David Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort

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The Duke of Beaufort
11th Duke of Beaufort.jpg
The Duke photographed by Allan Warren
Member of the House of Lords
In office
5 February 1984 – 11 November 1999
Preceded byHenry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort
Succeeded byHouse of Lords Act 1999
Personal details
David Robert Somerset

(1928-02-23)23 February 1928
Died16 August 2017(2017-08-16) (aged 89)
Badminton, Gloucestershire, U.K.
Lady Caroline Jane Thynne
(m. 1950; died 1995)

Miranda Elisabeth née Morley
(m. 2000)
ChildrenHenry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort
Lady Anne Mary Somerset
Lord Edward Alexander Somerset
Lord John Robert Somerset
ParentsHenry Robert Somers Fitzroy de Vere Somerset
Bettine Violet née Malcolm
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service1946–?
Service number370772

David Robert Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort GCC (23 February 1928 – 16 August 2017), known as David Somerset until 1984, was an English peer and major landowner.

An important figure in the world of fox hunting, he was also chairman of Marlborough Fine Art and was well known for frequent conflicts with hunt saboteurs. He also held the office of Hereditary Keeper of Raglan Castle and was President of the British Horse Society.

Early life[edit]

David Somerset was the second son of Captain Henry Robert Somers FitzRoy de Vere Somerset (1898—1965), by his marriage in 1922 to Bettine Violet Malcolm, a daughter of Major C. E. Malcolm.[1] He was educated at Eton College. His father was the grandson of Lord Henry Somerset, second son of the 8th Duke of Beaufort and the temperance activist Lady Isabella Somers-Cocks.

He and his family were descended in the male line from Edward III of England; the first Somerset was a legitimised son of Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, whose grandfather was a legitimized son of John of Gaunt. By the time he succeeded as Duke he was therefore considered the senior representative of the House of Plantagenet, through a legitimised line.[2]

Somerset and his older brother John and younger sister Elizabeth were fifth cousins once removed of the Princess Elizabeth, soon to become heir to the throne, through their common ancestor, Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington, an Anglo-Irish peer.[1] More importantly, Somerset's father was the heir presumptive to the Dukedom of Beaufort and the large estates attached to it.

By the time he was about twelve, it was becoming clear that his father's third cousin Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort, was unlikely to have a son, unless his childless wife Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort, died and he remarried, and that Somerset's father and elder brother were almost the heirs apparent.[2] And then the outlook changed in April 1945, when his elder brother John Alexander Somerset was killed in action in the Allied invasion of Germany. As a result, at the age of seventeen Somerset himself became the likely heir.[1][2]

David Somerset, as he then was, was commissioned into the Coldstream Guards on 6 September 1946 as a second lieutenant.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 January 1949.[4]

Later life[edit]

After his years in the British Army, Somerset took up residence in Gloucestershire, hunted with the Beaufort Hunt, and following his father's death in 1965 it was increasingly certain that he or one of his sons would be the next Duke of Beaufort. He finally succeeded to the family titles and estates in 1984.[2]

As Duke of Beaufort, he was a major landowner and figure in the world of fox hunting, and he became well known for a raffish reputation and also for frequent conflicts with hunt saboteurs.[2] He held the office of Hereditary Keeper of Raglan Castle, was President of the British Horse Society between 1988 and 1990, and was chairman of Marlborough Fine Art. He ranked 581st in the Sunday Times Rich List 2008, with an estimated wealth of £135m in land and 52,000 acres.[5] The Duke was nominated to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1988.[6]

He had a seat in the House of Lords, where he sat as a Conservative from 1984 to 1999. He was one of those who lost their seats as a result of New Labour's reforms in the House of Lords Act 1999.[2]

The Duke was criticised in January 2009 when a Swansea councillor, Ioan Richard, discovered by a Freedom of Information Act request that he had been paid £281,431 for a 70 ft bridge to be built over the River Tawe near Swansea. The Dukes of Beaufort had owned the river bed for some 400 years, so when the local council had wanted to build a bridge linking a shopping centre to the Liberty Stadium, home of Swansea City football club and the Ospreys rugby team, it had to pay the Duke for the right to cross his river bed. Ioan Richard stated that he was "furious that public money had to be used to pay one of Britain's richest estates. For centuries Swansea folk have paid rents to the Duke of Beaufort and we don't owe this powerful and wealthy family anything." A spokesman for the duke's estate at Badminton House responded: "We do not want to comment about a private transaction."[7]

Beaufort died on 16 August 2017 at Badminton House, Gloucestershire, at the age of 89.[8]


He married, firstly, Lady Caroline Jane Thynne (28 August 1928 – 22 April 1995), daughter of the 6th Marquess of Bath, on 5 July 1950. The marriage took place at St Peter's Church, Eaton Square, in the presence of the King and Queen and members of the royal family.[9]

The Duchess of Beaufort presided over the restoration of Badminton House and its grounds. She received an honorary degree (LLD) from Bristol University for her charitable work.[10]

They had four children:[1]

The Duke married, secondly, Miranda Elisabeth Morley (born 1947), on 2 June 2000. She is a daughter of Brigadier General Michael Frederick Morley.


Titles, styles and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 23 February 1928 - 5 February 1984: Mr David Somerset
  • 5 February 1984 - 16 August 2017: His Grace The Duke of Beaufort


Foreing Honours[edit]


Coat of arms of David Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort
Coat of arms of the dukes of Beaufort.png
The coat of arms of the Duke of Beaufort
The coronet of a Duke
A Portcullis Or nailed Azure and chained of the first
Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Azure three Fleurs-de-lys Or (France), 2nd and 3rd, Gules three Lions passant guardant in pale Or (England), all within a Bordure compony Argent and Azure
Dexter: a Panther Argent flames issuing from his mouth and ears proper plain collared and chained Or and semée of Torteaux, Hurts and Pommes alternately
Sinister: a Wyvern with wings endorsed Vert holding in its mouth a Sinister Hand couped at the wrist Gules
Mutare vel timere sperno (Latin for "I scorn to change or to fear")


  1. ^ a b c d e f g P. W. Hammond, ed., The Complete Peerage, Volume XIV (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998), page 77
  2. ^ a b c d e f The Duke of Beaufort Landowner and chairman of Marlborough Fine Art, known for his raffish reputation and frequent conflicts with hunt saboteurs (0bituary) in The Times dated August 17 2017, online at thetimes.co.uk, accessed 5 February 2018 (subscription site)
  3. ^ "No. 37753". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 October 1946. p. 5028.
  4. ^ "No. 38618". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 May 1949. p. 2554.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Vanity Fair Archived 1 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Duke gets £280,000 of public funds for bridge over his river
  8. ^ "David Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort dies, aged 89". BBC. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Their Majesties at society wedding 1950". British Pathe.
  10. ^ "OBITUARY : Caroline Beaufort". Independent.
  11. ^ "Person Page". www.thepeerage.com. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Person Page". www.thepeerage.com. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  13. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-26067015
  14. ^ "Person Page". www.thepeerage.com. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Person Page". www.thepeerage.com. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  16. ^ "ENTIDADES ESTRANGEIRAS AGRACIADAS COM ORDENS PORTUGUESAS - Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas". www.ordens.presidencia.pt. Retrieved 30 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Peerage of England
Preceded by
Henry Somerset
Duke of Beaufort
Succeeded by
Henry Somerset