William Herbert's grandfather was a Yorkist earl of Pembroke, executed in 1469, but his father was illegitimate. The family estate was at Ewyas Harold, north‐east of Abergavenny. He held minor court office but his great chance came in 1543 when his sister‐in‐law Catherine Parr married Henry VIII. He was knighted, given the estates of the abbey of Wilton, and appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber. In 1549 he helped to suppress the western rising and was given the Garter. After backing the duke of Northumberland against his rival Somerset, he took many of the executed duke's estates and in 1551 was created earl of Pembroke. He did homage to Lady Jane Grey in 1553, but changed step nimbly and retained Mary's favour. He commanded her forces against Wyatt in 1554, stayed at court under Elizabeth, and was lord steward for the last two years of his life.
Subjects: British History.