The Other Seymours: John Seymour, Son of Katherine Fillol


I have no delusions that this article will not be confusing with all the Edwards and Johns, and it’s because of that I’ve included this list of players to help you differentiate between them:

Edward Seymour/Sir Edward – Later Duke of Somerset, married both Katherine Fillol and Anne Stanhope.

Sir John Seymour – Father of Edward Seymour, later Somerset.

John Seymour – First son born to Katherine Fillol and ?

Edward Seymour/Lord Edward – Son of Edward Seymour and Katherine Fillol

Katherine Fillol – First wife of Edward Seymour/Sir Edward

Anne Stanhope – Second wife of Edward Seymour/Sir Edward

Read More

Book Review: “The Path to Somerset” by Janet Wertman

Jane Seymour (8)

If you know anything about me at all you know I love all things Thomas Seymour. It’s because of my love for Thomas that I tend to hold Edward Seymour in a bad light – he, after all, was at the helm when Thomas was executed.

The Path to Somerset is the second book in the Seymour saga by Janet Wertman – her first book was on Jane Seymour, called Jane the Quene. This book covers the career of Edward Seymour starting in March 1539. Queen Jane has been dead for a year and a half and the Henry VIII is considering a foreign bride.

Wertman was very generous and sent me an advance review copy. Here is a blurb about the book from Wertman’s website (

After the tragic romance of Jane the Quene, the second book in The Seymour Saga trilogy, The Path to Somerset, takes a dark turn through an era in which King Henry VIII descends into cynicism, suspicion and fits of madness ? and in which mistakes mean death.

Edward?s future is uncertain. Although his sister Jane bore Henry the son he?d sought for twenty years, when she died in childbirth, Henry?s good nature died with her. Now the fiercely ambitious Edward must carve a difficult path through Henry?s shifting principles and wives. Challenged at every turn by his nemesis, Bishop Stephen Gardiner, Edward must embrace ruthlessness in order to safeguard not only his own future but England?s as well.

This is the account of Henry?s tumultuous reign, as seen through the eyes of two opponents whose fierce disagreements over religion and common decency fuel epic struggles for the soul of the nation. And for power.

My Review

As I stated previously I was concerned that I was going to have issues with Wertman’s portrayal of Edward. It was to my surprise that I grew to love his “character” as well as his chosen path in life.

Edward Seymour’s first marriage left him a damaged man – he felt betrayed by his wife and his father for having an affair – as anyone would be. Edward apparently made amends with his father but never forgave his first wife, Katherine Fillol. It’s when he met Anne Stanhope that the pieces began to come together for Edward.

I might sound like a hypocrite but Wertman even made me like Anne Stanhope – a woman whom I have dubbed as a “wicked woman” many times in the past few years. I always saw Stanhope as more ambitious and vindictive than her husband. It’s in Wertman’s superb storytelling that I looked at the couple in a completely different light – they were a team, and in Tudor England it was important to have strong allies. Were they ambitious? Sure. But they were also the aunt and uncle of the future King of England and it was in their best interest to secure their future.

In The Path to Somerset, Anne plays the uber supportive wife who always has the right advice for her husband. Often Edward recalls the advice given by Anne and admits that she was right. So refreshing to read that in a book about this time period.

Edward Seymour, was human – he had emotions and opinions like any of us but his “boss” was the tyrannical King Henry VIII. He had a job to do and was loyal to his King. Having an opinion that differed from or displeased the King could cause you to quickly lose favor or worse, your head. He also understood how, as brother to Jane (Henry’s beloved third wife), he could use that card to get the King to see his way.

The way this story is told truly makes history come to life. Page after page you get the sense that you are back in Tudor England when things began to really change with Henry VIII – when he lost his temper quickly and had no problem signing a death warrant if the men around him convinced him to do so. He could be smiling one minute and yelling the next. Henry was in constant pain from the ulcers in his legs and the stench that surrounded him somehow became unbearable. Imagine walking into a room with the worst smell every punching you in the face. If the King saw you make a face regarding the small you could lose everything.

The Duke of Norfolk and Gardiner are definitely the antagonists in this book. There were times when I wanted to reach inside the book and strangle both men because of their scheming to advance themselves and the Catholics. In the end they both got what was coming to them.

Wertman mentions in her “Author Note” after the story that she tried to stay as true as possible to the history and she did a wonderful job doing so – the dialogue could very well have been what these men (and sometimes women) said to one another and it made the story flow.

I highly recommend ordering this book! The?The Path to Somerset?covers a very important part of Tudor history and you will not be disappointed. It will be available in August 2018 and is available for pre-order.

To stay up to date on release information please go to: and be sure to subscribe!


Get Notified

Facebook no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,011 subscribers.

The Regency Council of Edward VI

As Henry VIII lay dying in his bedchamber in January 1547, Edward Seymour and William Paget were whispering in the gallery outside his chamber door at Westminster plotting the future. We know this is true because later Paget calls out Edward Seymour on following through on what they had discussed in the gallery that day in a later letter – the letter is also a warning to his close friend. At the point of this letter, Thomas Seymour was already dead (20 March 1549) and things were beginning to fall apart for Edward Seymour, Lord Protector:

I see at the hand the king’s destruction and your ruin. If you love me or value my service since the king’s father’s death, allow me to write what I think. Remember what you promised me in the gallery at Westminster before the breath wasn’t out of the body of the king, that dead is. Remember what you promised immediately after, devising with me concerning the place which you now occupy, I trust, in the end to goodness purpose, howsoever things thwart now. And that was, to follow mine advice in all your proceedings, more than any other man’s. Which promise I wish Your Grace had kept. For the I am sure things had not gone altogether as they go now.’ (July 1549)

William Paget and Edward Seymour were friends. You could probably say they were very close friends. In May 1549, Paget wrote in a letter to Seymour his feelings for him:

…so deeply in my heart as it cannot be taken out, I could hold my peace as some others do, and say little or nothing.”[1]

In a July 1549 letter, he said:

I have ever desired your authority to be set forth, ever been careful of honour and surety; both for now and for evermore, ever glad to please you, as ever was gentle wife to please her husband, and honest man his master I was.

Paget clearly had strong feelings for his friendship with Edward Seymour. Where some might read an intimate relationship between the men, others like historian Suzannah Lipscomb see Paget comparing their relationship to that of a master and servant and also between spouses.

It would not take long after the accession of Edward VI for William Paget to discover, his close friend and Lord Protector would not see through his end of their earlier promise made at Westminster.

In the will of Henry VIII, he formed a regency council of sixteen men, men who he trusted to keep his best interests in mind during the minority of King Edward. The late king’s wish was to have a council to make decisions instead of one person. Henry had formed a Privy Council in 1540 and felt that the group of men had proved an effective executive body to the King – for this reason he believe a regency could would be better than say a Regent.

At some point after Henry submitted his final will (30 December 1546) and the death of Henry VIII (28 January 1547), Edward Seymour recognized the council needed a leader.

As Paget and Seymour whispered in the gallery of Westminster they agreed that they were to move forward to have Seymour named Lord Protector. Paget in turn would be, because of his loyalty and friendship, would be his greatest advisor. The result being Seymour and Paget would be the two most powerful men in England. But before they could get that far they would need to find allies within the council.

