William Herbert, 1st Baron Powis of Powis Castle (c.1573 – 7 March 1655/6) was a Welsh nobleman and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1597 and 1629.
Herbert was born in Powis Castle, the son of Sir Edward Herbert (June 1544–1593) and his wife Mary Stanley, daughter of Sir Thomas Stanley, Under-Treasurer of the Royal Mint. His paternal grandparents were William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Lady Anne (Parr). He was a nephew of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke and Lady Anne Herbert, Lady Talbot. By his grandmother, Lady Pembroke (Anne Parr), he was a great-nephew of Queen Katherine Parr.
Herbert was a member of the Herbert family, a Welsh noble family who descended from Sir William ap Thomas of Raglan Castle. His grandfather, Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke of the second creation (within the Herbert family) was the grandson of the first creation also named William (1423-1469). From birth, William Herbert had the backing of his family’s powerful clan. It also didn’t hurt that his grandfather, the Earl of Pembroke had been a large influence at court during the last few years of Henry VIII and in the reign of his children Edward VI and Elizabeth I (the Protestant monarchs). His grandmother Anne Parr was sister to Queen Katherine. Lord Pembroke’s marriage to the queen’s sister advanced the family and Anne gave legitimacy to the Herbert family. Anne’s descendants also had the luxury of becoming the sole heir of the Parr inheritance once Anne’s brother, William, 1st Marquess of Northampton died in 1571 without issue.
Herbert inherited Powis Castle (at the time it was called “Poole Castell”) from his father. Sir Edward Herbert bought the lordship and castle in 1587 from Edward Grey, a feudal Lord of Powis. Edward Grey was the illegitimate child of the last Lord Powis and Jane Orwell; therefore his father’s estates, which he inherited, came with limitations within Lord Powis’s will. One of those limitations was the obvious title, Baron Powis, which would be bestowed on the Herbert’s in the reign of James I. Edward Grey’s father, Sir Edward Grey, 4th Baron Powis had married firstly to Lady Anne Brandon, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk and his second wife Anne Browne. The marriage however produced no children.
Herbert was High Steward to Elizabeth I of England. In 1597, he was elected Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire. He served as Custos Rotulorum of Montgomeryshire from 1602 to 1641. Upon the coronation of James I in 1603, Herbert was made a Knight of the Bath. In 1604, he was elected MP for Montgomeryshire again. He was appointed High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire in 1613. In 1614, he was re-elected MP for Montgomeryshire and was re-elected in 1624, 1625, 1626 and 1628. He was created Baron Powis (a new creation) of Powis Castle on 2 April 1629. The creation made him the legitimate successor of the ancient princes of Powis, with undisputed primacy in Montgomeryshire. (CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 503, 511, 584)
Before 1600, Lord Powis married Lady Eleanor Percy, third daughter of Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland and his wife, Hon. Katherine Neville. Lady Northumberland was the daughter and co-heiress of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer of Snape, the step-son of Queen Katherine Parr by her second marriage to his father, the 3rd Baron, also named John.
They had several children including:
- Percy Herbert, later 2nd Baron Powis.
- Katherine Herbert, who married firstly to Sir Richard Vaughan of Lydiard and secondly to Sir James Palmer, Knt. By her second husband, she was the mother of Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine. Lord Castlemaine was married to Barbara Villiers; mistress to King Charles II of Great Britain who was created Duchess of Cleveland.
- Lucy Herbert, who married in early 1633 to William Habington (or Abington) of Hinlop.
He was succeeded by his son Percy Herbert, 2nd Baron Powis.
Lady Powis died on 24 October 1650 and was buried in the vault of Lady Latimer (her maternal grandmother Dorothy de Vere, the 1st wife of Sir John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer of Snape, himself the 2nd husband of Katherine Parr) in Hackney, Middlesex, London. Lord Powis died five years later, abt 83 years of age, and was buried at St. Mary’s Church in Hendon, Middlesex, London.
- George Edward Cokayne. Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, Or Dormant , Volume 6. G. Bell & sons, 1895. pg 295.
- Sir Bernard Burke. A Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, Harrison, 1866. pg 275.
- There is confusion as to his death date. Burke states 1655. Cokayne and the History of Parliament states 1656.
- The Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Literature, Volume 1. John Wiley & Sons, Feb 7, 2012. pg 416. Google eBook
- European Heraldry. House of Herbert.
- A letter dated 8 October 1590 from Sir Edward Herbert at “The Poole Castell.” Kynaston Peerage Papers No 148.
- Morris Charles Jones. The Feudal Barons of Powis, 1868.
- Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 300.
- The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981. HERBERT, William III (c.1573-1656), of Powis Castle, Welshpool, Mont. and Hendon, Mdx.
© Meg McGath, 20 January 2013.