Seymour, Edward (1506?-1552) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51
Seymour, Edward (1506?-1552)

by Albert Frederick Pollard
1904 Errata appended.

SEYMOUR, EDWARD, first Earl of Hertford and Duke of Somerset (1506?–1552), the Protector, was the eldest surviving son of Sir John Seymour (1476?–1536) of Wolf Hall, Wiltshire. The Seymours claimed descent from a companion of William the Conqueror, who took his name from St. Maur-sur-Loire in Touraine, and was ancestor of William de St. Maur, who in 1240 held the manors of Penhow and Woundy in Monmouthshire (cf. J. R. Planché in Journ. Archæol. Assoc. xiii. 327–8). William's great-grandson, Sir Roger de St. Maur, had two sons: John, whose granddaughter conveyed these manors by marriage into the family of Bowlay of Penhow, who bore the Seymour arms; and Sir Roger (fl. 1360), who married Cicely, eldest sister and heir of John de Beauchamp, baron Beauchamp de Somerset (d. 1361); she brought to the Seymours the manor of Hache, Somerset, and her grandson, Roger Seymour, by his marriage with Maud, daughter and heir of Sir William Esturmi or Sturmy, acquired Wolf Hall in Wiltshire. The Protector's father, Sir John, was great-great-grandson of this last Roger. Born about 1476, he succeeded his father in 1492, was knighted by Henry VII for his services against the Cornish rebels at Blackheath in 1497, and was sheriff of Wiltshire in 1508. He was present at the sieges of Tournay and Therouenne in 1513, at the two interviews between Henry VIII and Francis in 1520 and 1532, and died on 21 Dec. 1536. He married Margaret (d. 1550), eldest daughter of Sir Henry Wentworth of Nettlested, Suffolk; her grandfather, Sir Philip Wentworth, had married Mary, daughter of John, seventh lord Clifford, whose mother Elizabeth was daughter of Henry Percy (‘Hotspur’) and great-great-granddaughter of Edward III (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. viii. 51–2; Harl. MS. 6177). Sir John Seymour had ten children, of whom, John, the eldest, died unmarried on 15 July 1520, as did two other sons, John and Anthony, and a daughter Margery; Edward the Protector; Henry, who took no part in politics, was executor to his mother in 1550, and died in 1578, leaving three sons from whom there is no issue remaining, and seven daughters, from one of whom, Jane, are descended the barons Rodney; Thomas, baron Seymour of Sudeley [q. v.]; Jane Seymour [see Jane]; Elizabeth, who married, first, Sir Anthony Ughtred, secondly, in August 1537, Cromwell's son Gregory, and thirdly William Paulet, first marquis of Winchester [q. v.]; and Dorothy who married Sir Clement Smith (inscription in Bedwyn Magna Church printed in Aubrey, pp. 375–6).

From the inscription on an anonymous portrait at Sudeley (Cat. Tudor Exhib. No. 196), Edward appears to have been born about 1506, and is said to have been educated first at Oxford, and then at Cambridge (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. i. 210; Cooper, Athenæ Cant. i. 107). In 1514 he was retained as ‘enfant d'honneur’ to Mary Tudor on her marriage with Louis XII of France. On 15 July 1517 he was associated with his father in a grant of the constableship of Bristol. He was probably with his father in attendance upon Charles V on his visit to England in 1522, as Chapuys afterwards mentioned Seymour as having been ‘in Charles's service’ (Letters and Papers, x. 1069). He joined the expedition of the Duke of Suffolk which landed at Calais on 24 Aug. 1523, and was present at the capture of Bray, Roye, and Montdidier, being knighted by Suffolk at Roye on 1 Nov. In the following year he became an esquire of the king's household. On 12 Jan. 1524–5 he was placed on the commission for the peace in Wiltshire, and in the same year became master of the horse to the Duke of Richmond. In July 1527 he accompanied Wolsey on his embassy to the French king (Chron. of Calais, p. 37), and in 1528 was granted some lands of the monasteries dissolved in consequence of Wolsey's visitation. On 25 March 1529 he was made steward of the manors of Henstridge, Somerset, and Charlton, Wiltshire, and in 1530 he received with his brother-in-law, Sir Anthony Ughtred, Wolsey's manors of Kexby, Leppington, and Barthorpe, all in Yorkshire. On 12 Sept. following he was appointed esquire of the body to Henry VIII, who showed him much favour, borrowing from, and occasionally lending, him money (see Letters and Papers, vols. iv. v. and vi. passim). In 1532, Seymour and his father accompanied Henry to Boulogne to meet Francis I. In the following year he became involved in a dispute with Arthur Plantagenet, viscount Lisle [q. v.], and his stepson, John Dudley, afterwards duke of Northumberland [q. v.], about some lands in Somerset, which lasted many years, and is the subject of innumerable letters in the Record Office (cf. Wood, Letters of Illustrious Ladies, iii. 41; Gairdner, Letters and Papers, vols. vii–xii.). In March 1534–5 he was granted various lands in Hampshire belonging to the convent of the Holy Trinity, Christchurch, London, and in the following October Henry VIII visited him at his manor of Elvetham in the same county. In March 1535–6 he was made a gentleman of the privy chamber, and a few days later, with his wife Anne and his sister Jane, was installed in the palace at Greenwich in apartments which the king could reach through a private passage (Letters and Papers, x. 601). On 5 June, a week after his sister's marriage to the king, Seymour was created Viscount Beauchamp of Hache, Somerset. Two days later he received a grant of numerous manors in Wiltshire, including Ambresbury, Easton Priory, Chippenham, and Maiden Bradley (one of the seats of the present Duke of Somerset). On 7 July he was made governor and captain of Jersey, and in August chancellor of North Wales. He had livery of his father's lands in the following year, was on 30 Jan. granted the manor of Muchelney, Somerset, and on 22 May sworn of the privy council. In the same month he was on the commission appointed to try Lords Darcy and Hussey for their share in the ‘pilgrimage of grace.’ On 15 Oct. he carried the Princess Elizabeth at Edward VI's christening (Wriothesley, Chron. i. 68), and three days later was created Earl of Hertford.

