tower of London where he remained for the next five years.

It was not until January 1327, with the deposition of Edward II, that he was finally released and his father's lands returned to him. At the time he was still a minor and therefore a royal ward and so his marriage rights were granted to Henry of Lancaster, Earl of Lancaster, who married him to his fifth daughter named Joan in February 1327. John took part in the abortive expedition to Scotland in 1327 known as the Weardale Campaign and was was a member of the new king's council from 1328; he took no active part in the 1330 coup that removed Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March from power and happily accepted the transition to the personal rule of Edward II.

The remainder of his life was lived against the background of the attempt of Edward Balliol and the Disinherited to overthrow the Bruce dynasty in Scotland (See the Second Scottish War of Independence) and the beginnings of the Hundred Years War with France.

In 1333 he was present at the recapture of Berwick-on-Tweed (lost earlier to the Scots in 1319) and in both the years 1335 and 1337 served with Edward Balliol against the Scots. In 1338 he was given a change of scenery and ordered down to Sussex to organise that county's defenses against a possible French invasion, but in 1340 he was back in Scotland again and was appointed Justiciar of Lothian, (which Edward Balliol had ceded to Edward III in 1334, temporarily reversing three centuries of Scottish control of that district) and governor of Berwick-on-Tweed.

In the September of 1341 he was busy raising troops for Balliol from his Yorkshire estates, but by this time David Bruce, son and successor of the famous Robert the Bruce, had returned from exile and gradually exerted his authority at the expense of Balliol's. In 1346 David sought to take advantage of Edward II's absence on the continent, and came south with an army of invasion. John was among the many northern landowners who raised troops to counter the Scots and was prominent at the resulting battle of Neville's Cross fought near Durham in 1346 which resulted in the defeat and capture of David II.

We next hear of John in 1352, when he was appointed as chief of the commissioners who had been given the task of defending the Yorkshire coast against possible French attacks, for which purpose he provided thirty men from Wales. Seven years later he was appointed justice of the peace for Holland in Lincolnshire and in February 1360 he was commissioner of array for the counties of Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Rutland. His last public act was to attend the Parliament of May 1360 as in the following year here was another outbreak of plague and John became one of its many victims, dying on the 4th October 1361. He was buried at Bedford Abbey at Hoveringham near York.

As noted above, John Mowbray married Joan, daughter of Henry of Lancaster, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Matilda de Chaworth in 1327 who bore him two daughters, Blanche and Eleanor, and a son naturally also named John, who succeeded him as the 4th Baron Mowbray. His first wife pre-deceased him in 1349 and John then married Elizabeth de Vere, but there was no issue from this second marriage.

The de Braose inheritance

In 1327 John's mother Alice de Braose was similarly released from the Tower and regained possession of her estates, which she held as sole heiress of her father William de Braose, being principally the Marcher Lordship of Gower in Wales and the Lordship of the rape of Bramber in Sussex.

On his Alice's death in 1322 John succeeded to his mother's estates, but was involved in protracted litigation from 1338 to 1347 with his cousin Thomas de Braose who also felt he had a claim on these lands. Although John successfully concluded the dispute with his cousin, in 1354 the Earl of Warwick stepped forward and claimed the Gower for himself. Although John had the support of Edward, the Black Prince in this argument, the king Edward III ultimately ruled in favour of the Earl of Warwick.

John therefore lost control of the lordship of Gower although his descendants secured a reversal of the decision in 1396 and regained the lordship which they held until 1489 when they exchanged it for lands in England with the Earl of Pembroke.


  • Mowbray family at http://www.mowfam.freeserve.co.uk/page34.htm based on information from Burke's Extinct Peerages, pp 386 - 388. and The Mowbray Journal, eds. William Mowbray and Stephen Goslin, 1976-79
  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for MOWBRAY See http://1911encyclopedia.org/index.htm
  • Charles Arnold Baker The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)

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