Seymour, Edward (1539?-1621) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51
Seymour, Edward (1539?-1621)

by Albert Frederick Pollard
1904 Errata appended.
Contains subarticle Edward Seymour, Lord Beauchamp (1561–1612)

SEYMOUR, Sir EDWARD, Earl of Hertford (1539?–1621), was the eldest (surviving) son of Edward Seymour, first duke of Somerset [q. v.], the Protector, by his second wife, Anne. He is always said to have been the son who, born on 12 Oct. 1537, the same day as Edward VI, was styled Lord Beauchamp, and had as his godparents Queen Jane Seymour, the Princess Mary, and Cromwell (Lisle Papers, vol. xii. arts. 36, 75). But it seems more probable that this child died in infancy, and that the Earl of Hertford was the Edward who was born on 25 May 1539, and had as godfathers the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk (Gairdner, Letters and Papers, XIV. i. 1026, 1033); for Thomas Norton (1532–1584) [q. v.], tutor to Somerset's sons, writing to Calvin on 12 Nov. 1552, states that the duke's son and heir was then thirteen years of age (Lit. Rem. of Edw. VI, p. lxi), and the inscription on his tomb in Salisbury Cathedral says he was in his eighty-third year at his death in 1621 (Descr. of Salisbury Cathedral, 1774, pp. 70–71). He was educated with Prince Edward, and was knighted at his coronation on 20 Feb. 1546–7, being styled Earl of Hertford between 1547 and 1552. On 7 April 1550 he was sent as a hostage to France, returning three weeks later. His father's attainder for felony, December 1551, did not affect his dignities or estates, and on his execution on 21 Jan. 1551–2 the Earl of Hertford became de jure Duke of Somerset. Being a minor, he could not take his seat in the House of Lords, and in the following April his father's enemies in wanton malice procured an act of parliament (5 Edward VI) ‘for the limitation of the late Duke of Somerset's lands,’ wherein a clause was introduced declaring forfeit all the lands, estates, dignities, and titles of the late duke and his heirs by his second wife (Cobbett, State Trials, i. 526–7). A few of his father's estates were restored to Seymour by letters patent of Edward VI, but he seems to have been partly dependent for support on Sir John Thynne. He was restored in blood by an act passed in the first session of Mary's reign, and she is said to have desired to make him Earl of Hertford, but was dissuaded by her ministers.

Two months after Elizabeth's accession he was granted the lands which his father had inherited, and created Baron Beauchamp and Earl of Hertford (13 Jan. 1558–9). In November or December 1560 he secretly married Lady Catherine Grey [see Seymour, Catherine]. In June he went to Paris with Thomas Cecil (afterwards Marquis of Exeter) [q. v.], whose dissipations were unjustly attributed to his influence. He returned late in August on hearing that his marriage was known and that his wife had been sent to the Tower, and on 5 Sept. joined her there. On the birth of his second son, Thomas, in the Tower, 10 Feb. 1562–3, he was summoned before the Star-chamber and fined 15,000l. This extortionate sum has been the ground of much invective against Elizabeth, but the queen immediately remitted 10,000l. Of the rest, she demanded that 1,000l. should be found immediately, and the earl finally escaped with the payment of 1,187l. (Wilts Arch. Mag. xv. 153). On the outbreak of the plague he was removed from the Tower in August 1563, and placed under custody of his mother and her second husband, Francis Newdigate, at Hanworth. But owing to John Hales's published assertion of his wife's claim to the royal succession [see Hales, John, (d. 1571), and Seymour, Catherine] he was, on 26 May 1564, committed to the custody of Sir John Mason [q. v.] The death of his wife on 27 Jan. 1567–8 relieved Hertford to some extent of the royal displeasure; he was released late in the same year, but was kept in easy confinement in various country houses until 1571 (Wilts Arch. Mag. xv. 153; but cf. Notes and Queries, 8th ser. vii. 422–3).

Warned by experience, Hertford henceforth lived as quietly as possible. On 30 Aug. 1571 he was created M.A. of Cambridge, and on 2 Feb. 1571–2 was admitted a member of Gray's Inn. In 1578 he was placed on the commission for the peace in Wiltshire, and in the following year was joint commissioner for musters in the same shire. But he again incurred Elizabeth's wrath in November 1595 by renewing the petition to have the declaration of the invalidity of his marriage set aside, and was once more committed to the Tower (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1595, p. 121; ib. Addenda, 1580–1625, pp. 406–8). He was released on 3 Jan. following. On 29 May 1602 he was made lord lieutenant of Somerset and Wiltshire, and in June 1603 custos rotulorum of the latter shire. On 19 April 1605 he was sent as ambassador-extraordinary to Brussels. On 28 June 1608 he was reappointed lord-lieutenant of Somerset and Wiltshire, and from June 1612 to March 1619 was high steward of the revenues to Queen Anne. In January 1620–1 he attended parliament (D'EWES, Autobiogr. p. 170). He died on 6 April 1621, and was buried with his first wife in Salisbury Cathedral, where a magnificent monument was erected to his memory. A portrait engraved from it is given in Doyle's ‘Official Baronage.’ In person Hertford appears to have been diminutive.

