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Arms of Thomas Wake, Baron Wake of Liddell

Thomas Wake, Baron Wake of Liddell (1297-1349)

THOMAS WAKE, 2nd BARON WAKE OF LIDDELL (1297-1349), was the son of John Wake (d. 1300) and of his wife Joan, daughter of Sir John Fitzbarnard of Kingsdown, Kent. The Wakes had been a Lincolnshire family of note since the twelfth century. The belief that Hereward 'the Wake' was a remoter ancestor of the same family has, as Mr Round has shown,2 its only basis on fact in the circumstance that some of the Wake lands near Bourne had once been in possession of Hereward. Baldwin Wake (1238-1282), a baron who fought with Simon de Montfort against Henry III, married Hawise (b. 1250), daughter and coheiress of Robert de Quincy, by whom he was the father of John Wake (d. 1300), his successor.3 John received livery of his lands in 1290, was summoned to parliament 1295 to 1299, fought conspicuously in the Scots and Gascon wars, and died in 1300. Before September 1291 he had married Joan Fitzbarnard, who survived him. He left three children—Thomas, John, and Margaret.4

Thomas Wake was born in March 1297. His inheritance fell into the king's custody.5 Thomas's mother died in 1310,6 and political vicissitudes led to many changes being made in the agents entrusted by the crown with the custody of his lands. At one time Henry [de Lacy], earl of Lincoln, and Peter de Gaveston were among those who thus acted. The custodians were changed after the ordinances, and Queen Isabella was put in Gaveston's place.7 His property was wasted by some of his guardians. However, he stood well at court, and better with the house of Lancaster. Before June 1317 he married Blanche, daughter of Henry of Lancaster, Earl Thomas's younger brother, and was henceforward devoted to the Lancastrian cause. On 6 June 1317 Edward II, 'wishing to show him special favour, at the request of his father-in-law, gave him seisin of his father's and mother's lands, though he had not yet proved his age.'8 By following Henry of Lancaster's prudent line he avoided destruction in 1322. In 1323 he was appointed with William Latimer to array the men of the East Riding against the Scots.9 The marriage of his sister Margaret with the king's brother Edmund, earl of Kent, before Christmas 1325 established a second link between him and the royal house.

Wake became bitterly discontented with the rule of the Despensers. In March 1326 he had already refused to attend the king.10 Later in the year he joined Isabella and Mortimer at Gloucester.11 On 25 Oct. he was one of the barons who agreed at Bristol to make the Duke of Aquitaine [i.e. the future Edward III] 'custos Angliæ,'12 and next day, also at Bristol, he was one of the judges who condemned the eldest Despenser.13 After Edward II's deposition, Wake was made a member of the small council of government in whose name Edward III was to act. Henceforth he was in high favour, and was styled the 'king's kinsman' in the grants lavished on him. Before December 1326 he was justice of the forest south of the Trent.14 He also became constable of the Tower of London, but was soon called upon to hand it over to another, though he still remained constable in name at least, in February 1328.15 At this date, however, he was removed from the position of chamberlain of the king's household.16 Like his father-in-law, the Earl of Lancaster, he soon found that his real authority was very small, though Isabella and Mortimer were anxious to use his name. Accordingly he drifted into hostility to the queen and her favourite.

Even in the days of his greatest prosperity he had to borrow money, especially from his Hull neighbours, the mercantile house of Pole.17 In October 1328 he joined Lancaster in refusing to attend the parliament at Salisbury, and took part in the meetings of the discontented barons at London in December.18 Mortimer seized Leicester, and Wake and his comrades appeared with horses and arms at Bedford. There, however, Archbishop Meopham reconciled the Lancastrians with Mortimer early in 132919 The terms of surrender were hard. All Wake's lands were taken into the king's hands.20 They were, however, restored on 20 Feb. in consideration of Wake binding himself to pay the enormous fine of fifteen thousand marks.21 After the arrest and execution of Edmund, earl of Kent, in March 1330, Wake, who was accused of complicity in his brother-in-law's designs, was forced to flee precipitately to France,22 where he remained in exile until after Mortimer's fall. Immediately after Edward III became his own master Wake was summoned home.23 He was now formally pardoned, and his lands, goods, and offices restored; and on 12 Dec. his unpaid fine was remitted.24 On 21 Dec. he and three others escorted the fallen Isabella from Berkhampstead to Windsor.25

