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Find the Lady I wondered after researching and writing my page on the Haxey Hood about the origins of the tradition and the story that is commonly quoted. So commonly to have become the truth, without now having a provable source. So I got to thinking that I would like to establish who the Lady de Mowbray in the story was and then perhaps from this learn something more of the truth.

What I have below is a work in progress, but I've decided to post it now anyway, as even at the moment it provides some interesting background to the tradition, should this sort of thing (history) interest you.
This is in no way meant to be an academic research paper, and as such I will not going into as much detail, as such a study would require. This is purely an investigation of my own interest into the background of the story that is, the Haxey Hood.

Which de Mowbray?

In trying to identify the Lady in the story, I naturally first turn to trying to discover which Baron John de Mowbray the story relates to. As I'm sure there will be more records of the male side of this partnership, given the almost total lack of importance to the female linage by succession, throughout English history.

So in looking for the John de Mowbray concerned I quickly found out that there were actually 4 Baron Mowbrays in the 14th century, 3 of them being Johns, and all in a consecutive line of the same family. In trying to find out which John De Mowbray was involved in the story of the Haxey Hood we need to examine their history.

This is what I've been able to gain from various sources on the net, about the four Barons.

1st Lord
Roger III De Mowbray (1st Baron Mowbray)

born. 1254, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, England father. Roger [II] de Mowbray
died. 21 Nov 1297 (aged 43), Ghent, Flanders mother. Maud de Beauchamp
occupation. ?? married. 1270, Rohese (Rose) de Clare (b 1250 - d 1315, daughter of Richard de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, 2nd Earl of Gloucester)
resided. Thirsk and Hovington, Yorkshire, England
Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, England
children. John de Mowbray - 2nd Baron of Thirsk, Knt.
buried. Fountains Abbey
  Roger was born about 1257 and in 1278 Edward I. had livery of his lands. In 1282 and 1283 he was summoned for military service against the Welsh. They had revolted against the Marcher Lords, who killed their leader, Llewellyn, at Ironbridge, Shropshire. In June 1283 Roger was at the Parliament at Shrewsbury and again in 1287 the King required his presence at a miltary council at Gloucester.

In 1291 he was called into military service against the Scots, and again in 1296. There had been a Parliament with the Scots at Norham in the former year, and in the latter there was a savage sacking of Berwick with Earl Warrenne being made ruler of Scotland and the Stone of Scone removed to London.

From 1278 to 1294 there were quo warrento enquiries challenging the jurisdictional rights of the magnates. Perhaps it was as an outcome of these that in 1295 Roger was created Lord Mowbray, Baron by Writ. As no previous Barony had been created by writ, he became premier Baron of England.

In 1294 there was an outbreak of war with France when Philip IV confiscated Gascony. In September 1294 Roger was going there on the King's services. In 1297 Roger again attended Parliament, this time at Salibury. A record from 1295 shows 53 magnates summoned to Parliament.

There is a record of Walter de Burnham agreeing to serve in Flanders under Roger de Mowbray in 1297. In that year and Edward I left for Flanders, and England was on the verge of civil war. Roger died at Ghent in 1297 and his body was brought back to be re-interred in Fountains Abbey where there stands his effigy in stone.

His marriage to to Rose de Clare, daughter of the Duke of Gloucester, had been arranged as early as his 13th. birthday by his and Rose's mothers. It took place in 1270 and produced a son and heir, John and perhaps a second son Geoffrey.

The entry in Burke's Extinct Peerage makes reference to a son Alexander who went to Scotland, but in the Mowbray Journal, Stephen Goslin claims that Alexander was in fact one of the seven sons of Geoffrey de Mowbray of Scotland, descended from Philip de Mowbray.

