SEYMOUR, Charles (1662-1748)

SEYMOUR, Charles (1662–1748)

styled 1675-78 Ld. Charles Seymour; suc. bro. 20 Apr. 1678 (a minor) as 6th duke of SOMERSET

First sat 19 May 1685; last sat 4 Mar. 1735

b. 13 Aug. 1662,1 6th but 2nd surv. s. of Charles Seymour, 2nd Bar. Seymour of Trowbridge, being 3rd s. of 2nd w. Elizabeth (1635-91), da. of William Alington, Bar. Alington [I]; bro. of Francis Seymour, 5th duke of Somerset. educ. Harrow c.1675-8;2 Trinity, Camb.; tutor, Edward Chamberlayne 1679; travelled abroad 1679-81, gov. Alexander de Rasigade;3 DCL Oxf. 27 Aug. 1702. m. (1) 30 May 1682, Elizabeth Percy (1667-1722), styled countess of Ogle, da. and h. of Josceline Percy, 5th earl of Northumberland, wid. of Henry Cavendish, styled earl of Ogle, and Thomas Thynne, 4s. (3 d.v.p.), 4 da. (d.v.p).4 (2) 4 Feb. 1726, Charlotte (d.1773), da. of Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, 2da.5 KG 1684. d. 2 Dec. 1748; will 5 July, pr. 19 Dec. 1748.6

Gent. of bedchamber May 1685-July 1687; temp. Speaker of the Lords, 11 May 1689, 1 Mar. 1693; PC 28 June 1701; ld. justice 1701;7 ld. pres. Jan.-July 1702; master of the horse July 1702-June 1712, Sept. 1714-Dec. 1715.

Ld. lt. Yorks. (E. Riding) Nov. 1682-Oct. 1687; Som. July 1683-Aug. 1687; common councillor, Chichester 1685,8 high steward, by 1691;9 common councilman, Berwick-upon-Tweed Aug. 1686;10 kpr. of the new park, Hampton Court, Sept. 1710.11

Col. Queen’s drag. regt. 1685-July 1687.12

Chan. Camb. Univ. 1689-d.

Associated with: Petworth, Suss.

Likenesses: oil on canvas by N. Dance-Holland, Trinity, Cambridge; oil on canvas by J. Closterman, c.1690-92, Petworth; oil on canvas by Sir G. Kneller, c.1703, NPG 3224.

Early career to the Revolution

Seymour was born at Preshute, Wiltshire, the younger son of a baron who died when he was only three. He succeeded his elder brother, Francis, who had inherited the dukedom from a cousin. When news of his brother’s death broke, Seymour was at school at Harrow.13 By January 1679, he appears to have been under the guidance of a private tutor, Edward Chamberlayne, who informed William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, that he was employed with `the hopeful duke of Somerset and wherein I have done already much more service to our Church and State than I could possibly have done any other way.’ The plan was for Somerset to extend his education and on 24 Oct. 1679 he and his tutor, Alexander de Rasigade, were given a pass to travel abroad. By late October he was in Paris.14

In March 1679 Somerset had survived smallpox, causing contemporaries to note that ‘should he miscarry, Mr Seymour would be exalted’, a reference to the Speaker of the Commons in the previous Parliament, Edward Seymour, his distant cousin, both of them being descended from the first duke. As a minor, Somerset was excused attendance in the Lords in both May 1679 and October 1680. On 24 May 1681 he was reported to have arrived back in London, ‘not expected by his friends. He now embarked on the usual pursuits of a young peer; in October 1681, both Somerset and his step-father, Sir John Ernle, were reported to have fallen off their horses at Newmarket.15

The next step was to contract a suitable marriage, especially as the family’s estates were insufficient to maintain the prestige of the premier Protestant dukedom. Possibly the greatest heiress of the time was Lady Elizabeth Percy and at around the time of her second marriage, to Thomas Thynne, it was reported that Somerset had been a rival suitor, but that her ‘present fortune’ of £4,000 p.a., ‘was enough to overcome the duke’s pretensions’, because it was deemed ‘too inconsiderable to maintain them both as they would be obliged to live’ until she came of age.16 The murder of Thynne on 12 Feb. 1682 changed matters and later that month it was reported that Somerset had ‘gone to make love to Lady Ogle’, who was still abroad.17 By early May Somerset was seen as ‘the only visible servant to my Lady Ogle’, and the marriage took place on 30 May at Montagu House (her mother having married Ralph Montagu, the future duke of Montagu).18 It brought Somerset control of vast estates; an estimate of his income in 1689 revealed the extent of the Percy contribution. His own property in Wiltshire consisted of £1,500 p.a., to which were added estates in Middlesex (£1,000 p.a.), Sussex (£2,000 p.a.), Wales (£700 p.a.), the North (£10,000 p.a.) and jointure income (£2,000 p.a.).19 Out of this he paid his wife £1,200 p.a.20 By 1710, his income was estimated to have been between £20-30,000 p.a., and he had diversified into such liquid assets as Bank of England stock, owning at least £4,000 worth at that date. Early in the marriage, Somerset’s dynastic plans were threatened when the duchess caught smallpox in August 1682, but she recovered.21 A settlement of 1687 allowed the male heir of the marriage, £3,000 p.a. from the Percy estate, should the duchess pre-decease her husband once he turned 21 until the death of the duke. When the settlements were altered in 1707, the heir was still to receive an income of £3,000 p.a., generally the maximum allowed during the period. With an income of this size, Somerset had sufficient funds to remodel Petworth as his main residence during the period 1688-97.22

With such vast territorial estates, Somerset was able to exert influence over a number of parliamentary constituencies. His residence at Petworth, saw him engaged in the county contest for Sussex, and the boroughs of Chichester, Midhurst, and even Steyning, although even he admitted that his interest in the latter was slight. His ancestral estate in Wiltshire gave him influence at Marlborough. Further afield, he played a dominant role at Cockermouth, and possessed influence in Carlisle and in the counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, Northumberland and Yorkshire. As chancellor of Cambridge, he played a role in the university’s seats, particularly in the election of Henry Boyle, future Baron Carleton, in a by-election in 1692, a seat he retained until 1705.

