Essex, Earls Of

ESSEX, EARLS OF. The first earl of Essex was probably Geoffrey de Mandeville (q.v.), who became earl about 1139, the earldom being subsequently held by his two sons, Geoffrey and William, until the death of the latter in 1189. In 1199 Geoffrey Fitzpeter or Fitzpiers (d. 1213), who was related to the Mandevilles through his wife Beatrice, became earl of Essex, and on the death of Geoffrey's son William in 1227 the earldom reverted for the second time to the crown. Then the title to the earldom passed by marriage to the Bohuns, earls of Hereford, and before 1239 Humphrey de Bohun (d. 1275) had been recognized as earl of Essex. With the earldom of Hereford the earldom of Essex became extinct in 1373; afterwards it was held by Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, a son of Edward III. and the husband of Eleanor de Bohun; and from Gloucester it passed to the Bourchiers, Henry Bourchier (d. 1483), who secured the earldom in 1461, being one of Gloucester's grandsons. The second and last Bourchier earl was Henry's grandson Henry, who died early in 1540. A few weeks before his execution in 1540 Thomas Cromwell (q.v.) was created earl of Essex; then in 1543 William Parr, afterwards marquess of Northampton, obtained the earldom by right of his wife Anne, a daughter of the last Bourchier earl. Northampton lost the earldom when he was attainted in 1553; and afterwards it passed to the famous family of Devereux, Walter Devereux, who was created earl of Essex in 1572, being related to the Bourchiers. Robert, the 3rd and last Devereux earl, died in 1646. In 1661 Arthur Capel was created earl of Essex, and the earldom is still held by his descendants.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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