Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley

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Thomas Seymour
Baron Seymour of Sudeley
Thomas Seymour Denizot.jpg
Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, Nicolas Denisot
Bornc. 1508
Wulfhall, Wiltshire
Died20 March 1549(1549-03-20) (aged 40–41)
Tower Hill, London
Buried Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London
51°30′31″N0°04′37″W / 51.508611°N 0.076944°W / 51.508611; -0.076944
Noble family Seymour
Catherine Parr
(m. 1547;her death 1548)
Father Sir John Seymour
Mother Margery Wentworth
Arms of Sir Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley Coat of arms of Sir Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, KG.png
Arms of Sir Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley

Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, KG (c. 1508 – 20 March 1549) [1] was a brother of Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII. With his brother, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England, he vied for control of their nephew, the young King Edward VI (r. 1547–1553). In 1547 Seymour became the fourth husband of Catherine Parr, who had been the sixth and last wife and queen of Henry VIII. During his marriage to Catherine Parr, Seymour involved the future Queen Elizabeth I (then 14 years old), who resided in his household, in flirtatious and possibly sexual behaviour.

Order of the Garter Order of chivalry in England

The Most Noble Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry founded by King Edward III of England in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system, outranked in precedence only by the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. The Order of the Garter is dedicated to the image and arms of Saint George, England's patron saint.

Jane Seymour Third wife of Henry VIII of England

Jane Seymour was Queen of England from 1536 to 1537 as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son who became King Edward VI. She was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset Nobleman

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, was Lord Protector of England during part of the Tudor period from 1547 until 1549 during the minority of his nephew, King Edward VI (1547–1553). Despite his popularity with the common people, his policies often angered the gentry and he was overthrown. He was the eldest brother of Queen Jane Seymour (d. 1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII.



Thomas Seymour was the son of Sir John Seymour and Margaret Wentworth. He was the younger brother of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1500–1552). He grew up at Wulfhall, the Seymour family home, in Wiltshire, a county in southwest England. The Seymours were a family of country gentry, who, like most holders of manorial rights, traced their ancestry to a Norman origin. [2]

John Seymour (1474–1536)

Sir John Seymour of Wulfhall in the parish of Great Bedwyn in the Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, Knight banneret was an English soldier and a courtier who served both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Born into a prominent gentry family, he is best known as the father of the Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, and hence grandfather of king Edward VI of England.

Wulfhall or Wolfhall is an early 17th-century manor house in Burbage, Wiltshire, England. A previous manor house on the same site, in the parish of Great Bedwyn, was the seat of the Seymour family, a member of which, Jane Seymour, was queen to King Henry VIII.

Seymour family

Seymour, or St. Maur, is the name of an English family in which several titles of nobility have from time to time been created, and of which the Duke of Somerset is the head.

Because Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, did not have a son (Henry hoped for a male heir), his interests turned elsewhere, to Thomas Seymour's sister Jane, one of Anne's ladies in waiting. Henry married Jane eleven days after Anne's execution in May 1536, and the Seymour brothers saw their fortunes rise, as they became part of the royal family. In October of the following year, Jane gave birth to a son, Edward Tudor, who would become King Edward VI. Her two brothers, Edward and Thomas, were therefore uncles to the baby Edward, heir to the throne. [3] [4] Less than two weeks later, Queen Jane died from complications related to childbirth.

Anne Boleyn Second wife of Henry VIII of England

Anne Boleyn was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII. Henry's marriage to her, and her execution by beheading, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Queen Claude of France. Anne returned to England in early 1522, to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; the marriage plans were broken off, and instead she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon.

A lady-in-waiting or court lady is a female personal assistant at a court, royal or feudal, attending on a royal woman or a high-ranking noblewoman. Historically, in Europe, a lady-in-waiting was often a noblewoman, but of lower rank than of the woman on whom she attended. Although she may either have been a retainer or may not have received compensation for the service she rendered, a lady-in-waiting was considered more of a secretary, courtier or companion to her mistress than a servant.

Edward VI of England 16th-century Tudor King of England

Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. Edward was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and England's first monarch to be raised as a Protestant. During his reign, the realm was governed by a regency council because he never reached maturity. The council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick (1550–1553), who from 1551 was Duke of Northumberland.

Thomas Seymour's other royal connection was with Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife, whom Seymour would later marry, after Henry's death. In 1543 Catherine Parr established herself as part of Princess Mary's household, where she caught the attention of the King. Although she had already begun a romantic relationship with Thomas Seymour, she saw it as her duty to accept Henry's proposal. [5]

Catherine Parr Queen Consort of Henry VIII

Catherine Parr was Queen of England and Ireland (1543–47) as the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII, and the final queen consort of the House of Tudor. She married him on 12 July 1543, and outlived him by one year. With four husbands she is the most-married English queen.

