Segrave, Nicholas de (1238?-1295) (DNB00)

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SEGRAVE, NICHOLAS de, first Baron Segrave (1238?–1295), born about 1238, was the son of Gilbert de Segrave (d. 1254) [q. v.], the judge, and of his wife Amabilia or Annabel, daughter and heiress of Robert de Chaucumb. His grandfather was the justiciar Stephen de Segrave (d. 1241) [q. v.] His father died in prison at Pons in Saintonge, and the custody of the captive's lands, though his wife survived, had been granted in 1254 to Edward, the king's son (Dunstable Annals, p. 194). Nicholas was then either sixteen or seventeen years old (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 65). He came of age about the time when the troubles between Henry III and his barons culminated in the Oxford parliament of 1258. A great Leicestershire landholder, he naturally attached himself to Simon de Montfort, and he is specially mentioned among the ‘juniores pueri Angliæ’ who were like wax in the hands of the rebel leaders (Wykes, pp. 133–4). He was at the parliament in 1262, when the king told the barons that he had obtained absolution from his oath to observe the provisions of Oxford (Hemingburgh, i. 308). He was summoned to attend the king on 1 Aug. 1263 at Worcester, and there to receive knighthood before engaging in the campaign against the Welsh. But he was by that time in active revolt against the king (Dunstable Annals, p. 222). He took part in the spoiling of Peter of Aigueblanche [q. v.], the Savoyard bishop of Hereford (Wykes, p. 134). He shared in the excommunication brought against his party by Archbishop Boniface. On 13 Dec. 1263 he was among the barons who agreed in referring their disputes to the arbitration of St. Louis (Stubbs, Select Charters, p. 407). When, after the repudiation of St. Louis' award, fresh war broke out between the barons and the king, Segrave took a leading part in defending Northampton against Henry. He was one of the few who managed to escape from the great destruction that followed when Henry captured that town. He fled thence to London, whence he took part in the siege of Rochester. At the Londoners' request he was made the captain of those citizens who joined Montfort's army in Sussex, and, fighting with them on the left flank of Simon's army at the battle of Lewes in 1264, shared their disgraceful rout at the hands of Edward (Hemingburgh, i. 315; Rishanger, Chron. p. 27). On the ensuing triumph of his party, Segrave was one of those summoned to Montfort's famous parliament in January 1265. On 4 Aug. 1265 he fought at Evesham, where he was wounded and taken prisoner (Flores Hist. iii. 6; London Annals, p. 69; Waverley Annals, p. 365). On 26 Oct. 1265 the king granted all his lands to Edmund, the future Earl of Lancaster (Fœdera, i. 465). This associated Segrave with the most desperate of the ‘disinherited,’ and he was one of the band of fugitives who still held out in 1267 in the isle of Ely, and was excommunicated by the papal legate. His depredations included the plunder of some merchants of Toulouse (Royal Letters, ii. 323). When Gilbert of Clare, earl of Gloucester [q. v.], revolted against the king and occupied London, Segrave, with other refugees, escaped from the Isle of Ely, and on 11 April was admitted into Southwark, whereupon the legate in the Tower put the Southwark churches under interdict and renewed his excommunication of Segrave and his companions (London Annals, p. 77). It is not clear whether Nicholas returned to Ely, or reconciled himself to the king at the same time as Gloucester. Anyhow, he was re- garded as responsible for the final capture of Ely. One story makes his mother, whose second husband, Roger de Somery, was an active royalist, betray the path to the rebel camp at Ely to Edward, the king's son (Dunstable Annals, p. 246). Wykes (pp. 207–8) says, however, that Nicholas himself betrayed the island to Edward, and did not attempt to defend the post where he was stationed. In any case, Nicholas's surrender was included with that of the defenders of the island and received the same terms, getting back his estates on condition of paying the composition stipulated by the ‘Dictum de Kenilworth.’ He received authorisation to levy a special aid on his tenants to raise the fine, and Geoffrey of Genville became surety for his future conduct. He soon obtained the complete confidence of Edward, and, taking the cross within four years, he received letters of protection on his starting for Palestine in the train of his former enemy.