Somerset’s early forays into politics were largely symbolic and decidedly Tory. On 29 June 1682 he attended the court of king’s bench in support of Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby, later marquess of Carmarthen and duke of Leeds.23 Following the disgrace of John Sheffield, 3rd earl of Mulgrave (later duke of Buckingham and Normanby), in October 1682, he was appointed lord lieutenant of the East Riding, the warrant being dated 9 November.24 The baptism of his first son, Charles, on 18 Mar. 1683, demonstrated a nice balancing of various family interests: the godparents were the countess of Northumberland (presumably his wife’s grandmother, not his mother-in-law); Arthur Capell, earl of Essex, who was married to his wife’s aunt, and thus held the reversionary interest to the Percy estates; and his uncle, William Alington, Baron Alington (also 3rd Baron Alington in the Irish peerage).25 The birth coincided with reports that Somerset had changed his name to Percy, but this merely acknowledged the provision in his marriage settlement that his children take the Percy surname, an obligation from which his wife released him when she came of age in January 1688.26

Further marks of royal favour continued to be bestowed on the young duke. In July 1683, he reclaimed the lord lieutenancy of Somerset, which had been granted to Heneage Finch, 3rd earl of Winchilsea, during the minority of his brother. Early in September 1683 he was one of the nobility attending the king on a visit to Portsmouth.27 At around the same date, Somerset was mentioned for the vacant lieutenancy of Wiltshire, although he lost out to Thomas Herbert, 8th earl of Pembroke. In January 1684 it was reported that he would be given the garter vacated by the death of Henry Jermyn, earl of St Albans, and he was duly installed in April.28

Somerset was clearly perceived as a man of some influence at court. When the dowager countess of Manchester was discussing the moves of Ralph Montagu (his wife’s step-father), who had recently succeeded to the peerage and was attempting to rehabilitate himself at court, she wrote that his sister Lady Harvey was ‘very great with our great men and duchess of Portsmouth, duke of Somerset and duke of Northumberland [George Fitzroy, duke of Northumberland’.29 Upon Danby’s release on bail in February 1684, Somerset was one of his sureties, to the tune of £5,000. On 21 Apr. Roger Whitley noted in his diary that Somerset’s servant, ‘Mr Harcourt, ‘came to me from his grace to desire my votes for choosing the governor, deputy and committee of the East India Company; I promised to comply so far as I could; especially as to what concerned his grace and my Lord of Worcester’, [Charles Somerset, styled marquess of Worcester].30

The accession of James II saw Somerset continue to enjoy royal favour. On 16 May 1685 a warrant was issued for his admittance as a gentleman of the bedchamber.31 He attended on the opening day of the 1685 Parliament, 19 May. Together with Christopher Monck, 2nd duke of Albemarle, he introduced into the House James Butler, duke of Ormond, and Henry Somerset, duke of Beaufort. On 1 June Somerset and his wife petitioned the Lords against James Percy, who had falsely assumed the title of earl of Northumberland, which the House referred to the committee for privileges, where it was revealed that the countess of Northumberland had previously had a verdict and three nonsuits against him. Somerset last attended on 12 June before the adjournment on 2 July. He then headed into Somerset to command the militia during the rebellion of James Scott, duke of Monmouth.32

Somerset was missing when the House resumed on 9 Nov. first sitting on 14 November. In all, over the whole session, he attended on 20 days, 47 per cent of the total, and was named to five committees. On 14 Jan. 1686 he was a member of the court which found Henry Booth, 2nd Baron Delamer (later earl of Warrington), not guilty of high treason. In August, the king designed to begin his progress with a night’s stay at Somerset’s residence of Marlborough House.33

In January 1687, Roger Morrice believed that Somerset was one of a number of peers that would not ‘declare’ on the Test. In April Somerset stood bail at £5,000 for William Cavendish, 4th earl (later duke) of Devonshire, and in May he was one of those peers still acting in that capacity.34 Somerset’s attitude towards the king’s policies became clear with the visit of the papal nuncio to court. As a lord of the bedchamber, he refused to attend his public entry on 3 July, ‘for which he was forbid coming the court, and lost all his places.’35 Somerset took his stance ‘because the law stands so full in force’ , and he evidently felt vulnerable to future prosecution for praemunire.36 As Sir John Lowther, future Viscount Lonsdale, recorded, the king’s promise of a pardon was rebuffed by Somerset, who replied that although ‘no very good lawyer … a pardon granted to a person offending under assurance of obtaining it was void’.37 Following his dismissal Somerset was given leave to live in the country, but he did not leave London immediately, attending Albemarle’s farewell dinner preparatory to his departure for Jamaica. However, he had done so by 21 July when John Ellis reported his retirement into the country. The rather harsh nature of Somerset’s dismissal was made apparent in October when he wrote to George Legge, Baron Dartmouth, of ‘the scene of affairs being so extraordinarily changed, and his being turned out in such a manner, and having had so very severe expressions’ at parting from the king.38

At the end of October 1687, ‘Mr Percy, the trunkmaker’, re-entered the fray, making a claim to the Northumberland earldom before the court of honour, whereupon ‘the heralds declared they could find in their records nothing of his plea’. He responded to this by accusing them of having ‘torn his pedigree out of their books.’39 On 9 Nov. he petitioned the court against Somerset, his wife and Northumberland, desiring ‘leave of the court that he might make it out there and that the duke of Somerset might appear made oath that he had left a letter containing matter of citation with his grace’s porter’. A hearing was duly ordered for 24 Nov. at which Percy failed to appear having been arrested at the suit of Somerset that morning. 40 The cause was finally heard on 19 Jan. 1688, when the proceedings of the Lords in 1673 were read in court and the case dismissed.41 Percy’s next move was to begin a cause in the same court in February against all those persons denying his right to bear the Northumberland arms. Between May and July he produced many witnesses, but thereafter the case was continually adjourned until it was overtaken by events in the Lords and finally dismissed in January 1690. With a new regime and a new Parliament, Percy tried his luck again with a petition to the Lords on 15 May 1689, which was referred to the committee for privileges.42 On 28 May the committee for privileges reported, referring back to the decision of 1673 and again rejecting his claims. The House also ordered that Somerset’s counsel be heard concerning the scandalous reflections made upon the duke and his wife. On 11 June, after hearing counsel, the House voted Percy’s claims ‘groundless, false, and scandalous’, dismissed his petition and ordered that Percy ‘be brought before the four courts in Westminster Hall, wearing a paper upon his breast, in which these words shall be written, the false and impudent pretender to the earldom of Northumberland’.

