Thursday, June 30, 2016

John Bromwich, Justiciar of Ireland

John Bromwich, Justiciar of Ireland

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

In 1379-1380 Sir John de Bromwich was justiciar of Ireland and head of the Anglo-Irish government. Yet he does not appear in any Dictionary of National Biography. This article is an attempt at a biography of this Edwardian knight. Media reports say that John de Bromwich was born about 1332 somewhere in Gloucestershire and that his father was Ralph de Bromwich was associated with Bromsberrow and Nailsworth.[1] So far there is no confirmation of these reports in the surviving documentation.

The many wives of John Bromwich

The same media reports say that John Bromwich got married three times. Sometime between 21st February 1358 and 16th February 1361 John Bromwich married Elizabeth Comyn (born 1st Nov 1299, died 20th Nov 1372), daughter of Sir John "the Red" Comyn, Lord Badenock, and his wife, Joan de Valence.[2] John Bromwich and Elizabeth Comyn had a daughter called Anna.[3] Nothing further is known about Anna.

Elizabeth Comyn had previously married Richard Talbot, 2nd Lord Talbot, son of Gilbert Talbot, 1st Lord Talbot and Ann le Boteler sometime between 24th July 1326 and 23rd March 1327. Richard Talbot died 23rd October 1356, aged about 51. The couple had three sons (Gilbert [ancestor of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury], Richard and Thomas) and three daughters (Jane, Elizabeth and Catherine).[4]

Shortly after November 1372 John Bromwich is said to have married a second time to an unknown woman. It is said that John Bromwich had two sons and two daughters by this unknown woman. These were Sir Thomas Bromwich (born c.1373), Robert Bromwich (born c.1375), Jane Bromwich (born c.1377) and Elizabeth Bromwich (born c.1379).[5] This supposed second marriage is I think incorrect. John Bromwich left no male heirs and by all accounts Anna Bromwich was his only child. The Sir Thomas Bromwich referred to above was the son of Walter Bromwich, brother of John Bromwich.

Sometime before 1386 John Bromwich married a third time (correctly wife number two). His new wife was a woman called Katherine (born c.1365, died 4th May 1420). John and Katherine Bromwich had no children. It is possible that Katherine was a member of the Clinton family. At her death Sir William de Clinton was her next heir.[6]

From the evidence gathered John Bromwich married twice, first to Elizabeth Comyn and secondly to Katherine. His only daughter Anna seems not to feature in the surviving documents apart from the inquiry relating to Bannow manor in Co. Wexford.


In the surviving documents John Bromwich is described variously as a gentleman from Gloucestershire or from Herefordshire – these are a few facts about him in Gloucestershire. In 1364-1365 John Bromwich was described as a knight of the shire of Gloucester. In 1367, 1374, 1383 and 1384 he was a justice of the peace in Gloucestershire.[7] On 12th June 1371 John Bromwich and John Poyntz were appointed collectors of the subsidy of 116s from every parish in Gloucestershire as passed at the Winchester Parliament. This subsidy replaced that granted to the king at the Westminster Parliament (22s 3d from every parish) because the old subsidy was insufficient to raise £50,000 granted to the king.[8]

On 12th October 1371 John Bromwich was commissioner with Gilbert Talbot, John Burlay and Thomas Catewy to investigate the previous grant by King Edward on 20th March 1371 of a piece of ground in Gloucester for the erection of a tower and bell. The bell would ring every hour to mark the time, day and night. The site of the tower was in Saint Market Place.[9]

On 6th October 1372 John Bromwich and five others were commissioned to investigate the complaint of the abbot of St. Peter’s in Gloucester touching a grant by King Henry III of a water course through the abbey. In recent times some town’s folk (described as evildoers) erected toilets upstream from the abbey and the stench arising from the polluted water often forced the monks to abandon their prayers and leave the abbey.[10]

On 28th October 1373 John Bromwich was commissioned with Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, the abbot of Gloucester, and the prior of Llanthony to investigate if it would damage the king to grant to the Friars Minor to have their manse and close near the town walls without interference by the town’s folk.[11]

On 6th September 1374 John Bromwich of Gloucester stood mainprise for Sir Robert de Assheton who had recently acquired property in Co. Louth in Ireland that was forfeited by the outlawry of Thomas de Verdon.[12] On 15th November 1374 John Bromwich was commissioned with seven others to regulate the weights and measures in Gloucestershire and observe any infringements of the statutes of labourers.[13] 

