Born at Chartley Castle, Stowe, Staffordshire, a former medieval stronghold of the Barons Ferrers of Chartley following the Wars of the Roses, he was the son and heir of John Devereux, 9th Baron Ferrers and Cecily Bourchier.
Walter Devereux's paternal grandparents were Anne, Baroness Ferrers and her husband Sir Walter Devereux de jure Baron Ferrers. His maternal grandparents were William, Viscount Bourchier († 1480) and Lady Anne Woodville; Viscount Bourchier was heir of Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex and Isabel, Countess of Essex, and Lady Anne Woodville was a daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg (dowager Duchess of Bedford).
In May 1501, his father died and Sir Walter succeeded him as the 10th Baron Ferrers. On 7 December 1509 he was accorded special livery, although still under age, without proof of age or payment of relief for his father's lands.
He was appointed High Steward of Tamworth on 20 November 1510, and joint Constable of Warwick Castle on 15 Feb 1511 with Sir Edward Belknap. He was also Joint Steward of the Manor, or Borough of Warwick. On 27 January 1513, he was appointed Keeper of Netherwood Park; Councillor and Royal Commissioner of Wales and the Marches on 1 August 1513; and High Steward of Hereford in 1514.
Walter Devereux (aka Baron Ferrers) served with distinction in the War of the League of Cambrai (1508–1516) and the Italian War of 1521-1526. He was Captain of the English Army against France from 24 August 1523. For his gallantry in the sea battle off Le Conquet (Brittany) he was rewarded on 13 July 1523 by being created a Knight of the Garter by Henry VIII of England alongside diplomat Sir Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire.
He was appointed Bailiff of Sutton Coldfield (11 February 1525); Steward of the Household and Counsellor to Mary, Princess of Wales (1525); Chief Justice of South Wales (22 August 1525); High Steward of Builth (22 August 1525); and Chamberlain of South Wales, Carmarthen and Cardigan (25 May 1526).
In the late 1520s, Devereux came into increasing conflict with Welsh magnate Rhys ap Gruffydd following King Henry's grants of major power to him in Wales as described above. This reached a head when Rhys, with a gang of armed supporters, threatened Ferrers with a knife in 1529. The two men were allowed to air their grievances, but Rhys's family continued to stir up trouble. Eventually Rhys was charged with treason, convicted and executed. The consolidation of Devereux's position in Wales helped prepare the way for the Reformation.
Created Viscount Hereford on 2 February 1550, as well as sworn of the Privy Council, he was also appointed Vice-Lord Justice and Lieutenant of Stafford (4 May 1551); and Justice of the Peace for Stafford, Worcester and Salop (18 February 1554).
Marriages and children
Devereux was first married to Lady Mary Grey (1491- 22 February 1538) prior to his father's death in May 1501, and was pardoned on 15 December 1503 for having married in his father's lifetime and when under marriageable age. She was a daughter of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset and his second wife Cecily, suo jure Baroness Harington and Bonville, daughter and heiress of William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington by his wife Katherine Neville, suo jure Baroness Hastings. Her maternal grandparents were Alice Montagu, 5th Countess of Salisbury and Sir Richard Neville, jure uxoris Earl of Salisbury.
Lord and Lady Ferrers had three children:
- Sir Richard Devereux (d. 13 October 1547), married Lady Dorothea Hastings, daughter of the 1st Earl of Huntingdon and Lady Anne née Stafford. They were parents to Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex.
- Sir William Devereux, of Merevale Abbey, married Jane Scudamore, daughter of John Scudamore MP. They had two daughters : Barbara and Margaret.
- Henry Devereux, died unmarried.
- Sir Edward Devereux, of Castle Bromwich, married Catherine Arden. They were parents of Walter Devereux, 5th Viscount Hereford, ancestors of the present Viscount Hereford.
- Katherine Devereux, married Sir James Baskerville.
|Ancestors of Walter Devereux, 1st Viscount Hereford|
General Biographical References
- Brydges, Egerton. Collins's Peerage of England, Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical in 9 Volumes. (London: Rivington, 1812). Volume 1, Page 6 & 7
- Cokayne, G.C. Complete Baronetage. (New York; St. Martin's Press, 1984). Volume V, page 326 to 333, Ferrers
- Devereux, Walter Bourchier. "Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex." (London:J Murray, 1853)
- Doyle, James E. "The Official Baronage of England." (London: Longmans, Green, and Co, 1886). Volume 1, page 167.
- Mosely, Charles (editor). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition. (Switzerland: Burke's Peerage Genealogical Books, 1999). Volume 1, page 1378
- Russell, Gareth, Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017)
- Maskelyne and H. C. Maxwell Lyte, 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry VII, Entries 451-500', in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Series 2, Volume 2, Henry VII (London, 1915), pp. 280-315. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/series2-vol2/pp280-315 [accessed 23 April 2020].
- G. E. Cokayne. Complete Baronetage. (New York; St. Martin's Press, 1984). Volume V, page 326, Ferrers
- Walter Bourchier Devereux. Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex. London:J Murray, 1853. Volume 1, Page 7
- Ralph Griffith, Rhys ap Thomas and his Family, University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1993, pp.106, 110-11.
- Sir Egerton Brydges. Collins’s Peerage of England, Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical in 9 Volumes. London: Rivington, 1812. Volume 1, Page 6 and 7
- Evelyn Philip Shirley. Stemmata Shirleiana. (Westminster: Nichols and Sons, 1873). page 103
- Russell, p. 127, argues the marriage took place during the queenship of Catherine Howard, likely between the summers of 1540 and 1541
| Custos Rotulorum of Cardiganshire
|Peerage of England|
|New creation|| Viscount Hereford
| Baron Ferrers of Chartley|