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Mowbray, William delocked

(c. 1173–c. 1224)
  • James Tait
  • , revised by Hugh M. Thomas

Mowbray, William de (c. 1173–c. 1224), baron, was the eldest son of Nigel de Mowbray (d. 1191) and Mabel (d. c.1219), probably the daughter of William de Patri, and the grandson of Roger (I) de Mowbray. He had two or three brothers and a sister. Mowbray was described in the Histoire des ducs de Normandie as being as small as a dwarf but very generous and valiant. He had livery of his lands in 1194 on payment of a relief of £100, and was immediately called upon to pay a sum nearly as large as his share of the scutage levied towards King Richard's ransom, for the payment of which he was one of the hostages. He was a witness to the treaty with Flanders in 1197.

When Richard I died, and John delayed to claim his crown, Mowbray was one of the barons who seized the opportunity to fortify their castles and whose support for John was most in doubt. But, like the rest, he was induced to swear fealty to John by the promises which Archbishop Hubert Walter, the justiciar Geoffrey fitz Peter, and William Marshal made in his name. He apparently served John frequently in military campaigns for he received acquittance from most of the scutages of the reign. When William de Stuteville renewed the old claim of his house to the forfeited family lands in the possession of the Mowbrays, thus ignoring the compromise made by his father with Roger (I) de Mowbray, and Mowbray supported his suit by a present of 2000 marks to the king, John and his great council dictated a new compromise. Stuteville had to accept nine knight's fees and the manor of Brinklow, Warwickshire, in full satisfaction of his claims, and the adversaries were reconciled at a country house of the bishop of Lincoln at Louth on 21 January 1201.

In 1215 Mowbray was prominent among the opponents of John. With other north-country barons he appeared in arms at Stamford in the last days of April. When Magna Carta had been wrung from the king, he was appointed one of the twenty-five executors, and as such was specially named among those excommunicated by Innocent III [see also Enforcers of Magna Carta]. During the struggle he pursued family claims to hereditary control of York Castle; the castle was entrusted to his care on 19 June 1215 but in the long run his claims were not satisfied. Mowbray was taken prisoner in the battle of Lincoln in 1217, and had to surrender the manor of Banstead in Surrey, which had formed his mother's marriage portion, to Hubert de Burgh as ransom. His other lands, which had been confiscated, were restored to him in early October 1217 when he made peace with Henry III's government. Three years later, in January 1221, Mowbray was summoned to help capture Skipsea, one of the strongholds of William de Forz, count of Aumale (with Mowbray, one of the twenty-five executors of Magna Carta), who had gone into rebellion once again.

Mowbray is said, in the sixteenth-century recension of the 'Progenies Moubraiorum' (Dugdale, Monasticon), to have married Agnes, a daughter of William d'Aubigny, earl of Arundel, of the elder branch of the d'Aubigny family, but contemporary records mention only a wife named Avice. He had two sons, Nigel and Roger (II). Mowbray founded the chapel of St Nicholas, with a chantry, at Thirsk, and was a benefactor of his grandfather's foundation, Newburgh Priory, where, on his death in Axholme about 1224, he was buried. He was succeeded by his elder son, Nigel, who died childless in 1228, and then by his younger son, Roger (II), who came of age only in 1241 and died c.1266. This Roger's son, Roger (III) (d. 1297), succeeded to the barony and was the father of John (I) de Mowbray.


  • J. C. Holt, The northerners: a study in the reign of King John, new edn (1992)
  • Rogeri de Wendover liber qui dicitur flores historiarum, ed. H. G. Hewlett, 3 vols., Rolls Series, [84] (1886–9)
  • Chronica magistri Rogeri de Hovedene, ed. W. Stubbs, 4 vols., Rolls Series, 51 (1868–71)
  • D. E. Greenway, ed., Charters of the honour of Mowbray, 1107–1191 (1972)
  • Dugdale, Monasticon, new edn, vols. 5–6
  • F. Michel, ed., Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d’Angleterre (Paris, 1840)
  • Curia regis rolls preserved in the Public Record Office (1922–), vol. 1
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)
Chancery records (Record Commission)
, PRSoc. (1884–) [pipe rolls]
T. Rymer & R. Sanderson, eds., , 20 vols. (1704–35); 2nd edn, 20 vols. (1726–35); 3rd edn, 10 vols. (1739–45); new edn, ed. A. Clarke, J. Caley, & F. Holbrooke, 4 vols., RC, 50 (1816–69); facs. of 3rd edn (1967)
Record Commission