Mary I of England Queen of England and Ireland from 1553-1558

Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as "Bloody Mary" by her Protestant opponents.

Foreign affairs

In 1538, Thomas Seymour was sent to the embassy at the French court. He was one of those appointed to meet Anne of Cleves, King Henry's fourth wife, at Calais on 13 December 1539. [6] A few weeks later he was sent to King Ferdinand I of Hungary, brother of Emperor Charles V, to enlist support for Henry against France and Scotland. He arrived at Vienna in July, and remained there two years. In May 1543, he was appointed ambassador to the Habsburg court in Brussels. [7] He was given this posting to remove him from King Henry's court, for the King's marriage to Catherine Parr. [8] War breaking out between England and France, Seymour was made marshal of the English army in the Netherlands on 26 June, being second in command to Sir John Wallop. On 24 July 1543, with a strong detachment, he captured and destroyed the castles of Rinquecen and Arbrittayne near the French city of Boulogne. [9] For a short time, he held the chief command during Wallop's illness. [10] Due to his position of privilege as a royal uncle and as a reward for his services, Thomas was made Master-General of the Ordnance in 1544 and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1545, both very senior military positions. [11]

Anne of Cleves 16th-century queen consort of England

Anne of Cleves was Queen of England from 6 January to 9 July 1540 as the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. Not much is known about Anne before 1527, however in that year, before marrying Henry, Anne was betrothed to Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, son and heir of Antoine, Duke of Lorraine, although their marriage was never accomplished. In March 1539, negotiations for Anne's marriage to Henry began, as Henry believed that he needed to form a political alliance with her brother William, who was a leader of the Protestants of western Germany, to strengthen his position against potential attacks from Catholic France and the Holy Roman Empire.

Brussels Capital region of Belgium

Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.

John Wallop English diplomat

Sir John Wallop was an English soldier and diplomat who belonged to an old Hampshire family from the village of Farleigh Wallop.

Regency Council and marriage to Catherine Parr

The Melton Constable or Hastings portrait of Queen Catherine. Queen Catherine Parr.jpg
The Melton Constable or Hastings portrait of Queen Catherine.

He returned to court just before King Henry VIII died in January 1547, leaving Catherine one of the wealthiest women in England. According to the King's will, a regency council was constituted to rule on behalf of the 9-year-old orphaned King Edward. Thomas Seymour became 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. Edward became Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and is often, therefore, referred to as "Somerset". In addition, Thomas Seymour saw his brother rise, in the contentious and dangerous politics of the English Reformation, to the position of chief councillor with an approved title of "Protector" regent, referred to unofficially as Lord Protector of England, in effect, ruler of the realm as Regent for his nephew, the king. [12] Thomas Seymour, unsurprisingly, began to resent his brother and the relationship between them began to dissolve. Although Thomas Seymour was named Lord High Admiral as a concession, he was consumed by jealousy of his brother's power and influence and worked to unseat and replace his brother as Lord Protector. [13]

English Reformation 16th-century separation of the Church of England from the Pope of Rome

The English Reformation was a series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. These events were, in part, associated with the wider European Protestant Reformation, a religious and political movement that affected the practice of Christianity across western and central Europe. Causes included the decline of feudalism and the rise of nationalism, the rise of the common law, the invention of the printing press and increased circulation of the Bible, and the transmission of new knowledge and ideas among scholars, the upper and middle classes and readers in general. However, the various phases of the English Reformation, which also covered Wales and Ireland, were largely driven by changes in government policy, to which public opinion gradually accommodated itself.

A regent is a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated. The rule of a regent or regents is called a regency. A regent or regency council may be formed ad hoc or in accordance with a constitutional rule. "Regent" is sometimes a formal title. If the regent is holding his position due to his position in the line of succession, the compound term prince regent is often used; if the regent of a minor is his mother, she is often referred to as "queen regent".

Thomas Seymour sought to over-turn his brother's position on the regency council by his personal influence over the young king, and also possibly, by making a royal marriage. [14] Although his name had been linked to Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond, he was still unmarried at the time of the King's death. He had previously shown some interest in marrying either of Henry's daughters, Elizabeth or Mary; however, within weeks of Henry's death, Thomas Seymour had rekindled the affair with Catherine Parr, and they were secretly married in April or May 1547, too soon after the king's death to suit many. [5] Anne Stanhope, Somerset's proud wife, disliked Catherine and Thomas and began to turn many people in court against them. To demonstrate her hatred, Anne kept the Queen's jewels, which by right were Catherine's. In turn, Catherine was annoyed at the appointment of Edward Seymour (Duke of Somerset) as Protector regent, since as King Edward's stepmother, she had expected to be appointed regent. [13] .

