Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset

Is your surname Seymour?

Research the Seymour family

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset

Also Known As: "Edward", "1st Duke of Somerset"
Birthdate: (52)
Birthplace: Wolf Hall, Wiltshire, England
Death: Died in Tower Hill, London, England
Cause of death: beheaded
Place of Burial: London, Middlesex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir John Seymour of Wulfhall and Lady Margery Seymour (Wentworth)
Husband of Catherine Seymour and Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset
Father of John Seymour, of Maiden Bradley; Sir Edward Seymour, of Maiden Bradley; Mary Peyton; Anne Seymour, Countess of Warwick; Earl of Hertford Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and 8 others
Brother of Henry Seymour, Sir, MP; Margery Seymour; Anthony Seymour; John Seymour; 1st Baron Of Sudeley Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Sudeley and 4 others
Half brother of John Seymour

Occupation: Lord Protector after Henry VIII's death
Managed by: Ofir Friedman
Last Updated:

About Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset

"Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, KG, (c. 1500 – 22 January 1552) was Lord Protector of England during the minority of his nephew King Edward VI (1547–1553), in the period between the death of Henry VIII in 1547 and his own indictment in 1549."














Citations / Sources:

[S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume II, pages 40-41. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.

[S20] Magna Carta Ancestry: A study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Richardson, Douglas, (Kimball G. Everingham, editor. 2nd edition, 2011), vol. 2 p. 169; vol. 3 p. 110.

[S21] L. G. Pine, The New Extinct Peerage 1884-1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages With Genealogies and Arms (London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1972), page 167. Hereinafter cited as The New Extinct Peerage.

[S25] #798 The Wallop Family and Their Ancestry, Watney, Vernon James, (4 volumes. Oxford: John Johnson, 1928), FHL book Q 929.242 W159w; FHL microfilm 1696491 it., vol. 3 p. 702, 718, 786.

"Sir Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, Earl of Hertford, Viscount Beauchamp, Baron Seymour; Protector of the Realm; b. 1506; beheaded 22 January 1551-2."

[S32] #150 [1879-1967] A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage, Together with Memoirs of the Privy Councillors and Knights (1879-1967), Burke, Sir John Bernard, (London: Harrison, 1879-1967), FHL book 942 D22bup., 1884 ed. vol. 2 p. 1229.

[S37] #93 [Book version] The Dictionary of National Biography: from the Earliest Times to 1900 (1885-1900, reprint 1993), Stephen, Leslie, (22 volumes. 1885-1900. Reprint, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1993), FHL book 920.042 D561n., vol. 17 p. 1237, 1268.

[S54] #21 The complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct, or dormant, Cokayne, George Edward, (Gloucester [England] : Alan Sutton Pub. Ltd., 1987), 942 D22cok., vol. 12 pt. 1 p. 36, 64.

[S64] #248 [Reprint, 1977] A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland Enjoying Territorial Possessions or High Official Rank but Uninvested with Heritable Honours (1834-1838; reprint 1977), Burke, John, (1834-1838. Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1977), 942 D2bc 1977; FHL microfiche 6035997-035999; FHL ., vol. 3 p. 201.

[S67] #205 Baronagium Genealogicum, Or, the Pedigrees of the English Peers, Deduced from the Earliest Times, of Which There Are Any Attested Accountes Including, as Well Collateral as Lineal Descents (1764-1784), Segar, Sir William, (6 volumes. [London]: Engraved and printed for the author, [1764-1784].), Volumes 1-4 FHL microfilm 164,680; volume 5 FHL mi., vol. 1 p. 7.

[S73] #542 Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire (1874), Foster, Joseph, (2 volumes in 12. London: W. Wilfred Head, 1874), FHL book Q 942.74 D2f; FHL microfilm 924,024., vol. 1 pt. 4 Pedigree of Wentworth of Woodhouse.

[S118] #241 A Complete English Peerage: Containing a Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical Account of the Peers of this Realm, Together with the Different Branches of Each Family, Including a Particular Relation of the Most Remarkable Transaction, Jacob, Alexander, (3 parts in 1. London: Alexander Jacob, 1766), FHL book Q 942 D22ja., vol. 1 p. 131.

[S126] #1853 [1558-1603] The House of Commons 1558-1603 (1981), Hasler, P. W ., (The History of Parliament [Series]. 3 volumes. London: H.M.S.O., 1981 http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org NOTE: Online source has no page numbers, but individuals are in alphabetical order.), FHL book 942 D3hp., vol. 2 p. 405.

[S134] #65 Baronia Anglica Concentrata, Or, a Concentrated Account of All the Baronies Commonly Called Baronies in Fee: Deriving Their Origin from Writ of Summons, and Not from Any Specific Limited Creation (1843-1844), Banks, Thomas Christopher, (2 volumes. Ripon: Thomas C. Banks, 1843-44), FHL book Q 942 D22bt; FHL microfilm 845,140 items ., vol. 1 p. 121.

[S335] #506 Visitation of England and Wales, Notes (1896-1921), Howard, Joseph Jackson, (14 volumes. [London]: Frederick Arthur Crisp, 1896-1921), FHL book 942 D23hn., vol. 7 p. 36.

[S452] #21 The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant (1910), Cokayne, George Edward (main author) and Vicary Gibbs (added author), (New edition. 13 volumes in 14. London: St. Catherine Press,1910-), vol. 2 p. 40, 41; vol. 3 p. 558.

[S868] #969 The History of Modern Wiltshire (1822-1844), Hoare, Sir Richard Colt, (14 parts in 6 volumes. London: J. Nichols, 1822-1844), FHL book Q 942.31 H2h; FHL microfilms 1,426,001-1,., vol. 1 p. 117.

