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Edward Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset: Wikis


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His Grace
 The Duke of Somerset 

The Duke of Somerset, by Carlo Pellegrini, 1869.

In office
17 April 1849 – 1 August 1851
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister Lord John Russell
Preceded by The Earl of Carlisle
Succeeded by Office abolished

In office
1 August 1851 – 21 February 1852
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister Lord John Russell
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Lord John Manners

In office
27 June 1859 – 26 June 1866
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Viscount Palmerston
The Earl Russell
Preceded by Sir John Pakington, Bt
Succeeded by Sir John Pakington, Bt

Born 20 December 1805 (1805-12-20)
Died 28 November 1885 (1885-11-29)
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Jane Georgiana Sheridan
(d. 1884)
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

Sir Edward Adolphus Seymour (later St. Maur), 12th Duke of Somerset, etc KG, PC (Piccadilly, London, 20 December 1804 or 1805 – Stover Lodge, nr Torquay, 28 November 1885), styled Baron Seymour until 1855, was a British Whig aristocrat and politician, who served in various cabinet positions in the mid-19th century. He was also a baronet.


Background and education

Somerset was the eldest son of Edward St. Maur, 11th Duke of Somerset, and Lady Charlotte, daughter of Archibald Hamilton, 9th Duke of Hamilton.[1] He was baptized on 16 February 1805 at St. George's, Hanover Square, London.[2] He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.[3]

Political career

Somerset sat as Member of Parliament for Okehampton between 1830 and 1831[4] and for Totnes between 1834 and 1855.[5] He served under Lord Melbourne as a Lord of the Treasury between 1835 and 1839, as Joint Secretary to the Board of Control between 1839 and 1841 and as Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department between June and August 1841 and was a member of Lord John Russell's first administration as First Commissioner of Woods and Forests between 1849 and 1851, when the office was abolished. In August 1851 he was appointed to the newly created office of First Commissioner of Works by Russell. In October of the same year he entered the cabinet and was sworn of the Privy Council. [6] He remained First Commissioner of Works until the government fell in February 1852.

Somerset succeeded his father in the dukedom in 1855 and entered the House of Lords. He did not serve in Lord Palmerston's first administration, but when Palmerston became Prime Minister for a second time in 1859, Somerset was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, with a seat in the cabinet. He held this post until 1866, the last year under the premiership of Russell. He refused to join William Gladstone's first ministry in 1868, but gave independent support to the chief measures of the government.[3]

He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1862[7] and in 1863 he was created Earl St. Maur, of Berry Pomeroy in the County of Devon.[8] "St Maur" was supposed to have been the original form of the family name and "Seymour" a later corruption. From some time in the early 19th century until 1923, "St. Maur" was used for the family name, but since 1923 the dukes have again used the familiar "Seymour".

Somerset was also the author of Christian Theology and Modern Scepticism (1872), and Monarchy and Democracy (1880).[3] Between 1861 and 1885 he served as Lord Lieutenant of Devon.[9]


Somerset married in Grosvenor Square, London, on 10 June 1830 Jane Georgiana Sheridan (5 November 1809 – London, 14 December 1884, interred at Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire), daughter of Thomas Sheridan and wife Caroline Henrietta Callender, daughter of Col. James Callander Campbell, of Craigforth, Stirling. She was the younger sister of 4th Baroness of Dufferin and Claneboye and the author Caroline Norton[10] and the granddaughter of playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan.[11][1] Known for her loveliness, she was chosen to be the "Queen of Beauty" at the Eglinton Tournament in 1839. They had two sons and three daughters:

