Robert (Ros) de Ros
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Robert (Ros) de Ros (abt. 1170 - abt. 1227)

Robert de Ros formerly Ros aka de Roos [uncertain]
Born about in Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Brother of and [half]
Husband of — married 1191 in Haddington (East Lothian, Scotland)map
Descendants descendants
Died about in Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 15 Aug 2014 | Last significant change: 16 Oct 2020
08:47: Andrew Lancaster edited the Biography for Robert (Ros) de Ros (abt.1170-abt.1227). [Thank Andrew for this | 1 thank-you received]
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Magna Carta Surety Baron
Robert de Ros was one of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta in 1215.
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Birth and Parentage

Robert de Ros (or Roos) was the son and main heir of Everard de Roos[1][2][3][4][5] and Rose Trussebut.[1][2][3][4] He was said to be 13 in 1183[1][2] and had livery of his lands in 1191[1][2][4][5], pointing to a birth date of about 1170-1172.

Robert was nicknamed "Fursan": the reason for this is unknown.[3]

Marriage and Children

In early 1191 Robert de Ros married Isabel of Scotland, illegitimate daughter of William the Lion, King of Scotland, widow of Robert de Brus[1][2][3][4], at Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland.[1][2][3] They had two sons:


Through inheritance and by his marriage, Robert de Ros held extensive lands in the North of England, a substantial part of which were in Yorkshire and Northumberland.[1][2] Among them were the baronies of Helmsley (formerly called Hamlake) and Hunsingore in Yorkshire and Wark in Northumberland.[7] He rebuilt Helmsley Castle in stone.[8][9] Through his mother he inherited lands in Normandy, including Bonneville-sur-Touques.[4]

Reign of Richard I

Robert was in Normandy in the mid-1190s, and in 1196 Richard I entrusted to him a captured wealthy French knight. When William d'Épinay, whom Robert de Ros had put in charge of Bonneville Castle, allowed the prisoner to escape, Richard I had d'Épinay hung and imposed a substantial fine on Robert.[4]

Reign of King John

Robert was for some years closely associated with King John, and witnessed a number of royal charters.[4] In 1200 and 1209 he escorted his father-in-law William the Lion to do homage to King John.[1][2][3][4] In 1203 he was again in Normandy, fighting for King John against the French. He was back in England by February 1204.[4] But in 1205 King John ordered the seizure of his lands, though they were fairly soon restored.[4]

In 1206 Robert was granted permission to mortgage his lands if he took the cross and went to the Holy Land, though there is no evidence he took a crusading vow.[3][4] The following year he was fined when another royal prisoner entrusted to him escaped.[4]

In 1210 Robert served with King John in Ireland.[3] Two years later, in 1212, he appears to have briefly entered a monastery[3][4] and his lands were therefore entrusted to Philip de Ulecot.[4]

Robert was back in royal service in 1213.[3] That year King John made him Sheriff of Cumberland[3][4] and he was a witness to John's formal submission to the Pope.[1][2][3][4] He was still closely linked with John in 1214 and the first months of 1215,[3] when the king granted him confiscated manors in Cumberland as compensation for the loss of estates in Normandy,[1][2] but the following year he sided with other Barons against John, and was one of the Surety Barons for the Magna Carta.[1][2][3][4] This led to his excommunication at the end of the year.[1][2][3][4] His lands were given to William, Count of Aumale.[1][2]

Reign of Henry III

It was not until late 1217 that Robert de Ros returned to royal allegiance[1][2][3][4] and in the meantime his son William had been captured in the Second Battle of Lincoln.[4] In November 1217 he was made one of the escorts for Alexander, King of Scotland, when he came to England.[1][2][4] Over the next few years his lands were restored.[1][2][3]

In 1221, during the rebellion of Wiliam, Count of Aumale, he helped in the siege of Skipsea Castle, Yorkshire.[1][2][3][4] Four years later, in 1225, he was a witness to the reissue of the Magna Carta.[3][4]

