DEVEREUX, Hon. Walter (c.1621-83), of Butley Priory, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. c.1621, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Walter Devereux†, 2nd Bt., of Leigh, Worcs., later 5th Visct. Hereford, by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Knightley of Burgh Hall, Staffs., wid. of Matthew Martin of Barton, Cambs. m. c.1648, Anne (d. c.1666), da. and h. of William Forthe of Butley, 1s. d.v.p. 3da.1
Commr. for sewers, Norf. and Suff. 1658-9; freeman, Orford Mar. 1660; j.p. Suff. July 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Suff. Aug. 1660-80, Orford 1661-79, recusants, Suff. 1675; steward of crown manors, Card. and Carm. 1678-d.2
The Devereux family can be traced back on the Welsh marches to the reign of Henry II, and regularly represented Herefordshire from 1378. Devereux’s father, like the head of the family the Earl of Essex, supported Parliament in the Civil War. He served on the Worcestershire county committee, but retired into private life on the execution of Charles I. Devereux and his elder brother, later the sixth viscount, both married Suffolk heiresses. By his marriage he acquired a life interest only in an encumbered estate three miles from Orford and an interest in the borough. Until the Restoration he held only minor local office.3
Devereux was granted the freedom of Orford on 1 Mar. 1660, aged 38, and returned to the Convention for the borough. An inactive Member, he was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges and added to that to examine discoveries of debts owed to the public. He was given leave to go into the country on 2 Aug. and may not have returned to Westminster after the recess. Two applications for minor offices were unsuccessful.4
Devereux was re-elected in 1661, but was equally inactive in the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to 46 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in six sessions. He took no part in the major measures of the Clarendon Code, but was among those named to the committees to consider the execution of those under attainder (26 Nov. 1661) and the defects in the Corporations Act (6 Mar. 1663). He was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71 among those who had usually voted for supply, and was named to the committee for renewing the Conventicles Act (2 Mar. 1670). He was appointed to a committee for a local charity bill in the spring session of 1675, and in the autumn made his only recorded speech, telling the House the wording of the paper that William Cavendish, Lord Cavendish, had posted up at Whitehall in defiance of its orders. In the same session he was appointed to the committees for appropriating the customs to the use of the navy and for extending habeas corpus. Shaftesbury classed him as ‘vile’ in 1677, when his most important committee was on the bill for the recall of British subjects from the French service. After obtaining the stewardship of three crown manors in South Wales, he was included in the court list of government supporters in 1678, and on 30 Oct. was added to the committee to translate Coleman’s letters.5
Although not included in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters, Devereux did not stand for the Exclusion Parliaments. His affairs were embarrassed, and after his wife’s death he went to live with Thomas Glemham. He was involved in litigation with his eldest daughter, whom he sought unsuccessfully to cut out of the succession to Butley after an unsuitable marriage. He died at Glemham in December 1683.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: M. W. Helms
- 1. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xc), 30; VCH Northants. Fams. 187; East Anglian, n.s. iii. 143.
- 2. C181/6/292, 341-2, 360; HMC Var. iv. 268.
- 3. Collins, Peerage, vi. 2; East Anglian, n.s. iii. 140.
- 4. HMC Var. iv. 268; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 91; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 23-24.
- 5. Grey, iii. 313; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 1021-2.
- 6. East Anglian, n.s. iii. 141.