Grey, John, Earl of Tankerville d. 1421, soldier, probably born before 1391, was son of Sir Thomas Grey of Berwyke, Northumberland, and Heton, Durham, by Jane, daughter of John, lord Mowbray. He was therefore grandson of Thomas Gray (d. 1369) [qv.], author of the Scala-chronica. In September 1411 Grey accompanied Gilbert Umfraville, earl of Kyme, in his expedition to assist the Duke of Burgundy (Harding, p. 368). In May 1414 he was one of the captains of the force which was assembled to be reviewed by Richard Wydeville at Dover, preparatory to the war with France. The expedition sailed from Southampton on 11 Aug. 1415, and entered the Seine two days later; on 14 Aug. Grey was one of the knights sent out to reconnoitre the country towards Harfleur, and took part in the siege of that town during the following month. He was present at Agincourt 25 Oct., where he took prisoner the Comte d'Eu. Grey was now rewarded with a grant of the lands of his younger brother Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, who had been executed on 6 Aug. for complicity in the Earl of Cambridge's plot (Rot. Pat. 3 Hen. V, Cal. pp. 264-5). On the occasion of Henry's second expedition to France in 1417, he was summoned, as Sir John Grey of Heton, to serve with forty men-at-arms and 120 archers. He was present at the siege of Caen in September, was made captain of the town and castle of Mortaigne on 30 Oct., and on 24 Nov. received a grant of the castle and lordship of Tilly in Normandy. During the next year he served under Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, in the conquest of the Cotentin; in August he was serving at the siege of Rouen under the earl of Salisbury, and on 26 Oct. was one of the commissioners appointed to treat with the dauphin. On 30 Jan. 1419 he was a commissioner to receive the surrender of all the castles in Normandy, and on the following day was created earl of Tancarville in Normandy, the earldom to be held by homage, and by the delivery of a helmet at Rouen on St. George's day. About the same time he was appointed chamberlain of Normandy, which office was held in fee. From February to August of this year he was captain of the town and castle of Mantes, on 23 Feb. was a commissioner to treat with the French ambassadors, and on 26 March to negotiate for the king's marriage with Catherine, daughter of Charles VI of France. In November 1419 he was made a knight of the Garter (Beltz thought the date was February 1418). At this time he was also directed to receive the inhabitants of the castellanies of St. Germain, Montjoy, and Poissy into the king's obedience. In January 1420 he was made governor of Harfleur, and in the same year received a grant of Montereau from the king, and also of various lordships in Normandy; he was likewise governor of Meaux, and of the castle of Gournay, and took part in the siege of Melun in July. In 1421 he was serving under Thomas, duke of Clarence, and was killed with him at the battle of Beaugé on 22 March. Grey is described as a comely knight (Siege of Rouen, p. 9, in Collections of a Citizen of London, Camden Soc.). He married Joan, eldest daughter and coheiress of Edward Charlton, lord of Powys [qv.]; by her he had one son, Henry (1420-1450). Grey is sometimes spoken of as Lord of Powys in right of his wife, but incorrectly, since Charlton predeceased him by only a few days. His son styled himself Lord of Powys, but was never summoned to parliament. The earldom of Tankerville became extinct, either after the loss of Henry V's conquests or through the attainder of Richard Grey, son of the second earl, in 1459; but Richard's son John was summoned to parliament as Lord Grey of Powys in 1482; this barony probably became extinct on the death of Edward the third lord in 1552 (see Courthope, Historic Peerage, p. 223). The present Earl of Tankerville is descended in the female line from Thomas Grey, brother of John Grey, first earl; Thomas Grey was also ancestor of the present Earl Grey.

     Gesta Henrici Quinti (Engl. Hist. Soc.)
     Walsingham's Ypodigma Neustriĉ and Historia Anglicana in Rolls Series
     Harding's Chronicle, ed. 1812
     Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 283
     Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 510, Raine's North Durham, p. 326, where a pedigree of Grey of Heton is given
     The Feudal Barons of Powys, in Collections relating to Montgomeryshire, i. 329-33 (Powysland Club)
     Sir H. Nicolas's Battle of Agincourt.

Contributor: C. L. K. [Charles Lethbridge Kingsford]

Published: 1890