Seymour


Select Seymour Surname Genealogy

The place-name Saint Maur in Normandy was said to have been the origin of the English Seymours.  These Seymours claimed to have come over to England with William the Conqueror.  They rose to prominence during Tudor times, being ennobled as the Duke of Somerset.

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England.  The Seymour origins may have been in northern France.  But their first recorded sightings were in fact in Monmouthshire on the Welsh borders in the mid-13th century.  Sir William Seymour, who was an attendant to the Black Prince, was the first to use the anglicized version of the name.  His son Roger established the family home at Wolf Hall in Wiltshire.

Sir John Seymour was the first to bring the family into national prominence.  He took an active part in suppressing the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 and afterwards attended Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.   His daughter Jane became the King’s third wife; his son Edward, created Duke of Somerset, acted as Lord Protector following the death of the King. 

The Seymours were never again to be so close to royal power again
.  In fact Edward the Lord Protector and his brother Thomas, who had married Henry VIII’s widow Catherine Parr, were both executed for treason in the early 1550’s as the political tide turned.

The Seymour family did remain haughty, influential and wealthy for several generations after this, although they split into several lines including a few illegitimate ones as well.  The Protector himself was married twice.  Probably due to the adultery of his first wife Catherine whom he repudiated in 1535, his titles and estates were entailed first on the issue from his second wife Anne:
  • Edward Seymour of this second marriage became the Earl of Hertford.  His descendants re-adopted the title of Duke of Somerset until this male line died out in 1750.
  • Edward Seymour of the first marriage meanwhile established himself at Berry Pomeroy in Devon.  Six successive Edward Seymours followed, the last of whom succeeded as Duke of Somerset in 1750.  From Francis Seymour, a second son, came the Marquess of Hertford line.
The Marquess of Hertford line had become the most conspicuous Seymour line by the late 18th century.  Their numbers included Lord Hugh Seymour, a senior naval officer who was for a time a close drinking friend of the Prince Regent. He died of yellow fever in the West Indies in 1801.  His younger brother George, once described as “the handsomest giant in the world,” was also a carouser with the Prince.  He lived on, an inveterate place-seeker, until his death in Brighton in 1848.   From this line or thereabouts came the Seymours of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire.

The Seymour name has also been evident in Hampshiire since the mid-16th century when Sir Henry Seymour, a brother of the Lord Protector, acquired Marwell Hall near Winchester.  There had in fact been earlier sightings of the name in Andover.  One Seymour family line at Ringwood has been traced back to Robert Seymour who was born in East Lulworth in 1624
.

Ireland.   The Seymour name extended into Ireland.  One line via John Seymour, a second son of the Seymours of Berry Pomeroy, apparently settled in Limerick where James Seymour was recorded as mayor in 1729.  From this line, it is thought, came: 
  • Sir Michael Seymour the naval officer who saw combat with the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and rose to be Rear-Admiral.
  • many other Seymours in Limerick who at this time were Quakers.  
  • and Horatio Nelson Seymour who was a prominent merchant in the city from the 1830’s to the 1870’s.  
Colonel Francis Seymour of the Hertford Seymours was in charge of the British troops stationed in Antrim in the early 1700’s and his descendants became sizeable landowners in the Lisburn area.  Another Seymour branch in Ireland began around this time with Thomas Seymour, also an army officer who with his brother John established himself at Ballymore castle in Galway.  

America
.  Colonel John Seymour was appointed the colonial Governor of Maryland in 1704.  He came in fact from the Bitton Seymours of Gloucestershire, an illegitimate line from the Lord Protector.  Upon his death in 1709 his family returned to England. 

Richard Seymour
, a Puritan from Hertfordshire, came to New England in 1635 and settled in Norwalk, Connecticut.  His line through six generations was covered in the 1939 book A History of the Seymour Family by George Seymour and Donald Jacobus.  One line extended to Horatio Seymour who served twice as Governor of New York and was the Democratic Presidential candidate against Ulysses S. Grant in 1868. 

John Granderson Seymour arrived in North Carolina in 1792 from England.  Family legend has it that he came as a remittance man in that he had left his influential family behind and severed all family ties.  In 1829 he headed west with his family on horseback to Morgan county, Illinois where they settled.  Esther Seymour Atwood’s 1960 book The Descendants of John Granderson and Agnes Seymour covered this history. 

Some of the other Seymours in America came from Ireland.  Their numbers included: 
  • Felix Seymour from Ulster who arrived in 1737 and settled in Hardy county, Virginia.  
  • and William Seymour, also probably from Ulster, who reached South Carolina in 1798.  He and his family later moved onto Mississippi.  
James Cunningham, born in Belfast in 1823, changed his name to Seymour when he arrived in New York.  There he became a popular Irish actor.  His son William Seymour was a prominent American stage actor, manager and director over a lengthy seventy year career.

Canada
.  Frederick Seymour, born in Belfast, came from an illegitimate Hertford Seymour line and consequently had to fend for himself.  He served as a colonial administrator in various parts of the world before becoming the Governor of British Columbia in 1864.  He only lasted in the post for five years before his death from dysentery.  But his name has lived on in a number of places in the province.


Maurice Seymour
was said to have been born in Ireland around the year 1820.  After serving in the British army, he migrated from Jamaica to New York and then to Goderich in Ontario.  His son Maurice, born there in 1857, was in charge of public health in Saskatchewan for more than forty years.
.

New Zealand.  Henry Seymour from Gloucestershire was one of the earliest settlers in Nelson, arriving there in 1842 and planting two oak seedlings that he had brought with him from England.   He and his compatriot Alfred Fell soon set themselves up as merchants and land agents and became very prosperous in the process.

Select Seymour Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Seymour Names

Jane Seymour
was the third wife of Henry VIII and the only wife to bear him a male heir.
Edward Seymour, her elder brother and the first Duke of Somerset, acted as Lord Protector of England after the death of Henry VIII.

Select Seymours Today
  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in New York) 
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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