Robert de Vere
Privacy Level: Open (White)

Robert de Vere (aft. 1164 - bef. 1221)

Robert "3rd Earl of Oxford" de Vere
Born after in Essex, Englandmap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married before 1209 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Father of
Died before before age 57 in Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 18 May 2014 | Last significant change: 24 Jul 2022
De_Vere-309.jpg13:34: Frances (Piercy) Piercy-Reins uploaded De Vere-309.jpg for Robert de Vere (aft.1164-bef.1221).
[Thank Frances for this]
This page has been accessed 26,141 times.
Magna Carta Surety Baron
Robert de Vere was one of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta in 1215.
Join: Magna Carta Project
Discuss: magna_carta



The House of De Vere crest.
Robert de Vere is a member of the House of De Vere.

Robert de Vere was 3rd Earl of Oxford, hereditary Master Chamberlain and one of the Surety Barons for the Magna Carta.[1][2][3]

Birth and Origins

Robert was the son of Aubrey de Vere and Agnes, daughter of Henry de Essex.[1][2][3] His birth date is uncertain but may have been after 1164.[1][2] Frederick Lewis Weis gives a baptism year of 1164 but there appears to be no good evidence for this.[4]

Marriage and Children

After 1206, Robert de Vere married Isabel de Bolebec, daughter of Hugh Bolbec and wife, and widow of Henry de Nonant.[1][2][5] Robert paid the Crown at least part of a fine for the marriage (as she was a widow, King John had the right to determine her marriage).[3] Robert and Isabel had at least two children:

Through his wife, Robert held half of the Barony of Whitchurch, based in Buckinghamshire.[3][6]


Little is known of Robert's life before his marriage, apart from witnessing charters.[3]

1214 he witnessed a letter in which King John promised free elections to episcopal sees and abbacies.[1] In October that year he succeeded to the lands of his brother Aubrey[2][3], paying 1000 marks to King John for this and a wardship[1][3], but King John seems to have held back the title of Earl of Oxford: in January 1215 Robert witnessed a royal charter with his name but no title of Earl.[3] Robert's inheritance included the Barony of Hedingham, based in Essex.[7]

In the spring of 1215 he was one of the main participants in the rebellion against King John, and, when the Magna Carta was issued, he was one of the Surety Barons.[1][2][3] Within a few weeks he finally had royal recognition of his right to be Earl of Oxford.[3] In December 1215, along with other rebel barons, he was excommunicated.[1][2][3] In March 1216 King John's forces captured his castle at Hedingham.[1][3] Following this Robert swore allegiance to John[1][3], but this did not stop him being one of the barons who continued in rebellion and gave allegiance to Louis of France later in the year.[1][3]

Robert finally returned to allegiance to the English Crown in October 1217.[1][2][3] His lands were restored.[3] In 1220 he was an itinerant justice in Herefordshire[1][2][3] and he was a judge in the royal court at Westminster the next year.[1][3]


Robert died before 25 October 1221 and was buried at Hatfield Priory, Essex.[1][2][3] After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, his effigy was transferred to the parish church of Hatfield Broad Oak.[3]

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Biography

by Professor Nigel Saul
"Robert de Vere (d. 1221) was a member of a comital family, based at Hedingham (Essex), which owed its rise to eminence to the patronage of the Empress Matilda in the civil war of King Stephen’s reign in the 1140s. Robert himself was the third surviving son of Earl Aubrey (d. 1194) by his third wife, Agnes of Essex, and succeeded to the title on the death of his elder brother, another Aubrey in October 1214. Sometime before Michaelmas 1207 Robert had married Isabel de Bolebec, the aunt and namesake of Earl Aubrey’s wife, who had died childless in 1206 or 1207. Isabel the niece had been the heiress to the Bolebec estate, which was centred on Whitchurch (Bucks.), and her own heirs were her two aunts. Robert’s marriage can therefore be seen as part of a de Vere strategy to retain control over at least half of the Bolebec lands. The de Veres were one of the least well-endowed of the comital families and would have been loath to allow a valuable estate to slip from their grasp.
"Robert’s defection to the rebel side in 1215 provides yet another example of King John’s capacity to alienate men who should have been numbered among his natural allies. His predecessor in the title had been one of the king’s most loyal intimates and administrators. Robert was probably moved to defect in part by his resentment at the relief of 1000 marks charged for his entry into his inheritance, which was high for an estate of only moderate extent. Most of all, however, he probably nursed a grievance against the king for his failure to confirm him in the title of earl and in the office of court chamberlain, which de Veres held by hereditary right. Robert is known to have been present at the baronial muster at Stamford in April 1215 and he was named by the chronicler Roger Wendover as one of the principal promoters of discontent. He was a key figure in the East Anglian group of rebels. By 23 June, after the meeting at Runnymede, the king was evidently angling to regain his support because on that date a royal letter was issued which implicitly recognised him as earl of Oxford. By that time, however, it was too late: Robert had already been named to the Twenty Five. Towards the end of March 1216 John took possession of his castle at Hedingham after a three-day siege and the earl, who was not present, was granted a safe-conduct to seek the king’s forgiveness. Within months, however, he had defected to Louis of France and he was not to re-enter royal allegiance for good until the general settlement of the rebellion in the autumn of 1217.
"Robert died shortly before 25 October 1221 and was buried in Hatfield Broad Oak priory (Essex). A century after his death, to mark the long-delayed completion of the priory church, a fine tomb effigy to his memory was commissioned, carved by the same sculptors who produced the monument to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, in Westminster Abbey. At the Dissolution, the effigy was transferred to Hatfield Broad Oak parish church, where it remains. Robert’s widow obtained the guardianship of their son, Hugh, who was a minor, and of his estates, which she was to exercise for about ten years. She died on 3 February 1245 and was buried in the Dominican friary at Oxford, nearer to her own family’s estates."

