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Thomas Beauchamp,
Earl of Warwick

Earl of Warwick
Born: Early 1339
Died: 22nd January 1407

This nobleman, the second, but eldest surviving son and heir of Thomas, 3rd Earl of Warwick of that surname, by Catherine Mortimer, daughter of Roger, Earl of March, received knighthood in 1355, at the age of only about fifteen, at the same time as Guy, his elder brother. His first military service was in 1362, when we find him in Brittany, in the retinue of John De Montfort, then contending for the Duchy with Charles De Blois. In 1370, one year after his father's death, he was, at the Royal Court at Westminster, a witness to the public instrument whereby the King promised to redress the grievances of his Aquitaine subjects. Retained by indenture in 1372, to serve for a year with 100 men-at-arms and 140 archers, two bannerets, 30 knights and 77 esquires, he joined the expedition, commanded by King Edward in person, the chief object of which was to raise the Siege of Rochelle; and which, after several unsuccessful efforts to land on the French coast, was compelled by contrary winds to return. In the year following, he attended, with a more considerable force, the Dukes of Lancaster and Brittany to France; and, after the truce in 1374, returned with them from Bordeaux to England. He was, in 1375, a commissioner, with De Bryan and Scrope, to treat with the Earl of Douglas, on behalf of the King of Scotland, for the restitution of certain lands, beyond the border, which belonged to English subjects. In the same year, he accompanied the Earl of Cambridge into Brittany, and assisted in the taking of several castles from the enemy. In 1376, he was appointed Governor of the Channel Islands.

At the commencement of the new reign, the earl was one of the five peers, before whom Alice Perrers, and the deponents against her, were examined in Parliament, on the 22nd December 1377; and, in 1379 and 1381, one of the committee for inquiry into the state of the revenue and King's household. In the expedition of Richard II to Scotland in 1388, the monarch was attended by Warwick, who witnessed the patents, dated at Hawick in Teviotdale, 6th August in that year, whereby the King's uncles were advanced to the Dukedoms of York and Gloucester.

The subsequent misfortunes of the Earl had their rise in his adherence to the party consisting of the Duke of Gloucester, the Earls of Derby and Arundel, and Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, Earl Marshal. Under the title of "Lords Appellants," these men carried on, in 1387, the impeachments which produced the removal or destruction, by authority of Parliament, of the King's favourites; but the relative legislative acts were reversed on 28th January 1398, after the murder, on 3rd of September preceding, of the Duke of Gloucester at Calais, by the connivance of the same Thomas Mowbray, then governor of that town. For, on 29th of the same month, the latter had been rewarded for his atrocious crime with the Dukedom of Norfolk. It is stated by Walsingham that, on the day of the murder of Gloucester, the King invited Warwick to a banquet and that, upon his arrival, he was arrested; and, having acknowledged that he had been present at Hornsey Park, in 1387, where the proceedings against the favourites had been plotted, judgment of death was for that offence passed upon him. Froissart adds that the hard sentence was, at the intercession of the Earl of Salisbury, commuted to banishment to the Isle of Wight for life. Dugdale further states that Warwick Castle and manor were, with other lands, given by the King to the Duke of Surrey.

This narrative differs, as to the place and manner of the arrest, from the recital in the proceedings of Parliament upon the accession of King Henry IV. It is there stated that the late King had caused Warwick to be arrested on 10th July 1397, in the house of the Bishop of Exeter, then Lord Chancellor, without Temple Bar. He was committed to the Tower of London and, from thence, was conveyed to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, where he remained in prison until Friday, the feast of St. Matthew (9th August) in the same year, when he was removed to Westminster. Being, on the following Friday, convicted of treason in Parliament and sentenced to death, his lands and chattels in England, Wales and Calais, were seized into the King's hands. The new government annulled the judgment and he was restored to his honours and lands on the 19th November 1399.

The Earl of Warwick did not long survive his restitution. For, having made his will on 1st April 1400, he died on 8th April 1401 and was buried in the south aisle of the Collegiate Church of St. Mary in Warwick. By Margaret his consort, daughter of William, Lord Ferrers of Groby (who survived him), he had one son, Richard, 5th Earl of Warwick, and two daughters, Catherine, who died unmarried in 1378, and Margaret, the wife of John, Lord Dudley.

Edited from George Frederick Beltz's
"Memorials of the Most Noble Order of the Garter" (1861).    Copyright ©2001, LLC