Maurice V. Thirteenth Lord. 1491 to 1506.
MAURICE, the late lord's brother, now stripped of the ancient honours and possessions of his forefathers, (though he continued through his life to be styled by courtesy lord Berkeley,) resided, as has been stated, at Thornbury, where, of his own and his wife's, he had a fair estate.
As soon as the inquisitions after his brother's death were returned into Chancery, Maurice commenced proceedings to recover from the Crown some of the manors which the Marquess had given away, being advised that such alienations were illegal, and contrary to some old settlements and entails. In these litigations he was generally successful, the late Marquess, in his anxiety to barter his lands for honours and patronage, having often overlooked the nature of the titles by which he held them. Maurice's first success was the recovery of the manor of Sages in Slimbridge, consisting of seven tenements and 290 acres of land, and he entered into possession and held his first court there in 1499. Many other similar suits followed, with the like success, and while these were going on the manor and borough of Tetbury, and several others. descended to him as one of the heirs of the lord Breouse. In 1505 he claimed and recovered the advowson of the Church of Wotton-under-Edge, but immediately made it over to the Abbey of Tewkesbury. He also commenced a suit to recover the advowson of Slimbridge, held by Magdalen College, Oxford, which was settled by a compromise. The College retaining the advowson but paying him a sum of money, and undertaking to remember him in their prayers.
In his journeys to and from London, and when visiting his manor of Callowden, near Coventry, finding that he and his suite were not received at the Monastery of Combe, in Warwickshire, with the honour and respect due to him as descendant from one of its founders, Maurice exhibited a bill in Chancery against the Abbot and Monks, claiming his rights in respect of his descent from Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, their founder, and obtained an acknowledgement of his claim.
Maurice died in 1506, and was buried in the Church of the Augustine Friars, in London. His eldest son, Maurice, succeeded him.
Maurice VI. Fourteenth Lord. 1506 to 1523.
Maurice was born in 1467, and brought up at Thornbury, now the home and seat of the family. He was married in 1484 to Katherine, daughter of Sir William Berkeley, of Stoke Gifford, but after some years, their union not being blessed with issue, he betook himself to a martial and courtly life, for which he seems by nature to have been well fitted. At the coronation of King Henry VIII, in 1509, he was made a Knight of the Bath; and on the breaking out of the war with France, he became one of the principal leaders in the English army, under the Marquis of Dorset, when he took with him 411 men of his own tenants and servants from Gloucestershire, all well trained and armed. The expedition however proved a failure, chiefly from being hampered by an alliance with Spain, whose promised cooperation was withheld. The next year the king took the field in person, and landed with a powerful army at Calais, Maurice Berkeley and his band of Gloucestershire men forming a part of it. On this occasion Maurice was requested by the king to give his opinion and advice as to the ordering of the army, and did so in an elaborate paper, of which a copy is preserved at the Castle. The English took Tournay, and gained some other advantages, after which the king returned to England. Though very little glory or advantage attended the English arms in France on this occasion, this period was not unproductive of military honour in the north, the battle of Flodden, in which the Scottish king and the greater part of his nobility perished, having been fought and won by the English, under the Earl of Surrey, during the king's absence in France in 1513.
In September, 1515, a peace having been concluded with France. Maurice de Berkeley formed one, by special appointment, of a brilliant train chosen to escort the king's youngest sister, the Princess Mary into France, to be married to the French king, the match having been arranged as one of the conditions of the treaty. The Princess, then 17 years of age, was considered the most beautiful woman of her time, but the king, Louis XII., was nearly 60 years old, and broken down by disease and debility. The ill-assorted union was terminated by his death in less than three months.
Maurice de Berkeley was appointed High Sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1514, and procured the Quarter Sessions to be held several times in his borough of Tetbury. The burgesses repaid this service by refusing to allow Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, to lodge one night in the town on his journeys between London and Thornbury Castle, there being much feud and bitterness between Maurice and the Duke.
