Somerset, Henry (DNB00)
|←Somerset, Fitzroy James Henry||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 53
SOMERSET, HENRY, first Duke of Beaufort (1629–1700), the only son of Edward Somerset, sixth earl and second marquis of Worcester, and earl of Glamorgan [q. v.], by Elizabeth (d. 1635), daughter of Sir William Dormer, was born at Raglan in 1629, and from 1642 was styled Lord Herbert of Raglan. As a reward for his father's services he was promised, on 1 April 1646, the hand of the king's youngest daughter, Elizabeth. He went over to Paris at the commencement of the civil war, but returned previous to 1650. His father's estates had been forfeited, and those in Monmouthshire were enjoyed by Cromwell, but the latter made Lord Herbert a ‘pretty liberal’ allowance. Having further renounced the Roman catholic faith, for which his father made great sacrifices, he became altogether acceptable to Cromwell, whose influence over him is shown in the fact that he dropped his courtesy title and was known as plain Mr. Herbert, as also by the fact that he adopted the ‘republican’ form of marriage before a justice of the peace in 1657. He sat in the Cromwellian parliament for Worcester in 1654–5, and maintained good relations with the Protector until the latter's death. He then joined the party that demanded a ‘full and free parliament,’ which was the practical equivalent of demanding the Restoration. He was involved in the royalist plot of July 1659, and was committed to the Tower, whence he wrote to his wife on 20 Aug. 1659 a letter taking a justly sanguine view of his situation (printed in Dirck's Life of the Marquis of Worcester, p. 233, under the wrong date 1660).
He was released on 1 Nov. 1659, and sat in the Convention parliament which met under Monck's auspices on 25 April 1660; he was, moreover, one of the twelve commissioners from the commons who attended the king at Breda (7 May 1660). After Charles's accession he was appointed warden of the Forest of Dean (18 June), and on 30 July, in response to an appeal from the local gentry, lord lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire. The Monmouthshire estates, which he had obtained by reversion from Cromwell, were allowed to remain in his possession, though they should in strict justice have reverted to his father; the latter wrote bitterly to Clarendon that his son was intriguing against him. But Lord Herbert justified his elevation as a local grandee by an active and able discharge of his county duties and by a staunch loyalty. He kept aloof from court life, but maintained good relations with the Hydes. In 1662 he was occupied with the demolition of the walls and fortifications at Gloucester; but next year he pleaded for the retention of a garrison at Chepstow. He retained the captaincy (conferred in 1660) with a reduced force of sixty men, but the post was transferred from his hands in the autumn of 1685. In 1663 he entertained the king and queen at Badminton, Gloucestershire, an estate which he acquired by devise from his half-cousin Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas, viscount Somerset of Cashel. The latter, a younger son of Edward Somerset, fourth earl of Worcester [q. v.], had died without male issue in 1650. Herbert was created M.A. by Oxford University on 28 Sept. in this year. He represented Monmouthshire in the lower house from 1660 to 1667, when on 3 April he succeeded his father as third Marquis of Worcester. He was created lord president of the council of Wales and the marches in April 1672, a privy councillor on 17 April in the same year, and was installed a knight of the Garter on 29 May 1672. A steady supporter of the court party, he voted against the Exclusion Bill at the close of 1680, whereupon the commons petitioned the king to remove him from his person and counsels (January 1681). Charles regarded his conduct in a different light, and by letters patent, dated 2 Dec. 1682, the marquis was advanced to the title of Duke of Beaufort, as ‘having been eminently serviceable to the king since his most happy restoration, in consideration thereof and of his most noble descent from King Edward III by John de Beaufort, eldest son of John of Gaunt by Catherine Swynford.’ About the same time the duke commenced the remodelling of his seat at Badminton. On the strength of his attitude in regard to the Exclusion Bill, Beaufort figured prominently in Dryden's ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ (pt. ii. pp. 940–66) as Bezaliel—the ‘Kenites' rocky province his command.’
‘Bezaliel with each grace and virtue fraught,
Serene his looks, serene his life and thought.’
