Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent (1314-1360) was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He was only Warden of the Channel Islands for a short period in 1357, but before this he was King Edward III's representative in Brittany and afterwards he looked after the King's interests throughout the Continent.
His letters of nomination are from 23 January 1357 at the latest and he probably took up office in April that year when his predecessor, Guillaume Stury left.
He was from a gentry family in Holland, Lancashire, the son of Robert Holland and Maud la Zouche.
In his early military career, he fought in Flanders. He was engaged, in 1340, in the English expedition into Flanders and sent, two years later, with Sir John D'Artevelle to Bayonne, to defend the Gascon frontier against the French. In 1343, he was again on service in France; and the following year was one of the founders of the Order of the Garter.
In 1346 he attended Edward III in Normandy in the immediate retinue of the Earl of Warwick, and at the taking of Caen, the Count of Eu and Guînes, Constable of France, and the Count De Tancarville surrendered themselves to him as prisoners. At the Battle of Crécy, he was one of the principal commanders under the Prince of Wales and he afterwards served at the Siege of Calais in 1346-7.
Around the same time as, or before, his first expedition, he secretly married the 12-year-old Joan of Kent, daughter of Edmund and Margaret Wake, granddaughter of Edward I and Marguerite of France. However, during his absence on foreign service, Joan, under pressure from her family, contracted another marriage with William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury, of whose household Holland had been seneschal.
This second marriage was annulled in 1349, when Joan's previous marriage with Holland was proved to the satisfaction of the papal commissioners. Joan was ordered by the Pope to return to her husband and live with him as his lawful wife; this she did, producing four children by him.
Between 1353 and 1356 he was summoned to Parliament as Baron de Holland.
In 1354 Holland was the king's lieutenant in Brittany during the minority of the Duke of Brittany, and in 1359 co-captain-general for all the English continental possessions. It was between these appointments that he would have been given responsibility for the Channel Islands. There is a mystery about an act of 8 June 1357 appointing Otes de Holland as Warden at a farm of 200 livres. It is not known if this is an error for Thomas's name or another person, but nobody is known in the de Holland family in this era called Otes.
His brother-in-law John, Earl of Kent, died in 1352, and Holland became Earl of Kent in right of his wife. He was succeeded as baron by his son Thomas, the earldom still being held by his wife (though the son later became Earl in his own right). Another son, John became Earl of Huntingdon and Duke of Exeter.
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