Soon after this he formally joined the Knights Templar,[1][2][4] to whom he had been a benefactor.[1][2][4] He had also made gifts to Rievaulx Abbey and in about 1225 he founded a hospital for lepers in Northumberland.[1][2]


On 23 December 1226 Robert's son William did homage for his father's lands.[1][2][3] 1226 may not, though, be the year of Robert's death: William may have acquired the lands because his father had become a Templar rather than because his father had died.[3] Douglas Richardson gives a death year of 1227.[1][2] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says he died in 1226 or 1227.[4] Robert was buried in the Temple Church in London.[1][2][4] The barony of Helmsley passed to his older son William, while his younger son Robert held the barony of Wark.[7]

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Biography

by Professor Nigel Saul

"Robert de Ros (c. 1182-1226/7), kinsman through marriage of Eustace de Vesci, and the son of Everard de Ros and Roese, née Trussebut, was a Yorkshire lord, the owner of extensive estates centring on Helmsley in the North Riding of Yorkshire and Wark-on-Tweed in Northumberland. He was married, at an unknown date, to Isabella, an illegitimate daughter of William the Lion, king of Scotland, and widow of Robert III de Brus.

"In the early 1200s Robert is found co-operating actively with King John, witnessing a number of his charters, chiefly at locations in northern England, and in 1203 assisting in the king’s defence of Normandy, where by descent from his mother he held the hereditary office of bailiff and constable of Bonneville-sur-Touques in the lower part of the duchy. In 1205, however, a year of rising political tension, there are signs that his relations with the king were worsening, and John ordered the seizure of his lands and, apparently shortly afterwards, had his son taken hostage. Robert, a little later, recovered his lands, but an indication that he might have been interested in leaving England is given by his acquisition of a licence to pledge his lands for crusading. It is not known, however, if he ever actually did embark for the East.

"In 1212 Robert seems to have entered a monastery, and on 15 May that year John handed over custody of his lands to one Philip de Ulcot. His monastic profession, however, cannot have lasted for long, for on 30 January 1213 John appointed him sheriff of Cumberland, and later in the same year he was one of the witnesses to John’s surrender of his kingdom to the pope. In 1215, as relations between the king and the baronial opposition worsened, John seems to have tried to keep Robert on his side, ordering one of his counsellors to try to secure the election of Robert’s aunt as abbess of Barking. By April, however, Robert was firmly on the baronial side, attending the baronial muster at Stamford and, after June, being nominated to the committee of twenty-five.

"When war between the king and his opponents broke out towards the end of the year, Robert was active on the baronial side, forfeiting his lands as a result and suffering the capture of his son at the battle of Lincoln in May 1217. After Louis returned to France, Robert submitted to the new government and recovered most, although not all, of his lands. He witnessed the third and definitive reissue of Magna Carta on 11 February 1225. Sometime before 1226 he retired to a monastery and he died either in that year or early in 1227. At some stage he was received into the ranks of the Templars and on his death he was buried in the Temple Church in London, where a few years earlier William Marshal, the one-time Regent had been buried. An effigy in that church sometimes associated with him dates from at least a generation later.

"Robert is an enigmatic individual who had close ties with Eustace de Vesci but did not openly join the rebellion until just before Runnymede. He probably felt a conflict between his sense of loyalty to his fellow Northerners and his obligation of obedience to the king."