On 14th November 1376 John Bromwich was commissioned with six others to investigate the complaint of the abbot of St. Peter’s in Gloucester that Sir Gilbert Talbot and others attacked the abbey’s manors, destroyed millstones, captured fish and destroyed crops while attacking the abbey’s monks and officials.[14]

In December 1378 Sir John Bromwich of Gloucestershire stood mainprise for Sir Robert Howard that the latter would not molest or elope with Margery de Nerford from the company of her grandmother Alice de Neville. The £1,000 bond was also mainprised by Sir Robert Passelewe of Kent, Ralph de Poley and John de Holkham of Norfolk.[15]


If Gloucester was the main base for John Bromwich, the county of Herefordshire provides the earliest information on John Bromwich. Sometime before February 1357 John Bromwich killed Walter de Bromyard, burgess of Hereford. For this crime John Bromwich was outlawed. The Earl of Arundel came to his aid and petitioned the king for a pardon which was granted on 7th February 1357.[16] 

In 1370-1371 John Bromwich was described as a knight of the shire of Hereford and in 1383 was a justice of the peace.[17] In 1377 John Bromwich and Walter Bromwich along with six others and the county sheriff were commissioned to raise the king’s army in the county and gather supplies to defend England against a French invasion.[18]

On 12th July 1380 the priory of Wormsley got a licence for the alienation in mortmain by John Bromwich arid John de Eynesford, knights, and Philip Holget, of an acre of land in Almaly.[19] Many years later, in 1425, the prior of Wormsley held half a knight’s fee at Brinsop in Herefordshire with John Bromwich and Elizabeth, wife of John ap Rees from Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March and Ulster.[20]

Sometime after 1380 Sir John Bromwich, Henry Arden, Walter Bromwich, John de Eynesfield and Philip Holgot with four others granted the manor of Almaly in Herefordshire to Sir John Oldcastle. John de Eynesfield and Philip Holgot often appear as associates in the life of John Bromwich and John Oldcastle was usually not too far away.

In the first year of Henry V, Sir John Oldcastle was accused of treason and association with the Lollards in London and Middlesex and was outlawed. At the Parliament in the 5th Henry V Sir John Oldcastle was again charged with treason and was sentenced to execution. The charge of treason was based on a plot by Oldcastle and others to kill Henry V, his brothers and senior magnates and church officials.[21]

When William Shakespeare brought his play on Henry IV, part two, to the censor for publication the censor, on the advice of Lord Cobham, banned the play because it referred in an offensive way to John Oldcastle, a relative of Lord Cobham. At this Shakespeare rewrote the play by substituting the name of John Falstaff for that of John Oldcastle and made a killing at the box office. In July 1429 John’s son, Henry Oldcastle, petitioned for restoration of the manor of Almaly. A commission was appointed and on 5th November 1431 all barriers to restoration were removed.[22]

The Bromwich connection with Herefordshire continued long after John Bromwich died in 1388. But sometimes the connection was not always of good cheer. In 1434 Thomas Bromwich the elder, Thomas Bromwich the younger, William Bromwich and Robert Bromwich were among a large host of people asked to take an oath of loyalty to the king and promise not to maintain law breakers.[23]

Property in Hampshire

The manor of Bromwich in the parish of Titchfield in Hampshire was held successively in the fourteenth century by Lucas Bromwich and John Bromwich. By 1428 the manor had passed to the Uvedale family, possibly by purchase from Thomas Bromwich.[24]

Property in Gloucestershire

One of the earliest properties in Gloucestershire associated with John Bromwich was Bromsberrow. The manor and advowson of Bromsberrow (worth £10 per annum) was held of Richard, Earl of Warwick via his manor of Hanley by service unknown. In 1367, Thomas Pichard, parson of Sollershope, acknowledged Bromsberrow to be the property of John Bromwich and that John could enter the property after the life interest of Constance de Cusyngton. After Constance’s death John Bromwich entered the manor and took the profits. Later John Bromwich devised the manor and advowson of the manor church to his wife, Katherine Bromwich, for life with reversion to his nephew, Thomas Bromwich.[25] A descendent of the family, Edward Bromwich held the manor and advowson of Bromsberrow in chief from the King at his death in 1624 and was succeeded by his son, Isaac Bromwich.[26]

St. Mary's church at Bromsberrow by Derek Meek

Another early property of John Bromwich in Gloucestershire was the manor of Nailsworth, held of Caen Abbey in Normandy by their manor of Avening. Before 1363 Nailsworth was held by John Bardolf and after his death, Queen Philippa, and later again by Hugh Woodward until John's son, John Bardolf, came of age in 1371. At some unknown date the manor of Nailsworth (annual value £10) passed to John Basset, who granted it to Sir John Bromwich who devised it to his wife Katherine for life.

