Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent


Son of Thomas Holland and Joan Plantagenet of Kent,  father of Alianore Holland and husband of Alice Fitzalan

Holland, Thomas, 2nd Earl of Kent born in 1350, After an early career soldiering abroad Holland became one of the less spectacular props of Richard II's regime, established mainly on the south coast, in and around Hampshire. 

Perhaps most significantly, the second marriage in 1361 of his mother, Joan, to Edward, the Black Prince, meant that Holland had a younger half-brother, the future king Richard II.

Thomas Holland's early career from 1366 was spent in military service abroad, first in Spain and then in France. He was knighted by his stepfather and godfather, the Black Prince, at Vitoria in Castile in 1367, and was made a knight of the Garter in 1376. His power and influence was restricted by the fact that his mother, Joan, held the estates of the Kent inheritance in her own right until her death in 1385. To help offset this somewhat, Thomas was married in c.1364 to Alice, daughter of Richard II Fitzalan, the wealthy earl of Arundel; Alice's dowry was 4000 marks, and the Black Prince enfeoffed the couple with lands worth 500 marks in three Yorkshire manors.

They had seven children:

Thomas Holland, 1st Duke of Surrey born in 1374 - 7th January 1400, who succeeded him as 3rd Earl of Kent.

On his father's death in 1397 Holland became 3rd Earl of Kent. He had been elected a Knight of the Garter in 1381. At that time Kent's uncle Richard II was removing from power Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and his associates, and sent Kent to arrest his own uncle — Richard Fitzalan, 11th Earl of Arundel. In reward he received a share of the forfeited estates, and on 29th September 1397 was created Duke of Surrey. Yet another uncle John Holland was created Duke of Exeter on that day as well..

Early in Richard's reign, Holland was made a Knight of the Garter in 1381. He was also part of the escort that accompanied the queen-to-be, Anne of Bohemia, on her trip to England.

Holland had a violent temper, which got him in trouble several times. The most famous incident occurred during Richard II's 1385 expedition to the Kingdom of Scotland. An archer in the service of Ralph Stafford, eldest son of the Earl of Stafford, killed one of Holland's esquires. Stafford went to find Holland to apologize, but Holland killed him as soon as he identified himself. The king had Holland's lands seized. Their mother died during this time, it is said of grief at these events.

Early the next year Holland reconciled with the Staffords, and had his property restored. Later in 1386 he married Elizabeth Plantagenet, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Blanche of Lancaster. He and Elizabeth then went on Gaunt's expedition to Spain, where Holland was constable of the English army. After his return to the Kingdom of England, Holland was created Earl of Huntingdon, on 2nd June 1387. In 1389 he was appointed Lord Great Chamberlain for life, Admiral of the fleet in the western seas, and constable of Tintagel Castle. During this time he also received large grants of land from the king.

Over the next several years he held a number of additional offices: constable of Conway Castle (1394), governor of Carlisle (1395), and then governor and then constable-general of the west marches towards Scotland. His military services were interrupted by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1394, which may be connected with his earlier troubles with the Staffords

Holland helped the king take down Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester and Richard Fitzalan, 11th Earl of Arundel in 1397. He was rewarded by being created Duke of Exeter on 29th September.

He then went with Richard on the king's 1399 Ireland expedition. When they returned the king sent him to try to negotiate with Holland's brother-in-law Henry Bolingbroke. After Henry deposed Richard and took the throne, as Henry IV, he called to account those who had been involved in the downfall of Thomas of Woodstock, and in the end took away all rewards Richard had give them after Thomas' arrest. Thus Holland became again merely Earl of Huntingdon.

Early the next year Holland entered into a conspiracy, called the Epiphany Rising, with his nephew Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent, Thomas le Despencer, 1st Earl of Gloucester, and others. Their aim was to assassinate king Henry and return Richard (who was in prison) to the throne. Their plot failed, Holland fled, but was caught and executed on 29th September 1400 . Among those who witnessed the execution was Thomas Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel, son of the Earl of Arundel who Holland had arrested some years before.

Holland, along with many of Richard's advisors, was arrested after Richard's deposition by Henry IV in 1399. In the end he had to forfeit the honours and estates he had gained after the arrests of Gloucester and Arundel, and thus went back to just being Earl of Kent.

He left no children by his wife, Joan Stafford, daughter of Hugh Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford. He was succeeded as Earl by his brother Edmund.

Edmund de Holland, 4th Earl of Kent born on 6th January 1384 — was the Earl of Kent from c. 1400 until c. 1407.

Edmund succeeded his childless brother as Earl of Kent on 7th January 1400.

He had an affair with Constance of York and fathered illegitimately Eleanor de Holland born in c. 1406; Eleanor was later married to James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley.

