Mortimer, Roger de (1256-1326) (DNB00)

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MORTIMER, ROGER (III) de, Lord of Chief (1256?–1326), was the third son of Roger Mortimer II, sixth baron of Wigmore [q. v.], and his wife Matilda de Braose, and was therefore the uncle of Roger Mortimer IV, eighth lord Wigmore and first earl of March [q. v.] Edmund, his elder brother, the seventh lord of Wigmore, was born in or before 1255 (Eyton, Shropshire, iv. l97), and it is probable that Roger was not born much later than 1256. Unlike his elder brother Edmund, who had been destined for the church, Roger was knighted in his father's lifetime. In 1281 he received license to hunt the fox and hare throughout Shropshire and Staffordshire, provided that he took none of the king's great game (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281-92, p. 2). After his father's death in 1282, Mortimer joined with his brothers, Edmund, William, and Geoffrey, in a plot to lure Llywelyn of Wales into the family estates in mid Wales (Osney Annals in Ann. Mon. iv. 290-1; Worcester Ann. in ib. iv. 485). Llywelyn fell into the trap, and after his death at the hands of Edmund, Roger took his head to London as a grateful present to Edward I (Knighton, c. 2463, apud Twysden, Decem Scriptores). At the same time Roger was accused before Archbishop Peckham, who at the time was holding a visitation of the vacant diocese of Hereford, of adultery with Margaret, wife of Roger of Radnor, and other women. He aggravated his offence by putting into prison a chaplain who had the boldness to reprove him for his sins. Peckham, fearing lest on his leaving the district the culprit might get off scot-free, empowered the Bishop of Llandaff to act for him, and impose on Roger canonical penance (Peckham, Letters, ii. 497-8, Rolls Ser.)

Though a younger son, Roger had the good fortune lo obtain early an independent position for himself. Since the death of Gruffydd ab Madog, lord of Bromfield and Powys Vadog [q. v.], in 1269, the territories of the once important house of Powys had been falling into various owners' hands. In 1277 Madog, Gruffydd's son, died, leaving two infant children, Llywelyn and Gruffydd, as his heirs. On 4 Dec. 1278 Mortimer was appointed by Edward I as guardian of the two boys. But in 1281 the two heirs were drowned in the Dee, late Welsh tradition accusing Mortimer of the deed. Thereupon Edward I took all their lands into his hands. At the time of the final settlement of Wales Edward made all the lands between Llywelyn's principality and his own earldom of Chester march-ground. On 2 June 1282 Edward granted to Mortimer all the lands that had belonged to Llywelyn Vychan. The effect of the grant was to set up in favour of Roger Mortimer the new marcher lordship of Chirk (Palmer, Tenures of Land in the Marches of North Wales, p. 92; Lloyd, Hist. of Powys Fadog, i. 180, iv. 1-9). Roger was henceforward known as 'of Chirk,' and he built there a strong castle, which became his chief residence.

Mortimer took an active share in the wars of Edward I. In 1287 he took a conspicuous part in putting down the rising of Rhys ab Maredudd of Ystrad Towy in Wales, and was ordered to remain in residence in his estates in that country until the revolt was suppressed. The Welsh annalist says that Rhys captured his old fortress of Newcastle and took Roger Mortimer, its warden, prisoner (Ann. Cambriæ, p. 110). He constantly did good service for the king by enrolling Welsh infantry from his estates. In 1294 he took part in the expedition to Gascony, and, on the recapture of Bourg and Blaye, was made joint governor of those towns (Worcester Annals in Ann. Mon. iv. 519; Hemingburgh, ii. 48, Engl. Hist. Soc.) He was again in Gascony three years later, and in 1300 and 1301 served in the campaigns against the Scots (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 145). He was among the famous warriors present at the siege of Carlaverock in 1300, he and William of Leybourne being appointed as conductors and guardians of the king's son Edward, afterwards Edward II (Nicolas, Siege of Carlaverock, pp. 46-7). He was ultimately attended by two knights and fourteen squires, and received as wages for himself and his following 42l. He had first been summoned to parliament as a baron in 1299, and was now present at the Lincoln parliament in 1301, where he signed the famous letter of the barons to the pope. He was again in Scotland in 1303. At the end of Edward I's reign he incurred the king's displeasure by quitting the army in Scotland without leave, on which account his lands and chattels were for a time seized (Rot. Parl. i. 2165).