This lists Roger's land in the following counties:
Essex: at Doddinghurst and Easthorpe.
Leicestershire: at Melton mowbray, Kirkby on the Wreak, Frithby, Welby, Kettleby, Stathern, Eastwell, Goadby, Burton Lazars, Wyfordby, Little Dalby, Sysonby, Queeniborough, Cold Newton, Hoby, Pickwell, Leesthorpe, Bitteswell, Ullesthorpe, Ashton Flamville, Thrussington, Radcliffe.
Lincolnshire: at Gainsborough, Scawby, Garthorpe, Blyborough, Burton by Lincoln, and the whole of the Isle of Axholme (including Haxey, Butterwick, Ouston, Beltoft and Belton)
Northamptonshire: at Crich and Welford.
Nottinghamshire: at Egmanton, Averham, Serlby in Harworth, Auckley (partially in Yorkshire), and Finningley.
Rutland: at Empingham.
Warwickshire: at Monks Kirkby, Little Harborough, Wappenbury, Brinklow, Hampton in Arden, Nuthurst, Over, Chadwick, Newham, Baddesley Clinton, Shustoke, Bentley, Hesilholt and Smyte.
Yorkshire: too many places to list!

2nd Lord

John De Mowbray

Baron of Axholme, Lincoln and Baron of Thirsk, York. Baron Gower and Brember, Governor of the City of York and of Scarborough Castle, Sheriff of York.
Of Magna Charta Surety descent and descendant of Charlemagne.
2nd Lord Mowbray of Thirsk. 2nd Baron Mowbray, Knight, was given the manors of Bramber & Gower by his father-in-law, William de Braiose.

born. 4 Sep 1286 father. Roger III de Mowbray - 1st Baron of Axholme
died. 23 Mar 1321/2, (aged 35/6), by hanging in York, England mother. Rohese de Clare
occupation. Lord of Bramber & Gower married. 1298, Alice de Brewes Braose (b. abt 1305, d. bf 20 Jul 1331) of Sussex & Gower,
resided. England children. John de Mowbray - 3rd Baron, Knt.
Christina Mowbray (married. William de Plumpton)
buried. Church of the Friars Preachers, York, England
  John was called upon to perform the duties of a northern baron in the Scottish wars in his fourteenth year. On this occasion his duty was attend the King only as far north as Carlisle, but five years later he served throughout the last Scottish campaigns of Edward I. Before setting off, John, who was still a minor, was given livery of his lands, presumably in consideration of these services.

He was knighted together with the Prince of Wales and 300 other young noblemen on 22 May 1306 and "all given splendid robes and Westminster Abbey rang with the clamour of trumpets and shouts of joy". In 1308 he attended the coronation of Edward II and for several years proved faithful to this oft-despised monarch, serving against the Scots each summer up to 1319.

In 1312 he was appointed keeper of the city and county of York. At this time Piers de Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, was supported by Henry de Percy, a great baron and John was commanded to sieze Henry who had allowed Gaveston to escape siege in Scarborough Castle. Gaveston has killed the Earl of Warwick. In 1313 John was made Warden of the Marches (the 'middle ground' on the Scottish/English border). The year 1315 saw famine in the land and John was appointed captain and keeper of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Northumberland.

In 1318, a year when the Scots regained Berwick, John was made governor of Scarborough and Malton castles in Yorkshire. The following year he was once more in Scotland with the authority to receive into protection all who should sumit to Edward II.

The year 1320 brought John into dispute with the King's powerful favourites, the Despencers. John's father-in-law, the Lord de Braose, had made a special grant of his lordship of Gower (in the Welsh marches) to John and his wife who was an only child. The greedy Hugh le Despencer wanted to annex Gower to neighbouring lordship of Glamorgan. As John had entered into possession without the formality of a royal license, Despencer insisted the property be forfeited to the crown and induced Edward II to order legal proceedings against John. Consternation amongst other lords of the Welsh marches, who felt threatened, led to a confederation headed by the Earl of Hereford, the Mortimers, Lord Clifford and John de Mowbray, against the Despencers, as they argued the King's licence had never been necessary in that region. They were backed by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster.