After John Bromwich died in 1388, his brother Walter Bromwich entered the manor and took the profits. But when John’s will was declared Katherine Bromwich was given seisin for life by Walter Bromwich, and Walter's son and heir Thomas Bromwich.[27] After 1409 Katherine married Roger Leech as her third husband and died in 1420 in possession of Nailsworth and the estates of Minchinhampton and Avening manors under the Crown. Soon after her death Thomas Bromwich was forcibly disseised by the same or another John Basset, who in 1434 was described as lord of Nailsworth.[28]

John Bromwich was not the owner of every property he was associated with. The manor of Painswick in Gloucestershire was held by Elizabeth Bromwich for her own use after her marriage to John Bromwich. In 1324 the manor was held by Aymer de Valence on his death when it passed to his niece, Elizabeth Comyn. In 1325 she granted it, under duress, to Hugh de la Despenser the elder and recovered it after his death. Elizabeth Comyn subsequently married Richard Talbot and after his death she married John Bromwich. After Elizabeth died in 1372 Painswick passed to her son, Gilbert Talbot.[29] Associated with Painswick was the manor of Eggesworth.

In 1360 John de Maundeville rented five messuages, 22 acres of land and 2 acres of wood at Painswick and Eggesworth from Sir John Bromwich at £14 per year in rent.[30] In 1363 John Cofe rented a third part of Eggesworth from John and Elizabeth Bromwich as of her manor of Painswick. The land of John Cofe was taken into the king’s hand because John Cofe was declared insane.[31]

Another de Valence manor inherited by Elizabeth Comyn was Moreton in Gloucestershire. In 1424 Elizabeth Comyn inherited the manor and was managed by Richard Talbot after her marriage. When Elizabeth died in 1372 the manor was held by her in fee. Subsequently John Bromwich and Elizabeth’s son, Gilbert Talbot, held two knights fees at Moreton and Whaddon. Gilbert Talbot held the manor at his death in 1389 and passed to his son, Richard Talbot.[32]

On 1st April 1373 John Bromwich was issued a pardon on the payment of £40 to the king for the trespasses of Sir Gilbert Talbot on property at Walwyk, Charleton, Thornton, Tyndale and Tirset. The property consisted of land, orchards, cottages, watermills, two slate quarries and tenements and was held in chief. John Bromwich had possession of the property in right of his wife Elizabeth Bromwich who held for her life. The pardon extended the possession for John’s life and only allowed reversion to Gilbert Talbot on John’s death.[33]

Property in Herefordshire and the Marches of Wales

One of the earliest properties associated with John Bromwich in Herefordshire was at Wilton on Wey. The castle and manor there was granted by King Edward III to Richard Talbot and Elizabeth Comyn and the heirs of Richard in exchange for the manor of Hertford-in-Bury. Before 1371 Reynold de Grey rented Wilton on Wey from John Bromwich and Elizabeth Comyn and made it his principal home.[34]

Another early property was at Kylpek. In 1364, Eleanor, wife of the late James Butler, Earl of Ormond, held the castle and manor at the time of her death from John and Elizabeth Bromwich as of the manor of Wormlow.[35]

In 1383 it was reported that at some unknown date long before the death of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March and Ulster, the Earl had granted a rent charge of £66 13s 4d on the manors of Clifford and Glasebury to John Bromwich for life. There was a castle and manor at Clifford with a park, and £6 3d rent from the borough of Clifford. Glasebury had two watermills and a ferry across the Wye.[36] John Bromwich had served under Edmund Mortimer in the French wars.

Previous to February 1376 John Walden, clerk, Walter atte Hall, Richard de Grene and six others had acquired the manor of Eton Tregoz in Herefordshire without licence from Thomas de Graunson. The manor was held in chief of the king. To correct this infringement of the king’s rights, John Bromwich paid the king £20 as a fine for the trespasses and to get a licence for John Walden to have the manor and for others to release it to him. Subsequently John Walden granted the manor to John Bromwich, John de Ellesford, and John de Oldcastle and their heirs.[37]

In a court case relating to a dispute over a chest of 57 charters in 1426 mentioned a court roll in the chest. This court roll was made when Eton Tregoz was held by Sir John Bromwich, John Ellesford and John de Oldcastle in 1376. On 5th November 1379 John Bromwich granted the manor and all his land in the earldoms of Hereford and Gloucester to Countess Philippa and others. This was witnessed by Walter Bromwich among others. On 23rd November 1383 Earl William Montecuto granted Eton Tregoze back to John Bromwich and six others.[38]

