Clare, Gilbert de, tenth Earl of Clare, eighth Earl of Hertford, and ninth Earl of Gloucester 1291-1314, the son of Gilbert, ninth earl of Clare [qv.], by his wife Joan, daughter of Edward I, was born about 10 May 1291 (Osney Annals, p. 325; Cal. Genealog. i. 530). His father died 7 Dec. 1295, and within a year his mother married Ralph de Monthermer, who was appointed guardian to the young earl, and was summoned to parliament by the title of Earl of Gloucester (Walt. Hem. ii. 70; Parl. Writs, vol. ii. div. iii. p. 676). As a boy Gilbert de Clare was the companion of Edward II, his uncle (Stubbs, ii. 314). In 1306 he is found serving against Scotland, and some six months later was granted seisin of his property in London, 23 June 1307 (Dig. of Peer, ii. 171; Ryley, 371). He was called to the parliament of March 1308 by the title of Earl of Gloucester and Hertford (Parl. Writs, ib.), his mother being now dead. In the same year he was ordered to attend the muster against the Scots at Carlisle, and sent to negotiate a truce with Robert Bruce (ib.; Walt. Hem. p. 274). On 3 Dec. he was made commander of the troops destined for the relief of Rutherglen Castle in Scotland, and next year was required to raise 800 soldiers from his lordship in Glamorgan (Parl. Writs, vol. ii. div. iii. p. 676). In the same autumn (September 1309) he was appointed commander of the English army on both sides of the Forth (ib.). Meanwhile the Gaveston troubles had been drawing to a head. Gilbert is said to have observed a strict neutrality when the favourite was banished in 1308 (Auct. Malmesb. p. 158). This was perhaps due to the fact that Gaveston had married his sister Margaret. He seems to have at least acquiesced in the important Westminster articles presented by the parliament of April 1309 (Rot. Parl. i. 443); but had been won over to the king's side by July, when the barons met at Stamford, on which occasion his influence secured Gaveston's return. Here he pledged himself for the performance of the ordinances, and a letter is still extant in which he complains to the king of their non-fulfilment, and thus prevents the raising of the promised twenty-fifth (Stubbs, ii. 325; Parl. Writs, ib.) In March 1310 he joined in the petition for the appointment of ordainers; and, when it was feared that the partisans of Lancaster would attend the Westminster council in arms, he was appointed to maintain order (Ann. Paul. i. 170; Rymer (ed. 1818), ii. 103; Stubbs, ii. 326). His name appears first of the eight earls among the ordainers, in which body he must to some extent be regarded as representing the king's party. He soon resigned his appointment, after having offered an ineffectual resistance to the extreme measures of his colleagues (Ann. Lond. p. 172; Auct. Brid. pp. 37, 39; Parl. Writs, p. 676). Later on in this year, when Edward II was so shamefully deserted by the great lords, he was one of the only three earls who attended the summons to Berwick (Auct. Malmesb. pp. 164, 165; Ann. Lond. et Paul. pp. 174, 269). Next year, on the Earl of Lincoln's death, he was made guardian of England (March 1311). When Gaveston was once more banished (October 1311) by the ordainers, Clare at first affixed his seal to the king's letters of recommendation, but almost immediately revoked his act on the plea that he was still a minor (Auct. Malmesb. p. 174; Parl. Writs, vol. ii. div. iii.). On the favourite's return (January 1312) he was appointed by the barons to defend Kent, London, and the south-eastern parts of England; but he refused to take any active part in the league against Gaveston, though he let it be understood that he was prepared to confirm the acts of Lancaster. When Gaveston was taken from the custody of the Earl of Pembroke, who had pledged his word and lands to the king for his safety, this nobleman appealed to Gloucester to aid him in securing the restoration of his prisoner; but only received the contemptuous advice that if he should forfeit his estates, it would teach him to be a better trader another time (Chr. of Ed. I and II, i. 203, ii. 178). Later in the year (July 1312), when both parties were mustering their forces for war, Clare again came forward as a mediator and persuaded Edward to hear Lancaster's defence (ib. i. 210, 221, ii. 185-6). By Christmas he had succeeded in making terms (ib.; cf. Trokelowe, p. 74). In May 1313 Gloucester was again appointed regent during the king's absence in France (Chr. of Ed. I and II, ii. 191). Next year he was slain at the battle of Bannockburn. In this expedition he equipped 500 soldiers at his own expense, and was placed at the head of the vanguard in company with the Earl of Hereford. It was contrary to his advice that Edward joined battle on 24 June instead of allowing his troops the festival as a day of rest. For this prudent counsel the king taunted him with treachery and cowardice, to which the earl made answer that he would on that day prove the falsehood of this charge. The battle opened with Douglas's attack on his division, and, according to one chronicler, the weight of the whole combat rested on him. He rushed on the enemy's ranks like a wild boar, making his sword drunk with their blood. His horse appears to have stumbled and to have trodden its rider beneath its hoofs. In this predicament he was pierced with many lances and his head battered to pieces. Robert Bruce sent back his dead body to Edward for burial without demanding any ransom (ib. ii. 203-4; Trokelowe, pp. 85, 86; Barbour, p. 263). The vast estates of the house of Clare extending over twenty-three English counties, to say nothing of his immense possessions in Wales and in Ireland, were divided among his three sisters [see Gilbert de Clare, ninth earl]. His three earldoms fell into abeyance for a time; later that of Gloucester was renewed (1) in the person of his brother-in-law, Hugh de Spencer; (2) for another brother-in-law, Hugh de Audley (March 1337), on whose death it became once more extinct (1 Ed. III); and thirdly in 21 Rich. II for his sister Eleanor's great-grandson, Thomas de la Spencer (Trokelowe, p. 86; Chr. of Ed. I and II, i. 366, ii.; Dignity of a Peer, iv.; but cf. Nicolas, Hist. Par. p. 214). Clare married Matilda, the daughter of Richard de Burgh, second earl of Ulster, in 1308, but left no children (Trokelowe, p. 86; Ann. Paul. p. 264). He seems to have shared in his father's and grandfather's excessive love for tournaments; but on the whole appears, both intellectually and morally, to have been the noblest member of his great house.
Osney Annals ap. Luard's Annales Monastici, iv. (Rolls Series)
Annals of London and Annals of St. Paul's (in vol. i.)
the Malmesbury and Bridlington authors of the Life of Ed. II in Chronicles and Memorials of Ed. I and II, ed. Stubbs (Rolls Series)
Trokelowe, ed. Riley (Rolls Series)
Walter of Hemingburgh, ed. Hamilton (English Hist. Soc.)
Rolls of Parliament, vol. i.
Barbour's Bruce, ed. Skeat for Early Eng. Text Society
Lords' Report on the Dignity of a Peer, vol. ii. iv.
Rymer's Federa, ed. 1818
Chronicle of Lanercost.
Contributor: T. A. A. [Thomas Andrew Archer]