Meanwhile, as opposition to James II increased, a number of lists were compiled in an attempt to gauge political opinion. Somerset’s reaction to the dilemma of serving the king, while respecting the laws governing Catholics was consistent with a list of 1687 the compiler of which thought Somerset opposed to the repeal of the Test Act; another listed him about May 1687 among lords opposed to James II’s policies; a third grouped him among lords listed about November 1687 as opposed to repeal of the Test Act; Danby classed him in 1687-8 as an opponent of James II in the Lords; and his name appeared on a list of those opposed to repeal published in the Harlem Courant in January 1688.

Despite his loss of royal favour, Somerset continued to play the role of local magnate in the North, in London and in Sussex. On 27 June 1688, he arrived at Cockermouth on a visit, presumably to bolster his political interest as lord of the manor.43 In August he lent James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond, Northumberland House in order to assemble his guests for a feast upon becoming chancellor of Oxford.44 In mid September, John Lake, bishop of Chichester, informed Sancroft of Somerset’s generous welcome during his visitation in which he had ‘entertained all the gentry and clergy, who met me at Petworth ... being at least 50 in number … at his own house, and very nobly’.45

Later that year, Somerset was listed as being in arms for the Prince of Orange.46 He took a role in the assembly of peers which acted as a provisional government, first attending on the afternoon of 15 Dec. 1688, at Whitehall, and also being present on 21, 22, 24 and 25 December.47 On 18 Dec. he attended the Prince at supper when he came to St James’s, as he did when the Prince dined in public on the 20th. On 22 Dec. Somerset was one of the peers present at St James’s that refused to sign the Association, being accused by an unnamed peer of declining purely because ‘when you came to subscribe you saw some persons names writ there before you inferior to you in quality and therefore you refused,’ an early indication, perhaps, of his haughty demeanour.48

Whatever the reasons for Somerset’s refusal of the Association, it did not presage his withdrawal from political activity, although his actions sometimes created confusion, as they did at the election to the Convention for Cockermouth. On 6 Jan. 1689, according to Thomas Tickell, Somerset had written to Cockermouth ‘that he presents Sir Orlando Gee to them and desires their votes for him in the room of’ Sir Henry Capell, future Baron Capell of Tewkesbury, who was expected to be returned for Tewkesbury. In a postscript Tickell added the election at Cockermouth was ‘uncertain till further order from the duke’.49 Since Capell was not secure at Tewkesbury, in the event he was returned after Gee stood down.

The reign of William and Mary

Somerset was absent from the opening day of the Convention, 22 Jan. 1689, being present the next day. He attended 110 days of the first session of the Convention, 68 per cent of the total, and was appointed to 33 committees. On 25 Jan. together with Ormond, he introduced Northumberland into the Lords. Somerset was a consistent opponent of the decision in the Convention to offer the crown to William and Mary. On 29 Jan. he voted for a regency as the best way to preserve the Protestant religion and the nation’s laws. On 31 Jan. he voted against declaring the Prince and Princess of Orange king and queen. On 4 Feb. he was named to a conference about the vote of 28 Jan. concerning the king’s abdication. He then voted against agreeing with the Commons in the use of the word ‘abdicated’ instead of ‘deserted’. He was then named to the resultant committee to draw up reasons for a conference on the issue, and was named to manage conferences on the 5th and 6th. Later, on 6 Feb. he voted against agreeing with the Commons in using the words ‘abdicated’ and ‘that the throne is now vacant’, and entered his dissent against it.

At the beginning of February 1689, John Reresby grouped Somerset among those who had ‘been active to bring in the Prince’, but who now spoke ‘in another strain. Some said the thing was gone further than they expected, others that they never believed the Prince would contend for the crown; and all were of opinion the crown ought to be set upon the Princess’s head, and so descend in its right course.’50 It seems likely that Somerset had been discomfited by events, for after attending on 18 Feb. he was absent until 4 Mar. Roger Morrice reporting that on 20 Feb. he had gone into the country. On 4 Mar. he duly took the oaths to the new monarchs and the next day he was named to a conference on assisting the king. Swift later postulated that ‘for some years after the Revolution, he never appeared at court; but was looked upon as a favourer of the abdicated family’, ascribing Somerset’s change of attitude to Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, who was responsible for presenting him to the king. However William III was not too fastidious about the intellectual qualms of his new subjects, particularly those with political influence, and in February 1689 Somerset was made a gentleman of the bedchamber. In March he was elected chancellor of the university of Cambridge.51

On 12 Mar. 1689 Somerset and his estate servants received passes to go to Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland, and on 23 Mar. he received leave of absence from the Lords to go ‘out of town for a little time’.52 He was duly absent until 8 April. On 16 Apr. he was deputed by the Lords to ascertain when the king would be attended by the House with their address on convocation, reporting back on the following day. On 19 Apr. he was given leave to go into the country for his health; after attending on the 20th, he was then absent until 9 May. On 11 May, after the king had passed some bills and retired to hold a Council (which included the speaker of the Lords), Somerset was elected speaker in his room. On 24 May he was appointed to draw up reasons for a conference on why the Lords could not agree to the Commons leaving out their clause in the additional poll bill, being appointed to manage the conference on 27 May, and twice more on 31 May.

On 31 May Somerset voted in favour of the bill reversing the two judgments of perjury against Titus Oates; on 24 July he was named to draw up reasons for a conference insisting on the Lords’ amendments to the bill, duly being appointed to manage the conference on the 26th; and on 30 July he voted against adhering to the Lords’ amendments to the bill. On 2 July he entered his dissent to the resolution to proceed upon the impeachments of Sir Adam Blair and others. On 13 July he was appointed to draw up reasons in support of the Lords’ amendment to the succession bill in favour of the house of Hanover, and then the conference with the Commons on the 16th. On 25 and 27 July he was named to attend conferences on the bill collecting tea and other duties at the customs’ house. On 2 and 5 Aug. he was named to manage conferences on the attainder bill. He last attended on 17 August.

