Charles Seymour 1662-1748
Charles SEYMOUR 6th Duke of Somerset 1662-1748
Son of Charles Seymour 2nd Baron Seymour and Elizabeth Allington, inheriting his title in 1678 from his murdered brother Francis Seymour, 5th Duke of Somerset. Attended Harrow School. In 1685 he became a gentleman of the bedchamber and colonel of the Queen’s regiment of dragoons. In a career underpinned by complex political machination, he subsequently held numerous court, state and local posts, including chancellor of Cambridge University 1689-1748 and Queen Anne’s master of the horse (a cabinet position), but he ceased an active role in public affairs after 1715. Known as ‘the Proud Duke’, his marriage in 1682 to Elizabeth Thynne, née Percy, daughter and heiress of the Earl of Northumberland brought him vast wealth, including the estates of Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, Petworth House, Sussex, Leconfield Castle, Yorkshire, Cockermouth and Egremont Castles in Cumberland, Syon House in Middlesex, and Northumberland House in London. After his first wife’s death in 1722, he courted Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough; in 1726 he married fourteen-year old Charlotte Finch, daughter of the Earl of Nottingham.
Through marriage and inheritance, Somerset was in effect the owner of an accumulation of libraries, such as the books of the 'Wizard Earl’. In the course of his involvement with extensive remodelling of his principal seat Petworth, the house’s Old Libray was not demolished, and a catalogue of books taken around 1690.
He had an engraved armorial bookplate (Franks *15).
- Bucholz, R. O. ‘Seymour, Charles, sixth duke of Somerset (1662–1748), politician and courtier’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903-4.
- Purcell, M. The country house library. New Haven and London, 2017, p. 134.
- West Sussex Record Office: Petworth House Archives, PHA 35/5377 ‘Catalogus librorum Bibliothecae Petworthianae’.