Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vere, John de (1313-1360)

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VERE, JOHN de, seventh Earl of Oxford (1313–1360), hereditary great chamberlain of England, was son and heir of Sir Alfonso de Vere (d. 1328), younger brother of Robert de Vere, sixth earl (d. 1331), by his wife Jane, daughter of Sir Richard Foliot. Robert de Vere, third earl of Oxford [q. v.], was his great-great-grandfather. Born in 1313, John succeeded his uncle, who left no issue, in April 1331.

Oxford took an active part in Edward III's wars. He fought in the Scottish campaigns of 1333 and 1335, in support of Edward Baliol. When war broke out with France he accompanied the king to Flanders in 1339, and three years later joined in the first Breton campaign of William de Bohun, earl of Northampton [q. v.], and was doubtless present at the hard-fought battle of Morlaix (Le Baker, pp. 76, 248; Murimuth, pp. 125–8). He had in his train forty men-at-arms, one banneret, nine knights, twenty-nine esquires, and thirty mounted archers, with an allowance of fifty-six sacks of wool as wages (Dugdale, i. 192). In 1343 he was with the Earls of Derby and Northampton in the expedition for the relief of Lochmaben (Walsingham, i. 254). Northampton being sent to Brittany again in June 1345, Oxford once more accompanied him (Murimuth, p. 162; Fœdera, ii. iv. 175, iii. i. 40, Hague ed.). Jean le Bel (ii. 41) and Froissart (iii. 42) must therefore be mistaken in taking him to Gascony with the Earl of Derby if their ‘Comte de Kenfort’ was meant for Oxford. On his return from Brittany ‘about the feast of the Blessed Virgin,’ his ship was driven out of its course, and wrecked upon the shores of Connaught, where the ‘barbarous people’ robbed the party of all they possessed (Leland, Collectanea, i. 560). Oxford served immediately after in the campaign of Crécy (where he was one of the commanders of the first division) with a following of 160 men, including three bannerets and twenty-seven knights (Le Baker, p. 79). In the following year he was again in France (Fœdera, v. 562). Accompanying the Black Prince to Bordeaux in October 1355, Oxford took part in his celebrated raid into Languedoc, and subsequently shared with the Earl of Warwick the command of the first division at Poitiers, when it fell to his lot to execute a timely manœuvre which saved the English archers from being ridden down by the enemy's cavalry (Le Baker, pp. 127, 143, 148; Avesbury, p. 447). He did not live to see peace made, dying on 24 Jan. 1360, during the invasion of Burgundy (Walsingham, i. 288; Froissart). His body was brought to England, and interred in the family burial-place in Colne Priory. Before starting he had made his will (1 Nov. 1359), which contained bequests to Colne church and the chapel (called the New Abbey) at Hedingham, and an instruction to his executors to pay with all convenient speed a sum of four hundred marks sterling left by his ancestors in aid of the Holy Land (Dugdale, i. 193; Testamenta Vetusta, p. 62).

By his wife Maud (b. 1310), widow of Robert Fitzpayne, second sister and coheir of Giles, lord Badlesmere (d. 1338) of Badlesmere in Kent, whom he married in 1336, Oxford had four sons and at least one daughter. The sons were Thomas (1337–1371), who became eighth Earl of Oxford, and was father of Robert de Vere, ninth earl of Oxford and duke of Ireland [q. v.]; Aubrey, who succeeded his nephew as tenth earl [q. v.] in 1393, and is separately noticed; and two, John and Robert, who predeceased their father. John married a daughter of Hugh Courtenay, earl of Devon (d. 1377), who took for her second husband, Sir Andrew Lutterel of Chilton, and died on 7 Aug. 1395 (Beltz, p. 249; Testamenta Vetusta, p. 127). Oxford's daughter, Margaret, married, first (before 1361), Henry, lord Beaumont (d. 1369); secondly, Sir Nicholas Louvaine of Penshurst, seneschal of Ponthieu from 1364, who made his will on 20 Sept. 1375; and thirdly, John, lord Devereux (d. 1393), whom she survived (ib. p. 98; Fœdera, iii. 709, 739, 920). The daughter Isabel mentioned by Dugdale as married first to Sir John Courtenay, and secondly to Sir Oliver Dynham, was really the daughter of Hugh, the fourth earl. Courtenay died in 1273, and Dynham about 1298. Oxford in his will left a thousand marks for the marriage of ‘Maud my daughter.’ Unless we ought to read Margaret, there is no other mention of her. His widow died in May 1366 (Complete Peerage, vi. 164). Oxford's privy seal is engraved in the ‘Proceedings’ of the Archæological Institute, 1850, p. 189.

[Rymer's Fœdera, original edition; Galfrid Le Baker's Chronicle, ed. Maunde Thompson; Murimuth, Avesbury, and Walsingham, Historia Anglicana (in the Rolls Ser.); Jean le Bel, ed. Polain; Froissart, ed. Luce; Dugdale's Baronage; Leland's Collectanea, ed. Hearne; Nicolas's Testamenta Vetusta; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Maxwell-Lyte's Dunster and its Lords.]

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