Viscount Hereford

Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex and 2nd Viscount Hereford
Arms of the Devereux family, Argent a Fess Gules in chief three Torteaux

Viscount Hereford is the oldest extant viscountcy in the Peerage of England, making the holder the Premier Viscount of England. The title was created in 1550 for Walter Devereux, 9th Baron Ferrers of Chartley. The Devereux (/ˈdɛvəruːks/) family is of Norman descent and came to England after the Norman conquest in 1066 - this branch lorded over Lyonshall and Bodenham, Herefordshire as their main estates. Sir Walter Devereux (d. 1485), married Anne Ferrers, 7th Baroness Ferrers of Chartley (d.1469) (see the Baron Ferrers of Chartley for earlier history of this title). He was summoned to Parliament as Lord Ferrers of Chartley in her right. Devereux was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, fighting on the side of King Henry VII. Their son, the eighth Baron, married Cicely, daughter of William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier, son of Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex and 5th Baron Bourchier) (see the Baron Bourchier for more information on the Bourchier family). He was succeeded by his son, the ninth Baron who served with distinction in the French Wars of King Henry VIII and was honoured in 1550 when he was created Viscount Hereford in the Peerage of England.

He was succeeded by a grandson, the son of his second son, Hon. Sir Richard Devereux. This latter Walter Devereux was also a prominent soldier during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Lord Hereford was a Field Marshal of the forces sent to quell the Northern Rebellion of 1569 and led an expedition to occupy Ulster in 1573. In 1570 he succeeded his first cousin twice removed as eighth Baron Bourchier in right of his great-grandmother Cecily Bourchier. In 1572 the earldom of Essex held by the Bourchier family (which had become extinct in 1540) was revived when he was created Earl of Essex in the Peerage of England. On his death the titles passed to his son Robert, the second Earl. He was the highly trusted courtier, soldier and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. However, Lord Essex after many years defied the Queen and tried to raise a rebellion in London. He was condemned to death for high treason and beheaded in the Tower of London on 25 February 1601. His titles were forfeited.

However, his son Robert was restored in blood in 1603 and became the third Earl. He later fought as a Parliamentarian in the Civil War, leading the Parliamentary forces against Charles I at the Battle of Edgehill, the first major battle of the Civil War. He died on 14 September 1646 and was buried in Westminster Abbey on the 19 October, both Houses of Parliament attending the funeral. On Lord Essex's death the earldom of Essex became extinct; the barony of Ferrers of Chartley and barony of Bourchier fell into abeyance leaving the viscountcy alone continuing (extant).

This passed to his, minor titled and aged cousin who was Baronet Devereux (see below). This figure, created fifth Viscount, had earlier represented in different parliaments Worcester, Tamworth and Lichfield in the House of Commons.

The titles descended from father to son until the death of his grandson, the seventh Viscount, in 1683. This Viscount died at the age of nine and was succeeded by his younger brother, the eighth Viscount. He died childless at an early age and was succeeded by his second cousin once removed, the ninth Viscount. He was the great-grandson of Sir George Devereux, brother of the fifth Viscount and had served as Member of Parliament for Montgomery prior to his succession in 1700. He was Lord-Lieutenant of Montgomeryshire 1711-14.

His son, the tenth Viscount, represented Montgomery in Parliament for over twenty years until his succession in 1740. He died without male issue and was succeeded by his kinsman, the eleventh Viscount. He was a great-great grandson of Sir George Devereux mentioned.

Lord Hereford was succeeded by his eldest son, the twelfth Viscount. He was childless and on his death in 1783 the titles passed to his younger brother, the thirteenth Viscount who moved the principal Welsh seat of the viscountcy from Montgomeryshire to Pencoyd in Brecknockshire. He was succeeded by his son, the fourteenth Viscount. He was a Tory politician and served under the Duke of Wellington as Captain of the Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners from 1828 to 1830 and under Sir Robert Peel as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms from 1834 to 1835.

The 15th Viscount, the Reverend Robert, was an Hon. Canon of Durham. From 1924 the 17th Viscount resided at Hampton Court, Herefordshire, which was sold by his grandson, the 18th Viscount, in 1972. The 18th Viscount instead chose to make his home at Haseley Court, Oxfordshire, which he relinquished in 1982, when he settled at Lyford Cay, near Nassau, in the Bahamas.

The titles are held by the nineteenth Viscount, who succeeded his father in 2004.

The Devereux Baronetcy, of Castle Bromwich in the County of Warwick, was created in the Baronetage of England in 1611 for the Hon. Edward Devereux, seated at Castle Bromwich Hall, landowner and the fourth son of the first Viscount Hereford. He had briefly served Tamworth in the House of Commons. His eldest son succeeded his first cousin twice removed downwards as fifth Viscount Hereford in 1646.[1]

The viscountcy of Hereford is the senior viscountcy in the Peerage of England. The Viscount Hereford is also the only one of the three English Viscounts who does not hold a higher title.

Viscounts Hereford (1550)

Arms of John Devereux from the Armorial de Gelre

Earls of Essex (1572)

Viscounts Hereford; Reverted (1550)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son the Hon. Henry Walter De Bohun Devereux (b. 2015).

Devereux Baronets, of Castle Bromwich (1611)


See also



Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Penyston Baronets
Devereux Baronets
25 November 1611
Succeeded by
Ridgeway Baronets
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