Speaking of the king’s mortality was treason and punishable by death, so those near him who knew he was about to die were too afraid of the dying King’s temper to prepare him for death. The only man brave enough was Sir Anthony Denny. Denny tread lightly around the topic to ask the King if he wished a priest to come give him his last rites. King Henry said, “If I had any, it should be Dr. Cranmer but I will first take a little sleep. And then, as I feel myself, I will advise [you] upon the matter.”[2] Those were the last known words of King Henry VIII. Not long after that incident he died.

After the death of Henry VIII it was imperative for Seymour to respond immediately to the death of the king, and within hours he left with Sir Anthony Browne (named as a member of the regency council), who was master of the horse, and a force of 300 mounted troops to retrieve the new king from Hertford Caslte. [3] They traveled twenty-five miles by horse to reach him. One can imagine them riding as fast as they could – they needed to get to the new king first.

A former servant of Sir Anthony Browne wrote this about what happened in a 1549 letter:

…communing with my Lord’s Grace [Browne] in the garden at Enfield, at the King’s Majesty’s coming from Hertford, gave his frank consent [in] communication in discourse of the State, that his Grace should be Protector, thinking it (as indeed it was) both the surest kind of government and most fit for that Commonwealth.

Edward Seymour now had William Paget and Anthony Browne in his corner – champions to assist in making him Lord Protector.

The following evening, they transported Edward to see his sister Elizabeth at Enfield – it was there that both “kids” were informed of their father’s death. Sir John Hayward, Edward VI’s first biographer reported that, “Never was sorrow more sweetly set forth, their faces seeming rather to beautify their sorrow, than their sorrow to cloud the beauty of their faces.”[4]

While Seymour was with Edward (and possibly Elizabeth as well), he received an urgent letter from William Paget at one or two in the morning on the 29th of January. Neither men had been sleeping well and Paget was especially having a difficult time – Edward Seymour had locked Henry VIII’s will in a box and had accidentally taken the key with him. Where the will was, the power was. With Seymour away Paget needed immediate access to the most powerful document in England.

In Seymour’s response letter to Paget he sent the key and some advice on what should be done with the will. Seymour didn’t believe that anyone (other than the council) needed to see the will in its entirety. Seymour stated that they needed to be cautious and to only show as much as “were necessary to be published for divers respects I think it not convenient to satisfy the world”. We can see the urgency in the plan when Seymour endorsed the letter on the outside: “To my right loving friend, Sir William Paget, one of the King’s Majesties Two Principal Secretaries. Haste, post haste, haste with all diligence, for thy life, for thy life.”

With access to the will, Paget would now be able to have the contents revealed as to who the members of the regency council would be and the executors of the late king’s will.

Seymour showed his leadership skills when on the 30th of January he wrote the Council to discuss their idea of a general royal pardon. In the letter he advises them to wait until the coronation of King Edward. If they waited, Edward, as the new king would be looked favorably upon.

Letter: 30 January 1547 from Enfield

Your lordships shall understand that I the Earl of Hertford have received your letter concerning a pardon to be granted in such form as in the schedule ye have sent, and that ye desire to know our opinions therein.

For answer thereunto, ye shall understand we be in some doubt whether our power be sufficient to answer unto the King’s Majesty that now is, when it shall please him to call us to account for the same. And in case we have authority so to do it, in our opinions the time will serve much better at the Coronation than at this present. For if it should be now granted, his Highness can show no such gratuity unto his subjects when the time is most proper for the same; and his father, who we doubt not be in heaven, having no need thereof, shall take the praise and thank from him that hath more need thereof than be.

We do very well like your device for the matter; marry, we would wish it to be done when the time serveth most proper for the same.

We intended the King’s Majesty shall be a horseback tomorrow by 11 o’clock, so that by 3 we trust his Grace shall be at the Tower. So, if ye have not already advertised my Lady Anne of Cleves of the King’s death, it shall be well done ye send some express person for the same.

And so,with our right hearty commendations, we bid you farewell.

From Enfield this Sunday night, at a 11 o’clock.

Your good lordships’ assured loving friends,

E. Hertford

Anthony Browne

On the 31st of January, the Commons were sent to the House of Lords. A grief-stricken Lord Chancellor, Thomas Writholsey, called upon William Paget, Secretary of State to read to Parliament the parts of Henry’s will that pertained to the succession as well as who was named on the regency council. That afternoon, the new regency council met – however, three members were missing from the first meeting. Dr. Nicholas Wotton was absent due to his residence at French court, his brother Sir Edward Wotton was in Calais and Sir Thomas Bromley was not present.

In their first council meeting, they all (those present) agreed that Henry’s will instructed them to have “full power and authority”. After reading the late king’s will, they “fully resolved and agreed with one voice and content…to stand to and maintain the said last will and testament of our said master.” The council decided that one special man should be preferred to be their leader. This man should be of “virtue, wisdom and experience” on to be a “special remembrancer”4 and one good at management. They renamed themselves the “Privy Council” with Edward Seymour as it’s head. [5]

The following day, on the 1st of February, all the executors gathered again at the Tower of London.² It was there that the will was read from beginning to end. It was then that they all took their oath to King Edward and their faithfulness to him. It was also on this day that the members of the council instructed the King that they had name Edward Seymour Lord Protector and asked for his blessing, he agreed and later that day Edward was proclaimed King of England. [6]

Sir William Paget was considered a close friend and confidant of Henry VIII. As his secretary he knew many of the dying king’s wishes. Sometime during the early days of King Edward’s reign, Paget made a long speech to the council informing them of what he head believed to be the late king’s wishes regarding the new honors for the council members. He said that during King Henry’s final days that he and Seymour spent hours alone with the dying king. He said that King Henry had wished to advance certain men to higher titles as to increase the number of noblemen after attainder and death had left many vacancies. Paget also confirmed that Henry VIII wish for Edward Seymour to claim Norfolk’s old titles of Lord Treasurer and Ear Marshall.[7]

After Paget’s speech had concluded the council believed him wholeheartedly.

In the end, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford would now be styled as Duke of Somerset. William Parr, John Dudley and Thomas Wriothesley did not accept their new titles, but instead took the following titles:

  • William Parr, Marquess of Northampton (former title Earl of Essex)
  • John Dudley, Earl of Warwick (former title Viscount Lisle)
  • Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton (former title Baron Wriothesley of Titchfield & Lord Chancellor)

John Dudley wrote a letter to Secretary Paget about his wish to have the peerage, “Earl of Warwick”:

Master Secretary, perchance some folks allege considerations concerning the not assignment (had been vacant since 1499 after the death of Edward Plantagenet) of the lordship of Warwick, saying it is a stately castle, and a goodly park, and a great royalty. To that it may be answered – the castle of itself is not able to lodge a good baron with his train; for all the one side of the said castle, with also the dungeon tower, is clearly ruinated and down to the ground; and that of late the King’s Majesty that dead is, hath sold all the chief and principal manors that belonged unto the said earldom and castle; so that at this present there is no lands belonging unto it, but the rents of certain houses in the town, and certain meadows with the park of Wegenock. Of the which castle with the park, and also of the town, I am Constable, High Steward, and Master of the Game, with also th’herbage of the park during my life; and because of the name, I am the more desirous to have the thing; and also I come of one of the daughter and heirs of the right and not defiled line.

