William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby

William III de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby (c. 1193 – 28 March 1254) of Chartley Castle in Staffordshire, was an English nobleman and major landowner, unable through illness to take much part in national affairs. From his two marriages, he left numerous children who married into noble and royal families of England, France, Scotland and Wales.

Effigy of William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby in Merevale Abbey, Warwickshire
Arms of William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby: Vairy or and gules, a bordure azure (or sable) charged with eight horseshoes argent[1]


He was the son and heir of William de Ferrers, 4th Earl of Derby (c. 1168 – c. 1247), by his wife Agnes de Kevelioc, a daughter of Hugh de Kevelioc, 5th Earl of Chester (by his wife Bertrada de Montfort).


In 1230 he accompanied King Henry III to France and attended Parliament in London in the same year. Like his father, he suffered from gout from youth and after the 1230s took little part in public affairs, travelling always in a litter. He was accidentally thrown from his litter into the River Great Ouse while crossing a bridge at St Neots in Huntingdonshire and, although he escaped death, never recovered from the effects of the accident. He succeeded to the title of his father in 1247, but only lived another seven years, dying on 28 March 1254.


Unable to play any part at court or at war, he followed his father in managing the family's landholdings. Their original lands were centred on Tutbury Castle, stretching beyond Staffordshire into the south of Derbyshire and the west of Nottinghamshire. The death in 1232 of his uncle Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester, brought him vast new estates, including Chartley Castle in Staffordshire, much of Lancashire between the Rivers Ribble and Mersey and many manors in Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire. He continued the policy of encouraging the growth of towns and markets, exploiting the forests of Needwood and Duffield Frith, and taking advantage of rising prices in commodities and land values. By the time of his death his income placed him among the top six English nobles, but he also left his son considerable debts.[2]

Marriages & issueEdit

He married twice:

To Sybil MarshalEdit

He married firstly Sibyl Marshal, a daughter of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, by his wife Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke, by whom he had seven daughters:

To Margaret de QuincyEdit

Arms of de Quincy: Gules, seven mascles or conjoined 3:3:1. These arms were adopted by the descendants of William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby and his wife Margaret de Quincy (see Baron Ferrers of Groby), in lieu of their paternal arms of Vairy or and gules

In 1238 he married secondly to Margaret de Quincy (c. 1218 - 12 March 1280), daughter and heiress of Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester, by his wife Helen of Galloway. When Margaret's father married (as his 3rd wife) Eleanor de Ferrers (d.1274), she became both step-mother and step-daughter of Eleanor. By Margaret de Quincy he had two sons and three daughters:

Secondly he married Eleanor de Lovaine, a daughter of Matthew de Lovaine, who after her husband's death was abducted by and married to William the Hardy, Lord of Douglas.

Death, burial & successionEdit

He died on 28 March 1254 and was buried in Merevale Abbey, Warwickshire. He was succeeded by his 15-year-old eldest son Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby (1239–1279), still a minor, who in 1249 aged 10 had been married to Mary de Lusignan, a niece of King Henry III, and knighted. His wardship was granted to the King's eldest son, the future King Edward I.


  1. ^ Cokayne, G. E.; Gibbs, Vicary & Doubleday, H. A., eds. (1926). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct or dormant (Eardley of Spalding to Goojerat). 5 (2nd ed.). London, p.340, note (d)
  2. ^ a b Maddicott, J. R. (2004), "Ferrers, Robert de, sixth earl of Derby (c.1239–1279)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 30 May 2017
  3. ^ The Sibyl de Ferrers who married John de Vipont, Lord of Appleby, was her aunt.
  4. ^ G. E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, n.s., vol.5, pp.340-2
  5. ^ G. E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, n.s., vol.5, p.343, note (c)
  • 5) Cokayne, G. E. (1926). Gibbs, Vicary & Doubleday, H. A. (eds.). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct or dormant (Eardley of Spalding to Goojerat). 5 (2nd ed.). London: The St. Catherine Press.
  • Sanders, I.J. English Baronies: A Study of Their Origin and Descent, 1086-1327, 1960
  • Weis, Frederick. The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, 1997
Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl of Derby
Succeeded by