SEYMOUR, Henry (1776-1849), of Knoyle House, Hindon, Wilts.; Northbrook Lodge, Devon and 39 Upper Grosvenor Street, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 10 Nov. 1776, o.s. of Henry Seymour of Redland Court, Glos.1 and Northbrook Lodge and 2nd w. Louise de la Martelliere, countess of Panthou. m. 12 Jan. 1817, Jane, da. of Benjamin Hopkinson of Blagdon Court, Som., 2s. 3da. suc. fa. 1805. d. 27 Nov. 1849.
Sheriff, Wilts. 1835-6.
Seymour, a second cousin of the 11th duke of Somerset and the son of a groom of the bedchamber to George III, was detained in France, 1803-14, when he was ‘one of the very few Englishmen exempted from close confinement’, having obtained ‘permission to remain at large ... from the Emperor Napoleon’. He returned to take up his inheritance, ‘without having lost English sympathies by a long forced residence abroad’.2 The owner of scattered properties in Somerset,3 he offered for Taunton in 1820 in succession to Henry Powell Collins, the brother-in-law of Sir Thomas Lethbridge*, who had territorial influence in the borough. He declared himself to be ‘a firm friend of the glorious constitution of this happy country’ and ‘a determined enemy to the innovating spirit of modern demagogues’, who would give independent support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. At the end of polling he trailed the second-placed Whig candidate, John Ashley Warre, by five votes, but demanded a scrutiny on the ground that Warre and the other Whig, Alexander Baring, had secretly coalesced to prevent a free and fair election; the result was to widen Seymour’s deficit to nine, and he withdrew his case.4 He reappeared in the borough in the autumn of 1825, when feeling was running high against the Whig Members owing to their support for Catholic relief, and a canvass suggested that he was certain of success.5 At the general election the following summer he was described as a local man from a venerable family, ‘independent in property [and] beyond the remotest reach or suspicion of temptation’, who would ‘not espouse the side of Whig or Tory’ but pursue an independent course. In his own words, he was ‘a constitutional man’ and a supporter of ‘civil and religious liberty’, but above all he was ‘a Protestant and ... shall never deviate from this persuasion’. He advocated an unspecified revision of the corn laws, pointing to the interdependence of trade and agriculture. He was returned at the head of the poll after a lengthy contest.6
He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. Affirming his hostility to Catholic claims, which ‘it would be found impossible to ram ... down the throats of the people of England’, he nevertheless announced his intention of supporting Canning’s coalition ministry ‘until that question came to be discussed’, 2 May. He may have been the H. Seymour who voted with government against the Penryn election bill, 7 June. He presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts from Taunton, 20 June 1827, and Fulwood, Somerset, 19 Feb., which suggests that it was possibly not he who voted against that measure, 26 Feb. 1828. He divided against Catholic claims, 12 May. He supported an individual’s petition for compensation for property lost during the French Revolution, 23 June, observing that ‘my father was robbed of his property in 1790’ and ‘I shall always consider that government owes me £3,000’. He presented a Taunton anti-slavery petition, 30 June. He may have voted for the corporate funds bill, 10 July 1828. The volte face performed by Seymour’s patron Lethbridge on Catholic emancipation placed him in an awkward position. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, originally listed Seymour among those ‘opposed to the principle’, but his name was later scored through and added to the list of Members who would side ‘with government’. His name did not appear in the published division lists of 6, 30 Mar., but a local newspaper was authorized to state that he had voted for emancipation on the first occasion.7 He presented and concurred in a favourable petition from Taunton, 13 Mar., arguing that the measure would do nothing to harm Protestant establishments. When his colleague William Peachey presented a more numerously signed hostile petition from Taunton, 16 Mar., Seymour regretted its ‘violent’ wording and claimed that while the inhabitants were ‘formerly unanimous against concession ... they have now improved much in liberality’. He presented a Taunton silk weavers’ petition against the importation of foreign silk and drew the House’s attention to the ‘utmost distress and destitution’ into which they had sunk, 13 Apr. It was probably he who voted against the silk bill, 1 May, and he presented a petition from two Somerset silk throwsters requesting compensation for the depreciation of their capital as a result of government measures, 5 May 1829. It may have been he who voted against the proposal to enfranchise Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He reportedly voted with the majority to abolish the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., and with the minority for inquiry into the management of crown land revenues, 30 Mar.8 He presented a Taunton petition against renewal of the East India Company’s charter, 6 Apr. He voted for restrictions to the sale of beer bill, 1 July 1830. In early June he announced that he had decided ‘many months’ before not to stand again at Taunton, but declared his attachment to Wellington’s ‘enlightened government’ and its ‘liberal and wise policy’. No evidence has been found to corroborate the claim made in local Whig circles that he had wished to offer but Lethbridge had refused to support him.9 He did not contest another seat at that general election, but may have been the Seymour mentioned as a possible Tory candidate for Coventry in 1831.10
Seymour devoted the later years of his life to consolidating his estate in Wiltshire, where he laboured to ‘fulfil the duties of an English gentleman and a Christian’.11 He died in November 1849 and left his estates to his eldest son, Henry Danby Seymour (1820-77), Liberal Member for Poole, 1850-68.12
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Terry Jenkins
- 1. Sold in 1811 for £13,000 (N. Kingsley, Country Houses of Glos, 203).
- 2. Gent. Mag. (1850), i. 212. His father’s will was sworn under £17,500 (PROB 11/1462/440; IR26/123/338).
- 3. VCH Som. iii. 74; vi. 260; W. Phelps, Som. (1836), 332.
- 4. Taunton Courier, 9, 16 Feb., 15, 29 Mar., 12 Apr. 1820.
- 5. Ibid. 28 Sept.; Bristol Mirror, 8 Oct. 1825.
- 6. Taunton Courier, 21 June 1826.
- 7. Ibid. 18 Mar. 1829.
- 8. The Times, 1 Apr. 1830.
- 9. Taunton Courier, 9 June, 25 Aug. 1830.
- 10. Add. 36466, f. 410.
- 11. VCH Wilts. xi. 86-89, 91-92; Gent. Mag. (1850), i. 212.
- 12. PROB 11/2110/241; IR26/1881/203.