Rokeby, Thomas de (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 49
Rokeby, Thomas de

by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford
1904 Errata appended.
Contains subarticle Thomas de Rokeby (d. 1418).

ROKEBY, Sir THOMAS de (d. 1356), justiciar of Ireland, was probably son of Thomas de Rokeby, who died in 1318. He first comes into notice as the squire who, having been a prisoner with the Scots and released by them, was able to earn the reward of 100l. per annum offered by the young king, Edward III, in July 1327, to the man who should bring him in sight of the enemy. Edward knighted Rokeby on the spot, and on 28 Sept. made him the promised grant of lands worth 100l. a year (Fœdera, ii. 717). Froissart, in narrating the incident, calls the squire Thomas Housagre, which is the equivalent of Whittaker; but the royal grant is conclusive as to Thomas's true name. On 17 Jan. 1331 Rokeby was going beyond sea with Henry Percy (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, ii. 42). In 1336 he was serving in Scotland, and from 8 June to 26 Oct. was in command of the royal escort (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, ii. 367). On 26 Oct. 1336 he received the charge of Stirling Castle, and in 1338 that of Edinburgh also; he retained both offices till the recovery of these places by the Scots in 1341–2 (ib. ii. 1249, 1284, 1323, 1383 and pp. 364–8). During 1342 Rokeby was employed on the Scottish marches (ib. ii. 1387, 1393). In the following year he was appointed sheriff of Yorkshire, an office which he held for seven years; he had held it previously in 1337 (Drake, Eboracum, p. 352). As sheriff of Yorkshire he was one of the leaders of the English at the battle of Neville's Cross, and ‘gave the Scots such a draught as they did not care to taste again’ (Chron. de Lanercost, pp. 347–8, 351, Bannatyne Club). Rokeby was charged to bring David Bruce to London in December 1346, and at the same time had a grant of 200l. a year out of the issues of the county of York for his rank of banneret till provided with lands of that value in Scotland or elsewhere (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, ii. 1474–5; Fœdera, iii. 98). In 1347 he was employed in Scotland, and in 1348 was the king's escheator in Yorkshire (ib. iii. 113, 180).

In December 1349 Rokeby was made justiciar of Ireland. In this office he was distinguished by his regard for equity and his zeal in checking the extortion of officials. In the Irish annals, printed in the ‘Chartulary of St. Mary, Dublin’ (ii. 392), he is described as ‘one that did punish very well Irishmen and paid very well for his victuals, and would commonly say that he would eat and drink of cups made of timber, and pay gold and silver therefor rather than to extort the poor’ (cf. Book of Howth, p. 166). On 8 July 1355 he was succeeded as justiciar by Maurice FitzThomas, earl of Desmond [q. v.] Rokeby was a witness to the treaties concluded with Edward Baliol at Roxburghe on 20 Jan. 1356. Soon afterwards Desmond died, and on 26 July Rokeby was again appointed justiciar of Ireland (Fœdera, iii. 306, 317–21, 332, 335). He, however, died that same year at the castle of Kilkea in Kildare (Annals of Loch Cé, ii. 15; Chart. St. Mary, Dublin, ii. 393). Rokeby had numerous grants of land for his good services in Yorkshire, Westmoreland, Ireland, and elsewhere (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, ii. 214, 224, iii. 472; Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, ii. 1249; Fœdera, iii. 399).

According to the accepted pedigrees, Rokeby was grandfather of Thomas de Rokeby (d. 1418) [see below] (Foster, Yorkshire Pedigrees; Whittaker, Loidis and Elmet, ii. 253). But these two pedigrees do not agree, nor does either seem satisfactory. Thomas Rokeby, the justiciar, is commonly referred to in contemporary documents as ‘l'oncle,’ to distinguish him from Thomas Rokeby ‘le neveu,’ the son of his brother Robert. Thomas Rokeby ‘le neveu’ is mentioned frequently in connection with his uncle from 1336 onwards. He served in France in 1360, and in 1379–80 was warden of Lochmaben Castle (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, ii. 1236, and p. 367, iii. 279, 293; Fœdera, iii. 332, 483). Thomas Rokeby, ‘le neveu,’ was more probably grandfather of

Thomas de Rokeby (d. 1418), soldier, given in pedigrees as grandson of the uncle. This Thomas represented Yorkshire on the parliament of 1406, and was sheriff of the county in 1407–8 and in 1411–12. When Henry Percy, first earl of Northumberland, crossed the border in January 1408, Rokeby held the passage of the Nidd against him, near Knaresborough. Northumberland turned aside and took up a position at Bramham Moor, where Rokeby attacked and routed him on 19 Feb. 1408. Rokeby was rewarded with Northumberland's manor of Spofforth, and with Linton and Leathley for life (Fœdera, viii. 529, orig. edit.) He served in France in 1415 and 1417, and, according to Foster, died in 1418. By a daughter of Sir Ralph Ewere he was ancestor of the later family of Rokeby, several members of which are separately noticed (Cont. Eulogium Historiarum, iii. 411; Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 278; Wyntoun, Chron. Scotland, iii. 2588; Gesta Henrici Quinti, p. 270; Drake, Eboracum, p. 352; Wylie, Hist. Henry IV, iii. 147, 154–8; Ramsay, Lancaster and York, i. 112).

[Chron. de Melsa, iii. 62 (Rolls Ser.); Fœdera (Record edit.); Book of Howth ap. Carew MSS.; Froissart, i. 61–2, 273–5, ed. Luce; Cal. Inquisit. post mortem, ii. 201–2; Surtees Soc. xli. 40; Rolls of Parliament, ii. 109, 113, 115, 207; Whittaker's Richmondshire, i. 162–3; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland, pp. 205, 211; other authorities quoted.]

C. L. K.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.238
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
153 ii 15 Rokeby, Sir Thomas de (d. 1356): for grandfather read grandfather of
31  for in 1417 read in 1415 and 1417
31-32  for next year read in 1418