Edward Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset

Edward Adolphus Seymour (later St. Maur), 12th Duke of Somerset, etc., KG, PC (20 December 1804  28 November 1885), styled Lord Seymour until 1855, was a British Whig aristocrat and politician, who served in various cabinet positions in the mid-19th century, including that of First Lord of the Admiralty.

The Duke of Somerset

The Duke of Somerset, by Carlo Pellegrini, 1869.
First Commissioner of Woods
and Forests
In office
17 April 1849  1 August 1851
Prime MinisterLord John Russell
Preceded byThe Earl of Carlisle
Succeeded byOffice abolished
First Commissioner of Works
In office
1 August 1851  21 February 1852
Prime MinisterLord John Russell
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byLord John Manners
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
27 June 1859  26 June 1866
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Palmerston
The Earl Russell
Preceded bySir John Pakington, Bt
Succeeded bySir John Pakington, Bt
Personal details
Born(1804-12-20)20 December 1804
Piccadilly, Westminster, United Kingdom
Died28 November 1885(1885-11-28) (aged 80)
Stover Lodge, Teigngrace, Devon, United Kingdom
Political partyWhig
Spouse(s)Jane Georgiana Sheridan
(d. 1884)
Children5, including Ferdinand
ParentsEdward St Maur, 11th Duke of Somerset
Lady Charlotte Hamilton
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

Background and education

Somerset was the eldest son of Edward St. Maur, 11th Duke of Somerset, and Lady Charlotte, daughter of Archibald Hamilton, 9th Duke of Hamilton.[1] He was baptized on 16 February 1805 at St. George's, Hanover Square, London.[2] He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.[3]

Political career

Somerset sat as Member of Parliament as Lord Seymour[3] for Okehampton between 1830 and 1831[4] and for Totnes between 1834 and 1855.[5] He served under Lord Melbourne as a Lord of the Treasury between 1835 and 1839, as Joint Secretary to the Board of Control between 1839 and 1841 and as Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department between June and August 1841 and was a member of Lord John Russell's first administration as First Commissioner of Woods and Forests between 1849 and 1851, when the office was abolished. He served on the Royal Commission on the British Museum (1847–49).[6] In August 1851 he was appointed to the newly created office of First Commissioner of Works by Russell. In October of the same year he entered the cabinet and was sworn of the Privy Council.[7] He remained First Commissioner of Works until the government fell in February 1852.

Somerset succeeded his father in the dukedom in 1855 and entered the House of Lords. He did not serve in Lord Palmerston's first administration, but when Palmerston became Prime Minister for a second time in 1859, Somerset was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, with a seat in the cabinet.[3] He held this post until 1866, the last year under the premiership of Russell. He refused to join William Ewart Gladstone's first ministry in 1868, but gave independent support to the chief measures of the government.[3]

He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1862[8] and in 1863 he was created Earl St. Maur, of Berry Pomeroy in the County of Devon.[9] "St. Maur" was supposed to have been the original form of the family name and "Seymour" a later corruption. From some time in the early 19th century until 1923, "St. Maur" was used for the family name, but since 1923 the dukes have again used the familiar "Seymour".

Somerset was also the author of Christian Theology and Modern Scepticism (1872), and Monarchy and Democracy (1880).[3] Between 1861 and 1885 he served as Lord Lieutenant of Devon.[10]


Somerset married in Grosvenor Square, London, on 10 June 1830, Jane Georgiana Sheridan, who was the “Queen of Beauty” at the Eglinton Tournament of 1839.[3] The Somersets had two sons and three daughters:

The Duchess of Somerset died in December 1884. Somerset survived her by less than a year and died in November 1885, aged 80, and was buried with her in St James's Churchyard in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. As his two sons had both died in his lifetime, the family titles (except the Earldom of St. Maur, which became extinct) devolved on his younger brother, Archibald Seymour, 13th Duke of Somerset.[1]

The 12th Duke left his London residence, Somerset House in Park Lane, to his eldest daughter Lady Hermione Graham.[12]



  1. thepeerage.com Edward Adolphus Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset
  2. The Complete Peerage vol.XIIpI, p.86.
  3. McNeill, Ronald John (1911). "Somerset, Earls and Dukes of s.v. Edward Adolphus, 12th duke" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 386.
  4. "leighrayment.com House of Commons: Ochil to Oxford University". Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  5. "leighrayment.com House of Commons: Tipperary South to Tyrone West". Archived from the original on 15 July 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  6. The Life of Sir Anthony Panizzi, Volume 1, by Louis Alexander Fagan, p257
  7. "No. 21256". The London Gazette. 24 October 1851. p. 2775.
  8. "No. 22628". The London Gazette. 23 May 1862. p. 2672.
  9. "No. 22746". The London Gazette. 19 June 1863. p. 3132.
  10. leighrayment.com Peerage: Slim to Sramfordham
  11. The Complete Peerage vol.XIIpI, p.87, note b.
  12. Notes & Queries, vol. 133 (1916), p. 318 (snippet)
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Compton Domvile
Joseph Strutt
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
With: Hon. George Agar-Ellis
Succeeded by
William Henry Trant
John Thomas Hope
Preceded by
James Cornish
Jasper Parrott
Member of Parliament for Totnes
With: Jasper Parrott 1834–1839
Charles Barry Baldwin 1839–1852
Thomas Mills 1852–1855
Succeeded by
Thomas Mills
The Earl of Gifford
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Gordon
Robert Vernon Smith
Joint Secretary to the Board of Control
William Clay

Succeeded by
William Clay
Charles Buller
Preceded by
Hon. Fox Maule
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
Succeeded by
John Manners-Sutton
Preceded by
The Earl of Carlisle
First Commissioner of Woods and Forests
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
New office
First Commissioner of Works
Succeeded by
Lord John Manners
Preceded by
Sir John Pakington, Bt
First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
Sir John Pakington, Bt
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl Fortescue
Lord Lieutenant of Devon
Succeeded by
The Earl of Iddesleigh
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Edward St Maur
Baron Seymour
(descended by acceleration)

Succeeded by
Ferdinand Seymour
Duke of Somerset
Succeeded by
Archibald St Maur
Preceded by
Ferdinand Seymour
Baron Seymour

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