SEYMOUR, Sir Henry (by 1503-78), of Marwell, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1503, 3rd s. of Sir John Seymour of Wolf Hall, Wilts. by Margery, da. of Sir Henry Wentworth of Nettlestead, Suff.; bro. of Sir Thomas II. m. by 1559, Barbara, da. of Morgan Wolfe, 3s. inc. John 7da. KB 20 Feb. 1547.1

Offices Held

Keeper, Taunton castle, Som. by 1526-d., Bridgwater castle, Som. 1544, Marwell park, Hants by 1547-51; sewer extraordinary, the chamber by 1533; bailiff, manor of Hampstead Marshall, Berks. 1536-d., Romsey, Hants by 1546-d., steward, manors of Bierton with Broughton, Whaddon and Wendover, Bucks. 1536-d., Wyrardisbury, Bucks. and Kings Langley, Herts. 1536-39; gen.-receiver, manors of Bierton with Broughton, Claydon, Swanbourne, Wendover and Whaddon, Bucks., Berkhampstead, Herts. and Finmer, Oxon. 1536-10; capt. Lyon of Hamburgh 1544; carver, household of Queen Anne of Cleves 1540, of Queen Catherine Parr by 1545; commr. relief, Hants 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; j.p. 1554-d.; sheriff, Hants 1568-9.2


Unlike his two brothers, Edward, Duke of Somerset, and Thomas, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, Henry Seymour lacked the ability, the ambition and the will to govern: he was a nonentity who passes unnoticed in his nephew Edward VI’s diary. He held no office of importance and reaped little reward. His brothers died on the block; he outlived them by nearly 30 years to die in his bed.

Seymour was probably the ‘Harry Seymor’, living in St. John’s parish, Winchester, who was assessed on 10 marks in wages for the subsidy in 1524: the appearance of his name among those of men known to have been servants or members of the bishop’s household suggests that he was in the service of Richard Fox. He had doubtless owed his introduction there and at court to his father and to the example of his brother Edward, but he is not known to have progressed until the King married his sister, whereupon he was appointed to several offices mainly connected with the administration of her estates. Some of these he lost at her death, although she bequeathed him several valuable chains. In 1544 he served under his brother Thomas’s command in the navy. While on patrol in the Channel in the autumn of that year his ship was driven by a storm into the Dart estuary and wrecked: he was held culpable and was given no further military or naval command. Shortly afterwards he ceased to be a member of the household of Queen Catherine Parr, his name not being found in the relevant lists after 1545. By the end of the reign he appears to have been living in Hampshire, discharging minor duties for his younger brother and the bishop of Winchester.3

The accession of his nephew and the ascendancy of the Protector momentarily brightened Seymour’s prospects: he took part in the coronation, was made a Knight of the Bath and in the autumn of 1547 was elected a knight of the shire for Hampshire, but his only appointments were in the government of that county. His brother’s neglect may help to explain his failure even to answer the Protector’s letter of 5 Oct. 1549 calling on him to muster forces against the Council in London. For this passive complicity in Somerset’s overthrow he was rewarded by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, with grants of land in Buckinghamshire and Hampshire, and he was to receive from Dudley, who was bent on retaining his support, the attention never forthcoming from his brother. It produced as little result as the earlier treatment had done.4

Seymour pursued his inconspicuous course under Mary and Elizabeth: the first made him a justice of the peace and the second gave him a term as sheriff. In 1564 he was described as a ‘favourer’ of religion. A sick man when he made his will on 28 Mar. 1578, he was able to make more than adequate provision for his wife and children, his daughters receiving £1,000 each. He appointed as his executors his nephews the Earl of Hertford and Henry Ughtred. He died on 5 Apr. at his house in Winchester, leaving a son and heir John who was just over 18 years old.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. H. St. Maur. Annals of the Seymours, ped. opp. p. 1.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, ii, vi, xii, xiv, xvi, xix, xx; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 151, 395; 1553, pp. 358, 415; 1553-4, pp. 19, 252; The Gen. n.s. xxx. 24; Stowe 571, f. 576; SC6/190/21; Eccles. 2/155674, 155888A-9; E179/69/48.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xv, xix; CSP Hen. VIII, i. 780; E179/174/287; A. A. Locke, Seymour Fam., 29.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 23, 345; APC, iii. 138, 310, iv. 153, 221, 242, 338; Black Bk. Winchester ed. Bird, 180; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, i. 35-36, 508.
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 55; PCC 20 Langley; C142/183/64.