On 14th November 1385 licence, for 10 marks paid to the king by John Bromwich, knight, for John Devereux, knight, Matthew Harselad, clerk, Philip Holgot and Richard Nasshe to grant to the said John and Katharine his wife and his heirs their manor of Eton Tregoze, co. Hereford, held in chief.[39]

Inquisition in July 1412 found that in 1387 Richard Nasshe and Hugh Haresfeld granted to Sir John Bromwich and Katherine his wife the manors of Credenhill and Eaton Tregoze with the advowson of the chapel of Eaton Tregoze in Herefordshire and the manor and advowson of Bromsberrow in Gloucestershire to hold to them and the heirs of their bodies. After John Bromwich died, Katherine remained in possession of the manors. She subsequently married Hugh de Waterton and held the properties with Hugh until his death on 2nd July 1409 (or 1410).[40]

After his death, an inquisition found that Hugh de Waterton held half the manor of Eaton Tregoze and was succeeded by his two daughters, Blanche, wife of Robert Cheallonnas and Elizabeth, late wife of John ap Harry through her son Richard ap Harry. Catherine Bromwich, in her second widowhood, held half the manor until her death on 4th May 1420. After Katherine’s death, Credenhill (held from John Chaundos) reverted to Thomas Bromwich, nephew of Sir John Bromwich.[41]

In 1371 John Bromwich held the manor of Tregget in the March of Wales. The manor was rented by Thomas Rous who died about 1358 and by his son John de Rous who died in 1370.[42]

Property in Ireland

With his marriage to Elizabeth Comyn between 1358 and 1361 John Bromwich made his first acquaintance with Ireland. Elizabeth Comyn had inherited the manor of Bannow in Co. Wexford along with land at Jerpoint and Everdrym. On 8th June 1428 a commission of inquiry was issued to Henry Fortescue, James Cornewallys, Robert Folyng, Maurice Stafford, Walter Whitey, William Lyncoll', John Gogh and Thomas Abbey, to established the history of Bannow and the other properties and established who was the rightful owner.

The justices said that Elizabeth Comyn had the manor in fee. Her marriage to Sir John Bromwich produced a daughter called Anna who it seems died without issue. After Elizabeth Comyn died, John Bromwich held Bannow by the law of England with a reversion, after his death, to Gilbert Talbot, son and heir of Elizabeth Comyn.[43]

In about 1369 the land of Bannow, Jerpoint and Everdrym were seized by the Irish government under the Act of Absentees. This measure was introduced to force owners of estates, rents and offices in Ireland, who lived overseas, to come and live in Ireland and contribute to the defence of the country. Soon after the attorneys of John Bromwich settled with the Irish government but still the lands were not restored.[44]

On 13th May 1371 John Bromwich received pardon for not going to Ireland or sending troops there as set out in the Act of Absentees. Elizabeth Comyn also didn’t send any aid to Ireland. John Bromwich said that he was absent from Ireland because he was in service of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, in Lombardy. Later he was in service of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, in the wars in France and England. The king pardoned John Bromwich and ordered William de Windsor to restore him to his Irish lands and the reversion to Elizabeth Comyn.[45]

On 15th May 1371 John Bromwich appointed Henry Conway and Roger Colyn as his Irish attorneys for one year.[46] His Irish estate was still in government hands to the great loss of income for John Bromwich and contrary to the royal patent he had received. John Bromwich sought a remedy through his attorneys over the next few years. In 1374 he was finally successful. On 28th October 1374, at Castledermot, an order was issued to exonerate John Bromwich and to cause him to be quit of any fees as an inspection of the rolls of chancery showed the King had entirely granted and restored the estate to John Bromwich with all their issues and profits..[47]

On 26th June 1376 Sir John Bromwich appointed William Carlel and Roger Cullen as his Irish attorneys for the succeeding two years as he stayed in England.[48]

At some unknown date Gilbert Talbot gave the reversion of Bannow to Robert Evere and Ismania, his wife, and to the heirs of Robert forever. With the death of John Bromwich, Robert Evere gained possession of Bannow along with Jerpoint and Everdrym. After his death, Ismania married John Drakea and James Evere, son and heir of Robert, confirmed the estate to John Drake and Ismania for their lives. On 1st January 1420 Ismania Evere died and John Evere (aged 50 years and more), and his wife, Alice Preston, were given full seisin.[49]

Caen abbey property in England

As part of the Hundred Years War between England and France, the English government seized all the English property owned by religious houses in France. The religious houses had acquired the property in the early decades of the Norman conquest of England. On 18th October 1371 (renewed on 12th May 1378 and again on 7th November 1382) Sir John Bromwich was appointed manager of the Caen abbey estates in England. The appointment was back dated to start at Michaelmas 1371 and would remain in place as long as the war with France continued. In this job John Bromwich was to manage the estates and cause no waste or destruction of woods. He was to render annually to the Exchequer 400 marks which could be increased if the value of the estate improved. John Bromwich was also to pay £125 as the value of the goods on the estate when seized by the government.

