SEYMOUR, John II (by 1518-52), of London.
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Family and Education
b. by 2 Dec. 1518, 1st s. of Edward Seymour, later Duke of Somerset, of Wolf Hall, Wilts. by 1st w. Catherine, da. of Sir William Fyloll of Woodlands, Dorset. educ. ?G. Inn, adm. 1537.2
John Seymour is first mentioned in a settlement of his maternal grandfather’s estates made when his mother was in her twentieth year. How early her behaviour gave rise to scandal is not known, but the provision which her father made for her in his will of 1527 was conditional upon her leading a virtuous life. By then she had been repudiated by her husband, who doubted the paternity of at least her first born, although it was not until 1540 that he procured the Act (32 Hen. VIII, c.78) disinheriting both John Seymour and the younger brother Edward in favour of the offspring of his second marriage.3
The future Protector disposed of much of Catherine Fyloll’s inheritance but did not ignore her sons: after the battle of Pinkie he gave Edward Seymour a knighthood and either he or his brother Admiral Seymour nominated John Seymour for election to Parliament. The borough of Wootton Bassett, then in the hands of the Queen dowager Catherine Parr, was clearly amenable to Seymour influence, and although the election return does not survive and there is no trace of Seymour in the Commons before the fourth session in 1552, it may be presumed that he was elected in 1547, when the Protector was at the peak of his power, and not later, when decline was followed by disaster.
The fall of Somerset does not seem to have implicated the son whom he had first disowned and later favoured. It was not this John Seymour, but a namesake, the duke’s illegitimate brother and a leading figure in his household, who in October 1551 joined his master in the Tower. A month earlier he had been by-elected at Reading in place of the deceased William Grey II, one of Somerset’s chief supporters, but when he was imprisoned the election was cancelled and in the following January, on the eve of the new session, the borough chose Sir John Mason in his stead. The episode had a momentarily confusing sequel, for the clerk who shortly afterwards revised the list of Members, under the impression that it was the Member for Wootton Bassett who was in the Tower, struck through his name and added the explanatory phrase ‘in Turrem’; only when he, or another, realized his mistake was it rectified by the further addition ‘stet’.4
Not only did Seymour keep his seat in Parliament but he turned the death of Somerset to advantage by seeking the restitution of his mother’s inheritance. On 3 Mar. 1552 he exhibited in the Commons a bill, signed by the King, to repeal the Act of 1540, and at the close of the session this received the royal assent as the Act touching the limitation of the late Duke of Somerset’s lands (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no. 37). A month later the chancellor was ordered to establish a committee to consider his claim and the implementing of the Act. In the autumn of 1552 he received some property from Edward VI and a sum of £20 towards his costs; Treasurer Winchester was also empowered to restore his inheritance, but this Seymour did not live to enjoy. He was a sick man when on 7 Dec. 1552 he made a brief will appointing his brother Sir Edward executor and residuary legatee after the discharge of a number of bequests: the John Seymour who witnessed the will was presumably the erstwhile prisoner in the Tower, who had received a pardon three months earlier. Within a few days the testator was dead and on 19 Dec. he was buried in the hosptial of the Savoy. Sir Edward Seymour, who was to be restored in blood by the Parliament of March 1553 (7 Edw. VI, no. 16), reaped the benefit of his brother’s efforts over the inheritance, but it was not until the 18th century that his descendants achieved the dukedom of Somerset.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Hatfield 207.