~ Biography courtesy of Professor Nigel Saul and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee)

Research Notes

Alleged Daughter Eleanor

Robert has previously been shown on WikiTree as father of Eleanor, wife of Ralph Gernon. No reliable evidence has been found for this.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that Robert de Vere and Isabel de Bolebec had just one child, Hugh.[3] The author of that entry has posted on Eleanor's profile that she has found no evidence that they had a daughter called Eleanor, or a child who married Ralph Gernon.

Douglas Richardson[2][8] and Medlands[5] both state that they also had a daughter Eleanor, who married Ralph Gernon. They cite Farrer's Honors and Knights' Fees, which states that "Sir Ralph [Gernon] was twice married, his first wife being Eleanor daughter of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford..."[9] The citation given by Farrer is a Gernon pedigree in the 1899 volume of Collections for a History of Staffordshire which shows Ralph Gernon married first to "Eleanor dau. of Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford" and second to "Hawisia (Tregoz)."[10] No source is given for this information, and it cannot be regarded as reliable.

A Gernon pedigree in William Farrer's Feudal Cambridgeshire does not identify the first wife of Ralph Gernon.[11]

Against this background, Eleanor was detached as daughter.

Other Disputed Children

Lacking sources, the following profiles were detached as children:


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 G E Cokayne. The Complete Peerage, revised edition, Vol. X, St Catherine Press, 1945, pp. 210-213, OXFORD III
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, 2nd edition (Salt Lake City: the author, 2011), Vol. IV, pp. 261-263, VERE 1
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Vere, Robert de, third earl of Oxford', print and online 2004, revised online 2005, available online via some libraries
  4. Frederick Lewis Weis. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists who came to America before 1700, 8th edition, genealogical Publishing Company, 2004, p. 222, line 246.27
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Charles Cawley. England, Earls created 1138-1143, Chapter 9, Oxford: A. EARLS of OXFORD 1142-1526 (VERE) 2.c.iii., entry for Robert de Vere, in "Medieval Lands": A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families © by Charles Cawley, hosted by Foundation for Medieval Genealogy (FMG). See also WikiTree's source page for MedLands.
  6. I J Sanders. English Baronies, a Study of their Origins and descent 1086-1327. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1963, p. 98
  7. I J Sanders, English Baronies, p. 52
  8. Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 350, PEYTON 2
  9. William Farrer. Honors and Knights' Fees, Vol. III, Manchester University Press/Longmans, Green & Co, 1925, p. 205
  10. Falconer Madan (compiler). The Gresleys of Drakelowe, Collections for a History of Staffordshire, New Series, Vol. I, William Salt Archaeological Society, 1899, p. 257, Internet Archive
  11. William Farrer. Feudal Cambridgeshire, Cambridge University Press, 1920, p. 218, Internet Archive
  • G E Cokayne. The Complete Peerage, revised edition, Vol. X, St Catherine Press, 1945, pp. 210-213, OXFORD III
  • Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, 2nd edition (Salt Lake City: the author, 2011), Vol. IV, pp. 261-263, VERE 1. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Magna Carta Ancestry.’’
  • Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013, pp. 251-253. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Royal Ancestry’’.
  • Charles Cawley. Medieval Lands, entry for 'Robert de Vere (-before 25 Oct 1221)
  • Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 58, London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1899, p. 243, entry for 'Vere, Robert de (1170?-1221)', Wikisource
  • Wikipedia: Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford
  • Our Royal, Titled, Noble, and Commoner Ancestors & Cousins, database online, entry for Robert de Vere, Magna Carta Surety, Compiler: Mr. Marlyn Lewis, Portland, OR, 97232, citing Weis and Richardson, Robert de Vere
  • 500-Year De Vere Pedigree by the De Vere Society


Magna Carta Project

As a surety baron, Robert de Vere's profile is managed by the Magna Carta Project. See de Vere-309 Descendants for profiles of his descendants that have been improved and categorized by the Magna Carta project and are in a project-approved trail to a Gateway Ancestor. See this index for links to other surety barons and category pages for their descendants. See the project's Base Camp for more information about Magna Carta trails.
Profile revised for the Magna Carta Project by Michael Cayley, January 2020.

