Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Monthermer, Ralph de
MONTHERMER, RALPH de, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford (d. 1325?), is obscurely mentioned in the 'Annales Londonienses' as 'Comes Gloucestriæ, J. Bastard qui dicitur, Radulfus Heanmer' (Chron. Edward I and II, i. 132). Before 1296 he was a squire in the service of Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1243-1295) [q. v.] Earl Gilbert's widow, Joanna of Acre [q. v.], daughter of Edward I, fell in love with him, and, after inducing her father to knight him, married him privately early in 1297 (Hemingburgh, ii. 70). When in April Joanna was forced to reveal the marriage, the king had Monthermer imprisoned at Bristol. The 'Song of Caerlaverock' says that Monthermer 'acquired, after great doubts and fears, the love of the Countess of Gloucester, for whom he a long time endured great sufferings.' Eventually Edward's wrath was appeased and Monthermer released. He did homage at Eltham on 2 Aug. 1297, when he is styled 'miles.' On 8 Sept. he was summoned to appear with horse and arms at Rochester. After this time he is styled Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, in right of his wife. Under this title he was present with his wife at the parliament held at York on 14 Jan. 1298 (Hemingburgh, ii. 156), and took part in the subsequent invasion of Scotland under the Earl of Warenne, when Berwick and Roxburgh were captured. On 10 April he was summoned to attend at York in June. When the Earls of Norfolk and Hereford demanded the reconfirmation of the charters, Gloucester was one of those nominated to swear on the king's behalf. Gloucester was with Edward in Scotland in June (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, ii. 988), and was presumably present at Falkirk on 22 July. In December he was serving in Scotland with a hundred horse (ib. ii. 1044). In June 1300 he fought at the siege of Caerlaverock. In February 1301 he was present at the parliament of Lincoln, and joined in the letter of the English barons to the pope. On 24 June he was summoned to attend the Prince of Wales at Carlisle for the Scottish war (ib. ii. 1191), and again served in Scotland in 1303, 1304, and 1306. In the last year, on 12 Oct., he received the earldom of Athol in Scotland, together with the lands of Annandale. During the winter he was one of the three wardens in Scotland, and was besieged by Robert Bruce in the castle of Ayr. On 23 April 1307 Joanna of Acre died; after this time Monthermer seems to have been no longer styled Earl of Gloucester, and in March 1308 his stepson was summoned under that title. In June 1307, just before the death of Edward I. Monthermer also surrendered his Scottish earldom of Athol in return for ten thousand marks, wherewith to buy one thousand marks of land by the year for the support of himself and his children (ib. ii. 1945). On 24 June of the same year he was appointed keeper of Cardiff and other castles in Wales. On 4 March 1309 he was again summoned to parliament as Baron Monthermer, and on 16 Sept, 1309 and 24 Dec. 1310 received grants of land at Warblington and Westenden for himself and his sons (Fœdera, ii. 92, 124). In 1311 and 1312 Monthermer served as warden and lieutenant for the king in Scotland (Cal. Doc. Scotl. ii. 393-403), and received three hundred marks in reward for his services. In 1314 he once more served in Scotland, was taken prisoner at Bannockburn, and owed his release without ransom to his former acquaintance with Bruce. On 19 Feb. 1315 he was appointed warden of the royal forests south of the Trent, an office which he held till 18 May 1320. On 30 Dec. 1315 he had leave to appoint a deputy while on a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella (Fœdera, ii. 282). Earlier in this year he had held an inquest on the claim of John, earl of Richmond, to the towns of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston (Rolls of Parliament, i. 301). After this there is no mention of Monthermer in public affairs, though he was summoned to parliament as a baron down to 30 Oct. 1324; he probably died not long after this last date. Monthermer had 'married as his second wife Isabella, widow of John Hastings (1262–1313) [q. v.], and sister and coheiress of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke. He had pardon for this marriage on 12 Aug. 1319 (Fœdera, ii. 403). Isabella survived him, and died in 1326.
By Joanna Monthermer had two sons, Thomas and Edward, and a daughter Mary, who married Duncan, twelfth earl of Fife. Thomas de Monthermer was never summoned to parliament. During the early troubles of the reign of Edward III he supported Henry of Lancaster, for which he received pardon 30 July 1330 (Cal. Patent Rolls, Edward III, i. 547). He served in Scotland in 1333, 1335, and 1337, and was killed in the sea-fight off Sluys 24 June 1340 (Murimuth, p. 109). By his wife Margaret he left a daughter, Margaret de Monthermer, who married Sir John de Montacute, second son of William, first earl of Salisbury. Montacute was summoned to parliament in 1357, apparently in the right of his wife. This barony was afterwards merged in the earldom of Salisbury, and was finally forfeited at the death of Richard Neville, earl of Warwick [q. v.], in 1471. The titles of Viscount and Marquis of Monthermer were borne in the last century by the Dukes of Montagu, who claimed descent from Thomas de Monthermer. Edward de Monthermer served in Scotland in 1334, and, though the second son, was summoned to parliament in 1337; nothing further is known of him, and he does not seem to have left any heirs; he was buried by his mother at Stoke Clare (Weever, Funerall Monuments, p. 740).
[Walter de Hemingburgh (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Bartholomew Cotton; Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II; Rishanger; Trokelowe, Blaneforde, &c. (all in the Rolls Ser.); Cal. of Documents relating to Scotland; Fœdera (Record edit.); Nicolas's Song of Caerlaverock, pp. 277-279; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 217; Doyle's Official ii. 16.]