SEYMOUR, Edward I (1663-1740), of Berry Pomeroy, Devon; Easton, Wilts.; and Maiden Bradley, Wilts.
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Family and Education
bap. 18 Dec. 1663, 1st s. of Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, by his 1st w; bro. of William*, half-bro. of Charles Seymour* and Francis Seymour Conway*. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1679. m. 11 Aug. 1685 his cos. Laetitia, da. of Sir Francis Popham† of Littlecote, Wilts. and sis. of Alexander Popham*, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 8da. (3 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 17 Feb. 1708.
Commr. appeals in excise 1692.
Seymour was eclipsed by his domineering father and had almost no independent identity in national politics until after Sir Edward’s death. He was brought in for West Looe in 1690 by his father’s cousin, Bishop Trelawny, but played no known part in the proceedings of the House. He was granted leave of absence on 24 Dec. 1691, because his wife had fallen ill, and again on 3 Jan. 1693, for a fortnight. Seymour appears as a placeman in lists compiled in the early 1690s by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) and Samuel Grascome. At the 1695 election he stood down, and did not return to Westminster until after the death of his father, whose electoral empire he made no attempt to inherit. His own electioneering prior to 1708 was limited to the borough of Marlborough, and he may have been the ‘Mr Seymour’ who thought himself ‘sure’ of success there at a possible by-election in 1698, but was reported to be unwilling ‘to give himself trouble for so small a time’ because of the impending dissolution. Seymour did not offer himself as a candidate at the ensuing general election, however. In 1705 it was alleged that Seymour was at the head of a group of Tory gentlemen intent on undermining the interest of his kinsman Hon. Robert Bruce*. Nevertheless, at a by-election later in the year Seymour helped co-ordinate Bruce’s supporters against the interest of the Duke of Somerset, who was descended from a rival branch of the Seymour family. Tensions in his relationship with Bruce were again apparent in 1708 when Seymour and others of Marlborough’s neighbouring gentry declared in favour of a second Tory, John Jeffreys*.1
Returned for his family’s pocket borough of Totnes in 1708, Seymour made little impression upon his return to the House, apart from being allowed the occasional leave of absence. He was listed as voting against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710. Notwithstanding earlier differences, Seymour allied with Lord Bruce (Charles*) at the 1710 election, being returned with him for Great Bedwyn. He was marked as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’ and was reckoned one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session of the new Parliament helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration. Seymour, however, had reservations about the conduct of the new Tory ministry. Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) was informed in the summer of 1712 that Seymour ‘did long since declare that if great care was not taken . . . you would ruin the nation’. The same report implied that Seymour also suspected Lord Bolingbroke (Henry St. John II*) of receiving French money, an attitude which suggests back-bench Country antipathy to both wings of the party. In the Worsley list Seymour was classed as a Tory, but he did not stand again. His second son, Francis, entered Parliament for Great Bedwyn in 1732. Seymour died on 29 Dec. 1740, and his estate, which had been embroiled in a family legal dispute in 1711–12, passed to his eldest son, Edward, who reunited the two branches of the Seymour family upon inheriting the dukedom of Somerset in 1750.2
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Mark Knights
- 1. Wilts. RO, Ailesbury mss 1300/1050–2, Seymour to Bruce, 13 July, 10 Nov. 1705, 12 Apr. 1708; 1300/1310, 1342, Charles Becher to Ld. Bruce, Mar. 1705, 25 Apr. 1708; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xlvi. 70; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 199.
- 2. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Harley) mss Pw2 Hy 922, Nicholas Davies to Ld. Oxford, 27 Aug. 1712; HMC Lords, n.s. ix, 170, 179; PCC 106 Spurway.