Segrave continued in Edward's favour after his accession to the throne. He took part in the campaigns of 1277 and 1282 against Llywelyn of Wales (Parl. Writs, i. 832). He was summoned to the Shrewsbury parliament of August 1283 (ib.) In 1877 the House of Lords referred the creation of the Segrave barony to this writ of summons (G. E. C. Complete Peerage, v. 411). In January 1285 he appears as engaged jointly with Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, in selling large amounts of Irish wool to merchants from Lucca (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1285–92, p. 17). On 2 Jan. he nominated attorneys to represent him until Easter during his absence beyond sea (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, p. 149). This may refer to a visit to Ireland, but more probably to Segrave's intention of attending the king on a projected voyage to France that was soon afterwards abandoned. On 1 July Segrave again had letters of protection as about to go beyond sea (ib. p. 181). On 24 Oct. 1287 he took out letters of attorney for one year, being about to proceed by license to Ireland (ib. p. 191; Cal. Doc. Ireland, p. 160). On 18 May 1288 he received grants of the custody of the lands of William de Ferrars during his minority, paying a fine of one hundred marks for the privilege (Cal. Patent Rolls, p. 295). In September 1290 he acted as commissioner of oyer and terminer in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire (ib. pp. 466–7), and again in 1291 in Warwickshire (ib. p. 455). In April 1292 he received letters of protection on going to Scotland in the king's service (ib. p. 484). He was one of the judges of the great suit as to the Scottish succession (‘Ann. Regni Scotiæ’ in Rishanger's Chron. pp. 256–260). The Nicholas de Segrave who in 1290 and subsequently was guardian of Ayr and Dumbarton castles (Cal. Doc. Scotland, i. 207, 277) is probably Nicholas's son, from whom he is now commonly distinguished by being called Nicholas de Segrave senior. In July 1292 Segrave was appointed commissioner to hear plaints against the king's bailiffs in the Isle of Man (Cal. Patent Rolls, p. 519). He obtained a charter of free warren for all his demesne lands situated in the counties of Warwick, Derby, Huntingdon, Northampton, and Leicester, in which latter county his influence seems to have mainly centred. He got a charter to hold a fair and market at Mount Sorrel in Leicestershire. He remained at court until the very end of his life, attesting charters so late as 25 Nov. 1294 (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1293–1301, p. 83). He died late in 1295, being summoned to parliament in the August of that year, and in November to foreign service (Parl. Writs, i. 832).

Nicholas de Segrave was the first of his house to relinquish its lawyer traditions, and taught his children ‘to imitate the brave and associate with the nobles’ (Nicolas, Siege of Carlaverock, p. 12). He abandoned the old arms of his family, and took the arms, sable, a lion rampant, argent, described in the chronicle of the siege (ib. p. 125; cf. Nichols, Leicestershire, iii. 407). By his wife Matilda de Lucy (d. 1337) he left five sons, all described as ‘valiant, bold, and courageous knights’ (Siege of Carlaverock, p. 12; cf. Blaauw, Barons Wars, p. 176, and the pedigree in Nichols's Leicestershire, iii. 413, where the names are rather differently given). Three of these, Gilbert de Segrave (d. 1316), John de Segrave, and Nicholas de Segrave, lord of Stowe, are separately noticed. The others included Simon, who was imprisoned in 1307, and Henry and Geoffrey, both of whom were alive and of full age in the same year. There was also a daughter Annabel, who married John de Plessetis.

[Annales of Dunstaple, Waverley, and Worcester, and Chronicle of Wykes in Annales Monastici, vols. iii. and iv., Flores Historiarum, Ann. London. In Stubbs's Chron. of Edward I and Edward II, all in Rolls Ser.; Calendarium Genealogicum, Parl. Writs, vol. i., Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i., all in Record Commission, Stubbs's Select Charters; Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, 1285–92; Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1285–92; Blaauw's Barons' Wars; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 673–4; Nicolas's Siege of Carlaverock.]

T. F. T.