 Edmund died on 15th September 1408

Joan Holland, married Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York. Secondly William, Baron Willoughby, thirdly Henry Scrope, Baron Scrope of Masham, and fourthly Henry Bromflete, Baron Vessy;

Alianore Holland, born c. 1373. married first Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and second Edward Cherleton, 5th Baron Cherleton

Margaret Holland married John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, son of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and his mistress Katherine Swynford. They had six children:

Henry Beaufort, 2nd Earl of Somerset born c. 1401 and died 25th November 1418

John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset baptized  25th March 25 1404 and died 27th May 1444

Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Perche born c. 1405 and died 432.

Joan Beaufort born c. 1406 and died 15th July 1445, who married King James I of Scotland.

Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset born c. 1406 and died 22nd May 22 1455.

Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Devon born  c. 1409 and died 1449. She married Thomas de Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon.

After Beaufort died in 1410 in the Tower of London, she married Thomas Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, the son of King Henry IV. They had no children. Margaret and both her husbands are buried together in a carved alabaster tomb in Canterbury Cathedral that shows her lying between the two of them.

Margaret died on 30th December 1429

Elizabeth Holland who married John, Baron Neville

Bridget Holland who became a Nun

Richard II's accession in 1377 meant that Holland's half-brother was now king. To reflect this, he received a gift of 100 marks and an exchequer annuity of £200 in 1378, later augmented to 1000 marks in rents. He was also given custody of the royal forests south of the Trent in July 1377, and was appointed marshal of England in March 1380. The south was becoming his base: he resided much at Talworth Manor in Surrey (given him by his mother in October 1382); he became captain of Southampton in June 1380 to repel the French threat; and he served on the Surrey and Hampshire commissions of the peace. Late in 1380 he was accorded the title earl of Kent, which his father had held only briefly. His military experience was used to help suppress the peasants' revolt in Kent in 1381, and then as captain of the English bastion of Cherbourg from November 1384.

The death of his mother, Joan, in August 1385 brought to Holland the considerable estates of her inheritance. He was now a wealthy magnate, but played no great role in the political upheavals of 1386–9, having lost the post of marshal in June 1385. He was made constable of the Tower of London in May 1387, but then rather faded from the court scene in the 1390s, increasingly preferring his Hampshire residences at Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst. He became constable first of Corfe Castle (with his wife) in May 1391, and then of Carisbrooke Castle in July 1396, and was appointed to the Wiltshire commission of the peace in December 1390. The focus of his inherited estates lay less in the south than in the north-east midlands, especially Lincolnshire, and it was from there he dispensed his grants and patronage, yet even in the south his influence was not dominant, with no obvious nexus of Holland supporters in local posts. Thomas Holland died on 25 April 1397. He was buried shortly afterwards in Bourne Abbey, Lincolnshire, following a funeral in Westminster Abbey. According to Adam Usk, after Holland's death one of the earl's greyhounds spontaneously made its way to the king, and accompanied him everywhere, until the moment in 1399 when Richard deserted his army in Wales, whereupon the dog abandoned the king and joined the duke of Lancaster.

Holland's widow, Alice, remained constable of Corfe Castle until 1407 and then retired to Beaulieu Abbey; she died on 17 March 1416.

Through the marriages of his daughters, he became the ancestor of many of the prominent figures in the Wars of the Roses, including Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Warwick the Kingmaker.


M. M. N. Stansfield, ‘The Holland family, dukes of Exeter, earls of Kent and Huntingdon, 1352–1475’, DPhil diss., U. Oxf., 1987 · Chancery records · PRO, exchequer of receipt, issue rolls, E 403 · PRO, accounts various (king's remembrancer), E 101 · PRO, lord treasurer's remembrancer, enrolled accounts, E 364 · PRO, treaty rolls, C 76 · PRO, scotch rolls, C 71 · PRO, gaol delivery rolls, JUST/3 · PRO, lord treasurer's remembrancer, memoranda rolls, E 368 · PRO, inquisitions post mortem, C 136–138 · PRO, gascon rolls, C 61 · PRO, charter rolls, C 53 · PRO, special collections, ancient petitions, SC 8 · Essex RO, D/DRg 1/62 · CIPM, vol. 17 · M. C. B. Dawes, ed., Register of Edward, the Black Prince, 4 vols., PRO (1930–33) · Œuvres de Froissart: chroniques, ed. K. de Lettenhove, 25 vols. (Brussels, 1867–77) · A descriptive catalogue of ancient deeds in the Public Record Office, 2 (1894) · [J. Nichols], ed., A collection of … wills … of … every branch of the blood royal (1780), 118–19 · The chronicle of Adam Usk, 1377–1421, ed. and trans. C. Given-Wilson, OMT (1997)

Wealth at death  

Estates worth approx. £1500: PRO, C 136/92


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