The death of Queen Jane was naturally a blow to Hertford's influence, and in the following year he was described as ‘young and wise,’ but ‘of small power’ (Letters and Papers, XIII. ii. 732). In December he was put on commissions for the trial of the Marquis of Exeter, Lord Montagu, Sir Geoffrey Pole, and others; and in March 1539 he was sent to provide for the defence and fortification of Calais and Guisnes. He returned in April, and on the 16th was granted Chester Place, outside Temple Bar, London. In August Henry VIII and Cromwell spent four days (9–12) with him at Wolf Hall (Wilts Archæol. Mag. xv. App. No. iv). In the same month he received a grant of the Charterhouse at Sheen (Wriothesley, Chron. i. 105). In December he met Anne of Cleves at Calais, and returned with her to London; he wrote to Cromwell that nothing had pleased him so much as this marriage since the birth of Prince Edward (Letters and Papers, XIV. i. 1275).

Cromwell's fall—which, according to the Spanish ‘Chronicle of Henry VIII,’ Hertford instigated—in the following year did not check Hertford's continuous rise in Henry's favour; and Norfolk, now the most powerful member of the council, sought to purchase his friendship by a marriage between his daughter, the Duchess of Richmond, and Hertford's brother Thomas. Throughout 1540 Hertford took an active part in the proceedings of the council, and on 9 Jan. 1540–1 he was elected a knight of the Garter. A few days later he was sent on a fruitless mission to arrange the boundaries of the English Pale in France with the French commissioners (Corr. de Marillac, pp. 257, 266–8; State Papers, viii. 510, 523–30). He then proceeded in February to inspect and report on the defences at Calais (Proc. Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, vii. 130). During Henry's progress in the north from July to November, Hertford, Cranmer, and Audley had the principal management of affairs in London (State Papers, i. 660–90), and in November the earl and the archbishop were the recipients of the charges against Catherine Howard (cf. Chronicle of Henry VIII, ed. Hume, 1889, pp. 82–4). In September 1542 Hertford was appointed warden of the Scottish marches. He served there for a few weeks (21 Oct. to 7 Dec.) under Norfolk, but in November he requested to be recalled on the ground that ‘the country knew not him, nor he them’ (State Papers, v. 222), and Rutland took his place. In December Hertford resumed attendance on the king (ib. ix. 257). On 28 Dec. he appears as lord high admiral, a post which he almost immediately relinquished in favour of John Dudley, viscount Lisle, and in January 1542–3 he was lord great chamberlain. On 1 April he took an active part in procuring the conviction and imprisonment of Norfolk's son, the Earl of Surrey, for eating flesh in Lent and riotous proceedings (Bapst, Deux Gentilhommes Poètes, p. 269). During that year Henry again visited Hertford at Wolf Hall.

Meanwhile in December 1543 the Scots formed a new alliance with France, and declared the treaty with England null and void. On 5 March 1543–4 Hertford was appointed lieutenant-general in the north. He was ordered to proclaim Henry guardian of the infant Scots queen and protector of the realm, and to accuse Cardinal Beaton of causing the war between the two nations (proclamations in Addit. MS. 32654, ff. 49, 58). In the middle of April a deputation of Scottish protestants waited on Hertford with a proposal to raise a force to aid in the invasion and assassinate the cardinal; but Hertford declined to assent on his own authority, and sent the deputation on to Henry. At the end of the month his army embarked at Berwick, and on 3 May the fleet arrived in the Firth of Forth. Next day ten thousand men landed at Leith, and Blackness Castle was taken. On the 5th Lord Evers, with four thousand English horse, arrived from Berwick. The provost offered Hertford the keys of Edinburgh if he would allow all who desired to depart with their effects; but the earl demanded unconditional surrender, proclaiming that he had come to punish the Scots ‘for their detestable falsehood, to declare and show the force of his highness's sword to all such as would resist him.’ The Scots replied defiantly. On the following day Sir Christopher Morris [q. v.] blew in Canongate, and for two days the capital was pillaged without resistance. The English then returned to Leith, seizing the ships in the harbour and lading them with spoil. By the 18th they were back at Berwick, having accomplished no permanent result except further exasperating the Scots and strengthening the French alliance (Hertford's correspondence dealing with this expedition is in Addit. MS. 32654).

A month later Hertford returned to London, and on 9 July he was appointed lieutenant of the kingdom under the queen-regent during Henry's absence in France (State Papers, i. 765; Rymer, xv. 39–40). On 13 Aug., however, he joined Henry at Hardelot Castle, near Boulogne, and was present at the capture of that town on 14 Sept. Hertford, indeed, is said to have bribed the French commander De Vervins to surrender the town for a large sum of money (Mémoires du Maréchal de Vieilleville, ed. 1822, i. 152–3; Nott, Surrey's Works, p. lxix). Five days later Charles V secretly concluded the peace of Crêpy with the French, leaving his English allies still at war, and on 18 Oct. a conference was opened at Calais by the three powers to arrange terms. Hertford was the principal English representative, but no results followed, and on the 26th he and Gardiner were despatched to Brussels to endeavour to extract a definite declaration of policy from the emperor (State Papers, x. 63–6, 119–36, 147–50; Addit. MS. 25114, ff. 312, 315). After much procrastination, Charles granted them three interviews, the last on 17 Nov.; but their efforts to keep him to the terms of his alliance with England were unavailing, and on the 21st they were recalled (State Papers, 202–7 et sqq.). England now made preparations to carry on the war single-handed. On 14 Jan. 1544–5 Hertford was sent to survey the fortifications of Guisnes, and a few days later he took command at Boulogne, which the French made a desperate effort to recapture. On 26 Jan. Marshal De Biez encamped before it with fourteen thousand men, while those at Hertford's command were but half that number. Nevertheless, before dawn on 6 Feb. the English sallied out with four thousand foot and seven hundred horse, and took the French by surprise. A panic seized them, and they fled, leaving their stores, ammunition, and artillery in the hands of the English (Herbert, Life and Reign of Henry VIII, ed. 1719, p. 250).

