Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/259

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Somerville
Somerville
253

head was cut off, and, with that of Arden, who was executed next day, was set up on London Bridge; his body was buried in the Moorfields, near the Windmills. He left two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret or Alice; both married, and Elizabeth had issue. In 1605, when wife of Thomas Warwick, organist of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, she petitioned for some portion of her father's land to pay her debts and enable her to subsist like a gentlewoman. Sir Philip Warwick [q. v.] was her son. Somerville's younger brother, Sir William (d. 1616), who was knighted on 23 July 1603, obtained the lands of Edstone and Aston-Somerville, but the small estate of Widenhay in Warwickshire passed out of the family by attainder. He was, more probably than his son Sir William Somervile (d. 1628), who was knighted on 6 Sept. 1617, the first owner of the portrait of Shakespeare attributed to Hilliard, sometimes called the Somervile miniature. From him William Somerville [q. v.] the poet was fourth in descent.

[Visitation of Warwickshire, 1619; Dugdale's Warwickshire; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Camden's Annals; Stow's Chronicle; State Papers, Dom.; Deputy-keeper of Public Records, 4th Rep. App. ii. p. 272; Metcalfe's Book of Knights, pp. 146, 172; Mrs. Stopes's Shakespeare's Warwickshire Contemporaries; Wivell's Shakespeare Portraits.]

G. W. C.

SOMERVILLE, JOHN SOUTHEY, fifteenth Lord Somerville (1765–1819), agriculturist, born at Fitzhead Court, near Taunton, on 21 Sept. 1765, was son of Hugh Somerville (d. 1795) by his first wife, Elizabeth Lethbridge (d. 1765). The father, Hugh, was younger son of James, thirteenth lord Somerville, head of the Scottish branch of the family. To the latter William Somerville [q. v.], representative of the older (English) branch, granted in 1730, for monetary advances, the reversion of his remaining English estates. The thirteenth Lord Somerville accordingly became head of the family in both countries when the poet died without issue in 1742. He died in 1765, and his elder son James, the fourteenth lord, on 16 April 1796 without issue.

The grandson, John Southey, was first educated at Harrow, afterwards studied with a private tutor for three years at Peterborough, and finally entered St. John's College, Cambridge, as a fellow-commoner on 28 June 1782. He graduated M.A. in 1785, and then went the grand tour, falling in at Nice with Francis Russell, fifth duke of Bedford [q. v.], and travelling with him to Leghorn, and through Italy, Switzerland, and France. On coming of age he was confronted with some legal difficulties as to certain Somerset estates inherited from his mother, and, the property being thrown into chancery, Somerville had to be content with one farm, which, though poor when he took it, he converted into a valuable property. After six years Lord-chancellor Thurlow, roused thereto, so it was said (Public Characters, ix. 202–3, 1806–7), by a spirited letter from Somerville, gave judgment in his favour. Soon after entering into his possessions, Somerville stirred up his neighbours in defence of the country, and received the command of a hundred Somerset yeomen. He subsequently became colonel of the West Somerset yeomanry, and continued to serve until a carriage accident compelled him to resign.

On succeeding as fifteenth Lord Somerville, on the death of his father's elder brother, the fourteenth lord, in 1796, he was elected a representative peer of Scotland in the House of Lords, and was re-elected to the parliaments of 1802 and 1806. In 1793 he was appointed an original member of the board of agriculture, and on 23 March 1798 he was elected president of the board through the influence of Pitt, thus ousting Sir John Sinclair [q. v.], who received twelve votes to Somerville's thirteen. Immediately on his appointment Lord Somerville addressed his energies to reducing the expenses of the board within the limits of the parliamentary grant, and to stopping the extravagance in printing which had been the characteristic of Sir John's tenure of office and had involved the board in serious monetary difficulties. He advocated the offer of premiums for ‘discoveries and improvements in the most important and leading points of husbandry,’ and during his two years of office left the impress of a vigorous and practical mind upon the board's work. In 1799 he was made a lord of the king's bedchamber, with a stipend of 1,000l.; and this brought him into close personal relations with George III, whose interest in agriculture was very keen, and who supported Somerville in many of his schemes. Next to the king, to whom the credit belongs at this period of introducing merino sheep into England, Somerville became the largest breeder and owner of merinos in this country, and his flock became so valuable that two hundred sheep sold for 10,000l. In 1802 he paid a visit to Spain, where he effected the purchase of a valuable flock of pure merinos, and succeeded in obtaining a complete knowledge of the Spanish system of management. By example, by precept, and by printed addresses, he did all in his power to effect an improvement in sheep-breeding. In ‘The Origin of Species’ (ed.