William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby

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Arms of William de Ferrers: Vairy or and gules

William III de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby (about 1193 – 28 March 1254), 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.


The son of William de Ferrers, 4th Earl of Derby, and his wife Lady Agnes de Kevelioc, daughter of Hugh de Kevelioc, 3rd Earl of Chester, and his wife Lady Bertrada de Montfort, he accompanied King Henry III to France in 1230 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 water while crossing a bridge at St Neots in Huntingdonshire and, although he escaped immediate death, never recovered from the effects of the accident.

Succeeding to the title of his father in 1247, he only lived another seven years and, dying on 28 March 1254, was buried in Merevale Abbey, Warwickshire.

William Ferrers' effigy in Merevale Abbey

He was succeeded by his son Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby, who in 1249 had been married to the King's niece and knighted. Being too young to inherit at his father's death, wardship of the heir's estates was granted to the King's eldest son, Edward I.


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 vast new areas: the estate of Chartley Castle, 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 of English nobles, but he also left his son considerable debts.[1]


With Sybil Marshal[edit]

He first married Lady Sibyl Marshal, daughter of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and his wife Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke, having seven daughters:

With Margaret de Quincy[edit]

In 1238, he married Lady Margaret de Quincy (about 1218 - 12 March 1280), daughter of Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester, and his wife Lady Helen of Galloway. (When her father married her husband's daughter Eleanor, she became both stepmother and stepdaughter of Eleanor.) With Margaret he had two sons and three daughters:


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ The Sibyl de Ferrers who married John de Vipont, Lord of Appleby, was her aunt.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
William II de Ferrers
Earl of Derby
Succeeded by
Robert III de Ferrers