Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset

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Portrait of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, by Godfrey Kneller, 1703.

Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset (13 August 1662 – 2 December 1748), sometimes referred to as the "Proud Duke", was a British peer. The son of Charles Seymour, 2nd Baron Seymour of Trowbridge, and Elizabeth Alington (1635–1692), he succeeded his brother Francis Seymour, 5th Duke of Somerset, in the dukedom when the latter was shot in 1678. He also inherited the title of Baron Seymour of Trowbridge.

Charles was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] In 1682 he married a great heiress, Elizabeth Percy, daughter of Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland, who brought him immense estates, including Alnwick Castle, Petworth House, Syon House and Northumberland House in London.

In 1683, Somerset received an appointment in the king’s household, and two years later a colonelcy of dragoons; but at the Glorious Revolution he bore arms for the Prince of Orange. Having befriended Princess Anne in 1692, he became a favourite of hers after her accession to the throne, receiving the post of Master of the Horse in 1702. Finding himself neglected by Marlborough, he made friends with the Tories, and succeeded in retaining the queen’s confidence, while his wife replaced the Duchess of Marlborough as Mistress of the Robes in 1711. The Duchess became the Queen's closest confidante, causing Jonathan Swift to direct at her a violent satire, The Windsor Prophecy, in which he accused her of murdering her previous husband, Thomas Thynne.[2] The Duchess retained her influence even after the Queen, following a quarrel, dismissed the Duke as Master of the Horse in 1712.[3]

In the memorable crisis when Anne was at the point of death, Somerset acted with Argyll, Shrewsbury and other Whig nobles who, by insisting on their right to be present in the Privy Council, secured the Hanoverian succession to the Crown.

He retained the office of Master of the Horse under George I until 1716, when he was dismissed and retired to private life; he died at Petworth on 2 December 1748. The duke’s first wife having died in 1722, he married secondly, in 1726, Charlotte, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Nottingham. He was a remarkably handsome man, and inordinately fond of taking a conspicuous part in court ceremonial; his vanity, which earned him the sobriquet of "the proud duke," was a byword among his contemporaries and was the subject of numerous anecdotes; Macaulay’s description of him as "a man in whom the pride of birth and rank amounted almost to a disease," is well known.

The Duke was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital in London, 1739, the country's first and only children's home for foundlings (abandoned children).

Issue[edit]

Charles and Lady Elizabeth Percy had four children:

  • Algernon Seymour, 7th Duke of Somerset (11 November 1684 – 7 February 1749)
  • Lady Elizabeth Seymour (1685 – 2 April 1734)
  • Lady Catherine Seymour (1693 – 9 April 1731)
  • Lady Anne Seymour (1709 – 27 November 1722)

On 4 February 1725 he married the 14 year old Lady Charlotte Finch (1711–1773),[4] daughter of Daniel Finch, 7th Earl of Winchilsea. They had two children:

See also[edit]

List of deserters from James II to William of Orange

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Seymour, Charles (SMR662C)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Gregg, Edward Queen Anne Yale University Press 1980
  3. ^ Gregg Queen Anne
  4. ^ Cokayne Complete Peerage
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery
Lord President of the Council
1702
Succeeded by
The Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery
Preceded by
In Commission
Master of the Horse
1702–1712
Succeeded by
In Commission
Preceded by
In Commission
Master of the Horse
1714–1715
Succeeded by
In Commission
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Mulgrave
Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the East Riding of Yorkshire
1682–1687
Succeeded by
The Earl of Mulgrave
Preceded by
The Earl of Winchilsea
Lord Lieutenant of Somerset
1683–1687
Succeeded by
The Lord Waldegrave
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Francis Seymour
Duke of Somerset
1678–1748
Succeeded by
Algernon Seymour