Relationship with Elizabeth

The Lady Elizabeth in about 1546, by an unknown artist El bieta I lat 13.jpg
The Lady Elizabeth in about 1546, by an unknown artist

Upon their marriage, Seymour moved into his wife's house, at Chelsea Manor in London, where she lived with her step-daughter, the 14-year-old Elizabeth. [5] Seymour was the uncle of Elizabeth's half-brother, and the newly wed husband of her step-mother, and their family roles regarding each other were, perhaps, unclear. Now, living under the same roof as Elizabeth, Thomas Seymour became more than a little familiar, if not intimate, with Elizabeth, indulging in daily romps with her, tickling her, and slapping her on her behind as she lay in her bed, or coming into her room in his nightclothes. Her governess, Kat Ashley, thought this scandalous, and reported it to Catherine. [15] Indignant, Seymour retorted, 'By God's precious soul, I mean no evil, and I will not leave it!' [13] At first, Catherine dismissed the behaviour as just innocent fun, and even joined in the romps on a few occasions. [15] Elizabeth's feelings regarding this behaviour are unknown, but it was said that she bore Thomas some degree of affection. [16] And though her governess, Kat Ashley, "bade him go away in shame," she found him more amusing than dangerous. When Catherine was pregnant in the spring of 1548, she had become concerned enough about her husband's flirtatious relationship with Elizabeth that she sent Elizabeth away to live with Anthony Denny and his wife, Joan Champernowne (Kat Ashley's sister), in Hertfordshire. In June 1548, Catherine and Thomas Seymour moved their household from London to Sudeley Castle, the property granted to Seymour when he became Baron Seymour of Sudeley. In September 1548, Catherine gave birth to a daughter, Mary Seymour. In the following days, she became uncharacteristically hostile and delusional. Thomas lay in bed with her to quiet her, but she did not get better, and died of complications due to childbirth, just before Elizabeth's 15th birthday. [5] Upon her death, Catherine bequeathed all of her possessions to Thomas, making him one of the richest men in England. He said he was "amazed" at her death; yet it opened up new opportunities to him, as his eye returned to Elizabeth. [17] From fear or shrewdness, she avoided him, returning, with her governess, Kat Ashley, to her childhood home, Hatfield House. [18]

Relationship with Edward VI

The 9-year-old Edward VI Edward VI of England c. 1546.jpg
The 9-year-old Edward VI

Despite his great wealth and high position, Thomas Seymour could not come to terms with his brother's appointment as protector; and in his struggle with Somerset, he tried to ingratiate himself with the king, who was just a little boy. He sought the 9-year-old Edward to write a letter on his behalf in support of his marriage to the dowager queen, Catherine Parr. The letter was obviously dictated by Thomas for Edward's signature and only enraged Somerset. He began to visit Edward frequently, secretly giving him an extravagant allowance of coins, so that Edward might be satisfied in feeling more grown-up and more king-like, giving gifts to his servants, teachers, and friends. Even though he lived in sumptuous splendor, and wanting for nothing, no provisions had been made for Edward's pocket money and he became accustomed to these regular payments and began to ask Seymour freely for his allowance. Thomas continued his manipulation of the king. In trying to get a bill through Parliament making him Edward's personal governor, Seymour requested Edward's royal signature on the bill. But Edward was uncertain, and reluctant to go behind the back of the protector, Somerset, and of the regency council, and he would not sign it. Seymour persistently pressured Edward, until Edward felt threatened. But Seymour did not give up. He tried to persuade Edward that he did not need a protector, getting Edward to admit that it might be better for Somerset to die. It is not known what the king meant by this, but it was probably uttered innocently. Seymour intended that the king's royal signature and personal support would destabilize Somerset's position as protector, and as a member of the regency council. In his frustration and inability to gain any significant influence over the king, Thomas Seymour began to think in terms of open rebellion. [13] Although he was a boy, King Edward did not seem completely naïve regarding any of this.[ citation needed ]


