William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay

William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay (11 February 1709 – 16 May 1762), also de jure 7th Earl of Devon, was a British peer. He was the son of William Courtenay, 6th Earl of Devon and 2nd Baronet Courtenay, and Lady Anne Bertie.


Sir William Courtenay was educated at Westminster School and graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford University in 1731 with a Master of Arts. He succeeded to the title of 3rd Baronet Courtenay and de jure to the title of 7th Earl of Devon on 10 October 1735. He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law by Magdalen College in 1739.

He held the office of Member of Parliament for Honiton as a Tory between 1734 and 1741 and for Devon from 1741 to 6 May 1762, when he was created 1st Viscount Courtenay of Powderham Castle. [1]

Marriage & progeny

He married on 2 April 1741 Lady Frances Finch (d.1761), daughter of Heneage Finch, 2nd Earl of Aylesford by his wife Mary Fisher (1690-1740) , daughter and heiress of Sir Clement Fisher, 3rd Baronet (d.1729) of Packington Hall, Warwickshire. They had the following children:

Death & burial

He was buried on 31 May 1762 at Powderham, Devon, England.


His seats in Devon were Powderham Castle, which he greatly remodelled, and Forde House, Wolborough, near Newton Abott. His town house in Exeter was the site of the present Devon and Exeter Institution at 7 Cathedral Close, on the north side of the Cathedral Green. It was at one time, like Forde, home of the Parliamentary general, Sir William Waller, whose daughter Margaret Waller was the wife of Courtenay's great-grandfather Sir William Courtenay, 1st Baronet (d.1702). Parts of Waller's building survive at the rear and the gatehouse range fronting the Close. The old hall and kitchen were demolished in 1813 to make way for the Institution and in their place and on the former courtyard are now situated the libraries.[4] In a rear room exists a carved wooden overmantel circa 1750 within which are contained two painted panels, one of which shows the arms of the 1st Viscount impaling the arms of Finch, the family of his wife.

Overmantel in Exeter townhouse

Overmantel circa 1750, in former town house of Courtenays of Powderham, now home of the Devon and Exeter Institution, 7 Cathedral Close, Exeter. The left hand painted panel shows the arms of William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay (1711-1762) impaling the arms of Finch, the family of his wife. The sinister supporter is one of the Finch heraldic griffins, the dexter one is the Courtenay boar. The Courtenay motto is shown underneath: Ubi lapsus quid feci ("Where did I slip what have I done"). The panel on the right shows the arms of Bishop Peter Courtenay (1432–1492), Bishop of Exeter and Winchester, of the Powderham family. His arms (Courtenay with each point of the label charged with three plates for difference) are impaled by the arms of the See of Winchester. The whole is circumscribed by the Garter. The supporters are: dexter, the Courtenay dolphin, sinister, the Courtenay boar. The motto beneath is: Quod verum tutum ("What is true is safe").


Burkes Peerage


  1. "COURTENAY, Sir William, 3rd Bt. (1710-62), of Powderham Castle, Devon". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  2. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.102
  3. Thepeerage.com
  4. http://www.devonandexeterinstitution.org/
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir William Yonge
Sir William Pole
Member of Parliament for Honiton
With: Sir William Yonge
Succeeded by
Sir William Yonge
Henry Reginald Courtenay
Preceded by
Henry Rolle
John Bampfylde
Member of Parliament for Devon
With: Theophilus Fortescue 1741–1746
Sir Thomas Dyke Acland 1746–1747
Sir Richard Bampfylde 1747–1762
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Bampfylde
John Parker
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Sir William Courtenay, Bt
Earl of Devon
de jure

Succeeded by
William Courtenay
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Viscount Courtenay of Powderham
Succeeded by
William Courtenay

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