Online Encyclopedia

EARLS OF DERBY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 65 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EARLS OF DERBY. The 1st earl of Derby was probably Robert de Ferrers (d. 1139), who is said by John of Hexham to have been made an earl by King Stephen after the battle of the Standard in 1138. Robert and his descendants retained the earldom until 1266, when Robert (c. 1240-c. 1279), probably the 6th earl, having taken a prominent part in the baronial rising against Henry III., was deprived of his lands and practically of his title. These earlier earls of Derby were also known as Earls Ferrers, or de Ferrers, from their surname; as earls of Tutbury from their residence; and as earls of Nottingham because this county was a lordship under their rule. The large estates which were taken from Earl Robert in 1266 were given by Henry III. in the same year to his son, Edmund, earl of Lancaster; and. Edmund's son, Thomas, earl of Lancaster, called himself Earl Ferrers. In 1337 Edmund's grandson, Henry (c. 1299-1361), afterwards duke of Lancaster, was created earl of Derby, and this title was taken by Edward III.'s son, John of Gaunt, who had married Henry's daughter, Blanche. John of Gaunt's son and successor was Henry, earl of Derby, who became king as Henry IV. in 1399. In October 1485 Thomas, Lord Stanley, was created earl of Derby, and the title has since been retained by the Stanleys, who, however, have little or no connexion with the county of Derby. Thomas also inherited the sovereign lordship of the Isle of Man, which had been granted by the crown in 1406 to his great-grandfather, Sir John Stanley; and this sovereignty remained in possession of the earls of Derby till 1736, when it passed to the duke of Atholl. The earl of Derby is one of the three " catskin earls," the others being the earls of Shrewsbury and Huntingdon. The term " catskin " is possibly a corruption of quatre-skin, derived from the fact that in ancient times the robes of an earl (as depicted in some early representations) were decorated with four rows of ermine, as in the robes of a modern duke, instead of the three rows to which they were restricted in later centuries. The three " catskin " earldoms are the only earldoms now in existence which date from creations prior to the 17th century. (A. W. H.*)
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