1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Devon, Earls of

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DEVON, EARLS OF. From the family of De Redvers (De Ripuariis; Riviers), who had been earls of Devon from about 1100, this title passed to Hugh de Courtenay (c. 1275–1340), the representative of a prominent family in the county (see Gibbon’s “digression” in chap. lxi. of the Decline and Fall, ed. Bury), but was subsequently forfeited by Thomas Courtenay (1432–1462), a Lancastrian who was beheaded after the battle of Towton. It was revived in 1485 in favour of Edward Courtenay (d. 1509), whose son Sir William (d. 1511) married Catherine, daughter of Edward IV. Too great proximity to the throne led to his attainder, but his son Henry (c. 1498–1539) was restored in blood in 1517 as earl of Devon, and in 1525 was created marquess of Exeter; his second wife was a daughter of William Blount, 4th Lord Mountjoy. The title again suffered forfeiture on Henry’s execution, but in 1553 it was recreated for his son Edward (1526–1556). At the latter’s death it became dormant in the Courtenay family, till in 1831 a claim by a collateral branch was allowed by the House of Lords, and the earldom of Devon was restored to the peerage, still being held by the head of the Courtenays. The earlier earls of Devon were referred to occasionally as earls of Devonshire, but the former variant has prevailed, and the latter is now solely used for the earldom and dukedom held by the Cavendishes (see Devonshire, Earls and Dukes of, and also the article Courtenay).