Thomas de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley

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Arms of Berkeley: Gules, a chevron between ten crosses pattée six in chief and four in base argent

Thomas de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley (c.1251 – 23 July 1321), The Wise,[1] feudal baron of Berkeley, of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England, was a peer, soldier and diplomat.[2] His epithet, and that of each previous and subsequent head of his family, was coined by John Smyth of Nibley (d.1641), steward of the Berkeley estates, the biographer of the family and author of "Lives of the Berkeleys".


Thomas de Berkeley was born around 1251 at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, the son of Sir Maurice de Berkeley, feudal baron of Berkeley, by his wife Isabel FitzRoy,[3] a granddaughter of King John (1199-1216), through his son Richard FitzRoy, by his cousin and mistress Adela de Warenne, daughter of Hamelin de Warenne and Isabel de Warenne, 4th Countess of Surrey.


He fought in the Battle of Evesham in 1265.[3] He inherited the feudal baron of Berkeley in 1281 following the death of his father and on 28 June 1283 was created 1st Baron Berkeley by writ of summons to Parliament by King Edward I (1272-1307). In June 1292 he was a commissioner to examine the claims to the crown of Scotland.[3] He was on an embassy to France in January 1296 and held the office of Vice-Constable of England in 1297.[3] He fought in the Battle of Falkirk on 22 July 1298 and was present at the Siege of Caerlaverock, Scotland, in July 1300.[3] He was on an embassy to Pope Clement V in July 1307.[3] He fought in the Battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, where he was taken prisoner, and obliged to pay a large sum for his ransom.[3]

Marriage & progeny[edit]

In 1267 Thomas de Berkeley married Joan de Ferrers, a daughter of William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby by his wife Margaret de Quincy,[3] a daughter of Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester. By his wife he had the following children:

Death & succession[edit]

He died at Berkeley Castle on 23 July 1321 and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son Maurice de Berkeley, 2nd Baron Berkeley.[3]

Following further on the line of succession, an episode in the 2017 season of the genealogy documentary television series Who Do You Think You Are? featured the American actress Courteney Cox looking into her ancestry. Cox learns that she is a 23-generation direct descendant of Thomas de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley, and learns about her 21-generation direct ancestor’s, Thomas de Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley, part in the murder of King Edward II of England at Berkeley Castle in 1327.[6]


  1. ^ Cokayne
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i G. E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume II, pages 127 & 128
  4. ^ John Burke & John Bernard Burke (1844), Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland (hardback), London: John Russell Smith 
  5. ^ Smyth's Lives of the Berkeleys cited in Chitty, Henry; Phillipot, John (1885), The Visitation of the County of Gloucestershire taken in the year 1623, London: The Harleian Society, p. 206, retrieved 13 March 2017 
  6. ^ SuperFan (2017-03-06). "Courteney Cox Learns Her Ancestors Were Kings and Kingslayers". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
Peerage of England
Preceded by
new creation
Baron Berkeley
Succeeded by
Maurice de Berkeley