The king reserved the advowson of the parish churches held by Caen Abbey. Sir John be Burle and Sir John de Lawton (both of Herefordshire) and Bartholomew Pygot of Norfolk acted as securities that John Bromwich would do a good job, with a penalty of 1,000 marks if he didn’t. During his tenure the Caen estates were to be free of all ecclesiastic taxation and charges to as to allow John Bromwich to make a profit.[50]

Foreign travel
Before he became justiciar of Ireland in 1379 Sir John Bromwich had previous experiences of foreign travel. As a retainer of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, he travelled with his lord to Lombardy. This was in 1368 as Clarence journeyed to Italy to marry his second wife, Violante Visconti, daughter of Galeazzo Visconti, lord of Pavia. After a few months in Italy the Duke of Clarence took ill and died on 7th October 1368.[51] Later John Bromwich became a retainer of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March and Ulster, by a life indenture. Mortimer had married Clarence’s only daughter in August 1369. John Bromwich travelled with Mortimer to fight in France and inspect the garrisons there.

Justiciar of Ireland

King Edward III had tried to recover the situation in Ireland after decades of decline. Lionel, Duke of Clarence and William de Windsor had made progress in some form of restoration but the succession of King Richard II as a minor on the death of Edward III found the London government with little interest in the Irish situation. This lack of interest was to last until the Tudor period. After 1377 the then justiciar of Ireland, James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, had to pay for the army out of his own resources.[52]

Early in 1378 the war with the Irish rebels started to go against the government. The MacMurrough nation made frequent attacks on the English community in Carlow. In March Muragh O’Brien led an army from Munster to join MacMurrough. The justiciar was in a powerless situation and was militarily unable to deal with the two armies. Nothing could be done but to buy off the O’Brien’s.

The Irish Council authorised the payment of extra troops but the treasurer was empty to actual pay for them. A small force was sent from England but the promised English money only arrived in small instalments. By August 1379 the Earl of Ormond had had enough and went to England to resign and secure payment of his considerable arrears.[53]

As early as 1373 the Anglo-Irish nobles had wanted the Earl of March as Lord Lieutenant but he was unavailable. Instead John Bromwich was appointed as justiciar, possibly on the high recommendation of Edmund Mortimer. John Bromwich was a leading retainer of the Duke of Clarence and was retained by the Earl of March (son-in-law of Clarence) on a life indenture. On 26th August orders were issued to arrest ships to carry Bromwich’s force of sixty men-at-arms and 120 archers to Ireland but Bromwich stayed in England. At the Irish Council at Naas on 13th October the Earl of Ormond announced his resignation and refused pleas for him to stay on until Bromwich arrived. The Earl of Kildare also refused to serve and the Bishop of Ossory, then treasurer of Ireland, was induced to head the government.[54] But the Bishop refused and the chancellor, Alexander de Balcot was made acting head of the government until John Bromwich arrived.[55] The government made peace with MacMurrough.

Dublin castle, seat of English government in Ireland

By December 1379 John Bromwich was in Ireland but his ability to run the government was somewhat hampered by the appointed on 22nd October of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March as Lord Lieutenant.[56]

In 1379 King Richard II authorised his officials to deliver royal jewellery to Edmund de Mortimer, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as surety for a loan of £1,000 in aid of the expenses of the army in Ireland. John Bromwich, the justiciar, was to arrange payments to the troops.[57]

Castledermot Parliament

In April 1380 John Bromwich held a Parliament at Castledermot on Monday after the feast of St. Mark. One of the items discussed (on 30th April) was the imposition of a fine on the Bishop of Ferns because he was absent. But the Bishop claimed relief from the fine as he was unfit to travel.[58]

Another item discussed at the Parliament was the petition of the treasurer for a reward for his exceptional service. On the 6th May 1380 John Bromwich acknowledged the petition while still at Castledermot.[59]

