Azure between 6 lions
rampant or 3 and 3,
a bend argent cotised
of the 2nd, charged with
3 pierced mullets gules
William de Bohun was born in 1312 in Caldecot, Northampton, England. His parents were Humphrey de Bohun VIII, Earl of Hereford and Essex, and Elizabeth Plantagenet. Very little is known about William's early years but whilst still a teenager, he was involved in helping Edward III to overthrow the queen mother and her lover Roger Mortimer.
In 1335 at Castle Badlesmere in Kent, William married Elizabeth de Badlesmere (born 1313, died 8 June 1356), daughter of Bartholomew Badlesmere Lord Badlesmere and Margaret de Clare. Elizabeth was a widow and had a son. William and Elizabeth had two children: Elizabeth (born about 1335, died 3 April 1385) who married Richard Fitz Alan 10th Earl of Arundel and Earl of Surrey; and Humphrey X, 2nd Earl of Northampton (born about 25 March 1342, died 16 January 1373) who married Joane Fitz Alan Countess of Hereford.
In 1336, after the death of his brothers, William was made Constable of England which helped him move further towards the top of the country's ruling elite. On 17 March 1337, William was made Earl of Northampton by Edward III. The elevation of William de Bohun, backed up by £1,000 a year, helped him to supply men to Edward III for his campaigns.
In 1337, William was appointed one of the commissioners to negotiate with Philip of Valois, discussing the right to the French Crown, and later with David Bruce the Scottish King who at the time was trying to take back the Scottish crown from the English assisted by help from the French.
In 1339 William was one of the marshals in the third battalia of Edward III's army, drawn up at Vironfosse. He took part in the naval victory at the battle of Sluys in 1340.
Because of the failure of the early campaigns in France, Edward ran up a huge debt. As guarentee for these debts on 24 July 1340 de Bohun along with the Earls of Warwick and Derby were arrested in Brussels and taken to a debtors prison. They were later released in exchange for 4 knights each to enable them to resume the campaign.
In 1342, William was made the King's Leutenant and Captain General in Brittany, with powers to receive fealty and homage from the inhabitants on behalf of Edward III under his assumed title as King of France. In 1343, William was in the expedition of the Earl of Lancaster into Scotland and was appointed Governor of Lochmaben Castle, but then returned to Brittany.
On 16 August 1346 he led a heavy cavalry detachment accross the recently rebuilt bridge over the Seine at Poissy to clear the militia guarding the north bank stationed by King Philippe of France. Together with the Earl of Warwick he led the crossing of the Somme at Blanche-Taque to secure the northern bank and allow the English army to cross prior to the battle of Crecy.
In 1347, William is particularly mentioned by the King in his letter to the Archbishop of York, detailing the events before Calais. He was present at the Siege of Calais with his nephew Hugh Courtenay. After the surrender, he probably returned to England and was at Eltham Palace, Surrey, towards the close of 1347, distinguishing himself at a tournament, and receiving from the King, as his reward, a hood of white cloth, buttoned with large pearls and embroidered with figures of dancing men.
William de Bohun became a Knight of the Garter in 1349 when he succeeded Sir Hugh Courtenay. He was given Stall 13 which is the seventh Garter Stall on the Sovereign's side in St. George's College Chapel in Windsor Castle, and he had licence, on 26 January 1350, to assign the advowson of Dadington to the custodians and chaplains of the said college, and that, on 4 May 1350, the Earl completed that donation, which was made in conformity to a custom observed by Knights of the Order soon after the foundation.
William died on 16th September 1360 and is buried on the north side of the presbytery, Walden Abbey, Essex, England.