Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford

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"Lord Hertford" redirects here, for other persons holding that title see Marquess of Hertford

Edward Seymour
Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, Attributed to Hans Eworth (1515 - 1574).jpg
Born (1539-05-22)22 May 1539
Died 6 April 1621(1621-04-06) (aged 81)
Title 1st Earl of Hertford
Spouse(s) Lady Catherine Grey (m.1560-1568)
Frances Howard (m.1582-1598)
Frances Prannell, née Howard (m.1601-1621)
Children Edward Seymour, Lord Beauchamp
Thomas Seymour
Parent(s) Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset
Anne Stanhope
Arms of Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford: Quarterly, 1st and 4th: Or, on a pile gules between six fleurs-de-lys azure three lions of England (special grant to 1st Duke of Somerset (d.1552)); 2nd and 3rd: Gules, two wings conjoined in lure or (Seymour)[1] These arms concede the positions of greatest honour, the 1st & 4th quarters, to a special grant of arms to the 1st Duke of Somerset by his nephew King Edward VI, incorporating the fleurs-de-lys (with tinctures reversed) of the Royal arms of France (first quartered by King Edward III) and the lions of the royal arms of Plantagenet

Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, 1st Baron Beauchamp, KG (22 May 1539 – 6 April 1621) of Wulfhall and Tottenham House in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, of Hatch Beauchamp in Somerset, of Netley Abbey, Hampshire, and of Hertford House, Cannon Row in Westminster, is most noted for incurring the displeasure of Queen Elizabeth by more than one clandestine marriage.


He was the eldest son of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (c.1500-1552), brother of Queen Jane Seymour, uncle of King Edward VI and Lord Protector of England, by his second wife Anne Stanhope (c.1497-1587) only child of Sir Edward Stanhope (1462-1511) of Rampton in Nottinghamshire, by his wife Elizabeth Bourchier (c.1473-1557), a daughter of Fulk Bourchier, 10th Baron FitzWarin (1445-1479), feudal baron of Bampton in Devon. Although his father had sons by his first marriage, these were postponed by special remainder to the succession of his dukedom behind the male issue of his second marriage, due to the suspected adultery of his first wife. This senior line did eventually inherit the dukedom in 1750, as the special remainder allowed, on the death of the 7th Duke of Somerset without male progeny.


From 1547, when his father was created Duke of Somerset, his son Edward Seymour was styled by the duke's subsidiary title of Earl of Hertford. He was educated with the young Prince Edward, later Edward VI, and was knighted on the occasion of Edward's coronation.[2] On 7 April 1550 he was sent to France as a hostage, returning three weeks later. Following his father's disgrace and execution, his son was barred from inheriting his titles and most of his wealth. Some of his father's lands and property were restored to him by Edward VI, but he still seemed to have been forced to rely on Sir John Thynne for some financial support.[2] Under Queen Mary he was "restored in blood", but was not given back his title; Queen Elizabeth I created him Earl of Hertford, in the earldom's second creation, in 1559.[2] Between April and May 1605[3] following theTreaty of London (1604) he was sent on an Embassy by King James I to Albert VII, Archduke of Austria,[4] sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands between 1598 and 1621, at Brussels, to receive his oath of peace.

A series of clandestine marriages[edit]

Catherine Grey[edit]

His first wife, Lady Catherine Grey, was a potential claimant to Elizabeth's throne, and law established that it was a penal offence for her to marry without notifying the Sovereign. They were married by an anonymous clergyman at Hertford House in Cannon Row, Westminster, before 25 December 1560. The marriage was kept secret until August nearly a year later when Catherine became visibly pregnant and she confided the reason to Lord Robert Dudley. Each was ordered to confinement in the Tower; Catherine was confined immediately, and Seymour imprisoned upon his return. While in custody, they were questioned about every aspect of their marriage, but they both claimed to have forgotten the date.

A commission was begun, headed by Archbishop Parker in February 1562. Under this pressure, Lady Catherine finally declared that they had waited for Elizabeth to quit the capital for Eltham Palace. Servants were questioned, and none of them could remember the exact date either. John Fortescue[disambiguation needed] said it was 'in November'. The priest could not be located, but by consulting the accounts of the Cofferer of the Household the marriage date was decided to be 27 November.

His son Edward was declared illegitimate and the father was fined 15,000 pounds in Star Chamber for "seducing a virgin of the blood royal."

