House de Clare
|House de Clare|
|Country|| Duchy of Normandy|
Lordship of Glamorgan
Kingdom of England
Lordship of Ireland
|Estates||Earldoms, Baronys, Manorial Lordships|
|Titles||Earl and Countess, Baron and Baroness, Knights|
|Founder||Richard fitz Gilbert|
|Current head||Natalie de Clare, 4th Countess of Markland, DGK|
House de Clare is a Norman Noble family whose name originates from Clare in Suffolk where their first castle, Clare Castle; and the seat of their barony, was situated: the Honor of Clare. The de Clares were one of the great baronial families of the 12th, 13th and early 14th century England, holding wide estates 22 English counties and Marcher Lordships in Wales. The de Clares also briefly held estates in Ireland and took part in the Scottish Wars for Independence. They were descended from Richard Fitz Gilbert, 1st Lord of Clare (1035-1090), who accompanied William the Conqueror (1028-1087) into England during the Norman conquest of England.
In the paternal line they were illegitimate descendants of the House of Normandy, through one of Richard I, Duke of Normandy's sons, Geoffrey de Brionne, 1st Count of Eu, 1st Count of Brionne. The early Normans followed the Viking custom of marriage called more danico, which they considered a legitimate form of marriage. The Church considered this the same as concubinage, therefore it did not command the same respect and inviolability as Christian marriage, thus making Geoffrey an illegitimate child. They became one of the most powerful and influential noble families of their time in England, Wales, and Ireland. Of all the people in the world who have lineages tracing to the historical House de Clare, Natalie de Clare is the only one who uses the House de Clare designation.
House de Clare Origin
The de Clare family descends from Gilbert de Brionne, 2nd Count of Eu, 2nd Count of Brionne, whose father, Geoffrey de Brionne, was the eldest of the illegitimate sons of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. Gilbert de Brionne was one of the guardians of William II of Normandywho would become the Duke of Normandy in 1035. When Gilbert was assassinated in 1039, his young sons Baldwin de Meules et du Sap and Richard de Bienfaite et d'Orbec fled with their guardians to Baldwin V, Count of Flanders; they returned to Normandy when William married Baldwin's daughter in 1053, and William took them into high favour. After the conquest of England Richard received huge estates including Clare and Tonbridge by which he became the founder of House de Clare. Richard fitz Gilbert (of Tonbridge) was referred to as Richard of Clare in the Suffolk return of the Domesday Survey. On his death, Richard's English estates passed to his son Gilbert de Clare, 2nd Lord of Clare (1055-1117) who was the first to use the surname de Clare permanently.
Gilbert's eldest son Richard de Clare, 3rd Lord of Clare (1090-1136) was the ancestor of the Earls of Hertford and Gloucester. Gilbert's younger son Gilbert, establishing himself in Wales, acquired the Earldom of Pembroke and Marcher Lordship of Striguil. The elder line obtained the Earldom of Hertford, and were thenceforth known as Earls of Hertford and Lords of Clare.  It should be noted that there was never an Earl of Clare as the Honor of Clare was a Baronial Honor, not an Earldom, but for some reason there are historical documents where some of the de Clare Lords would style themselves as the Earl of Clare which referenced the caput of their initial honor of Clare as they were the Earls "of" Clare (or from Clare) not "the Earl of Clare." In a strange twist of fate, the male line of the de Clare family would come to an end in the battle of bannockburn in 1314. After Gilbert de Clare's death in 1314 his sister became the sou jure 11th Lady of Clare and would establish Clare College which today is the second oldest of Cambridge’s thirty-one colleges. It was founded in 1326, and generously endowed a few years later by Lady Elizabeth de Clare who was also a granddaughter of King Edward I.
In 1336 King Edward III granted licence to Lady de Clare to establish a collegium. It became known as Clare Hall in 1339. The original endowment consisted of estates at Great Gransden and Duxford, and provided for the maintenance of a maximum of fifteen ‘Scholars’ (subsequently to be called ‘Fellows’), of whom no more than six were bound strictly by priestly orders. By the 15th century the de Clare name had effectively faded into history and all the titles were held by various other noble families of the realm. By the 16th century the seat of the Honour of Clare would fall into disrepair and be abandoned for centuries. All their estates, lands, titles and accomplishments for England, Ireland and Wales would pass into other families while the de Clare legacy would become nothing more than a passing page in the mists of time. The blood, sweat, sacrifices, and tears were all for nothing because the world today is, as Lady de Clare (2015) states, "...fraught with the disease of republicanism."
Coat of Arms
The coat and shield with the three chevrons was probably first used at the end of the 12th century. The stained glass window above is not earlier than Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford, 5th Earl of Gloucester, the first de Clare to be buried in the chancel of Tewkesbury Abbey. King Iestyn ap Gwrgant [ˈjɛstɪn ap ˈgʊrgant] (English: Justin, son of Gwrgant) (c. 1045 – 1093) was the last ruler of the Welsh kingdom of Morgannwg, which encompassed the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. King Iestyn ap Gwrgant was the last ruler of the royal house of Morgannwg, which had a lineage stretching back over five centuries to Tewdrig (c. 550–584). The members of this royal house had links to the other royal houses of Wales through marriage, and were descendants of the celebrated Rhodri Mawr. Glamorgan would eventually become the Lordship of Glamorgan.
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- Richard Mortimer, Clare, Richard de [Richard fitz Gilbert] (1030x35–1087x90), magnate, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online by subscription.
- Rumble, A. (Ed.). (1986). Domesday Book, 34, Suffolk.
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- The Archaeological Journal, Article 51, pg 43- published under the direction of The Council of The Royal Archaeological Insutute of Great Britain and Ireland, available at Google books online at https://books.google.com/books?id=yZg8AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA48