Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Plessis, John de
PLESSIS or PLESSETIS, JOHN de, Earl of Warwick (d. 1263), was of Norman origin, and was probably a son of the Hugh de Plessis who occurs as one of the royal knights from 1222 to 1227 (Cal. Rot. Claus. i. 500, ii. 131). He was possibly a grandson of the John de Plesseto who witnessed a charter of John in 1204 (Gir. Cambr. Opera, Rolls Ser. i. 435), and was in the royal service in 1207 (Cal. Rot. Claus. i. 99, 102). Amauricius and William de Plessis, who were provided with benefices by the king's order in 1243, may have been his brothers (Rôles Gascons, Nos. 581, 1050, 1410, 1638).
Plessis is first mentioned in 1227, when he was one of four knights to whom 60l. was given for their support (ib. ii. 202). He served in Wales in 1231, and on 2 March 1232 witnessed a royal charter to Stephen de Segrave [q. v.] (Archæologia, xv. 210). On 30 May 1234 he was appointed warden of Devizes Castle and of Chippenham Forest. In 1239 and 1240 he was sheriff of Oxfordshire, and on 9 Dec. 1241 had the wardship of the heiresses of John Biset of Combe Biset, Wiltshire (Hoare, Hist. Wiltshire, Cawden, p. 11; Excerpt. e Rot. Fin. i. 362; cf. Ann. Mon. i. 122). In May 1242 he accompanied the king to Poitou (cf. Rôles Gascons, Nos. 432, 859, 1224). On 2 Nov. he was granted a charger worth 30l., on 23 Nov. freedom of bequest, and on 25 Dec. the marriage of Margaret de Neubourg, countess of Warwick, and widow of John Marshal, son of John Marshal (1170?–1235) [q. v.] (ib. Nos. 624, 671, 720, 941). Plessis returned to England with the king in October 1243 (ib. No. 1189). Through the royal influence his suit with Margaret de Neubourg was successful, but he did not assume the title of Earl of Warwick until his tenure of it for life was assured by the consent of the next heir, William Mauduit, father of William Mauduit [q. v.]; he is first styled earl in April 1245. On 18 Oct. 1250 he had a grant of his wife's lands for life. On 24 June 1244 he had been appointed constable of the Tower of London, and it was no doubt in this capacity that he appears as one of the justices to hold the pleas of the city of London on 24 Sept. 1251. In 1252 he is mentioned as one of the royal courtiers who took the cross, and in May 1253 was one of the witnesses to the excommunication of those who broke the charters (Matt. Paris, v. 282, 375). In August 1253 he again went with Henry to Gascony, and was in the royal service there till August 1254. On 11 Feb. 1254 he was employed to treat with Gaston de Beam, and on 5 March received 200l. in payment for his services (Rôles Gascons, Nos. 2396, 2642, 3070). He was at Bordeaux in August 1254, but, having obtained letters of safe-conduct from Louis IX, started home through Poitou early in September, in company with Gilbert de Segrave [q. v.] and William Mauduit. The party was treacherously seized by the citizens of Pons in Poitou; Segrave died in captivity, and John de Plessis was not released till the following year. In the spring of 1258 Plessis sat with John Mansel and others at the exchequer to hear certain charges against the mayor of London (Liber de Antiquis Legibus, S33, Camd. Soc.) At the parliament of Oxford in June 1258 he was one of the royal representatives on the committee of twentyfour, was one of the royal electors of the council of fifteen, and a member of the latter body (Ann. Mon. i. 447, 449; Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 84). He was appointed warden of Devizes Castle by the barons, and in 1259 was one of the council selected to act when the king was out of England (Ann. Mon. i. 460, 478). On 28 Nov. 1259 he was a commissioner of oyer and terminer for the counties of Somerset, Devon, and Dorset. When Henry removed the baronial sheriffs in July 1261, Plessis was given charge of Leicestershire, and on 10 Aug. was also made warden of Devizes Castle, a post which he held till 15 June 1262. He died on 26 Feb. 1263, and was buried at Missenden Abbey, Buckinghamshire.
By his first wife, Christiana, daughter of Hugh de Sanford, he had a son Hugh (1237-1291), who married his father's ward, Isabella, daughter of John de Biset. Hugh de Plessis had a son Hugh (1266-1301), who was summoned to parliament in 1299, and left a son Hugh, who died before 1356 without male issue (Hoare, Hist. Wiltshire, Cawden, p. 12; cf. Palgrave, Parl. Writs, iv. 1297).
John de Plessis was succeeded as Earl of Warwick by his second wife's nephew, William Mauduit. A nephew called Hugh de Plessetis was ancestor of the family of Wroth of Wrotham, Kent (Archæologia Cantiana, xii. 314).
There was a family of the name of Plessis or de Plessetis settled at Plessy in the township of Blyth, Northumberland. Alan de Plessis and John de Plessis were concerned in a forest dispute in Northumberland in 1241. The latter was a person of some note in the county, and was no doubt the warden of Northumberland in 1258, though Dugdale and others have erroneously assigned this office to the Earl of Warwick (Hodgson, Hist. of Northumberland, II. ii. 292-6; Bain, Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, i. 276, 2141,2611).
[Matthew Paris; Annales Monastici (both in Rolls Ser.); Cal. of Close Rolls; Excerpta e Rot. Finium; Rôles Gascons (Documents Inédits sur l'Hist. de France); Dugdale's Baronage, i. 772-3, and Hist. of Warwickshire, pp. 383-5; Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 575-6; G-. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage, vi. 254; Foss's Judges of England, ii. 442-4; Archæologia, xxxix. 428; other authorities quoted.]