Robert le Hore, the King’s attorney at the exchequer and common bench, petitioned the Castledermot Parliament for a reward for his special services. The petition was attested by Edmund de Mortimer, Earl of March and Ulster, on 28th December 1380 when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.[60] Another petition for reward of service was made by Thomas Rowe to the Parliament at Castledermot before John Bromwich and later attested by Edmund Mortimer. He sought five marks for keeping Richard, son of Richard de Burgh, as a hostage for five years.[61]

Other issues as justiciar

In early December 1379 John Bromwich was in Dublin to preside over pleas of the crown and records of goal delivery. John Bromwich was in Naas shortly after the 23rd April 1380 to hear more pleas and gaol sentences as justiciar.[62]

Early in 1380 a decree was issued that any who had estates, rents or offices in Ireland were to return to the country by 24th June to protect and defend the country. The Council could seize two thirds of the absentee rents and profits to fund the war effort.[63] John Bromwich would later come into trouble with the prebendary of Howth, an absentee, over the implementation of the decree.

In February 1380 a mandate was sent to Edmund Mortimer and John Bromwich as justiciar to restore the temporalities of the Diocese of Ardfert to William, the newly elected Bishop of Ardfert.[64] On 20th March 1380 John Bromwich was at Kilkenny. While there he confirmed as justiciar of Ireland the grant made in February 1377 by King Edward III of the weekly market at Polrothan in Overk held by the Earl of Ormond.[65]

Also during his time as justiciar, John Bromwich appointed William Bernard to be a clerk at the sessions held before Richard Plunkett and others in Louth. But for 1½ years William received no pay for his work. On 16th October 1381 an order was made to pay William 100s as a gift.[66]

The justiciar’s salary

On 13th March 1380 an order was made to pay John Bromwich £125 as part of his annual fee of £500. The payment covered the period from 26th November 1379 to 26th February 1380.[67] On 27th May 1380 a further order was issued to pay John Bromwich £125 as part of his annual fee to cover the period from 26th February 1380 to 26th May 1380.[68]

Edmund Mortimer arrives as Lieutenant

In May 1380 Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March and Ulster, arrived in Ireland with a considerable force. Edmund Mortimer first went north into Ulster to reduce the Irish and took prisoners and received homage. By autumn he had retaken Athlone castle and re-established his own lordship of Meath. In December Edmund Mortimer was in Dublin to preside at a Parliament and hear the Bishop of Cloyne give his celebrated attack on the Earl’s of Desmond and Ormond for creating more warfare between them than against the Irish rebels.[69]

The Bishop of Cloyne was charged with slander, error and heresy for this outburst. Later in the proceedings against the Bishop, a gathering of clergy from the Dioceses of Limerick, Salisbury and Hereford met to review the witness statements and confirm the charge of heresy. The clergy were joined by a group of ‘venerable and discreet men’ that included John Bromwich, William Bromwich, Thomas Mortimer and John Bromwich’s old Irish attorney, Henry Conway.[70] 

After leaving the justiciarship

John Bromwich remained in Ireland after leaving the position of justiciar. From 16th October 1380 to 13th November 1380 Sir John Bromwich was ordered to go with 4 knights (2s per day), 91 men-at-arms (12d per day) and 258 mounted archers (6d per day) to Cos. Kilkenny and Tipperary, where a lineage called the Tobins were at open war. On 1st May 1381 an order was made to pay the wages of the soldiers.[71] The head of the Tobins, Richard de St. Aubyn, was captured and imprisoned at Kilkenny castle while hostages were taken for good conduct.[72]

On 26th December 1381 Edmund Mortimer died suddenly at Cork. The Irish Council met shortly after to choose somebody to become justiciar. The Earl’s of Desmond and Ormond refused. Sir Thomas Mortimer declined when the Council wouldn’t pay him the money he asked for. Again the Earls refused to serve and the treasurer said he was too infirmed. The reluctant justiciar was the chancellor, John Colton, dean of Dublin.[73] In these discussions John Bromwich was not mentioned as a candidate for justiciar. Maybe John Bromwich had left Ireland by December 1381 and so was unavailable.