This brilliant exploit rendered Boulogne safe for the time, but the defeat at Ancrum Muir, on 17 Feb., decided Henry to send Hertford once more to the Scottish border. On 2 May he was appointed lieutenant-general in the north in succession to Shrewsbury (Rymer, xv. 72), but, owing to the smallness of his force and lack of supplies, Hertford suggested a postponement of the projected invasion until August. Throughout the summer he remained at or near Newcastle, providing against the contingency of a Scots or French invasion. At length, on 6 Sept., he crossed the border; on the 13th he was at Kelso, and a few days later at Jedburgh. A list, which he sent to the government, of monasteries and castles burnt marks his course. He met with no opposition; but his invasion was only a border foray on a large scale, and on the 27th he was back at Newcastle (State Papers, v. 448–52; Hamilton Papers, vol. ii.). On 10 Oct. he received a summons to parliament, which met in November, and on the following day he set out for London. From the 24th until the following March he was in attendance at the council. On 21 March he was appointed lieutenant and captain-general of Boulogne and the Boulonnois in succession to Surrey, who had failed to hold his own against the French. He reached Calais on the 23rd (State Papers, xi. 60), and on 4 April was commissioned lieutenant-general of the army in France. In the same month he was appointed to treat for peace, which was concluded on 7 June. On the 31st he was again in London. On 19 Sept. he was once more sent to Boulogne to carry out the terms of the destruction of the fortifications (De Selve, Corr. Politique, 1888, pp. 31, 34; State Papers, i. 877, 879); but in October he was back at Windsor (Acts P. C., ed. Dasent, i. 535). From that time to the end of Henry's reign Hertford was constant in his attendance at court and council.

These few months witnessed the momentous struggle for the succession to power during the coming minority of Edward VI. The numerous attainders of Henry's reign had left Norfolk and Hertford face to face as the most powerful nobles in the kingdom. The former, with his son Surrey, headed the conservative party, while Hertford, though he was far too cautious to give open expression to his views, was known to favour further steps in the direction of ecclesiastical reform. This divergence of view was accentuated by personal jealousy between Surrey and Hertford, who had recently been called in to retrieve his rival's military blunders. Surrey vowed vengeance, and, hating Hertford as an upstart, he rejected his father's proposals for matrimonial alliances between his children and Hertford's two daughters, as well as between the Duchess of Richmond and Hertford's brother Thomas. The hope of conciliation thus failed, but the struggle between the rivals, which might have led to civil war, was averted by the dramatic fall of the Howards in January 1546–7 [see Howard, Henry, Earl of Surrey, (1517?–1547), and Howard, Thomas II, Earl of Surrey, (1473–1554)]. Hertford took an active part in Surrey's trial (Wriothesley, Chron. i. 177; Bapst, p. 358); he was commissioned to convey Henry's assent to the bill of attainder against Norfolk, and he acquired a share of the Howards' property; but there is not sufficient evidence to show that their fall was due to his machinations, and he did nothing to molest Norfolk after Henry's death.

That event took place at 2 A.M. on Friday, 28 Jan. 1546–7; Hertford and Paget had spent the previous day in conversation with the king, they were present at his death, received his last commands, and had possession of his will. But Hertford must have already determined to set aside its provisions, and in an interview with Paget in the gallery immediately before Henry's death, and another an hour afterwards, he persuaded him to abet his bold coup d'état, promising to be guided by Paget's advice. They decided to keep the king's death a secret for the present, and to publish only so much of his will as seemed convenient; and then the earl hurried down to Hertford to get possession of the young king. On the way back, at Enfield on the 30th, Sir Anthony Browne (d. 1548) [q. v.], though ‘inclined to the old religion, gave his frank consent to Hertford being Protector, thinking it to be the surest kind of government’ (Lit. Remains of Edward VI, p. ccxlvii). On the same day, in a letter to the council, Hertford adopted the style ‘we,’ and on Monday the 31st he arrived with Edward at the Tower. Henry's death was then made known, and on the same day Paget proposed in the council that Hertford should have the protectorate. The council was divided: the reformers were represented by Cranmer, Hertford, and Lisle; the conservatives by Tunstall, Wriothesley, and Browne. Gardiner was excluded according to the terms of Henry's suspicious will; Browne had already given in his adherence to Hertford, but the chancellor Wriothesley strongly opposed the scheme. Paget's influence, however, prevailed, and the council gave Hertford ‘the chief place among them,’ with ‘the name and title of Protector of all the realms and domains of the king's majesty, and governor of his most royal person,’ adding the express condition that he was to act only ‘with the advice and consent of the rest of the executors’ (Acts of the Privy Council, ii. 4–7). On 2 Feb. he was appointed high steward of England for the coronation of Edward; on the 10th he was granted the office of treasurer of the exchequer, and that of earl marshal, which had been forfeited by Norfolk. Five days later he was created Baron Seymour of Hache, and on the 16th Duke of Somerset. On 6 March Wriothesley was removed from the chancellorship on the ground that he had used the great seal without a warrant (ib. ii. 48–59). Six days later Somerset rendered his position independent of the council by obtaining a patent as governor and protector, in which he was empowered to act with or without their advice, and ‘to do anything which a governor of the king's person or protector of the realm ought to do’ (ib. ii. 63–4, 67–74). He had now attained to almost royal authority; in a form of prayer which he used, he spoke of himself as ‘caused by Providence to rule,’ and he went so far as to address the king of France as ‘brother.’

As the first protestant ruler of England, Somerset at once set about introducing radical religious reforms. His numerous letters, preserved in the British Museum, throw little light on what convictions he had reached during Henry's reign, or how he had been induced to adopt them, but by Henry's death he had become a ‘rank Calvinist’ (Nicholas Pocock in Engl. Hist. Rev. July 1895, p. 418), and he soon entered into correspondence with the Genevan reformer. ‘From the moment of Henry's death there was a systematic attempt made by the men of the new learning, headed at first by Somerset … gradually to get rid of catholic doctrine’ (ib. p. 438). ‘There is really no other account to be given of the gradual changes that culminated in the second prayer-book of 1552 … than that Somerset was supreme, and exercised for a few years the same arbitrary sway that the late king had brought to bear upon the parliament when the Act of Six Articles was passed’ (Church Quarterly Rev. October 1892, p. 38). Cranmer, whose leanings were then Lutheran, was a ‘mere tool in his hands’ (ib. pp. 41, 42, 56). The Protector secretly encouraged books of extreme protestant views (cf. The V Abominable Blasphemies conteined in the Masse, 1548, anon. printed by H. Powell); and in the preface to the new communion office (March 1547–8), which Somerset almost certainly wrote himself, he hinted plainly at further sweeping reforms. But in his public procedure he was compelled to observe more caution. The first of his ecclesiastical acts was to compel all bishops to exercise their office durante beneplacito (6 Feb. 1546–7), and their position as mere state officials was emphasised by an act in the following November, ordering that their appointment should be made by letters patent. An ecclesiastical visitation followed for the removal of images, assertion of the royal supremacy, and the enforcement of the use of English in the church services; for their opposition to this measure Gardiner and Bonner were imprisoned in June. In July appeared the book of homilies, and in November parliament authorised the administration of the communion in both kinds, and granted all colleges, chantries, and free chapels to the king. Early in 1548 a proclamation was issued against ceremonies, and at Easter a new communion office was published; in July an English version of the Psalms and litany followed, and in November began the visitation of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, of the latter of which Somerset had been elected chancellor in 1547. In January 1549 was passed the Act of Uniformity; tithes were also regulated by parliament, and the marriage of priests allowed.

