OGLE, Sir Robert (c.1370-1436), of Ogle, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. c.1370, 1st s. of Sir Robert Ogle (1353-1409) of Ogle by Joan (c.1358-12 Oct. 1416), 3rd da. and coh. of Sir Alan Heton (d. Mar. 1388) of Ingram; bro. of John Bertram*. m. 21 May 1399, Maud (d. aft. 1454), da. of Sir Thomas Gray*, 3s. 4da. Kntd. by 30 May 1410.1

Offices Held

Constable of Norham castle and steward, sheriff, escheator and c.j. of the bp. of Durham’s liberty of Norhamshire and Islandshire, Northumb. 2 Feb. 1403-d.; justice of special assize, Norhamshire and Islandshire c.1407, 1410.2

J.p. Norhamshire and Islandshire c.1408, Northumb. 12 Feb. 1422-d.; palatinate of Durham c.1433.3

Envoy to Scotland on various diplomatic missions 30 May 1410, 19 July 1413, 6 Aug. 1415, 28 Mar. 1424, 25 Oct. 1429, 4 Mar., 10 May 1434.4

Commr. of array, Northumb. July 1410, Mar. 1427, Oct. 1429, Mar. 1430, July 1434; to raise a royal loan July 1426, May 1428; hear a case for Bp. Langley of Durham Dec. 1430.5

Sheriff, Northumb. 10 Nov. 1417-4 Nov. 1418.

Constable of Wark castle, Northumb. by 1419, Berwick-upon-Tweed by 11 Nov. 1423-4 Apr. 1426, Roxburgh 9 July 1425-d.6

Sheriff, the abp. of York’s liberty of Hexhamshire, Northumb. by 7 Dec. 1435.7


The Ogles were an old and distinguished Northumbrian family, able to trace their ancestry back to the reign of Henry II, if not earlier. Sir Robert Ogle the elder played a leading part in affairs on the Scottish border, and in 1393 he became constable of Roxburgh castle. Not surprisingly, then, he was able to arrange an extremely advantageous marriage for his eldest son, Robert, the subject of this biography, who, in May 1399, became the husband of Sir Thomas Gray’s daughter, Maud. Through her mother, Joan, a daughter of John, Lord Mowbray (d. bef. 1368), and sister of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk (d.1399), Maud was related to several members of the English baronage, while her brother, William Gray, was destined to become bishop of London in 1426, and later, in 1431, of Lincoln. At the time of their marriage, the young couple received from Sir Thomas an estate in Lowick. Further opportunities for advancement came Robert’s way a few months later, on the triumphant return from exile of Henry of Bolingbroke, who mounted the throne on 30 Sept. 1399, and promptly rewarded him with an annuity of 20 marks, payable for life ‘for good and praiseworthy service’. Robert was indeed fortunate to stand well with the King, because after he fell into the hands of the Scots a few months later, Henry IV gave him 100 marks towards the cost of his ransom.8 Bishop Skirlaw of Durham also sought to retain Robert’s services; and when, in 1403, the five principal offices of his liberty of Norhamshire and Islandshire (which were customarily held in plurality by a prominent local figure) fell vacant, he offered him the appointment. Robert was confirmed in office by Skirlaw’s successor, Thomas Langley, three years later, by which time his father, Sir Robert, was growing old and wished to set his affairs in order. From his aged mother, Ellen Bertram (d.1403), Sir Robert had recently inherited a life interest in the manor and castle of Bothal. First the reversion and then the life interest itself were settled upon his second son, John, to whom he paid an annual rent of £200 for use of the property, until, in 1409, the young man himself took up residence there. John, who had already adopted the name of Bertram, was clearly his father’s favourite, for he, rather than Robert, was chosen to execute the elderly knight’s will. Another brother, named Alexander, had already been promised land and tenements in Ingram, Angrave and Tynemouth, but he died young without issue. Although Robert now stood to inherit Alexander’s share, along with all the rest of the family estates, comprising the manors and castles of Ogle, Hepple, Newstead, Sewingshields, Flotterton and North Middleton, the manors of Ellingham, Saltwick, Nedderton, Larbottle and Shilvington, and other holdings in over 30 Northumbrian villages, he still bitterly resented the loss of Bothal, which he determined to seize for himself at the first opportunity.9 Sir Robert died on 31 Oct. 1409, and although he had wished to be buried in a splendid and costly tomb at Whalton, an outbreak of plague made necessary his immediate interment at Hexham. Robert had, no doubt, already begun mustering a private army (which was said to number over 200 strong and to include a contingent of Scots), for within a matter of hours, before the funeral had taken place, he was on the march to Bothal. Despite protests from two j.p.s, Sampson Hardyng* and Sir John Widdrington*, he proceeded to invest the castle, to evict his brother, to make off with goods worth an estimated £200 and to destroy other property and crops valued at the same amount. Bertram’s strongly worded protest to the Parliament of 1410 elicited a prompt response, which led to the restoration of the castle and his brother’s appearance, under heavy sureties, before the royal council. Even so, Robert was far too powerful a figure to suffer disgrace for long. Not only did he gain custody of his inheritance as soon as an assignment of dower had been made to his widowed mother, but he also obtained probate of his father’s will, having assumed without legal title his brother’s role as executor. His relations with Sir John Widdrington appear to have improved, too, since in February 1410 the two men briefly shared between them a valuable cargo of merchandise and Scottish prisoners which had been wrecked off the Northumbrian coast, but which was eventually confiscated by the Crown. Given, moreover, that he was knighted at about this time and sent off on an embassy to Scotland, Sir Robert can hardly be said to have lost any of his influence at Court.10

