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Thwing [Thweng], Sir Robert of [alias William Wither]locked

(d. 1245x57)
  • Nicholas Vincent

Thwing [Thweng], Sir Robert of [alias William Wither] (d. 1245x57), knight, was the son of Marmaduke (I) of Thwing (d. in or after 1234) [see under Thwing family]. Robert makes his first appearance in 1229, suing Richard de Percy (fl. 1181–1244) for customs and services in Kilton and Kirkleatham, land that he had acquired by his marriage to Mathilda, widow of Richard de Autrey and niece and heir of William of Kilton. In 1231 he became conspicuous for his opposition to the Roman and Italian clergy who had received papal provision to churches in England. With the assistance of the archbishop of York, an Italian had been intruded to the church of Kirkleatham, the advowson of which Robert and his wife had recovered in 1230 following litigation against the prior of Guisborough. Robert adopted the alias William Wither, literally ‘William the Angry’; he placed himself at the head of an armed agitation against the foreigners and about Easter 1232 pillaged their corn and barns and distributed the spoils among the poor. In response to complaints from the pope Henry III ordered the arrest of various leading courtiers who were implicated in these disturbances, including Hubert de Burgh (d. 1243), the chief justiciar, who is said to have lent tacit support to the ‘Withermen’ out of anger at a papal inquiry into the legality of his marriage. Thwing is later to be found witnessing a charter of Hubert's son, John de Burgh, but in 1232 there is nothing to suggest that Hubert and Thwing were in any way close associates. Thwing himself was sent by the king for absolution in Rome. In 1239 he made a second visit to Rome, carrying with him a general letter of complaint from the English barons. Perhaps through the influence of Richard, earl of Cornwall, to whose household Thwing had attached himself, he obtained letters from Pope Gregory IX (r. 1227–41) protecting the rights of lay patrons against papal provision. Early in the following year Thwing set out with Earl Richard on crusade. In September 1240, from Marseilles, he was sent as an envoy to the emperor, Frederick II (r. 1212–50), with information about the pope's attempts to delay the crusade. As a result, he may never have reached the Holy Land. In 1244 he was accused of making a violent attack upon a clerk of the archbishop of York in the king's hall at Windsor. His lands were seized, but restored the following year. The date of his death is unknown, but he was probably dead by 1257 when his eldest son and heir, Marmaduke (II) of Thwing, had control of the chief family estates.

Confusion arises between Sir Robert of Thwing and at least two other namesakes: his grandson, also named Robert, who was still a minor in 1266, and another Robert, perhaps an illegitimate son of Sir Robert, who married a woman named Hugolina, participated in negotiations with the Scots, and from 1262 was employed as a knight of the royal household. Marmaduke (II) of Thwing (d. 1282×4), son and heir of Sir Robert, had by 1242 married Lucy, sister of Peter de Brus and heir to part of the barony of Skelton, with whom he had several sons. Robert, the eldest of these, died without male children before 1283 and was succeeded in the Thwing estates by his brother Marmaduke, who was prominent in the Scottish wars of the reign of Edward I. Marmaduke (III) of Thwing [Thweng] first Baron Thwing (d. 1323), played a leading role at the battle of Stirling in 1297, but in 1299 was taken prisoner and ransomed by the Scots. By writ of summons issued in 1307 he is considered to have become the first Baron Thwing or Thweng. In 1312 he joined Thomas, earl of Lancaster, in the attack upon Piers Gaveston, and in 1321, at the time of Lancaster's great rebellion, his loyalties were the subject of suspicion by the crown. He died in 1323 and was succeeded in the barony by his three sons—William, Robert, and Thomas—all of whom died childless. On the death of Thomas in 1374 the barony fell into abeyance, and the Thwing estates were partitioned among various of Thomas's sisters and nieces. St John of Bridlington (c. 1320–1379), sometimes called John Twenge or Thwing, author of caustic, prophetic verses against the government of Edward III, may have sprung from the same family.


  • N. Vincent, Peter des Roches: an alien in English politics, 1205–38, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, 4th ser., 31 (1996)
  • W. Farrer and others, eds., Early Yorkshire charters, 12 vols. (1914–65), vols. 2, 9
  • A. H. Thompson, ed., Northumberland pleas from the curia regis and assize rolls, 1198–1272, Newcastle upon Tyne Records Committee Publications, 2 (1922)
  • I. J. Sanders, English baronies: a study of their origin and descent, 1086–1327 (1960)
  • Warter cartulary, Bodl. Oxf., MS Fairfax 9, fols. 42r–43v
G. E. C. [G. E. Cokayne], , 8 vols. (1887–98); new edn, ed. V. Gibbs & others, 14 vols. in 15 (1910–98); microprint repr. (1982) and (1987)
Surtees Society
Bodleian Library, Oxford
Chancery records (Public Record Office)