When Somerset, the Protector, invaded Scotland in the summer of 1547 and was absent from court, his brother, Thomas Seymour, fomented opposition to his authority, voicing open disapproval of his brother's administrative skills. Because his activities seemed suspicious, several members of the nobility advised him to be content with his position, but he would not listen. [19] As Lord High Admiral, he was able to control the English navy, and he openly asked for support in case of a rebellion. He entered into relations with pirates on the western coasts, whom it was his duty as Lord High Admiral to suppress, with a view to securing their support. Thomas seems also to have hoped to finance a rebellion through crooked dealings with the vice-treasurer of the Bristol Mint, Sir William Sharington. [13]

By 1548, the regency council was becoming aware of Thomas's bid for power. Somerset tried to save his brother from ruin, calling a council meeting so that Thomas might explain himself. However, Thomas did not appear. On the night of 16 January 1549, for reasons that are not clear (perhaps to take the young king away in his own custody), Seymour was caught trying to break into the King's apartments at Hampton Court Palace. He entered the privy garden and awoke one of the King's pet spaniels. In response to the dog's barking, he shot and killed it. [20] The next day, he was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. The incident, being caught outside the king's bedroom, at night, with a loaded pistol, was interpreted in the most menacing light, even casting suspicion on Elizabeth's involvement with Thomas. [21] On 18 January, the council sent agents to question everyone associated with Thomas, including Elizabeth. On 22 February, the council officially accused him of thirty-three charges of treason. He was convicted of treason, and condemned to death and executed on 20 March 1549. [19]


When he was arrested for treason, Seymour's associates were also cast under suspicion, including 15-year-old Elizabeth. She did not realize her own danger until her servants, including her governess Kat Ashley, were also arrested. [19] Upon realizing that Thomas would probably be executed, she was noticeably disconsolate, trying to free herself and her servants from suspicion. The regency council was sure of her complicity with Thomas, and sought to bully an easy confession from her. She was interrogated for weeks. [22] But the council found itself in a sharply defined game of wits with Elizabeth, who proved to be a master of logic, defiance, and shrewdness. The embarrassing details of the flirtatious incidents with Seymour came to light. But there was no evidence that Elizabeth had conspired with him. [19]

After his execution, all of Thomas Seymour's property was seized by the Crown. His attainder was reversed by Parliament in 1550, although the property was not returned to Mary Seymour, his only child; Mary is believed to have died at about the age of two years soon afterward.

To his contemporaries, he appeared as forceful and reckless, and also, very attractive to women. Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, a boyhood friend of King Edward, described Thomas Seymour as "hardy, wise and liberal ... fierce in courage, courtly in fashion, in personage stately, in voice magnificent, but somewhat empty of matter." [23]

In the 1953 movie Young Bess , Stewart Granger was cast as Seymour. The plot, largely a romance between him and Princess Elizabeth (played by 24 year old Jean Simmons), had very little historical accuracy.

In the Showtime television show The Tudors, Andrew McNair portrays Seymour. He appears in seasons three and four.

He is a character in the CJ Sansom novel Revelation, featuring Sansom’s fictional lawyer/detective Matthew Shardlake. He is portrayed as a hot-headed military man, with designs on Catherine Parr, in the months before the latter’s marriage to Henry VIII.


  1. Lindsey 1995, p. xviii.
  2. Strickland 1868, p.  273.
  3. Skidmore 2007, pp. 12–19.
  4. Erickson 1983, pp. 53–54.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Erickson 1983, pp. 65–79.
  6. Pollard 1897 , p. 330 cites Chron. of Calais, pp. 168, 173.
  7. Pollard 1897 , p. 330 cites State Papers, Henry VIII, vol. ix. passim.
  8. James 2009, pp. 61–73.
  9. Pollard 1897 , p. 330 cites State Papers, Henry VIII, vol. ix. 452.
  10. Pollard 1897 , p. 330 cites State Papers, Henry VIII, vol. ix. 460–2 et seq.
  11. Pollard 1897, p. 330.
  12. Skidmore 2007, pp. 45–50.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Skidmore 2007, pp. 71–87.
  14. Erickson 2007, p.  232.
  15. 1 2 Weir 1998, pp. 14–15.
  16. Hibbert 1992, p. 29.
  17. Skidmore 2007, pp. 98–99.
  18. Erickson 1983, p. 83.
  19. 1 2 3 4 Skidmore 2007, p. 102–104.
  20. Skidmore 2007, p. 103.
  21. Erickson 1983, p. 84.
  22. Erickson 1983, pp. 89–90.
  23. Jenkins 1959.

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Further reading

Military offices
Preceded by
Christopher Morris
Master-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Sir Philip Hoby
Political offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Lisle
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
With: Sir Thomas Cheney
Succeeded by
The Lord Cobham
Preceded by
The Earl of Warwick
Lord High Admiral
Succeeded by
The Earl of Warwick