  • Lady Jane Hermione Seymour (1 January 1832 – 4 April 1909), m. 26 October 1852 Sir Frederick Ulric Graham, of Netherby, 3d Baronet (2 April 1820 – 8 March 1888), and had female issue (the 3rd Countess of Verulan and the 5th Duchess of Montrose)
  • Lady Ulrica Frederica Jane Seymour (Burton Hall, 12 January 1833 – 26 or 28 January 1916), m. 1 June 1858 Rt. Hon. Lord Henry Frederick Thynne (2 August 1832 – 28 January 1904), Privy Councilor, Member of Parliament and Treasurer of the Royal Household (1859), son of the 3rd Marquesses of Bath
  • Edward Adolphus Ferdinand Seymour, Earl St. Maur (17 July 1835 – London, 30 September 1869); he left illegitimate issue, including a son, Richard Harold St. Maur, who asserted that his parents had been married and claimed his father's titles, and a daughter, Ruth Mary St. Maur, who married William George Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck (Portland)
  • Lord Edward Percy Seymour (19 August 1841 – Yellapoor, 20 December 1865), Diplomat, unmarried and without issue
  • Lady Helen Guendolen Seymour (1846 – 14 August 1910), m. 2 August 1865 Sir John William Ramsden, 5th Baronet (14 September 1831 – 15 April 1914), son of John Charles Ramsden (30 April 1788 – 29 December 1836), Member of Parliament, and wife (m. 4 May 1814) Hon. Isabella Dundas (1790 – 6 December 1887), daughter of 1st Baron Dundas

Their elder son Ferdinand Seymour, Earl St. Maur, predeceased his father, without legitimate issue (his son Harold St. Maur later claimed the dukedom, however). Their younger son, Lord Edward Seymour (1841-1865) was in the Diplomatic Service but died from a after being mauled by a bear in India,[12] aged only 24 and unmarried.

The Duchess of Somerset died in December 1884. Somerset survived her by less than a year and died in November 1885, aged 80. As his two sons had both died in his lifetime, the family titles (except the Earldom of St. Maur, which became extinct) devolved on his younger brother, Lord Archibald St Maur.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Edward Adolphus Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset
  2. ^ The Complete Peerage vol.XIIpI, p.86.
  3. ^ a b c Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
  4. ^ House of Commons: Ochil to Oxford University
  5. ^ House of Commons: Tipperary South to Tyrone West
  6. ^ London Gazette: no. 21256, p. 2775, 24 October 1851.
  7. ^ London Gazette: no. 22628, p. 2672, 23 May 1862.
  8. ^ London Gazette: no. 22746, p. 3132, 19 June 1863.
  9. ^ Peerage: Slim to Sramfordham
  10. ^ The Complete Peerage vol.XIIpII, p.82, note d.
  11. ^ The Complete Peerage vol.XIIpI, p.86, note f.
  12. ^ The Complete Peerage vol.XIIpI, p.87, note b.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Compton Domvile
Joseph Strutt
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
with Hon. George Agar-Ellis

Succeeded by
William Henry Trant
John Thomas Hope
Preceded by
James Cornish
Jasper Parrott
Member of Parliament for Totnes
with Jasper Parrott 1834-1839
Charles Barry Baldwin 1839-1852
Thomas Mills 1852-1855

Succeeded by
Thomas Mills
The Earl of Gifford
Political offices
Preceded by
William Yates Peel
The Earl of Lincoln
Viscount Stormont
Charles Ross
John Iltyd Nicholl
Lord of the Treasury
with William Henry Ord 1835–1837
Robert Steuart 1835–1839
Richard More O'Ferrall 1835–1839
John Parker 1837–1839
Thomas Wyse 1839

Succeeded by
Robert Steuart
John Parker
Thomas Wyse
Henry Tufnell
Preceded by
Robert Gordon
Robert Vernon Smith
Joint Secretary to the Board of Control
William Clay

Succeeded by
William Clay
Charles Buller
Preceded by
Hon. Fox Maule
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
Succeeded by
John Manners-Sutton
Preceded by
The Earl of Carlisle
First Commissioner of Woods and Forests
1850 – 1851
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
New office
First Commissioner of Works
1851 – 1852
Succeeded by
Lord John Manners
Preceded by
Sir John Pakington, Bt
First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
Sir John Pakington, Bt
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl Fortescue
Lord Lieutenant of Devon
Succeeded by
The Earl of Iddesleigh
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Edward St Maur
Duke of Somerset
Succeeded by
Archibald St Maur
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl St Maur
1863 – 1885


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