SEYMOUR, Algernon, Earl of Hertford (1684-1750), of Petworth, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 11 Nov. 1684, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, by his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. and h. of Joceline Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, wid. of Henry Cavendish†, Earl of Ogle and 2nd Duke of Newcastle, and Thomas Thynne†, of Longleat, Wilts; bro. of Lord Percy Seymour†. educ. travelled abroad (Italy) 1701–3, (Austria) 1705. m. Mar. 1715, Frances, da. and coh. of Hon. Henry Thynne*, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. mother (in error) as Ld. Percy 23 Nov. 1722; fa. as 7th Duke of Somerset 2 Dec. 1748; cr. Earl of Northumberland 2 Oct. 1749; Earl of Egremont 3 Oct. 1749.1
Ld. lt. Suss. 1706–d.
Col. 15 Ft. 1709–15; gov. Tynemouth Castle 1711–d.; gent. of bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1714–Dec. 1717; col. 2 Life Gds. 1715–40; brig.-gen. 1727; gov. Minorca 1727–42; maj.-gen. 1735; lt.-gen. 1739; col. R. Horse Gds. 1740–Feb. 1742, Mar. 1742–d.; gov. Guernsey 1742–d.; gen. 1747.2
Lord Hertford was the heir, by his mother, to the vast Percy estates in Northumberland. He went on the grand tour at the age of 17, arriving at Venice in January 1702 ‘after a very tedious as well as tiresome voyage’. He loved Venice, writing to one of his father’s diplomat friends:
we have most mighty doings here; four operas and as many comedies every night; and beauties without number who are so good-natured as to take all occasions to pull off their masks, and not let us, sighing over the case, be long without seeing the treasure it guards.
The obliging nature of Italian beauties coming to his father’s ears led to the dismissal of Hertford’s tutor and his replacement by a person more fit to give ‘the finishing stroke’ to the education of one of such high standing. After Hertford’s return to England in 1703 his father looked to find him a wife, but despite overtures from the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) on behalf of his daughter Lady Mary, and negotiations for a match with Lady Elizabeth Noel, the daughter of the Earl of Gainsborough, Hertford refused to marry at that time.3
As soon as Hertford was of age, his father recommended him to the corporation of Marlborough, leading to his return for the borough at a by-election in November 1705, although at the time he was attending the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) in Vienna. Hertford’s activity in the Commons consisted of various high-profile tasks which befitted his social standing. Thus, for example, on 20 Dec. he was given the honour of carrying to the Upper Chamber the bill settling Woodstock on the Duke of Marlborough. Then on 8 Mar. 1707 he was sent to inform the Lords of the Commons’ agreement to a joint address on the Union. Around this time his father applied on his behalf for the governorship of Tynemouth if there was a vacancy. In the summer of 1708 Hertford went over to Flanders to serve under Marlborough as a volunteer, bringing back the news of the relief of Brussels in November. Marlborough at this time was well disposed to the employment of Hertford at a proposed peace conference.4
Hertford was classed as a Whig in parliamentary lists before and after the 1708 election. He was returned for both Northumberland and Marlborough, and subsequently chose to sit for his ancestral shire. On 29 Jan. 1709 he acted as a teller on the Whig side in proceedings on the disputed Orford election, and on 24 Feb. presented a bill to allow the Treasury to compound with William Mallett, receiver for Somerset and Bristol, for whom his father had stood surety. In the autumn, at his father’s request, and on Marlborough’s recommendation, Hertford was given Emanuel Howe’s* regiment. In the Commons on 28 Jan. 1710 he acted as a teller against a motion to commit a place bill, while on 2 Mar. he reported on the Kennett navigation bill. He also voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.5
As the Marlborough–Godolphin administration began to totter, Hertford made a profession of loyalty to Marlborough, who commented: ‘I believe it proceeds from himself and not from any instructions from his father, who is certainly a very ill-judging man’. Returned for Northumberland in 1710, Hertford was classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’. Shortly afterwards Robert Harley* made him governor of Tynemouth, despite the Queen’s dislike of what Swift called Hertford’s ‘ungovernable temper’. In 1711 he was appointed a justice of the peace for Northumberland. In the 1711–12 session he voted for the motion of ‘No Peace without Spain’ on 7 Dec. 1711, while on 12 Feb. 1712 he acted as a teller to ‘consider further’ the contents of the Queen’s Speech. Three days later, when Henry St. John II led the attack on the provisions of the Barrier Treaty, Hertford replied that it was the best guarantee of the Protestant succession. On 11 Mar. he presented a bill to hinder the further growth of popery and to prevent Roman Catholic children from being educated abroad. In the 1713 session he acted as a teller on 5 May against a motion to commit the bill to endow poor vicarages in Yorkshire. The following month, he was approached by James Lowther* to secure the renewal of the Acts to prevent theft and rapine on the northern borders, which Hertford then managed through the House.6
In the 1714 session Hertford acted as a teller on 5 Mar. for a motion to hear a petition at the bar of the House from several London aldermen and liverymen against the London election returns, while on the 15th he seconded Richard Lumley’s motion for an address asking the Queen for an account of what steps had been taken to remove the Pretender from the dominions of the Duke of Lorraine. On the 18th he spoke forcefully in defence of Richard Steele, duly voting against his expulsion. He also spoke in the debate on 15 Apr. on the side of those Members who believed the Hanoverian succession was in danger, and was reported to have made ‘a fine speech’. On 1 June he acted as a teller against the motion to pass the schism bill. When, later that month, Ralph Freman II moved that the price of £5,000 on the Pretender’s head should be increased, Hertford seconded the motion and moved that the sum be £100,000, which was carried. He was classed as a Whig in the Worsley list and in two lists comparing the 1715 Parliament with its predecessor. Following the Hanoverian succession, he continued to rise in wealth, offices and titles until his death on 7 Feb. 1750.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. A. A. Locke, Seymour Family, 182, 185–6; S. Spens, George Stepney, 264.
- 2. Scots Courant, 25–27 Dec. 1710; Locke, 181.
- 3. Epistolary Curiosities ed. Warner, ii. 158–9, 207–8; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 204, 206.
- 4. Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP F56, f. 68; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 594, 907, 1267; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Somerset to James Stanhope*, 6 July 1708; Add. 17677 CCC, f. 650.
- 5. Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 1372, 1382, 1390.
- 6. Ibid. 1499–1500; Scots Courant, 25–27 Dec. 1710; Swift Stella ed. Davis, 147; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 211; Chandler, iv. 276; Boyer, Pol. State, iii. 150; NSA, Kreienberg despatches 15 Feb. 1712; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/46, Lowther to William Gilpin, 17 Mar., 5 May, 20 June 1713.
- 7. NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 65, 95–96; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 18 Mar., 15 Apr. 1714; Kreienberg despatches 16, 19 Mar. 1714; Chandler, v. 66, 124, 151; Boyer, vii. 244, 400, 550; Add. 17677 HHH, ff. 284–5; 70070, newsletter 26 June 1714; Locke, 186.