William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh

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The 1st Earl of Denbigh by Anthony van Dyck

William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh (c. 1587 – 8 April 1643, Cannock[1]) was an English naval officer and courtier.


William Feilding was the son of Basil Fielding of Newnham Paddox in Warwickshire, (High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1612), and of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Walter Aston (1530–1599) and his wife, Elizabeth (née Leveson).[2][3][lower-alpha 1]

Feilding matriculated at Queens' College, Cambridge in 1603.[5] Knighted on 4 March 1607,[1] he was created Baron and Viscount Feilding in 1620. Two years later he was appointed Master of the Great Wardrobe and Custos Rotulorum of Warwickshire and Earl of Denbigh on 14 September 1622.,[1][2] He attended Prince Charles on the Spanish adventure, served as Admiral in the unsuccessful Cadiz Expedition in 1625, and commanded the disastrous attempt upon Rochelle in 1628, becoming the same year a member of the Council of war, and in 1633 a Member of the Council of Wales and the Marches. In 1631, Lord Denbigh visited the East.[2]

On the outbreak of the English Civil War he served under Prince Rupert of the Rhine and was present at the Battle of Edgehill. On 3 April 1643 during Rupert's attack on Birmingham he was wounded and died from the effects on the 8th, being buried at Monks Kirby in Warwickshire. His courage, unselfishness and devotion to duty are much praised by the Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon.[2]


In 1606 Feilding married Susan, daughter of Sir George Villiers, sister of the future Duke of Buckingham, and on the rise of Buckingham received various offices and dignities. Sir William and his wife Susan Villiers had five children:

His daughter, Lady Margaret Feilding (1613–1638), also known as Mary, was married to James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton, one of the heirs to the throne of Scotland after the descendants of James VI (James I of England). Her portrait was painted by Anthony van Dyck and Henry Pierce Bone. One of his two sons, George Feilding, was the 1st Earl of Desmond.



  1. File:Aquila Hapsburghiensis 1780.jpg
    Satirical print of the arms of the Feilding family superimposed on the Habsburg double-headed eagle lacking one head, dedicated to the Garter King of Arms and mocking the family's pretensions at ancestral connections to the Habsburg dynasty.
    The descent of the Feildings from the house of Habsburg, through the counts of Laufenburg and Rheinfelden, long considered authentic, and accepted by Edward Gibbon, has been proved to have been based on forged documents.[4]
  2. One of Mary Feilding's many descendants include the late Princess of Wales, Lady Diana Spencer.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Thrush 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Chisholm 1911, p. 17.
  3. Lundy 2011, p. 10941 § 109408 cites Cokayne 2000, p. 178.
  4. J. H. Round, Studies in Peerage and Family History[full citation needed][page needed]
  5. "Feilding, William (FLDN603W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Colburn 1880, p. 354.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Debrett 1836, p. 70.


  • Colburn, Henry (1880), A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, 42:1, p. 354<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Debrett, John (1836), Debrett's Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland, p. 70<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lundy, Darryl (4 March 2011), William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh, Peerage.com, p. 10941 § 109408, retrieved November 2013 Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> cites:
    • Cokayne, G.E. (2000), et all (eds.), The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, IV (new reprint in 6 volumes ed.), Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, p. 178CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thrush, Andrew (January 2008) [2004], "Feilding, William, first earl of Denbigh (c.1587–1643)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9251CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Denbigh, William Feilding, 1st Earl of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 17.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Endnotes:
    • E. Lodge, Portraits (1850), iv. 113
    • J. Nichols, History of Leicestershire (1807), iv. pt. 1, 273
    • Hist. MSS. Comm Ser. 4th Rep. app. 254
    • Cal. of State Papers, Dom.
    • J. H. Round, Studies in Peerage and Family History,1901, p. 216.

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord Brooke
Custos Rotulorum of Warwickshire
Succeeded by
The Lord Dunsmore
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Denbigh
Succeeded by
Basil Feilding
Viscount Feilding