Scoffing at the law and custom of the marches, Hugh le Despencer hinted that those invoking them were guilty of treason. This led to a strained situation at the October Parliament of 1320, and became acute in early 1321. As the barons withdrew to the marches, the King issued writs to 29 lords including John, forbidding them to assemble for political purposes. To calm matters, the Earl of Hereford persauded the King to contract with Lord de Braose to possess the disputed land 'for the benefit of the Prince of Wales'. The Despencers were banished and John received a formal pardon from Edward II, but the damage had been done!

Within six months John threw in his lot with the Earl of Lancaster who was busy firing, looting and beseiging the King's lands around Doncaster and Tickhill in Yorkshire. They retreated before the King's forces and made a final stand at Boroughbridge where John and other prominent lords were captured. On 23 March 1322, the day after the trial and beheading of Lancaster in Pontefract, John and Lord Clifford were condemned to be drawn by three horses and hung at York. His body was left hanging in chains for three years, after which the King allowed it to be taken down and buried in the church of the Friars Preachers at York.

Edward took all John's lands into his own hands, imprisoning the widow Alice and son John in the Tower of London. Under pressure Alice disclaimed her inheritance in Sussex, regranted to the Despencers now back in favour. Her husband had not lived to see Edward II come to his grisly end in 1327 in the dungeon of Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire. In the next reign Alice obtained confirmation of Gowerland to herself and the heirs of her body by her deceased husband. Lady Mowbray married secondly Sir R. de Peshale and died in 1332.

3rd Lord

John De Mowbray

Son and heir of John de Mowbray, Kent, Baron of Axholme, co. Lincoln.
Baron of Thirsk, co. York, 2nd Lord Mowbray by Alice, daughter and co-heiress of William de Brewes, Kent.
Baron of Bramber, Sussex.
Lord of Gower in Wales.
Magna Charta Surety descent and decendant of Charlemagne.

born. 29 November 1310, in Hovingham, North Yorkshire, England. father. John de Mowbray 2nd Baron of Thirsk, Kent.
died. 4 Nov 1361, (aged 51) in York, Yorkshire, England. (Died of the Plague) mother. Alice de Brewes Braose of Sussex & Gower
occupation. Lord of Bramber & Gower married. 1339 (abt) - Joan Plantagenet (b (abt) 1312, d 7 Jul 1349)
resided. England children. John de Mowbray 4th Baron
Alianot Mowbray
buried. Franciscan church at Bedford
  John was imprisoned in the Tower with his mother on 26 Feb 1321-2. On the accession of King Edward III, his father's attainder was reversed, and he had livery of all his lands except the isle of Axholme. He was summoned to parliament from 10 Dec 1327.

He was Governor of Berwick-on-Tweed and served in the Scots and French wars. He was one of the commanders of the English Army at the Battle of Neville's Cross on 17 Oct 1346. He was continually employed in Scotland and on the Border till his death.

John was still a minor at the death of his father in 1322 and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for five years. In January 1327, on the deposition of Edward II, he was released and given livery of his father's lands, and was summoned to parliament from 10 December 1327 to 20 November 1360.

Henry Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster, for services to Queen Isabella, was granted rights over the marriage of John. He married him to his fifth daughter Joan.

John was involved in protracted litigation from 1338 to 1347 with his cousin Thomas de Braose concerning the great estates in Wales and Sussex which had come to him through his mother, Alice (nee deBraose). He also had a dispute, prior to his mother's death in 1332, with her second husband Sir Richard Peshall, regarding certain manors in Bedfordshire which he and his mother had granted Peshall for life, and in 1329 he forcibly entered them.

Edward III came to the throne in 1327 following the barbarous murder of Edward II in Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire. John de Mowbray was a member of the new king's council from 1328. In 1327, 1333,1335 and again in 1337, he served in the north against the Scots. The year 1333 saw the siezure of Berwick by the English. In 1337, with war against France impending, John was ordered to arm his tenants in his lordship of Gower. In 1338 he had to provide ships for the king's passage to the continent and was sent down to his Sussex estates to counter the treat of a French landing. In view of continuing Scottish troubles, 1340 saw him appointed justiciar of Lothian and governor of Berwick-on-Tweed, and in September 1341 he was commanded to furnish Ballol with men from his Yorkshire estates.

