The Mortimers and Pembridge

The image of the top of the page shows the Mortimer Crest. The Mortimer were lords of Pembridge for 160 years.

Previously I’ve written about the de Braose family, overlords of Pembridge until 1230, when William de Braose was accused of having an affair with Joan, wife of Prince Llewellyn, and both were executed. Pembridge at the time was owned by the de Pembridge family and as a result of William’s execution,  de Pembridge family would have a new overlord, the mighty Mortimer of Wigmore. Roger Mortimer III would go on to marry Maud, (sometimes Matilda) the daughter of William de Braose.

Henry de Pembridge grew up and prospered initially, becoming Sheriff of Hereford in 1255, however in 1265/6 Henry was disinherited and his lands forfeited to the crown following the defeat of Simon de Montfort (who he supported) at the battle of Evesham.

He was handed over to Roger Mortimer and, together with his family, was imprisoned at Wigmore Castle. Roger Mortimer had been a key supporter of the crown at the battle of Evesham and was awarded de Montfort’s severed  head following the battle. Roger sent it to Wigmore Castle as a present for his wife, Maud de Braose.

Henry de Pembridge made peace with King Henry on November 16th and had all his forfeited lands returned – except Pembridge, which remained in Roger de Mortimer’s hands.

Mortimer prized the manor of Pembridge and forced Henry to appear before the County Court at Hereford and formally convey the Manor of Pembridge to him, and as insurance for this, he held de Pembridge’s sons hostage until Pembridge became his legally.

Pembridge was never again held by a member of the de Pembridge family who moved to Welsh Newton where Pembridge Castle can be found to this day.

The Mortimer family held Pembridge until 1425, and the village became the residence of a number of different members of the Mortimer family throughout the 160 years that they held it.

The first Mortimer to hold Pembridge, Roger, died on the 22nd October 1282 reputedly of a bad cold, while staying at Eardisland. Following his death, his widow Maud, lived in the castle at Pembridge.

From Breteuil to Pembridge

Henry of Pembridge had a large influence over the development of Pembridge in the 13th Century; he granted a charter for two fairs. The photograph above shows the Christmas lights being switched on in the market hall, where these fairs would have taken place.

In around 1240 Henry of Pembridge also granted a charter to the borough of Pembridge, giving the town the liberties and free customs according to the law of Breteuil.

Breteuil is a small town in upper Normandy, which would not seem to have much connection with a village in Herefordshire, however following the Norman conquest in 1066 it had a much stronger connection with this area. Roger of Bretuil was a Norman lord who followed William the Conquerer to England, fought at the battle of Hastings and was rewarded by extensive lands in the Marches, including being made Earl of Hereford. It is likely he brought with him the customs and liberties he was used to from Normandy and introduced them to Hereford. These customs were then used as a model for charters for other towns, including Pembridge.

The original customs and liberties that were granted to Breteuil are not known, however it is apparent form other charters that they were generous to attract settlers, with low fines and large burgage plots.

The charter that Henry granted reads as follows:

Be it known to all present and future folk that I, Henry of Pembridge, have given, granted and by my present charter, have confirmed to all my free burghers of Pembridge, all liberties and free customs, according to the law of Breteuil dealing with tournaments and fairs, according to the tenor of the charter of Lord King Henry, which I have, having and holding to them and their, from me and my heirs forever, freely and quietly in peace, honourably and honestly. They and their heirs paying me and my heirs for any burgage, 12d annually at Michaelmas, for all exactions and demands which arise in regard to free burgage constituted and having their origin in the law of Breteuil. I, indeed, the aforesaid Henry of Pembridge and my heirs shall guarantee and defend, to all the burgesses and their heirs, all the liberties and free constitutions, above named, in accord with the law of Breteuil, against all men and women. And that my charter may remain firm and stable, I affix my seal.

Witnessed by Hugo de Nashe, Phillip de Sarnsfield, Richard de Kindersley, Richard de Hunteledy, Walter de Baskervyle, Roger Pichard, William de Ebroicis, Willam Pichard, lord of Marston, Richard de Middleton, Robert de Kilpec, William Petche, Henry, the parson of Pembridge, Philip the vicar, his brother , Roger de Sarnesfiled, William de Homme, Roger de Sylva, Walter de Hyde, and many others.