Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk

Margaret of Norfolk or Margaret of Brotherton, in her own right Countess of Norfolk (sometimes surnamed as "Margaret Marshal";[1] c.1320–24 March 1399), was the daughter and eventual sole heir of Thomas of Brotherton, eldest son of King Edward I of England, by his second marriage. In 1338, she succeeded to the earldom of Norfolk and the office of Earl Marshal.

Margaret of Brotherton
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, England
Died(1399-03-24)24 March 1399
BuriedGrey Friars, London
Spouse(s)John Segrave, 4th Baron Segrave
Sir Walter Mauny
John de Segrave
John de Segrave (again)
Elizabeth de Segrave
Margaret de Segrave
Thomas Mauny
Anne Mauny
Isabel Mauny
FatherThomas of Brotherton
MotherAlice Halys


Margaret (b. about 1320), was the daughter of Thomas of Brotherton and Alice de Halys (d. in or before 1330). Her paternal grandparents were King Edward I and Margaret of France (1279?–1318), daughter of King Philippe III of France (d.1285).[2] Her maternal grandparents were Sir Roger de Halys of Hales Hall in Loddon, Roughton, Norfolk by his wife Alice.[3][4] She had a brother and sister:


In 1335 she was married to John Segrave, 4th Baron Segrave, and proceeded to have four children - two sons and two daughters - by him. In 1350, she sought a divorce on the ground that they had been contracted in marriage (in other words betrothed) before she was of marriageable age, and that she had never consented to cohabit with him. She made known her intention of traveling to the continent in order to plead personally with the Pope for a divorce. King Edward III prohibited her from leaving England, but she set off incognito anyway, having taken care to obtain a safe conduct from the King of France.

The following year (1351) Edward III charged her with having crossed the English Channel in contravention of his prohibition.[7] The inquisition, regarding this incident, shows that Margaret unlawfully crossed the Channel and met with a servant of her future husband, Sir Walter de Mauny, who broke his lantern with his foot so she could pass unnoticed and acted as her guardian during her sojourn in France. This incident and the involvement of her future husband's retainer may indicate the real motivation for Margaret seeking a divorce.

The divorce case was ultimately heard by the Pope's auditor, the Dean of St. Hilary's at Poitiers. However, Margaret's first husband died in 1353, before the divorce could be finalized. Shortly thereafter, and just before 30 May 1354, she married Sir Walter de Mauny without the King's licence. They were married 18 years, and had three children before he died at London on 8 or 13 January 1372.[8]

On 29 September 1397, Margaret was created Duchess of Norfolk for life.[8] She died 24 March 1399, and was buried in the choir of Grey Friars in the City of London.[8]

The executors of her will are reported to be John Sileby & Walter fitz Piers, who in 1399 were reported to be attempting to recover money due to her estate.[9]


She was most likely born at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, England while her father Thomas de Brotherton was the 1st Earl of Norfolk. The castle had been given to her father by her uncle, King Edward II before her birth and so it was her childhood home. She inherited the castle herself on her father's death

Marriages and issue

Margaret married firstly, about 1335,[4] John Segrave, 4th Baron Segrave, by whom she had two sons and two daughters:[10]

Shortly before 30 May 1354, Margaret married secondly, and without the King's licence, Sir Walter Mauny,[14] by whom she had a son and two daughters:[11]


As her brother had died without issue, she succeeded to the earldom of Norfolk and the office of Earl Marshal at her father's death in 1338. To date, she is the only woman to have held the latter office.

Fictional representations

Margaret is a character in Georgette Heyer's last novel My Lord John, where she is portrayed sympathetically as a kindly though outwardly formidable old lady. She is saddened by the death of so many of her children and grandchildren, in particular the death by drowning of her infant son Thomas Mauny. In her last years she is shown as being gravely concerned for the future of England, due to the misrule of her cousin King Richard II.


  1. "Brotherton [Marshal], Margaret". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/53070.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Waugh 2004.
  3. Richardson II 2011, p. 631.
  4. Archer II 2004.
  5. Richardson II 2011, p. 634.
  6. Richardson II 2011, pp. 634-5.
  7. Richardson II 2011, pp. 637-8.
  8. Richardson II 2011, p. 638.
  9. Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas. National Archives; CP 40/555;; first entry
  10. Richardson II 2011, p. 639.
  11. Richardson II 2011, p. 640.
  12. Cokayne 1936, p. 384.
  13. Archer I 2004.
  14. Sumption 2004.


Political offices
Preceded by
Earl of Norfolk
Countess Marshal
Succeeded by
Earl of Northumberland
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Thomas of Brotherton
Countess of Norfolk
Succeeded by
Thomas Mowbray
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