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Sponsored Search by

No known carriers of Robert's DNA have taken a DNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Sponsored by Ancestry ®

Family History Search.


Enter a grandparent's name. Just one grandparent can lead you to many discoveries.

Comments: 21

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Magna Carta project logo
100% 5-star profile (see more at Magna Carta Project Star Profiles)
posted by Michael Cayley
I have now finished the main work I intend on this profile. If anyone spots any typos or other slips, please either correct them or message me. Thanks!
posted by Michael Cayley
I have reassembled Professor Saul's biography for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. We had permission to reproduce it, not to edit it or chop it up. (If I were him, I might feel aggrieved if I found out it had been cut up and spliced with other material.)
posted by Michael Cayley
I plan to do bit of work on this profile as part of what I am doing for the Magna Carta Project on Magna Carta Surety Barons.
posted by Michael Cayley
I am now embarked on the main editing. In the process I intend to get rid of the use of Span IDs for references, now discouraged on WikiTree, and to replace some of the copied and pasted text (though I will leave the text from Professor Saul's biography). I will also draw on the ODNB entry for Robert de Vere. Please bear with untidiness as I continue work on the profile.
posted by Michael Cayley
I detached Robert (did a bit of research on him and added it to his profile).
update: removed Alice as child; Robert was sourced/detached by Darlene

any objection if I remove Alice & Robert as children and edit birth location from Hatfield, Broad Oaks, Essex, England (where he's buried) to be just Essex, England?

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
Source: Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols., ed. Kimball G. Everingham, (Salt Lake City, Utah: the author, 2013), Vol. III. page 668.

Gabrield Ludlow, immigrated in 1694 to New York. He married Sarah Hanmer. They had seven sons, and five daughters.

Wasn't he, (Gabriel Ludlow-97), Magna Carta badged at one time? Robert De_Vere-309 is the 14th great grandfather of Gabriel Ludlow-97.

Thank you!

The Complete Peerage, 2nd ed. Vol. 10, p. 210-211 has no christening date for Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford. It states that he was probably b. after 1164 (on the assumption that he was the 3rd son; after 1172 if his parents did not resume cohabitation before 1171). Nor does it mention a place of birth.
posted by John Atkinson
Change Born date to: 1164

- He was Christened in 1164. [2][3]

? Source: #S152 Page: 60-28, 246-27 Source: S152 Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England between 1623 and 1650, 6th ed.,Weis, Frederick (Lewis Publication: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 1988), Note: RIN#10004

? Source: #S150 Page: X 210-216 Source: S150 The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Vols. I-XII, Cokayne, George Edward, (St. Catherine Press Ltd., London, 1910-1959).


posted by Russ Gunther KT CH
The Wikipedia article cited in an earlier comment states that the first "documented" use of "Sir" was in 1297 but it adds that the practice of adding "Sire" (Norman French for "Seigneur" or "Lord") to high-level aristocrats [like Robert de Vere] was known as early as 1205 or earlier. It no doubt was a corruption of French and evolved after the Norman Conquest of 1066. I do not believe we should "nit pick" this custom for ANY Norman Lord acknowledged as a knight by his liege lord, the King, on WikiTree. Respected genealogist Richardson does not so why should we?
posted by Chet Snow
Well, Chase - you have been busy. It is a challenge to keep up with you :)

Robert de Vere is written "SIR ROBERT DE VERE" by Richardson in Royal Ancestry, Vol V, page 251.

Regardless that there may be more to it than can be covered here, and this era produces conflicting opinions among experts, it is my opinion WikiTree should continue to use "SIR" unless a question in G2G produces changes in the guidelines.

Unless an original record can be produced that shows he was called "Sir", it should be deleted as a prefix since "Sir" supposedly wasn't used as an honorific in England until 1297 and, in any event, was for lesser mortal like knights and baronets.
posted by Chase Ashley

D  >  de Vere  >  Robert de Vere

Categories: Early Barony of Hedingham | Magna Carta | Surety Barons | House of De Vere