Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford

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Richard de Clare
3rd Earl of Hertford
5th Lord Marcher of Cardigan
6th Baron of Clare
6th Baron of Tonbridge
De Clare.png
Coat of Arms Associated with House de Clare
Earl of Hereford1173-1217
PredecessorRoger de Clare, 2nd Earl of Hertford
SuccessorGilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford
SpouseAmice Fitz William, 4th Countess of Gloucester
FamilyHouse de Clare
FatherRoger de Clare, 2nd Earl of Hertford
MotherMaud de St. Hillary
Tonbridge Castle, Kent, Kingdom of England
BuriedTonbridge Priory
OccupationPeerage of England

Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford (1153-1217) was the son of Roger de Clare, 2nd Earl of Hertford (1116–1173) by his wife Maud de St. Hillary. He married once to Amice Fitz William, 4th Countess of Gloucester (1140-1225), one of three daughters of William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester by his wife Hawise de Beaumont and had four children by that marriage. It was a good match and brought with it a significant inheritance since his wife's father had no male heirs.


Richard was born at Tonbridge Castle in 1153.[1]He was not an outstanding member of the de Clare family and did not play any part in the national politics commensurate with his standing or political importance. He acquired had the majority of the Giffard estates from his ancestor, Rohese de Giffard which was held by the King of England which included the Giffard Caput at Long Credon in Buckinghamshire, with additional Manors in Bedfordshire and Cambridge.[2] He also regained the Honor of Saint Hilary, which had passed out of the family when his late mother remarried in 1174. Even though his mother had a son from her second marriage, Richard de Clare was able to buy back the Honor of Saint Hilary from his step-brother in 1195 for the sum of 360 pounds sterling which was absorbed into the Honor of Clare.

The Richard the Lionheart effected an equal division between Richard de Clare and his cousin Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke, daughter of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke and wife of Sir William Marshal, Knight who became the Earl of Pembroke Jure Juoxis, both of whom claimed descent from Roesia, Walter’s aunt and wife of Richard Fitz Gilbert, 1st Baron of Clare, first founder of the family. He was present at the coronation of King Richard I of England at Westminster Abbey, 3 September 1189, and King John of England on 27 May 1199. He was also present at the homage of King William I of Scotland. For over four decades until his death in 1217 Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford was the effective head of the House de Clare and could have achieved a lot more but Richard de Clare detested the national politics of the time and wanted nothing to do with national affairs either in the last years of King Henry II’s reign or in that of Richard the Lionheart. He only emerged as a figure of political importance towards the end of his life in the crisis of King John’s reign, when he was appointed to the Twenty Five, most probably in recognition less of his personal qualities than of his family’s exalted standing in the realm.

Tonbridge Priory

Richard de Clare was the founder of Tonbridge Priory in 1191 after the Pope confirmed the foundation grant in January of that year. This was a place where no monastic house had apparently been established in the 125 years since the de Clare family had been there. The de Clare family had consistently made various donations to churches in the area and in 1182 the infant Richard de Clare and his father Roger de Clare, 2nd Earl of Hertford were named as witnesses in the charter granding advowson of tonbridge church to the Knights Hospitallers. Tonbridge Priory was dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene and housed a community of Augustinian 'Black Canons' who went out into the surrounding communities to preach and maintains services under their control. He is buried at Tonbridge Priory.

Anglesey Priory

Richard de Clare also founded Anglesey priory around 1212 near Cambridge as a condition of release from his crusading oath. There was already a Hospital at the site from the time of King Henry I of England, but Richard de Clare converted it into an Agustinian House. In order to help fund the Priory Richard de Clare gave the Priors half of his Manorial Lordship of Bottisham which was part of his recently acquired Giffard estates. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and Saint Nicholas and was never very large as it housed only 9 canons and a Prior in 1313.

Magna Carta

He sided with the Barons against King John of England, even though he had previously sworn peace with the King at Northampton, and Tonbridge Castle was taken. He played a leading part in the negotiations for Magna Carta, being one of the twenty five sureties. On 9 November 1215, he was one of the commissioners on the part of the Barons to negotiate the peace with the King. Richard de Clare and his father were among the Barons excommunicated by the Pope in 1215, but by that time no amount of religious anathema could hold by the revolt. The King then layed siege to Tonrbidge Castle. Now outlawed and dispossessed as well as ostracized by the church the de Clare family had their lands seized and given to a royalist soldier of fortune, Robert de Bethune, to manage on the King's behalf. The King died in 1216 and the de Clare family were among the numerous former rebels that flocked to the capital for the autumn council, and there at westminster they were reconciled to the King.

Earldom of Gloucester

In the year of Richard de Clare's death in 1217 the de Clare family witnessed one of their greatest fortunes which was due to the roller-coaster martial like of Isabella, heiress to the Earldom of Gloucester. By her death in 1217 only one heiress to the Earldom of Gloucester was still alive, and that was Amica Fitz William, Richard de Clare's wife, who became the 4th Countess of Gloucester. they had been married since 1180, but the marriage had deteriorated and they seperated in 1200. It is speculated that Richard de Clare had a mistress from 1200 to 1217, but that is just speculation due to payments made to Beatrice de Langele for 'services to him'.

Even though they were separated they were still married which allowed Richard de Clare to lay claim to the Earldom of Gloucester. It has been 34 years since the death of William, but through a series of fortuitous early deaths and fruitless marriages he would finally be able to claim the Earldom. The true irony here is that he did not live to enjoy the Earldom he so sought after. He died at the end of 1217. The title was looked at like a curse because all who acquired it either died mysteriously, had fruitless marriages or died young.


He married the second daughter, and co-heiress, of William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester by his wife Hawise de Beaumont. Sometime before 1198, Richard de Clare and his wife Amice were ordered to separate by the Pope on grounds of consanguinity. They separated for a time because of this order but apparently reconciled their marriage with the Pope later on. Together they had four children by that marriage:


  1. George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage of England Scotland Ireland Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant Extinct or Dormant, eds. H. A. Doubleday; Howard de Walden, Vol. V (London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1926), p. 736
  2. I. J. Sanders, English Baronies: A Study of Their Origin and Descent 1086–1327) (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1963), pp. 34, 62