SOMERSET, Charles, Lord Herbert of Raglan (1660-98), of Troy, Mon. and Badminton, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



26 Mar. 1677
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679 - 26 Nov. 1680

Family and Education

b. Dec. 1660, 2nd s. of Henry Somerset, Lord Herbert of Raglan. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1677; travelled abroad (Netherlands) 1681. m. 5 June 1682 (with £25,000) Rebecca, da. of (Sir) Josiah Child of Wanstead, Essex, 1s. 1da. styled Mq. of Worcester 2 Dec. 1682.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Brec. 1677-9, Glos., Mdx., Mon. and Brec. 1689-90, inquiry, Forest of Dean 1679; col. of militia ft. Bristol by 1682-?85, capt. Herefs. bef. 1688; steward of crown manors, Rad. 1682-Apr. 1688; freeman, E.I. Co. 1682, committee 1683-91; j.p. Devon, Dorset, Glos., Hants, Herefs., Lincs., Mdx., Som., Wilts., Worcs. and Wales 1682-?d.; member, council in the marches of Wales 1682-9; custos rot. Rad. 1682-9; dep. lt. Mon. 1683-7; Wilts. 1683-June 1688, Glos., Gloucester, Bristol, Herefs. and Wales 1685-7; freeman, Worcester 1683, recorder 1687-Nov. 1688; keeper of the gaol, riding forester and ale-conner, Forest of Dean 1685-9; common councilman, Brecon and Carmarthen 1686-?Oct. 1688.2

Capt. indep. tp. 1685; col. (later 11 Ft.) 1685-7.3


Lord Herbert’s elder brother having died in infancy, he was heir-apparent to the Raglan estate from birth, and Charles II was godfather at his baptism. He was returned on his father’s interest for Monmouth at the age of 17, and marked ‘vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list. In May 1678, Sir George Hungerford protested against the presence in the House of two equally youthful Members, the son and son-in-law of Lord Treasurer Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne). ‘Though it was passed over,’ wrote his father, ‘I am not sorry Charles was not there to be excepted against.’ He made no speeches and served on no committees, but certainly attended the House during the final session of the Cavalier Parliament, taking shorthand notes for his father’s benefit. At the general election he was returned for Monmouthshire. But although Lord Worcester had promoted his election, the politics of father and son had begun to diverge. Herbert had a mind of his own, which in the words of one matchmaker ‘richly supplies all the defects’ of his shape. He was marked ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury, but took no ascertainable part in the first Exclusion Parliament, abstaining from the division on the bill. At the second election of 1679 he was defeated for the county, and unseated for Monmouth Boroughs in favour of the violent Whig John Arnold without serving on any committees. In 1681 he was defeated for Breconshire, but Lord Worcester induced the Gloucester electorate to elect him in place of the opposition lawyer Evan Seys. The only MP to win four elections under age, he accompanied his father to Oxford, and was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges.4

By 1682 Herbert (soon to be styled Marquess of Worcester on his father’s elevation to the dukedom of Beaufort) had reverted to whole-hearted support of the Court, writing to Secretary Jenkins:

My father having told me how acceptable it was to his Majesty to have the laws against dissenters, both Papists and sectaries, put in execution, I thought it my duty to propose it to the bench. ... If we keep steady in our proceedings against the dissenters ... we shall have no more trouble with them, and in a short time I believe a dissenter will scarce be heard of.

He was thanked by the King for his zeal, and endeavoured, though without success, to procure evidence of treason against John Trenchard. Although the Gloucester corporation accepted him as a candidate on his father’s nomination in 1685 he was not elected there, but he was returned for five other constituencies: Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Monmouth, Breconshire and Brecon. An active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed to 21 committees, taking the chair for the bill to prevent theft and rapine in the north. He raised a troop of horse against the Duke of Monmouth; but on his return to the House in November, he opposed the employment of Roman Catholic officers, and was one of the Members appointed to draw up the address. In consequence he was deprived of his commission, though not till 1687, and included in Danby’s list of the Opposition. When James began electoral preparations in 1688, he was assured ‘by some over-officious body’ that Worcester ‘could not be elected upon his own account anywhere in South Wales’. Sir Robert Southwell wrote to Lord Weymouth (Thomas Thynne I) on 14 Feb.:

I asked the Duke of Beaufort if the Marquess would stand for our county. He said if he did stand for this, or even Monmouth, he could not help him, it being his Majesty’s pleasure that all his lieutenants should serve him for those of another mind, how hard soever the task laid upon them.

Worcester himself told Southwell that he did not intend to stand for Gloucestershire, but would serve if elected. At the Revolution he secured the surrender of Chepstow Castle and joined William of Orange at Windsor.5

Worcester was returned to the Convention for Monmouthshire unopposed. He voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, but he was not an active Member. He was named to only five committees, of which the most important were to consider the balance of trade with France and to recommend ways of relieving the Irish protestant refugees. At this time he held £1,000 of East India stock. In the second session he served, no doubt in his father-in-law’s interest, on the committee to inquire into the administration of martial law on St. Helena. He was re-elected in 1690, but lost his seat five years later. He was killed in a carriage accident in Wales on 13 July 1698, and buried at Raglan. His widow married John Granville. The next member of the family to enter the Lower House was his grandson Lord Charles Somerset, a Jacobite, who was returned for Monmouth in 1731.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 400.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 196; ix. 189; CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 6, 337, 350; 1685, p. 404; 1686-7, pp. 42, 43; BL Loan 29/141, Sir Edward to Robert Harley, 19 June 1691; Add. 38871, ff. 8-9; HMC 7th Rep. 406; Worcester chamber order bk. 1679-1721, ff. 51, 145.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 368.
  • 4. Beaufort mss, Lord to Lady Worcester, 9 May 1678; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 79, 84; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 74; 1680-1, p. 171; July-Sept. 1683, p. 115; HMC Rutland ii. 60.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 24-25; July-Sept. 1683, p. 254; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 15, ff. 109-10; HMC Ormonde, n.s. vii. 340; Gloucester Guildhall, common council bk. 1656-86, p. 878; CJ, ix. 738; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 122; Luttrell, i. 403; HMC 7th Rep. 504; Verney Mems. ii. 461; HMC Dartmouth, i. 222; N. Ireland PRO, Duros mss, D.O.D. 638/5.
  • 6. Add. 22185, f. 14; Luttrell, iv. 401; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 353.