Meanwhile Somerset turned his attention towards the completion of the marriage between Edward and Mary of Scotland. He had been identified more prominently than any other statesman with this policy during the late reign, and Henry had enforced it upon him during his last moments. Religious even more than political considerations urged Somerset in the same direction. He dreamt of the union of England and Scotland into one state, which under his guidance would become distinctively protestant and act as the protagonist of the Reformation in Europe. At first he avoided all reference to the feudal claim which Henry VIII had revived in 1542, and sought to win over the Scots to the projected union with England by promising free trade between the two kingdoms, autonomy for Scotland, and the substitution of Great Britain for the words England and Scotland. France encouraged the Scots to resist, and during the summer the Protector collected a large army at Berwick. In August the French captured the castle of St. Andrews, where a body of Scots protestants had held out in the English cause, and Somerset's pretensions united all Scotland in opposition. In the last week of August he reached Berwick; a fleet commanded by Clinton accompanied the army, which marched along the coast. On Sunday, 4 Sept., Somerset crossed the Tweed; passing Dunbar without waiting to attack it, he came in sight of Musselburgh on the evening of the 8th. There the Scots were encamped in numbers greatly superior to the English; on their left was the sea commanded by the English fleet, on their right was a marsh, and in front was the river Esk. The position was almost impregnable, but the Scots did not wait to be attacked. Before dawn on the 10th they crossed the Esk. Four thousand Irish who charged the English right were scattered by the fire from the fleet, but the Scottish right almost succeeded in occupying the heights on the English left. Grey's horse broke against the Scottish infantry and fled, but in their pursuit the Scots came upon the English men-at-arms and Italian musketeers, while the English cavalry formed once more and charged. A panic seized the Scots, they broke and fled, and the rout soon became a massacre; many thousand Scots were killed, the English loss being, it is said, only two hundred (cf. De Selve, p. 203). Decisive as was this battle of Musselburgh or Pinkie Cleugh—the last fought between England and Scotland as independent kingdoms—and greatly though it strengthened Somerset's personal position, it postponed further than ever the attainment of his objects. Leith was burnt on the 11th, but Mary was removed to Stirling; while the English army, provisioned only for a month, was compelled to retreat (Teulet, Papiers d'Etat relatifs à l'Histoire d'Ecosse, Bannatyne Club, vol. i.; Knox, Works, Bannatyne Club, i. 209, 213; The Complaynt of Scotland, Early Engl. Text Soc.; Patten, Expedicion into Scotland, 1548).

Somerset reached London on 8 Oct. (Wriothesley, Chron. i. 186), and was received with fresh marks of honour. He declined the proposal of the city of London to welcome him with a triumphal procession, but his designation became ‘Edward, by the grace of God, duke of Somerset,’ &c., and he was allowed a special seat in the House of Lords above the other peers. Parliament met on 4 Nov., and, besides ecclesiastical reforms and other measures for the regeneration of morals, proceeded to embody in statutes Somerset's wishes for a relaxation of Henry's repressive system. All treasons created since 1352 were abolished; the six articles, the acts against lollards, and the severer clauses of the Act of Supremacy were repealed; and the Protector made an ineffectual attempt to repress vagrancy by enabling justices to condemn incurable offenders to two years' slavery, and in the last resort to slavery for life. It was probably in order to find occupation for the unemployed, as well as to afford an asylum for protestant refugees, that he established a colony of foreign weavers on his estates at Glastonbury (cf. Acts P.C. iii. 415, 490; Knox, Works, iv. 42, 564; Strype, Eccl. Mem. ii. i. 378). The last act of parliament dealt with the status of the Protector, but seems never to have passed the great seal. The fact that it made his tenure depend upon the king's pleasure instead of the duration of his minority seems to indicate that it was a machination of Somerset's enemies (see Archæologia, {sc|xxx}}. 363–89).

But foreign affairs claimed a large share of the Protector's attention, and he retained their management almost exclusively in his own hands, aided by Paget and the two secretaries of state, Sir Thomas Smith and Sir William Petre. At the beginning of Edward's reign the pope had urged Charles V to support Mary's claims by invasion, and, as a counterpoise, the council opened communications for a league with France and the German princes in March (Acts P. C. ii. 47, 60); but the proposal did not prosper (cf. De Selve, Corr. Politique, 1546–9, ed. 1888, passim). Somerset's designs on Scotland inevitably offended France, while the irritation was constantly growing through the bickerings about the fortifications of Boulogne. Though war did not formally break out, acts of hostility frequently occurred. The Protector was still sanguine of accomplishing the marriage between Edward and Mary. On 5 Feb. 1547–8 he issued ‘An Epistle or Exhortacion to Unitie and Peace, sent from the Lorde Protector … to the Nobilitie … of Scotlande’ (printed by R. Wolfe, 1548, 8vo), pointing out the advantages of the English proposals and attributing the cause of the war to Arran and his advisers. The Scots protestants were naturally on Somerset's side, and by means of bribery he maintained a party among the nobles; but he failed to prevent the conclusion of a marriage treaty between Mary and the dauphin of France, and in June a French force sailed for Scotland from Brest. In order to anticipate it, Somerset had directed William, thirteenth baron Grey de Wilton [q. v.], and Sir Thomas Palmer (d. 1553) [q. v.] to cross the border on 18 April. They took and fortified Haddington, where they left a garrison of two thousand five hundred men, and, after wasting the country round Edinburgh, returned to Berwick. In June Somerset sent Sir Thomas Smith to the emperor, and to raise two thousand German mercenaries; but Charles contented himself with fair words, while the French fleet carried off Mary to France, and the Scots recovered Home Castle and closely besieged Haddington in August.