Sir Robert Ogle was related by marriage to Edward, duke of York, and his brother, Richard (cr. earl of Cambridge in 1414), to both of whom, in February 1412, he offered securities of 100 marks. The reason for this transaction is now unclear, but a few months later Sir Robert became closely involved in other dealings with Sir Richard Arundel, who provided guarantees worth 600 marks that he could enjoy, uninterrupted, the tenancy of land in Ellingham, Newstead and ‘Osberewyke’ in Northumberland. Some of these holdings, at least, came to him as a result of the partition of the estates of John Heron, an undertaking which seems to have been effected without the rancour and hostility characteristic of such events, and which actually led Sir Robert to strike up a friendship with the other claimant, Robert Harbottle*. Plans for a marriage alliance between their two families may well have been mooted at this juncture, as a means of reuniting the properties in single ownership, although it was not until 1424, some years after Harbottle’s death, that one of Ogle’s daughters married his son and heir. The latter’s accession to the extensive estates of Sir Bertam Monbourcher* shortly afterwards made this a particularly shrewd move in terms of dynastic politics. Sir Robert was, meanwhile, confirmed in his annuity of 20 marks by Henry V in January 1415, and clearly felt little sympathy for any plot to overthrow the house of Lancaster. Both his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Gray, and his kinsman, the earl of Cambridge, did, however, conspire against the King at Southampton in July following, and were executed for treason just before the royal army set sail for France. Sir Robert wisely kept his distance in the north, loyally protecting the Scottish border from invasion. He entered the House of Commons for the first time in March 1416, having already attended at least one of the parliamentary elections for Northumberland some three years earlier. (He was later present at those of 1421 (May) and 1427 as well.) The death of his mother, Joan, at a fairly advanced age in the autumn of 1416 further enhanced his position in county society, since besides her customary third share of the Ogle estates, she also held land in Lowick, Coldmartin, Bamburgh, Unthank and Tritlington in Northumberland, which had belonged to her late father, Sir Alan Heton. All of this descended directly to Sir Robert, whose landed income must by now have been quite considerable, notwithstanding periodic devastation by the Scots.11

In October 1417, Sir Robert travelled to Warkworth castle with his friend, Sir John Widdrington, to witness a confirmation of the charters of Hulne priory by the young earl of Northumberland. He had, perhaps, already been made constable of Wark castle on the Scottish border by this date, and was certainly in command there when, in 1419, it fell into the hands of the Scots. While ostensibly negotiating a truce, Sir Robert employed a cunning stratagem to retake the castle, and the enemy garrison was put to the sword. The Scottish chroniclers denounced such unchivalrous conduct and condemned his brutality:

Now, to conclude, a richt weill ma be kind,

Crudelitie with cruelnes dois end.