Maurice seems now to have made up his mind to spend the rest of his life in his native county; he sold several manors and estates in Buckinghamshire and elsewhere, and bought Hanham, Bitton, and Mangotsfield. He also leased Yate Park for 80 years of the lord Daubeny, and soon after commenced building a large mansion there, the remains of which are still standing. At this time he maintained a large establishment, the household and other accounts of which were kept with great exactness, and balanced and signed by himself every week. His abilities as a man of business seem to have been held in high estimation, on which account he was appointed to many stewardships of manors, keeperships of parks, and other offices of trust, and it was said that he had a greater knowledge of the law than any man of his rank then living. In 1514 he was made Lieutenant of the Castle of Calais, and in the year after he received the king's commission to enquire into cases of alleged waste and spoil of deer, wood, and timber on his own patrimonial manors, then called Berkeley's Lands, and in possession of the Crown. Maurice never gave up the hope of one day re-possessing the Castle and estates of his ancestors, and several times presented his petition to the king for restitution, but in vain, though hopes of success were held out to him, and it was even said that the king on one occasion gave him his promise. He was several times named for the Order of the Garter, but was not elected.
In 1516 Maurice de Berkeley joined with eleven other noblemen in an humble petition to the Pope, and obtained power for each of them to choose a priest to be his confessor, with extraordinary powers of absolution, changing and discharging from vows, release from oaths, plenary remission and pardon of their sins, once in life and at the instant of death, and many other spiritual graces and privileges. It was about this time that the king, Henry VIII., wrote his celebrated "Defence of the Seven Sacraments," in answer to the doctrines of Luther which were then beginning to attract attention, and received from the Pope the title of Defender of the Faith.
In 1522 Maurice served under the Earl of Surrey in France, and probably in return for this and his other military services against the Scots, he was created a Baron by writ. He long hesitated to accept this honour, believing himself entitled to the older family Barony by Tenure, and the precedency belonging to it, but at length, having asked the opinion of his friends, Sir John Fitzjames the Lord Chief Baron, Sir Richard Weston, and Sir William Denys, Privy Counsellors, they wrote him a joint letter, which is still preserved at the Castle, advising his acceptance of the honour, and pointing out that his doing so would not bar him from taking any steps thereafter for the recovery of the family title and dignity. They conclude by saying that they had caused his name to be entered on the Roll of Peers, and had arranged with the lord Mountjoy for his proxy during his absence in his government of Calais. Maurice seems to have acquiesced in his friends' decision, - but never formally took his seat, and continued residing at Calais until his death, which took place in September following. He left by will a large sum of money towards the re-building of the Church and Monastery of St. Augustine at Bristol, and a Lady Chapel there; also to the Church of the Fryars Minors at Gloucester, where his grandmother the lady Isabel was buried. For the repairs of the latter Church he had for many years previous given an annual sum.
Thomas V. Fifteenth Lord. 1523 to 1532.
Maurice lord Berkeley leaving no issue, was succeeded by his brother Thomas, who had up to this time led a country life, devoting himself to agricultural pursuits, and chiefly to the breeding of sheep. He married in 1503, Alienor, widow of Sir John Ingleby, and daughter of Sir Marmaduke Constable, when his father and elder brother settled on him the manor of Hovingham in Yorkshire, where he resided. In 1513 Thomas de Berkeley commanded a large body of men at the battle of Flodden, and for his services received the honour of knighthood on the field of battle from the Earl of Surrey, who commanded the English army. The next year he received by patent the appointment of Constable and Warder of Berkeley Castle, for the Crown, as well as the Keepership of the king's red and fallow deer in Chiselhanger and Redwood, and of the Severn fisheries. Upon this he took up his residence at Mangotsfield, and devoted himself for some years to the management of his ancestral estates, though only as agent for the Crown. He enlarged the park near the Castle called the Worthy, by adding to it lands near Newport and the Oakleys, and repaired the park paling, complaints having been made of damage to the tenants' crops by the deer breaking out. For the same reason he removed the deer from Redwood and Branwood to the Worthy, and to Eastwood Park, which he had lately acquired on the attainder of the Duke of Buckingham.
