Charlton or Cherleton, Edward, fifth and last Lord Charlton of Powys 1370-1421, was the younger son of John Charlton, the third baron, and his wife, Joan, daughter of Lord Stafford. During the lifetime of his elder brother John, the fourth lord [see Charlton, John, ad fin.], Edward married, very soon after her husband's death in Ireland (20 July 1398), the widowed Countess of March. Her lordships and castles of Usk and Caerleon thus fell into his hands. This brought him into relations with the chronicler Adam of Usk, who speaks of him as juvenis elegantissimus, and is loud in his praises. Charlton's relationship to the Mortimers involved him, however, in hostility to Henry of Bolingbroke, who, in July 1399, was about to proceed from Bristol to ravage his lands; but the chronicler Adam, who combined Lancastrian politics with attachment to the house of Mortimer, claims to have negotiated peace, and to have persuaded Henry to take Charlton among his followers (Adam of Usk, p. 25). Charlton then accompanied Henry to Chester in his march against Richard II, and was afterwards in high favour with him. About this time Charlton showed his personal severity and the extent of the franchises of a lord marcher by condemning to death the seneschal of Usk for an intrigue with his natural sister, probably prioress of that town (ib. p. 60).
On 19 Oct. 1401 (ib. p. 68) the death of John Charlton without issue involved Edward's succession to the peerage and estates of Powys. It was a critical period in the history of the Welsh marches. Owen of Glyndwfrdwy had already risen in revolt, and had ravaged the neighbourhood of Welshpool, the centre of the Charltons' power, whence he had been driven by John Charlton just before his death. Edward Charlton was possessed of but inadequate resources to contend with so dangerous a neighbour; yet no border lord took a more prominent part in the Welsh war than he. In 1402 Owen overthrew his castles of Usk and Caerleon (Adam of Usk, p. 75), though next year Charlton seems to have again got possession of them. In 1403 he urgently besought the council to reinforce the scanty garrisons of the border fortresses. In 1404 he was reduced to such straits that the council very unwillingly allowed him to make a private truce with the Welsh. In 1406 his new charter to Welshpool shows in its minute and curious provisions the extreme care taken to preserve that town as a centre of English influence, and exclude the foreign Welsh from its government, its courts, and even its soil. Some time before 1408 Charlton was made a knight of the Garter. In 1409 he procured a royal pardon for those of his vassals who had submitted to Owen, but in 1409 Owen and John, the claimant to the bishopric of St. Asaph, renewed their attack on his territories. Strict orders were sent from London that Charlton was not to leave the district, but keep all his fortresses well garrisoned against the invader. The growing preponderance of the English side may be marked in the injunction of the council not in any case to renew his old private truce with the Welsh. Finally Charlton succeeded in maintaining himself against the waning influence of Owen. In January 1414 Sir John Oldcastle, after his great failure, escaped to those Welsh marches, where he had first won renown as a warrior, and ultimately took refuge in the Powys estates of Charlton. There he lurked for some time until the promise of a great reward and the exhortations of the bishops to capture the common enemy of religion and society induced Charlton to take active steps for his apprehension. At last, in 1417, the heretic was tracked to a remote farm at Broniarth, and, after a severe struggle, was captured by the servants of the lord of Powys. He was first imprisoned in Powys Castle, and thence sent to London. For this service Charlton received the special thanks of parliament. The charters are still extant in which he rewarded the brothers Ieuan and Gruffydd, sons of Gruffydd, for their share in Oldcastle's capture (1419). In 1420 Charlton conferred a new charter on the Cistercian abbey of Strata Marcella, of which his house was patron. He died on 14 March 1421. He first married Eleanor, daughter of Thomas and sister and coheiress of Edmund Holland, earl of Kent, and widow of the Earl of March. His second wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir J. Berkeley of Beverstone. He left no sons, but two daughters by his first wife, of which the elder, Joan, married Sir John Grey, and the younger, Joyce, Sir John Tiptoft, both powerful marcher chieftains. The estates were divided between the coheiresses, and the peerage fell into an abeyance from which it has probably never emerged, the later creation in favour of the Greys being more probably a new peerage than a revival of the old one.
Adam of Usk, ed. Thompson
Cole's Memorials of Henry V (Rolls Ser.)
Nicolas's Proceedings and Ordinances of Privy Council
Rolls of Parliament
Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 72
Nicolas's Historic Peerage (Courthope), pp. 101-3. Most of the materials for Charlton's life are collected in the article by Mr. M. C. Jones, on the Feudal Barons of Powys, with appendix of documents and extracts, in the Collections Historical and Archæological relating to Montgomeryshire, published by the Powysland Club, i. 302-26.
Contributor: T. F. T. [Thomas Frederick Tout]