But his success here led to other military appointments, and added appreciably to his reputation as a commander. In 1423, for example, he served as a captain in France under the banner of his kinsman, John Mowbray, Earl Marshal (cr.duke of Norfolk in 1425), whose receiver-general paid him an advance of over £500 in March of that year as wages for himself and a force of 80 men. By the following November, however, he had taken command of the royal castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed; and in June 1425 he indented with the government to serve for three years as captain of Roxburgh castle. His fees and expenses were fixed at £1,000 a year in peacetime and double that sum in periods of warfare, although, even when Anglo-Scottish relations were fairly amicable, he still found it hard to meet all the routine costs of victualling, paying and housing the garrison. Yet, notwithstanding these problems, which grew worse by the year, he remained in office as constable until his death, when he was owed almost £1,200 in unpaid wages.12

During the course of his long and eventful career, Sir Robert faced other financial difficulties, some of which resulted in litigation. In May 1421, for instance, he was pardoned a sentence of outlawry incurred because of his refusal to appear in court when being sued for debts totalling £133. One of his creditors was the prior of Durham, against whom he evidently bore considerable rancour. At about this time he stood bail for a neighbour who had behaved threateningly towards the prior; and much later, in 1431, he gave welcome support to John Manners* when the latter was forced to submit to a grossly partial award made by the same old adversary in a private dispute. (His daughter, Jenetta, probably then married Manners’s second son, Robert, who had just become heir apparent to the family estates and was looking for a suitable wife.) Since Sir Robert’s brother and erstwhile enemy, (Sir) John Bertram, was related by marriage to the man whom Manners stood accused of murdering, the whole affair clearly presented a good opportunity for the settling of old scores. As a senior official in Bishop Langley’s liberty of Norhamshire, Sir Robert had to render regular accounts, and here, too, delays and arrears inevitably occurred. On at least three occasions the bishop took heavy financial securities from him. In April 1426, for example, he had to surrender bonds worth £1,405 as an earnest of his readiness to submit accounts for his entire term of office; and in 1431 a special commission was set up to investigate evasions and concealments in his bailiwick. He had by then been outlawed yet again for failing to answer his creditors, although his mounting indebtedness in no way prevented him from taking advantage of various opportunities to extend and consolidate his estates. Thus, between December 1422 and April 1423 he exchanged his manor of Saltwick in Northumberland for property in and around the Durham village of Windlestone, and a few years later he acquired additional holdings in Unthank. On the marriage of his eldest daughter, Margery, to Robert Harbottle’s son and heir, he was obliged to part with the above-mentioned land in Ellingham, but this loss was offset, in 1429, by the grant to him of the manor of Bradford during the minority of Thomas Wetewode, a royal ward. Sir Robert also received a charter of free warren on his demesnes at Hepple from the Crown, no doubt to atone for the government’s failure to pay his wages on time.13

Not surprisingly, in view of their mutual involvement in local government and the defence of the north, our Member remained on friendly terms with the earl of Northumberland. The latter agreed to act as an umpire when, in 1425, Sir Robert became embroiled in a dispute with Sir William Elmeden, although the responsibility of making an award fell upon a group of neighbouring landowners, including Sir John Widdrington. Six years later Sir Robert repaid the earl’s kindness by standing surety for him as keeper of certain crown estates in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Both he and his eldest son, Robert, who became keeper of Berwick-upon-Tweed castle in February 1434, were listed among the Northumbrian gentry who were to take the general oath, drawn up in the following May, that they would not assist disturbers of the peace. Robert Ogle the younger was captured by the Scots during a border raid some months later, and although his father managed to raise the sum of 750 marks demanded as ransom, the effort placed a great strain upon his over-stretched finances. He had already been obliged to lend £800 to the Crown for military preparations against the Scots; and if a petition presented to Parliament after his death is to be believed, such were the arrears of pay at Roxburgh that he was forced to mortgage his estates to feed the troops there. Certainly, as the executor of his will, Robert Ogle the younger faced a number of lawsuits for debt, and claimed, with apparent justice, that well over a year’s fees and wages were still outstanding.14