Despite all this, the Earl apparently found a way to continue marital relations with his wife in the Tower. In February 1563, Thomas Seymour was born. Lady Catherine died in 1568, and Seymour was finally allowed out of the Tower and allowed to re-appear at court. Officially his sons remained bastards. In 1576 he carried the sword of state at Elizabeth's procession of the knights of the garter.[5]

Progeny by Catherine Grey[edit]

Bellocamp(o) eram, Graia genetrice, Semerus. Tres habui natos, est quibus una soror ("I was Beauchamp, a Seymour, by my mother Grey. I have had three born of which one a sister")
  • Thomas Seymour (c.1563-1600), 2nd son, born in the Tower of London, who also predeceased his father and died without progeny, having married Isabell Onley (d.1619), daughter of Edward Onley (1522-1582), Esquire, (Latinized to Unleius, genitive Unleii on his father's monument in Salisbury Cathedral[7]) of Catesby in Northamptonshire, MP for Brackley in 1563.[8] Thomas's mural monument, possibly by the sculptor Epiphanius Evesham,[9] survives in In St Margaret's Church, Westminster (his father's townhouse Hertford House, was in Cannon Row, Westminster), showing kneeling effigies of himself and his wife, inscribed as follows:[10]
"Here in peace resteth ye bodyes of Thomas Seymour, second sone to ye right honourable Edward, Earle of Hartford, and Esable his wife, eldest daughter to Edward Onley of Katesby in ye county of Northampton Esq., wh(ich) said Thomas departed this mortall life ye eight day of August 1600 & ye said Esable ye twen(tie)th day of August 1619 in ye true faith of Jesus Christ & in ye blesse(d) hope of a joyfull resurection".

Frances Howard[edit]

In 1582, he married his second wife, Frances Howard. Their union was in secret, and remained a secret for nearly a decade, with Frances serving as a gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Hertford attempted to have this marriage set aside in 1595 (hoping to clear his still illegitimate sons' claim to the throne). He was arrested again, and Frances died in 1598.

Frances Prannell[edit]

In May 1601, he secretly married once more, to the wealthy widow Frances Prannell, also born Frances Howard, the daughter of Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Howard of Bindon. The marriage was performed by Thomas Montfort without banns or license, for which Monfort was suspended for three years by Archbishop John Whitgift.[11]

Residences & landholdings[edit]

His principal seats were as follows:

Death & burial[edit]

Monument in Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, to Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford
Detail of monument to Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, Salisbury Cathedral

He died in 1621 at Netley Abbey and was buried in the Seymour Chapel of Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire, where survives his elaborate monument in white alabaster with effigies of a himself and his first wife recumbent, he dressed in armour, and she in robes, both praying; at their head and feet is a kneeling effigy of each of their sons, fully dressed in armour, under four Corinthian marble columns. On the top are several figures and pyramids.[14] Around the central inscribed tablet are impaled heraldic escutcheons showing the marriages of their respective Seymour and Grey ancestors. The Latin inscriptions are as follows:[15]

Mutate melior. Qui fecit Angelos, Vos Spiritus et Ministros suos Flammas ignis. Procede, Figura, In ministerium, Misit propter eos qui haereditatem capient Salutis. (“Repent, he has made his angels spirits, and his Ministers, flames of Fire. Proceed, Go into the Ministry, to minister unto them, who shall be Heirs of Salvation”)

Lower under the arch, on a black marble tablet, in gold capitals, is this inscription :

M(emoriae) S(acrum) Edvardo, Hertfordiae Comiti, Baroni de Belcampo Illustrissimi principis Edvardi Ducis Somersetensis Com(itis) Hertfordiae, Procom(itis) Bellicamp(o) & Baronis de Sancto Mauro, Garteriani Ordinis Equestris celeberrimi sodalis, Edvardi VI Reg(is) Avunculi, Gubernatoris ejusque, Regnorum Dominiorum ac subditorum Protectoris dignissimi Exercitiumque Praefecti, et locum tenentis, generalis Thesaurarii, et Comitis, Marescalli Angliae, Gubernatoris & Capitanei Insularum de Garnsey & Jersey, et ex Anna uxore splendidiss(ima) orta natalibus et per antiquis Filio et Haeredi Nec non conjugi suae chariss(imae) dilectiss(imae) Catherinae Henrici & Franciscae Grai D. D. Suffolc, filiae et haeredi Caroli Brandon D(ucis) Suffolc, ex Maria Hen(rici) VIII Sorore & Galliar Regin Dotata pronepti et Hen. VII. Abnepti Incomparabili Conjugum pari. Qui alternantis fortunae vices subinde experti, Hic tandem qua vixere concordiae requiescunt simul. Illa Singularis exempli probitatis Pietatis formae ac fidei femina Non saeculi sui, sed omnis aevi, optima, clarissima. XXII Janua Anno (MCCCCLXIII) pie ac placide expiravit. llle Vir Integerrimus, nobilitatis norma Morum ac displinae priscae Conservator, Eloquio Prudentia, lnnocentia. Gravitate, Nec minus virtute & doctrina quam generis splendore nobilis, Ut qui una cum Edvardo Principe Reg(is) Hen(rici) fil(io) in studiis adoleverat Religionis acerrimus vindex, Recti ac justi perpetuus assertor. In administrandis provinciis sibi creditis summae fidei ac auctoritatis Amplissima ad Archi(ducem) D. D. pro Jac(obo) M(agnae) B(ritanniae) Reg(e) opt. legatione functus Domi, forisque, munificentia magnus Et ut opibus excellens, sic animo quam divitiis locupletior. Nec unquam potentia sua, ad impotentiam in Clientes usus Plenus Honoribus, Plenus annis Octogessimum suumn & tertium agens An. (MDCXXI). Filios ex Heroina suscipit duos: (“Sacred to the memory of Edward, Earl of Hertford, Lord Beauchamp, son and heir of the most illustrious Prince Edward Duke of Somerset, Earl of Hertford, Viscount Beauchamp, Baron Seymour, Knight Companion of the Honorable Order of the Garter, Uncle and Governor of King Edward VI, Lord Protector of his home and foreign Dominions; Commander-in-Chief of his armies, and Lieutenant; General of the Treasury, and Earl Marshal of England, Governor of the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, by Anne his wife descended from an ancient and noble family. And of Catherine his dearly beloved wife, daughter and heiress of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, by his Duchess Frances, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and Mary his wife, sister to King Henry VIII, and Queen of France, so that she was endowed as the great niece of Henry VIII, and great granddaughter of Henry VII. Equal to her birth was her conduct as a wife; they often experienced the changes of fortune, here at length they rest together in the same harmony in which they lived. She was a woman of extraordinary beauty and constancy, of exemplary goodness and piety, and not only of her own, but of any age, the best and most amiable. She piously and peaceably expired 22 January 1563. He was a man of the highest integrity, a pattern for the nobility, a preserver of morals and primitive manners. He excelled in eloquence and learning; in prudence and all other virtues, for which he was as much distinguished as for the splendour of his noble birth. He was brought up with Prince Edward, son of King Henry VIII. A very strenuous defender of religion, a zealous assertor of justice and equity in governing the provinces entrusted to his care. Being appointed a Chief of Legation to Archduke D. D. for his Britannic Majesty King James I he was distinguished for his munificence abroad as well as at home; though abounding in riches, he was still richer in the noble and generous endowments of the mind, nor did he ever use his power to oppress his dependants. Replete with honours and with years he yielded to nature April 6 1621, in the 83d year of his age. He had two sons by the heroic Lady Catherine:")

