Seymour, Henry (1729-1805) (DNB00)

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SEYMOUR, HENRY (1729–1805), lover of Madame Du Barry, was the son of Francis Seymour, M.P., of Sherborne, Dorset, brother of the eighth Duke of Somerset, by Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Popham, and widow of Viscount Hinchinbrook. Born in London in 1729, he married in 1753 Lady Caroline Cowper, only daughter of the second Earl Cowper. Besides his father's estate at Sherborne, he inherited an uncle's property at Knoyle, and also owned Northbrook Lodge, Devonshire, and Redland Court, near Bristol. He became a groom of the bedchamber, was returned for Totnes at a by-election in 1763, and sat for Huntingdon 1768–74, and Evesham 1774–80. He spoke on 29 Feb. 1776 in support of Fox's motion for an inquiry into the miscarriages of the American war. A widower in 1773, he married in 1775 Louise Thérèse, widow of Comte Guillaume de Panthou. In 1778 he settled in Paris, obtained letters of domicile to protect his property from forfeiture to the crown as aubaine, in the event of death, and purchased a country house at Prunay, between Versailles and St. Germain. He thus became the neighbour, and may have already been the lover, of Madame Du Barry. He preserved about forty of her letters to him, together with a lock of her hair. The letters are undated, but were probably written in 1780, shortly before his separation from his wife. They show that his jealous temper led to a rupture. These relics, apparently left behind him on his hasty departure from France in August 1792, came into the possession of Barrière, an autograph collector, and, after passing through other hands, were sold in Paris in 1892. All Seymour's property was confiscated, and bundles of his tradesmen's bills and other papers are now in the Archives Nationales, Paris. He remained in England till his death in 1805, and after Waterloo his heirs obtained compensation for his losses out of the fund for indemnifying British subjects. He published anonymously in 1788 a French prose translation of the ‘English Garden,’ by William Mason [q. v.], with views of Prunay.

By his first wife he had two daughters: Caroline, who married William Danby [q. v.], the bibliophile and mineralogist; and Georgina, who married Comte Louis de Durfort. By his second wife he had a son Henry (1776–1849), high sheriff of Dorset in 1835. He had also an illegitimate daughter, who, born in France, became the mother of the Sir Roger Tichborne personated by Arthur Orton in the famous litigation of 1871.

[Manuscripts in the Archives Nationales, Paris; Goncourt's Madame Du Barry; Vatel's Madame du Barry; Douglas's Life and Times of Madame du Barry, pp. 312 et seq.; Alger's Englishmen in the French Revolution.]

J. G. A.