The 1st Earl of Essex
|Earl of Essex|
|Successor||Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex|
|Other titles||Viscount Hereford|
|Known for||Soldier and courtier|
|Born||16 September 1541|
|Died||22 September 1576 35) (aged|
|Wars and battles||Plantations of Ireland|
|Issue|| Penelope Devereux |
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
|Parents|| Sir Richard Devereux |
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, KG (16 September 1541 – 22 September 1576), was an English nobleman and general. From 1573 until his death he fought in Ireland in connection with the Plantations of Ireland, most notably the Rathlin Island massacre. He was the father of Robert, 2nd Earl of Essex, who was Elizabeth I's favourite during her later years.
Walter Devereux was the eldest son of Sir Richard Devereux, who was created a knight of the Bath on 20 February 1547 and died that same year, in the lifetime of his father, the 1st Viscount Hereford.  Walter Devereux's mother was Lady Dorothy Hastings, daughter of the 1st Earl of Huntingdon and Anne Stafford, said to have been a mistress of King Henry VIII. Through his paternal ancestry he was related to the Bourchier family, to which previous earls of Essex had belonged:  [lower-alpha 1] John Devereux, son of Walter Devereux who died at the Battle of Bosworth, married Cecily Bourchier, sister of Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex. 
On his grandfather's death, Devereux became on 27 September 1558 The 2nd Viscount Hereford and 11th Baron Ferrers of Chartley.  He was entrusted with joint custody of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1568, and appointed Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire in 1569 (which he held through the end of his life).  Lord Hereford, as he was now, provided signal service in suppressing the Northern Rebellion of 1569, serving as high marshal of the field under The 3rd Earl of Warwick and Lord Clinton.  For his zeal in the service of Queen Elizabeth I on this and other occasions, he was made a Knight of the Garter on 17 June 1572 and was created Earl of Essex and Ewe, and Viscount Bourchier, on 4 May 1572.   [lower-alpha 2]
Eager to give proof of "his good devotion to employ himself in the service of her Majesty," Lord Essex, as he was now, offered on certain conditions to subdue or colonise, at his own expense, a portion of the Irish province of Ulster. At that time, Ulster, in the north of Ireland, was completely under the dominion of the O'Neills, led by Sir Brian MacPhelim and Sir Turlough Luineach, and of the Scots led by Sorley Boy MacDonnell. His offer, with certain modifications, was accepted. He set sail for Ireland from Liverpool in August 1573,  accompanied by a number of earls, knights and gentlemen, and with a force of about 1,200 men.
His enterprise had an inauspicious beginning; a storm dispersed his fleet and drove some of his vessels as far as Cork and the Isle of Man. His forces did not all reach the place of rendezvous till late in the autumn, and he was compelled to entrench himself at Belfast for the winter. Here his troops were diminished by sickness, famine and desertion to not much more than 200 men.
Intrigues of various sorts and fighting of a guerilla type followed, and Essex had difficulties both with his deputy Fitzwilliam and with the Queen. He was in dire straits, and his offensive movements in the east of Ulster took the form of raids and brutal massacres among the O'Neills. In October 1574, he treacherously captured MacPhelim at a conference and feast in Belfast Castle, and after slaughtering his attendants there, had MacPhelim, his wife and brother executed at Dublin. He arrested William Piers, who had been active in driving the Scots out of Ulster, and accused him of passing military intelligence to Sir Brian mac Phelim O'Neill. Essex ordered Piers's arrest and detention in Carrickfergus Castle in December 1574, but Piers was freed and he successfully executed Sir Brian mac Phelim O'Neill for treason. 
After encouraging Lord Essex to prepare to attack the Irish chief Sir Turlough Luineach O'Neill, apparently at the instigation of The 1st Earl of Leicester, the Queen suddenly commanded him to "break off his enterprise." However, she left him a certain discretionary power, and he took advantage of that to defeat Sir Turlough Luineach and chastise County Antrim. He also massacred several hundreds of Sorley Boy's following, chiefly women and children, who had hidden in the caves of Rathlin Island in the face of an amphibious assault led by Francis Drake and Sir John Norreys.
He returned to England at the end of 1575, resolved "to live henceforth an untroubled life." He was, however, persuaded to accept the offer of the Queen to make him Earl Marshal of Ireland. He arrived in Dublin in September 1576, but fell ill at the banquet given in his honour at Dublin Castle, and died three weeks later, probably of dysentery. It was suspected that he had been poisoned at the behest of Lord Leicester, who married his widow two years later. A post-mortem was carried out and concluded that Essex had died of natural causes (Alice Draycott, daughter of the prominent judge Henry Draycott, who drank from the same cup as Essex at the banquet, also died soon afterwards). He was succeeded in the Earldom of Essex by his son Robert.
In 1561 or 1562, Lord Hereford, as he was at the time, married Lettice Knollys, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys and Catherine Carey. Lord and Lady Hereford, later Earl and Countess of Essex, had the following children:
Earl of Essex is a title in the Peerage of England which was first created in the 12th century by King Stephen of England. The title has been recreated eight times from its original inception, beginning with a new first Earl upon each new creation. Possibly the most well-known Earls of Essex were Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII, and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565–1601), a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I who led the Earl of Essex Rebellion in 1601.
