Duke of Somerset

Duke of Somerset
Coat of Arms of the Seymour Dukes of Somerset: Quarterly: 1st and 4th or, on a pile gules, between six fleurs de lys azure, three lions of England (or); 2nd and 3rd, gules, two wings conjoined in lure or (Debrett on line)

Duke of Somerset is a title in the peerage of England that has been created several times. Derived from Somerset, it is particularly associated with two families; the Beauforts who held the title from the creation of 1448 and the Seymours, from the creation of 1547 and in whose name the title is still held.

The only subsidiary title of the Duke of Somerset is Baron Seymour, which is used as a courtesy title for the eldest son and heir of the Duke. The Duke of Somerset's heir's courtesy title is the lowest in rank of all heirs to Dukedoms in the peerages of the British Isles, yet a Lord Seymour's precendence is higher than his title suggests, by virtue of the seniority of the Dukedom of Somerset (the 4th oldest extant Dukedom).

Several other titles have been held by the Duke of Somerset, but have become extinct. These include: Earl of Kendal (created 1443; extinct 1444), Viscount Rochester (created 1611; extinct 1645), Viscount Beauchamp of Hache (created 1536; forfeit 1552), Earl of Hertford (created 1537; extinct 1552 and created 1559; extinct 1750), Marquess of Hertford (created 1640; extinct 1675), Baron Seymour of Trowbridge (created 1641; extinct 1750), Baron Percy (created 1722; separated 1750), Baron Cockermouth (created 1749; separated 1750), Earl of Egremont (created 1749; separated 1750), and Earl St. Maur (created 1863; extinct 1885).

The ducal seat is Bradley House (Wiltshire) in Maiden Bradley with Yarnfield, Wiltshire, with a secondary estate at Berry Pomeroy Castle, Totnes, Devon.


Creation of Empress Matilda

William de Mohun of Dunster (?–c. 1155) a favourite of Empress Matilda and a loyal supporter of her in the war against King Stephen (during which he earned the epithet of the "Scourge of the West") was given the title Earl of Somerset, in 1141. In the foundation charter of the priory at Bruton he describes himself as "Willielmus de Moyne, comes Somersetensis". The title was not recognised by Stephen or Henry II (Matilda's son), and his descendants did not use the title.

Beaufort creation

John Beaufort (1371/1373–1410) was the eldest son from John of Gaunt's marriage to Katherine Swynford. He was created Earl of Somerset on 10 February 1397 and on 9 September 1397[1] he was created Marquess of Somerset following his marriage to Margaret de Holand, daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent was created Marquess of Dorset on 29 September 1397.[2] In 1399 upon the accession of Henry IV his marquessates were revoked.[3]

The Commons petitioned the King for his restoration but he himself objected stating "the name of marquess is a strange name in this realm".[4] He was succeeded as Earl of Somerset by his son Henry Beaufort (1401–1418),[5] but his early death left the title to his brother John Beaufort (1404–1444). He was created Duke of Somerset and Earl of Kendal on 28 August 1443. He died on 27 May 1444, possibly through suicide. The dukedom and the Earldom of Kendal became extinct.[6]

The Earldom of Somerset passed to his brother Edmund Beaufort, Count of Mortain (c.1406–1455). Edmund had been created Earl of Dorset on 18 August 1442 and Marquess of Dorset on 24 June 1443. He was created Duke of Somerset under a new creation on 31 March 1448. However he is usually referred to as the 2nd Duke of Somerset.[7]

The 2nd duke was killed at the First Battle of St Albans on 22 May 1455 and his titles passed to his son Henry Beaufort (1436–1464) who had been known as the Earl of Dorset since his father's creation as Duke of Somerset. After the defeat at the battle of Towton on 29 March 1461 he fled to Scotland and was attained on 4 November 1461. All his honours and estates were declared forfeit. His titles were restored to him on 10 March 1463 but he deserted the King and was captured and beheaded after the battle of Hexham on 15 May 1464.[7]

He was unmarried but his illegitimate son Charles Somerset became the 1st Earl of Worcester. Henry's titles were forfeited by act of parliament; but his brother Edmund Beaufort (c.1439–1471) was styled Duke of Somerset by the Lancastrians.[8] After the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471 he fled and took refuge in Tewkesbury Abbey. He was beheaded by the Yorkists, and buried in the abbey church. Upon his death the house of Beaufort became extinct in the legitimate line.[1]

Later creations

In 1499 Henry VII nominated his infant son Edmund to the dukedom of Somerset at his baptism, but the child, just over a year old when he died,[1] was probably never formally created a peer.

