Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March
b.11 Apr 1374 Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales
d.20 Jul 1398 Kells, County Meath, Leinster, Republic of Ireland
Facts and Events
Roger Mortimer, born 11 April 1374 at Usk in Monmouthshire, was the eldest son of Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, by his wife Philippa Plantagenet, who as the daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, and granddaughter of King Edward III, had a claim to the crown which she passed on to her children. He had a younger brother, Edmund Mortimer, and two sisters, Elizabeth, who married Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, and Philippa (1375-1401), who married firstly John Hastings, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (d.1389), killed in a tournament at Woodstock Palace, secondly Richard de Arundel, 11th Earl of Arundel (1346-1397), beheaded in 1397, and thirdly, Sir Thomas Poynings.
Roger Mortimer's mother, Philippa, died on or before 7 January 1378, and was buried at Wigmore Abbey. His father, said to have caught cold crossing a river in winter, died at the Dominican friary at Cork in Munster on 27 December 1381, leaving his son to succeed to a title and extensive estates at only six years of age.
According to Davies, the wardship of such an important heir was an 'issue of political moment in the years 1382–4'. Eventually, on 16 December 1383, Mortimer's estates in England and Wales were granted for £4000 per annum to a consortium consisting of Mortimer himself, the Earls of Arundel, Northumberland, and Warwick, and John, Lord Neville. The guardianship of Mortimer's person was initially granted to Arundel, but at the behest of King Richard's mother, Joan of Kent, in August 1384 Mortimer's wardship and marriage were granted, for 6000 marks, to Joan's son, Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, who has Richard's half-brother, and on or about 7 October 1388. Mortimer married Kent's daughter, Eleanor Holland, who was Richard's half-niece. Mortimer did homage and was granted livery of his lands in Ireland on 18 June 1393, and of those in England and Wales on 25 February 1394.
King Richard had no issue, and Mortimer, a lineal descendant of Edward III, was next in line to the throne and married to his half-niece. Cokayne states that in October 1385 Mortimer was proclaimed by the King as heir presumptive to the crown. However according to Davies the story that Richard publicly proclaimed Mortimer as heir presumptive in Parliament in October 1385 is baseless, although contemporary records indicate that his claim was openly discussed at the time. He was knighted by the King on 23 April 1390.