In November 1683 Beaufort obtained 20,000l. damages in two libel actions against Sir Trevor Williams of Monmouthshire and John Arnold, but the judgment against the latter was partially reversed in 1690 (Luttrell). In July 1684 he made, as president of the principality, a magnificent progress through Wales, and was sumptuously entertained, among other places, at Worcester, Ludlow, and Welshpool (Thomas Dingley, Account of the Duke's Progress, ed. 1888). On 14 Feb. 1685, along with the Duke of Somerset, he supported the Prince of Denmark as chief mourner at the funeral of Charles II. He bore the queen's crown at the coronation of James II (23 April 1685), was appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber on 16 May, and colonel of the 11th regiment of foot on 20 June following.
When Monmouth, at the close of June 1685, was hesitating to march upon Bristol, Beaufort (who had been lord lieutenant of the county and city of Bristol since the Restoration) occupied it in force on 16 June. He threatened to fire the city if any of Monmouth's friends were admitted, and locked up a number of dissenters and disaffected persons in the guildhall (cf. Nicholls and Taylor, Bristol Past and Present, 1881, iii. 111, 121). Four days later he reviewed nineteen companies of foot and four troops of horse, and on 24 June twenty-one companies were drawn up on Redclyffe Mead and volunteers enlisted by beat of drum. On 6 July came tidings of Monmouth's defeat. On 24 Sept. James II visited the duke at Badminton, and expressed his satisfaction at his consistent loyalty. In October 1688 Beaufort once more occupied Bristol with the train-bands of Gloucestershire, and some of his men captured Lord Lovelace at Circencester, and lodged him a prisoner in Gloucester Castle [see Lovelace, John, third Baron]. He prepared to defend the city, but had eventually to surrender to the superior force under the Earl of Shrewsbury and Sir John Guise. He voted for a regency in preference to the offer of the crown to William. On 14 Dec. 1688 he waited on the latter at Windsor, but was kept for an hour in an antechamber and coldly received. He nevertheless took the oaths in March 1689, and was so far reconciled as to entertain William at Badminton on 7 Sept. 1690. In 1694 he was living in great seclusion at Chelsea, taking the waters, and absenting himself from court. Suspected of complicity in the assassination plot, his house was searched in February 1695–6, but nothing was found to compromise him. On 19 March 1696, when expected to attend at the House of Lords to sign the association, ‘he broke his shoulder,’ whereupon the lords sent him the document to sign; but he refused, though he declared his abhorrence of the design against William (cf. Ellis Corresp. ii. 293). By November 1697 he was reconciled to the court, but he suffered a great shock by the loss of his son and heir, Charles, through an accident to his coach in Wales in July 1698, and he died at Badminton on 21 Jan. 1699–1700. He was buried in the Beaufort Chapel in St. George's, Windsor, where an elaborate monument was set up to his memory (for inscription see Ashmole's Berkshire, iii. 163), but was removed in 1878 to Badminton. Beaufort married, on 17 Aug. 1657, Mary (d. 7 Jan. 1714), eldest daughter of Arthur, first lord Capel, and widow of Henry Seymour, lord Beauchamp. By her he had issue Henry, who died young; Charles, marquis of Worcester (1661–1698), father of Henry Somerset, second duke of Beaufort (see below), and three other sons; and four daughters, of whom the second, Mary, married, in 1685, James, duke of Ormonde, and died in 1733; the third, Henrietta, married, in 1686, Henry, lord O'Brien, and, secondly, Henry, earl of Suffolk, dying in 1715; while the fourth, Anne, married, on 4 May 1691, Thomas, earl of Coventry, and died on 14 Feb. 1763.
Lord-keeper Guilford visited the Duke of Beaufort in 1680, and Roger North, in his ‘Life of the Lord Keeper,’ gives a detailed and interesting account of the state maintained by this great magnate of the west: ‘a princely way of living, which that noble duke used, above any other except crowned heads that I have had notice of in Europe; and in some respects greater than most of them, to whom he might have been an example.’ He managed a large and productive estate through his bailiffs and servants; he had ‘about two hundred persons in his family [household] all provided for; and in his capital house, nine original tables covered every day.’ The greatest order prevailed amid this hierarchy of retainers. The duke spent much time in hunting, planting, and building. He was almost puritanic in strictness in matters relating to discipline and conduct, and in every respect his mode of life contrasted with the accepted traditions of the manners of the nobility under Charles II.
A half-length portrait of the first duke, by Sir Peter Lely, is in the possession of the Duke of Beaufort at Badminton.
