From Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales, Their Legendary Lore and Popular History, by John Timbs, Volume II, re-edited, revised, and enlarged by Alexander Gunn; Frederick Warne and Co.; London; p. 19.
In ancient records this place is called Divisæ, De Vies, Divisis, &c. The origin of the name seems to be a supposition that the place was divided by the King and the Bishop of Salisbury. In the reign of Henry I. a spacious and strong fortress was erected here by Roger, the wealthy Bishop of Salisbury, which his nephew, Nigel, Bishop of Ely, garrisoned with troops and prepared to defend until the expected arrival of the Empress Maud; but Stephen having besieged it, he declared that, in the event of its not surrendering, he would hang the son of Bishop Roger on a gallows which he had erected in front of the Castle. On this being made known to Nigel, he surrendered the fortress, together with all the Bishop’s treasures, amounting to the sum of 40,000 marks. The Castle was afterwards (1141) seized by Robert Fitzherbert, on pretence of holding it for Maud, but on her arrival he refused to deliver it up, and was subsequently hanged as a traitor to both parties. In 1233, Hubert de Burgh was confined in Devizes Castle, whence he escaped to the high altar of the parish church, but was seized and reconducted to the fortress. The guards who took him were excommunicated, and he himself was soon afterwards released. About the end of the reign of Edward III. the Castle was dismantled; the site has been converted into pleasure-grounds.
Richard of Devizes, a Benedictine monk of the twelfth century, who wrote a Chronicle of English History, was a native of this place. In the reign of Henry VIII. Devizes was celebrated for its market. A large cross, which is said to have cost nearly 2000l., was erected, in 1815, in the market-place by Lord Sidmouth, for many years Member for and Recorder of the borough: it bears an inscription recording a singular mark of divine vengeance, by the sudden death of a woman detected in an attempt to cheat another, in the year 1753.