Under Edward III Wake took a leading position. He was appointed governor of the Channel Islands.26 He was one of the many 'disinherited' whose Scottish lands had been forfeited by the Bruces, and King David was now called upon to restore them agreeably with the provisions of the treaty of independence.27 The repetition of the demand showed that the request was disregarded.28 Accordingly Wake took some share in Edward Baliol's attempts to wrest Scotland from David Bruce.29 He was also engaged in disputes with his Lincolnshire neighbours, with the tenants of Crowland, the prior of Spalding, and the prior of Pontefract.30

On 18 July 1335 Wake was associated with the bishop of Norwich [William Ayermin, d. 1336] and others on an embassy to treat of all matters in dispute with the king of France, and about the projected crusade.31 On 14 July he had already received protection till All Souls' for himself and followers on going beyond sea.32 In September 1337 he led from Carlisle a twelve days' foray into Scotland.33 In July 1338 he was one of two commissioners appointed to array the musters of Lincoln and four neighbouring shires to repel a threatened French invasion,34 and received a similar commission for three shires in August.35 In April 1340 he was pardoned his debts to the crown, and appointed with five others to assess and levy the parliamentary grant of a ninth within the city of London.36

On 28 May he was appointed with Archbishop John de Stratford and four others to form a continued council to Edward, duke of Cornwall [i.e. The Black Prince], who acted as regent during his father's absence abroad.37 On Edward III's return in November Wake shared the disgrace into which Stratford and the judges fell. He was for a time imprisoned, but soon afterwards honourably released.38 He was called on by Edward III to help him in Brittany in 1342.39 His castle of Liddell, after warding off a siege in the early part of 1346,40 succumbed to a six days' assault of King David, just before the battle of Neville's Cross, in 1346. Wake was not present, but the defender, Sir Walter de Selby, was put to death by the captors.41

Wake was a conspicuous friend of the religious. He was a benefactor of the Franciscans of Ware, to whom he had license on 25 June 1338 to alienate seven acres of land and a house in Ware as the site of their convent.42 He also, in 1347-8, granted a toft and ten acres of land in Farndale, near Kirkby Moorside, to the Crutched friars to build an oratory and other habitations in that moorland solitude.43 He projected the establishment of a religious house at Great Harrowden in Northamptonshire,44 but apparently abandoned the design. About 1345 he had license to import from Brabant nuns of the Dominican order, and to found a house for them in England.45 His chief interest gradually centred in the foundation of a priory of Austin canons in his East Riding estate. This was first established at Newton, near his castle of Cottingham, whither he transferred some canons of Bourne, the ancient family foundation. He obtained license to alienate lands for this purpose on 26 June 1322,46 and the local 'Meaux Chronicle' dates the foundation on St. Magdalen day in the same year.47 However, he discovered that he could not give the canons an absolute title to the site, and in 1325 obtained a bull from John XXII allowing him to transfer the house to any convenient spot in the neighbourhood.48 The spot chosen was at Haltemprice, hard by. The charter of foundation, dated January 1326, is given in the 'Monasticon.'

Wake died on 31 May 1349, leaving no issue. His wife Blanche survived until 1357. The possessions of which he was then seised are given in the 'Calendarium Inquisitionum post mortem.'49 Of all these his sister Margaret, widow of Edmund, earl of Kent, became the heiress. She died a few months later, on 27 Sept. 1349, whereupon the Wake estates and barony passed first to John, earl of Kent (d. 1352), her surviving son, and next to her daughter and ultimate heiress, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent, afterwards Princess of Wales, from whom they passed to Joan's children by Sir Thomas Holland. The Wake estates and barony remained with the Hollands until the extinction of the Kent branch of that house whereupon the estates became divided among coheiresses; the barony of Wake fell into abeyance.50

—T. F. T.

