Frances Seymour, Duchess of Somerset

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Frances Devereux
Duchess of Somerset
Frances Devereux, by Anthony van Dyck.jpg
Frances Devereux (Anthony van Dyck)
Spouse(s) William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset
William Seymour
Robert Seymour
Henry Seymour, Lord Beauchamp
Mary Finch, Countess of Winchelsea
Jane Boyle, Viscountess Dungarvan
Lady Frances Seymour
John Seymour, 4th Duke of Somerset
Noble family Devereux (by birth)
Seymour (by marriage)
Father Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Mother Frances Walsingham
Born 30 September 1599
Walsingham House, Seething Lane, London, England
Died 24 April 1674
Buried Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire
Religion Anglican

Frances Seymour (née Devereux), Duchess of Somerset (30 September 1599[1] – 24 April 1674), was an English noblewoman who lived in the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I and Charles II. Her father was Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Elizabeth I's favourite who was executed for treason in 1601. Lady Frances was the second wife of William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, and the mother of his seven children.

Early life[edit]

Lady Frances was born on 30 September 1599 at Walsingham House, Seething Lane, London, England. She was the youngest child of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and Frances Walsingham. Her paternal grandparents were Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex and Lettice Knollys, and her maternal grandparents were Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's trusted spymaster, and Ursula St. Barbe. Lady Frances was also a direct descendant of Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne Boleyn.

At the time of Frances's birth, her father, who was a former favourite of Queen Elizabeth, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was under arrest for treasonous behaviour in the Nine Years' War during the disastrous Irish campaign in which he parleyed with the rebellious Earl of Tyrone, and thus incurred the Queen's wrath. Essex was executed on 25 February 1601 for allegedly conspiring to murder the Queen. He left behind his wife and small children; Frances was less than two years old at the time.[2] Frances's brother was Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, and she had an elder sister, Dorothy. She had also three younger half-siblings from her mother's third marriage in 1603 to Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde. These were Honora, Mary and Ulick Burke, 1st Marquess of Clanricarde.

William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, husband of Frances Devereux


On 3 March 1616 Frances married at Drayton Bassett William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset (1588-24 October 1660), the son of Edward Seymour, Lord Beauchamp of Hache, and the grandson of Lady Catherine Grey. During the English Civil War he was a Royalist Commander. Frances was his second wife, his first having been Arbella Stuart whom he married secretly in 1610, and without permission from King James, which resulted in their imprisonment in the Tower of London. He later escaped, and fled to the Continent. In 1615, Arbella died in the Tower.

William and Frances together had seven children. She died on 24 April 1674 at the age of 74, and was buried in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire. Her numerous descendants include Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (and therefore The Queen and all of her blood descendants), Diana, Princess of Wales, and Sarah, Duchess of York.



  1. ^ Du Maurier, p. 230
  2. ^ Du Maurier, pp. 269-70.


  • Du Maurier, Daphne. Golden Lads: Sir Francis Bacon, Anthony Bacon, and Their Friends. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975.
  • Accessed May 27, 2008

External links[edit]