SOMERSET, Thomas (c.1579-1649), of Troy, nr. Monmouth and Badminton, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. c.1579, 3rd s. of Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, by Elizabeth, da. of Francis Hastings, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon. educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 1593, aged 14; G. Inn 1604. m. Aug. 1616, Helena, prob. da. of David Barry, 3rd Visct. Buttevant, wid. of John, s. of Richard, Lord Power [I] and of Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, 1da. KB 1605. cr.Visct. Somerset [I] 1626.1
J.p.q. Mon. 1601; master of the horse to Queen Anne c.1604-19; member, council of Amazon Co. 1620; clerk to treasury of court of common pleas 1621.2
The election to one of the two Monmouthshire seats of a junior member of the house of Raglan, when one was available, was almost a matter of routine. Three of Thomas Somerset’s great-uncles—Thomas, Francis and Charles—had represented the shire in Marian and early Elizabethan Parliaments. The 4th Earl had no brothers, but his younger son Thomas was returned to the first Parliament after his majority. His name does not appear in the records of the House, but as a knight of the shire in 1601 he could have served on committees concerned with the order of business (3 Nov.) and monopolies (23 Nov.). Along with the Earl of Northumberland’s brother Sir Charles Percy, he was sent by the Privy Council to Edinburgh in March 1603 to give official notification to James of Queen Elizabeth’s death, returning in time to bear the standard of the lion at the Queen’s funeral the following month. He then became master of the horse to James’s Queen (as his father had been to Elizabeth), a post which he kept until Queen Anne’s death.3
Somerset’s main parliamentary biography belongs to the following period. He served abroad from 1610 to 1612, played a leading part in forming the Amazon Company for trade and colonization in South America (for which he was reprimanded by James, who forced the surrender of the charter), and was sent with a fleet to Spain to bring home Prince Charles from his wooing of the Infanta in 1623. He died intestate in 1649.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. CP; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 426; Add. 1625-49, p. 174.
- 2. C66/1549; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 391-3; APC, 1619-21, pp. 204-5; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 301.
- 3. D’Ewes, 624, 649; Reg. P. C. Scot. vi. 551; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 189; CP.
- 4. HMC Downshire, ii. 348, 400; iii, 161, 286, 356; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iv. 227; APC, 1619-21, pp. 169, 185-6, 193, 204-5; CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 41, 125, 145, 147; 1623-5, p. 62; CSP Col. 1574-1660, pp. 21, 23-4, 77-8; Gardiner, Hist. England, 1603-42, v. 119; CP.