Who is this gallant knight in shining armour? His name is John de Braose of Wiston, usually known as Sir John Brewes. Steyning Museum has a full size brass rubbing from his magnificent tomb at Wiston Church. He died in 1426.
Sadly there was one lady who didn’t think he was so gallant. She was Margery de Nerford, an orphaned heiress. In 1363 she became a ward of Peter de Braose, John’s father. Peter betrothed Margery to John when they were still children. Just before Peter de Braose died, leaving an inheritance which included the Wiston Estate, John discovered that his wife and her valuable lands were slipping away from him. Margery had not been a willing bride. She sought refuge with her grandmother and appealed to the Pope to annul her marriage.
John abducted Margery with the help of an accomplice, Sir Robert Howard, who imprisoned her in a London house. Then Margery was taken up the Thames to Chelsea from where they carried her from one county to another, keeping her in secret places. Her outraged grandmother petitioned the King and Parliament. In 1378 Howard was ordered to go to the Tower of London for his crime.
Remarkably the likelihood that Sir John Brewes would continue his pursuit of Margery was recognised in court protection orders for her over the next two years. But was he driven by love or by greed? The marriage, if it had been a marriage at all, came to an end and John found another wife named Margaret Poynings. Margery de Nerford took a vow of chastity and remained single. She died in 1417.
See our article about the Braose lords of Bramber.