dignities when only nine years old. Edward III, who knighted him with other youths on St. George's day (23 April) 1377, gave his wardship in 1371 to his son-in-law Enguerrand (or Ingelram) de Couci, earl of Bedford, who wished to marry him to his second daughter, Philippa, and though De Couci, on the accession of Richard II, renounced all his English honours and returned to France, the marriage duly took place on or before 30 June 1378 (Cal. of Pat. Rolls, i. 260). The income hitherto assigned out of his estates for his maintenance was now doubled (ib. i. 190, 260). It was raised to 300l. a year in February 1380 (ib. i. 434). Oxford is said by Froissart (ix. 243; cf. ix. 68) to have accompanied his wife's uncle, Thomas of Woodstock [q. v.], in his invasion of France in this year, but does not appear in the list of those who received letters of protection (Fœdera, iv. 88–91, Record ed.). He was with the king in London during the crisis of the peasants' revolt in June 1381.
Evidence soon begins to present itself of that close friendship with Richard which was to prove so fatal to both. Oxford's near relationship to the royal family would naturally bring them together without the intervention of Sir Simon Burley [q. v.], to whose intrigues their intimacy was afterwards traced (Rot. Parl. iii. 242). Burley, upon whom Oxford bestowed one of his Herefordshire manors before 1384, may have encouraged the connection. On the plea that they had not enough to support their estate, the earl and his wife received a grant in October 1382 of certain lands forfeited by her father (Cal. Pat. Rolls, ii. 177, 314). He came of age in the following year, and some twelve months later (17 July 1384) the king, on the same plea, gave him the custody of the town and castle of Colchester and the hundred of Tendring, together with the wardship of the heir of Sir Thomas de Roos of Hamelake (ib. ii. 440–2). A wardship was given to one of his esquires (ib. ii. 516). His confessor, a friar, was the king's orator (ib. ii. 483). A London citizen, Walter Sibille, who brought a charge of maintenance against him, was overawed into withdrawing it in the parliament of November 1384, and, unable to pay the fine imposed, remained in the Tower until April 1387 (Rot. Parl. iii. 186, 399). Oxford became a member of the privy council and a knight of the Garter. The jealousy of the other nobles had already found open expression; for in bestowing upon his favourite the castle and lordship of Queenborough in March 1385, Richard invoked ‘the curse of God and St. Edward and the king’ upon all who should do or attempt anything against his grant (Cal. Pat. Rolls, ii. 542). In the summer, according to Froissart (x. 382, 397), Oxford accompanied the king into Scotland, and being ‘tout le cuer du roy,’ induced him to disregard the Duke of Lancaster's advice to pursue the Scots beyond the Forth. On the road Richard had given him a further proof of his favour by the grant of the castle and lordship of Oakham and the hereditary sheriffdom of Rutland, which would not make his rise more agreeable to Thomas of Woodstock, to whose wife's ancestors they had belonged (Doyle).
But greater honours awaited the fortunate youth. Envoys arrived in the autumn from the English colony in Ireland, riven by dissensions and in danger of extinction at the hands of Irish, Spanish, and Scottish enemies, to urge Richard to come over in person, or, if that were impossible, to send one of the highest and most powerful of his nobles to protect his Irish dominions from the impending catastrophe (Gilbert, p. 252). They can hardly have expected that his choice would fall upon the untried Oxford, who in full parliament on 1 Dec. was created ‘in consideration of his noble blood, strenuous probity, eminent wisdom, and great achievements,’ Marquis (marchio) of Dublin with almost regal powers, and immediately invested therewith by the king (Rot. Parl. iii. 209). The title, for which there was no precedent, was conferred, like the powers that went with it, for Oxford's life only, and can hardly be reckoned as a new peerage dignity, though it gave him precedence of the earls in parliament (ib. iii. 210; Complete Peerage). The name marchio was familiar enough in England as applied to the holder of an exposed border district (lord marcher), but it had never before been used as a distinct title like the German Markgraf, which may have suggested it to Richard. The whole of the royal rights in Ireland, coinage not excepted, were handed over to Oxford, reserving only to the crown liege homage and appeals, together with the suzerainty and allegiance of the land. The expenses of his government were to be charged upon the English treasury for the first two years, by the end of which he was expected to have completed the conquest of the island, and to be able to pay over an annual sum of five thousand marks to the royal treasurer. The ransom of John of Blois, fixed at thirty thousand marks, was set aside (23 March 1386) to provide him with five hundred men-at-arms and a thousand archers for the first two years (Fœdera, vii. 503; Walsingham, ii. 150).