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Monmouth, John oflocked

(c. 1182–1248)
  • A. F. Pollard
  • , revised by R. R. Davies

Monmouth, John of (c. 1182–1248), baron, son of Gilbert of Monmouth and his wife Bertha, was the great-great-grandson of William fitz Baderon, who is recorded in Domesday Book as the possessor of many lands and lordships in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and the Monmouth area. Rose or Roysya of Monemue, daughter of Gilbert fitz Richard de Clare, and wife successively of Baderon of Monmouth (d. 1170×76) and Hugh de Lacy (d. 1186), was his grandmother. In 1201–2 Monmouth was a minor in the wardship of William (III) de Briouze, and the latter in 1206 was placed in possession of Grosmont, Whitecastle, and Skenfrith castles, probably belonging to the Monmouth family.

Monmouth came of age before 1205, when he held fifteen knights' fees, and in 1208 his two infant sons, John and Philip, were demanded by King John as hostages for his good behaviour, probably as a precaution against Monmouth's joining William de Briouze in his rebellion; he paid a large fine for restoration to royal favour, and his children were liberated. In 1213 another son, William, appears to have been held as a hostage by John, but Monmouth remained to the end an active and faithful partisan of the king. In 1214 he was ordered to attend John at Cirencester, and received a completely equipped horse for his prompt obedience. On 10 February 1215 he was appointed one of the custodians of William de Lacy, half-brother of Monmouth's cousin Walter, Lord Lacy, and was commissioned to negotiate with the barons of Herefordshire, and in April to raise a loan in Gloucestershire. On 21 August he was made governor of St Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire, and later in that year and in 1216 he was granted custody of the castles of Elmley in Worcestershire, Bramber in Sussex, which had belonged to William de Briouze, Grosmont, Whitecastle, and Skenfrith, as well as the Forest of Dean, and lands in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire forfeited by Hugh Malebisse, besides those of his sister-in-law, Albreda de Boterel, who had sided with the barons, and of the wife of Walter of Stoke. During 1216 Monmouth owned a ship in John's service; he was present at the king's deathbed and was one of the executors of his will.

After the accession of Henry III, Monmouth received further promotion. In 1218 he escorted the magnates of north and south Wales to do homage to the king, and served as a justice itinerant on the west midland circuit in 1220–21. On 8 August 1224 he was present at Bedford, when the castle of Falkes de Bréauté was besieged. The next year he was witness to the reissue of Magna Carta. In 1226 he founded the Cistercian abbey of Grace Dieu in his lordship of Monmouth (Ann. mon. 2.302), and in May stood security for his cousin Walter de Lacy; on 2 September he was appointed to attend the meeting of Llywelyn, prince of Gwynedd, William (II) Marshal, and other barons at Shrewsbury, and to report on the result. In 1228 Monmouth was made sheriff of Wiltshire and briefly in 1229 of Shropshire and Staffordshire; also in 1228, apparently by right of his wife, Cecilia, daughter and heir of Walter de Walerand, he was keeper of New, Clarendon, Panchet, and Buckholt forests, offices held by his father-in-law. In 1229 he mediated between the town and abbey of Dunstable, and witnessed a grant from Henry to Dafydd, son of Llywelyn, and other charters. On the death of William Marshal, in 1231, the castles and honours of Striguil and Hereford were committed to his custody, and in December he negotiated the truce that was patched up with Llywelyn.

On the revolt of Richard Marshal in 1233 Monmouth bore the brunt of his attack. In command of the king's Poitevin mercenaries in south Wales, on 26 December he collected a large force, intending to make a secret attack on Marshal. The earl, however, learning his design, set an ambush for Monmouth in a wood near Grosmont, and completely routed his forces; Monmouth himself escaped only by a hasty flight. Marshal proceeded to destroy Monmouth's lands and buildings, including, at the instigation of his Welsh allies, the abbey of Grace Dieu. On 28 March 1234 Henry informed him that he had concluded a truce with Marshal and Llywelyn, and in July Monmouth was ordered to besiege the castles in the hands of Peter des Rivaux, should he refuse to give them up. At the marriage of Eleanor and Henry III on 14 January 1236 Monmouth claimed the right as a lord marcher to carry the canopy. In the same year he witnessed the confirmation of Magna Carta, and rebuilt the abbey of Grace Dieu. At Easter 1238 he was summoned to parliament at Oxford to advise Henry on the probable outbreak of war with Llywelyn, and in 1240 he was appointed one of the arbiters to decide on the disputed points between Dafydd II and the king. He played a key role in Henry III's policies in south Wales in the 1240s. On 30 October 1241 he was appointed chief bailiff of the new counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan and was subsequently referred to as the king's justiciar or lieutenant in south Wales. He was in charge of the key castle of Builth and was later appointed constable of Dinefwr Castle. With the earl of Gloucester he resisted Dafydd's invasion in 1244; he received a grant of 300 marks on 3 June for that purpose, and inflicted a severe defeat on the Welsh; in January the next year he was directed to summon the Welsh barons to answer for the depredations they had committed. He died in 1248. In addition to the Cistercian abbey of Grace Dieu he also founded two hospitals at Monmouth, the one dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the other to St John.

Monmouth and his wife, Cecilia, apparently had five sons, John, Philip, Walter, Henry, and William. Of these John alone survived, and had livery of his father's lands in September 1248. This John had two daughters, but no male issue, and died in 1257, leaving the castle and honour to Prince Edward. Another John Monmouth (fl. 1320) was a supporter of the marcher lords during the conflict with Edward II in 1321–2 and was imprisoned successively at York, Berkhamsted, and Berkeley castles; a third was vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford and in 1294 was appointed bishop of Llandaff. He died on 8 April 1323 after a long and notable episcopate.


  • J. G. Edwards, Calendar of ancient correspondence concerning Wales (1935)
  • R. W. Banks, ed., ‘Cartularium prioratus s. Johannis evang. de Brecon’, Archaeologia Cambrensis, 4th ser., 13 (1882), 275–308
  • R. W. Banks, ed., ‘Cartularium prioratus s. Johannis evang. de Brecon’, Archaeologia Cambrensis, 4th ser., 14 (1883), 18–49, 137–68, 221–36, 274–311
  • Emden, Oxf. [John Monmouth]
  • G. Williams, The Welsh church from conquest to Reformation, rev. edn (1976)
W. Dugdale & R. Dodsworth, eds., , 3 vols. (1655–72); 2nd edn, 3 vols. (1661–82); new edn, ed. J. Caley, J. Ellis, & B. Bandinel, 6 vols. in 8 pts (1817–30); repr. (1846) and (1970)
A. B. Emden, , 3 vols. (1957–9); also (1974)
H. R. Luard, ed., , 7 vols., RS, 57 (1872–83)
H. R. Luard, ed., , 5 vols., RS, 36 (1864–9)
Chancery records (Public Record Office)