Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk, Lord Marshal of England (1 June 1300 – 4 August 1338) was the son of Edward I of England and Margaret of France.
Thomas was born at the Manor House in Brotherton. His mother was staying at Pontefract Castle and was following a hunt when she went into labour. He was born in the main house, later demolished in the 1930s due to disrepair, although the new 17th century wing still exists. He was named in honour of Thomas Becket, since his mother had prayed to him during her pregnancy.
Edward quickly rushed to the queen and the newborn baby and had him presented with two cradles. His brother Edmund was born in the year after that. They were overseen by wetnurses until they were six years old. Like their parents, they learned to play chess and to ride horses. They were visited by nobles and their half-sister Mary of Woodstock, who was a nun. Their mother often accompanied Edward on his campaigns to Scotland, but kept herself well-informed on their well-being.
His father died when he was 7 years old. Thomas's half-brother, Edward, became king of England. The Earldom of Cornwall had been intended for Thomas, but Edward instead bestowed it upon his favourite, Piers Gaveston, in 1306. When Thomas was 10 years old, Edward assigned to him and his brother Edmund, the estates of Roger Bigod who had died without heir in 1306.
In 1312, he was titled "Earl of Norfolk" and on 10 February 1316 he was created Lord Marshal of England. While his brother was away fighting in Scotland, he was left Keeper of England. Thomas was known for having a hot and violent temper. He was one of the many victims of the unchecked greed of Hugh the younger Despenser, who stole some of the young earl's lands. He allied himself with Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, Earl of March when they invaded England in 1326, and stood as one of the judges in the trials against both Despensers. When his nephew Edward III reached his majority and took the government into his own hands Thomas became one of his principal advisors. It was in the capacity of Lord Marshal that he commanded the right wing of the English army at the Battle of Halidon Hill on 19 July 1333.
Marriages and children
He married first, probably in 1319, Alice Hayles, daughter of Sir Roger Hayles and Alice Skogan. She was supposed to have been a great beauty. Her father was the coroner of Norfolk, which in the 14th century was a fiscal, not a medical position; his post demanded that he collect and protect revenues for the king. Thomas and Alice had three children:
Edward of Norfolk (c. 1320–1334)
Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk (c. 1320–1399)
Alice of Norfolk (1324–1352)
Thomas' issue passed through Margaret to the Mowbray family and ultimately up to the Howard Dukes of Norfolk, from whom descended two of the wives of Henry VIII of England, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Queen Elizabeth I was also a descendant; Lady Elizabeth Howard being the mother of Queen consort, Anne Boleyn. Alice Hayles died in 1330, when a chantry was founded for her soul in Bosham, Sussex.
Thomas was married again around 28 March 1335 to Mary Braose, widow of Ralph de Cobham, Lord Cobham.