Ros, Robert de (d.1227) (DNB00)

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ROS or ROSSE, ROBERT de (d. 1227), surnamed Fursan, baron, was the son of Everard de Ros of Helmsley or Hamlake in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The family also held lands in Holderness, where was situated Ros, to which they gave, or from which they received, their name. Robert succeeded to his father's lands in 1191, paying a relief of one thousand marks. In 1195 he was bailiff and castellan of Bonneville-sur-Touques in Lower Normandy, near which the Norman lands of the family lay (Stapleton, Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniæ, vol. i. pp. cxl, clxiv, vol. ii. pp. lxxvi, lxxvii). In 1196, after a battle between the men of Philip Augustus and those of Richard I, Richard handed over to Robert's keeping Hugh de Chaumont, a wealthy knight and intimate friend of Philip Augustus. Robert imprisoned him in his castle of Bonneville. But his servant, the keeper of the castle, William D'Epinay, was bribed into conniving at Hugh's escape. Richard, angry at the loss of so important a prisoner, ordered D'Epinay to be hanged, and imposed a fine of twelve hundred marks on his master. Two hundred and forty marks of this were still unpaid on 29 Jan. 1204, when King John remitted one hundred marks (Patent Rolls, p. 38).

Immediately after his accession John sent Robert and others to William the Lion of Scotland, Robert's father-in-law, to arrange an interview between the two sovereigns for 20 Nov. 1199 (Rog. Hov. iv. 140). On 6 Jan. 1200 he received from the king a grant of all the honours and lands which had belonged to Walter Espec in the county of Northumberland, including Wark, where Robert built a castle [see Espec, Walter]. In the succeeding years he witnessed several royal charters, chiefly at places in the north of England, but on 7 Oct. 1203 was again at Bonneville-sur-Touques (Charter Rolls, p. 111 b), and seems to have been in Normandy in John's service during the later months of that year, returning to England before 22 Feb. 1204, when he was at York (ib. pp. 114 a, 119 b; Rotuli Normanniæ, p. 113). In the spring of 1205 he had some difficulty with John, possibly about the balance of his fine, and his lands were ordered to be seized (Close Rolls, i. 24 b), but an order for their restoration was soon issued (ib. i. 31). On 28 Feb. 1206 he received license, whenever he should take the cross, to pledge his lands for money to any one of the king's subjects any time during the following three years (Hunter, Rotuli Selecti, p. 17). This permission was renewed on 26 Feb. 1207. We do not know whether Robert took the crusading vow. For some reason, possibly on account of the arrears of his fine, his son Robert was in the king's hands as a hostage on 13 Feb. of that year (Patent Rolls, p. 59 b). Robert seems to have let another prisoner escape, a certain Thomas de Bekering, and on 28 Dec. 1207 was acquitted of a fine of three hundred marks for this new offence (Close Rolls, i. 99). On 10 April 1209 he was sent with others by the king to meet the king of Scotland (Patent Rolls, p. 91).

In 1212 Robert seems to have assumed the monastic habit, and on 15 May of that year John therefore handed over the custody of his lands to Philip de Ulecot (Close Rolls, i. 116 b). His profession cannot, however, have lasted long, for on 30 Jan. 1213 the king committed to him the forest and county of Cumberland (Patent Rolls, p. 96 b), while on 25 Feb. he was made one of a commission to inquire into grievances, more especially the exactions of the royal officers in the counties of Lincoln and York (ib. p. 97). Among other royal favours which he received this year was that of a license to send across the seas a ship laden with wool and hides to bring back wine in exchange (9 Sept. Close Rolls, i. 149 b). He interceded with the king in favour of his suzerain in Holderness, William of Aumâle, and succeeded in getting him a safe-conduct as a preliminary to a reconciliation (1 Oct. Patent Rolls, p. 104b). On 3 Oct. he was one of the witnesses to John's surrender of the kingdom to the pope, and was one of the twelve great men who undertook to compel John to keep his promises made in favour of the English church (Charter Rolls, p. 195; Literæ Cantuarienses, Rolls Ser. i. 21). During the troubled year 1214 and the early part of 1215 he continued in John's service as sheriff of Cumberland, and on 10 April 1215 received the royal manors of Sowerby, Carleton, and Oulsby, all near Penrith in Cumberland and Westmoreland (Close Rolls, i. 194). About the same time John ordered Peter des Roches [q. v.] to do all that he could to secure the election of Robert's aunt as abbess of Barking, and in no wise permit the election of the sister of Robert FitzWalter, one of the baronial leaders (ib. i. 202).