On 26th May 1382 John Bromwich was granted custody of the castle and lordship of Clifford with the manor of Clasbury in the March of Wales, property of the late Edmund Mortimer. He was to hold same until the lawful age of Mortimer’s heir. William, Earl of Salisbury and Sir Brian Stapleton of Yorkshire stood mainprise that John Bromwich would pay the yearly value of the property to the Exchequer and maintain the upkeep of the manor buildings. In February 1382 John Bromwich of Herefordshire had stood mainprise for William, Earl of Salisbury, when the latter acquired custody of a London inn, formerly owned by Edmund Mortimer.[74]

Back in Dublin John Bromwich had legal battles to fight against the prebendary of Howth. In about 1383 William de Beverley, prebendary of Howth, petitioned the King and Parliament about the behaviour of John Bromwich. William de Beverley asked that John Bromwich be ordered to make restitution to him for taking the issues of the town of Kilbarrack. This town was part of the property attached to the prebendary. Sometime before 1381 the King’s ministers in Ireland had seized the fruits of Howth prebendary because William de Beverley failed to comply with the ordinance against absentees.[75]

By July 1383 John Bromwich was back in England when he was commissioned with thirteen others to keep the peace in Gloucestershire and up hold the statutes of Winchester, Northampton and Westminster.[76]

Death and settling his affairs

Reports suggest that sometime before 20th September 1388 John Bromwich died.[77] On 25th September 1388 the king appointed Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, to the custody of all the possessions in England late of the abbess of Caen, lately held for a certain rent by John Bromwich, knight. The property was to be held by the duke as by agreement between him and the Council.[78] John Bromwich held the Caen properties in fee farm of 400 marks per year.[79]

On 29th May 1389 the king commissioned officials in Counties Dorset, Essex, Gloucester, Wiltshire, and Norfolk, to investigate the waste and tenements of the property of Caen Abbey which was lately in the hands of John Bromwich, deceased. In August 1389 the Earl of Derby obtained a pardon for Katherine, wife of the late John Bromwich, the prior of Llanthony in Wales, Philip Holkot, Richard Aissh, Henry Moton and Hugh Haresfield, executors of the will of John Bromwich, for all wastes and trespasses made by John while farmer of the English property of Caen Abbey.[80] 

In 1413, Katherine, widow of the late John Bromwich, received a royal grant of the manor of Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire. The manor was formerly part of the property of Caen Abbey in Normandy but was seized by the king of England along with other English property of French religious houses owing to the Hundred Years War with France. Shortly after the grant Katherine married Roger Leech.[81]

On 21st October 1414 King Henry V agreed to the grant to Katharine Bromwich, now the wife of Sir Roger Leech, of the manor of Minchinhampton while rendering to the king £93 6s 8d yearly. By letters patent of 27th January 1414 this rent was granted for the use of Joan, Queen of England. At the same time Henry V granted the manor to Sir John Philippes and Alice his wife and the heirs after the death of Katharine or whenever it should come into the king's hands. In the meantime Sir John Philippes was to have a rose at Midsummer and £100 yearly at the Exchequer until they have full possession of the manor. After gaining possession Sir John Philippes was to be quit of the payment of £93 6s 8d yearly, and was given licence to cross overseas to bargain with the abbess of Caen for the purchase of the manor.[82]

It would seem that after the death of Katherine Bromwich (May 1420) that Sir John Philippes possessed the manor for only a short time. In October 1424 the reversion of Minchinhampton was mentioned as part of a large grant of property by King Henry VI to found a religious house at Istelworth in Middlesex, known as Synon Abbey.[83]


Thus we conclude the life of Sir John Bromwich. In his time he held high office and was possessed of large estates. But many of these estates were held by inheritance of his wife and by commission from the king. The lands of his first wife, Elizabeth Comyn, passed to the family her first husband, the Talbot family. After his death in 1388 no inquisition post mortem was held for John Bromwich because he held no land from the king. His only daughter Anne disappears into the midst of time without any knowledge of her life and his tenure in high office was brief. In such circumstances a biography of Sir John Bromwich was never written. This article will hopefully bring his memory back to life for another generation.


