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Earl of Denbigh (pronounced "Denby") is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1622 for the courtier and soldier William Feilding, 1st Viscount Feilding.

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 earldom was one of the hereditary peerages whose entitlement to sit in the House of Lords removed by the House of Lords Act 1999.[2]

The family seat is Newnham Paddox House, near Rugby, Warwickshire.


The Feilding familyEdit

The Feilding Family have been Lords of Newnham Paddox in Monks Kirby, Warwickshire since 1433.

Despite almost certainly being of Warwickshire origin, in the middle of the seventeenth century following their elevation to the peerage, the Feilding family began to claim descent from the Habsburgs through the counts of Laufenburg and Rheinfelden. The claim, though widely accepted at one time, including by the historian Edward Gibbon, was also the subject of ridicule. It was comprehensively debunked at the start of the twentieth century.[3][4]

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 titleEdit

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. These titles are also in the Peerage of England.

William Feilding 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 confidante and lover of King James I and was granted the dukedom of Buckingham.

Earls of DenbighEdit

Lord Denbigh was succeeded by his eldest son, 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.

William's second son the Hon. George Feilding was created Earl of Desmond in 1628 (see below).

He 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 according to the special remainder). His son, the fourth Earl, served as Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire and Denbighshire. His great-great-grandson, the seventh Earl (the titles having descended from father to son, with the exception for the seventh Earl who succeeded his grandfather), was a soldier and courtier. His grandson, 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. As of 2010 the titles are held by his great-great-great-grandson, the twelfth Earl, who succeeded his father in 1995 (the titles having descended from father to son, with the exception for the tenth Earl who succeeded his grandfather). Lord Denbigh is Grand Carver of England.

The Hon. George Feilding, second son of the first Earl of Denbigh, was created Baron Fielding, of Lecaghe in the County of Tipperary, and Viscount Callan, of Callan in the County of Kilkenny, in 1622, and was made Earl of Desmond in 1628. All three titles were in the Peerage of Ireland. He was succeeded by his son, the second Earl, who in 1675 succeeded his uncle as third Earl of Denbigh. See above for further history of the titles.

Other members of the Feilding family may be mentioned. The writer Henry Fielding (who spelled the family name differently) was the son of Edmund Feilding, the third son of John Feilding, the youngest son of the 3rd Earl. His sister Sarah Fielding was also a well-known author, and their half-brother (Edmund's son by a different wife) was John Fielding, the celebrated blind Judge. Lady Elizabeth Feilding, daughter of the first Earl of Denbigh, was created Countess of Guilford for life in 1660. The Hon. Sir Percy Robert Basil Feilding, second son of the seventh Earl, was a General in the Army.

Earls of Denbigh (1622)Edit

Earls of Desmond (1628)Edit


  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. ^ See also image from British Library right

External linksEdit