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Banbury, Earl of (E, 1626 - 1632)


Creation: let.pat. 18 Aug 1626


Extinct: 25 May 1632


Family name: Knollys




Gules on a Chevron Argent three Roses of the field


An Elephant Argent



William [Knollys], 1st Baron Knollys later 1st Viscount Wallingford later 1st Earl of Banbury, KG

2nd son and eventual heir of Sir Francis Knollys KG, of Rotherfield Greys, co. Oxford, and Cholcey, co. Berkshire, by his wife Mary Carey, sister of Henry [Carey], 1st Baron Hunsdon, and only dau. of William Carey, Esquire of the Body to King Henry VIII (by his wife Lady Mary Boleyn, mistress of King Henry VIII and elder sister of Lady Anne Boleyn, suo jure Marchioness of Pembroke, herself second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, 1st dau. and cohrss. in her issue of Thomas [Boleyn], 1st Earl of Wiltshire and 1st Earl of Ormonde), 2nd son of Sir Thomas Carey, of Chilton Foliat, co. Wiltshire, by his wife Margaret Spencer, 2nd dau. and cohrss. of Sir Robert Spencer, of Spencercombe, co. Devon, by his wife Lady Eleanor Butler, widow of James [Butler], 5th Earl of Ormonde, and 1st dau. and cohrss. of Edmund [Beaufort], 1st Duke of Somerset


c. 1547

mar. (1)

Hon Dorothy Brydges (b. c. 1530; widow of Edmund [Brydges], 2nd Baron Chandos; d. 31 Oct 1605; bur. at Rotherfield Grays, co. Oxford), sister and cohrss. of John [Braye], 2nd Baron Braye, and 5th dau. of Edmund [Braye], 1st Baron Braye, by his wife Jane Halighwell, dau. and hrss. of Sir Richard Halighwell, of Holwell

mar. (2)

(settlement 23 Dec 1605) Lady Elizabeth Howard (bapt. 11 Aug 1586; mar. (2) bef. 2 Jul 1632 Edward [Vaux], 4th Baron Vaux of Harrowden; dsp. legit. 17 Apr 1658; bur. at Dorking, co. Surrey), 1st dau. of Thomas [Howard], 1st Earl of Suffolk, by his second wife Katharine Rich, widow of Hon Richard Rich and 1st dau. and cohrss. of Sir Henry Knyvett, of Charlton, co. Wiltshire

children by (?) second wife

1. Edward Vaux later Knollys, titular 2nd Earl of Banbury (b. 10 Apr 1627, at Rotherfield Greys, the house of his alleged father; d. c. Jun 1645 following a quarrel on the road between Calais and Gravelines; bur. in the Church of the Friars Minor, Calais)

2. Nicholas Vaux later Knollys, titular 3rd Earl of Banbury (b. 3 Jan 1630/1, at Harrowden, the house of Lord Vaux; d. 14 Mar 1673/4; bur. at Boughton, co. Northampton), mar. (1) Lady Isabella Blount (bur. s.p.m. at St Martin's-in-the-Fields, co. Middlesex, 2 Mar 1654/5), sister and cohrss. of Henry [Blount], 4th Earl of Newport, and 1st dau. of Mountjoy [Blount], 1st Earl of Newport, by his wife Hon Anne Boteler, sister and cohrss. of William [Boteler], 2nd Baron Boteler of Brantfield, and 6th dau. of John [Boteler], 1st Baron Boteler of Brantfield, and (2) 4 Oct 1655 Hon Anne Sherard (d. 6 Mar 1679/80; bur. at boughton, co. Northampton), dau. of William [Sherard], 1st Baron Sherard, by his wife Abigail Tresham, widow of Henry Tresham, of Newton, co. Northampton, and 1st dau. and cohrss. of Cecil Cave, of Stanford, co. Northampton, and had issue by his second wife


25 May 1632 (bur. at Rotherfield Grays, co. Oxford)


13 May 1603 Baron Knollys, of Greys in the County of Oxford

7 Nov 1616 Viscount Wallingford, of Wallingford in the County of Berkshire

18 Aug 1626 Earl of Banbury, with the clause "that he shall have precedency as if he had been created the first Earle after his Majestys accesse to the Crowne" - this clause was disputed in the House of Lords as being contrary to the Act of Precedency, but the King persuaded the House to accept the clause, citing Lord Wallingford's age and the fact that he was childless


Member of Parliament for Tregony 1572-83, and for Oxfordshire 1584-86, 1592-98, 1597-98 and 1601; knighted 1586; Privy Councillor 1596; Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire 1596-1632; Comptroller of the Household 1596-1600; Treasurer of the Household 1600-16; Master of the Wards 1614-18; Knight of the Garter 1615; Steward of Oxford 1620


In his will dated 19 May 1630, which made no mention of any children, the Earl left all his lands and property, except for a few small legacies, to his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard. She proved this will on 2 Jul 1632, by which time she had married Lord Vaux of Harrowden. The late Earl's funeral certificate at the College of Arms also states that he died childless. In April 1633 an inquisition post mortem held at Burford found that the late Earl had died at Caversham without issue and that his heirs were the daughters of his brother, Henry Knollys.


A few years later Lady Vaux claimed that her two sons, Edward and Nicholas, originally acknowledged to have been fathered by Lord Vaux before they were married, were in fact the children of her late husband, the Earl of Banbury, despite that he was aged over 80 at the time of the birth of her first son and had never at any time during his marriage to Lady Elizabeth implied in any way that he had two such sons. To support Lady Vaux's claim a second inquisition post mortem held at Abingdon on 1 Apr 1641 on the instructions of the Court of Wards on behalf of the infant Earl found that the late Earl had died in London leaving "Edward, now Earl of Banbury, his son and next heir", who was then aged 5 years, 1 month and 15 days.


The claim to the Earldom of Banbury by these two sons of Lady Vaux and their descendants was never fully accepted by the Committee for Privileges, even though at least one of the claimants sat in the House of Lords and exercised the legal functions of a peer. The whole question revolved around the legitimacy of Lady Vaux's sons. In English Law the child of a wife is deemed to be the child of her husband unless he disowns paternity. There is every chance that Edward and Nicholas were not physically the sons of the Earl of Banbury, but as children born to the Earl's wife whilst she was married to him they were legally his sons.


In 1806 Maj Gen William Knollys, titular 8th Earl of Banbury and great-great-grandson of Nicholas Knollys, titular 3rd Earl of Banbury, petitioned the Crown for a writ of summons to the House of Lords as Earl of Banbury. The matter was referred to the Attorney General, who in 1808 reported that though the birth during marriage is proved, "the legitimacy of Nicholas is left to a considerable degree of doubt." The petition was referred to the House of Lords and in 1813 the Committee for Privileges reported "that the Petitioner hath not made out his claim to the title, honour, and dignity of Earl of Banbury." This was followed by a resolution of the House "that the Petitioner is not entitled to the title, etc. of Earl of Banbury." After the decision Maj Gen Knollys discontinued use of the title.


In 1911 the grandson of Maj Gen Knollys, Rt Hon Sir Francis Knollys GCB GCVO KCMG ISO, Private Secretary to King Edward VII and later to his son King George V, was created Baron Knollys and a few years later in 1911 Viscount Knollys


 First written 1 Mar 2003



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