The marriage of Mary with the dauphin completed the failure of Somerset's Scottish policy, and in the following autumn his position was menaced by the intrigues of his brother the admiral [see Seymour, Thomas, Baron Seymour of Sudeley]. The Protector had naturally resented his brother's marriage with Catherine Parr, but he wrote him an affectionate letter on the occasion of his daughter's birth (31 Aug.), and endeavoured to divert him by persuasion from his reckless courses. Failing in this, he sent for him early in January 1548–9, but Thomas was contumacious, and the Protector then left him to his fate. According to the privy council register, he ‘desired for natural pity's sake licence at the passing of the bill [of attainder] to be away’ (ii. 260), and assented to that measure with the greatest reluctance; while Queen Elizabeth subsequently stated that the admiral's life would have been saved had not the council dissuaded the Protector from granting him an interview. He was present, however, at each reading of the bill of attainder in the House of Lords (see Lords' Journals, i. 345 et seq.; cf. Tytler, i. 150–1). In any case, his brother's fall was a fatal blow to Somerset's authority, and involved him in much popular odium (cf. Hayward, Edward the Sext).

Troubles now began to gather thickly round the Protector; the Scots took Haddington (September 1549) and other castles held by the English. Somerset projected another invasion, but the German mercenaries refused to serve without an advance of pay, and the exchequer was not only empty, but deep in debt. The French were pressing hard on Boulogne; the outworks of Blackness, Boulogneberg, and Newhaven (Ambleteuse) fell one after another, and on 8 Aug. war with France was declared (De Selve, p. 410; Wriothesley, ii. 20). The religious innovations created a widespread discontent, which was intensified by the economic condition of the country. The depreciation of the currency and the increase of enclosures and conversion of arable into pasture lands caused widespread distress which Somerset's efforts failed to abate (see A Discourse of the Common Weal of this Realm of England, ed. Lamond, 1893). He appointed a commission to inquire into abuses arising out of the decay of tillage and frequency of enclosures (June 1548), but three bills introduced to remedy the evil were all rejected in the following session of parliament [see Hales, John, (d. 1571)]. Somerset thereupon issued a proclamation in May 1549, by which all who had enclosed lands were commanded to restore them. This produced no effect except to exasperate the landowners against him, while the commons, getting no redress, rose in revolt in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The rising was soon put down by Lord Grey, but in June a rebellion broke out in Devon and Cornwall, followed by another under Robert Kett [q. v.] in Norfolk. The former was actuated by religious motives, and was suppressed by John Russell, first earl of Bedford [q. v.] The Norfolk rebels laid more stress on social and economic grievances, and their revolt was more serious. Somerset thought of taking the command against them himself, but it was finally given to Warwick, who crushed the rebellion in August.

This success encouraged Warwick to begin intriguing against the Protector, and he found ready listeners among many of the council. Wriothesley (now Earl of Southampton) had never forgiven Somerset his ejection from the chancellorship, and, like other adherents of the old religion, he thought that nothing but good could come of Somerset's fall. On the other hand many of the reforming party had grievances against the Protector; even his stout adherent, Paget, warned him against his arrogance and ambition, and the folly of ‘having so many irons in the fire.’ At the same time the rapacity with which he seized on church lands and the fortune he acquired for himself deprived him of popular sympathy, and added to the irritation the council felt at such arbitrary acts as making a stamp of the king's signature and erecting a court of requests in his own house. They knew, moreover, that the authority he enjoyed was usurped contrary to Henry's will. Failure at home and abroad gave Warwick his opportunity. In September he waited on Somerset with two hundred captains who had served in suppressing the late rebellions, and demanded extra pay for their services. Somerset refused, and Warwick then enlisted their support in his attempt to overthrow him (Chron. of Henry VIII, pp. 185–6). Secret meetings were held at the houses of the disaffected councillors. Somerset heard of these gatherings while at Hampton Court with Cranmer, Paget, Cecil, Petre, Sir Thomas Smith, and Sir John Thynne, all his devoted adherents. In the first few days of October he issued leaflets urging the people to rise in his defence and that of the king. His enemies, he asserted, wished to depose him because ‘we the poore comens being injuried by the extorciouse gentylmen had our pardon this yere by the … goodness of the lorde Protector, for whom let us fyght, for he lovith all just and true gentilmen which do no extorcion, and also us the poore commynaltie of Englande’ (Acts P. C. ii. 330–6). Ten thousand men are said to have responded to this call (Chron. Henry VIII, p. 186), and Somerset sent his son, Sir Edward Seymour, to Russell and Herbert, who were then returning from the west with the army that had suppressed the rebellion, entreating them to come to the rescue of the king. On the 6th he despatched Petre to London to inquire the meaning of the council's proceedings. There Warwick's adherents were in session at his residence, Ely House, Holborn. They had drawn up an indictment of Somerset's rule, and were on the point of setting out to lay it before the Protector. On the receipt of Petre's message threatening to arrest them if they proceeded to Hampton Court, they determined to remain in London. On the same day they requested the support of the mayor and aldermen, to whom Rich described the Protector's evil deeds, and sent out letters to various nobles summoning them, with their adherents, to London. Petre remained with the council, and Somerset started that night for Windsor with the king. Next day the council wrote to Cranmer and Paget requiring their adherence. On the 8th the city gave the council its support, the Tower was secured, Russell and Herbert inclined to the same side, and fifteen thousand men gathered in London to support the council (Chron. Henry VIII, p. 189). Somerset saw that his cause was lost, and promised submission. On the 10th the council wrote ordering the detention of Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Michael Stanhope (the Protector's brother-in-law), Sir John Thynne (the manager of his estates), and others. On the 12th they went down to Windsor, and on the 14th Somerset was sent to the Tower.