Somerset was not present when the second session of the Convention began on 23 Oct. and he was absent from the call of the House on 28 October. On 5 Nov. he informed the Speaker that because of ‘business of great consequence that will keep him in the country three weeks longer’ he could not attend the House and asked for leave of absence.53 He was first present on 12 Dec. and attended 31 days of the session, 43 per cent of the total, being appointed to eight committees. In a list compiled between October 1689 and February 1690 the marquess of Carmarthen (formerly the earl of Danby) estimated him to be an opponent of the court. 

Somerset was present at the opening of the 1690 Parliament, on 20 Mar. 1690. He attended on 50 days of the session, 93 per cent of the total, even though he was absent from the call of the House on 31 Mar., and was named to six committees. On 28 Mar. the sheriffs of London and Middlesex were ordered to bring to the Lords Richard Liverseidge, ‘pretended to be protected’ by Somerset, it being noted later that the duke ‘never did nor never will grant protections’.54 On 8 Apr. he entered his protest against the passage of the bill recognizing King William and Queen Mary and confirming the acts of the Convention on the grounds that the laws ‘were passed in a Parliament not called by writ in due form of law’.55 Following the decision of the Lords on 10 Apr. to expunge this protest, on the 11th he desired that his name be removed from the protest on the grounds that it now looked as if he had opposed the whole bill rather than merely some specific points relating to confirming the acts made by the Convention. He attended the adjournment on 7 July when Parliament was prorogued and the prorogations on 28 July and 18 Aug. 1690.

Somerset was missing on the opening day of the 1690-1 session, 2 Oct., and when he first attended the Lords on 6 Oct. he promptly left his proxy with Rochester. He attended on 37 days of the session, just over half of the total, being named to ten committees. A preference for the turf may explain his absence for on 2 Nov. it was reported that there would be a horse-race at Newmarket between Somerset and Thomas Wharton, future marquess of Wharton, for a prize of £100.56 He next attended the Lords on 20 November. Meanwhile, on 14 Nov. a bill had been introduced into the Lords to unite the parsonage of Petworth with the bishopric of Chichester. After being managed by Rochester, this bill was sent to the Commons on 18 Nov. but rejected at second reading on 24 November. On 17 Dec. he was named to a conference on the amendments made by the Lords to the mutiny bill, which he duly reported later in the day. At the end of December he was reported to be against the bill allowing Thomas Bruce, 2nd earl of Ailesbury, and his wife to make provision for payment of debts, and to make leases of their estates, ‘but did not say much’.57 Ailesbury alluded in August 1703 to the possible reason for his opposition, noting that by his late wife, Lady Elizabeth Seymour (d.1697) he had ‘carried away the estate of the family and for that reason [Somerset] is implacable’.58 Somerset was present when the House adjourned on 5 Jan. 1691, and attended the adjournments on 31 Mar. and 26 May. Parliament was prorogued on the latter occasion. Perhaps in a coda to the earlier failed bill, on 10 June Somerset wrote to Nottingham that the presentation to Petworth had been agreed upon all parties for Dr Edward Pelling, the cleric retaining the living until his death in 1718.59

Somerset was missing from the opening of the 1691-2 session, and was absent from the call of the House on 2 November. He left his proxy, signed on 6 Nov. with Rochester, and he did not attend until 6 Feb. 1692. At the end of November 1691 the town of Marlborough lobbied Somerset to support the bill against hawkers and pedlars in the expectation it would pass the Commons (which it did not).60 Having taken his place, he attended regularly until the end of the session on 24 Feb., sitting on 13 days of the session, 13 per cent of the total. Based on a retrospective analysis of the 1685 Parliament, William Richard George Stanley, 9th earl of Derby, believed that Somerset was likely to favour the bill restoring him to some of his estates in the north-west, which was rejected on 25 Jan. 1692, before Somerset was in regular attendance.61

Somerset found himself drawn into the conflict between William and Mary and Princess Anne over the latter’s retention of the countess of Marlborough as her servant, despite her husband’s disgrace. When the Princess learnt on 13 Feb. 1692 that the king ‘would have my Lady Marlborough quit the Cockpit … she answered that she would remove thence her self, and accordingly sent to the duke of Somerset, to lend her Sion House, which he readily granted, after he had first waited on the king and asked his leave’.62 Sarah later recalled that the duke resisted pressure from the king to renege on his promise. He duly visited the Princess there later in the month. On 25 May, Somerset and his wife, together with Carmarthen (the former Danby), again visited Princess Anne at Sion. Swift thought that the ‘civilities and respects’ accorded to the Princess were the bedrock of the future favour the duke and duchess received when she was queen.63

In June, Somerset and Charles Gerard, earl of Macclesfield, stood bail for Robert Leke, 3rd earl of Scarsdale, who had recently surrendered to the government being suspected of treason.64 Somerset was present on the opening day of the 1692-3 session, on 4 Nov. 1692. He attended on 84 days of the session, 82 per cent of the total, being named to 18 committees. He was excused attendance following a call of the House on 21 November. On 10 Dec. he was named to examine the papers delivered into the House by Nottingham relating to the naval operations of the previous summer and to prepare for a conference on the matter; on 20 Dec. he was appointed to manage the conference which delivered the papers to the Commons, and the resultant conference on the 21st. Following the report of this by Carmarthen, it was noted that Somerset, who hardly spoke in the House, intervened to say that the marquess had forgotten to point out that the unanimous justification of Admiral Edward Russell, later earl of Orford, was because most of the Members wished not to condemn Nottingham’s conduct, but to justify Russell.65

