Salisbury and Longespee

Patrick of Salisbury as he is now known, came from a line of Norman landholders who had traditionally held the office of Sheriff of Wiltshire. Patrick who was the third of his line to hold that office additionally served as Lord Steward of the Household to the Empress Matilda and was created by her, the Earl of Salisbury sometime around the year 1149.

Patrick was at one time believed to be related to the Devereux family (who became Viscounts of Hereford and later held the title of Earl of Essex for a time) and was therefore was known as 'Patrick Devereux'. This idea has now apparently been rejected, and the application of the family name Devereux is considered an error, and the correct family name is now adjudged to be 'of Salisbury' or 'de Salisbury'.

Patrick was later murdered by one Guy de Lusignan at Poitou in France in the year 1167 whilst he was returning from Crusade and was succeeded by his son William the 2nd Earl, who himself died in 1196 leaving as his only issue a daughter named Isabella or Ela.

William de Longespee (or William Longsword as he is sometime known) was an illegitimate son of Henry II (possibly by Rosamond Clifford), who by virtue of his marriage to the aformentioned Isabella claimed the title of Earl of Salisbury in right of his wife. The 1st Earl died on the 7th March 1226, and was succeeded by his son, also named William de Longespee who died in Egypt whilst on crusade in 1250 and was followed by yet another William, the 3rd of his line who died in the January of 1257 and was buried at Salisbury Cathedral.

Lacy and Plantagenet

Isabella of Salisbury outlived husband, son and grandson and remained Countess of Salisbury until her death in 1261. Her successor was therefore her great-granddaughter Margaret who had previously (around the year 1256) married Henry de Lacy, the Earl of Lincoln. Henry therfore claimed the title of Salisbury by right of his wife as heiress of her grandmother and retained it until his death in 1311.

Henry and Margaret's only surviving child was their daughter Alice, who married Thomas 'the Martyr' Plantagenet, the Earl of Lancaster. Thomas therefore added the titles of both Salisbury and Lincoln to his portfolio of earldoms thereby increasing his wealth, power and prestige. Thomas was later to lead an unsuccessful rebellion against the crown and was attainted and beheaded in 1322.

Following the execution of her husband in 1322, Alice surrendered her lands and titles to Edward II. She subsequently remarried on two occasions; and whilst both her successive husbands appeared to have adopted the title Earl of Lincoln, neither of them claimed that of Salisbury which should most probably be considered as extinct in the year 1322.

Montacute and Neville

The Montacute, Montagu or Montague family (from Old French Mont and aigu. meaning 'pointed hill'), first came to prominence in the guise of one Simon de Montacute who fought with Edward I in both the Welsh and French wars and in the year 1298 was summoned to parliament as the 1st Lord Montagu.

It was his son William de Montacute, the 2nd Lord Montagu who, in the October of 1330 led a party of men to arrest Roger Mortimer at Nottingham Castle and as a result was rewarded with some of Mortimer's estates in the Welsh marches. William continued to be of service to Edward III in his conflicts with the Scots and was present both at the seige of Berwick and the battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.

On the 16th March 1337 he was rewarded for his services by being created Earl of Salisbury and appointed Admiral of the Fleet. With the death of Thomas of Brotherton in the following year he was also made Marshal of England. Around the year 1334 he also led a private expedition against the Isle of Man, (which was held by the Scots at the time), and succesfully conquered the island, making himself King of Man in the process.

On his death in 1343 he was followed by his son William; this 2nd Earl tragically lost his only son, another William de Montacute who was killed at a tournament at Windsor in 1382, a loss that perhaps prompted his decision in 1393 to sell his interests in the Isle of Man to the William Scrope who later became Earl of Wiltshire; and when the 2nd Earl died four years later in 1397 the title passed to his nephew John .

John the 3rd Earl was soon involved with a rebellion against the newly crowned Henry IV in 1400, when he was seized, together with the Earl of Kent by the Cirencester mob and subsequently beheaded. His titles etc were subsequently declared forfeit but his eldest son Thomas was eventually able to win the restoration of the title in 1409, and was fully restored to his father's dignities in 1421 but spent most of his subsequent life fighting in France and died when he was hit by a cannon-ball during the siege of Orleans in 1428.

