John de Mowbray
Born 4 September 1286, 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.
About 1298 he married Alice de Braose, daughter of Lord de Braose, and heiress of Gower and Bramber, who brought to the family the lands which were to be the root of future disputes.
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 Perey, a great baron and John was commanded to seize Henry who had allowed Gaveston to escape siege in Scarborough Castle. Gaveston was 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 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 submit 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 persuaded 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 besieging 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 1321/2, 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, re-granted 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.