Sorley Boy MacDonnell, also spelt as MacDonald, Scoto-Irish chief, was the son of Alexander Carragh MacDonnell, 5th of Dunnyveg, of Dunyvaig Castle, lord of Islay and Cantire, and Catherine, daughter of the Lord of Ardnamurchan, both in Scotland. MacDonnell is best known for establishing the MacDonnell clan in Antrim, Ireland, and resisting the campaign of Shane O'Neill and the English crown to expel the clan from Ireland. Sorley Boy's connection to other Irish Roman Catholic lords was complicated, but also culturally and familiarly strong: for example, he married Mary O'Neill, the daughter of Conn O'Neill. He is also known in English as Somerled and Somerled of the yellow hair.
Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire, KG was an English nobleman and soldier who served as Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth I, and later as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under King James I.
Sir Turlough Lynagh O'Neill was an Irish Gaelic lord of Tír Eoghain in early modern Ireland. He was inaugurated upon Shane O’Neill’s death, becoming The O'Neill. From 1567 to 1595, Sir Turlough Luineach O'Neill was leader of the O'Neill clan, the most powerful family in Ulster, the northern province in Ireland. He was knighted in 1578.
Viscount Hereford is the oldest and only extant viscountcy in the Peerage of England, making the holder the Premier Viscount of England. The title was created in 1550 for Walter Devereux, 10th Baron Ferrers of Chartley.
Earl Ferrers is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1711 for Robert Shirley, 14th Baron Ferrers of Chartley. The Shirley family descends from George Shirley of Astwell Castle, Northamptonshire. In 1611 he was created a Baronet, of Staunton Harold in the County of Leicester, in the Baronetage of England. He was succeeded by his son Henry, the second Baronet, who married Lady Dorothy Devereux, daughter of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. On the death of her brother Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, she became the youngest co-heir to the baronies of Ferrers of Chartley and the barony of Bourchier, which had fallen into abeyance on the death of the third Earl. Shirley was succeeded by his eldest son, the third Baronet. He died unmarried and was succeeded by his younger brother, the fourth Baronet. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Cromwell and died there in 1656. On his death the title passed to his eldest son, the fifth Baronet. He died at an early age and was succeeded at birth by his posthumous son, the sixth Baronet.
Sir Phelim Roe O'Neill of Kinard was an Irish politician and soldier who started the Irish rebellion in Ulster on 23 October 1641. He joined the Irish Catholic Confederation in 1642 and fought in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms under his cousin, Owen Roe O'Neill, in the Confederate Ulster Army. After the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland O’Neill went into hiding but was captured, tried and executed in 1653.
Clandeboye or Clannaboy was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland, comprising what is now south County Antrim, north County Down, and the barony of Loughinsholin, Northern Ireland. The entity was relatively late in appearance and is associated partly with the Gaelic resurgence of the High Middle Ages. The O'Neill Clandeboy who reigned in the territory descended from Hugh Boy O'Neill, a king of Tyrone. His descendants took advantage of the demise of the Earldom of Ulster during the latter 14th century and seized vast portions of territory. Clandeboye's main seats of power were Shane's Castle and Castle Reagh.
The title Baron Bourchier is an abeyant peerage which was created in the Peerage of England in 1342 for Sir Robert Bourchier, who had been Lord High Chancellor of England from 1340–41.
Walter Devereux, 10th Baron Ferrers of Chartley, created 1st Viscount Hereford, KG was an English courtier and parliamentarian.
Events from the year 1575 in Ireland.
Sir Walter Devereux, 5th Viscount Hereford, 2nd Baronet of Castle Bromwich, was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times, between 1614 and 1624, before succeeding to the family Viscountcy in the peerage of England.
Sir Brian McPhelim Bacagh O'Neill was a lord of Lower Clandeboye, a Gaelic lordship in north-eastern Ireland during the Tudor period.
Thomas Fleming was an Irish peer, and a member of the Parliament of Ireland of 1585. He was the son of James Fleming, and great-grandson of James Fleming, 7th Baron Slane. His mother was Ismay Dillon, daughter of Sir Bartholomew Dillon, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and his first wife Elizabeth Barnewall; after his father's death she remarried Sir Thomas Barnewall of Trimlestown.
Sir Nicholas Malby (1530?–1584) was an English soldier active in Ireland, Lord President of Connaught from 1579 to 1581.
William Piers was an English constable, who spent most of his life in Ireland. He was the first mayor and practical founder of Carrickfergus. He was noted in particular for his attempts to drive out the Scots from Ulster and the great lengths that he went to in attempting to enhance the power of local chiefs at the expense of the Scots. Granted Tristernagh Abbey as a reward for his military services, he made it into his family home from the late 1560s until his death in 1603.
Henry MacShane O'Neill or Anraí MacSéan Ó Néill was an Irish flaith, a son of Shane O'Neill. He was the leader of the MacShane in the late 16th century and early 17th century, and sought control of the O'Neill Clan, fighting with his brother against Hugh O'Neill.
Events from the year 1573 in Ireland.
The Clandeboye massacre in 1574 was a massacre of the O'Neills of Lower Clandeboye by the English forces of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex. It took place during an attempted English colonisation of Ulster as part of the Tudor conquest of Ireland. The Lord of Lower Clandeboye, Sir Brian McPhelim O'Neill, had violently opposed these attempts at colonisation. O'Neill would invite Lord Essex to parley at his castle in Belfast; however, at the end of the feast, the English forces turned on the O'Neills and killed up to 200 of them including women and children. Essex ordered that O'Neill, his wife and brother to be seized and executed for treason and for opposing the plantations.
Sir Richard Devereux was a rising political figure during the reign of Henry VIII and Edward VI when his career was cut short by his sudden death during the life of his father. His son would complete the family's ascendency when he was created Earl of Essex.