DEVEREUX, William (by 1525-79), of Merevale, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. by 1525, 2nd s. of Walter Devereux, 3rd Lord Ferrers of Chartley, 1st Viscount Hereford, by 1st w.; bro. of Richard and half-bro. of Edward Devereux. m. settlement 12 Nov. 1554, Jane, da. of John Scudamore of Holme Lacy, Herefs., wid. of John Warnecombe of Lugwardine and Hereford, Herefs., 2da. Kntd. 21 Aug. 1565.2
J.p.q. Warws. 1558/59-d.; collector of loan 1562 sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 1564-5.3
William Devereux was probably born either at Ludlow, where in 1525 his father was steward of Princess Mary’s household, or in one of his father’s residences in south-west Wales, and he is likely to have seen more of Wales than of England during his formative years. He is first mentioned in 1546 when he obtained several leases in Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire.4
In the Parliament of 1547 Devereux sat for Cardiganshire and his elder brother (Sir) Richard for Carmarthenshire: their father’s chamberlainship of South Wales, which encompassed the two counties, accounts for their return. This Parliament was to produce an Act in Devereux’s favour. During its fourth session a private bill was passed by which his father granted him an interest in the house and site of the former abbey at Merevale in Warwickshire. By the terms of the Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no. 27), which according to his inquisition post mortem was dated 30 Mar. 1552 (17 days before the dissolution), Devereux was to hold the property for life; he could also give it by will or deed to his wife for her lifetime, but on the death of the survivor it was to revert to Ferrers or his heir. The acquisition of Merevale led Devereux to establish himself in Warwickshire: when he sued out his pardon at the beginning of Mary’s reign he was domiciled there. It may also help to explain why he was next to sit in Parliament for an English, not a Welsh, county. After being mistakenly marked as dead (and styled ‘miles’) on the list of Members revised for the session of 1552, he was returned to the Parliament of March 1553 as one of the knights for Staffordshire after an evidently contested election, of which however no details survive. This was a county in which his father had property (and was to die and be buried), his own seat at Merevale was not far away, and he was later to marry one of his daughters into the Littleton family. It is also likely that he benefited from his father’s support for the Duke of Northumberland, under whose aegis the Parliament had been summoned: the sheriff, Sir George Blount, was a follower of Northumberland. The Devereux marital connexion with the Grey family does not appear to have compromised them in the summer of 1553; on the contrary, William Devereux was to reap advantage from the fall of his uncle the Duke of Suffolk when in September 1554 he purchased from the crown for nearly £700 the duke’s forfeited manor of Atherstone, which adjoined Merevale.5
It was with Warwickshire that Devereux was thereafter to be identified, as magistrate, sheriff and knight of the shire, until his death in 1579.6