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Revised 23/06/2012

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MARCHES

Historically the border territories around a country needed defending against an aggressor. In Europe the border was known as the March (French Marque), controlled by a Count (or Graf in German speaking lands), who was titled the Count of the Marque (i.e. Marquis), or Graf of the Mark (i.e. Markgrave, or Margrave), i.e. March Count. His duties were more important than those of the ordinary Count, and he was therefore of higher rank.

 

The border between England and Wales was also known as the March. The entire border from the Dee in the north to the Severn in the south, and across south Wales to Pembroke, was ruled by Marcher Lords, who held their own courts, not directly subject to English Law, but to the Law of the March which was based on Welsh Law. Whilst a feudal Lord in England would usually stay within his Lordship, the Marcher Lord was expected to foray into Welsh territory as occasion demanded.

 

There were some 50 (Welsh) Marcher Lordships, some ruled directly by the crown, others by feudal families, Barons or Earls. The system persisted until the Act of Union (1536), which effectively brought permanent peace to the old border territories. The eastern Lordships (historically in no-man's land) were then divided into five counties (Brecon, Denbigh, Montgomery, Monmouth and Radnor), though some of them were simply added to either Herefordshire or Shropshire. (Oswestry was excluded from the reallocation.)

 

The (Welsh) Marcher Lordships specifically noted in this history are as follows:

 

Lordship Representative(s) Family Shire (1535)
Abergavenny William de Briouze Abergavenny (Briouze) Barony Monmouth
Brecon (Brecknock) Bernard de Nova Mercato (alias Neufmarche) Nova Mercato Brecon
Brecon William de Briouze Abergavenny (Briouze) Barony Brecon
Builth William de Briouze Abergavenny (Briouze) Barony Brecon
Cemais Nicholas FitzMartin Martin Barony Pembroke
Chepstow (Strigoil) Richard strongbow Pembroke (Clare) Earldom Monmouth
Clun Gilbert FitzRichard Hastings (Eu) Feudal Lordship Shropshire
Clun William FitzAlan Arundel (FitzAlan) Earldom Shropshire
Cydweli (Kidwelly) Thomas de Londres Londres Carmarthen
Cydweli (Kidwelly) Sir Patrick de Chawices Chaorces Carmarthen
Ewias (Ewyas Lacy) Gilbert de Lacy Lacy (2) Hereford ***
Glamorgan Robert FitzHamon
Robert FitzRoy
Hamon
Gloucester (FitzRoy) Earldom
Glamorgan
Gower John de Brewose Brewose Barony Glamorgan
Monmouth William FitzOsbern Hereford (FitzOsbern) Earldom Monmouth
Monmouth Earl Henry of Lancaster Lancaster (Plantagenet) Earldom Monmouth
Ogmore ** William I of London Londres Glamorgan
Oswestry William FitzAlan Arundel (FitzAlan) Earldom (Shropshire)
Wigmore Ralph de Mortimer Wigmore (Mortimer) Barony Hereford

** Ogmore was not specifically noted as being a Marcher Lordship, though originally part of Robert FitzHamon's possessions

*** Part of Ewyas Lacy (in the Ewyas Valley) was instead taken into the new county of Monmouth

The border between England and Scotland was the (Scottish) March. William, 6th Earl of Northampton (see Hereford (Bohun) Earldom) was appointed Warden of the Scottish Marches (October 1350).