Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turberville, Henry de
TURBERVILLE, TRUBBEVILLE, or TRUBLEVILLE, HENRY de (d. 1239), seneschal of Gascony, son of Robert Turberville, was a member of the Dorset family of that name. The family name is very variously spelt in the records. Trubleville corresponds nearly to the modern form of the Norman village Troubleville (Eure), from which it is derived. Between 1204 and 1208 Henry was engaged in litigation with regard to various estates in Melcombe, Dorset (Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 425). This suggests that he belonged to the Melcombe branch of the family, which was distinct from the main stock, having its chief seat at Bere, and this is corroborated by the fact that his arms (given in Matt. Paris, Hist. Major, vi. 477) were not precisely the same as those of the Bere Turbervilles (Hutchins, i. 42). In the latter part of John's reign Turberville had already gained the reputation of a famous soldier. He adhered to John to the end. In the last year of that king's reign he was employed to pay soldiers at Rochester, and rewarded with forfeited lands, some of which were in Devonshire. He continued to be employed under Henry III. In 1217 he took a prominent share in helping Hubert de Burgh [q. v.] to win his victory over the French fleet commanded by Eustace the Monk in the Straits of Dover (Matt. Paris, iii. 29). Numerous grants of land in Wiltshire, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire, and Devon were now made to him.
Before 19 Oct. 1226 Turberville was appointed seneschal of Gascony (cf. Fœdera, i. 182). He held that office until 1231. The weak rule of the young earl Richard of Cornwall [q. v.] had distracted the country, and Turberville found his task by no means an easy one. His correspondence with Henry III (printed in Shirley, Royal Letters, i. 317–21, 327, 332, 344, and Fœdera, i. 182, 190, 191, 192) shows him contending with want of money, a revolt in Bayonne, a conspiracy in Bordeaux, disputes with the viscount of Béarn, and unsettled relations with the French king. In June 1228 he was the chief negotiator of a truce with France signed at Nogent (ib. i. 192). He importuned the king to relieve him of his governorship; but Henry answered that he must retain it until the king himself visited Gascony. Despite their disobedience to him at the time, the Gascons afterwards contrasted Turberville's mild rule very favourably with the strong government of Simon de Montfort, describing Turberville as ‘custos pius et justus qui nobis pacifice præerat’ (Matt. Paris, v. 295). However, on 1 July 1231 Turberville was superseded, and in 1232 he was again in England (Fœdera, i. 203). In 1233 he distinguished himself in the Welsh war that resulted from the revolt of the Marshals [see Marshal, Richard, third Earl of Pembroke]. Carmarthen was besieged by Rhys Grug and the Welsh, who had risen in the interests of the Marshals. Turberville took a force of soldiers on shipboard from Bristol and sailed up the Towy to the beleaguered castle and town. The bridge over the river, which was immediately below the castle, was held by the Welsh rebels. Turberville broke the bridge by the impact of his ship and captured its defenders or immersed them in the river (Tewkesbury Annals, p. 92; Annales Cambriæ, p. 79; Brut y Tywysogion, p. 323, Rolls Ser.).
Turberville was reappointed seneschal of Gascony on 23 May 1234, and was ordered to be at Portsmouth by Ascensiontide to command a force destined to help Peter, count of Brittany (Fœdera, i. 211). He fought vigorously in this cause, but Peter proved faithless, and Henry was soon again in Gascony (ib. i. 214). He was seneschal, with a short break in 1237, until the end of November 1238. After Easter in the latter year he was sent by Henry III at the head of an English force destined to help his brother-in-law, the Emperor Frederick II, against the rebellious Lombards (Matt. Paris, ii. 485; Flores Historiarum, iii. 227). He was subsequently joined by William, bishop-elect of Valence, Queen Eleanor's uncle, who seems to have assumed the command (Matt. Paris, iii. 486). They fought for the whole summer against the Lombards, and inflicted great loss upon them. A victory over the citizens of Piacenza on 23 Aug. was their most noteworthy exploit (Mousquez, Chronique Rimée in Bouquet, xxiii. 68). They were recalled before the renewal of Frederick's excommunication. The emperor testified by letter his great obligations to Turberville (Matt. Paris, iii. 491). Turberville returned to England, and on 12 Nov. 1239 was one of the numerous band of nobles who, headed by Richard of Cornwall, bound themselves by oath to go on crusade. He died, however, on 21 Dec. 1239 (Matt. Paris, iii. 624).
Turberville is described as ‘præclarus miles,’ ‘vir in re militari peritissimus,’ and as ‘in expeditionibus expertus et eruditus’ (Matt. Paris, iii. 29, 485, 620). He had a wife named Hawise, who survived him, and had her dower assigned from his Devonshire estates (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 5). He also left a daughter named Edelina, who married a Saintongeais named Elie de Blénac. Grants of money and kind from the Bordeaux exchequer were bestowed on her after her father's death (Bémont and Michel, Rôles Gascons, Nos. 840, 1407). She was apparently illegitimate, for the Melcombe estates of her father went to the Binghams through Lucy, Henry's sister, who married into that family, and must therefore have inherited after her nephew's death (Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 426). Moreover, Matthew Paris, in his lamentation over the decay of so many knightly families at this time, expressly mentions the Turbervilles as among the ‘shields laid low’ (Hist. Major, iv. 492).[Matthew Paris's Historia Major, Flores Historiarum, Shirley's Royal Letters, Annales Cambriæ, Brut y Tywysogion, Annales Monastici (all in Rolls Series); Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i.; Bémont and Michel's Rôles Gascons, in Documents inédits sur l'Histoire de France; Hutchins's Dorset; Clark's Limbus Patrum Morganiæ et Glanmorganiæ, pp. 448–9.]