The De La Bere Family
at Weobley & Coyty Castles in Glamorganshire
on the edge of the Gower plateau in Glamorganshire, as though anchored to
its limestone bedrock, Weobley has a particularly attractive and memorable
setting. The castle sits above the stark northern shore of the peninsula,
just where the scarp gives way to Lanrhidian marsh and the sandy Loughor
early history of the small lordship of Weobley is obscure, though it seems
probable that it was among the first Norman holdings in Gower. The
earliest reference occurs in a charter of liberties issued in 1306.
Weobley was one of the twelve “ancient knights’s fees,” whose lords
held a privileged position within the English community of the Marcher
lordship of Gower as a whole. Most of these lay in the southern half of
the peninsula, the area of primary Norman colonization, and it is likely
that Weobley originally lay further south. Additional lands, including the
site of the present castle, were probably acquired in the thirteenth
By this time, the fee was almost certainly held by the De la Bere family, although there is no direct proof until the end of the fourteenth century. A David De la Bere appears in documents as steward to the De Braose Lord of Gower in 1292 and 1304. In the latter year he is known to have acquired "Leason", just to the east of the castle site by a grant which mentions both his wife and son, Peter. Moreover, his son, Adam De la Bere, witnessed a deed signed at Weobley itself, confirming the castle's existence by 1318. David De la Bere was still in Wales at this time - he is recorded as having been attacked by the men of Henry, Earl of Lancaster - and was therefore the most likely builder of Weobley Castle. He died sometime during the mid 1300s, but his two sons appear to have predeceased him and he favoured his nephew, John, as his heir.
Sir John De la Bere first appears in 1328 attesting a charter of John De Horton and seven years later he is seen to witness a charter of his brother-in-law, Gilbert Turberville of Coyty Castle. A document of 1397 records that Sir John had died eight years earlier possessed of the castle. Its appurtenances were valued at ten marks per annum. His heir was an under-age boy, also named John. He may have been a grandson, possibly a younger son of the late Sir Richard of Crécy of fame whose own heir had inherited Kinnersley Castle through the right of his mother.
Sir John's eldest son, also John, was in line to inherit his mother's ancestral home of Coyty Castle. This finally happened upon the death of his cousin Sir Lawrence Berkerolles in 1411. He may not have taken up residence however, for there was much controversy over who should inherit, and his cousin Joan (Stackpole) and her husband Richard Vernon were living at the castle in 1412. They were under siege by another cousin and claimant, William Gamage. Joan's claims were initially upheld by the King, but William later won his property through the courts. This John De la Bere died in his centenary year of 1414. Thomas, his son, apparently predeceased him.
John De la Bere Junior of Weobley died
in September 1403 at the age of only twenty-nine, probably in connection
with the Welsh
uprising sparked off by the Owain Glyndwr revolt. The lack of formidable
defences at Weobley would have left it particularly vulnerable to the
|© David Nash Ford 2001. All Rights Reserved.|