Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Prince and the coroner's daughter

Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk (1300-38) was born the son of King Edward I of England and his second wife Margaret of France, and was therefore the half-brother of the next king, Edward II of England when he ascended to the throne - Thomas was seven years old at this time.

Thomas married, around 1519, Alice de Hales. The marriage must have taken place after 1518 when Thomas came of age as if he had been any younger he would have required permission from the king to marry and there is no evidence that he married without the king's permission, and therefore had to be of age when he married Alice. Also, it could have not taken place after 1521 due to the birth dates of their children.
The couple had three children; Edward (d.1334), Margaret (1322-99) and Alice (1324-52).

It seems unusual for a prince, who is also second in line to the throne, to marry the daughter of a coroner, a woman who would have little if any dowry and no political influence. Among the royal families of medieval England, Alice de Hales can be considered the most obscure, and unlikely, bride that ever married a royal prince. Prince Thomas showed a reckless personality and a lack of interest in money or power; something that would be evident for his whole life.

The two families came into contact due to the fact that Prince Thomas was granted the property and lands of the previous Earl of Norfolk, Roger Bigod; this included the wardship of John de Hales, Alice's younger brother as he was still in his minority when his father died. It is also possible that he was also granted the wardship of John's sisters too and this is how the two met. Due to the young age and status of both members of the couple, it can be assumed that this was a love match, it has been suggested that he found Alice so beautiful that he married her. The wedding took place in Norfolk.

“…and the seid Thomas Brodirton, Erle of Norfolke, cam down into Norfolke and ther he
wedded a knyght’s doughter fast by Bungey and they hadden togedir ij dowters”.   (Book of Pleas)

Alice de Hales (1302-27) was the daughter of Roger de Hales (1275-1313) and his wife Alice Skogan (b.1277). Roger and Alice (m.1298) had three other children; John, Jane and Matilda.
Hales Hall near Loddon, Norfolk was the seat of the Hales family. Hales was an ancient family that can be seen in England from the time of William the Conqueror. Sir Roger was Lord of Hales in 1294. He owned the Wrantishagh Manor, where he built a chapel dedicated to St Andrew and instated a priest and a congregation developed.
Hales Hall, Norfolk
Sir Roger de Hales (1274-1313) was Crown Coroner for Norfolk, which meant that he oversaw suspicious deaths and also the property and lands of those who died under suspicious circumstances.
On the 7th May 1303 Roger de Hales was the victim of an attack whilst carrying out his work;

"the king directed a commission of oyer and terminer to Henry de Spigurnel and Robert de Retford, touching Geoffrey Kempe, John Graunt, John Gerard and Robert Topyn of Norwich, and the whole community of that town, who assaulted Roger de Hales, coroner of the county of Norfolk, in the execution of his office on a body found dead in a place in Norwich called Tomeland and Ratounerawe, assaulted Richard de Hakeford, bailiff of the kings hundred of Bloufeld, and other men of that hundred who were there by summons of the bailiff, made on the mandate of the coroner in the kings name, snatched the coroners rolls from his hands, tore and trampled them, and prevented his exercising his office." 

In the Calendar of Close Rolls the following records concerning Roger de Hales can be found;

29 July 1309, To the sheriff of Norfolk. Order to cause a coroner for 
that county to be elected in place of Roger de Hales, who is 
insufficiently qualified.  

19 June 1313, To the sheriff of Norfolk. Order to cause a coroner for 
that county to be elected in place of Roger de Hales, deceased.

Prince Thomas became a member of the Hales family and took a great interest in the family's affairs. Alice's sister Jane married Sir John Jermy (1300-45), and in about 1325 Thomas gave the manors of Metfield and Mendham to Sir John and hi wife Jane as her dowry. The Jermy family and the Hales family were close geographically as well as being previously intertwined in business affairs; in 1303 Sir Roger granted the tenancy of Tharston estate to the Jermy family.

Prince Thomas married his daughter and heir Margaret to John Segrave between 1327, when Thomas was granted the wardship of John, and 1336. While a marriage to the king's niece was an advantageous marriage for John Segrave, this was not such an honour for Margaret. Prince Thomas could have done more to arrange a marriage for his daughter to a man with more wealth and power, however he often was blind to finding such things as important, which was highly unusual during this period and especially among the royal family.

To read more about this couple see Brad Verity's Love Matches & Contracted Misery - Part 1 in Foundations: The Journal of the Foundations of Medieval Genealogy   


  1. Hi Danielle,

    I enjoyed your post regarding Thomas de Brotherton and the Hales family. I am a descendant of Jane de Hales and her husband Sir John Jermy. I am curious if you used any sources in addition to Brad Verity’s article? I’d be interested in any additional historical sources, etc. for said families. Thank you.



  2. Danielle,
    Hi and thank you for the interesting post! I have recently learned of my families direct lineage to Sarah De Hales and have been trying to find more information on her marriage. I am sorry to hear that she was one of the most obscure of historical figures married to a king, but at least there is a little info.
    Thanks again,

  3. Danielle: Thank you for the beautiful web page, pictures and information.
    I am a direct descendant of Nicolas de Hales, brother of Alice de Hales, Countess Of Norfolk; Joan de Hales; Jane de Hales; John de Hales and Edmund de Hales
    Birthdate: 1300
    Birthplace: Hales Place Haiden,Kent,England
    Son of Sir Roger de Hales and Alice Skogan
    Apparently, there were more children born of the parents.

  4. Alice de Hales was my 19th great aunt. Thank you for writing this article.

    Lewis Hales, M.A.,M.A.

  5. In addition Danielle, I am a researcher, journalist, educator and have researched my family tree for 30 years. I have much more information to your story I think you would find of special interest. if you are interested, let me know at
    Lewis Hales, M.A.,M.A./CEO

  6. Any known ancestors of Sir Roger de Hales and Alice Skogan?

  7. I have got the family traced to 1130, person by person, from Roger de Hales. Then , I have the family documented to the Angles and Iceni tribes.

    Lewis Hales.

  8. Hello Danielle, Both families went back with each other and overcome remarkable obstacles, which deeply connected them together through the decades. Lord Roger de Hales was Lord of Hales and Lucby, He built churches and the family had a long history in ways you are not aware. Alice was the heroine of the family by bringing honor back to the Hales aristocracy after King Henry dismantled the Hales manor and they were banished to France and the remaining family were forced to live in the servant's quarters over the issue of Thomas Becket. There is so much more involved that connected these families than you are suggesting.

    1. Maybe you should write something then.....
      -Christine Hale

  9. Sir Roger de Hales and John of Loddon were buried at Langley Abbey together with many other Knights of the Realm, The Grave Slabs of Sir Roger and John were relocated to Loddon Trinity for safekeeping during the reformation, here pictured below the tower having been moved in recent years yet again from their previous position inside the north door;