HERBERT, William III (c.1573-1656), of Powis Castle, Welshpool, Mont. and Hendon, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. c.1573, 1st s. of Edward Herbert II of Powis Castle by Mary, da. and h. of Thomas Stanley of Standon, Herts. m. Eleanor (d.1651), 3rd da. of Sir Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland, 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1595; KB 1603; cr. Baron Powis of Powis 1629.

Offices Held

J.p. Mont., dep. lt. 1597, custos rot, 1602, sheriff 1612-13; member, council in the marches of Wales 1603; constable, Radnor castle and steward of Radnor 1631.1


Herbert’s father was the second son of the 1st Earl of Pembroke of the 2nd creation, and, like all his clan, he enjoyed the powerful backing of the Pembroke influence. From the Henrician settlement until 1587, the county was dominated by the branch of the family settled at Montgomery Castle, but in that year a powerful rivalry was set up when William Herbert’s father bought the lordship of Powisland and Powis Castle (Red Castle, Welshpool) from Edward Grey (illegitimate son of the last of the feudal barons of Powis), who had been allowed to inherit the estate but not the title. This remained in abeyance, and became a principal object of ambition to the Powis Castle family. Eventually, William Herbert was awarded the coveted title, making him the legitimate successor of the ancient princes of Powis, with undisputed primacy in Montgomeryshire.2

To offset this, however, Herbert suffered the disadvantages of a recusant background and connexions. In 1594 his mother, brothers and sisters, and (in one report) he himself, were presented as recusants, and his mother again in 1611. Meanwhile, before 1600, he had married into a notoriously recusant family, and had allowed his children to be brought up in their mother’s faith. On these grounds, strong objections were lodged against Pembroke’s preferment of his name in 1602 for the shrievalty, and the objections extended also to another candidate, Charles (or Edward) Fox, on account of his ‘kindred and alliance’ with Herbert. The opposition was probably inspired less by religious zeal than by family feuds: the only name attached to the protest was that of Owen Vaughan of Llwydiarth, whose family had a longstanding quarrel with the Powis Castle family.3

In Parliament, Herbert was at first inconspicuous, but although he is not mentioned by name in the records of the 1597 House of Commons, it is possible that as knight of the shire he may have attended the following committees: enclosures (5 Nov.), poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), the subsidy (15 Nov.), and Newport bridge (29 Nov.). At the election of 1601 he gave way to the head of the rival branch of the Montgomeryshire Herberts. He grew more active in the Jacobean Parliaments, and in 1621 became the avowed mouthpiece of his cousin Pembroke in the Commons.4

After being raised to the peerage, Powis took little part in public affairs. He appeared in arms for the King in the first bishops’ war, and held Powis Castle for him in the civil war until he was captured with it in 1644. His estates were sequestrated but restored: he retired and died at Hendon, 7 Mar. 1656.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.H.D.


  • 1. CP, x. 643-4; APC, xxviii. 70, 92; Mont. Colls. iv. 278; v. 175, 177, 180; W. V. Lloyd, Sheriffs of Mont. 322-3; I. T. Recs. ii. 225; HL, EL7443; Cotton Vitell. Ci, f. 116v; PRO Index 4208.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 503, 511, 584.
  • 3. Mont. Colls. iv. 264-5; Mont. Recs. (Mont. Colls. supp.) 47; HMC Hatfield, xii. 495-6; xiv. 276; APC, xvi. 357-9, 419; xvii. 97, 178-9, 267-8, 291-3; xx. 109-10.
  • 4. CJ, i. 180, 197, 281, 326, 347; D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561, 565; Trans. Cymmrod. Soc. 1942, pp. 46-7, 64; D. Willson, Privy Councillors in the Commons, 183, 202; EHR, l. 244-6.
  • 5. Trans. Cymmord. Soc. 1948, pp. 41-5, 61; Mont Colls. v. 178-80.