Sir Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter

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Henry Courtenay

Also Known As: "Of Devon"
Birthplace: Devon, England
Death: Died in London, Middlesex, England
Cause of death: Executed for treason
Immediate Family:

Son of William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (3rd creation) and Katherine of York,Countess of Devon
Husband of Elizabeth Grey, Viscountess Lisle and Gertrude Blount
Father of Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon and Henry Courteney
Brother of Edward Courtenay and Margaret Courtenay, Countess, Lady

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter,_1st_Marquess_of_Exeter

Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter, KG, PC (c. 1496–January 9, 1539) was the eldest son of William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon and Catherine of York. His maternal grandparents were Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville.

He was an older brother of Margaret Courtenay. Their maternal first cousins included among others Arthur, Prince of Wales, Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII of England, Elizabeth Tudor, Mary Tudor, Edmund Tudor, Duke of Somerset and Katherine Tudor.

Early life

At the time of his birth his paternal grandfather Edward Courtenay was still the Earl of Devon and his father was his eldest son and heir. But in 1504, William Courtenay was accused of maintaining correspondence with Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, the leading Yorkist claimant to the throne, and Henry VII of England had him incarcerated in the Tower of London. Henry had lost his chances at inheriting the Earldom of Devon.

Henry VII died on April 22, 1509 and Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon on May 28, 1509. Henry VIII had succeeded to the throne and released William Courtenay from the Tower. On June 24, 1509, William took part in the coronation of Henry VIII. He carried the sword for his royal nephew. He enjoyed some favor with Henry VIII who created him Earl of Devon on May 10, 1511. However William died on June 9, 1511. Henry Courtenay was his heir.

[edit]Earl of Devon

The attainder had not been fully removed but Henry was allowed to succeed his father as the Earl of Devon. In 1512, the attainder was fully removed and Henry was acknowledged as the proper heir of his paternal grandfather and inheritor of his lands and rights. His first cousin Henry VIII was at the time involved in the War of the League of Cambrai against Louis XII of France. The new Earl of Devon experienced his first battles in 1513 as second captain of a man of war.

He seems to have gained the further favor of his royal cousin during the 1510s. He became a member of the Privy Council in May, 1520. He accompanied Hery VIII for his meeting with Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold (June 7 – June 24, 1520).

In 1521, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham was executed on charges of treason. The Earl of Devon replaced him as a Knight of the Garter and received part of his lands and properties as a gift from Henry VIII. He was granted the administrations of the vacant Duchies of Exeter, Somerset and Cornwall over the following two years.

[edit]Marquess of Exeter

The Earl of Devon became constable of Windsor Castle in April, 1525. He was created Marquess of Exeter on June 18, 1525. At the time Francis I of France had lost the Battle of Pavia and was under the captivety of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Henry VIII was allied with his nephew-by-marriage but sent the new Marquess of Exeter to secure an agreement with Regent Louise of Savoy and promise the assistance of Henry VIII in negotiations for the return of Francis.

The Marquess of Exeter further served the interests of the King in the procceedings for the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. He was only second to the King at the Privy Council when Thomas Cardinal Wolsey was charged with treason. He signed the documents for his prosecution. His signature is also present in the formal papers requesting the annulment from Pope Clement VII. He served as a commissioner for the formal deposition of Catherine in 1533.

He was granted stewardship over several monasteries in 1535. Henry VIII was already preparing the Dissolution of the Monasteries and had placed his favored cousin in a key position for this process. Exeter was also a commissioner in the trial of Anne Boleyn in 1536. She was the second wife of Henry VIII and had been accused of adultery, incest and high treason.

Exeter and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk were sent in Yorkshire to face the Pilgrimage of Grace, a Roman Catholic uprising that broke out on October 15, 1536. Exeter was not able to achieve victory and had to retreat to Devonshire. He was however Lord Steward during the trial of Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy for treason in 1537.

[edit]Downfall and death

By the late 1530s, Exeter was an influential figure at court and was administering most of Western England in his own name and that of King Henry VIII. He also was however a political rival of Thomas Cromwell and the two men reportedly had little sympathy for each other.

However, his second wife Gertrude Blount was still a Roman Catholic. She had supported Elizabeth Barton to her downfall. She continued to maintain correspondence with Catherine of Aragon to her death. Cromwell used these connections to point suspicion at Exeter's loyalties.

At St Keverne on the Lizard peninsula of Cornwall a painted banner was reportedly created that toured the local villages and called the population to revolt -- the stated demand was to have Henry VIII name Exeter his Heir Apparent, thus disinheriting his own children.

Then Courtenay himself was found in correspondence with the self-exiled Reginald Cardinal Pole. Sir Geoffrey Pole, younger brother of the Cardinal, came to London with the information that a Roman Catholic conspiracy was preparing a new uprising. Both Poles were accused as heading this conspiracy and Cromwell convinced Henry VIII that Exeter was part of it.