Sir Robert died in early August 1436, and was survived by his widow, Maud, who lived on for another 18 years if not longer, secure in possession of an impressive dowry. Robert Ogle the younger succeeded his father as both constable of Roxburgh and senior official in the bishop of Durham’s liberty of Norhamshire. Not unexpectedly, given Robert’s circumstances, Bishop Langley demanded immediate securities of £1,000 from him as a guarantee of his financial probity, and it is interesting to note that one of his sureties was his uncle, (Sir) John Bertram, who had by then been reconciled to the senior branch of the family. By marrying his four daughters to the sons of, respectively, Robert Harbottle, John Manners, Sir John Middleton* and William Mitford*, Sir Robert had built up an even stronger network of connexions among the Northumbrian gentry than that which he had inherited from his father at the beginning of the century.15

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant: Dogle.

  • 1. H.A. Ogle, Ogle and Bothal, 44, app. pp. xi, xii, xxii; Arch. Aeliana, n.s. xxiv. 118; CIPM, xii. nos. 592-4; Rot. Scot. ed. Macpherson etc. ii. 194. The pedigree of the Ogle family given in CP, x. 24-31, mentions Sir Robert’s eldest daughter, Margery (m. Robert, s. and h. of Robert Harbottle), but omits her sisters Jenetta (m. Robert, s. of John Manners), Elizabeth (m. John, son of Sir John Middleton) and Constance (m. John, s. of William Mitford).
  • 2. Arch. Aeliana (ser. 4), xxi. 28; DKR, xxxiii. 99.
  • 3. DKR, xxxiii. 99, 141.
  • 4. Rot. Scot. ii. 194, 214, 247, 268, 286, 287; Foedera ed. Rymer (Hague edn.), iv (2), 42.
  • 5. Surtees Soc. clxix. no. 892.
  • 6. R.L. Storey, Thomas Langley, 153; Rot. Scot. ii. 237; Northumb. RO, Swinburne (Capheaton) ms, 2/51; E404/41/344, 345, 44/310, 50/363, 51/124; Cal. Scots Docs. nos. 984, 1098.
  • 7. Ogle, 44 and app. p. xii.
  • 8. CP, x. 24-31; Arch. Aeliana, n.s. xxiv. 118; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 6; Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. no. 566.
  • 9. Ogle, 40-41, app. pp. x, xxii; CPR, 1405-8, p. 144; Arch. Aeliana (ser. 4), xii. 94; CCR, 1413-19, p. 332; Surtees Soc. clxiv. no. 150; Feudal Aids, iv. 81, 83, 85, 87, 88-89.
  • 10. RP, iii. 629; Storey, 142; CFR, xiii. 187; DKR, xxxiii. 99; CPR, 1408-13, p. 180; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 39-40.
  • 11. CCR, 1409-13, pp. 327, 359-61; CPR, 1413-16, p. 290; C219/11/2, 12/5, 13/5; CFR, xiv. 174; Ogle, app. p. xxii; CIPM, xvi. nos. 592-4; Hist. Northumb. ii. 243.
  • 12. Storey, 153; Metrical Chron. Scotland ed. Turnbull, iii. 499-500; Hist. Northumb. v. 44; Bull. IHR, xxvii. 194; E404/41/344-5, 44/310, 50/363, 51/124; SC8/132/6584; Cal. Scots Docs. iv. nos. 984, 987, 998, 1006, 1008, 1013, 1015, 1024, 1031, 1033, 1034, 1045, 1048, 1050, 1052, 1060, 1072, 1077, 1080, 1083, 1098.
  • 13. CPR, 1416-22, p. 346; 1422-9, p. 512; Storey, 81-82, 84; DKR, xxxiii. 124; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 274-5; Hist. Northumb. xi. 380-1; Newcastle-upon-Tyne Rec. Ser. vii. 153, 177, 188-9; CFR, xv. 288; CChR, vi. 1.
  • 14. CCR, 1422-9, p. 210; 1429-36, pp. 123, 339, 392; PPC, iv. 204; CP, x. 29; SC8/132/6584.
  • 15. Ogle, 44, app. p. xxii; CCR, 1435-41, p. 76; Newcastle-upon-Tyne Rec. Ser. vii. 189; CFR, xiv. 307.