William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon
William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (1475 – 9 June 1511) was a member of the leading noble family of Devon. His seat was Tiverton Castle, Devon.
He was the son of Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon by his wife Elizabeth Courtenay, daughter of Sir Philip Courtenay (b. 1445) of Molland, 2nd son of Sir Philip Courtenay (18 January 1404 – 16 December 1463) of Powderham by Elizabeth Hungerford, daughter of Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford (d. 1449). William's parents were thus distant cousins, sharing a common descent from Hugh Courtenay, 10th Earl of Devon (1303–1377).
William was a supporter of King Henry VII (1485-1509), the first of the Tudors, who made him a Knight Bachelor on 25 November 1487, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. He was a Captain in the royal army and assisted his father in the defeat of the pretender Perkin Warbeck at the Battle of Blackheath in 1497, which secured finally the Tudor succession.
However William fell out of favour. King Henry VII discovered that he had joined in the conspiracy to crown Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk (d. 1513), the last Yorkist claimant. For his complicity he was attainted and imprisoned in the Tower of London in February 1504, and so made incapable of inheritance.
Pardoned and restored
Released from prison by Henry VIII(1509–1547), Courtenay was pardoned and restored to his rights and privileges, as a sword bearer at the coronation on 24 June 1509. It is a matter of debate as to whether he lived long enough to have been formally restored in his honours. Certain sources however maintain that he assumed the full titles and lands of the earldom on 10 May 1511, after jousting in a tournament with the king and his cousin Sir Thomas Knyvett and Sir William Nevill.
Marriage and progeny
- Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter (c. 1496 – 9 January 1539) married (1) Elizabeth Grey, Viscountess Lisle and (2) Gertrude Blount
- Edward Courtenay (c. 1497–1502)
- Lady Margaret Courtenay (c. 1499 – before 1526) married Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester.
Death and burial
He died on 9 June 1511 of pleurisy and was buried by a royal warrant at Blackfriars.
- G E Cockayne, Complete Peerage new ed. (1910–59)
- Great Britain, and Richard Bligh. New Reports of Cases Heard in the House of Lords, On Appeals and Writs of Error. London: Saunders and Benning, 1829. googlebooks Retrieved January 26, 2008
- thepeerage.com Accessed January 26, 2008
- familysearch.org Accessed January 26, 2008
- Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.354 states he did not live long enough to have received restoration of his honours
|Peerage of England|
|New title||Earl of Devon