Earl of Denbigh

  (Redirected from Baron of Newnham Paddockes)

Earl of Denbigh (pronounced "Denby") is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1622 for the courtier, soldier and brother-in-law of the powerful Duke of Buckingham, William Feilding, 1st Viscount Feilding. The title is named after Denbigh or Denbighshire. Since the time of the third earl (1640) the Earl of Denbigh has also held the title of Earl of Desmond, in the Peerage of Ireland.

Earldom of Denbigh
held with
Earldom of Desmond
Coronet of a British Earl.svg
Feilding arms.svg
Arms of Feilding, Earls of Denbigh: Argent, on a fess azure three fusils or[1]
Creation date1622
MonarchJames VI and I
PeeragePeerage of England
First holderWilliam Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh
Present holderAlexander Feilding, 12th Earl of Denbigh, 11th Earl of Desmond
Heir apparentPeregrine Feilding, Viscount Feilding
Subsidiary titlesViscount Feilding
Viscount Callan
Baron of Newnham Paddockes
Baron St Liz
Baron Fielding of Lecaghe
Seat(s)Newnham Paddox
MottoCrescit sub pondere virtus (Virtue increaseth under oppression)
William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh, visited India in 1631–3. On his return, Van Dyck painted him in oriental dress.
Basil Feilding, 2nd Earl of Denbigh

The family seat is Newnham Paddox at Monks Kirby in Warwickshire. The eighth earl converted to Roman Catholicism in the 1850s, in which faith the family has remained. The earldom was one of the hereditary peerages whose entitlement to sit in the House of Lords was removed by the House of Lords Act 1999.[2]

The origins of the Feilding familyEdit

The Feilding family have been Lords of Newnham Paddox in Monks Kirby, Warwickshire since 1433. They are also descended from the Newnham family (named from the estate) who held Newnham Paddox in the 1100s and 1200s (see Monks Kirby).

Originally a family of minor midlands gentry, following their elevation to the peerage in the early 17th century, the Feildings began to claim descent from the Habsburgs through the counts of Laufenburg and Rheinfelden. The claim was researched by historians Edward Gibbon and William Dugdale and was widely accepted for centuries but was also subject to ridicule. The claim was debunked around the turn of the 20th century by J. Horace Round.[3][4][5]

1780 Satirical print of the arms of the Feilding family superimposed on the Habsburg double-headed eagle lacking one head, dedicated to the Garter King of Arms and mocking the family's pretensions at ancestral connections to the Habsburg dynasty.

Creation of the titles of Earl of Denbigh and Earl of DesmondEdit

William, the first earl of Denbigh owed his elevation in court and to the peerage primarily to his marriage with Susan Villiers. The Villiers family were also minor Midlands gentry until Susan's brother, George Villiers, became the confidant and lover of King James I and was granted the dukedom of Buckingham. Hugely powerful, George Villiers showered preferment on his family: not only was William Feilding made earl of Denbigh, but even William's eight year old second son (named George after his important uncle) was given the right to an additional Earldom - that of Desmond.[6]

William Feilding, the first Earl of DenbighEdit

William Feilding was Master of the Great Wardrobe under King James I and also took part in the Expedition to Cádiz of 1625. Feilding had already been created Baron Feilding, of Newnham Paddox in the County of Warwick, and Viscount Feilding in 1620 before being made Earl of Denbigh in 1622. All three titles are in the Peerage of England.

Basil Feilding, the Second Earl of DenbighEdit

Lord Denbigh was succeeded by his eldest son, Basil, the second Earl. In contrast to his father he fought as a Parliamentarian in the Civil War. In 1664 he was created Baron St Liz in the Peerage of England, with remainder to the heirs male of his father.

George Feilding, the First Earl of Desmond (4th Creation)Edit

William's second son was the Hon. George Feilding. In 1622, when George was around 8 years old, James I created him Baron Fielding, of Lecaghe in the County of Tipperary, and Viscount Callan, of Callan in the County of Kilkennyand. At the same time George was given the right to the title Earl of Desmond as and when the previous holder of that title died without an heir. That happened in 1628. All three titles were in the Peerage of Ireland. Earl of Desmond is an ancient Irish title, the 1628 award was its 4th, and current creation.

Earls of Denbigh (1st creation) and Earls of Desmond (4th creation)Edit

Basil, the second earl of Denbigh, died childless and was succeeded by his nephew, William Feilding, 2nd Earl of Desmond, who now also became the third Earl of Denbigh (he also succeeded in the barony of St Liz by special remainder).

Basil, the fourth Earl of Denbigh, served as Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire and Denbighshire. Rudolph, the eight earl (the name Rudolph began to be used by the family on the basis of their fictitious claim to Habsburg ancestry - see above) was notable member of the Oxford Movement and converted to Roman Catholicism. The family have continued in the Catholic faith, becoming one of the pre-eminent English Catholic families. The ninth Earl, served as a Lord-in-waiting (government whip in the House of Lords) from 1897 to 1905 in the Conservative administrations of Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour. The eleventh earl, under the name Rollo Feilding, raced sports cars[7]

Since the third earl, the titles have descended from father to son, with the exception of the seventh earl and tenth earl whose inherited the title from their grandfathers.

The title is currently held by the twelfth earl, who succeeded his father in 1995. As of 2010 Lord Denbigh is Grand Carver of England.

List of Earls of Denbigh and Earls of DesmondEdit

The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Peregrine Rudolph Henry Feilding, Viscount Feilding (b. 2005).

Notable members of the Feilding FamilyEdit

  • Lady Elizabeth Feilding, daughter of the first Earl of Denbigh, was created Countess of Guilford for life in 1660.
  • Lady Dorothie Mary Evelyn Feilding-Moore, MM (6 October 1889 – 24 October 1935), daughter of the ninth earl, was a volunteer nurse and ambulance driver on the Western Front during World War I

Children of Edmund Feilding, grandson of the 3rd EarlEdit

Edmund Feilding was the third son of John Feilding, the youngest son of the 3rd earl. He had three notable children all of whom chose to spell their surname in the more conventional fashion as "Fielding":

  • The writer and magistrate Henry Fielding, son of Edmund is the most famous member of the Feilding family.
  • Sarah Fielding sister of Henry, was also a well-known author.
  • John Fielding, half-brother of Henry and Susan was a celebrated blind magistrate (having served as assistant to Henry). Through the regular circulation of a police gazette containing descriptions of known criminals, John Fielding established the basis for the first police criminal records department.

Children of the 7th EarlEdit


  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1840, p.217
  2. ^ "Earl of Denbigh". UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  3. ^ J. H. Round (1901). Studies in Peerage and Family History. p. 216.
  4. ^ J. E. M. F. (1898). Some Hapsburghs, Feildings, Denbighs, and Desmonds.
  5. ^ Trelawny Gower, Terence (2017). "Our English Hapsburgs Revisited" (PDF). The Escutcheon: Journal of Cambridge University Heraldic & Genealogical Society. 22 (3): 34–39. ISSN 1361-8202. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  6. ^ "275" . Page:The Complete Peerage Ed 2 Vol 4.djvu – via Wikisource.
  7. ^ "Rollo Feilding". Historicracing.com.


External linksEdit