I will rebate part of my fees in my portion, to have the same castle, meadows, and park; wherein I pray you to show me your friendship, to move the rest of my lords to this effect: and further to be friendly to Mr. Denny, according to his desire for the site and remains of Waltham, with certain other farms adjoining unto Jeston; wherein, as for the site of Waltham, I suppose it shall grow to a commonwealth to the country thereabouts to let him have it.

And in case that they will not condescend to me for the lordship of Warwick, as is aforesaid, I pray you then let me have Tunbridge and Penshurst, that was the Buckingham’s lands in Kent, as parcel of my portion, with also Hawlden, that was my own; and, whether I have the one or the other, let Canonbury be our portion.

The Master of the Horse would gladly, as I do perceive him, have the lordship in Sussex that was the Lord Laware’s; which in my opinion were better bestowed upon him, or some such as would keep it up, and serve the King in the country in maintaining of household, than to let it fall to ruin as it doth, with divers other like houses; being a great pity, and loss it will be at length to the King and realm.

Your own assuredly, J. Warwick

Sir Anthony Denny later told Roger Ascham that, “The court…is a place so slippery that duty never so well done is not a staff stiff enough to stand by always very surely; where you shall many times reap most unkindness where you have sown greatest pleasures and those also ready to do you much hurt, to whom you never intended to think any harm.“[8]

So, anyway, this article wasn’t supposed to be all about what happened after the death of Henry VIII, but I felt like I needed to set the scene for when I get to my next part – listing the sixteen men who were named to Edward VI’s regency council. So, with that being said, let’s look at the men who were supposed to make the decisions for a nation. Were they indeed the trust men of King Henry VIII or were they believers in Edward Seymour?

This might be hard to believe, but a couple of weeks ago was the first time I have ever really paid any attention detailed list of the sixteen men on Edward’s regency council. To be completely honest, I had not been all that interested in them before now. That is, until I came upon “A General History of the Lives, Trials, and Executions of all the Royal and Noble Personages”. This book covers the those who had been found guilty of high treason and other crimes from the accession of Henry VIII and on. It may seem obvious that I came across this book while doing more research on Thomas Seymour. There are many other men mentioned in this book as well, like: Thomas More, Bishop Fisher and the Duke of Buckingham, to name a few.

When I initially read the list in “A General History of the Lives, Trials, and Executions of all the Royal and Noble Personages” I became overwhelmed with the idea of finding out who each of these men were, where they came from and how they interacted with the other council members. That’s what I’m doing with this post.

Here is the list of the men who were chosen by the late Henry VIII to be on the regency council for his son and heir, Edward VI:

  1. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
  2. Thomas Wriothesley, (1st Earl of Southampton and) Lord Chancellor
  3. William Paulet, Lord St. John and Master of the Household
  4. Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Great Chamberlain
  5. John Russell, (1st Earl of Bedford and) Lord Privy Seal
  6. John Dudley, Viscount Lisle and Lord High Admiral of England
  7. Bishop Cuthbert Tonstall of Durham
  8. Sir Anthony Brown, Master of Horse
  9. Sir Edward Montagu, Chief Judge of the Common Pleas
  10. Thomas Bromley, Judge (need more information on this)
  11. Sir Edward North, Chancellor of the Augmentations
  12. Sir William Paget, Chief Secretary
  13. Sir Anthony Denny, Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber
  14. Sir William Herbert, Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber
  15. Sir Edward Wotton, Treasurer of Calais
  16. Dr. Nicholas Wotton (Edward’s brother), Dean of Canterbury and York
Paget, North, Bromley, Montagu, Paulet, Seymour, Denny, Wriothesley, Russell, Dudley, Tunstall, Browne, Herbert, Wotton, Wotton & Cranmer.

Paget, North, Bromley, Montagu, Paulet, Seymour, Denny, Wriothesley, Russell, Dudley, Tunstall, Browne, Herbert, Wotton, Wotton & Cranmer.

With these men in place, in his will, Henry VIII instructed that “none of them shall do anything appointed by this Will alone, but only with the written consent of the majority.” This group of sixteen men who made up the regency council did not take long before deciding (by majority) that one of them should be the leader.

This position, and title of Lord Protector was given to the King’s eldest uncle, Edward Seymour, followed by the title, Duke of Somerset. The dukedom was a late addition to the late king’s will.

Now…back to what we came here for – learning about the sixteen men who were named to the regency council:

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Thomas Cranmer is probably known best as the man who helped change religion in England. It was Cranmer who had a close relationship with the Boleyn family and on the day of Anne’s execution said, ‘She who has been the Queen of England upon earth will today become a Queen in heaven.’ So great was his grief that he could say nothing more, and then he burst into tears. Cranmer definitely owed his rise in favor to Anne and the Boleyns, and after her execution must have felt broken and lost. It also does not surprise me that he was named one of the members of the regency council by Henry VIII – the King definitely had faith in Cranmer.

In his position on the regency council, with Somerset at the head, Cranmer would have been happy to move forward with the reformation.

Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor

Thomas Wriothesley studied civil law at St. Paul’s School, London and Trinity Hall in Cambridge. He studied under Stephen Gardiner. In 1524, Wriothesly was employed Cardinal Wolsey and it was in that service that he met Thomas Cromwell. Nine years later Thomas Wriothesley would be in the service of Thomas Cromwell.

I’ve read bits and pieces about Wriothesley but never put two and two together about how important of a figure he was at Tudor court. On the 16th of February 1547, Wriothesley was given the title: 1st Earl of Southampton, upon the request of the late King Henry.

Wriothesley had been one of the councillors who were against making Edward Seymour the Lord Protector. Wriothesley did not believe one man should rule the country – Henry’s will specifically stated that it should be a group of chosen men.

Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton by Holbein Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.

What do we know about Wriothesley? Well, we know that he was the man responsible for personally torturing Anne Askew in 1546. We also know that he earned favor with Henry VIII when he assisted him with his Great Matter. He was ambassador to Brussels. He led the naval escort to bring Anne of Cleves to England. It is also believed that Wriothesley had similar power as both Wolsey and Cromwell had – that he had been ‘governing almost everything in England.”

Lord St. John, Master of the Household

Lord St. John was what William Paulet styled himself as from 1539-1550. Paulet was raised in peerage to Baron St. John of Basing in 1539. He was Comptroller of the King’s Household. Paulet also turned against Somerset in 1549 in support of John Dudley.

St. John supported the reformation but refrained from politics. That being said, he was one of the sixteen men on the king’s regency council.

St. John was named treasurer of the household in 1537 and then chamberlain in 1543, followed by great master of the household in 1545. Then in 1546 he was named as lord president of the Privy Council.

William Paulet, Lord St. John

Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Great Chamberlain

Edward Seymour was the eldest uncle of King Edward VI. After the death of Henry VIII he voted by the regency council to be named Lord Protector of the Realm. It was in that position that Edward Seymour would experience the most dangerous experiences of his life. Without the approval and backing of the regency council, Edward was alone.

Collection of Marquess of Bath, Longleat House, Wiltshire.

John Russell, (1st Earl of Bedford and) Lord Privy Seal

John Russell served four of the Tudor monarchs.

In 1506, John Russell was of service to King Philip and Queen Juana from Castile when they were shipwrecked off the English coast. Once ashore, “the people sent the royal strangers to the finest house they knew, Wolfeton, the great house owned by Sir Thomas Trenchard ten miles away. Sir Thomas was at home, but he could not speak Spanish, so he sent for his kinsmen John Russell, who was living at the farmhouse Kingston Russell House at Long Bredy Dorset. John had been in Spain and could interpret, the Spaniards were so delighted with his manner that they took him to see the King. King Henry VII made Russell a gentleman of the privy chamber”, a position he remained at in the reign of Henry VIII as well. “Prior to his elevation to court he was the last of a long line of successful wine importers.”[9]

John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, by Hans Holbein the Younger; Royal Collection, Windsor Castle

Then in 1509, Russell was employed in various military and diplomatic missions during the War of the League of Cambrai.

He had many years of experience at court and had accompanied Mary Tudor, the king’s sister, to France in 1514 for her marriage to King Louis XII.

In 1520, Russell attended the Field of Cloth of Gold, and he was knighted on 2 July 1522 after losing an eye at the taking of Morlaix in Brittany

Sir John was named Lord Privy Seal by Henry VIII after the execution of Thomas Cromwell who held the title prior to his death.

John Dudley, Viscount Lisle and Lord High Admiral of England

John Dudley was the son of the ill-fated financial minister, Edmund Dudley. If you recall from a previous episode Edmund Dudley and his counterpart, Robert Empson were executed at the beginning of Henry VIII’s reign. The men had been extremely unpopular during the reign of Henry VII due to all the taxes that were being subjected to the English subjects. By executing them it brought favor to the new Tudor king.

Under the tutelage of his guardian’s brother Sir Henry Guildford, a boon companion of Henry VIII, Dudley was trained as a soldier and courtier.”[10]

Dudley was well-connected at court and in the late 1530’s he was made governor of Calais and in 1542 he was created Viscount Lisle and Lord High Admiral, a position he held until he voluntarily renounced his position so it could be given to Sir Thomas Seymour. He then held the role again after the execution of Seymour until 1550.

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland

In my opinion, Dudley was one of the most ruthless men at Tudor court, he would do whatever it took to get what he wanted. It has always been my believe that he was the one who stirred up trouble between the Seymour brothers and he was also instrumental in the downfall of them both. Dudley took advantage of the dying King Edward VI and (also in my opinion) convinced him to name his new daughter-in-law as his heir.

This is the funny thing about researching the Tudor era. There are so many interesting “characters” to learn about that sometimes, over the years of researching, our opinions of them can change. It’s possible that one day I’ll discover he wasn’t as despicable as I once suspected, but right now he ranks right up there for me with Anne Stanhope, wife of Edward Seymour, Lord Protector.

Bishop Cuthbert Tonstall of Durham

Of all the men listed as members of the regency council, Bishop Tonstall of Durham is the one I know the least about. I’ll do my best to give you the information that I DO have on him.

Serving Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, Tonstall’s career at court was a long one. In 1511, William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, made Tunstall his chancellor. A few years later he was running diplomatic missions abroad for King Henry and Wolsey. Then in 1516 he was made Mast of the Rolls, an office which he held for six years and would on occasion acted as the Keeper of the Privy Seal. Seven years later he then became Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal.

Curthbert Tunstall

After the downfall of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1530, Tunstall succeeded him as Bishop of Durham, which involved Tunstall having significant power within the territory of the diocese.

In 1537, Tonstall became President of the new Council of the North. Although he was often engaged preoccupied with ongoing negotiations with Scotland, he had time to attend Parliament and participated in the discussion of the the Bill of Six Articles.

So…as you can tell, Tunstall was a man on the rise at court and clearly had favor with the King, which is a little surprising because he was one of the men (along with Bishop Fisher and Thomas More) that represented Katherine of Aragon during the divorce proceedings. Tunstall spared himself from execution by playing the part. Even if he didn’t agree with what was going on he understood that it would do him no good to follow Fisher and More.

Sir Anthony Brown, Master of Horse

Another man close to the king and other members at court was Sir Anthony Browne. Browne’s half-brother was the William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, and the men had shared a mother.

It is believed that Browne, born around 1500, was at court from an early age and was probably raised in the royal household – you see, his father was a standard-bearer to King Henry VII.

Browne’s service to the King began in the year 1518 and by the following year he was made gentleman of the privy chamber, a position kept him near the King. Because of this position Browne became one of the King’s close circle of friends that were called his “minions”. Another man who was part of this group of friends was Sir Francis Bryan, the Vicar from Hell.

Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu, NPG 842

Over the years Browne favor with the King continued to grow and grow. He was knighted in 1520 by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (future Duke of Norfolk) for his service against the French. He was appointed lieutenant of the Isle of Man and then in 1527 served the King as ambassador to France.

It is believed to be Browne’s sister, Elizabeth Somerset, Countess of Worcester was the person who provided the testimony to build the charges of adultery against Anne Boleyn.

While it appears that Browne supported Henry in the downfall of Anne Boleyn in 1536, he also briefly fell from favor that year when he showed his support to returning the Lady Mary to the succession.

Sir Anthony Browne assisted Edward Seymour in the French wars in the 1540s when they were successful and securing England’s coastal defences.

Browne was returned to favor and continued to serve the King until his last day. In his will, King Henry VIII named Browne an executor to the King’s will and member of the regency council.

Sir Edward Montagu, Chief Judge of the Common Pleas

Unfortunately I was unable to find anymore information on Sir Edward Montagu at this time.

Thomas Bromley, Judge (need more information on this)

Puisne Justice of the King’s Bench [11] and he was absent from the meeting where the council voted to make Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford as Lord Protector of the Realm. I was unfortunately unable to find more information on Bromley.

Sir Edward North, Chancellor of the Augmentations

From History of Parliament:

The beginning of the new reign saw North made a Privy Councillor and reappointed to the chancellorship, but he was soon to be antagonized by the Protector Somerset who in August 1548 connived at his being eased out of his office in favour of Richard Sackville II. This act was to cost the Protector dear, for in the coup d’état against him a year later North was one of the first to join the dissident Councillors in London and to sign the letter listing the Protector’s offences.

Edward North

Sir William Paget, Chief Secretary

We’ve talked quite a bit about him already, so here is a portrait of him for you to gaze at.

Anglo/Netherlandish School; William Paget (1505/1506-1563), 1st Baron Paget de Beaudesert, KG; National Trust, Plas Newydd;

Sir Anthony Denny, Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber

In the final years of Henry VIII’s life, Sir Anthony Denny was his chief gentleman of the privy chamber (& groom of the stool). He and the King were constantly together. Denny was also a co-keeper of the king’s dry stamp in 1546 and the use of that stamp is what has history buffs wondering if it may have been misused.

Possible Portrait of Denny

Denny was with King Henry in France and was knighted at Boulogne and the King even trusted Denny to his privy purse.

Sir William Herbert, Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber

A few days after Henry VIII’s death Herbert, Paget and Denny informed the council that they had “remembered” more things that were their late King’s wishes. Like….these things were so important that it escaped the King’s mind at the time he made up his will. Because of their flood of memory, Edward Seymour became Duke of Somerset, William Parr became Marquisate of Northampton, John Dudley became Earl of Warwick and Thomas Wriothesley became Earl of Southampton.

William Herbert

Sir Edward Wotton, Treasurer of Calais

Edward Wotton’s duties in Calais prevented his frequent attendance at the council board and so he was probably a non-factor when it came to votes by the council.

Dr. Nicholas Wotton (Edward’s brother), Dean of Canterbury and York

Nicholas Wotton was one of the men charged with going to Cleves and getting a glimpse of Anne of Cleves for King Henry. But in that mission he failed miserably and ‘complained that he could not see her face beneath her voluminous headdress’.



[1] Craik, George Lillie & Charles MacFarlane. “The pictorial history of England during the reign of George the Third: being a history of the people, as well as a history of the kingdom. Illustrated with several hundred woodcuts, Volume 2”. pg 472
[2] Hutchinson, Robert. “The Last Days of Henry VIII”. pg 219-220
[3] Hutchinson, Robert. “The Last Days of Henry VIII”. pg 15
[4] Lipscomb, Suzannah. “The King is Dead”. pg. 81
[5] De Lisle, Leanda. “Tudor”. pg. 239-40
[6] Acts of the Privy Council of England Volume 2, 1547-1550. Originally published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1890. pg. 7-8
[7] Scard, Margaret. “Edward Seymour”. pg. 81
[8] Hutchinson, Robert. “The Last Days of Henry VIII”. pg 14-15
[10] Wagner, John A., Susan Walters Schmid. Encyclopia of Tudor England, Volume 1 (A-D). pg 371
[11] Hutchinson, Robert. “The Last Days of Henry VIII”. pg 213


Acts of the Privy Council of England Volume 2, 1547-1550. Originally published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1890.
England Under the Reigns of Edward VI. and Mary, With the Contemporary History of Europe, Illustrated in a Series of Original Letters Never Before Printed : with Historical Introductions and
Craik, George Lillie & Charles MacFarlane. “The pictorial history of England during the reign of George the Third: being a history of the people, as well as a history of the kingdom. Illustrated with several hundred woodcuts, Volume 2”
De Lisle, Leanda. “Tudor”.
Hutchinson, Robert. “The Last Days of Henry VIII”.
Lipscomb, Suzannah. “The King is Dead”.
Scard, Margaret. “Edward Seymour”.
Tytler, Patrick Fraser, Biographical and Cirtical Notes ; in Two Volumes
Wagner, John A., Susan Walter Schmid. “Encyclopedia of Tudor England”.

Tudor Power Couple: Edward and Anne Seymour

The consummate ‘power couple from hell’, Edward Seymour and his wife Anne Stanhope were portrayed in Showtime’s The Tudors as selfish, greedy and uncompromising. In real life you could say the same…or is there more to the story?

Edward Seymour

Born in 1500, Edward Seymour was the second son of John Seymour and Margery Wentworth and grew up at Wolf Hall. The eldest son of the couple, John most likely died in infancy – so Edward was now the oldest. He had nine siblings in all – most notably Thomas and Jane. It is believed that Edward was brought up at Wolf Hall under the supervision of his mother.

John Seymour must have had a great relationship with King Henry VIII because on the 12th of October 1514, a fourteen year old Edward Seymour was made a page “to do service to the queen”. Katherine of Aragon, you ask? No, actually Mary Tudor, Queen of France – favorite sister of King Henry. This must have been a very exciting adventure for such a young man, but unfortunately it would not last long. In a matter of weeks Edward, along with many other of the new French queen’s attendants were sent back to England.

In the Spring of 1514, Edward Seymour married Katherine Fillol, heiress to her father’s fortune. The marriage was most likely arranged by their fathers since the couple were so young – Edward being only 14 years old. The couple lived in the household of Sir John Seymour at Wolf Hall until Edward turned twenty-one because his father had agreed to provide for the young couple until they came of age. It was important for John Seymour to take care of the young couple because his new daughter-in-law stood inherit some great lands upon her father’s death.

Edward and Katherine had two sons, the eldest was John, named for his grandfather and the second was Edward, presumably named for his father.

Edward’s social standing continued to climb when, in December 1516 he was listed as a gentleman attendant in the king’s privy chamber. Then on the 15th of July 1517 he was secured the position of constable of Bristol Castle. He was only seventeen years old at the time so the position was in title only and his duties would have been performed by his father’s deputies – must be nice.

Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset

The couple were married for over a decade before all hell broke lose.

In a book called, The Seymour Family by Amy Aubrey Locke the story is told. There are two different stories to explain – the first is a story that was given by Peter Heylen who was the author of History of the Reformation which was published in 1674 and it states:

When Edward Seymour was in France, possibly when he had accompanied the Duke of Suffolk in 1532, he had acquainted himself with a learned man who had great skill in magic. From this man he could be told how all his relations were back home. The way Heylen explains it it almost seems as if Edward was ‘shown’ what was happening – like possibly in a crystal ball. I don’t know. Seymour saw a male acquaintance in a “familiar posture with his wife than was agreeable to the honour of either party”. Whatever he saw he believed it – so much so that when he arrived back in England he estranged himself from his wife and their two sons, and instead of divorcing her sent her to a convent.

The second story is by Horace Walpole, which is found in Vincent’s Baronage in the College of Arms, that states in latin, but I’ve translated it to: ‘Because of his father, divorced after a marriage being acknowledged.’

So if we were to combine the two statements we’d find that Edward Seymour separated from Katherine Fillol because of his father’s familiar relationship with her that was not agreeable to their honor.

To back up the fact that Katherine Fillol disgraced her family, her father was so upset with her that she would no longer inherit all that she was supposed to as his sole heiress. Instead, in her father’s will dated 1527, she is excluded from inheriting, “for many diverse reasons and considerations from any part or parcel of his manors and estates” – instead she was left with an annual pension from the estate of 40, provided she go and “virtuously and abide in some house of religion of women”. In other words, a convent. So apparently her father was so disgusted by his daughter’s actions that he took away her inheritance.

Interestingly enough author David Loades in The Seymour Family of Wolf Hall believes that the separation did not affect their children’s legitimacy – even though it had been suspected that John and Edward were actually John Seymour’s children and brother’s to Edward Seymour, not his children. He does mention in the book that the boys were not able to claim Edward Seymour’s titles and that they played no part in his career. Supposedly both boys went away with their mother and stayed with her until her death in 1535 – then they were returned to the custody of Edward Seymour. Interesting, right?

Depending on who you read the following information varies regarding the marriage of Edward Seymour to his second wife, Anne Stanhope.

David Loades says they married on the 9th of March 1535, while Antonia Fraser says it was sometime in 1534 before Katherine Fillol’s death and Margaret Scard says by the 9th of March 1535. So we don’t know for certain if it was before or after the death of her first wife. We can assume from the three authors that they were definitely married by the 9th of March 1535.

Regardless of when they were married the new bride immediately put her foot down and said she wanted nothing to do with his sons, so they were both sent away from court to be educated.

Anne Stanhope

Anne Stanhope was the only child of Sir Edward Stanhope and Elizabeth Bourchier and was born in 1510. Unfortunately, when she was about one year old her father died. There is little evidence that remains about Anne’s childhood – it is, however, believed that she was a maid-of-honour to Katherine of Aragon.

Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset

Her mother did eventually marry again, this time to Sir Richard Paget, who was also well-connected to King Henry VIII. Paget was a gentleman of the Privy Chamber for King Henry and also Vice-Chamberlain in the household of Henry Fitzroy.

Man on the Rise
Edward Seymour’s position, thanks to his father’s connection to the king, continued to rise at Tudor court. When his sister caught the king’s eye in 1536 it only helped Edward’s advancement.

Before the execution of Anne Boleyn on the 19th of May 1536, Edward Seymour became a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber; and when his sister Jane became queen he was ennobled as Viscount Beauchamp.

Queen Jane is always referred to as sweet, or as a peace-maker, she apparently got along well with her sister in law Anne and never showed any interest in her nephews that were sent away. It always amazes me that a family with so much scandal surrounding it could end up with a daughter as queen.

When Prince Edward was born on the 12th of October 1537, Seymour was raised to the earldom of Hertford – and his younger brother, Thomas Seymour succeeded Edward’s position in the privy chamber.

Only twelve days later Queen Jane was dead and Prince Edward was only an infant. With infant mortality so high the Seymour family would have been on edge – they understood well how fast one family could fall from favor.

Lucky for them Edward was healthy child and things seemed more stable for Edward Seymour as the eldest uncle of the Prince.

Sometime in 1538, most likely on Anne’s insistence, his boys by Katherine Fillol were excluded from Edward Seymour’s property and titles by Act of Parliament – she meant business, wanting her children to benefit from their father’s standing, not his supposed children from his first marriage.

Death of King Henry VIII

Both Edward and Anne Seymour continued to play important roles at Tudor court throughout the reign of Henry VIII but when the king died on the 28th of January 1547 everything changed and they became the most powerful couple in England.

Henry VIII had actually revised his will in December 1546 a month before his death. The reason behind the revisions were to:

Revise the composition of the Council (these men are the same people who would be executors to his will)
To distribute the Howard property since the Duke of Norfolk and Earl of Surrey were both convicted of treason and sentenced to death.
To name whether after Prince Edward’s ascension he should be aided by a council or a protector. (It’s been noted that King Henry was more interested in a council)
Upon Henry VIII’s death the details regarding the distribution of the Howard land and the issue of a protectorate had not yet been finalized.

Edward Seymour and Sir William Paget (the king’s secretary & Seymour’s ally) and possibly the executors of the late king’s will as well, are believed to have changed it. They did so so that they could be in charge of distributing the Howard land and honors to whomever they pleased. Henry’s will was signed with a stamp, so changes appeared easy to make.

Three days after the king’s death Edward Seymour was named Lord Protector AND Governor of the King.

Author Margaret Scard said it best: Henry VIII never intended a protectorate “his failure to recognize the inherent weakness in the terms of his will left the government of the country at the mercy of ambitious men.”

The transfer from one king to the next was always a hairy situation, especially when the new king was a mere child – see Henry VI as another example with the Wars of the Roses – that history lesson should have been enough warning for the eldest Seymour brother.

Edward Seymour had made promises to William Paget to get him on his side – we know this because of a letter that Paget wrote him two years later. He starts by reminding him that they had discussed something in the gallery of Westminster before the King died and how they had talked about their plan to make Seymour Lord Protector. Evidently, Seymour had told Paget that he would listen to his advice above any other man. Of course, that wasn’t the case – Seymour got what he wanted from Paget. What was he going to do now? Seymour was already Lord Protector and could do as he wished.

In his will Henry VIII had listed sixteen men to be both executors of his will and members of the Regency Council. That is how he wanted things to be. He didn’t want a protectorate. He also named twelve assistant executors, one of which was Edward’s younger and equally ambitious brother Thomas Seymour.

Thomas Seymour believed that he would be named Governor of the King, like with the minority of Henry VI his uncles shared the powerful positions. It wasn’t only Thomas Seymour that was annoyed; Kateryn Parr had believe that she would be named Regent – even going so far as changing her signature to indicate her new position.

In mid-February 1547, Edward Seymour decided to be styled as the Duke of Somerset – truly amazing since that title is traditionally associated with the Beaufort line of ancestors of Henry VIII.

Now as Lord Protector, Governor of the King and Duke of Somerset, Edward Seymour’s authority had grown – he could now add and remove councillors at will and convene the Council at anytime. He could act without permission and was essentially ‘de facto King’. Exactly what Henry VIII did NOT want. He even went so far as to address King Francis I as ‘brother’ in a letter, something reserved to another monarch. Just as Henry VIII had called Francis I, his brother.

When the newly titled Duke of Somerset (how I will try to refer to him going forward) raised his brother Thomas to Baron Seymour of Sudeley, Thomas took it as a slap in the face – he believed Governor of the King was his position. Somerset tried to placate him by also making him Lord High Admiral. While this pleased him it didn’t cure his desire to have more.

Looking for more power and wealth Thomas Seymour did what he knew how to do best evidently – he schemed. First he asked Princess Elizabeth Tudor to marry him. Knowing full well that being married to Elizabeth would bring him as close to the throne as he could achieve. She turned him down, in the sweetest manner possible – saying she needed to mourn her father and could not consider a marriage for at least two years.

Secret Wedding

Thomas, slightly discouraged, went to the next best choice, his former love and dowager queen Kateryn Parr. Parr still loved Seymour and was acting like a young girl in love. She had married the aging, obese king instead of Seymour in 1543 because she felt that it was God’s will to do so. So when she had the opportunity to be with Seymour again she jumped at the chance.

The couple secretly married in the Spring of 1547 – way too soon for the widow of the late king. Thomas and Kateryn looked for a way to get away with their secret marriage without getting in trouble because they hadn’t asked Somerset or the Council’s permission to marry.

When Somerset discovered the two had married he was livid that his own brother had went behind his back to get permission from the young king. He even went to young King Edward and yelled at him about giving them permission. King Edward had noted in his diary about that exchange and said, ‘the Lord Protector was much offended’ and that was all. Now, who’s the king exactly?

Edward’s wife Anne Seymour was equally displeased with the union. Not only did Thomas and Kateryn marry too soon after Henry VIII’s death but Kateryn Parr was marrying well beneath her station since Thomas was merely a baron. Both Edward and Anne felt Thomas had disgraced their family name by going behind their back.

Kateryn Parr still played the role as queen, with a household the same size as when she was married to Henry. Thomas Seymour, being the husband of Kateryn, would have finally felt he had some of the power and status he deserved.

Anne, Duchess of Somerset was annoyed with the fact that Kateryn Parr would take precedence over her as the wife of the Lord Protector – the story that has been told is that she would push, or nudge the dowager queen out of the way to as to walk in front of her – showing she took precedence…now, I’ve been just as guilty of telling this story as others, but apparently we may all have been mistaken and I want to clear it up.

Author Margaret Scard states that it is unlikely that the Duchess of Somerset was resentful toward Kateryn Parr. Anne would have understood that she would have to take her place behind Kateryn, just as she would behind Anne of Cleves as the ‘king’s sister’.

The real issue appears to be between the Duchess of Somerset and Thomas Seymour – she took issue with the precedence he felt he deserved since he was married to the dowager queen. He believed that his marriage to Kateryn would and should raise him above other noblemen. Maybe that means he felt he could walk alongside his wife in a procession – this would be what the duchess was opposed to. In addition to that, both the duke and duchess of Somerset were angry with Thomas for embarrassing them by going behind their back and marrying Kateryn. That information is found in the book by Margaret Scard about Edward Seymour and references the original rumor to the 1550s by Catholic writers. That makes a bit more sense right? They wanted to make the heavily protestant Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset look bad.

If we look at Chris Skidmore’s book about Edward VI he continues with the story that the Duchess of Somerset, who was described as, “A woman for many imperfections intolerable, and for pride monstrous, subtle and violent”, as does Antonia Fraser when she states in the Wives of Henry VIII that the Duchess of Somerset “openly jostled with Queen Catherine for precedence on the grounds that as the wife of the Protector she was the first lady in England”. However, there is no justification for her actions – Kateryn Parr had been granted precedence by statute and the Duchess would also have to walk behind Princess Mary, Princess Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves.

Interestingly enough, in Elizabeth Norton’s book about Kateryn Parr she states that Anne Seymour had always resented having to pay court to the former Lady Latimer – coming from an aristocratic courtly family herself she felt she need not carry the train of her husband’s younger brother.

Edward Seymour, Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset refused to get in the middle of this quarrel and told his brother Thomas, “Brother, are you not my younger brother, and am I not Protector, and do you not know that your wife, before she married the king, was of lower rank than my wife? I desire therefore, since the queen is your wife that mine should go before her. Thomas, now more angry replied with, “I am sorry there should be any anger between them, but I can tell you that the queen is determined not to allow it, so do not blame me for it.”

After the brother’s conversation Thomas went back and informed his wife of what words had been exchanged and Kateryn was humiliated – she left is recorded as saying, “I deserve this for degrading myself from a queen to marry an Admiral.”

Not only was Kateryn being pushed aside by the Duke and Duchess of Somerset for marrying Thomas but now they refused to allow her access to her jewels in the Tower of London. Somerset stated that they were the property of the Crown now. This infuriated Kateryn because some of the jewels were actually her possessions – gifts that she had been given by the late king and her mother. She was not asking for the queen’s jewels. Both Thomas and Kateryn tried everything to get her jewels back – they hired legal council and even discussed with the young king…to no avail. Kateryn would never see her jewels again.

Death of Kateryn Parr

Kateryn Parr’s death came as a surprise to everyone, especially her husband Thomas. You could say her death catapulted him into a death spin that would ultimately lead to his execution.

After his wife’s death, Thomas had asked the Duchess of Suffolk to raise their daughter, Mary.

It wasn’t long after the death of the dowager queen that Thomas Seymour’s reckless behaviour caught up with him. It is believed that his brother, the Duke of Somerset is the one who gave the order to investigate and gather information against Thomas. Eventually, evidence would be found, or possibly fabricated, and Somerset would sign the order for his brother’s execution.

For his actions against his brother he was heavily criticized – what he actually had done was weakened his own standing. In 1550 he was removed from the office of Protector but was readmitted to the council the following year. All the plotting and scheming that Somerset had done himself was now happening to him by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick – when on the 16th of October 1551 Somerset was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. He was executed, just like his brother had been, on the 22nd of January 1552.

A man by the name of John Hayward is noted as saying that the downfall of the Seymour brothers was the direct result of the rivalry of their wives.

The Duke and Duchess of Somerset were indeed the power couple of Tudor court during the reign of Edward VI – unfortunately, between the two of them they were also responsible for the disgrace of the Seymour name.

Interested in the Podcast about this topic? Click this image:

Further Reading:

Fraser, Antonia; Wives of Henry VIII

Lipscomb, Suzannah; The King is Dead

Loades, David; The Seymours of Wolf Hall

Norton, Elizabeth; Catherine Parr

Scard, Margaret; Edward Seymour – Lord Protector

Skidmore, Chris; Edward VI – The Lost King of England

Starkey, David; Rivals in Power – Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties

Weir, Alison; The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Facebook no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,011 subscribers.

Thomas Seymour: Prisoner to Greed


Thomas Seymour had a way with women – his charisma so great and his looks so good that even Katherine Parr couldn’t help but fall for him. He was described as “…fierce in courage, courtly in fashion, in personage stately, in voice magnificent.” Yet with all those wonderful attributeshe did not marry until he was nearly forty years old.

In 1547, after the death of King Henry VIII, his son Edward succeeded him as King Edward VI of England. Young Edward’s mother, Jane, died days after giving birth to him and the only remaining connection to her was through his uncles, aunts and grandmother.


The Seymour Brothers

From early on the Seymour brothers were gifted with titles. Edward was given the titleViscount Beauchampafter his sister married the King in 1536. The following summer he became Earl of Hertford. At the same time his younger brother Thomas becameGentleman of the Privy Chamber. A year laterhe wasgranted the castle and manor of Holt in Cheshire and knighted prior to the christening of his nephew, Prince Edward, into the Knight of the Bath. From that point, until the death of King Henry, Thomas was continually given lands, but no greater titles – those were saved for his elder brother, Edward.

In Henry VIII’s will he named Thomas Seymour as an assistant to the King’s council and was gifted money, however, the will of the late monarch has been disputed and claims that it was changed prior to his death are widespread.”The purported leaders of this faction were Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford; John Dudley, Lord Lisle; and Sir William Paget, the kings chief secretary. All were apparently united by their evangelicalism that is, their eagerness for further religious reformation.

When Prince Edward became King of England Thomas Seymour’ssocial standings grew immensely; He was now uncle to the King. Finally he was given a title…though not a dukedom like his brother Edward who became Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector but Baron of Sudeley and Lord Admiral, along with several pieces ofland. As an uncle to the King he should have received more, at least an earldom. Some chroniclers and historians have said that his brother Edward was behind the lack of any great titles.edward-seymour

Edward Seymour surely wanted to give the impression that he was a fair brother; After he was made Lord Protector he had this to say to the Council:

My lords, you know how long my brother, Master Seymour, has served, and how the King esteemed him, and if he had not died would have given him great rewards; and you also know that it is time the Earl of Warwick was allowed to rest, and had another less laborious office. My brother is young and is well fitted for this post, so if you approve I propose to make Warwick the Earl Constable, and my brother High Admiral.

When we look back at previous kings in their minority it was more common that any remaining uncles were given much greater titles than what Thomas Seymour received. With his brother Edward as Lord Protector of the Realm, he had the power to recommend to council to give his brother a greater title. It’s almost as if Edward Seymour knew that his brother would attempt to over-throw him and take a more powerful position for himself.

Thomas never believed hewas given enough and always thought he deserved more. That was definitely his weakness. It’s easy to see him as a villain, but he was also a victim of his brother’s ambitions. I believe this was his true motivator. However, imagine seeing your elder brother and your younger sister getting everything they desired and you, as a middle child, feeling like you were always forgotten.

Possible Marriages

Thomas Seymour was nearly forty years old and unmarried when Henry VIII died in 1547. There is no doubt thathe could have married any noble woman of his choosing but his ambitions were always higher and greater than most expected. He wanted a marriage that would give him more money, more property and more political standing.

Before Katherine Parr was married to Henry VIII, she and Seymour had hopedto marry after the imminent death of her third husband, Lord Latimer. Merely a couple of months after the death of Latimer, Henry VIII asked Katherine to be his wife. She could not refuse. This may have fueled Seymour’s internal fire to strive for what he thought he deserved and what he thought should be his.


It was necessary to have a lengthy mourning period after the death of a husband, but especially if that husband was the King. If the wife was of child-bearing age she had to wait until a sufficient amount of time went by for everyone to see that she was not with the King’s child. As an example, the dowager queen, Catherine of Valois, was told she could not remarry until her son (who was a minor) came of age and could give consent.

Had Thomas Seymour proposed to Katherine in 1543 right after the death of her husband it would have been seen as improper. He had to give it some time before proposing marriage. The King however, did not have to follow the same rules as his subjects.

With Katherine married and out of the picture, Thomas had every opportunity to marry, yet he did not. He was send abroad several times by Henry VIII on embassies or battlesand that sufficiently kept him away from Katherine Parr during the King’s lifetime.

When Seymour’s nephew, Edward succeeded the throne it opened up a new door of opportunity for Thomas. Seymour had approached the King’s servant, John Fowler to plead his case to the King regarding marriage. He had asked Fowler:

Mr. Fowler, I pray you, if you have any communications with the King’s Majesty soon, or tomorrow as his highness whether he would be content I should marry or not; and if he says he would be content, I pray you ask his grace whom he would have to be my wife?

When Fowler saw the King next he brought up Seymour in conversation by marveling how he had not yet been married. The King had no response. Then Fowler asked, “Could your grace be contented he should marry?” The King responded by saying only, “Ye-very well.” Fowler than proceeded to ask Edward whom Seymour should marry. The King said that Thomas Seymour should marry “My Lady Anne of Cleves.” He paused a moment and then changed his mind saying that Seymour should marry his sister Mary – to help “turn her opinions.” This must reference her religion.

Princess Elizabeth, Anne of Cleves, Princess Mary and Katherine Parr

The above reference situation is not dated so I am unsure when it actually occurred. I believe this was aboutthe time that Thomas proposed to Elizabeth and married Katherine Parr. It appears he’s looking for the King to name one of the two ladies.

The Lord Protector approached Council regarding his brother marrying the dowager queen. That he deserved a wife of a great title as he was the uncle of the King. The dowager queen favored the marriage but worried to Pagets wife that she would lose her title as queen. She was assured that it was not the case.

Thomas Seymour secretly wed Katherine Parr in 1547. There marriage was short-lived but did produce a child, Mary.

After the death of Parr, Seymour asked the Council if he could marry Madam Elizabeth. He said that he, as uncle to the King, and someone whom had formerly been married to the dowager queen, deserved to marry her above everyone else. Nothing, of course, came from his request.

Things started to escalate from that point and Seymour showed signs of desperation after the death of the dowager queen and turned down request to marry Elizabeth.

We’ll stop there for now and continue on with a future article about what happened next.

Notes and Sources:

Wriothesley Chronicle
Chronicle of King Henry VIII

Literary Remains of King Edward the Sixth: Edited from His Autograph Manuscripts, with Historical Notes and a Biographical Memoir, Part 2 (page cxv & cxvi)

MacLean, John; The Life of Thomas Seymour, Knight, Baron Seymour of Sudeley and Master of the Ordance

History – “Who Hijacked Henry VIII’s Will?”

‘Henry VIII: December 1546, 26-31’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 21 Part 2, September 1546-January 1547, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1910), pp. 313-348. British History Online [accessed 14 October 2016].

Facebook no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,011 subscribers.

Edward Seymour: Father or Brother?

Edward Seymour-


In about 1527 Edward Seymour (future Earl of Hertford/Duke of Somerset) and brother of Jane Seymour, married his first wife, Katherine Fillol. Katherine was the daughter of Sir William Fillol and an heiress to his lands.

In 1527 they had a son…John and in 1529, another son…Edward. It would seem the first child was named after Edward’s father, John Seymour and the second named after Edward himself.

As someone who does a lot of genealogical research I can assure you that naming your first child (especially a son) after a father is not uncommon, and it is normally after the paternal grandfather as is such in this case. However, when the rest of this story is told, you may wonder if that was the true reason for the name.

As the story goes, it was discovered sometime between 1527 and 1530 that Edward’s wife Katherine Fillol had an affair. The scandalous part is that it was a long affair with…yep, Edward’s father, Sir John Seymour. When Edward discovered the affair he was outraged, as any spouse would be after such a discovery, but he was enraged by the fact that the culprit was his own father.

Photo Credit: National Trust, Ham House
Photo Credit: National Trust, Ham House

After discovering what happened, Edward immediately sent his wife to a nunnery. While not knowing for certain the paternity of his sons, he disowned both of them — after all, how would he know if the boys were hissons, or brothers? How could he look at them without wondering?

There is no definitive proof that Edward’s father, Sir John Seymour was indeed the man who Katherine Fillol had an affair with, but many historiansbelieve so, including Alison Weir. However, in Weir’s book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII she states that all of Henry’s court was aware of what had happened with the Seymours – would this be true? If that’s the case would Henry have been so interested in Jane Seymour, a woman from a family of scandal?

Only a few things point in the direction of Sir John Seymour being the culprit:

A handwrittennote is recorded in the marginofVincent’s Baronagein the College of Arms: “repudiata quia pater ejus post nuptias eam cognovit.” Roughly translated, it says, “Divorced because she was known by his father after the wedding.” It alleges that the affair Catherine was having was with her own father-in-law, Sir John Seymour.

In the book, The Seymour Family by Amy Audrey Looke, she states:

One story given by Peter Heylyn states that when the Earl, then Sir Edward Seymour, was in France, he ‘did there acquaint himself with a learned man, supposed to have great skill in magick; of whom he obtained by grat reward and importunities, to let him see, by the help of some magical perspective, in what estate all his relation stood at home. In which impertinent curiosity he was so far satisfied as to behold a gentleman of his acquaintance in a more familiar posture with his wife than was agreeable to honor of either party. To which diabolical illusion, he is said to have given so much credit that he did not only estrange himself from her society at his coming home, but furnished his next wife with an excellent opportunity for pressing him to disinheriting of his former children.

Collection of Marquess of Bath, Longleat House, Wiltshire.

It seems from the above statement that Edward Seymour saw a psychic or a seer in France who showed him his wife having an affair – however, it is not clear from the above statement whether or not that was with his father. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions.

Also noted should be the fact that Katherine’s father, Sir William Fillol adjusted his will:

Something happened during her marriage to Edward. In her father’s will, dated 1527, Catherine is excluded from inheriting “for many dyverse causes and considerations … Catherine nor hir heiress of hir boody ne Sir Edward Seymour hir husbonde in any wyse have any part or parcell’ of his manors or estates.Instead, Catherine is leftan annual pension from the estate of 40, provided she go and “virtuously and abide in some house of religion of women.” In other words, a convent.

A bit more on the sons and their father as quoted from, The Seymour Familyby A. Audrey Locke:

“The Duke of Somerset, by his first wife Katherine Fillol, had two sons; John, who was sent to the Tower with his father in October 1551, and dying there in December 1552, was buried in Savoy Hospital, and Edward, who was knighted at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547, and was restored to blood by Act of Parliament in 1553. He settled at Berry Pomeroy, in Devonshire, and was the ancestor of the Seymours of Berry Pomeroy, the present Dukes of Somerset.

We’ll never know for certain whether or not Katherine Fillol had an affair with Edward’s father, Sir John Seymour — I think we can agree that she most likely had an affair with someone, otherwise why would Edward have reacted the way he did. The interesting part to me is that Edward Seymour was “shown” his wife having an affair by a “learned man” while in France. Is that part really true, or did he find this out from someone back home?



The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir

Facebook no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,011 subscribers.