At the end of 1692 or the beginning of 1693 Somerset was forecast by Ailesbury as likely to oppose the divorce bill of Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk, and on 2 Jan. 1693, he duly voted against reading the bill. On 3 Jan. he voted against the passage of the place bill. Later on the 3rd Somerset was one of those dining privately with the king at the home of William Russell, 5th earl (later duke) of Bedford.66 On 16 Jan. he acted as a teller in opposition to Devonshire in the committee of the whole on the triennial bill on whether to resume the House. The Lords then instructed a committee (of which Somerset but not Devonshire was a member) to draw a clause for triennial Parliaments with annual sittings every year. On 18 Jan. he was named to manage a conference on the Lords’ amendments to the land tax bill. On 19 Jan. he was named to a committee to consider what to offer to a conference upon the Lords receding from their amendment to the land tax bill, and was named to the resultant conference on the 20th. On 31 Jan. he protested against the decision to adjourn the trial of Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, and on 4 Feb., he voted Mohun not guilty of murder.67 Somerset was absent from the Lords from 16 to 23 Feb., presumably because he was in attendance on the king, who it was reported planned to dine with Somerset on 16 Feb. at Petworth en route for Portsmouth. All this socialising with the king led to rumours that Somerset was to succeed D’Auverquerque as master of the horse.68 On 25 Feb. it was reported that one of his bailiffs, Thomas Heron of Corbridge, Northumberland had been arrested by a sheriff’s bailiff of Middlesex at the suit of an inn-holder; as a result several men were ordered into custody for breach of privilege. On 1 Mar. Somerset was chosen speaker of the Lords (although Sir Robert Atkyns resumed his place later in the day) and was then named to report a conference on the bill to prevent malicious prosecutions, as he was also on the 3rd. On the last day of the session, 14 Mar., he was appointed to manage a conference on the bill for encouraging privateers. Presumably Somerset was behind the passage during the session of the bill for dividing the chapelries of North Chapel and Dungton from Petworth, especially as the consents of some of the parishioners were endorsed by him. Indeed, Narcissus Luttrell even called it ‘the duke of Somerset’s bill’, and it was Henry Boyle who had carried ‘the bill for exchange of livings between the king, duke of Somerset and Eton college’ to the Lords on 24 Jan. 1693.69

On 16 Sept. James Vernon noted that there was talk of a ‘congress’ at Petworth, where Rochester and Richard Jones, Viscount Ranelagh [I], and some others were going to meet Sir Edward Seymour.70 A newsletter confirmed that Rochester had returned from the gathering on 19 Sept., and named Colonel John Granville as another participant.71 Although Somerset attended the Lords on the opening day of the next session, 7 Nov. he then left his proxy with Rochester. He was absent from the call of the House on 14 Nov. but noted as having left a proxy. He next attended on 4 December. In all he attended on 88 days of the session, 69 per cent of the total. On 8 Dec. it was noted that Somerset, Nottingham and James Bertie, earl of Abingdon, spoke for rejecting the triennial bill at its third reading.72 On 21 Dec. he acted as a teller in opposition to Norfolk on the question of whether to adjourn the debate in the case of Grafton v the judges of the King’s Bench, and on the 22nd he entered his protest to the resolution to allow the duchess of Grafton and William Bridgeman to withdraw their petition in the cause. On 5 Jan. 1694 he acted as a teller in opposition to Norfolk on the place bill on whether another day should be appointed to consider whether to agree with the Commons on the amendment the lower house had rejected. On 8 and 12 Feb. he was named to conferences on the intelligence received on the sailing of the Brest fleet. On 19 Feb., two men were ordered to be taken into custody for preventing the delivery of a horse from Charles Mordaunt, earl of Monmouth (later 3rd earl of Peterborough), to Somerset. On 6 Mar he was named to a conference on the mutiny bill. After 19 Mar. he next attended on 31 March. On 3 Apr. he was named to draw up reasons why the Lords disagreed to an amendment by the Commons to the bill to pay the debts of John Stawell, 2nd Baron Stawell, being named on the 4th to the resultant conference on the bill, which he reported on the 5th. In all, he was named to a further 11 committees during the session. Towards the end, on 17 Apr. Somerset informed Charles Howard, 3rd earl of Carlisle, that ‘the Parliament cannot rise till the middle of the next week so that the king will not go till three or four days after and a Monday next [23 Apr.] I go with my whole family for the summer to Petworth to recover my losses at Newmarket’.73 In fact the session continued for longer and Somerset last attended on 25 April. As a postscript to the session, on 8 May it was reported that Somerset had recently ‘entertained all the new dukes at dinner the other day, where besides the splendour and magnificence of the feast itself, it was particularly observed, all the plates, forks and spoons at the desert, were not double guilt [sic], but beaten gold.’74

On 10 Oct. 1694 Somerset wrote from Petworth to Carlisle of his intention to visit London for a few days before going to Newmarket for a race on the 24th.75 He was absent from the opening of the 1694-5 session on 12 Nov. first attending on 19 December. He attended on 62 days of the session, 52 per cent of the total. On 19 Jan. 1695 he entered his protest against the failure to engross the bill making wilful perjury in certain cases a felony. Between 27 Mar. and 18 Apr. he attended on just one day (8 April). On 2 May he was named to a conference on the bill imprisoning Sir Thomas Cooke. On 3 May he was named to a conference on the related matter of the impeachment of the duke of Leeds (as Carmarthen had become). He was appointed to a further 11 committees during the session.

Somerset was a party to the settlement of Wriothesley Russell, styled marquess of Tavistock, the future 2nd duke of Bedford, on his marriage with Elizabeth Howland, which took place on the 23 May 1695.76 He attended the prorogations on 18 June and 30 July. At the end of June, Somerset in anticipation of a dissolution, ‘provided we do but come off with any tolerable success this campaign’, asked Carlisle to join with him so that ‘that interest which I have may never be but joined with the earl of Carlisle’s’. At the end of August he again stressed to Carlisle the importance of the war, and specifically the capture of Namur, predicting that it would herald a new Parliament.77 Following the dissolution Somerset was heavily engaged in the ensuing elections in Cumberland and Sussex. Most particularly, his recommendation for Chichester, Ranelagh, demonstrated how Somerset’s power might be used for electoral ends in protecting local political agents. Ranelagh informed Sir William Trumbull of the case of the mayor of Chichester, Francis Goater, ‘whose business is appointed for today and which therefore I am very sorry I cannot attend. The duke of Somerset, who certainly ought to be believed in that country, gives him the best character in the world, and positively alleges the whole prosecution against him is malicious.’78