Henry Somerset, second Duke of Beaufort (1684–1714), grandson of the above, born at Monmouth Castle in 1684, entertained Queen Anne and the prince consort with splendour at Badminton in August 1702. He held aloof from public affairs until the fall of Sunderland heralded the collapse of the whig junto in 1710, when he is said to have remarked to the queen that he could at length call her a queen in reality. As a ‘thorough-going tory’ he was on 21 Feb. 1711, after some opposition from the exclusiveness of Swift, admitted a member of the ‘Brothers’ Club. He was made captain of the gentlemen pensioners in 1712, and elected K.G. in October 1712. Dying at the age of thirty, on 24 May 1714, he was succeeded by his son Henry Somerset, third duke (1707–1745), who married, as his third wife, Frances, sole heiress of James, second viscount Scudamore [see under Scudamore, John, first Viscount], and temporarily assumed the surname Scudamore. He was succeeded by his brother, Charles Noel Somerset, fourth duke (1709–1756), whose grandson, Henry Charles, was father of
Henry Somerset, seventh Duke of Beaufort (1792–1853). Born on 5 Feb. 1792, he joined the 10th hussars in 1810, and was aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington in the peninsula from 1812 to 1814, during which period he was once captured by some members of Soult's staff. He was M.P. for Monmouth from 1813 to 1832, when he temporarily lost his seat. Elected for West Gloucestershire in 1835, he succeeded to the peerage in that year. He was made a K.G. in 1842, and voted steadily with the tory party; but he was best known as a sportsman, his portrait being allotted a prominent place in ‘The Royal Hunt’ and ‘The Badminton Hunt,’ while he figures as one of the great hunters in the pages of Nimrod (Sporting Reminiscences, ‘The Beaufort Country,’ chap. viii.) He died on 17 Nov. 1853, and was buried a week later in the chapel at Badminton (Gent. Mag. 1854, i. 80; Illustr. London News, 26 Nov. 1853, with portrait). He married first, in July 1814, Georgiana Frederica, daughter of Henry Fitzroy by Anne, sister of the great Duke of Wellington; and secondly, 29 June 1822, his first wife's half-sister, Emily Frances, daughter of Charles Culling Smith, by the above-mentioned Anne, the widow of Fitzroy. This marriage, being within the ‘prohibited degrees of affinity,’ was voidable by sentence of the Ecclesiastical Court. No such sentence was passed, and the voidability was an- nulled by Lord Lyndhurst's act of 1835, from which date, however, all such marriages were declared to be absolutely void (cf. Hubback, Evidence of Succession, 1844, p. 273). By his second wife the seventh duke had issue Henry Charles Fitzroy Somerset, eighth and present duke. The seventh duke's younger brother,
Lord Granville Charles Henry Somerset (1792–1848), second son of Henry Charles, sixth duke, born on 27 Dec. 1792, was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. He graduated B.A. on 4 Nov. 1813, and M.A. on 29 March 1817. In March 1819 he was made a junior lord of the treasury by Lord Liverpool, and with some intermissions, he occupied this position till November 1830. He was M.P. for Monmouthshire from 1828 to 1848, and received the degree of D.C.L. on 10 June 1834. He was sworn of the privy council on 20 Dec. 1834, on becoming a commissioner of woods and forests, an appointment which he held till 7 May 1835. He was chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster from 3 Sept. 1841 to 6 July 1846. Though always a conservative, he ultimately supported Peel in the abolition of the corn laws. He was a good man of business, and highly distinguished as a sportsman. In the last series of the ‘Wellington Despatches’ (viii. 27) there is a long letter from him describing the Bristol riots in November 1831. He died in London on 23 Feb. 1848 (notes supplied by Col. E. M. Lloyd; Gent. Mag. 1848, i. 432).[Collins's Peerage, i. 237; Doyle's Official Baronage; G. E. C.'s Complete Peerage; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, vols. i. ii. iii. passim; Clarendon Correspondence, ed. Singer; Burton's Diary, ed. Rutt; Warburton's Life of Rupert; Marsh's Annals of Chepstow, ed. Maclean, pp. 254 sq.; Clive's Documents connected with the History of Ludlow; Lives of the Norths, ed. Jessopp; Masson's Milton; Seyer's Memorials of Bristol, ii. 530; Dircks's Life of the Marquis of Worcester and Worcesteriana; Roberts's Life of Monmouth; Ellis Correspondence, 1829; Eachard's History of England; Boyer's William III; Macaulay's History of England; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–7.]