Umfraville, Gilbert de (1244?-1307) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 58
Umfraville, Gilbert de (1244?-1307)

by Thomas Frederick Tout
1904 Errata appended.
Contains subarticles Robert de Umfraville, Earl of Angus (1277–1325), Gilbert de Umfraville (1310–1381) & Sir Thomas de Umfraville (d. 1386).

UMFRAVILLE, GILBERT de, Earl of Angus (1244?–1307), was the son of Gilbert de Umfraville and Matilda, countess of Angus. The Umfravilles, a Norman house whose name is derived from Amfreville, between Brionne and Louviers in Normandy, had possessed since the Conquest the liberty of Redesdale in Northumberland (cf. Red Book of the Exchequer, ed. Hall, p. 563), and since Henry I's time the castle of Prudhoe, south of the Tyne, in the same county (ib. p. 563; Madox, Baronia Anglica, p. 244). The elder Gilbert is described by Matthew Paris as a ‘præclarus baro, partium borealium custos et flos singularis’ (Hist. Major, iv. 415). Matilda, his wife, was daughter and heiress of Malcolm, earl of Angus, the last male representative of the old Celtic earldom of Angus, a dignity that had become feudalised like the other Scottish earldoms (Skene, Celtic Scotland, iii. 289–90). Malcolm's possessions and earldom passed to Matilda during the lifetime of her first husband, John Comyn, who was styled Earl of Angus. Comyn died in 1242, and in 1243 Matilda married the elder Umfraville, who died in April 1245.

Gilbert the younger was therefore born about 1244. The wardship of the young heir was entrusted by Henry III to Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester (Matt. Paris, Hist. Major, iv. 415). Simon is said to have paid a thousand marks for it, and to have made no scruple in utilising its revenues for his own purposes (ib. v. 209–10). Umfraville's relation to the Earl of Leicester accounts for his taking the popular side during the barons' wars, but he did not come of age until towards their conclusion, and then his policy changed. Before Evesham he was fighting with John de Baliol's northern army against the barons. In a charter dated 1267 he is styled ‘Earl of Angus, and not before,’ adds Dugdale, ‘that I have seen’ (Baronage, i. 505). In writs, especially in summonses to the host, from 1277 onwards he is generally called Earl of Angus (Parl. Writs. i. 876–7), and he was summoned to the Shrewsbury parliament of 1283 by that title. The peaceful relations between England and Scotland before 1290 made it easy for Umfraville to enter into effective possession of the Angus dignity and estates, and he appears as actual possessor of Dundee, Forfar, and other chief places in Angus.

In March 1290 Angus was at the Scottish parliament of Brigham, which agreed to ratify the treaty of Salisbury for the marriage of the Maid of Norway with Edward, the king's son (Hist. Doc. Scotl. i. 129). In May 1291 he was at the council of magnates at Norham (Annales Regni Scotiæ in Rishanger, p. 253), where, though he accepted Edward's arbitration and overlordship, he scrupled to surrender the Angus castles of Dundee and Forfar into the English king's hands. However, on 10 June Edward and the chief competitors pledged themselves to indemnify him for their surrender (Fœdera, i. 756), and on 13 June Umfraville did homage to Edward as king of Scots. He was soon made governor of the surrendered castles and of all Angus. Next year (1292) Angus was at Berwick, and accepted the sentence that made John Baliol king of Scots (Annales Regni Scotiæ, pp. 263, 358). In 1293 he witnessed Balliol's agreement with England as to his hereditary English lands (Rot. Parl. i. 115 b). In 1294 he was sent to Gascony against the French, and in 1295 and 1296 was summoned to parliament as simple ‘Gilbert of Umfraville.’ When John Balliol broke with Edward, Angus adhered to the English side. He attended Edward during his victorious tour through Scotland in the summer of 1296, being at Montrose on 10 July, and in August at Berwick, attending a great council (Hist. Doc. Scotl. ii. 62, 65). There, on 22 Aug., his son, Gilbert de Umfraville, laid violent hands upon the king's servant, Hugh de Lowther, and was saved from the king's wrath only by Angus and other magnates acting as his manucaptors, and by giving full satisfaction to the injured Hugh (ib. ii. 81).

On 26 Jan. 1297 Umfraville was for the first time since 1283 summoned to parliament as Earl of Angus, a title given to him, his son, and grandson in all subsequent writs. It has been disputed in later times whether these summonses involved the creation of a new English earldom of Angus. That opinion is maintained by F. Townsend, Windsor herald, in ‘Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica,’ vii. 383; but the preponderance of opinion is rather towards the doctrine that, though allowed by courtesy the title of earl, the Umfravilles were really summoned as barons (Lords' Reports on the Dignity of a Peer, 1st Rep. p. 432, 3rd Rep. pp. 113–14; Nicolas, Historic Peerage, ed. Courthope, pp. 24–5; G. E. C[okayne], Complete Peerage, i. 92–3, which quotes some remarks of Mr. J. H. Round to the same effect.

