DEVEREUX, Edward (? 1675-1700)

DEVEREUX, Edward (? 1675–1700)

suc. bro. 12 Feb. 1683 as 8th Visct. HEREFORD

First sat 20 Oct. 1696; last sat 13 Feb. 1700

b. ?1675 2nd. s. of Leicester Devereux, 6th Visct. Hereford, and Priscilla, da. of John Catchpole of Suff; bro. of Leicester Devereux, later 7th Visct. Hereford. m. lic. 25 Apr. 1690, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Walter Norborne of Calne, Wilts.; d.s.p. d. 9 Aug. 1700; will 26 July, pr. 8 Nov. 1700.1

Steward Courts Baron, Carm. and Card.

Associated with: Christchurch, Ipswich, Suff.

Edward Devereux, the younger brother of the 7th viscount, succeeded to the title at the age of eight. Like his brother, he remained under the care of his mother until her death in 1681, after which time he came under the protection of his father’s appointees: George Berkeley, earl of Berkeley (his father’s friend and overseer), and guardians Theophilus Hooke (whose personal financial interests were closely bound to those of the Devereux family), Edward Steynor, Charles Cocks, and Ipswich lawyers Thomas Edgar (senior and junior).2 Under the entail in his father’s will, Hereford inherited the Suffolk manor of Sudborne and its associated electoral interest in the borough of Orford where one uncle, Edward, was elected mayor in 1685 and another, Walter Devereux, was the Member for the Commons.3

While still a minor, Hereford was maintained financially from Devereux estates in Pembrokeshire. Hereford’s guardians also oversaw his marriage, at the age of 15, to the 12-year-old daughter (and wealthy coheiress) of Walter Norborne.4 In 1689, Hereford obtained a private act to enable him to make a jointure notwithstanding his minority.5 The bill was introduced to the House on 21 Nov. 1689 and committed the following day. On 3 Dec. Hereford’s mentor Berkeley reported from committee that all the interested parties had been heard and that the bill should be passed without amendment. The next day the House learned that Francis Browne, 4th Viscount Montagu, had objected to the bill. The Devereux’s entitlement to the viscountcy had been challenged, but not settled, in 1678 by Francis Browne, 3rd Viscount Montagu.6 Now, in pursuit of the same end, the 4th Viscount Montagu objected to the wording of the bill because it seemed to confirm the Hereford title and precedency. As a result of Montagu’s objection, the House ordered that counsel be heard on the 13 Dec. on the legitimacy of the title, but on 7 Dec. Charles North, 5th Baron North, reported that Montagu had dropped his objection. Apart from its paternal oversight in the Lords by Berkeley, the bill was clearly managed by Hereford’s Suffolk neighbours in the Commons, Sir John Rous and Sir John Barker.7 It received the royal assent on 23 Dec. 1689.

By 1692 the Devereux electoral interest at Orford had fallen into the hands of Sir Edward Turnor, an Essex squire who benefitted from the fact that the tiny borough had no single dominant influence during Hereford’s minority.8 The Tory Turnor soon recruited the support of the young viscount by promising to regulate maverick labourers at the local lighthouse and thus preserve Hereford’s customary rights as lord of the manor. Hereford’s politically active guardian, Theophilus Hooke, helped to convert Turnor’s efforts into more aggressive partisan rivalries, with Hereford firmly entrenched in the Tory camp by the spring of 1693. Taking ‘a great deal of pains’, the 17-year-old viscount contributed to the Tory costs of treating in anticipation of the 1693 mayoral election, after which the Tory victory degenerated into a legal fracas with the existence of two rival corporate bodies. By the time of the parliamentary election of 1695, the national political situation was not propitious for Hereford’s Tory interest, and Hooke negotiated a compromise candidature to prevent the expense of a double return.9

In what is probably confirmation that he had recently attained his majority, Hereford took his seat in the House of Lords on the first day of the autumn session, 20 Oct. 1696. On 26 Oct. 1696 he was named to the Lords committee to prepare an address to the king on the occasion of his speech to both Houses. As a politically active Tory, it was no surprise on 15 Dec. 1696 when he dissented from the resolution to read information in the attainder of Sir John Fenwick. Three days later he again dissented against the resolution that the bill be read for a second time. On 23 Dec. 1696 (like his cousin Price Devereux, later 9th Viscount Hereford, who was then in the Commons) he voted against Fenwick’s attainder, and registered his protest against the final vote. He attended the session for only a third of its sittings, absenting himself after 23 Jan. 1697 and entering his proxy in favour of his friend Thomas Jermyn, 2nd Baron Jermyn.

In the Orford by-election of March 1697, Hereford was willing to reach an accommodation with local Whig interests, but was unable to withstand the strength of external partisan pressure. He accepted the candidate sponsored by Jermyn though later withdrew his support when the candidate was accused of bribery; instead he threw his political influence behind the successful Sir John Duke.10 Hereford did not attend the 1697-8 parliamentary session, but he was active in the campaign for the 1698 general election. On this occasion, he engaged himself to William Johnsonand to a relation by marriage, Sir Edmund Bacon.11 His preferred candidates were successful only after another controverted election and a petition to Parliament. The involvement of the leading Whig politicians John Somers, Baron Somers (the recorder of Orford) and Edward Russell, earl of Orford, put Hereford’s electoral interests under considerable pressure.12

Hereford attended the following session, in the winter of 1698, on only 11 occasions (around 14 per cent), arriving on the first day of business to take the oaths, but playing no prominent part in the business of the House. He again arrived for the first day of the winter 1699 session. With the Orford election petition being considered by the Commons, it is possible that Hereford spent that winter at Westminster lobbying for his party’s interest. On 1 Feb. 1700, it was thought likely that he would support the bill to continue the East India Company as a corporation. He attended the Lords on only 21 days (a little over a quarter of the session) up to 13 Feb. 1700, his last day in the House and three days after his Orford parliamentary candidates were successful (by a very narrow margin) in their petition to the Commons.13

In August 1700, Hereford (like his father and older brother) died prematurely. He died childless and left his property in trust for his heir at law. His trustees were Leicester Martin of Ipswich (an Ipswich Tory who was a distant relation by marriage) and Sir Charles Blois of Yoxford, Suffolk, another staunch Tory and common councilman of Orford. Hereford’s heir, his only surviving sister Anne, shortly afterwards married Leicester Martin.14 Hereford was succeeded by his cousin Price Devereux and was buried in the family church at Sudbourne where his guardian, Theophilus Hooke, was the officiating pastor. His widow Elizabeth later married John Symes Berkeley of Stoke Gifford, Gloucestershire.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/457.
  • 2 Ibid. 11/458; PROB 11/355.
  • 3 TNA, PROB 11/355; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 46.
  • 4 HP Commons 1660-1690, iii. 146.
  • 5 PA, HL/PO/PB/1/1688/1W&Ms2n7.
  • 6 Add. 38141, f. 113.
  • 7 HP Commons 1660-1690, i. 593.
  • 8 HP Commons 1690-1715, v. 709.
  • 9 Ibid. ii. 559.
  • 10 Ibid.
  • 11 W. Suss. RO, Winterton mss (Acc.454 series), nos. 839, 840, 972.
  • 12 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 559.
  • 13 Ibid. 359.
  • 14 G.C.M. Smith, Family of Withypoll, with Special Reference to their Manor of Christchurch, Ipswich, 94.