In early November, 1538, Exeter, his wife and their son Edward Courtenay were all arrested and incarcerated at the Tower of London. On December 3, 1538, Exeter was put on trial in Westminster Hall. There was little evidence for his involvement in the so-called Exeter Conspiracy. But his correspondence with Cardinal Pole ensured his conviction for treason. He was executed by decapitation on January 9, 1539.

His wife and son were both attained. His wife was, however, released in 1540 and maintained a friendship with Princess Mary Tudor for the rest of her life. Their son was released on August 3, 1553 on the orders of Mary who was by then Queen Regnant.

[edit]Marriages and children

Henry Courtenay married first Elizabeth Grey, Viscountess Lisle (1505–1519). She was the only daughter of John Grey, 2nd Viscount Lisle and Muriel Howard. Her maternal grandparents were Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and his first wife Elizabeth Tilney.

Elizabeth was heir to her father but had previously entered a marriage contract with Charles Brandon who had been created Viscount Lisle in her right in 1513. Elizabeth had refused to marry him when she came of age. She instead married Henry Courtenay. The Viscountcy was thus in dispute until 1523. The marriage resulted in no children and Henry had no right to the Viscountcy after her early death.

He married secondly Gertrude Blount (c. 1499 - 1502 – September 5, 1558). She was a daughter of William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy and his first wife Elisabeth Say. They were parents to two children, Henry who died young and Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (c. 1527 – September 18, 1556).

Henry Courtenay

Marquess of Exeter, 10th Earl of Devon[1,2,3,4]

Birth Abt 1498

Sex Male

Occupation 278 Knight of the Garter - 1521

Lived In England

Complete *

Died 9 Jan 1539 Tower Hill (beheaded)

Person ID I00073242 Leo

Last Modified 29 Jan 1996

Father William Courtenay, 9th Earl of Devon, b. Abt 1475

Mother Catherine of York, b. Abt 14 Aug 1479, Eltham Palace, Kent

Family ID F00000701 Group Sheet

Family 1 Elizabeth Grey, heiress of L'Isle, b. Abt 25 Mar 1505

Married Aft Jun 1515

Last Modified 13 Apr 1997

Family ID F00004019 Group Sheet

Family 2 Gertrude Blount, b. Abt 1504

Married 25 Oct 1519


	1. Henry Courtenay
	2. Edward Courtenay, 11th Earl of Devon, b. 1526

Last Modified 12 Dec 1996

Family ID F00032951 Group Sheet

Heraldry Courtenay - * blazon yet to be described



278 Knight of the Garter - 1521


Born about 1498, son of William Courtenay, 9th Earl of Devon, and Catherine of York, daughter of Edward IV, King of England. In December 1512 he obtained a reversal of his father's attainder whereby he succeeded to the Earldom of Devon. After June 1515, he married Elizabeth Grey, suo jure Baroness L'Isle, but she died not long afterwards; and, on 25 October 1519, he married Gertrude Blount.

In 1520 he attended King Henry VIII at the Field of Cloth of Gold. On 24 April 1521 he was nominted Knight of The Garter and was installed on 9 June. In April 1522 he was appointed Keeper of Burling Park; in May 1523 High Steward of the Duchy of Cornwall and Warden of the Stannaries and, in 1525, Constable of Windsor Castle.

On 18 June 1525, he was created Marquess of Exeter and, on 19 February 1528, had livery of his mother's lands. On 17 May 1528 he was appointed Lieutenant of the Order of the Garter and, in June 1528, Seneschal of the Duchy of Cornwall. He supported King Henry VIII in his attempt to obtain a divorce, signing the letter to Pope Clement VII to that effect, being a Commissioner in 1533 for Queen Catherine's deposition, and was rewarded with the Stewardship of numerous Abbeys and Priories in the West of England.

He was on the trial of Queen Anne Boleyn; assisted in suppressing the rebellion called the Pilgrimage of Grace; and, on 15 May 1537, acted as High Steward at the trial of the Lrds Darcy and Hussey for their share therein. The measures of Cromwell, the Vicar General, became so obnoxious to him that he drifted into a treasonable conspiracy with the Pole family, endeavouring to raise the men of Devon and Cornwall, and being taken prisoner was, on 3 December 1538, tried by his Peers in Westminster Hall. Found guilty, on 9 January 1539, he was beheaded on Tower Hill with Lord Montagu and Sir Edward Nevill. Having been attainted, the Earldom became forfeited.

Sources 1. [S00058] The Complete Peerage, 1936 , Doubleday, H.A. & Lord Howard de Walden, Reference: IV 330

2. [S00010] A Genealogical History of the dormant, abeyant, forfeited and extinct peerages of the British Empire, London, 1866, Burke, Sir Bernard, Reference: 142

3. [S01352] ~Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, London, 1938, Reference: Page 803

4. [S00120] Cahiers de Saint Louis , Dupont, Jacques and Saillot, Jacques, Reference: 108

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Sir Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter's Timeline

Devon, England
Age 30
January 9, 1539
Age 43
London, Middlesex, England