By his first wife, Lady Catherine Grey, Hertford had, besides a daughter Catherine, who died an infant, two sons, Edward (see below) and Thomas. The latter, who was born in the Tower and baptised on 11 Feb. 1562–3, married Isabel (d. 1619), daughter of Edward Onley of Catesby, Northamptonshire, and, dying without issue on 8 Aug. 1600, was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster (Walcott, St. Margaret's, p. 29). The report of Scaramelli, the Venetian ambassador, that he was secretly engaged to Arabella Stuart in March 1603 must be incorrect (cf. Edinb. Rev. October 1896). The earl married secondly, before 1582 (Wilts Arch. Mag. xv. 200–1), Frances, daughter of William, lord Howard of Effingham, who died without issue on 14 May 1598 (Chamberlain, Letters, p. 10); and thirdly, in December 1600, Frances, daughter of Thomas, viscount Howard of Bindon, and widow of Henry Pranell (ib. pp. 100, 112), by whom he had no issue. For performing the marriage ceremony in the third case clandestinely without banns or license, and not in the parish church, Thomas Montfort was suspended by Whitgift for three years (Strype, Whitgift, ii. 333, 453). His widow married, after Hertford's death, Ludovick Stewart, second earl of Lennox [q. v.], and died without issue on 8 Oct. 1639, being buried on the 28th in Westminster Abbey.

The eldest son, Edward Seymour, Lord Beauchamp (1561–1612), was born in the Tower on 24 Sept. 1561 (the exact date, in Hertford's writing, is given in a bible used by the earl in the Tower, and now at Longleat). He owes his importance to inheriting the Suffolk claim to the royal succession [see Seymour, Catherine]. On 22 Dec. 1576 he matriculated from Magdalen College, Oxford, but did not graduate. In June 1582 he married, without his father's consent, Honora, daughter of Sir Richard Rogers of Bryanstone, Dorset. He was, as a matter of course, visited with Elizabeth's displeasure, and confined within his father's house, whence he petitioned Walsingham to be released (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–90, pp. 61, 70). Repeated appeals on his behalf were also brought before William Aubrey [q. v.], master of requests, to set aside the declaration of the invalidity of his mother's marriage. Though these appeals were without result, he was always styled Lord Beauchamp, a title to which he had no right unless he were of legitimate birth (cf. ib. 1591–4, p. 121). In 1596 he and his brother Thomas were implicated with Sir John Smith (d. 1600?) [q. v.] in some treasonable proceedings in Essex; but, beyond a severe examination, no proceedings were taken against him. The leniency with which father and son were treated was attributed to the existence of a considerable party in favour of his claims to the succession, including, it was said, Cecil, Ralegh, Lord Howard of Effingham, and others (ib. Addenda, 1580–1625, pp. 406–8). According to Lady Southwell, Beauchamp's name was suggested as successor to Elizabeth on her deathbed, and she replied, ‘I will have no rascal's son in my seat, but one worthy to be a king’ (cf. Cornhill Mag. March 1897). Apart from the doubt of his legitimacy, he was by act of parliament rightful heir to the throne for a year after James I's accession, until that monarch's title was settled by statute; but he was generally considered unfit to be a king, and no voice was raised in his favour. The appeal for a deci- sion in favour of his legitimacy was again considered soon after James's accession (see Sir Julius Cæsar's report of proceedings in Cotton MS. Caligula, C. xvi. f. 412, which is mutilated), but apparently without success; and on 14 May 1608 Beauchamp obtained a patent in which Hertford was not mentioned as his father, to the effect that he and his heirs should become earls of Hertford and barons of parliament immediately on Hertford's death. Beauchamp, however, predeceased his father in July 1612, being buried at Wick on the 21st, and afterwards removed to a tomb in Salisbury Cathedral (Epitaphs, p. 37). He had three sons: (1) Edward (1587–1618), who matriculated from Magdalen College, Oxford, on 16 April 1605, graduated B.A. 9 Dec. 1607, married on 1 June 1609 Anne, third daughter of Robert Sackville, second earl of Dorset [q. v.], was made K.B. 3 Nov. 1616, but predeceased his grandfather without issue, and was buried on 15 Sept. 1618; (2) William, afterwards second duke of Somerset [q. v.]; and (3) Francis, baron Seymour of Trowbridge [q. v.]

[Wilts Archæol. Mag. xv. 150 sq. prints various letters of Hertford and his first wife; Ellis's Original Letters, 2nd ser. vol. ii. passim; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–1623; Cal. Hatfield MSS.; Lords' Journals; Lit. Remains Edward VI (Roxburghe Club); Machyn's Diary and Chamberlain's Letters (Camden Soc.); Camden's Elizabeth; Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia; Mrs. Murray Smith's Arabella Stuart, 1889; Collins's and G. E. C.'s Peerages; Bloxam's Reg. Magdalen Coll. Oxford; Hallam's Const. Hist.; Froude's Hist.]

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  
311 i 3-4 Seymour, Edward, Earl of Hertford (1539?-1621): for recommitted to the Tower. read committed to the custody of Sir John Mason [q. v.].
6-8  for he was released .... but was kept read but he was kept
10  after 158 insert cf. Notes and Queries, 8th series, vii. 422-8