1. Cokayne, Complete Peerage, iv. 350.
2. Round, Feudal England, p. 161.
3. Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 542.
4. Chronicon de Melsa, Rolls Series, i. 100.
5. Cal. Genealogicum, p. 616; cf. Cal. of Close Rolls 1327-30, p. 437; Calendarium Inquisitionum post mortem, i. 74-5,
     which gives the Wake lands at Baldwin's death in 1282.
6. Calendar of Close Rolls, 1307-1313, p. 270.
7. ib. 1313-18, p. 603.
8. ib. p. 413.
9. ib. 1318-23, p. 633.
10. ib. 1323-8, p. 549.
11. Continuation of Adam of Murimuth's Chronicle, Adae Murimuth Continuatio Chronicarum, 1889 ed., p. 47;
      Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, Riley ed., 1863, i. 181. link
12. [i.e., "Protector of England"] Rymer's Fœdera, ii. 646.
13. Annales Paulini in Stubbs' Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, i. 317;
      Froissart, Chronicles, ii. 79-85, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove.
14. Cal. Close Rolls, 1323-28, p. 623.
15. ib. 1327-1330, p. 261.
16. Annales Paulini, p. 340.
17. Cal. Close Rolls, 1327-30, pp. 108, 200.
18. Annales Paulini, p. 343.
19. ib. p. 344; Knighton's Chronicon, i. 450; Chron. de Melsa, ii. 358-9;
      Canon of Bridlington in Stubbs' Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, ii. 99.
20. Cal. Close Rolls, 1327-30, p. 437.
21. ib. p. 529. 15,000 marks in 1329 was roughly equivalent in purchasing power
      to £8 million in 2020. Source: Measuring Worth.
22. Chronicon de Lanercost, Maitland Club, 1839, p. 265.
23. ib. p. 266; Knighton, i. 458; Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1330-4, p. 20.
24. ib. p. 28 cf. Cal. Close Rolls, 1330-3, p. 76.
25. Cal. Patent Rolls, 1330-4, p. 36.
26. ib. p. 190.
27. Cal. Close Rolls, 1330-4, p. 174.
28. ib. pp. 294, 562.
29. Knighton, i. 462.
30. cf. Cal. Close Rolls, 1330-4, pp. 292, 297-8, 346-7; 1334-8, p. 271; Rotuli Parliamentorum, ii. 84.
31. Rymer's Fœdera, ii. 914-915; Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1334-8, p. 157.
32. ib. p. 155.
33. Chron. de Lanercost, pp. 291-2.
34. Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1338-40, p. 134.
35. ib. p. 142.
36. ib. pp. 471-505.
37. ib. p. 528.
38. Chronicon Angliæ 1328-88, p. 10.
39. Rymer's Fœdera, ii. 1215.
40. Murimuth, p. 202.
41. Avesbury, Chronicle, Rolls Series, p. 376; Chronicon Galfridi Le Baker, ed. Thompson, p. 86.
42. Cal. Patent Rolls, 1338-40, p. 14.
43. Dugdale's Baronage, i. 547; cf. Tanner, Notitia Monastica, 'Yorkshire,'
      No. cxxix.: 'what settlement they obtained I know not.'
44. Cal. Patent Rolls, 1330-4, p. 179.
45. Tanner, Notitia Monastica, 'Yorkshire,' No. xlix.
46. Dugdale's Monasticon, ed. Caley, Ellis, and Bandinel, v. 519-20.
47. Chronicon de Melsa, ii. 347.
48. Monasticon, v. 520.
49. Calendarium Inquisitionum post mortem, Rolls Series, ii. 152-3.
50. Cokayne, Complete Peerage, iv. 351-2.

      Excerpted from:

      Tout, T. F. "Thomas, Lord Wake."
      Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. XX.
      Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, Eds.
      Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917. 442-45.

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