The illegitimate son of Henry VIII, Henry Fitzroy (1519–1536) was created Earl of Nottingham, and Duke of Richmond and Somerset on 18 June 1525. He died without heirs on July 22, 1536 so his titles became extinct.[9]

Robert Carr (c.1590–1645) son of Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehurst, became a favourite of King James I. On 25 March 1611 he was created Viscount Rochester, and subsequently a privy councillor. On the death of Lord Salisbury in 1612 he began to act as the king’s secretary. On the 3 November 1613 he was created Earl of Somerset. He died in July 1645, leaving a daughter, Anne. His titles became extinct.[10]

Seymour creation

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (c.1506–1552), brother of Henry VIII's wife Jane Seymour, became Lord Protector of England during Minority between 1547 and 1549. Edward married twice; he divorced his first wife Catherine Fillol (disowning her and her children) around 1535 and married Anne Stanhope who bore him nine children. He was created Viscount Beauchamp of Hache in 1536 and Earl of Hertford in 1537. In 1547 he made himself Duke of Somerset. His position as Lord Protector was usurped by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick (later Duke of Northumberland). His titles were forfeited and he was beheaded on 22 January 1552.[11] He had bought Berry Pomeroy Castle from Sir Thomas Pomeroy, in 1547, although he probably never visited it.

In 1644 Charles I granted the earldom of Glamorgan to Edward Somerset (1613–1667). He was a descendant of Charles Somerset, the illegitimate son of Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset. In return for obtaining military help from Ireland he promised Edward the title of Duke of Somerset.[12] Under the Commonwealth Edward was banished from England and his estates were seized. At the Restoration his estates were restored, and he claimed the dukedom of Somerset as promised to him by Charles I. The claim was rejected by the House of Lords and so was the title of Earl of Glamorgan.

Edward Seymour (1538–1621) was a son of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, from his second marriage. He had been created Earl of Hertford, in 1559 under Elizabeth. The Earl of Hertford's grandson William Seymour (1588—1660) secretly married Lady Arabella Stuart (1575–1615) on 22 June 1610. She was the niece of Lord Darnley, a cousin of James I and next in succession to both Scottish and English thrones. Both William and Arabella were imprisoned but managed to escape. William fled to Paris, but Arabella was recaptured. She was imprisoned in the Tower of London where she died in 1615. William returned to England shortly after her death and inherited his father's titles in 1621. He was made Marquess of Hertford in 1640 and on 13 September 1660, shortly before his death on 24 October, the title of Duke of Somerset was restored to him and the Seymour family. He had outlived his three eldest sons and the dukedom passed to William Seymour (1654–1671) who was the son of Henry Seymour, Lord Beauchamp (1626–1654), the 2nd duke's third son. The 3rd duke died unmarried and the title passed to John Seymour (bef. 1646–1675) the last surviving son of the 2nd Duke. On his death without issue in 29 April 1675 the marquessate of Hertford became extinct. His cousin Francis Seymour, 3rd Baron Seymour of Trowbridge (1658–1678) became 5th Duke of Somerset. Francis was the eldest surviving son of Charles Seymour (1621–1665), whose father Sir Francis Seymour (c. 1590–1664), a younger brother of the 2nd Duke of Somerset, had been created Baron Seymour of Trowbridge in 1641.

When the 5th Duke died unmarried in 1678, the title passed to his brother, Charles Seymour (1662–1748), youngest son of the 2nd Baron Trowbridge. The 6th Duke, was known as "the Proud Duke",[13] was a favourite of Queen Anne. He first married Lady Elizabeth Percy,[13] daughter of Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland (1644–1670). She died in 1722 and in 1725 he married Lady Charlotte Finch (1711–1773), daughter of Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham. The 6th duke died 2 December 1748, at Petworth House, Sussex[13] at age 86 leaving the title to his son from his first marriage Algernon Seymour (1684–1750).

