Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 39.djvu/136

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Mortimer
Mortimer
130


by Valentine Green, and etched by R. Blyth. The latter is now in the National Portrait Gallery. In the diploma gallery of the Royal Academy is a portrait of Mortimer by Richard Wilson.

[Redgrave's Diet. ; Kedgraves' Century of Painters; Bryan's Dict. ed. Graves and Armstrong ; Algernon Graves's Diet. ; Wine and Walnuts ; Bemrose's Life of Wright of Derby ; Notes and Queries, v. 108, &c., vi. 156, &c. ; Cunningham's Lives, ed. Heaton ; Pilkington's Dict. ; Edwards's Anecdotes ; Cunningham's Cabinet Gallery of Pictures.]

C. M.

MORTIMER, RALPH (I) de (d. 1104?), Norman baron, was the son of Roger de Mortimer and his wife Hawise. This Roger was also called Roger, 'filius episcopi.' His father was Hugh, afterwards bishop of Coutances ; his mother was the daughter of some unknown Danish chieftain, and the sister of Gunnor, the wife of Duke Richard I of Normandy, and of Herfast the Dane, the grandfather of William FitzOsbern, earl of Hereford (Stapleton, Rotuli Normanniæ, ii. cxix. ; Eyton, Shropshire, iv. 195 ; cf. Le Prévost's note to Ordericus Vitalis, iii. 236 ; Planché's art. on the genealogy of the family in Journal of British Archæological Association, xxiv. 1-35). Roger's brother Ralph, also called ' filius episcopi,' was founder of the house of Warren. The house of Mortimer was thus connected both with the ducal Norman house and with the great family which attained later the earldom of Hereford, while its kinship with the lords of the house of Warren, earls of Surrey after the Norman conquest, was even more direct. Roger, the bishop's son, is assumed to have been born before 990, the date at which his father became bishop of Coutances, but if so he must have lived to a green old age. All the Mortimers of the period, when their history is uncertain, became, according to the traditional account, extraordinarily old men. In latter times, when the facts are well known, they lived extremely short lives. This Roger seems to have been the first to assume the name of Mortimer, which was taken from the village and castle of Mortemer-en-Brai (mortuum mare), in the Pays de Caux, situated at the source of the little river Eaulne. In 1054 he won the victory of Mortemer, fought under the walls of his castle, against the troops of Henry I, king of the French (Ordericus Vitalis, Hist. Eccl. i. 184, iii. 160, 236-7, ed. Le Prévost). But Roger gave oflence to Duke William by releasing one of his captives, and was accordingly deprived of his castle of Mortemer, which was transferred to his nephew, William de Warren, son of his brother Ralph, and afterwards first Earl of Surrey (ib. iii. 237 ; Stapleton, ubi supra). In the result Mortemer remained with the earls of Warren until the loss of Normandy in 1204, and was never restored to the house that obtained its name from it. The Mortimers transferred their chief seat to Saint-Victor-en Caux, where the priory, a cell of Saint-Ouen at Rouen, was in 1074 erected into an abbey by Roger and his wife Hawise. This is Roger's last recorded act. He must have been too old to have been present at Hastings, but some of his sons, perhaps Hugh (Wace, Roman de Ron, ii. 373, 740, ed. Andresen), or possibly Ralph himself (Monasticon, vi. 348), appeared on his behalf.

Ralph became his father's eventual successor both in Normandy and in England. There are no particulars about the manner in which he acquired his English estates, but he seems to have served under his kinsman, William FitzOsbern, earl of Hereford, and, if the loose traditions preserved by the Wigmore annalist have any foundation, to have done good service against Edric the Wild (ib. vi. 349 : cf. Freeman, Norman Conquest, iii. 737). The fact that Ralph held at the time of the Domesday inquest several estates that had once belonged to Edric may invest this statement with some authority (Domesday, f. 183 b). However this may have been, the fall of the traitorous Earl Roger, son of William FitzOsbern, in 1074, marks the first establishment of the Mortimers in a leading position in the middle marches of Wales. Many of Roger's forfeited estates in Shropshire and Herefordshire were now granted by William the Conqueror to Ralph Mortimer, including the township and the castle of Wigmore, which had been built on waste ground by William FitzOsbern (Domesday, f. 183 b), and henceforth became the chief centre of the power of the Mortimers. It was very likely at this time that the estates of Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor, including Cleobury Mortimer, near Shrewsbury, in later times the chief Shropshire residence of the Mortimers, and Stoke Edith in Herefordshire, passed from Earl Roger to Ralph (Eyton, Shropshire, vi. 350). Moreover, a fourteenth-century record speaks of Mortimer as the seneschal of the Earl of Shrewsbury, and as holding Cleobury by that title. Though the record is inaccurate in other particulars, Mr. Eyton (ib. iv. 199-200) is disposed to accept its statement respecting Mortimer's tenure of the office of seneschal. Ralph Mortimer held no less than nineteen of his fifty Shropshire manors as sub-tenant of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Besides this great western estate, he held at the time of the Domesday