Early in January 1549–50 an account of the proceedings taken against him was presented to parliament, and the charges were embodied in thirty-one articles. Somerset made a full confession and threw himself on the mercy of the council; on the 14th he was deposed from the protectorate by act of parliament, deprived of all his offices and of lands to the value of 2,000l. While in the Tower he solaced himself by reading devotional works, such as Wermueller's ‘Spyrytuall and most precyouse Pearle,’ translated by Coverdale, which was lent to him in manuscript, and for which he wrote a preface; it was published in the same year (London, 8vo), and subsequently passed through many editions (see Brit. Mus. Cat. and Hazlitt, Collections). He is also said to have translated out of French a letter written to him by Calvin, and printed in the same year, but no copy is known to be extant. On 6 Feb. he was set at liberty (Acts P. C. ii. 383; Wriothesley, ii. 33–4), and on the 18th received a free pardon. On 10 April he was again admitted of the privy council, and on 14 May was made a gentleman of the king's chamber. He resumed his attendances at the council on 24 April, taking precedence of all the other members, and rarely missed a meeting for the next eighteen months. Three days later his property, except what had already been disposed of, was restored to him; and on 3 June his eldest daughter, Anne, was married to Warwick's eldest son, Viscount Lisle.

Although an opportunity of recovering his position seemed to be thus offered Somerset, the ambition of his rival Warwick rendered his ultimate ruin inevitable. A public slight was put on him when, on the death of his mother on 18 Oct. 1550, the council refused to go into mourning. On 10 May 1551, however, he was made lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, in August he put down an insurrection in Sussex, and in face of the ill success of the new administration the influence of Somerset's party seemed for a moment to revive. As early as February 1550–1 some members of parliament had started the idea of again making him Protector, but a dissolution brought the scheme to nothing. Somerset endeavoured to procure Gardiner's release from the Tower, and to prevent the withdrawal of the Princess Mary's license to practise her own religion. Paget and Arundel gave him their support, and popular feeling was strongly in his favour. With this encouragement, Somerset seems to have meditated seizing his three chief enemies, Warwick, Northampton, and Pembroke, who, on their side, determined to destroy him. During the whole of September 1551 Somerset was prevented from attending the council by sickness in his household, and probably during this period the designs against him were matured. On 4 Oct. he appeared once more by their order at the council; on the same day Warwick became Duke of Northumberland, and his adherents were likewise advanced a step in the peerage. Three days later Sir Thomas Palmer (d. 1553) [q. v.] revealed to Warwick and the king a plot, which he described as having been formed in April by Somerset, Arundel, Paget, and himself, with the object of raising the country and murdering Warwick. On the 11th, Northumberland and Palmer again discussed the matter, and on the same day the council ordered an inquiry into the amount of Somerset's debts to the king. This roused Somerset's suspicions, but he attended the council as usual on the 16th. A few hours later he was arrested and sent to the Tower. The duchess, Lord Grey, and others of his adherents, followed him thither next day; and finally, Palmer, who had been left at liberty for ten days after giving his information, was arrested. On the 19th the council communicated to the corporation the baseless story that Somerset had plotted to destroy the city of London, seize the Tower and the Isle of Wight (Wriothesley, ii. 56–7). He was also accused of endeavouring to secure for himself and his heirs the succession to the crown (cf. ‘A Tract agaynst Edward, Duke of Somerset,’ extant among the Loseley MSS., Hist MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. p. 607). For six weeks Somerset remained in the Tower while evidence was being collected against him. There can be no doubt that he had meditated supplanting Northumberland, but the plot against the duke's life rests on no satisfactory evidence. Apart from the improbabilities of Palmer's story (see Tytler, ii. 1–70), there is the direct statement of Renard that both Northumberland and Palmer confessed before their death that they had concocted the evidence (Froude, v. 36 n.) On Tuesday, 1 Dec., at 5 A.M. Somerset was conveyed by water from the Tower to Westminster Hall, to stand trial by his peers. The charge of treason broke down, but he was condemned for felony, and sentenced to be hanged; the people ‘supposing he had been clerely quitt, when they see the axe of the Tower put downe, made such a shryke and castinge up of caps, that it was heard into the Long Acre beyonde Charinge Crosse,’ and on his way back to the Tower they ‘cried God save him all the way’ (Wriothesley, ii. 63; cf. Stow, p. 607). He was beheaded on Tower Hill on Friday, 22 Jan. 1551–2, between 8 and 9 A.M.; to prevent a tumult, orders were given that the people should remain indoors till ten o'clock, but an hour before the execution Tower Hill was crowded. Somerset addressed the people in a few dignified words, rejoicing in the work that he had been able to do in the cause of religion and urging them to follow in the same course. While he was yet speaking a panic seized the crowd, and in the midst of it Sir Anthony Browne rode up. A cry of ‘pardon’ was raised, but Somerset was not deceived, and, protesting his loyalty to the king, he laid his head on the block, while those nearest the scaffold pressed forward to dip their handkerchiefs in his blood (Ellis, Orig. Letters, 2nd ser. ii. 216). He was buried in St. Peter's Chapel in the Tower, on the north side of the aisle, between Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. In the Stowe collection (No. 1066) in the British Museum is a manuscript calendar used by Somerset in the Tower, inside one cover of which he wrote some pious reflections the day before his execution; on the other cover is the signature of his daughter-in-law, Catherine Seymour [q. v.], who also used it while in the Tower. As he was attainted for felony and not for treason, his lands and dignities were not thereby affected, but an act of parliament was passed on 12 April following declaring them forfeited and confirming his attainder (Lords' Journals, i. 425).