Somerset missed the opening of the 1695-6 session, on 22 Nov., first attending on 25 Nov. 1695. On 12 Dec. he was named to a committee to draw up an address on the inconvenience of the act establishing the Scottish East India Company, and as such was named to attend a conference on the matter on the 14th. On 3 and 7 Jan. 1696 he was named to manage conferences on the silver coinage bill. On the 9th he was named to draw up reasons protecting the Lords’ right to inflict pecuniary penalties in the bill, and on the 11th to the resultant conference. On 17 Jan. he entered his protest against the decision of the House to allow Sir Richard Verney, later 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke, leave to be heard by counsel upon his petition for a writ of summons. He then protested again on 13 Feb. against the resolution conceding that Verney had a right to a writ of summons. On 24 Feb. he was appointed to draw up an address on the king’s speech on the Assassination Plot and to the resultant conference. He signed the Association on 27 February. Somerset’s attendance of the session was punctuated by two absences. He was missing after 18 Jan. until 6 Feb. and after 17 Mar. he did not attend until 30 March. In all, he attended on 86 days of the session, 69 per cent of the total, and was named to a further 21 committees. He also attended the prorogation on 28 July.

Somerset was missing from the opening of the 1696-7 session on 20 Oct., first attending on 23 November. On 30 Nov. he was appointed to manage a conference on the waiving and resumption of privilege. On 2 Dec. he was named to manage a conference on the bill remedying the ill state of the coinage, which he then reported. In the division over whether to read Goodman’s evidence at the trial of Sir John Fenwick on 15 Dec., Somerset was one of the minority of 53 against reading his evidence. On the 18th Vernon noted that both Somerset and Ormond were for the second reading of the bill, despite being against reading Goodman’s evidence. However, on 23 Dec. at the third reading he was among those who ‘renounced their former vote’ and opposed the bill.79 He was duly listed as voting against the passage of the Fenwick attainder. Somerset’s actions certainly caused confusion. Robert Price informed Beaufort on 31 Dec. that Somerset was ‘against Sir John Fenwick’s bill and not for it as I writ before’.80 On 1 Feb. 1697 Somerset acted as a teller in opposition to John Churchill, earl (later duke) of Marlborough, in the committee of the whole on the bill for the recovery of debts from members of Parliament and peers that the first clause relating to taking away all but personal privilege, as amended, stand part of the bill.81 On 8 Mar. he left his proxy with Sidney Godolphin, Baron (later earl of) Godolphin, next attending on 29 March. He entered his protest on 15 Apr. against the failure to pass an amendment to the bill to restrain stock-jobbing. In all, he attended on 48 days of the session, 42 per cent of the total, and was named to a further five committees.

In June 1697, it was reported that the duchess of Somerset was to stand as godmother to Derby’s daughter, Lady Elizabeth Stanley, and at the end of September, it was reported that Somerset was to be godfather of a son of Sir John Mordaunt.82 He was also important enough to be cultivated by wily and ambitious politicians, such as Robert Spencer, 2nd earl of Sunderland, whom at the end of July John Ellis found was about to spend a few days at Petworth.83 As chancellor, Somerset introduced several members of the university of Cambridge on 19 Nov. to present an address congratulating the king on the peace.84

Somerset attended on the opening day of the 1697-8 session, 3 Dec. 1697. He was present on 77 days of the session, 59 per cent of the total and was named to 17 committees. After 7 Feb. 1698 he next attended on 15 Mar. when he voted in favour of the committal of the bill to punish Sir Charles Duncombe and when he claimed a breach of privilege against two men for ‘molesting’ his workmen by pulling down a mill he had erected on one of his manors in Cumberland. Again several men were taken into custody. On 24 May he was named to manage a conference on the bill for the more effectual suppression of blasphemy and profaneness. At the beginning of June Godolphin reported to Lonsdale that Somerset was one of those against the Aire and Calder navigation bill in the Lords.85 After 1 June he was absent until 21 June. On 28 June and 2 July he was named to manage conferences on the impeachments against Goudet. On 29 June he acted as a teller in the committee of the whole on whether to agree to ‘the clause of transportation’ in the Lustring Company bill.86

In the summer of 1698, preparatory to the general election, Somerset was heavily involved in the elections at Cockermouth, securing the return of Colonel William Seymour.87 At Chichester he cooperated with Ford Grey, earl of Tankerville, although one of their favoured candidates, Ranelagh, was able to secure election at Marlborough, ‘by the duke of Somerset’s interest’, for which Rochester expressed his thanks. He was also active in Sussex, where Tankerville referred to that ‘good understanding which has so happily begun between us’, over the county seats.88

Somerset was missing on the opening day of the 1698-9 session, 6 Dec. 1698, first attending on the 9th. On 27 Jan. 1699 he was named to manage a conference on the bill to prohibit the export of corn. After 6 Feb. he next attended on 13 March. After 4 Apr. he was next present on 20 Apr. when he was named to a conference on the bill rendering more effectual the act restoring Blackwell Market. On the following day he was named to manage a conference on the bill making Billingsgate Market a free market for fish. On 25 Apr. he was named to a committee to draw up reasons for insisting on a proviso on the bill, and he was named to attend another conference on the bill on the 27th. On 3 May he was named to a conference on the paper duty bill to which the Commons had attached provisions relating to Irish forfeitures. In all he was present on 40 days of the session, 49 per cent of the total, and was named to a further 13 committees.

