DEVEREUX, Sir Walter (d.1402), of Weobley, Herefs.
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Family and Education
Constable of Builth castle, Rad. 8 Feb. 1382-c.1394.
Commr. of arrest, Herefs. Feb. 1382, Salop Feb. 1382, Herefs. Apr. 1401; inquiry Feb. 1385 (murder), Feb. 1391 (alienation of Eaton Tregoes), Aug. 1401 (murder); array Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399; to resist the Welsh rebels and relieve Abergavenny May 1401; make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Herefs. May 1402.
J.p. Herefs. 9 Nov. 1385-99, 16 May 1401-d.
Sheriff, Herefs. 16 May-8 Nov. 1401.
Walter’s father and namesake was a retainer of the de Bohuns and sometime sheriff of Somerset and Dorset and of Herefordshire, as well as being an MP and j.p. for the latter county. They were closely related to John, Lord Devereux, a friend of the Black Prince and member of Richard II’s council of regency, who may, indeed, have been our Walter’s uncle.2 It was perhaps due to the latter’s influence that Walter began his career in the royal household, and he was a King’s esquire by the time of his first mention in the records on 8 Feb. 1382. On that day he and his father (who was then attending Parliament) were appointed to a royal commission, and at the same time he alone was granted the keeping of Builth castle during the minority of its owner, Roger Mortimer, earl of March. By that autumn Devereux had made a valuable marriage, namely to Agnes (then aged 11), grand daughter and heir of Sir John Crophill, who enfeoffed the couple of the manor of Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire. In June 1383 Crophill died, and two months later Walter received custody of his estates (except those held by the widow in dower) during Agnes’s minority. Agnes came of age in September 1385 when (the widow being now dead) Devereux took full possession of the lands jure uxoris. They included the manor of Sutton Bonnington and lands at Arnold, Nottinghamshire, the manors of Cotesbach, Braunston and Hemington, Leicestershire, an estate at Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, and the manor of Weobley, Herefordshire, which last became his principal residence. In March 1383 he was a surety when John Burley and others took out a royal lease on certain Mortimer lands in Herefordshire and Brecon.3
As a King’s esquire, Walter served on Richard II’s expedition to Scotland in the summer of 1385. However, despite his membership of the royal household, he apparently did not side with the King during the political crisis of 1387-8. At any rate, he was appointed in March 1388 to administer to the notables of Herefordshire the oath of loyalty to the Lords Appellant. He may well have been following the lead of his presumed uncle, John, Lord Devereux, a prominent supporter of the opposition party and a member of their commission of government. Whether Walter remained at Court after this is unknown, but (having been knighted by 1391) he certainly accompanied Richard II to Ireland in September 1394, when he nominated Roger Wigmore* and Thomas Oldcastle* as his attorneys.4
Apart from his commissions, comparatively little is known of Sir Walter’s later life. His single return to Parliament occurred in 1401, and it was only later that year, in May, that he was appointed as sheriff. By this time, the Welsh revolt under Glendower had broken out, and that same month Devereux was among those ordered to help raise the siege of Abergavenny. In the following year he joined Sir Edmund Mortimer’s expedition into Radnorshire, which culminated in a disastrous English defeat at the battle of Pilleth on 22 June. There Sir Walter was mortally wounded, and he died three days later.