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Earls of Derby

The Earls of Derby are an aristocratic family in England. The title was first held by the Ferrers family, then by the Stanley family.

The Ferrers Earls of Derby

"Ferrer" is Norman French and means "to bind with iron" or " to shoe a horse". Ferrières in Normandy, the home town of the de Ferrers family, was an important centre for ironwork. The Ferrers coat of arms shows six black horseshoes on a silver background.

They were descended from Henry de Ferrers, 1st Earl of Ferrières, Lord of Longueville[?], Normandy, and a Domesday Commissioner; he built Tutbury Castle[?] and Duffield Castle[?] and had large holdings in Derbyshire as well as 17 other counties.


Robert de Ferrers, 2nd Earl of Ferrières was created 1st Earl of Derby in 1138 for his valiant conduct at the Battle of Northallerton. He was married to Hawise de Vitre and died in 1139.
Robert de Ferrers, 2nd Earl of Derby was married to Margaret Peverel and died before 1160. He founded Darley Abbey[?] and Merivale Abbey[?].
William de Ferrers, 3rd Earl of Derby was married to Sybil de Braoise. He rebelled against King Henry II and was imprisoned at Caen, Normandy. He died in the Crusades at the Siege of Acre[?] in 1190.
William de Ferrers, 4th Earl of Derby was married to Agnes de Keveliok, daughter of the Earl of Chester.
Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby (1239-1279) rebelled against King Henry III and was arrested and imprisoned first in the Tower of London, then in Windsor Castle, and his lands and earldom were forfeited, including Tutbury Castle which still belongs to the Duchy of Lancaster.
Lawrence Shirley, 4th Earl Ferrers, was the only Peer of the Realm to be hanged for murder.

The Stanley Earls of Derby

The Stanley family was descended from Adam de Aldithley who accompanied William the Conqueror to England. One of his descendants married an heiress whose marriage portion included Stoneley[?], Derbyshire - hence the name Stanley.
Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby (1433-1504) married Margaret Beaufort, the mother of King Henry VII, also Eleanor Nevill. The title of Earl of Derby[?] was conferred on him in 1485 by Henry VII after the Battle of Bosworth Field where Thomas decided not to support King Richard III.
Thomas Stanley, 2nd Earl of Derby (1484-1521) was the grandson of the 1st Earl. He married Anne Hastings, daughter of Lord Hungerford and Hastings.
The 2nd Earl's brother James Stanley, of Cross Hall, Lathom[?], was the ancestor of the 11th Earl. The line is known as the "Stanleys of Bickerstaffe". James Stanley became Bishop of Ely. He sent a small army into the Battle of Flodden Field, commanded by his son, Sir John Stanley who later entered a monastery.
Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby (1509-1572) was married four times. His second wife supplied the heir.
Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby (1531-1593) married Margaret Cliff, daughter of the 1st Earl of Cumberland. Both his sons succeeded to the earldom.
Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby (1559-1594) built Leasowe Castle. He married Alice Spencer, but was without issue and was succeeded by his younger brother.
William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby (1561-1642) married Elizabeth Vere.
James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby (1607-1651) was a staunch Royalist. In 1643 he moved to the Isle of Man and established it as a Royalist stronghold. He was beheaded by the Parliament forces. His wife was Charlotte de la Trémouille, known as the heroine who defended Lathom House[?] in 1644 and the Isle of Man in 1651.
Charles Stanley, 8th Earl of Derby (1628-1672) had two sons; both succeeded to the earldom. He married Dorothea Helena Rupa, daughter of Baron Rupa of the Netherlands.
William Richard George Stanley, 9th Earl of Derby (1655-1702) married Elizabeth Butler, daughter of the Earl of Ossory, and sister of James, Duke of Ormond. He died without issue and was succeeded by his younger brother.
James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby (1664-1736) had one son who died without issue in 1710. This Stanley line died out, and the earldom passed to the "Stanleys of Bickerstaffe".
Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby (September 11, 1689 - February 22, 1776 was a member of the "Stanleys of Bickerstaffe[?]", descended from the brother of the 2nd Earl, and he succeeded to the Earldom in 1736. He married Elizabeth Hesketh. His residence was Bickerstaffe Hall[?] near Ormskirk[?], Lancashire, and he became Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, and Member of Parliament for the County of Lancaster.
The 11th Earl's younger brother was the Hon. and Rev. John Stanley, Rector of Bury[?] Parish Church 1743-1778.
Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby founded the Derby race. He married Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, the mother of the 13th Earl. His second marriage was to a Drury Lane actress, Elizabeth Farren
Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby (1775-1851) was a politician and natural historian. His zoological collections founded Liverpool Museum[?]. He was also a patron of the arts, especially of the poet Edward Lear who wrote The Owl and the Pussycat for the Earl's children. He was married to Charlotte Hornby. In 1844, he had a church built on the Knowsley Estate, St. Mary the Virgin, where several Stanleys found their final resting place.
Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (1799-1869) became Member of Parliament for Stockbridge, a seat bought by his father. Although a Whig, he became a member of the Tory government. He was Prime Minister three times, and he procured several government appointments for his son and heir. He was married to Emma Wilbraham.
Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby (July 21, 1826 - April 21, 1893) was Member of Parliament for King's Lynn. His father, as Prime Minister, gave him the jobs of Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Colonial Secretary and Foreign Secretary. He became Foreign Secretary again under Benjamin Disraeli and Colonial Secretary under William Ewart Gladstone.
Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby (January 15, 1841-1908) was married to Lady Constance Villiers, daughter of the 4th Earl of Clarendon. He was the second son of the 14th Earl and the younger brother of the 15th Earl. He was Member of Parliament for Preston.
Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby (1865-1948) was married to Alice Montagu. A pair of Memorial Gates were erected in 1958 on Knowsley Lane on the Knowsley Estate in his memory.
Edward John Stanley, 18th Earl of Derby (1918-1994) was married to Isabel Miles-Lade, but without issue. He was succeeded by his nephew. established Knowsley Safari Park[?] in 1971.
Edward Richard William Stanley, 19th Earl of Derby (October 10, 1962 - ) was the son of Hugh Stanley, the younger brother of the 18th Earl. He is married to the Hon. Caroline Neville.
The heir to the earldom is Edward John Robin Stanley, Lord Bickerstaffe (born April 21, 1998).
The Earls of Derby own the Knowsley Estate[?] and Greenhalgh Castle[?]; they were the Lords of Mann[?], i.e. the Isle of Man. Several Earls of Derby are buried in St. Mary's Church, Knowsley.



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