On the day Parliament was prorogued, 4 May 1699, the king dined with Somerset at Northumberland House, presumably recognition that Somerset’s support would be valuable as he weighed up his political options. On 9 May Robert Harley, the future earl of Oxford, reported a ‘great congress’ of ministers at Windsor, and erroneously that Somerset was likely to be made lord chamberlain. Somerset attended the prorogation on 1 June. In early September, John Vaughan, 3rd earl of Carbery [I] (who sat in the Lords as 2nd Baron Vaughan), Charles Montagu, the future earl of Halifax, John Smith, and Henry Boyle joined Somerset in hunting at Petworth.89

Somerset was missing from the opening of the 1699-1700 session on 16 Nov. first attending on 19 December. He attended on 31 days of the session, 39 per cent of the total, and was named to a further two committees. He was present for only two days in February 1700: the 10th and 13th. That month he was forecast as one of those Lords in town and likely to support the bill continuing the East India Company as a corporation, but was absent for the actual division on 23 February. He next attended on 20 March. On 2 Apr. he was named to a conference on the bill for taking off duties on woollen manufactures. On 9 Apr. he was named to a conference on the Lords’ amendments to the land tax and forfeited estates in Ireland bill. Also on the 9th he acted as a teller in opposition to Robert Shirley, 8th Baron (later Earl) Ferrers, in favour of insisting on the Lords’ amendments, being ‘a great stickler against the bill’, which would have done him no harm with the king.90 He was named to two further conferences on the matter on the 10th, before the Lords gave way.

During the summer of 1700 Somerset was being courted by Whig politicians. On 3 July, the recently dismissed John Somers, Baron Somers, dined with the duke at Sion House, before visiting the king at Hampton Court.91 After the middle of July Somerset’s name appears on a list of Whig Lords, with markings which possibly indicate that he was seen as a potential supporter of the new ministry. An anonymous correspondent of Harley thought that Somerset had been promised ‘an eminent post’ in any new administration.92 On 17 Aug. Charles Montagu wrote to Somerset, in the hope that both he and Somers could wait on him at Petworth on the 23rd; on the 23rd it was reported that they would be at Petworth the following day.93

Meanwhile, with an election expected in mid-September 1700 Carlisle informed Somerset of the result of a county meeting, held two days before, which had decided to recommend Gilfrid Lawson for Cumberland.94 While at Petworth at the beginning of October Somerset penned a letter to Carlisle, before ‘next week I go a rambling with my hounds’, concerning their joint backing for Lawson: ‘I do not question but the gentleman you do now appear for is a right zealous man for the government, for that is what will recommend him to me, next to that of your appearing for him’. Further, he hoped they would join interests for Sir John Delaval in Northumberland, although in the end Delaval did not enter the contest.95 At Cambridge, Somerset again backed Boyle for the university seat, and at Cockermouth, he again put up Seymour and tacitly backed George Fletcher ahead of Goodwin Wharton. In late October he was reported to be in Dorset, and in mid-November, Thomas Thynne, Viscount Weymouth, wrote from Longleat that ‘Somerset is now in my neighbourhood.96 On 9 Nov. James Lowther wrote to Sir John Lowther, of Whitehaven, that Dr Lancaster had told him that Somerset ‘has sent to all his friends in Cumberland to join with my Lord Carlisle to oppose Sir Christopher Musgrave as much as they can.’97 On 8 Jan. 1701, Somerset wrote from Petworth that he had been ‘very busy with many gentlemen to incline them to choose major-general [Henry] Lumley for one of their knights of the county’, and of his being engaged for Charles Goring at Steyning, where his kinsman, Hon. Robert Cecil and, belatedly, John Ellis, also applied for his assistance.98

Somerset was present on the opening day of the session, 10 Feb 1701. He attended on 85 days of the session, 81 per cent of the total and was named to 19 committees. Somerset’s short absence at the end of February may have been occasioned by the death of his step-grandmother, the widow of the 1st Baron Seymour of Trowbridge, which apparently saw her leave him £1,500 p.a., although this was not a bequest made in her will.99 On 9 June he entered his protest against the resolution not to appoint a committee to meet with a Commons’ committee regarding the impeachment of the Whig Lords because it would be a great obstacle to their trial. On 17 June he entered his protest against the decision of the House to go into court to proceed upon the trial of Somers, voted against acquitting Somers of the articles of impeachment against him, and entered his protest about this decision.

Despite his votes against Somers, the 1701 session and its aftermath may well have been crucial in the emergence of Somerset as a Whig grandee, bringing into sharp relief, as it did, the problems of the Protestant Succession and the succession in Spain. Macky noted shortly afterwards that it was the ‘French king’s sending the duke of Anjou to Spain’ which facilitated this change. Swift believed that Somerset’s attitude changed when he was admitted into office ‘towards the close’ of William’s reign; henceforth he was ‘a constant zealous member of the other party’. As a supporter of the new ministry, on 28 June he was named as a lord justice in William’s absence and as such he signed the commission for the prorogation on 17 August.100 According to Harley, it was Somerset who was sent ‘from King William to tell him he intended he should be Speaker’ again in the new Parliament, despite Harley’s unhappiness at the new ministry, and his refusal to come in on the terms of the Court.101

Somerset’s shifting position was evident in his electioneering. In the contest for Yorkshire, in November 1701, Somerset ordered his servants and tenants to support the candidature of Arthur Ingram, Viscount Irwin [S], as did many Whig grandees, and he was returned without a poll.102 On 13 Nov. James Lowther wrote that Somerset, Carlisle and Wharton would oppose Gilfrid Lawson and Richard Musgrave as knights of the shire for Cumberland ‘with all their might,’ and indeed neither contested the election. However, he had not heard about Somerset’s plans for Cockermouth: ‘I hope well for he is strangely altered in his opinion, come entirely about and no man in England forwarder for this dissolution.’ In effect, Somerset’s turn towards the Whigs facilitated the return of Seymour and Goodwin Wharton. When Wharton precipitated a by-election by choosing to sit for Buckinghamshire, Somerset decided to put up another candidate. As Lowther wrote on 1 Jan. 1702, ‘twill be such a hardship for the duke of Somerset to bring in two strangers that I suppose nobody will give way to it’, and indeed his nominee, James Stanhope, future Earl Stanhope, was well beaten by the Thomas Lamplugh, the defeated candidate from the general election. At the election for Westminster in December 1701, Somerset recommended only ‘Sir Harry’ Dutton Colt, who topped the poll, and he also brought in Robert Yard at Marlborough.103

About 18 Nov. 1701, Somerset ‘brought’ Arthur Maynwaring to kiss the king’s hand for a place on the customs commission. Maynwaring later referred to this as the ‘little time that the king did anything for him he desired’. On 25 Nov. the Prussian diplomat Bonet referred to Somerset as a ‘nouveau Whig’, who had delivered the entire strategy of the Tories to his new allies.104 Somerset was present on the opening day of the 1701-2 session, 30 December. He attended on 85 days of the session, 85 per cent of the total, and was named to 32 committees.

