MARE, Robert de la (c.1379-1431), of Aldermaston, Berks.
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Family and Education
b.c. 1379, s. of Sir Thomas de la Mare† (d.1405) of Aldermaston by his w. Margaret. m. by lic. 21 Jan. 1398, Katherine, da. of Sir Bernard Brocas (exec. 1400) of Beaurepaire, Hants by Joan, da. of Sir Thomas Midleton,1 sis. of William* and Bernard Brocas*, prob. 2s. (1 d.v.p.).
Commr. of inquiry, Berks. Jan. 1412 (contributions to a subsidy), Feb. 1414 (treasons and felonies); array May 1418; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420; assess a tax Apr. 1431.
J.p. Berks. 4 Sept. 1413-d.
In 1349 the bulk of the de la Mare family estates in Wiltshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire had passed at the death of Robert’s grandfather, Peter de la Mare, to the latter’s eldest son, Sir Robert† (d.1382), from whom they eventually descended to his daughter Willelma, widow of Sir John Roches*. Robert himself was to inherit only one of his uncle’s manors—situated in Lower Heyford, Oxfordshire, descent of which was governed by tail-male—and this he did not obtain until the death of his uncle’s widow, in April 1405. However, he was not destined to be a poor relation, for his father, Sir Thomas de la Mare, had acquired from the maternal side of the family the Berkshire estates of the Acards, principally the manors of Aldermaston, Sparsholt, Eastmanton and Sulhamstead Bannister, and to these our MP was the sole heir.2
Robert’s grandfather and uncle had both been important officials of the earldom and duchy of Lancaster under Henry of Grosmont, and his father made a promising start to his career by entering the service of Duke Henry’s son-in-law, John of Gaunt. However, this career came to an abrupt and premature end in 1391, apparently as a consequence of financial difficulties, coupled with the effects of a violent dispute with the de la Mares’ neighbours, Edmund* and James Sparsholt. The ‘sick and aged’ Sir Thomas seems to have then become incapable of administering his properties, and in September 1397 Robert made a grant to his mother for her lifetime of certain of the family manors, almost as if Sir Thomas were no longer alive. Nevertheless, the father’s name was put to the settlement of Eastmanton made for the benefit of Robert and his wife six months later, and it was he who in 1403 formally obtained royal confirmation of an earlier grant of free warren in the family estates. Following Sir Thomas’s death in March 1405 Robert took full possession of landed holdings which, according to the assessments made seven years later for the purposes of taxation, yielded an annual income of £70. (Lower Heyford gave him about £8 a year more, as calculated after his death.)3
Early in 1398 Robert had made a match which looked set to improve his chances of preferment at Court, for his wife was a grand daughter of the recently deceased Sir Bernard Brocas* (beloved of Richard II and his first queen), and daughter of one of the King’s chamber knights. It must have been a severe blow to de la Mare’s aspirations when, two years later, his father-in-law was executed for treason against Henry IV, although whether his several years absence from royal commissions should be attributed to this connexion rather than simply to his youth and lack of experience, is uncertain. He was to remain on good terms with his brother-in-law, William Brocas (heir to the Brocas estates), for the rest of his life: he made him a feoffee of his manor of Aldermaston in 1408, and in 1414 Brocas asked de la Mare to be a trustee of lands in Berkshire and Northamptonshire. Meanwhile, in 1412, de la Mare had become involved in a serious dispute with the provost and fellows of Queen’s college, Oxford, over tithes due to the church at Sparsholt, which was appropriated to the college. On 2 Sept. commissioners were sent by Bishop Hallum of Salisbury to adjudicate, and a week later he was warned on pain of excommunication to pay his dues within 15 days or else appear before the bishop to explain his conduct. The following year he was returned by Berkshire to Henry V’s first Parliament, in the company of a trusted associate, John Golafre (to whom along with Brocas he had earlier given sole feoffeeship of Aldermaston). Like Golafre, he agreed to campaign in France in the retinue of Thomas Montagu, earl of Salisbury, only in his case it was on the first of Henry V’s expeditions, that of 1415. Apart from his official appointments (notably to the Berkshire bench, where he was to serve for 18 years), there are no further records of de la Mare worth mentioning, save that of his financial dispute with John Choude of Winchester, which was put to arbitration in 1426.4
De la Mare died on 19 July 1431. His son William and the latter’s wife, on whom he had earlier settled Lower Heyford, had both predeceased him, leaving as his heir their son, Thomas de la Mare†, whose marriage was sold by the Crown for 100 marks shortly afterwards. On the day after Robert’s death, some of his holdings were granted in custody at the Exchequer to the under treasurer William Darell† and the latter’s brother-in law, William Fynderne*, although Aldermaston itself was returned to his feoffees, Brocas and Golafre, in November.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
His was a different family from that of the famous Sir Peter de la Mare† of Herefs., the first known Speaker of the Commons.
- 1. M. Burrows, Fam. Brocas of Beaurepaire, 177, ped. aft. p. 470. Katherine was still living in 1427 when her mother bequeathed to her her second-best gown: Reg. Chichele, ii. 407.
- 2. CIPM, xv. 526-9; VCH Oxon. vi. 184-5; C137/46/3; VCH Berks. iii. 389, 431.
- 3. CCR, 1396-9, p. 215; CPR, 1401-5, p. 223; C137/47/18; CFR, xii. 304; CP25(1)12/78/20; Feudal Aids, vi. 399; C139/53/21.
- 4. Reg. Wykeham (Hants Rec. Soc. 1896-9, ii. 477; CP25(1)12/78/20; CPR, 1413-16, p. 228; C139/53/21; Reg. Hallum (Canterbury and York Soc. lxxii), nos. 889, 905; DKR, xliv. 565, 568; CCR, 1422-9, p. 314; Queen’s Coll. Oxf. deeds 47, 30, 31.
- 5. C139/53/21; CFR, xvi. 48; CCR, 1429-35, p. 142; CPR, 1429-36, pp. 217-18.