1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Denbigh, William Feilding, 1st Earl of
DENBIGH, WILLIAM FEILDING, 1st Earl of (d. 1643), son of Basil Feilding of Newnham Paddox in Warwickshire, and of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Walter Aston, was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and knighted in 1603. He married Susan, daughter of Sir George Villiers, sister of the future duke of Buckingham, and on the rise of the favourite received various offices and dignities. He was appointed custos rotulorum of Warwickshire, and master of the great wardrobe in 1622, and created baron and viscount Feilding in 1620, and earl of Denbigh on the 14th of September 1622. He attended Prince Charles on the Spanish adventure, served as admiral in the unsuccessful expedition to Cadiz in 1625, and commanded the disastrous attempt upon Rochelle in 1628, becoming the same year a member of the council of war, and in 1633 a member of the council of Wales. In 1631 Lord Denbigh visited the East. On the outbreak of the Civil War he served under Prince Rupert and was present at Edgehill. On the 3rd of April 1643 during Rupert’s attack on Birmingham he was wounded and died from the effects on the 8th, being buried at Monks Kirby in Warwickshire. His courage, unselfishness and devotion to duty are much praised by Clarendon.
His eldest son, Basil Feilding, 2nd earl of Denbigh (c. 1608–1675), was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was summoned to the House of Lords as Baron Feilding in March 1629. After seeing military service in the Netherlands he was sent in 1634 by Charles I. as ambassador to Venice, where he remained for five years. When the Civil War broke out Feilding, unlike the other members of his family, ranged himself among the Parliamentarians, led a regiment of horse at Edgehill, and, having become earl of Denbigh in April 1643, was made commander-in-chief of the Parliamentary army in Warwickshire and the neighbouring counties, and lord-lieutenant of Warwickshire. During the year 1644 he was fairly active in the field, but in some quarters he was distrusted and he resigned his command after the passing of the self-denying ordinance in April 1645. At Uxbridge in 1645 Denbigh was one of the commissioners appointed to treat with the king, and he undertook a similar duty at Carisbrooke in 1647. Clarendon relates how at Uxbridge Denbigh declared privately that he regretted the position in which he found himself, and expressed his willingness to serve Charles I. He supported the army in its dispute with the parliament, but he would take no part in the trial of Charles I. Under the government of the commonwealth Denbigh was a member of the council of state, but his loyalty to his former associates grew lukewarm, and gradually he came to be regarded as a royalist. In 1664 the earl was created Baron St Liz. Although four times married he left no issue when he died on the 28th of November 1675.
His titles devolved on his nephew William Feilding (1640–1685), son and heir of his brother George (created Baron Feilding of Lecaghe, Viscount Callan and earl of Desmond), and the earldom of Desmond has been held by his descendants to the present day in conjunction with the earldom of Denbigh.
- The descent of the Feildings from the house of Habsburg, through the counts of Laufenburg and Rheinfelden, long considered authentic, and immortalized by Gibbon, has been proved to have been based on forged documents. See J. H. Round, Peerage and Family History (1901).