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William De Bohun

Earl of Northampton
Born: 1312
Died: 16th September 1360


Illustrious birth, eminent abilities and undaunted prowess were qualities signally united by William De Bohun. He was the fifth son of Humphrey De Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford & Essex, Constable of England, by the Princess Elizabeth, seventh daughter of King Edward I. Having mainly assisted in the overthrow of the rebel Mortimer, and given other proofs of courage and loyalty, he was, on the occasion of conferring the Dukedom of Cornwall upon the Black Prince, in 1337, created Earl of Northampton and endowed with extensive grants for the support of that dignity. In the same year, he was appointed one of the commissioners to treat with Philip of Valois, touching the right to the French Crown, and also to negotiate a peace with David Bruce. He was one of the marshals in the third battalia of King Edward III's army, drawn up at Vironfosse in 1339, and, in the following year, bore a part in the naval victory of Sluys. In 1342, William was constituted the King's Leutenant and Captain-General in Brittany, with power to receive fealty and homage from the inhabitants on behalf of his master under his assumed title as King of France. Whilst upon that high service, he defeated the enemy at Morlaix and took the town of Roch-Dirien by assault. In 1343, he was in the expedition of the Earl of Lancaster into Scotland and was appointed Governor of Lochmaben Castle; and, in the same year, was again in Brittany. In 1346, he had the chief command of the second division of the army at the Battle of Crécy. In 1347, he is particularly mentioned by the King in his letter to the Archbishop of York, detailing the events before Calais. He was again actively employed, in 1348, beyond the sea. He was elected to the Most Noble Order of the Garter after September 1349 and succeeded to the choir stall of his nephew, Sir Hugh Courtenay, at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. According to the custom upon the admission of the early knights of that order, he executed a deed of gift, dated London, 4th May following, of the advowson of Dadington to the canons of the said chapel.

The public records attest the constant employment of this earl in military and diplomatic transactions of the highest importance down to the period of his death, which happened on the 16th September 1360. His remains were interred in the Abbey of Walden (Essex), on the north side of the presbytery.

The Earl of Northampton married Elizabeth (who died in 1356), widow of Edmund, Lord Mortimer, and sister & co-heiress of Giles, Lord Badlesmere, by whom he left issue, Humphrey, heir to his dignity, and, upon the decease of the latter's uncle, also Earl of Hereford & Essex. 

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