Angus continued to support Edward in Scotland. In 1297 he was ordered to go himself or send his son with at least three hundred infantry to the army of invasion (Hist. Doc. Scotl. ii. 180), and on 1 Nov. received the king's thanks for his services (ib. ii. 241). In 1298 he served personally through the Falkirk campaign, attending the Whitsuntide parliament at York, and receiving on 28 May letters of protection till Christmas (Gough, Scotland in 1298, pp. 30, 31, 96). On 21 July he was one of the two earls who announced to Edward the position of the Scots army in Selkirk forest, and thus enabled the king to make the dispositions which insured his victory (Hemingburgh, ii. 177). In April 1299 he received letters of protection before a new official visit to Scotland (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1292–1301, p. 402); but in July he was ordered to join a commission that met at York to deliberate as to the garrisoning of the Scottish fortresses (Cal. Doc. Scotl. ii. 379). The statements of the fifteenth-century chronicler John Hardyng, that he took Wallace prisoner, defeated Bruce in battle, and was regent of Scotland north of the Forth (Chron. pp. 301, 303), are the fictions of an over-loyal servitor of the house of Umfraville. He received his last summons to the Carlisle parliament of August 1307 (Rot. Parl. i. 115 b), and died the same year. He was buried with his wife in Hexham Priory, where their effigies can still be seen (figured in Hist. of Northumberland, ed. A. B. Hinds, III. i. 142). Angus's arms are given in the Falkirk roll of arms as gules, crusilly or, with a cinquefoil or (Gough, pp. 134–5).

He was commemorated as a benefactor to the Cistercians of Newminster, though he only seems to have sold them a confirmation or extension of his predecessor's grants to that house (Monasticon, v. 400). He also made small gifts to Hexham Priory (Hist. of Northumberland, III. i. 140). His chief pious work was the assignment of some land in Prudhoe for the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate divine service in St. Mary's Chapel within Prudhoe Castle, for which he had license on 13 April 1301 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1292–1301, p. 588).

Angus married Elizabeth, the third daughter of Alexander Comyn, second earl of Buchan [q. v.], and of his wife, Elizabeth de Quincy (Wyntoun, Cronykel of Scotland, bk. viii. lines 1141–8; Calendarium Genealogicum, pp. 650–1). This lady survived her husband, but died before November 1328 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1327–30, p. 330). Their eldest son, Gilbert, the Berwick delinquent, who took some part in the Scots wars, and married Margaret, daughter of Thomas de Clare, died in 1303 without issue. Robert de Umfraville, the eldest surviving son, is noticed below. A third son, Thomas, was in 1295 a scholar dwelling at Oxford (Cal. Doc. Scotl. ii. 5). In 1306 his father assigned him 20l. a year from his Redesdale estates. Thomas was then described as the king's yeoman (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1301–7, p. 414).

Robert de Umfraville, Earl of Angus (1277–1325), was more than thirty years old at his father's death. He adhered to Edward II both against Scots and barons, and was regularly summoned to the English parliaments as Earl of Angus. He fought at Bannockburn, and was taken prisoner after the battle by Robert Bruce, but soon released. Though formerly in opposition to the Despensers, he sat in judgment on Thomas of Lancaster. Bruce deprived him of his Scottish estates and title, and before 1329 the real earldom had been vested in the house of Stewart, from whom it passed in 1389 to a bastard branch of the Douglases [see Douglas, George, first Earl of Angus (1380?–1403)]. Robert married twice. His first wife was Lucy, sister and heiress of William of Kyme, whose considerable estates in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, including the castle of Kyme, passed thus to the Umfravilles. By her he had a son Gilbert (see below) and a daughter Elizabeth. By his second wife, Eleanor, he had two sons, Robert and Thomas (see below).

Gilbert de Umfraville (1310–1381), the son of Earl Robert and Lucy of Kyme, was summoned, like his father, to parliament as Earl of Angus. He made strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to win back his inheritance, and was prominent among the disinherited who followed Edward Balliol in his attempt on the Scots crown, fighting in the battles of Dupplin Moor, Halidon Hill, and Neville's Cross. He married Matilda de Lucy, who ultimately brought him the honour of Cockermouth and a share of Lucy estates in Cumberland, and who after his death became the second wife of Henry Percy, first earl of Northumberland [q. v.]. There was no surviving issue to the marriage, so that his heir by law was his niece Eleanor, wife of Sir Henry Talboys (d. 1370), and daughter and heiress of Earl Gilbert's only sister of the full blood, Elizabeth, and her husband, Sir Gilbert Barradon. The great mass of the Umfraville estates now passed to this lady. However, in 1378 Earl Gilbert had created a special entail which settled Redesdale, with Harbottle and Otterbourne, on his brothers of the half blood and their heirs male (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1377–81, p. 134). Of these, the elder Robert de Umfraville died before his half-brother the earl, so that his half-brother Sir Thomas de Umfraville (d. 1386) now inherited Redesdale under the entail. This Thomas was never summoned to parliament, either as earl or baron, a fact which his poor and scanty estates will sufficiently explain. It is thought, however, that he acquired the Kyme property (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 330–31), though how this happened it is not easy to see. He married Joan, daughter of Adam de Rodom, and had by her two sons. The elder son, Sir Thomas de Umfraville (1362–1391), who actually sat in the commons in 1388 as member for Northumberland, was the father of Gilbert de Umfraville (1390–1421) [q. v.], ‘Earl of Kyme.’ The younger son, Sir Robert de Umfraville (d. 1436), was knight of the Garter [see under Umfraville, Gilbert de,(1390–1421)].

[Calendars of Patent Rolls; Rymer's Fœdera; Rotuli Hundredorum, Abbreviatio Placitorum; Historical Documents relating to Scotland; Cal. of Documents, Scotland; Rolls of Parl. vol. i.; Hemingburgh (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Rishanger (Rolls Ser.); Cartulary of Newminster (Surtees Soc.); Gough's Scotland in 1298; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage, i. 91–3; Nicolas's Hist. Peerage, ed. Courthope, pp. 24–5, 483–4; Lords' Reports on the Dignity of a Peer; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 505–6; Jervise and Gammack's Memorials of Angus and the Mearns [1885]; Hodgson's Northumberland, vol. i. pt. ii. pp. 1–48.]

T. F. T.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.269
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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23 ii 1 Umfraville, Gilbert de, Earl of Angus: for Yorkshire, Lincolnshire read Yorkshire and Lincolnshire