Somerset occupies an important place in English history. Strength of conviction and purity of morals admirably fitted him to lead a religious movement. He did more than any other man to give practical effect to the protestant revolution, and his immediate successors could only follow on the lines he laid down. Alike in his conception of a union between England and Scotland, in his feeling for the poorer classes of his community, and in his sincere adoption of protestant principles, he gave evidence of lofty aims. As a general he was successful in every military operation he undertook. But he was too little of an opportunist to be a successful ruler, and he failed to carry out his objects because he lacked patience, hated compromise, and consistently underrated the strength of the forces opposed to him. Ambition entered largely into his motives, and his successful usurpation showed him to be capable of prompt and resolute audacity. He had as high a conception of the royal prerogative as any Tudor, but he used it to mitigate the severity of Henry VIII's government. The mildness of his rule earned him a deeply felt popularity, and under his sway there was less persecution than there was again for a century. Naturally warm-hearted and affable, the possession of power rendered him peevish and overbearing; but, like his brother Thomas, he possessed handsome features and many personal graces. A portrait, by Holbein, belongs to the Duke of Northumberland; two anonymous portraits are at Sudeley Castle; another belongs to Mrs. Cunliffe; and two more, also anonymous, belonged in 1867 to William Digby Seymour [q. v.] and Mr. Reginald Cholmondeley respectively (see Cat. First Loan Exhib. Nos. 168, 174). The portrait by Holbein has been engraved by Houbraken, R. White, and others (see Bromley, p. 10).

The chief blot on Somerset's career is his rapacity in profiting by the dissolution of monasteries, the abolition of chantries, and sale of church lands. The estates he inherited brought him 2,400l. a year, those he acquired between 1540 and 1547 added 2,000l. to his income, and between 1547 and 1552 it increased by another 3,000l.; the total 7,400l. would be worth at least ten times as much in modern currency (Wilts Archæol. Mag. xv. 189). The number and extent of his manors can be gathered from a list of the ‘Grants of the Forfeited Lands of Edward, Duke of Somerset,’ and ‘Cartæ Edwardi, Ducis Somerset,’ both printed by Sir Thomas Phillipps, London, 1866, fol. His most famous possession was Somerset House in the Strand, which he commenced building very soon after Henry's death; two inns belonging to the sees of Worcester and Lichfield were pulled down to make room for it, and, to furnish materials, the north aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral, containing the ‘Dance of Death,’ and the priory of St. John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, were demolished. Somerset took great interest in its construction, and, as Knox lamented (Works, iii. 176), preferred watching the masons to listening to sermons. Somerset House was occupied by Henrietta Maria, who added to it her famous Roman catholic chapel; by Catherine of Braganza, and by Queen Charlotte until 1775, when it was pulled down; the present building was finished in 1786 (Wheatley and Cunningham, London Past and Present, iii. 268–73).

Somerset was twice married, first, about 1527, to Catherine (d. before 1540), daughter and coheiress of Sir William Fillol of Woodlands in Horton, Dorset, and Fillol's Hall in Langton Wash, Essex. She is erroneously said to have been divorced in consequence of her misconduct with Somerset's father (cf. manuscript note in ‘Vincent's Baronage’ in the College of Arms, quoted by Courthope, Peerage, p. 249). By her Seymour had two sons: John, who was sent to the Tower on 16 Oct. 1551 with his father, died there on 19 Dec. 1552, and was buried in Savoy hospital (Machyn, Diary, pp. 10, 27, 326); and Edward (1529–1593), who was knighted at the battle of Pinkie on 10 Sept. 1547, was restored in blood by act of parliament, passed on 29 March 1553, before his half-brothers (Lords' Journals, i. 441, 442, 445), settled at Berry Pomeroy, Devonshire, and was ancestor of Sir Edward Seymour [q. v.], the speaker, and of the present dukes of Somerset. Somerset's second wife was Anne (1497–1587), daughter of Sir Edward Stanhope of Sudbury, Suffolk, by his wife Elizabeth, great-granddaughter of William Bourchier, earl of Eu, by Anne, sole heiress of Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of Edward III. She was a woman of great pride, and her disputes as to precedence with Catherine Parr are said to have originally caused the estrangement between the two Seymours and most of the duke's misfortunes and errors (Lodge, Portraits). Surrey, in spite of his antipathy to her husband, paid her attention, which she scornfully rejected, and addressed to her his ode ‘On a lady who refused to dance with him’ (Bapst, pp. 370–1; Gent. Mag. 1845, i. 371–81). She was imprisoned with her husband, subsequently married his steward Francis Newdigate, died on 16 April 1587, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Two anonymous portraits of her belong respectively to the Duke of Northumberland and Earl Stanhope. By her Somerset had four sons: (1) Edward, born on 12 Oct. 1537, died before May 1539; (2) Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford [q. v.]; (3) Henry, born in 1540, who was appointed in 1588 admiral of the squadron of the narrow seas, and kept close watch on the Duke of Parma off the coast of the Netherlands; on 27 July he took an important share in the battle off Gravelines, and subsequently kept guard in the narrow seas; he married Joan, daughter of Thomas Percy, seventh earl of Northumberland [q. v.], but died without issue (Papers relating to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, ed. Laughton, passim); (4) Edward (1548–1574), so named probably because Edward VI stood godfather (Lit. Rem. p. 61), died 1574 (Collins; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–1581, p. 238). By his second wife, Somerset also had six daughters: (1) Anne, who married first, on 3 June 1551, John Dudley, commonly called Earl of Warwick, eldest son of the Duke of Northumberland, and, secondly, Sir Edward Unton, and died in February 1587–8 (cf. A Sermon preached at Farington in Barkeshire the Seventeene Daye of Februarie 1587 at the buriall of Anne, Countess of Warwicke, widow of Sir Edward Vmpton, London, 1591, 8vo); (2) Margaret, died unmarried; (3) Jane (1541–1561), whom Somerset was accused of plotting to marry to Edward VI, became maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth, died unmarried, and was buried on 26 March 1561 (Machyn, pp. 254, 384; Ellis, Orig. Letters, 2nd ser. ii. 272). These three ladies won some literary repute by composing, on the death of Margaret of Valois, some verses published as ‘Annæ, Margaritæ, Janæ, Sororum Virginum, heroidum Anglarum in mortem Margaritæ Valesiæ Navarrorum Reginæ Hecadistichon,’ Paris, 1550, 8vo; a French translation appeared in the following year; (4) Mary, married first Andrew Rogers of Bryanstone, Dorset, and secondly, Sir Henry Peyton; (5) Catherine, died unmarried; (6) Elizabeth, who married Sir Richard Knightley of Fawsley, Northamptonshire.