Algernon had been created Baron Percy in 1722. After succeeding his father as 7th Duke of Somerset he was created Earl of Northumberland in 1749. The Earldom of Northumberland having become extinct with the passing of his maternal grandfather in 1670. The remainder of the earldom was to pass to Sir Hugh Smithson, husband of Algernon's daughter Elizabeth Seymour (bef. 1730–1776), whilst the titles Baron Cockermouth and Earl of Egremont were remaindered to the children of his sister, Lady Catherine Seymour (1693–1731). Without male issue, on his death in February 1750 these titles therefore passed to different families in accordance with the remainders in the patents of their creation. The earldom of Hertford, the barony of Beauchamp, and the barony of Seymour of Trowbridge became extinct; and the dukedom of Somerset, together with the barony of Seymour, devolved on his distant cousin.[14]

Sir Edward Seymour, 6th baronet of Berry Pomeroy (1701–1757)[15] became the 8th Duke of Somerset in 1750. The 1st baronet was Edward Seymour (1556–1613) grandson of the 1st Duke of Somerset, son of Edward Seymour (1527/1535–1593) who was the 1st duke's eldest son from his first marriage to Catherine Fillol. The 6th baronet was thus 7 generations removed from the 1st Duke. The 4th Baronet had been speaker of the House of Commons during the reign of Charles II and he moved the family home from Berry Pomeroy Castle in Devon to Bradley House in Maiden Bradley.[16] Upon the death of the 8th duke he was succeeded by his eldest son Edward Seymour (1717–1792). He died unmarried and was succeeded by his brother Webb Seymour (1718–1793) who became the 10th Duke. His son Edward Adolphus Seymour (1775–1855) was a noted mathematician and became the 11th Duke upon his father's death. He changed the family name to St. Maur but Seymour was still very often used.

Earl St. Maur

Edward Seymour

The 11th duke was succeeded by his eldest son Edward Adolphus Seymour (1804–1885) who was created Earl St. Maur of Berry Pomeroy in 1863. His eldest son Edward Adolphus Ferdinand Seymour (1835–1869) was known as Lord Seymour until 1863 when he took his father's new creation as a courtesy title. Commonly known as Ferdy, he was an adventurer who joined Garibaldi's army under the assumed name of Capt. Richard Sarsfield. In 1866 he began a relationship with a 17-year-old maid called Rosina Swan. The Earl took Rosina with him during his travels, returning to England with her in 1868 to live near Brighton. Ferdy and Rosina had two children; a girl named Ruth (1867–1953) was born whilst the couple were in Tangier and a boy named Richard Harold St. Maur (1869–1927) was born in Brighton shortly before the death of his father. Had the earl married Rosina, Harold would have been the heir to his grandfather's dukedom and for this reason Harold tried to find proof that the couple had married whilst they were living in the Netherlands, offering reward of £50 for evidence to support the claim, but was unsuccessful.

The 12th Duke died on 28 December 1885 aged 81 outliving both of his sons and the title passed to his aged unmarried brother Archibald Henry Algernon Seymour (1810–1891), when he died a few years later, the youngest brother Algernon Percy Banks St. Maur (1813–1894) became the 14th Duke. Three and a half years later he was dead. His son Algernon Seymour (1846–1923) became the 15th Duke. He died without children and the title passed to his distant cousin Edward Hamilton Seymour (1860–1931). He was the great great grandson of Francis Seymour, Dean of Wells (1726–1799), youngest son of the 8th duke. He was succeeded by his son Evelyn Francis Seymour (1882–1954) who passed the title on to his son Percy Hamilton Seymour (1910–1984). The title is currently held by his son John Michael Edward Seymour who was born in 1952. The current heir to the title is Sebastian Seymour, Lord Seymour who was born in 1982.

