Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent

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Hubert de Burgh
Hubert de Burgh-Paris.jpg
Hubert de Burgh seeking sanctuary in 1234, by Matthew Paris
Chief Justiciar of England
In office
Monarch John
Henry III
Preceded by Peter des Roches
Succeeded by Stephen Segrave
Personal details
Born c. 1160
Died before 5 May 1243
Banstead, Surrey
Nationality English
Spouse(s) (1) Beatrice de Warrenne
(2) Isabel of Gloucester
(3) Princess Margaret of Scotland
Children John
Occupation Earl of Kent

Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent (c. 1160 – before 5 May 1243) was Justiciar of England and Ireland and one of the most influential men in England during the reigns of King John (1199-1216) and of his infant son and successor King Henry III (1216-1272).

Birth and family[edit]

De Burgh was the son of Walter de Burgh. He was the younger brother of William de Burgh (d. 1206).[1]

Early life[edit]

He was a minor official in the household of Prince John, and became John's chamberlain around 1201 and continued to rise and fall in importance throughout his life.[2]

Honours from John[edit]

He was also appointed Constable of Dover Castle, and also given charge of Falaise, in Normandy. He is cited as having been appointed a Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports by 1215, and although the co-joint position of this office to that of the constableship of Dover Castle was not fully established until after the Baron's War, a rather long period seems to have elapsed between the two appointments.[3]


In 1204 de Burgh was given charge of the great castle of Chinon. When almost all of Poitou had fallen, de Burgh held the castle for an entire year before relinquishing it to the French.[4]

In 1206, he bought the parish of Tunstall from Robert de Arsic.[5] His eldest son 'John de Burgo' later inherited the parish of Tunstall.[5]

Barons' revolt[edit]

De Burgh remained loyal to the king during the barons' rebellions at the end of John's reign. On 24 August 1217, at the start of the reign of the infant King Henry III (1216-1272), a French fleet arrived off the coast of Sandwich, bringing to the French King Louis, then ravaging England, soldiers, siege engines and fresh supplies.[6][7] Hubert set sail to intercept it, resulting in the Battle of Sandwich.[8] De Burgh's fleet scattered the French and captured their flagship (The Great Ship of Bayonne), commanded by Eustace the Monk, who was promptly executed.[8] When the news reached Louis, he entered into fresh peace negotiations.[8]

The Magna Carta mentions him as one of those who advised the king to sign the charter. His brother, Geoffrey de Burgh, Bishop of Ely, was a witness. John named him Chief Justiciar in June 1215.[9]

Regent to Henry III[edit]

When Henry III came of age in 1227 de Burgh was made lord of Montgomery Castle in the Welsh Marches and Earl of Kent. He remained one of the most influential people at court. On 27 April 1228 he was named Justiciar for life.[9] But in 1232 the plots of his enemies finally succeeded and he was removed from office and soon was in prison. He escaped from Devizes Castle and joined the rebellion of Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke in 1233. In 1234, Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury effected a reconciliation. He officially resigned the Justiciarship about 28 May 1234, but had not exercised the power of the office after September 1232.[9] The judgment was reversed by William Raleigh also known as William de Raley in 1234, which for a time, restored the earldom.[10]

Trouble with the King[edit]

The marriage of Hubert de Burgh's daughter Margaret (or Megotta as she was also known) to Richard of Clare, the young Earl of Gloucester, brought de Burgh into some trouble in 1236, for the earl was as yet a minor and in the king's wardship, and the marriage had been celebrated without the royal license. Hubert, however, protested that the match was not of his making, and promised to pay the king some money, so the matter passed by for the time. Eventually the marriage came to an end, by way of her death.[11][12][13]


De Burgh married:

  1. Joan, daughter of William, Earl of Devon
  2. Beatrice de Warrenne, daughter of William de Warrenne.
  3. Isabella, Countess of Gloucester (m. Sep 1217),[14] daughter and heiress of William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester.
  4. Margaret, sister of Alexander II of Scotland.[15]


Hubert de Burgh died in 1243 in Banstead in Surrey,[5] and was buried in the Church of the Friars Preachers (commonly called Black Friars) in Holborn, London.[11]

Fictional portrayals[edit]

Hubert is a character in the play King John by William Shakespeare. On screen he has been portrayed by Franklyn McLeay in the silent short King John (1899), which recreates John's death scene at the end of the Shakespeare play, by Jonathan Adams in the BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown (1978), and by John Thaw in the BBC Shakespeare version of The Life and Death of King John (1984). The story of his daughter's marriage is told in the novel The Marriage of Meggotta (1979) by Edith Pargeter.


  1. ^ Almond's peerage of Ireland 1767 p.6 Earls of Clanricarde
  2. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Burgh, Hubert de". Dictionary of National Biography 7. (London: Smith, Elder & Co.), p. 315[1]
  3. ^ White and Black books of the Cinque Ports, Vol XIX, 1966
  4. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Burgh, Hubert de". Dictionary of National Biography 7. (London: Smith, Elder & Co.), p. 316[2]
  5. ^ a b c Hasted, Edward (1798). "Parishes". The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent (Institute of Historical Research) 6: 80–98. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Carpenter 1990, pp. 43–44
  7. ^ Ridgeway 2004
  8. ^ a b c Carpenter 1990, p. 44
  9. ^ a b c Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 70
  10. ^ Plucknett, T., "A Concise History of the Common Law", Little, Brown and Co. 1956, p 170
  11. ^ a b Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Burgh, Hubert de". Dictionary of National Biography 7. (London: Smith, Elder & Co.), p. 321[3]
  12. ^ Thomas Andrew Archer. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 10 "Clare, Richard de (1222-1262)" p. 393
  13. ^ Tewkesbury Annals p. 106 ; Pat. Rolls, 17 b
  14. ^ Robert B. Patterson, ‘Isabella, suo jure countess of Gloucester (c.1160–1217)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 accessed 24 Nov 2006
  15. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Burgh, Hubert de". Dictionary of National Biography 7. (London: Smith, Elder & Co.), p. 317 [4]