(1st B. Seymour of Sudeley)

Born: ABT 1508

Died: 10 Mar 1548/49, Tower Hill, London, Middlesex, England

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: John SEYMOUR (Sir)

Mother: Margery WENTWORTH

Married: Catherine PARR (Queen of England) 4 Apr 1547



SeymourThomas10B.Sudeley02.jpg (66201 bytes)

Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley, Lord Admiral of England

English nobleman. After the marriage (1536) of his sister Jane to Henry VIII, he served on various diplomatic missions, was in command of the English army in the Netherlands in 1543, and was admiral of the fleet in 1544. When, on the death of Henry in 1547, his brother Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, became the protector of the young Edward VI, Thomas was made lord high admiral and Baron Seymour of Sudeley. Thereafter he tried to supplant his brother as guardian of the King. In 1547 he married the dowager Queen, Catherine Parr. He was influential in securing an act of Parliament (1547) that made the duration of the protectorate dependent on the King’s pleasure instead of being fixed until the King was 18, and he carefully cultivated the friendship of Edward. He also used his position as admiral to come to an understanding with pirates, in the hope of securing their support. After his wife’s death (1548) he sued unsuccessfully for the hand of Princess Elizabeth, to whom he had already made advances. His activities provoked questioning by the council, and he was convicted of high treason and executed.

A few weeks after the death of Henry VIII the Lord Admiral reappeared in Catherine Parr's life. Very soon he was visiting her secretly at Whitehall and in her country palace of Chelsea. Jane Grey was now a member of the Court circle: a silent, background figure, she yet had importance, not only because of her status but because her intellectual powers were already apparent. She was considered extraordinarily advanced for her age. No one then, least of all the King's tutors, would have admitted that she surpassed him - her development shows that she did, and also that she might be a match for him in more than one sense.
It now ocurred to the Admiral that he was the very person to arrange an alliance between the cousins. His doing so woul diminish the prestige of the Protector, who was carrying out the late King's policy of obtaining a french or Spanish princess for his nephew. Seymour consulted Dorset, and they agreed to work together on the scheme.
Meanwhile, the Admiral pursued a number of his own: the first was to ruin the Protector, of whom he was bitterly jealous. The second was to find an heiress for himself. He proposed marriage to Anne of Cleves; Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond; the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth; and Catherine Parr. Catherine's love for him had never died and she encouraged his advances. The Admiral then set about subjugating the King - an easy matter for Somerset was over-strict with him - and began to form a party against his brother. So Jane Grey was plunged in the midst of a palace intrigue spun around herself, the Queen Dowager and the boy King by Seymour and his allies, of whom the principal was her own father.
Thomas Seymour was high-spirited, violent, bold and unscrupulous. To be successful, such persons must have good looks, accomplishments and immense physical vitality. The Admiral had all these, in addition to many of the graces, without the qualities, of a fine gentleman. His boisterous humour was combined with an instinctive realization of what people wanted. If it suited him, he provided it. To Edward VI, who complained that his elder uncle kept him short of money, he gave presents of money, he made Catherine feel both royal and desirable by the mingled courtliness and fervour of his approach, he excited Elizabeth by his charm, and for Lady Jane, who had never known parental love, he seems to have produced the warmth and gaiety, perhaps even the spoiling ways of an indulgent uncle. Edward, less intellectually advanced but more acute in his judgment of people than his cousin, soon perceived the Admiral's falsity. Jane did not, as will presently appear.
When Jane had been with the Queen Dowager for some months, Dorset, who seems to have been pushing his interests from his London house, began to grow impatient. He talked of removing Jane from the Admiral's household if nothing were done about the marriage. At last, Seymour sent one of his gentlemen, Harington, to reassure him. Still nothing happened. Finally Dorset went to the Admiral's house in Seymour Place and had a talk with him in the garden, out of the hearing of the servants. Seymour was full of promises and schemes. But if Dorset was so foolish as to remove the Lady Jane, they would never be realized. He must have her guardianship - and he was willing to pay for it. What Dorset later described as "certain covenants" were then agreed upon. They resulted in Seymour's paying Dorset some hundreds on account of the £2,000 that would be his if Jane was officially contracted to Edward VI. But the Admiral took no practical steps, for the Protector, as Edward's Governor, was in absolute control. It would not do for Dorset to know this, however. He continued to make Dorset "fair promises", and Jane stayed on.
Till Jane came under the Queen Dowager's care, she had been neither praised nor loved. (The famous eulogies of ascham and others were still to come) Now her situation changed. Catherine grew very fond of her; she and Edward, exactly of an age, found many tastes in common. And as the rumours of her being married to him began to spread, she received a great deal of admiration and flattery. This atmosphere of adulation may have been enhanced by the fact that the Protector, from whom his brother's schemes had so far been concealed, was considering a marriage between Jane and his eldest son Edward, Lord Hertford. But Edward's mind was set, either on a continental alliance or on his father's plan of contracting him to the five-year-old Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart.

Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle

Seymour,Thomas(1ºB.Sudeley)01.jpg (27429 bytes)

Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley, Lord Admiral of England

Portrait of an Unknown Man, possibily Thomas Seymour (c.1508-49)

Meanwhile Catherine was persuaded by the Admiral to marry him secretly. They confided in the King, whose approval and support would protect them from the wrath of Somerset and the Privy Council. By the end of May 1547 all was known, and the Protector, although much displeased, had forgiven his younger brother. A year passed happily and uneventfully for Jane, perhaps because Seymour's plans for her marriage to his nephew did not materialize, and she moved with the Queen Dowager from one splendid palace to another - Hanworth, Chelsea, Whitehall. In the summer of 1548 she retired with Catherine to the Admiral's property of Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. There the Queen gave birth to a daughter and died eight days afterwards of puerperal fever. Then the clouds began to gather round Lady Jane Grey.
Although the Admiral had ceased to make any pretence of affection for the wife who had risked so much for him already several months before her death, she left him all her possessions wishing "that they had been a thousand times more than they were". So did the Admiral; for he was always short of money and now his situation had become really desperate. He was no nearer his combined scheme of ousting the Protector and marrying Lady Jane to the King. He left Gloucestershire before the funeral, hurrying back to London to get in touch with Edward, and Jane was chief mourner at the ceremonies in the Chapel of Sudeley Castle.

As soon as he heard of the Catherine's death, Dorset sent for Jane to his London house, and Seymour seemed rather relieved that she should go. At any rate, he consented to her departure and she remained with her parents for a little while. The letters that passed between them and the Admiral during the next few weeks make it clear that they had perceived a change in her. She was no longer the docile, little creature they had known at Bradgate. Dorset did not like this development and neither did his wife. What concerned them much more, however, was the Admiral's failure to arrange her marriage, and they decided to cut their losses and remove her permanently from his charge. Seymour then visited them and insisted that all would yet be well, if they would let her come back to him. "As he would have no nay," said Dorset afterwards, "we were contented she again return to his house," and Lady Jane and her attendants accompanied the Admiral to Hanworth. Seymour wanted to keep her indefinitely while doing nothing about her marriage. She was an asset. Her presence in his household raised his status. To Parry, Princess Elizabeth's treasurer, he confided a secondary scheme. "There hath been a tale of late," he said, "they say now I shall marry my Lady Jane," adding with his great laugh, "I tell you this but merrily - merrily".

Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley

Sharington,William(Sir).jpg (70646 bytes)

Sir William Sharington, Master of the Mint, Sheriff of Wiltshire

(b. 1493 - d. 1553)

Seymour might have succeeded in putting off Dorset, but Frances was not so easily satisfied. She began to worry too, about her daughter's position - who was chaperoning her? Seymour answered her objections in a soothing latter to her husband. He was keeping on all his wife's maids and could therefore provide suitable attendants for Jane. Also, his mother, old Margery Wentworth, had arrived, "who will, I doubt not, be as dear to Jane, as though she were her own daughter." He added that he and the Dorsets must meet to discuss the matter as soon as he returned from Court. When they did so, Seymour renewed his promises. At first, Dorset did not whish to leave Jane with the Admiral, then he hesitated. At least Frances Dorset wrote, thanking Seymour for his offer. they would continue to take his advice about Jane's future - i. e. her marriage with the King, but he must trust her as "his good sister" to know what was best for their own child. Once more the Admiral had to plead for her guardianship. Dorset replied with a description of her development. In fact, Dorset thought that Jane had been spoilt and was becoming unmanageable. It seems that Lady Jane had changed, from the Dorsets' point of view, for the worse.Perhaps the strength of character which was to surprise so many was now apparent beneath her quiet exterior.
Again, she returned to her parents. And before they were again persuaded by Harington and Seymour to give her up, she herself wrote to the Admiral, formally, as the occasion required, yet beneath the stiff phrases the desire for his company is clearly seen.

Jane Grey returned to the Admiral's care at about the time of her twelfth birthday. BEF she did so Dorset received another five hundred pounds. The Dorsets were now committed to the Admiral's cause. they found themselves involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the government and seize the person of the King. Among the plotters was Sir William Sharington, Master of the Mint, who by issuing worthless coins supplied some of the funds. Another was the late Queen's brother, William Parr, Marquess of Northampton, to whom the Admiral said, "There will be much ado for my Lady Jane. My lord Protector and my lady Somerset will do what they can to obtain her of my Lord Marquess Dorset for my Lord of Hertford. But they shall not prevail therein," he went on, "for my Lord Marquess hath given her wholly to me..."

The Admiral was now determined to raise the country against his brother - why did not Dorset join him? Dorset did not follow Seymour, preferring to fall back on the Protector's half-promise that Lord Hertford should marry Jane Grey.

Between the autumn of 1548 and Jan of the following year the Admiral's schemes became more daring and widespread. He ignored all warnings, including those of his friends on the Privy Council. But the Admiral would not accept that the King had seen through him - it was his brother's fault that he could not obtain access to His Majesty. By this time Sharington had collected £10,000 and the rising was planned - in the Admiral's brain, at least. Still nothing happened. No one would join him in the first move. At last, maddened by the King's withdrawal and his allies' pusillanimity, Seymour broke into the King's bedchamber, apparently with the intention to kidnap him. He was seized, atteinted, and executed a few weeks later. As soon as he was arrested the Dorsets removed Lady Jane to Bradgate, having supplied the Privy Council with all the evidence they needed and thus exculpating themselves.

to Bios Page

to Family Page

to Peerage Page to Home Page