Earls of Somerset, first Creation (1141)

Earls of Somerset, second Creation (1397)

Marquesses of Somerset (1397)

  • John Beaufort, 1st Marquess of Somerset, 1st Marquess of Dorset (1371/1373–1410) was created Marquess later the same year for his role as a counter-appellant

Earls of Somerset, second Creation (1397; reverted)

Dukes of Somerset, first Creation (1443)

Earls of Somerset, second Creation (1397; reverted)

  • Edmund Beaufort, 4th Earl of Somerset, third son of the 1st Earl

Dukes of Somerset, second Creation (1448)

These dukes are variously numbered to include or exclude their kinsman John, 1st Duke
  • Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset (c. 1406–1455), became Duke of Somerset in 1448
  • Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset (1436–1464), eldest son of Edmund, whose titles were forfeit from 1461 to 1463
  • Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset (c. 1439–1471), second son of Edmund, may or may not be considered Duke, and was so styled by Lancastrians (see article for details)

Dukes of Somerset, third Creation (1499)

Dukes of Richmond and Somerset (1525)

Dukes of Somerset, fourth Creation (1547)

for the intervening generations, see Viscount Beauchamp and the Earls and Marquesses of Hertford

Earls of Somerset, third Creation (1613)

Dukes of Somerset, fourth Creation (1547; restored)

The heir apparent is the present holder's eldest son Sebastian Seymour, Lord Seymour (b. 1982).

Line of succession

  1. Sebastian Seymour, Lord Seymour (b. 1982), eldest son of the 19th Duke
  2. Lord Charles Thomas George Seymour (b.1992), second and youngest son of the 19th Duke
  3. Lord Francis Charles Edward Seymour (b. 1956), second and youngest son of the 18th Duke
  4. Webb Edward Percy Seymour (b.1990), only son of Lord Francis
  5. Henry Jocelyn Seymour, 9th Marquess of Hertford (b. 1958), great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford, grandson of Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Baronet, great-great-grandson of Sir Edward Seymour, of Berry Pomeroy, second son of the 1st Duke
  6. William Francis Seymour, Earl of Yarmouth (b. 1993), eldest son of the 9th Marquess
  7. Lord Edward George Seymour (b. 1995), second and youngest son of the 9th Marquess
  8. A/Cdre. Andrew Conway Paul Seymour (b. 1939), grandson of Commander Lord George Frederick Seymour, fourth and youngest son of Hugh de Grey Seymour, 6th Marquess of Hertford
  9. Nicholas George Mark Seymour (b. 1953), first cousin of A/Cdre. Andrew Seymour
  10. William Thomas Seymour (b. 1954), great-grandson of the Rev. Lord Victor Alexander Seymour, fourth and youngest son of Sir Francis George Hugh Seymour, 5th Marquess of Hertford
  11. Conway William Hugh Seymour (b. 1934), first cousin once removed of William Thomas Seymour
  12. Conway Ronald Hugh Seymour (b. 1962), only son of Conway William Hugh Seymour
  13. Hugh James Seymour (b. 1956), great-great-great-great-grandson of Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour, fifth son of the 1st Marquess
  14. Hugo Frederick James Seymour (b. 1988), eldest son of Hugh James Seymour
  15. Rupert Alexander Erskine Seymour (b. 1992), second son of Hugh James Seymour
  16. Felix Horatio Hindmarch Seymour (b. 2000), third son of Hugh James Seymour
  17. Otto Storm Hindmarch Seymour (b. 2003), fourth and youngest son of Hugh James Seymour
  18. Julian Seymour (b. 1961), younger brother of Hugh James Seymour
  19. Francis Benedict Seymour (b. 1966), younger brother of Hugh James and Julian Seymour
  20. Thaddeus Oliver Thomas (b. 2001), eldest son of Francis Benedict Seymour
  21. Noah Benedict Hugh (b. 2003), second and youngest son of Francis Benedict Seymour
  22. Hugh Leopold Seymour (b. 1943), great-great-great-grandson of Lord George Seymour, seventh and youngest son of the 1st Marquess
  23. Charles Richard Seymour (b. 1955), younger brother of Hugh Leopold Seymour
  24. Rafe Conway Seymour (b. 1994), eldest son of Charles Richard Seymour
  25. Leo Miles Seymour (b. 1997), second and youngest son of Charles Richard Seymour
  26. Thomas Oliver Seymour (b. 1952), first cousin of Hugh Leopold and Charles Richard Seymour
  27. Edward Alexander Seymour (b. 1992), eldest son of Thomas Seymour
  28. William Seymour (b. 1994), second and youngest son of Thomas Seymour
  29. Lt.-Col. Conway John Edward Seymour (b. 1941), second cousin of Hugh Leopold, Charles Richard and Thomas Seymour
  30. Harry Edward Seymour (b. 1971), only son of Lt.-Col. Conway Seymour
  31. Richard Hubert Seymour (b. 1947), younger brother of Lt.-Col. Conway Seymour
  32. James Richard Edward Seymour (b. 1985), only son of Richard Seymour
  33. Julian Conway Seymour (b. 1934), first cousin once removed of Hugh Leopold, Charles Richard, Thomas, Lt.-Col. Conway and Richard Seymour
  34. Leopold Conway Seymour (b. 1959), eldest son of Julian Conway Seymour
  35. Frederick Conway Seymour (b. 2000), eldest son of Leopold Seymour
  36. William Titus Beauchamp Seymour (b. 2002), second and youngest son of Leopold Seymour
  37. Mark Hamilton Seymour (b. 1960), second son of Julian Conway Seymour
  38. Harry William Seymour (b. 1974), third and youngest son of Julian Conway Seymour
  39. Archibald John Seymour (b. 1937), second cousin once removed of Julian Conway Seymour and third cousin of Hugh Leopold, Charles Richard, Thomas, Lt.-Col. Conway and Richard Seymour
  40. Julian Roger Seymour (b. 1945), younger brother of Archibald Seymour
  41. Archie Christopher Seymour (b. 1989), only son of Julian Roger Seymour
  42. Christopher Mark Seymour (b. 1942), first cousin of Archibald and Julian Roger Seymour
  43. Thomas Mark Middleton Seymour (b. 1972), eldest son of Christopher Seymour
  44. Peter Christopher James Seymour (b. 1977), second and youngest son of Christopher Seymour

