DEVENISH, William (by 1534-1602), of Hellingly and the Broyle, Chichester, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. by 1534, 1st s. of Thomas Devenish of Hellingly, by Anne, da. and coh. of William Tawke of Westhampnett. m. by 1557, Cecily, da. of John Juxon of London, 3s. 5da. suc. fa. c.1559.1

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Suss. 1564.2


Lands at Hellingly in East Sussex had come to the Devenish family by marriage in the early 15th century, and during the next hundred years its members served in the administration of the shire. William Devenish was to break this sequence, being given only minor local duties throughout his long life. At least part of the reason may have been that, with his progressive disposal of the East Sussex lands and his settlement at Chichester, he was left with too small a stake in either part of the county.3

It was Devenish’s father who had added to the half-dozen manors around Hellingly an assortment of properties in West Sussex stretching from Westhampnett to Midhurst, as well as Hellingly rectory and the manor of Tarrant Gunville in Dorset. Thomas Devenish appears to have lived chiefly at Westhampnett, and his son settled in nearby Chichester. The father died about 1559 and within 12 years Devenish had parted with all the East Sussex lands, Hellingly itself going to serjeant John Jeffrey, and four other manors to the Pelham family: he also sold the Dorset property. At Chichester he occupied a house leased from the dean and chapter, from whom he also rented for £21 a year the large neighbouring heath called the Broyle: he also bought some land in Mid Lavant.4

It was while the Hellingly estates were still intact that Devenish sat in his only Parliament. His return for Lewes in 1555 he probably owed either to Sir John Gage, the leading local landowner and a personage at court, or to (Sir) Nicholas Pelham of Laughton, to whose father’s will a John Devenish had been a witness in 1539. As one who in 1564 was to be adjudged by Bishop Barlow a ‘misliker of godly orders’ Devenish might have been expected to support the Marian regime, but he was to align himself with Sir Anthony Kingston in opposition to one of the government’s bills. His decision could have been influenced by the case of his uncle William Devenish, canon of Canterbury and vicar of Westhampnett, who had been deprived in 1554. After 1558 both Parliament and the local bench were likely to be closed to one of his religious allegiance.5

The burial register of St. Olave’s records that Devenish was buried at Westhampnett on 21 May 1602; two months later Cecily Devenish was granted the administration of his goods, which were valued at £66 2s.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Presumed to be of age at election. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 50.
  • 2. CPR, 1563-6, pp. 37-38, 40.
  • 3. Suss. Arch. Colls. lxvi. 25-33; Subsidy Rolls, Suss. 1524-5 (Suss. Rec. Soc. lvi), 108, 112.
  • 4. J. Devenish and C. H. McLaughlin, Devenish Fams. 172-5; IPMs Suss. (Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv), 71; St.Ch. Procs. (ibid. xvi), 101; Suss. Manors, i (ibid. xix), 74, 120, 211; Suss. Manors, ii (ibid. xix), 293, 307, 467, 477; CPR, 1550-3, p. 272; 1553-4, p. 363; 1560-3, p. 401; W. Suss. RO, bp. Chichester’s receiver-gen’s. accts. 1572, f. 75.
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 10; Emden. Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, p. 168; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; Suss. Arch. Colls. xxxii. 164.
  • 6. W. Suss. RO, PAR 37/2/1, ff. 1, 2, 9; 41/2/1, f. 18; 44/2/1, f. 2; admins. 1, f. 29.