Mary de Monthermer

Mary MacDuff, Countess of Fife (née de Monthermer; October 1297 – circa 1371) was an English noblewoman. She was a daughter of Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer and his wife Joan of Acre. Other sources have her being born in 1298.[1]

Mary de Monthermer
Countess of Fife
BornOctober 1297
Spouse(s)Duncan IV, Earl of Fife
FatherRalph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer
MotherJoan of Acre

Family and early lifeEdit

Mary's mother Joan was a daughter of Edward I of England. In early 1297, her mother faced the intense disapproval of King Edward when she decided to secretly marry Ralph de Monthermer, a squire in her household.[2][3] For her second marriage, the King had hoped to marry Joan to Amadeus V, Count of Savoy. Ralph was subsequently imprisoned at Bristol Castle for a brief time.[3][4] This she did in July 1297, and is said to have told him that it was no disgrace for an earl to marry a poor woman, it was not blameworthy for a countess to advance a capable young man. Monthermer was released and their Clare estates restored. Monthermer was made Earl of Gloucester and Hertford during his wife's lifetime.[4]

He and Joan had two sons and a daughter before her death on 23 April 1307.[4] Mary de Monthermer was the eldest of them. Mary and her full-siblings most likely lived in her mother's quarters in Windsor Castle and Marlborough Castle until her marriage.[5] Mary also had four half-siblings from her mother's first marriage to Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford. They were Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford, Eleanor de Clare, (wife of Hugh le Despenser the Younger), Margaret de Clare, and Elizabeth de Clare.

Upon Joan's death, Ralph ceased to be referred to as Earl of Gloucester, passing the title onto Joan's only son from her first marriage. In 1318, Mary's father married the widowed Isabella de Hastings, daughter of Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester.[3]

Marriage and issueEdit

In 1306-07, her grandfather Edward I and uncle Edward, Prince of Wales arranged for her to wed Donnchadh IV, Earl of Fife (1289–1353).[1][6] A papal dispensation was granted in 1307.[6] A posthumous child, Duncan had spent his minority in England.[6] As was common for the time, she was very young – only nine years old. They had one surviving daughter, who was born fourteen years after they married. She would come to inherit Duncan's lands:

Near 6 November 1314, Duncan was able to free himself from English control and leave for Scotland. Mary would not join him until January 1320.[6] In 1332, Mary and her daughter were captured at Perth by supporters of King David II of Scotland. Isabella was sent as a ward to Northumberland, where she married her guardian Sir William Felton. Felton was styled "Lord of Fife" in right of his wife, as Isabella had no brothers.

In 1346, Mary's husband was tried for treason and sentenced to a traitor's death by Edward III of England. He was able to obtain mercy however and was permitted to return to Scotland to raise money for his ransom, which he did in 1350. Duncan died three years later. Mary would die at least eighteen years later (sometime after 1371);[1][6] their daughter succeeded as Countess of Fife, but resigned the earldom to Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany the same year her mother died.[6]



  1. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 84.
  2. ^ Underhill 1999, p. 6.
  3. ^ a b c Kingsford 2004.
  4. ^ a b c Ward 2004.
  5. ^ Underhill 1999, p. 7.
  6. ^ a b c d e f McDonald 2004.
  7. ^ Weir 2008, p. 217.

Works cited

  • Kingsford, C. L. (2004). "Monthermer, Ralph de, first Lord Monthermer (d. 1325)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19078. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • McDonald, Andrew (2004). "Macduff family, earls of Fife (per. c.1095–1371)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/50328. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Underhill, Frances Ann (1999). For Her Good Estate: The Life of Elizabeth de Burgh. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-312-21355-7.
  • Ward, Jennifer C. (2004). "Joan, countess of Hertford and Gloucester (1272–1307)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14821. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Weir, Alison (2008). Britain's Royal Families, The Complete Genealogy. London: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-09-953973-5.