Peter de la Mare

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Sir Peter de la Mare (c. 1294 – c. 1387) was an English politician and Speaker of the House of Commons during the Good Parliament of 1376.


His parents were Reginald/Reynold (died before 1358) and Margery de la Mare[1] of Little Hereford, Herefordshire, and Yatton, Somerset. He had a younger brother Malcolm de la Mare[2] who married Alice de Cokesay (died without issue in 1400), the widow of John Romsay of Kidderminster.[3] His sister Joanna/Joan de la Mare (born ~1324) married Simon de Brockbury (born 1324). Their daughter Margaret Brockbury (born 1355) married William Seymour, who had been born in 1348 to Sir Roger Seymour and Cecily Beauchamp of Hache Beauchamp, Somerset.[4][5] Their son Roger Seymour (1366 – 1420) married Maud Esturmy (~1383 – before 1427), daughter of William Esturmy, Lord of Wulfhall. At his death, Yatton was inherited by his great-nephew, Roger Seymour, the grandson of Sir Peter's sister Joanna, who married Simon de Brockbury.[6]


Before becoming Speaker, Mare worked as a toll collector, was Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1374, and served as a steward to Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March. It may have been his connection with Mortimer which led to his election to Parliament.

Peter de la Mare attended the Good Parliament in 1376 as a knight of the shire for Herefordshire. After being elected as Speaker, he served as a spokesman for the House of Commons in the House of Lords during the indictment of various figures close to King Edward III, including the king's mistress Alice Perrers, who was accused of having gained an undue degree of influence over the king. However, the political influence of the Good Parliament was brief. In November 1376, Peter de la Mare was imprisoned in Nottingham Castle by John of Gaunt. Despite pleas for his release, the Bad Parliament of 1377 refused to pardon him. However, he regained his freedom in June 1377, following the death of Edward III. Following his release, Mare was pardoned and compensated by King Richard II. He was re-elected as Speaker of the Commons in the Parliament of October 1377.

Peter de la Mare served in several more Parliaments during the 1380s. The last recorded mention of him was as a feoffee to Richard Burley in 1387.

In Piers Plowman

Many scholars agree that the parliament of rats and mice in the prologue of Piers Plowman is a direct reference to the Good Parliament. Peter de la Mare is portrayed as the "rat of renown" who proposes belling the cat (who is probably John of Gaunt), thus casting him as a well-intentioned reformer who would not or could not follow through.[7][8]


  1. Oxford DNB
  2. Oxford DNB
  3. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
  4. Many Mini Biographies G23: 7605248
  6. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vol. 14 by Edward Maunde Thompson,_Peter_%28DNB00%29
  7. Orsten, E. Ambiguities in Langland's Rat Parliament. Mediaeval Studies 23, 1961.
  8. Dodd, G. A parliament full of rats? Piers Plowman and the Good Parliament of 1376. Historical Research 79:203, 2006.
  • Holmes, George (1975). The Good Parliament. Oxford, Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-822446-X.
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Hungerford
Presiding Officer of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
James Pickering
Preceded by
Thomas Hungerford
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Hungerford