By an act of parliament passed in 1540, Somerset's estates were entailed upon his issue by his second wife in preference to his issue by his first, and similar clauses were introduced into the patents for his subsequent dignities and grants of land. By act of parliament 5 Edw. VI the duke's dignities were declared forfeited, but his son was created Earl of Hertford in 1559, and his great-grandson William [q. v.] was ‘restored’ to the dukedom of Somerset in 1660 by the repeal of the said act. The younger line died out with Algernon, the seventh duke [see under Seymour, Charles, sixth Duke of Somerset], in 1750, and the dukedom then reverted, according to the original patent, to the Seymours of Berry Pomeroy, Devonshire, the elder line, in which it still remains. According to ‘Third Report of the Lords' Committee on the Dignity of a Peer’ (p. 49), the representative of the elder line would have become Duke of Somerset on the failure of the younger, without the ‘restoration’ of the second duke in 1660, on the ground that the attainder could not touch the right vested in the elder line by the patent (cf. Nicolas, Peerage, ed. Courthope, pref. p. lxvii).

[There is no biography of Somerset except a worthless brochure published in 1713 comparing him with the Duke of Marlborough. The present writer's England under the Protector Somerset, 1900, narrates his political achievements. The materials for his biography are extensive. Most of Somerset's public correspondence is in the Record Office, but a portion on Scottish affairs is among the Addit. MSS. in the British Museum, especially Nos. 5758, 6237, 25114, 32091, 32647, 32648, 32654, 32657 (these papers, originally deposited among the archives of the council of the north, were subsequently moved to Hamilton Palace, Scotland; in 1883 they were acquired by the German government, but repurchased by the British Museum six years later; they have been calendared as the Hamilton Papers, 2 vols. 1890–1892). Many papers, relating principally to his genealogy and family history, are among the Harleian and Cottonian MSS. in the same library. Much information respecting his private affairs is to be found among the Lisle Papers in the Record Office, and the manuscripts preserved at Longleat, their presence there being due to the fact that Sir John Thynne, ancestor of the marquises of Bath, managed Somerset's estates during his protectorate. Many of his letters have been printed at length in the State Papers of Henry VIII (11 vols. 1830–52), and these, with others down to 1540, have been calendared in Brewer and Gairdner's Letters and Papers of Henry VIII (15 vols.); the manuscripts at Longleat were used by Canon Jackson in his paper on the Seymours of Wolf Hall in Wiltshire Archæol. Mag. vol. xv. Other scattered letters have been printed in Ellis's Original Letters. See also Sadleir's State Papers, Haynes's Burghley Papers, and the Calendars of Domestic, Foreign, Venetian, and Spanish State Papers (in the index to the last of which he is consistently confused with his brother the admiral); Hist. MSS. Comm. 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 7th Rep. passim. Other contemporary authorities are the Lords' Journals; Acts of the Privy Council (ed. Nicolas vol. vii. and ed. Dasent vols. i.–iv.); Rymer's Fœdera; Wriothesley's Chron., Machyn's Diary, Greyfriars Chron., Narratives of the Reformation, Troubles connected with the Prayer Book, Chron. of Calais, Services of Lord Grey de Wilton (all these published by Camden Soc.); Lit. Remains of Edward VI (Roxburghe Club); Teulet's Papiers d'Etat and John Knox's Works (Bannatyne Club); The Complaynt of Scotland (Early Engl. Text Soc.); The Late Expedicion into Scotlande, 1544, 8vo; Patten's Expedicion into Scotlande, 1548, 4to; Letters of Cardinal Pole; Zürich Letters (Parker Soc.); Mémoires of Du Bellay (Panthéon Littéraire); Mémoires de Vieilleville, ed. 1822; Correspondance de Marillac, ed. Kaulek; Corresp. Politique de Odet de Selve, ed. 1818; Spanish Chron. of Henry VIII, ed. M.A.S. Hume, 1888; Wood's Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies; Somerset's Works in Brit. Mus. Libr. See also Hall's, Grafton's, Fabyan's, Baker's, and Holinshed's Chronicles; Stow's and Camden's Annals; Speed's Historie; Hayward's Life and Raigne of Edward the Sext; Herbert's Life and Reign of Henry VIII; Leland's Commentaries; Strype's Works, passim; Wood's Athenæ Oxon.; Lloyd's State Worthies; Foxe's Actes and Mon. and Book of Martyrs; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Fuller's Church Hist. ed. Brewer, and Worthies of England; Myles Davies's Athenæ Brit. vol. ii.; Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors; Nott's Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey; Cobbett's State Trials; Lodge's Illustrations; Maitland's Essays on the Reformation; Tytler's, Lingard's, and Froude's Histories; Spelman's Hist. of Sacrilege; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England; Gasquet and Bishop's Edward VI and the Common Prayer; Friedmann's Anne Boleyn; Bapst's Deux Gentilshommes Poètes; Hoare's Modern Wiltshire; Collinson's Somersetshire; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire; Collins's, Courthope's, and G. E. C.'s Peerages; Gent. Mag. 1845, i. 371, 487; Archæologia, i. 10–12, v. 233, xviii. 170, xxx. 463–89; Genealogist, new ser. vol. xii.; Church Quarterly Rev. Oct. 1892; English Hist. Rev. Oct. 1886, and July 1895.]

A. F. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.245
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
304 i 25-34 Seymour, Edward, Duke of Somerset: for But he had lost faith . . . . collected a large army read At first he avoided all reference to the feudal claim which Henry VIII had revived in 1542, and sought to win over the Scots to the projected union with England by promising free trade between the two kingdoms, autonomy for Scotland, and the substitution of the words Great Britain for England and Scotland. France encouraged the Scots to resist, and during the summer the Protector collected a large army
18f.e.  for Dumbarton read Dunbar
305 ii 19  after dington insert (Sept. 1549)
26  for Ballemberg read Boulogneberg and after Newhaven insert (Ambleteuse)
20f.e.  after enclosures insert (June 1548)
19f.e.  after rejected insert in the following session of parliament
17f.e.  for May read May 1549
306 ii 32  for twenty-nine read thirty-one
308 ii 25-26  for She was divorced soon after 1530 read She is erroneously said to have been divorced
309 i 10-5f.e.  for Owing to the misconduct .... by his second wife read By an act of parliament passed in 1540 Somerset's estates were entailed upon his issue by his second wife in preference to his issue by his first, and similar clauses were introduced into the patents for his subsequent dignities and grants of land.