At Neville's Cross, Durham in 1346 there was a great battle where King David II was captured, and also John's Scottish cousin William de Moubray. At this battle John fought in the third line, and Lanercost (one of the chroniclers of the times) loudly sang his praises: "He was full of grace and kindness - the conduct both of himself and his men was such as to resound to their perpetual honour."

A truce had begun in 1347, but at its expiry in 1352, John was appointed chief of the commissioners charged with the defence of the Yorkshire coast against the French, and had to furnish thirty men from Wales. In 1354 the Earl of Warwick challenged John for the lordship of Gower, and succeeded, The Black Prince stepped in on John's behalf, but Edward III ruled in favour of Warwick. In 1335 the king sent John again to the Scottish border.

In December 1359 he was made a justice of the peace in the Holland district of Lincolnshire and in February of the next year, he became a commisssioner of array at Leicester for the counties of Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Rutland. His last recorded duty as the king's servant was his summons to parliament in May 1360. On the 4th. October 1361 he died at York in the second plague outbreak, having lived through the first in 1348. He was buried in the Franciscan church at Bedford.

Could this granting of land, be the same granting of land as in the story of the Hood? An insight into his character is given by a deed he granted in 1359 (2 years before his death). The North West of Lincolnshire is known as the Isle of Axholme and was a swampy low-lying area. In order to put an end to the disputes between his steward and tenants in the area, he reserved a small part of his extensive holdings for himself, and grated the remainder to his tenants 'in prepetuum'. This deed was jealously preserved in Haxey church "in a chest bound with iron, whose key was kept by some of the chiefest freeholders, under a window wherein was a portraiture of Mowbray, set in an ancient stained glass, holding in his hand a writing, commonly reported to be an emblem of the deed". The window was broken down in the "rebellious times", when the rights of the commoners under the deed were in large measures overridden, despite their protests, by the drainage scheme begun by Cornelius Vermuyden in 1626.
4th Lord

John De Mowbray

born. 25 Jun 1340, Epworth, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, England. father. John de Mowbray 3rd Baron, Knt.
died. 9 Oct 1368, (aged 28) near Constantinople, Turkey. (fell in battle at Thrace, Turkey on way to Crusades in holy land) mother. Joan de Lancaster Plantagenet of Lancaster
occupation. Crusader married. 26 Feb 1327(abt) 1349 - Elizabeth De Segrave, [Baroness] (b 25 Oct 1338, Croxton Abbey, Norfolk, England, d 1368)
resided. England children. 2 sons at least 4 daughters.
John Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham (b 1392, d 1432 (his son John Mowbray, b 1415, d 1461))
Eleanor de Mowbray
Thomas de Mowbray 6th Baron of Norfolk
Joan de Mowbray
buried. Fell in battle, no known grave.
  Had summons to Parliament 14 August 1362
2 sons and at least 4 daughters.
Conclusion As you can see the Barons led very colourful lives, but the part that interested me the most was the part I've highlighted in red. It seemed to me before even reading this paragraph that the Baron most likely to have left some land to the commomers, as in the story, was the either the 3rd or 4th Baron. This is really because the first Baron was called Roger instead of John, the second Baron was a little too successful in his life, ending it by having all his assets seized by the Crown. Himself being executed and his wife and son being imprisioned in the tower of London - any such grant to commoners would also have been taken back. So this leaves us with the 3rd or 4th Baron.

The 3rd Baron's history contains the hightlighted passage that tells of his giving most of his land on the Isle of Axholme to the commoners there. This would on the outset seem very similar to the story of the Hood. And such an unprecidented gift would know doubt have been remembered through the generations. The exact reason why it was remembered becoming distorted through the ages.

The biggest problem it would seem is the fact that the parish records were destroyed in ????. They'd been kept in the Church at Haxey...

Notes: (this page was last updated: 20/12/2005)

© Adam Wheewall MM-MMXXI