But John failed, despite these favours, to secure Ros's adherence in his struggle with the barons. According to Roger of Wendover (ii. 114), Ros was one of the chief ‘incentors of this pest’ (i.e. the baronial resistance to the king) in the meeting of the magnates at Stamford in the week following 19 April. He was one of the twenty-five barons elected to compel the observance of the Great charter (Matt. Paris, ii. 605), and took part in the resistance to John after his absolution from his oath by the pope. In consequence he was excommunicated by Innocent IV in January 1216 (Rog. Wend. ii. 169). After the king's successes in the north in the early part of that year, a castle belonging to Robert was one of the only two that remained in the possession of the barons in the north of England (ib. ii. 167). John granted his lands to William, earl of Aumâle, on 27 Jan. 1216 (Close Rolls, i. 246 b). He was summoned to deliver up Carlisle Castle, and expressed his readiness to do so, merely asking for a safe-conduct for an interview, which the king promised (ib. i. 269). John repeated the offer on 12 April, but it led to nothing. Robert held the government of Northumberland, and seems to have continued his resistance even after John's death. His son William was captured at Lincoln in May 1217 (Cont. Gerv. Cant. ii. 111).

Robert in time submitted, and Henry III commanded his manors of Sowerby, Carleton, and Oulsby to be restored to him on 23 July 1218, and orders to different bailiffs of the king to allow him to hold his lands unmolested were issued on 22 Nov. 1220 (Close Rolls, i. 441). In February 1221 he was summoned to help in besieging and destroying Skipsea Castle (ib. i. 474 b). In 1222 he seems to have complained to the king that the king of Scotland was encroaching on English territory, and a commission of inquiry was appointed (ib. i. 496 b). Whether it was that the sheriff of Cumberland, apparently Walter, bishop of Carlisle, had delayed to restore his lands through jealousy, or that they had been seized again, their restoration was again ordered on 24 May 1222. On 23 May of the following year the king forbade the same sheriff of Cumberland to exact tallages from the royal manors given to Robert. A renewed order to give Robert seisin of these manors on 6 Feb. 1225 seems to point to further disobedience to the king's former orders (ib. ii. 15). Robert witnessed the third reissue of the Great charter on 11 Feb. of that year. On 26 Feb. 1226 Henry ordered the barons of the exchequer to deduct from the firm of the county owing by Walter, bishop of Carlisle, the revenues of the royal manors given to Robert de Ros. Robert again took the monastic habit before 18 Jan. 1227 (ib. ii. 166 b). He died in that year, and was buried in the Temple Church at London. He married Isabella, daughter of William the Lion, king of Scotland, and had by her two sons: William (d. 1257–8), whose son Robert, first baron Ros, is noticed under William de Ros, second baron Ros; and Robert de Ros, Baron Ros of Wark [q. v.] He gave the manor of Ribston (West Riding of Yorkshire) to the knights templars, who established a commandery there (Stapleton, Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Norm. vol. ii. p. lxxvii). He also gave several houses in York to the same order (Close Rolls, i. 117 b). He founded the leprosery of St. Thomas the Martyr at Bolton (probably in Northumberland, five and a half miles west of Alnwick) (Close Rolls, ii. 182).

[Rotuli Chartarum Johannis, Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum, and Rotuli Litterarum Patentium, Rotuli Normanniæ, and Hunter's Rotuli Selecti, all published by the Record Commission; Roger of Hoveden, Roger of Wendover, Matthew Paris, Shirley's Letters of Henry III (Rolls Ser.); Dugdale's Baronage of England, i. 546; Baker's Northamptonshire, i. 269; Poulson's Holderness; Stapleton's Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniæ, 2 vols. 8vo, 1840.]

W. E. R.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.239
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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216 ii 16f.e. Ros, Robert de: for Furfan read Fursan