Hugh Somerville, 5th Lord Somerville

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Hugh Somerville, 5th Lord Somerville (c. 1484 – 1549) was a lord of the Parliament of Scotland. He is sometimes reckoned to be the 4th Lord Somerville. He succeeded his brother, John Somerville, 4th Lord Somerville. Hugh and John were sons of William Somerville, Master of Somerville, and Marjory Montgomerie.[1]

Hugh and Sir James Hamilton of Finnart[edit]

Hugh Somerville was in dispute with his uncle Sir John Somerville of Cambusnethan (known as Red-bag). John Somerville had forfeited his lands for his part in the fight in Edinburgh called 'Cleanse the Causeway.' Hugh, Lord Somerville, benefitted from John's loss. When Red-bag gained the upper hand in his legal struggle against him in 1528, Hugh asked James Hamilton of Finnart to be his backer.[2] In April 1536, Hugh's son James married Agnes the daughter of James Hamilton of Finnart at Craignethan Castle.[3] Later, Hugh sat on the assize that condemned Hamilton of Finnart to death for treason on 16 August 1540. By Finnart's death he gained the bailiary of Carstairs.[4]

Hugh and Regent Arran[edit]

Hugh was captured by the English at the battle of Solway Moss in 1542, and released in 1543. Henry VIII of England gave several of the Scottish prisoners presents of money on 28 January 1543; Somerville got £200.[5] The English soldiers who had captured him, Richard Greme and John Briscoe of Caston, took their dispute over ransom money to the Privy Council which asked the Duke of Suffolk to arbitrate.[6]

On his return to Scotland, Hugh became involved in a factional struggle against the Governor of Scotland, Regent Arran, and was associated with the Earl of Angus. On 1 November 1543, Hugh was imprisoned with Lord Maxwell in Edinburgh Castle. The Abbot of Paisley had kept the pair talking on the Royal Mile while waiting for a serjeant to arrest them in the name of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Regent. Somerville was then taken to Blackness Castle. The English diplomat Ralph Sadler thought they had been foolish to come to Edinburgh where their enemies the Regent and Cardinal Beaton had full control.[7]

Hugh's last letter of 21 March 1549 explains his position. He, and other Scottish lords captured at Solway Moss in 1542, had undertaken to promote the marriage of Mary to Prince Edward. In November 1543, he was planning to go to England with counsel for the marriage when Regent Arran captured him in Edinburgh. Hugh was writing in 1549 to Thomas Wharton for the return of his son James for 20 days, who was then a hostage in England in his father's place.[8]

On 21 October 1545, Hugh's second son John wrote to the Queen Dowager, Mary of Guise from Cowthally Castle. He said that Hugh, the Earl of Angus, and George Douglas and all their friends and favourers would resist the potential marriage of Regent Arran's son, James Hamilton to Queen Mary, despite rewards promised by the Hamiltons. He asked for her opinion which was sent to Cowthally and received by the Somerville's ally James Douglas of Drumlanrig.[9]


Hugh married Jonet Maitland in 1516. Their children included;[10]

The principal residence of Lord Somerville was Cowthally Castle which Hugh rebuilt in style after gaining possession in 1524.[11] Hugh Somerville died in 1549.[12] He was buried in the Somerville aisle at Carnwath Church.



  1. ^ See DNB (1904), on wikisource.
  2. ^ Cameron, Jamie, James V, Tuckwell (1998), 55-56.
  3. ^ Cameron (1998), 206.
  4. ^ Cameron (1998), 209, 218.
  5. ^ Letters & Papers Henry VIII, vol. 18 part 1, (1901), no. 436, item vii.
  6. ^ Dasent, John Roche, ed., Acts of the Privy Council, 1542-1547, vol. 1 (1890), 137.
  7. ^ Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 18 part 2, (1902), nos. 328, 343, 450.
  8. ^ Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. 1 (1898), no. 344.
  9. ^ Scottish Correspondence of Mary of Lorraine, SHS (1927), 147-148.
  10. ^ Register of the Great Seal, 1513-1546, Edinburgh (1883), nos. 1328, 1775, 2313, 2384: Scots Peerage, vol. 8, 18-19.
  11. ^ McKean, Charles, The Scottish Chateau, Sutton (2001), 160-161.
  12. ^ Court Book of Carnwath, (1937), lxxviii, footnote citing Scots Peerage, viii, 15-18.
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
John Somerville
Lord Somerville
Succeeded by
James Somerville