[S869] Annals of the Seymours : being a history of the Seymour family, from early times to within a few years of the present, St. Maur, Richard Harold, (London : Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1902), 929.242 Se96s., p. 22.

[S887] The royal descents of 600 immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States : who were themselves notable or left descendants notable in American history, Roberts, Gary Boyd, (Baltimore [Maryland] : Genealogical Pub. Co., c2004), 973 D2rrd., p. 150.

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset KG (c. 1500[3] – 22 January 1552) was Lord Protector of England from 1547 until 1549 during the minority of his nephew, King Edward VI (1547-1553). He was the eldest brother of Queen Jane Seymour (d.1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII.

Origins and early career Edward Seymour was born circa 1500, the son of Sir John Seymour (1474-1536) by his wife Margery Wentworth. In 1514 aged about 14 he received an appointment in the household of Mary Tudor.

When Edward's sister Jane Seymour married King Henry VIII in 1536, he was created Viscount Beauchamp on 5 June 1536, and Earl of Hertford on 15 October 1537. He became Warden of the Scottish Marches and continued in royal favour after his sister's death on 24 October 1537.

Somerset's Protectorate Council of Regency Upon the death of Henry VIII (28 January 1547), Seymour's nephew became king as Edward VI. Henry VIII's will named sixteen executors, who were to act as Edward's Council until he reached the age of 18. These executors were supplemented by twelve men "of counsail" who would assist the executors when called on. The final state of Henry VIII's will has occasioned controversy. Some historians suggest that those close to the king manipulated either him or the will itself to ensure a shareout of power to their benefit, both material and religious. In this reading, the composition of the Privy Chamber shifted towards the end of 1546 in favour of the Protestant faction.

Rebellion During 1548, England was subject to social unrest. After April 1549, a series of armed revolts broke out, fuelled by various religious and agrarian grievances. The two most serious rebellions, which required major military intervention to put down, were in Devon and Cornwall and in Norfolk. The first, sometimes called the Prayer Book Rebellion, arose mainly from the imposition of church services in English, and the second, led by a tradesman called Robert Kett, mainly from the encroachment of landlords on common grazing ground. A complex aspect of the social unrest was that the protestors believed they were acting legitimately against enclosing landlords with the Protector's support, convinced that the landlords were the lawbreakers.

The same justification for outbreaks of unrest was voiced throughout the country, not only in Norfolk and the west. The origin of the popular view of Somerset as sympathetic to the rebel cause lies partly in his series of sometimes liberal, often contradictory, proclamations, and partly in the uncoordinated activities of the commissions he sent out in 1548 and 1549 to investigate grievances about loss of tillage, encroachment of large sheep flocks on common land, and similar issues. Somerset's commissions were led by the evangelical M.P. John Hales, whose socially liberal rhetoric linked the issue of enclosure with Reformation theology and the notion of a godly commonwealth. Local groups often assumed that the findings of these commissions entitled them to act against offending landlords themselves. King Edward wrote in his Chronicle that the 1549 risings began "because certain commissions were sent down to pluck down enclosures".

Whatever the popular view of Somerset, the disastrous events of 1549 were taken as evidence of a colossal failure of government, and the Council laid the responsibility at the Protector's door. In July 1549, Paget wrote to Somerset: "Every man of the council have misliked your proceedings ... would to God, that, at the first stir you had followed the matter hotly, and caused justice to be ministered in solemn fashion to the terror of others ...".

Fall of Somerset The sequence of events that led to Somerset's removal from power has often been called a coup d'état. By 1 October 1549, Somerset had been alerted that his rule faced a serious threat. He issued a proclamation calling for assistance, took possession of the king's person, and withdrew for safety to the fortified Windsor Castle, where Edward wrote, "Me thinks I am in prison".

Meanwhile, a united Council published details of Somerset's government mismanagement. They made clear that the Protector's power came from them, not from Henry VIII's will. On 11 October, the Council had Somerset arrested and brought the king to Richmond. Edward summarised the charges against Somerset in his Chronicle: "ambition, vainglory, entering into rash wars in mine youth, negligent looking on Newhaven, enriching himself of my treasure, following his own opinion, and doing all by his own authority, etc."

In February 1550, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, emerged as the leader of the Council and, in effect, as Somerset's successor. Although Somerset was released from the Tower and restored to the Council in early 1550, he was executed for felony in January 1552 after scheming to overthrow Dudley's regime.[49] Edward noted his uncle's death in his Chronicle: "the duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill between eight and nine o'clock in the morning". Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset was interred at St. Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London.

Historiography Historians have contrasted the efficiency of Somerset's takeover of power in 1547 with the subsequent ineptitude of his rule. By autumn 1549, his costly wars had lost momentum, the crown faced financial ruin, and riots and rebellions had broken out around the country. Until recent decades, Somerset's reputation with historians was high, in view of his many proclamations that appeared to back the common people against a rapacious landowning class.[52] In the early 20th century this line was taken by the influential A. F. Pollard, to be echoed by Edward VI's 1960s biographer W. K. Jordan. A more critical approach was initiated by M. L. Bush and Dale Hoak in the mid-1970s. Since then, Somerset has often been portrayed as an arrogant ruler, devoid of the political and administrative skills necessary for governing the Tudor state.

view all 19

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset's Timeline

Wolf Hall, Wiltshire, England
Age 13
Wolf Hall, Wiltshire, , England
Age 22
Great Leake, Nottinghamshire, England
Age 27
Gloucestershire, England
Age 29
Age 38
May 22, 1539
Age 39
Age 40
Raynham Martyne, Norfolk, England