MOWBRAY, the name of an Anglo-Norman baronial house, derived from Montbray (Manche) in Normandy south of St Lo. It was founded at the Conquest by Geoffrey (de Montbray), bishop of Coutances. His brother's son Robert, who rebelled with him against William Rufus on the Conqueror's death, was made, after their reconciliation, earl of Northumberland, as his uncle's heir but was forfeited and imprisoned for life on rebelling again in 1095. A sister of Bishop Geoffrey was mother by Roger d'Aubigny (of Aubigny in the Cotentin) of two sons, Nigel and William, who were ardent supporters of Henry I., and were rewarded by him with great estates in England. William was made king's butler, and was father of William d'Aubigny (" de Albini "), first earl of Arundel (see ARUNDEL); Nigel was rewarded with the escheated fief of Geoffrey de la Guerche, of which Melton (Mowbray) was the head, and with forfeited lands in Yorkshire. Nigel married, by dispensation, the wife of his cousin, the imprisoned earl, but afterwards divorced her, and by another wife was father of a son Roger, who took the name of Mowbray.
Roger, a great lord with a hundred knights' fees, was captured with King Stephen at the battle of Lincoln, joined the rebellion against Henry II. (1173), founded abbeys, and went on crusade. His grandson William, a leader in the rising against King John, was one of the 25 barons of the Great Charter, as was his brother Roger, and was captured fighting against Henry III. at the rout of Lincoln (1217). His grandson Roger (1266-1298), who was summoned to parliament by Edward I., was father of John (1286-1322), a warrior and warden of the Scottish March, who, joining in Thomas of Lancaster's revolt, was captured at Boroughbridge and hanged. His wife, a Braose heiress, added Gower in South Wales and the Bramber lordship in Sussex to the great possessions of his house. Their son John (d. 1361) was father, by a daughter of Henry earl of Lancaster, of John, Lord Mowbray (c. 1328-1368), whose fortunate alliance with the heiress of Lord Segrave, by the heiress of Edward I.'s son Thomas, earl of Norfolk and marshal of England, crowned the fortunes of his race. In addition to a vast accession to their lands, the earldom of Nottingham and the marshalship of England were bestowed on them by Richard II., and the dukedom of Norfolk followed (see NORFOLK, THOMAS MOWBRAY, 1st duke of).
The 1st duke left two sons, of whom Thomas the elder was only recognized as earl marshal. Beheaded for joining in Scrope's conspiracy against Henry IV. (1405), he was succeeded by his brother John, who was restored to the dukedom of Norfolk in 1424. His son John, the third duke, was father of John, 4th and last duke, who was created earl of Warrenne and Surrey in his father's lifetime (1451). At his death (1475) his vast inheritance devolved on his only child Anne, who was married as an infant to Edward IV.'s younger son Richard (created duke of Norfolk and earl of Nottingham and Warrenne), but died in 1481.
The next heirs of the Mowbrays were then the Howards and the Berkeleys, representing the two daughters of the first duke. Between them were divided the estates of the house, the Mowbray dukedom of Norfolk and earldom of Surrey being also revived for the Howards (1483), and the earldom of Nottingham (1483) and earl marshalship (1485) for the Berkeleys. Both families assumed the baronies of Mowbray and Segrave, but Henry Howard was summoned in his. father's lifetime (1640) as Lord Mowbray, which was deemed a recognition of the Howards' right; their co-heirs, from 1777, were the Lords Stourton and the Lords Petre, and in 1878 Lord Stourton was summoned as Lord Mowbray and Segrave. The former dignity is claimed as the premier barony, though De Ros ranks before it. Lord Stourton's son claimed, but unsuccessfully, in 1901-1906 the earldom of Norfolk (1312), also through the Mowbrays. Of the Mowbray estates the castle and lordship of Bramber is still vested in the dukes of Norfolk. The heraldic badge of the house was a mulberry-tree. Q. H. R.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)