In 1523 Thomas de Berkeley was High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, and the same year succeeded to the title and estates on the death of his brother Maurice.
In 1527 the Warden and Convent of Fryars Minors at Gloucester covenanted with him, in consideration of four pounds a year, to say certain prayers and masses for the souls of his father and mother, his brother and his wife, and himself and his wife. On the back of the deed is the following endorsement in a later hand :-
"If the Clergy could sell and make perfit sale remission of sinnes with assurance of the life to come for money, they should shortly have more coyne than the Kinge. And IIII£ were too little for all their prayers, but casual ware is sold good cheape. God pardon us all."
Alienor, lady Berkeley died the same year, having borne her husband two sons and two daughters. A year afterwards the widower married Cicely, widow of Richard Rowdon, whom, six years after, he left again a widow. She died in 1558 at Bristol where she had taken up her residence, and was called the lady Cicely of Bristol. Thomas lord Berkeley was buried in St. Augustine's by the side of his first wife, under a new tomb on which he directed his executors, by his will, to expend forty pounds.
Thomas VI. Sixteenth Lord. 1532 to 1534.
Thomas, who succeeded his father, was born at Hovingham, and was taken at an early age to France by his uncle Maurice (14th lord,) who had just been appointed Governor of Calais, and was by him educated at St. Omer's as the heir of the family. He remained there eight years, and on his return to England was much employed about his father's suits at law, for which he shewed much aptitude, especially in his proceedings to obtain restitution of Berkeley Castle and manors. Many of his papers on these subjects remained at the Castle in 1622; and Mr. Smyth says that of all his family he wrote the best hand, and had the best knowledge of the Latin language. His labours were however ineffectual, and the Crown still retained possession of the Berkeley Castle estates, although hopes continued to be held out to the family of their ultimate restitution. Six weeks after his father's death lord Berkeley received the grant of the Constableship of the Castle, which had by that event become vacant.
Lord Berkeley's first wife was Mary, daughter of lord Hastings, who died without issue in 1533. He afterwards married Anne, daughter of Sir John Savage, of Frodsham, Cheshire, who had borne the train of Ann Boleyn, on her marriage to King Henry VIII., and the match was said to have been contrived by the King and Queen. Of this lady Mr. Smyth says
"She was a Lady of a masculine spirit, over-powerful with her Husband, seldom at rest with herself, never wanting matter of suit or discontent to work upon. Of complexion she was of a comely brown, of a middle stature, and most tender-hearted to her children, whom she would scarcely allow out of her sight, so much so that, as they afterwards complained, it interfered with their education. She was a Catholic, and always remained so, and much attached to her religion, for which Queen Mary and the Clergy of that time much favoured her."
She survived her husband many years, and resided at several places, but after her son came of age she settled at Callowdon, near Coventry, where she died in 1564, and was buried in St. Michaelís Church, Coventry.
Thomas, sixteenth lord Berkeley, died in 1534, at Stone, near Dartford, Kent, and was buried there. At his death his only issue was a daughter, but nine weeks afterwards a son was born, who succeeded to the title and estates as Henry Lord Berkeley.
By the Dissolution of Monasteries and the Statute of Chantries, in 1536 and 1540, the Berkeley family lost the advowsons and presentations to a great many abbeys, nunneries, and priories, and other patronage, which had accrued to them through many generations as founders and founders' kin amongst others those of Croxton, Kirkby, Chawcombe, Burton-lazars, St. John Baptist in Melton Mowbray, Combe in Warwickshire, St. Augustine, St. Katherine, and St. Mary Magdalen in Bristol, Longbridge, in Berkeley, Tintern, Newenham, and Eppworth, in Axholme, Fountains, Byland, and Newburgh, in Yorkshire; also eighty knights' fees, which these and other Abbeys held of them; also the daily prayers and services of the monks, many rents, reliefs, and accustomed services, the education of their children, who were often committed to the care of the monks and nuns for that purpose, the care of old servants, and many other like duties incident to them as founders and lords of manors.