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

Research Notes

Helmsley/Hamlake etc

Helmsley in Yorkshire was known in the past as Hamlake or Hamelac (or other variant spellings).[10][11]


  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 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013, Volume IV, pp. 487-489 ROOS #5. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Royal Ancestry’’.
  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 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 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, Volume III, pp. 444-445, Google Books
  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 G E Cokayne. Complete Peerage. Vol. XI, St Catherine Press, 1949, pp. 92-93
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Ros, Robert de (c. 1182–1226/7)', 2004, revised online 2005, available online via some libraries
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, entry for 'Ros, Robert de (d.1227)', Wikisource
  6. Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, Vol. III, p. 294, PARR 2
  7. 7.0 7.1 I J Sanders. English Baronies. A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1960, pp. 53, 56 and 149
  8. Historic England website, Helmsley Castle, accessed 22 October 2019
  9. 'Parishes: Helmsley', in A History of the County of York North Riding, Vol. 1, ed. William Page (London, 1914), pp. 485-505, British History Online , accessed 22 October 2019
  10. Wikipedia: Helmsley Castle
  11. 'Parishes: Helmsley', in A History of the County of York North Riding (Victoria County History: Yorkshire, North Riding), Volume 1, ed. William Page (London, 1914), pp. 485-505, British History Online, accessed 20 October 2019
  • Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. 2nd edition. Salt Lake City: the author, 2011, Volume III pages 294, 444-445. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Magna Carta Ancestry.’’
  • Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013, Volume IV, pages 300, 484-486, 586. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Royal Ancestry’’.
  • Cokayne, G E. Complete Peerage. Vol. XI, St Catherine Press, 1949, pp. 92-93
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Ros, Robert de (c. 1182–1226/7)', 2004, revised online 2005, available online via some libraries
  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, entry for 'Ros, Robert de (d.1227)', Wikisource
  • Cawley, Charles. Entry for Robert de Ros, "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.
  • Marshall, G. W. (1871). The Visitations of the County of Nottingham in the Years 1569 and 1614, (pp.111). London.
  • Weis, F.L. The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, 5th edition, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1999
  • Chisholm, H. (1911). "Ros (family)." The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Vol. 23, pp.720, Encyclopaedia britannica Co. Google eBook.
  • Wikipedia: Robert de Ros, accessed 22 October 2019
  • Robert de Ros Knight Templar, posted to My Medieval Genealogy on 5 November 2009 by Wanda Thacker (accessed 8 December 2018)


Magna Carta Project

Robert de Roos is a Magna Carta surety baron and has the Magna Carta Project as a manager.
See Ros-149 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.
This profile was revised for the Magna Carta Project by Michael Cayley in October 2019.

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Comments: 30

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100% 5-star profile (see more at Magna Carta Project Star Profiles)
posted by Michael Cayley
Oh wow! Michael, you are a magician. Thank you SO MUCH for the re-do on this profile! It looks fantastic!

Cheers, Liz

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
I have started making the bio more compact. I have deleted birth and death places for which there seems to be no evidence (the birth place was the usual misinterpretation of Marlyn Lewis's "at of"). Much more to do: please bear with untidiness as I continue to work on the profile.
posted by Michael Cayley
I agree. I plan to make it more compact after I have finished revising the bio of Illustrious Man John Marshal.
posted by Michael Cayley
terrifyingly long.
posted by Andrew Lancaster
That'd be great, Liz. Thanks!
update - still haven't gotten to this (12 Oct. 2019). My to-do list is WAY out of hand.

Anyone object if I put Robert on my to-do list for a major edit ?

I would do it much like Gilbert de Clare's - keeping Professor Saul's bio intact and ensuring Robert's vital genealogical information is easily found.

Cheers, Liz

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
no support for "Robert II" in profile. Anyone have a source that calls him that?
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
MedLands has born 1172-73/married 1191.
  • The Rotuli de Dominabus of 1185 records “uxor Everardi de Ros que fuit filia Willelmi Trussebut…xxxv” and her land “in Strowestone”, adding that she had "ii filios, primogenitus est xiii annorum et terra eius est in custodia Ranulfi de Glanville"[867].
  • The Chronicle of Melrose records the marriage in 1191 of "the king of Scots…his daughter Ysembel (the widow of Robert de Brus)" and "Robert de Ross" at Haddington[883].
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett