Written by Rebecca Larson
The most recognizable Seymours at the court of Henry VIII were: Edward, Thomas, and Jane Seymour. Other than Elizabeth Seymour, who married Gregory, the son of Thomas Cromwell, there was another Seymour brother who occasionally spent time at court and is often overlooked, his name was Henry. Not to mention their youngest sister, Dorothy. But today we are going to look at Henry, in particular.
Henry Seymour was older than Thomas yet younger than Edward, and while Henry did not appear to enjoy court life as his siblings, he did benefit from his sister’s reign and from the family name. In this piece we will discover what little information is available on Henry.
Born about 1503, most likely at Wolf Hall in in Wiltshire, Henry Seymour was the third son of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. It is possible that he was named after King Henry VIII, or maybe his maternal grandfather, Henry Wentworth.
Like his younger brother Thomas, not much is known about Henry’s early years.
Henry began his career with Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester. The History of Parliament claims that it is likely that Henry is the ‘Harry Seymor’ who lived at St. John’s parish in Winchester, and who was “assessed on 10 marks in wages for the subsidy in 1524“. It is likely that he gained the position due to his father, Sir John Seymour and his elder brother, Edward Seymour’s influence at court.
It wasn’t until the Summer of 1537, and his sister’s marriage to the King of England, that he would have been expected to gain influence for himself. Upon the marriage, Henry was appointed to several offices of his sister, the Queen’s estates.
Service to King Henry
In 1544, Henry VIII was in the depths of attempting to take Boulogne, and Henry Seymour was (like his brother Tom), on the sea. He was aboard a ship called the Lion, which was captained by Sir Rhys Mansell. At the time, Thomas Seymour was Vice Admiral of the fleet and had lost sight of some of his ships. When news arrived it was discovered that the Lion had nearly been lost off the French coast after breaking up on a rock entering the harbor at Dartmouth. While we do not really know the relationship between the brothers we must assume that Thomas had a moment of fear wondering of the safety of his brother.
It has also been noted that Henry was a carver in the household of Queen Anne of Cleves 1540, and also of his future sister-in-law, Queen Kateryn Parr by 1545.1History of Parliament
By the end of Henry VIII’s reign, Sir Henry Seymour was living in Hampshire. He was still connected to the Bishop of Winchester and discharged minor duties for his brother Thomas.
Marriage & Family
Around 15502Bindoff, S.T., History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1509-1558, Volume III, Martin Secker & Warberg Ltd (1982), p 290, Henry Seymour married Barbara Wolfe, daughter of Morgan Wolfe. Whether or not the couple had children appears to still be up for debate.
Nephew Becomes King
It was evident that all of the new king’s family (the Seymours) would benefit from his time on the throne, and it was no different for Henry Seymour. Before the coronation of Edward VI, Henry was raised to Knight of the Bath.
…made one of the Knights of the Bath…on February 29, 1546-7, with the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of Hertford, &c.3The Peerage of England; Containing a Genealogical and Historical …, Volume 1 By Arthur Collins
While Henry preferred the quiet life, he was not forgotten by the new regime. In 1551, he had been granted lands with a yearly value of ‘186l and 4d’, which included the manors of Marvel and Twyford in Southampton.
In 1552, he had a grant for life of the manors of Somerford and Hurn in the county of Southampton, as well as other lands that gave an annual income of 202l 6s 9d.
Henry is also said to have represented Wiltshire in the Parliament which was called by Edward VI and he also served the office of sheriff for the county of Southampton in 1568.
Leading the retired life of a country gentleman, far removed from the turmoils of the court, and not taking any part in the politics of the period, these grants alone appear to be the extend of Sir Henry’s participation in the fortunes of his family.4 A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank: But Uninvested with Heritable Honours, Volume 3 Front Cover John Burke Henry Colburn, 1836
In History of the Reformation, it states:
There goes a story that the priest officiating at Ouslebury (of which parish Marvelle was a part) after the mass had been abolsihed by the king’s authority, was violently dragged thence by this Sir Henry, beaten and most reproachfully handled by him, his servants universally refusing to serve him as the instruments of his rage and fury;
Sir Henry Seymour died in 1578. From his marriage to Barbara he had a son named John5Wiltshire. The topographical collections of John Aubrey, 1659-70. Corr. and enl. by John Edward Jackson by Aubrey, John, 1626-1697. Publisher Devizes Printed and sold for the Society by H. Bull, 1862. pg 375. John, likely named after his grandfather was
There are five notes in this piece. They can be found as a small number. Click on the number to see which source was used.
A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank: But Uninvested with Heritable Honours, Volume 3 Front Cover John Burke Henry Colburn, (1836)
Bindoff, S.T., History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1509-1558, Volume III, Martin Secker & Warberg Ltd (1982)
The Peerage of England; Containing a Genealogical and Historical …, Volume 1
By Arthur Collins
Wiltshire. The topographical collections of John Aubrey, 1659-70. Corr. and enl. by John Edward Jackson
by Aubrey, John, 1626-1697. Publisher Devizes Printed and sold for the Society by H. Bull, (1862)