Earl of Wiltshire

The title Earl of Wiltshire is one of the oldest in the Peerage of England, going back to the 12th century. It is currently held by the Marquess of Winchester, and is used as a courtesy title for the eldest son of the marquess.

The earldom was first created for Harvey of Léon, who married Sybilla, an illegitimate daughter of King Stephen. The title lapsed after Harvey lost his English lands during the Anarchy, since at that time one could not be an earl without the territory to support the dignity.

Patrick of Salisbury was created Earl of Wiltshire by the Empress Matilda, probably after July 1143, but he was usually styled Earl of Salisbury. He was the second but eldest surviving son of William of Salisbury and the grandson of Walter of Salisbury, the founder of Bradenstoke Priory, in Wiltshire. He was Sheriff of Wiltshire in October 1152, when he was addressed as "Earl Patrick, sheriff" in a writ of Stephen.[1] Patrick of Salisbury, Earl of Wiltshire, passed the title to his great-granddaughter Margaret Longespee. She married Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, they had a daughter who became suo jure Countess of Lincoln and Wiltshire on her mother's death. She married three times, but the earldom of Wilshire seems to have reverted to the crown with her death in October 1348.[2]

William le Scrope was created Earl of Wiltshire in 1397. He was executed during the events leading to the deposition of Richard II by Henry IV. The charter which granted his earldom limited its inheritance to heirs male, but did not contain the usual additional limitation of his body. Thus in 1859 a collateral descendant attempted to claim the earldom, but the claim was rejected by the House of Lords.

The next creation was for James Butler, eldest son of the 4th Earl of Ormond. He fought on the Lancastrian side at the Battle of Towton, and afterwards was executed and posthumously attainted.

The earldom was next held by three members of the Stafford family, beginning with John, a younger son of the 1st Duke of Buckingham.

Anne Boleyn's father Thomas was the recipient of the next creation, but after outliving his son and with no other male heirs upon his death the title became vacant. He was the great-nephew of James Butler, the earl of the 1449 creation.

Finally, in 1550 William Paulet was created Earl of Wiltshire. He was made Marquess of Winchester the next year, and his descendants continue to hold both titles.

Earl of Wiltshire, First Creation (1139)

Earl of Wiltshire, creation by the Empress Matilda (c. 1145)

Earl of Wiltshire, Second Creation (1397)

Earl of Wiltshire, Third Creation (1449)

Earl of Wiltshire, Fourth Creation (1470)

Earl of Wiltshire, Fifth Creation (1510)

Earl of Wiltshire, Sixth Creation (1529)

Earl of Wiltshire, Seventh Creation (1550)

The title 'Earl of Wiltshire' is now used as the courtesy title of Lord Winchester's eldest son and heir.

See also


  1. George Cokayne, Complete Peerage, (Salisbury) Vol XI, page 37, note (e)
  2. Cokayne's Complete Peerage, Vol XII (Wiltshire), pages 727–730.)
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