On the death of Thomas de Montacute in 1428 his sole heir was his daughter Alice who had married Richard Neville, a younger son of the first Earl of Westmorland, who therefore claimed the title of Salisbury by right of his marriage. Their eldest son was the famous Richard Neville the 'Kingmaker', better known as the Earl of Warwick (a title he obtained by marriage to Anne Beauchamp, daughter and heiress of Richard de Beauchamp, the 5th and final Beauchamp Earl of Warwick)

Unfortunately Richard Neville tried to make one king too many and was killed at the battle of Barnet in 1471. He died without male issue in 1471 and his titles fell into abeyance, between his two daughters Isabel and Anne.


The title of Earl of Salisbury was then held by a succession of members of the Plantagenet royal family; namely one George, one or possibly two Edwards and a Margaret.

Firstly there was George Plantagenet, and brother of Edward IV, who had married Isabel daughter and co-heiress of Richard Neville, and was created Earl of Salisbury in 1472. He was executed and attainded for treason in 1478.

Secondly in 1478 the title Earl of Salisbury was granted by king Edward IV, to his nephew Edward Plantagenet known as Edward of Middleham the only son of Richard III, and Anne Neville, sister of the Isabel referred to above.

Thirdly, the argument is put forward that another Edward Plantagenet,known as Edward, Earl of Warwick son of George, Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville inherited the title on the death of his aunt Anne Neville on the 16th March 1485. This Edward was executed for treason by Henry VII in 1499. (See the note 'The titles held by Edward Plantagenet' at Edward, Earl of Warwick for further details.)

Finally in 1513 the title was again created, or restored (depending on your point of view) and bestowed upon Margaret Plantagenet, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and sister of the Edward executed in 1499. Margaret was herself executed and attainted for treason in 1541 by Henry VIII.


The Cecils were a family from Archenfield, the predominantly Welsh speaking district of Herefordshire and traced their origins back to a Dafydd ap Seisyllt, one of the many Welshmen who migrated west on the establishment of the Tudor monarchy and settled at Stamford in Lincolnshire. His descendants subsequently adopted the anglicised 'Cecil' as a surname in place of their Welsh patronymic.

One of these anglicised Cecils from Lincolnshire was a William Cecil who became queen Elizabeth's principal adviser and was created by her Lord Burghley in 1571. His son Robert Cecil entered Parliament and supported by his father's patronage also entered the queen's service being appointed Secretary of State in 1596 and essentially took over his father's role in 1598 despite the competition from Robert Devereux the 2nd Earl of Essex.

Essex was of course, out of the way by 1601, which left Robert Cecil free to cutivate good relations with king James VI of Scotland who seemed likely at the time to be Elizabeth's successor. He was therefore instrumnetal in ensuring the smooth transition of power when James did succeed in 1603 and was duly rewarded by the new king, being granted a succession of titles, that of Baron Cecil of Essindene in 1603, Viscount Cranborne in 1604, and Earl of Salisbury in 1605. Robert Cecil continued to serve but not without controversy, as king James' principal minister until he fell ill and finally died on the 24 May 1612.

He was followed by his son William Cecil, the 2nd Earl who has been described as "a man of no words, except in hunting and hawking". He was succeeded in turn by his grandson James Cecil, the 3rd Earl and then by a succession of elder sons all named James Cecil none of whom appear to be have been noted for any thing particularly remarkable. However the 7th Earl James Cecil did succeed in being created Marquess of Salisbury in 1789.







Title forfeit 1400, restored in 1409



Creation of 1472 Creation of 1478 Creation of 1485 Creation of 1513


The 7th Earl James Cecil was created Marquess in 1789, see Marquess of Salisbury thereafter.


  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for SALISBURY_EARLS_OF See
  • Cecil genealogy at
  • Montague Earls of Salisbury at
  • Royal Genealogy information held at University of Hull see
  • RoyaList Online at
  • Charles Arnold Baker The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)
  • THE ENGLISH PEERAGE or, a view of the ANCIENT and PRESENT STATE of the ENGLISH NOBILITY London: (1790) see