(4th E. Worcester)


Born: ABT 1550

Died: 3 Mar 1627/28, Worcester House

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: William SOMERSET (3 E. Worcester)

Mother: Christian NORTH (C. Worcester)

Married: Elizabeth HASTINGS (C. Worcester) ABT Dec 1571, Monmouthshire, England


1. Henry SOMERSET (1 M. Worcester)


3. Catherine SOMERSET (B. Petre of Writtle)

4. Elizabeth SOMERSET

5. William SOMERSET (B. Herbert)

6. Blanche SOMERSET (B. Arundell of Wardour)

7. Frances SOMERSET

8. Catherine SOMERSET (B. Windsor)

9. Thomas SOMERSET (1 V. Cashel)

10. Francis SOMERSET (d. young)


13. Charles SOMERSET

14. Christopher SOMERSET

15. Edward SOMERSET

Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester

The only son of William Somerset, third earl of Worcester, by his wife Christian, daughter of Edward, first baron North. In his youth he was considered 'the best horseman and tilter of his time', and, in spite of his Roman Catholicism, he became a favourite with Queen Elizabeth, who said that he 'reconciled what she believed impossible, a stiff papist to a good subject'.

Somerset,Edward(4EWorcester)01.jpg (197008 bytes)

Worcester in the Procession portrait

of Elizabeth I of England c. 1601

Hastings,Elizabeth(CWorcester)01.jpg (55548 bytes)

Lady Elizabeth Hastings

On 22 Feb 1588/9 he succeeded his father as fourth Earl of Worcester, and on 26 May 1590 he was sent ambassador to Scotland to congratulate James VI on his marriage and to invest him with the insignia of the order of the Garter. He was made a councillor of Wales on 16 Dec following, was admitted a member of the Middle Temple in 1591, created M.A. by Oxford University on 27 Sep 1592, and elected K.G. on 23 Apr 1598. In Dec 1597 he was appointed deputy-master of the horse.

In 1600 he took an active part in the proceedings against Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex. He was a member of the court specially constituted to hear the charges against Essex at York House on 5 Jun. On 8 Feb 1600/1 he was sent with the lord-keeper, Chief-justice Popham, and Sir William Knollys to inquire into the cause of the assemblage at Essex House, and was detained a prisoner there while Essex endeavoured to raise London in his favour. This detention, an account of which, by Worcester, is preserved among the state papers, formed one of the counts in Essex's indictment. He was one of the peers selected to try Essex, and after his condemnation Essex asked his pardon for detaining him at Essex House. On 21 Apr following Worcester was given Essex's post of master of the horse; on 29 Jun he was sworn of the privy council. On 10 Dec he was made joint-commissioner for the office of earl marshal, and on 17 Jul 1602 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire.

Worcester continued in favour under James I. In Jun 1603 he was nominated cuetos rotulorum for Monmouthshire, and on 20 Jul he was appointed earl marshal and lord high constable for the coronation of the new king. On 5 Sep 1604, despite his Roman Catholicism, he was placed on a commission for the expulsion of the Jesuits, and he was one of those who examined the 'Gunpowder Plot' conspirators in the Tower. On Salisbury's death Worcester was appointed commissioner for the treasury on 16 Jun 1612, and on 2 Jan 1615/16 he became lord privy seal. In Aug 1618 he was one of the commissioners selected to examine Sir Walter Raleigh, and on 7 Feb 1620/1 he was appointed judge of requests. He officiated as great chamberlain at the coronation of Charles I, and died on 3 Mar 1627/8.

By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Hastings, second earl of Huntingdon, a maid of honor before they married, he had issue: five sons who reached manhood and seven daughters, of whom one died an infant. Elizabeth and Catherine were both married at Essex House on 8 Nov 1596, in honour of this 'double marriage' Edmund Spenser wrote his far-famed 'Prothalamion'.

Dictionary of National Biography. Vol XVIII. Sidney Lee, Ed.


to Bios Page  to Family Page
to Peerage Page to Home Page