End of post


[6] J.L. Kirby & Janet H. Stevenson (eds.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XXI, 6 to 10 Henry V, 1418-1422 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2002), no. 582
[7] Elizabeth G. Kimball (ed.), Rolls of the Gloucestershire Sessions of the Peace 1361-1398 (Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, vol. 62, 1940), p. 28
[8] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, p. 119
[9] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, p. 178
[10] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, pp. 240, 241
[11] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, p. 397
[12] C.B. Dawes (ed.), Calendar of the Fine Rolls, Vol. VIII, Edward III, 1368-1377 (Kraus reprint, 1971), p. 258
[13] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, p. 478
[14] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1374-1377, p. 416
[15] Calendar of Close Rolls, Richard II, 1377-1381, p. 228
[16] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1354-1358, p. 506
[17] Elizabeth G. Kimball (ed.), Rolls of the Gloucestershire Sessions of the Peace 1361-1398, p. 28
[18] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1374-1377, p. 499
[19] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Richard II, 1377-1381, p. 528
[20] Kate Parkin (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XXII, 1 to 5 Henry VI, 1422-1427 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2003), no. 510, p. 482
[21] J.W.B. Chapman (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, Volume VIII, 1422-1485 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2003), no. 36
[22] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry VI, 1422-1429, p. 546; Ibid, Henry VI, 1429-1436, pp. 177-8
[23] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry VI, 1429-1436, pp. 376, 377
[25] J.L. Kirby & Janet H. Stevenson (eds.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XXI, no. 580
[26] W.P.W. Phillimore & George S. Fry (eds.), Abstracts of Gloucestershire Inquisitions Post Mortem of King Charles the First (British Record Society, 1895), pp. 189, 190
[27] J.L. Kirby & Janet H. Stevenson (eds.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XXI, no. 580
[28] A.P. Baggs, A.R.J. Jurica and W.J. Sheils, 'Nailsworth: Manor', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, edited by N.M. Herbert and R.B. Pugh (London, 1976), p. 211
[30] E.G. Atkinson (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume X, Edward III (Kraus reprint, 1973), no. 596
[31] M.C.B. Dawes (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XI, Edward III (Kraus reprint, 1986), no. 302
[32] accessed on 17 June 2016; J.B.W. Chapman (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XIII, Edward III (Kraus reprint, 1986), no. 167, p. 142
[33] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, p. 279
[34] J.B.W. Chapman (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XIII, no. 30, p. 24
[35] M.C.B. Dawes (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XI, no. 483
[36] M.C.B. Dawes, A.C. Wood and D.H. Gifford (eds.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 15, Richard II (London, 1970), nos. 560, 561
[37] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1374-1377, pp. 235, 236
[39] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Richard II, 1385-1389, p. 50
[40] J.L. Kirby (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 19, Henry IV (London, 1992), no. 819
[41] J.L. Kirby & Janet H. Stevenson (eds.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XXI, nos. 578, 582
[42] J.B.W. Chapman (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume XIII, no. 47, p. 36; Ibid, Volume XII, Edward III, no. 408
[45] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, p. 87
[46] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1370-1374, p. 90
[48] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1374-1377, p. 285
[50] C.B. Dawes (ed.), Calendar of the Fine Rolls, Vol. VIII, Edward III, 1368-1377 (Kraus reprint, 1971), pp. 134, 135; Ibid, Vol. IX, Richard II, 1377-1383 (Stationery Office, London, 1926), pp. 93, 94, 331
[52] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland (Ernest Benn, London, 1980), p. 311
[53] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 313
[54] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 313
[55] John T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland (James Dufy, Dublin, 1865), p. 243
[56] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 313
[57] G.O. Sayles (ed.), Documents on the Affairs of Ireland before the King’s Council (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1979), no. 262
[58] H.G. Richardson & G.O. Sayles (eds.), Parliaments and Councils of Medieval Ireland (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1947), p. 111
[59] H.G. Richardson & G.O. Sayles (eds.), Parliaments and Councils of Medieval Ireland, p. 112
[60] H.G. Richardson & G.O. Sayles (eds.), Parliaments and Councils of Medieval Ireland, pp. 112, 113
[62] J.S. Brewer & William Bullen (eds.), Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts at Lambeth (6 vols. Kraus reprint, 1974), Vol. 5, p. 352 
[63] John T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland, p. 244
[64] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Richard II, 1377-1381, p. 436
[65] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1934), p. 149
[69] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 314
[70] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413, p. 171
[72] John T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland, p. 247
[73] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, pp. 315, 316
[74] C.B. Dawes (ed.), Calendar of the Fine Rolls, Vol. IX, Richard II, 1377-1383, pp. 287, 295
[75] Philomena Connolly, ‘Irish material in the class of Ancient Petitions (SC8) in the Public Record Office, London’, in Anaclecta Hibernica, No. 34 (1987), p. 33
[76] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Richard II, 1381-1385, p. 346
[78] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Richard II, 1385-1389, p. 509
[79] Calendar of the Charter Rolls, 1341-1417, p. 329
[80] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Richard II, 1389-1392, pp. 61, 100, 101
[82] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry V, 1413-1416, p. 257
[83] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry VI, 1422-1429, p. 206

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying to place Sir Thomas Bromwich (whose dau. Elizabeth married Walter Devereux, d 1435/6) in a Bromwich family context. From the visitations of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire I have a Thomas Bromwich as son of Sir John, with a son Richard. The Gloucestershire Visitations includes information that Thomas's wife was dau. of John Oldcastle. Is this the Thomas Bromwich who you show as nephew of Sir John Bromwich, the Justiciar, and son of Walter (brother of Sir John)?