Underneath the armed man, on the right hand, in capitals :

Ricardum (sic, Edwardum?) primogenitum D(ominum) de Bellocampo Virum titulis, ac natalibus Undequaque parem Qui morte praereptus, Patri ex D(omina) Honora antiqua et clara Familia Rogersiorum orta, reliquit tres filios Edward(um) D(ominum) de Bell(o)camp(o), defunct(um); Gulielm(um) jam Com(item) Hertfordiae, Franciscum Equit(um) Aurat(um), Baronis fil(iam) nuptam. ("Richard (sic, Edward?) the first born, Lord Beauchamp, a man in every respect equal to his birth and titles, who dying before his father left three sons by his Lady, Honora of the ancient and noble family of Rogers: 1. Edward, Lord Beauchamp, deceased. 2. William, now Earl of Hertford. 3. Francis, Knight, who married the daughter of a Baron")

Underneath another figure in armour, in capitals, is this inscription :

Thomam Natu Minorem, Qui In Uxorem duxit Isabellam Edoardi Unleii Armig(eri) Filiam Et ex humanis raptus ante patrem, Improles obiit. ("Thomas the youngest son married Isabella daughter of Edward Onley, Esq. and died before his father without issue".)



  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.1036
  2. ^ a b c Albert Frederick Pollard, "Seymour, Edward (1539?-1621)", Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51(1897).
  3. ^ http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Bios/EdwardSeymour%282EHertford%29.htm
  4. ^ Duerloo, Luc, Dynasty and Piety: Archduke Albert (1598-1621) and Habsburg Political Culture in an Age of Religious Wars, Farnham, 2012, p.176[1]
  5. ^ Strong, Roy, The Cult of Elizabeth: Elizabethan Portraiture and Pageantry, p. 168
  6. ^ Frederic Madden, Bulkeley Bandinel, John Gough Nichols, (Eds.), Collectanea Topographica Et Genealogica, Vol.5, p.24 [2]
  7. ^ Transcript by Harris (1825) states Edward in Latin, but translated into English as "John"
  8. ^ History of Parliament biography Edward Onley (1522-1582)[3]
  9. ^ http://westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/thomas-seymour
  10. ^ http://westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/thomas-seymour
  11. ^  "Seymour, Edward (1539?-1621". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  12. ^ Called "Thomas" in VCH Hants, Vol.3
  13. ^ Victoria County History, Vol.3: Hampshire, ed. William Page, London, 1908, pp. 472-478: Parishes: Hound with Netley[4]
  14. ^ For description of his monument and inscription see: Harris, James, Copies of the Epitaphs in Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, 1825, pp.35-40[5]
  15. ^ From: Harris, James, Copies of the Epitaphs in Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, 1825, pp.35-40 [6]


Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and Wiltshire
Succeeded by
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
Custos Rotulorum of Wiltshire
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Seymour
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Hertford
Succeeded by
William Seymour
Baron Beauchamp