SEYMOUR, Henry I (1612-87), of Westminster and Langley Marish, Bucks.
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Family and Education
bap. 13 Aug. 1612, 2nd s. of Sir Edward Seymour, 2nd Bt.† of Berry Pomeroy, Devon; bro. of Sir Edward Seymour, 3rd Bt. m. (1) c.1661, his cos. Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Joseph Killigrew of Lothbury, London and Landrake, Cornw., wid. of William Bassett† of Claverton, Som., s.p.; (2) c.1672, Ursula, da. of Sir Robert Austen, 1st Bt., of Bexley, Kent, wid. of George Stawell of Cothelstone, Som., 1s.1
Page of honour to Queen Henrietta Maria 1638; groom of bedchamber to the Prince of Wales (later Charles II) 1638-85; clerk of the hanaper 1671-d.; asst. R. Fishery Co. 1677.2
Comptroller of customs, London June 1660-9; commr. for assessment, Cornw. and Mdx. 1664-9, Bucks. 1673-80, Mdx. 1677-9; recorder, West Looe 1665-79; freeman, Totnes by 1684.3
In a petition soon after the Restoration, Seymour claimed to have been in the royal service for 22 years, and to have lost an estate worth £500 p.a. in the Civil Wars. He was certainly an active Royalist, compounding on the articles of Scilly in 1647, though he does not seem to have held a military command. According to his composition he had inherited from his mother a small estate in Somerset, but the mortgagee had foreclosed before the Civil War. Seymour was apparently allowed to attend Charles I on the eve of his execution, which must have added greatly to his prestige in Cavalier circles. During the Interregnum he undertook several hazardous missions to England to raise funds for Charles II. Seymour was connected with Cornwall through both his mother and his first wife, and, in defiance of the Long Parliament ordinance, at the general election of 1660 he stood for East Looe on the interest of his brother-in-law and colleague, Jonathan Trelawny I; there was a double return, but on 16 May they were declared duly elected. Seymour took his seat at once, in the belief that exercising ‘a negative or affirmative voice in Parliament, with some little interest with persons of all conditions’ would be more for the King’s service than hastening to Holland to make his addresses in a crowd. In spite of his Cavalier background, he was marked by Lord Wharton as a friend both in this Parliament and its successor. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was named to five committees, the most important being for the nomination of commissioners for the army. He did not speak, except to obtain permission to testify in the House of Lords on behalf of Colonel Matthew Thomlinson, whose conduct as commander of Charles I’s guards had been humane and considerate. His interest was strengthened by the grant of a number of Duchy leases, valued by a hostile writer at £40,000, including Bucklowren manor, two miles from East Looe.4
In the earlier years of the Cavalier Parliament, before Edward Seymour II became Speaker in 1673, it is not always possible to distinguish the records of uncle and nephew; but Seymour was probably inactive. In the remaining nine sessions, he was named to only two committees, and it is probable that in the whole Parliament his total did not exceed 50. On 22 Nov. 1661 he was among those charged with asking the King to return John Lambert and Sir Henry Vane to London to stand trial. He was named on a list of court dependants in 1664. Coming away from the committee of privileges in 1665, he quarrelled with Lord St. John (Charles Powlett I), about the political record of Edward Nosworthy I, with whom he was involved in litigation over the Killigrew estate. Both Members were ordered to attend the House to prevent a duel. Seymour may have sat on the committee to hear the petition against Lord Mordaunt in 1667; if so, it was his only committee of political significance. He was named to the committee to receive information about illegal conventicles in 1668. In 1669 ‘some words spoken by Mr Seymour of the bedchamber in the House were disadvantageously rendered to the Duke of York; a duel followed in which the 57-year-old Member wounded the tale-bearer, Roger Vaughan, in the arm. Seymour purchased his estate in Buckinghamshire about this time, and probably became less active in Parliament, though his claim of privilege against Nosworthy’s agents took up a good deal of time in the 1670 session. As a dependent he was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71. In 1672 he served under Lord Arlington on the mission to mediate between France and William of Orange. When it was proposed to impeach Arlington two years later, Seymour told the House: ‘What Lord Arlington’s heart is he knows not, but he has received the Communion with him since the Act against Popery came out’. He was listed among the officials in the House in 1675, but in the recess Sir Richard Wiseman wrote: ‘Whatever was the matter, he was not active last session in the King’s service as he ought, for he withdrew sometimes’. Nevertheless he was noted by Shaftesbury as ‘doubly vile’, and his name appeared on both lists of the court party in 1678. He was not intimidated by the Popish Plot hysteria, speaking up on behalf of a Frenchman mentioned in Coleman’s letters, and on 21 Dec. he acted as teller against the fourth article of Danby’s impeachment.5
A petition was presented by John Kendall against Seymour’s re-election to the first Exclusion Parliament, but no decision was reached. Seymour was marked as ‘vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list, and voted against the exclusion bill. Otherwise he left no trace on the records of the first and second Exclusion Parliaments, and for the third he probably received a hint from his nephew that it was not worth his trouble to stand. As a reward for his long service, Seymour was granted a baronetcy for his seven-year-old son on 4 July 1681. He died on 9 Mar. 1687 in sufficiently comfortable circumstances to endow an almshouse, and was succeeded by the young baronet, who sat for East Looe from 1699 to 1713.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris
- 1. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 405; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 269.
- 2. G. E. Aylmer, The King’s Servants, 77; Strafford Letters ed. Knowler, ii. 167; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 2; iii. 247.
- 3. T. Bond, Sketches of Looe , 244; A. L. Browne, Corp. Chrons. 123, 134; Trans. Devon Assoc. viii. 367.
- 4. SP23/204/107; S. E. Hoskins, Chas. II in the Channel Is. ii. 315; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 64-65, 103, 164; Bodl. Carte 30, f. 629; W. P. Courtney, Parl. Rep. Cornw. 118; Bowman diary, f. 112v.; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 47, 300.
- 5. CSP Ven. xxxiv. 84; CJ, viii. 599; ix. 162, 183, 187, 197, 199; HMC 3rd Rep. 93; Bulstrode Pprs. 129; S. B. Baxter, William III, 89; Grey, ii. 313; vi. 175.
- 6. Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 532; VCH Bucks. iii. 300; Som. Wills, vi. 11.