The accession of Edward II restored Mortimer to favour. He was appointed lieutenant of the king and justice of Wales. All the royal castles in Wales were entrusted to his keeping, with directions to maintain them well garrisoned and in good repair. The relaxation of the central power under a weak king practically gave an official invested with such extensive powers every regalian right, and Mortimer ruled all Wales like a king from 1307 to 1321, except for the years 1315 and 1316, during which he was replaced by John de Grey as justice of North Wales, while William Martyn and Maurice de Berkeley superseded him in turn for a slightly longer period in the south (Cal. Close Rolls, 1313-1317). He was largely assisted in his work by his nephew, Roger Mortimer, eighth baron of Wigmore [see Mortimer, Roger IV], who now becomes closely identified with his uncle's policy and acts. Modern writers have often been led by the identity of the two names to attribute to the more famous nephew acts that really belong to the uncle. Among the more noteworthy incidents of the elder Mortimer's government of Wales was his raising the siege of Welshpool and rescuing John Charlton [q. v.] and his wife, Hawise, from the vigorous attack of her uncle, Gruffydd de la Pole. During these years he raised large numbers of Welsh troops for the Scottish wars. He himself served in the Bannockburn campaign, and again in 1319 and 1320. In 1317 he was further appointed justice of North Wales, and in 1321 his commission as justice of Wales was renewed.

In 1321 Mortimer of Chirk joined vigorously in the attack on the Despensers [see for details Mortimer, Roger IV]. After taking a leading part, both in the parliaments and in the campaigns in Glamorgan and on the Severn, he was forced with his nephew, Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, to surrender to Edward II at Shrewsbury on 22 Jan. 1322. He was, like his nephew, imprisoned in the Tower of London, but, less fortunate than the lord of Wigmore, he did not succeed in subsequently effecting his escape. He died there, after more than four years of severe captivity, on 3 Aug. 1326. The accounts vary as to the place of burial. The 'Annales Paulini' say that it was at Chirk (Stubbs, Chron. Edward I and Edward II, i. 312). Blaneforde (apud Trokelowe, p. 147) says that he was buried at Bristol. The Wigmore annalist (Monasticon, vi. 351) states circumstantially that he was buried at Wigmore among his ancestors by his partisan bishop, Adam of Orleton, on 14 Sept. This is probably right, as the other writers also say he was buried 'among his ancestors,' whose remains would certainly not be found at Chirk or Bristol. The statement of the Wigmore annalist (ib. vi. 351) that Mortimer died in 1336 is a mere mistake, though repeated blindly by Dugdale in his 'Baronage' (i. 155), and adopted by Sir Harris Nicolas (Siege of Carlaverock, p. 264). Mortimer married Lucy, daughter and heiress of Robert de Walre, by whom he had a son named Roger, who succeeded to the whole inheritance of his mother's father, married Joan of Turberville (Monasticon, vi. 351), and had a son John. But the real successor to Roger's estates and influence was his nephew, the first Earl of March. In 1334 Chirk was given to Richard Fitzalan II, earl of Arundel [q. v.] The house of Arundel proved too powerful to dislodge, and at last John Mortimer, grandson of Roger, sold such rights as he had over Chirk to the earl. Neither son nor grandson was summoned as a baron to parliament, and the family either became extinct or insignificant.

[Annales Monastici, Chronicles of Edward I and II, Flores Historiarum, Peckham's Letters, Blaneforde (in Trokelowe), Knighton, all in Rolls Series; Galfridus le Baker, ed. Thompson; Parl. Writs; Rymer's Fœdera; Rolls of Parliament; Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 351; Lords' Report on the Dignity of a Peer, vol. iii.; Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13 and 1313–18; Lloyd's Hist. of Powys Fadog; Eyton's Shropshire; Wright's Hist. of Ludlow; Stubbs's Const. Hist. vol. ii.; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 155. Nicolas's Siege of Carlaverock, pp. 259–64, gives a useful, but not always very precise, biography.]

T. F. T.