Earls St Maur (1863 creation)

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Extinct peerage of England". GENUKI. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/History/Barons/ExtinctDukes.html. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  2. ^ "House of Beaufort and Somerset". European Heraldry. http://www.europeanheraldry.org/house_of_beaufort_and_somerset.html. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "John de Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset". Luminarium. http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/johnbeaufort1.htm. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "Marquess". Debretts. http://www.debretts.com/people/essential-guide-to-the-peerage/the-ranks-of-the-peerage/marquess.aspx. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Henry Beaufort, 2nd Earl of Somerset". RoyaList Online. http://www.royalist.info/execute/biog?person=48. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "View of the extinct peerage of England : Dukes". GENUKI. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/History/Barons/ExtinctDukes.html. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Sir Edmund Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset". Peerage.com. http://www.thepeerage.com/p10198.htm. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Jonathan Hughes, "Somerset , Charles, first earl of Worcester (c.1460–1526)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edition, January 2007 [accessed 1 Sept 2010] (Subscription required for online version)
  9. ^ Murphy, Beverley A. (2001). Bastard Prince: Henry VIII's Lost Son. Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-2684-8. 
  10. ^ "Robert Carr, 1st and last Earl of Somerset". Peerage.com. http://thepeerage.com/p1222.htm. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Edward Seymour". Tudor place.com. http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Bios/EdwardSeymour(1DSomerset).htm. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  12. ^ Plant, David (25 May 2009). "The Glamorgan Treaty, 1645". British Civil Wars, Commonwealth & Protectorate 1638-60. http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/glossary/glamorgan-treaty.htm. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c "Charles Seymour 6th Duke of Somerset". W.H. Auden Family Ghosts. Stanford University. http://auden.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/auden/individual.php?pid=I1926&ged=auden-bicknell.ged. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  14. ^ "Algernon Baron Percy, 7th Duke of Somerset, Earl of Northumberland". Moore, Simpson, Ballard Family Tree - England and Scotland to Australia. http://familytrees.genopro.com/ralphballard/default.htm?page=BaronPercy7thDukeOfSomers-Algernon-ind00244.htm. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "Edward Seymour, 8th Duke of Somerset". thePeerage.com. http://www.thepeerage.com/p2421.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  16. ^ Report and Transactions of The Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts. Vol 133 (2001), p 11-12.

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