Promotion beckoned for Somerset, when, on 27 Jan. 1702, James Lowther reported that ‘the king has told my Lord Rochester the duke of Somerset is to be made lord president’, and he was duly named on the 29th, following Thomas Herbert, 8th earl of Pembroke’s move to the admiralty.105 Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd earl of Shaftesbury, for one, reacted favourably to the appointment: ‘Somerset is of a Tory and Tory-family become a zealous and hearty man with us: and indeed all the ministry hitherto taken in, are of the very best’.106 On 6 and 10 Feb. he was named to a conference on the bill for the attainder of the pretended Prince of Wales. When, at the end of February, in the debate on the abjuration oath, Nottingham urged the necessity of a Union with Scotland, Somerset:

declared it also his opinion and said that he had no instructions from his majesty to recommend it to the House yet assured their Lordships that his majesty designed to propose it from the throne at his first coming to the House but this will prove a work of great difficulty and will require time to effect.107

On 28 Feb. Somerset duly brought a message from the king recommending a union between England and Scotland.

The reign of Anne

On 8 Mar. 1702 Somerset was appointed to a conference on the death of King William and the accession of Queen Anne. Apparently he was one of those opposed to Rochester’s insistence that the new queen make reference to her English birth in her speech on 11 March.108 On 16 Mar. he acquainted the House that following an agreement between Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd bt. and his children, they wished leave to withdraw their petition, which was granted. On 31 Mar. he was sent to discover when the queen would be attended with the address on her speech, reporting back on the following day. According to Vernon on 14 Apr. Somerset was one of the ‘commissioners’ named by the queen to consult with the Emperor’s envoy, Hoffman, over the forthcoming campaign.109 On 4 May Somerset informed the Lords that the queen ‘according to the Grand Convention with the Emperor and the States General’, had given order ‘for proclaiming a war this day’, a decision for which he had apparently argued in council.110 According to a newsletter on 7 May, Somerset was one of those ‘great men’ that ‘laboured’ in vain to have Vernon retained as secretary of state.111 On 20 May he was named to a conference on the bill for the encouragement of privateers, later reporting back to the House.

Meanwhile, there had been much discussion about elections. On 19 Mar. James Lowther reported that a meeting in London had broken up to allow time to ‘consider with’ Somerset, ‘who is very hearty but at the same time, almost angry with everybody that did not help him in the last election at Cockermouth’. One of the questions being asked was whether Somerset ‘will be content with one at Cockermouth’.112 He was, and at the beginning of July he noted the dissolution of Parliament as being ‘to the great satisfaction of all good men, who longed very much for it’, and that as a consequence he had recommended James Stanhope to Cockermouth.113 Stanhope subsequently topped the poll, while Lamplugh narrowly defeated Wharton, perhaps because Somerset and Wharton failed to combine their interests effectively, owing to legal disputes over Cockermouth parklands. At the beginning of June, Somerset was reported to have ‘directed his steward to labour for’ William Ashe and Maurice Ashley in Wiltshire, although only the latter stood eventually. In Yorkshire, Irwin’s death left the Whig grandees searching for a candidate to join with Thomas Fairfax, 5th Baron Fairfax [S]. Initially, Somerset backed Hon. Thomas Watson Wentworth, although in the end the grandees united behind William Cavendish, styled marquess of Hartington, future 2nd duke of Devonshire, as the partner for the Tory, Sir John Kaye.114

As early as April 1702 Somerset had been talked of as a candidate for mastership of the horse. On 9 July he was named to the post, with a warrant being issued on the 20th.115 By virtue of his office, Somerset was also a member of the Cabinet. Presence lists recorded by Sunderland during his tenure of the secretaryship (December 1706 to June 1710) suggest he attended over 55 per cent of cabinet meetings during that period.116 Also in July there were reports of a possible marriage between his son, Algernon Seymour, styled earl of Hertford, future 7th duke of Somerset, and one of Marlborough’s daughters. Clearly in royal favour, in early October, the queen stayed at Somerset’s house at Marlborough en route from Bath to Windsor.117

Somerset was present on the opening day of the 1702-3 session, 20 Oct. 1702. He attended on 66 days of the session, 77 per cent of the total. As Master of the Horse he was used by the Lords on occasion to convey messages to the queen. On 19 Nov. he was one of three peers ordered to attend her with their address asking that William Lloyd, bishop of Worcester, not be removed as lord almoner ‘till he be found guilty of some crime by due course of law,’ which he reported on the following day. On 30 Nov. Somerset moved that the House give thanks to Marlborough for the success of the campaign that summer, which was then delivered by Lord Keeper Wright. On 5 Dec. Somerset attended a meeting of Whigs at Wharton’s house in Dover Street, possibly about the occasional conformity bill.118 On 9 Dec. he signed the declaration against tacking as ‘unparliamentary’, and tending to the ‘destruction of the constitution of this government’. On 17 Dec. he was named to a conference on the bill to prevent occasional conformity. The next day, together with Ormond, he introduced Marlborough into the House following his promotion in the peerage.

On 9 Jan. 1703, in the debate on an address to assure the queen that the House was ready to comply with the proposals of the Dutch, Somerset asserted that he had ‘dissented’ in the Cabinet when its members had discussed whether the matter could be moved in Parliament without a prorogation, only for Rochester to reply that, if so, it ‘was so modest, that I believe nobody took notice of it’.119 In January Nottingham considered him an opponent of the bill to prevent occasional conformity. On 16 Jan. he voted in favour of adhering to the Lords’ amendment to the bill’s penalty clause, a wrecking amendment. A newsletter also noted that Somerset voted ‘against the bill’.120 On 19 Jan. he entered his protest against the grants’ clauses in the bill to settle a revenue on Prince George, duke of Cumberland. On 2 Feb. he was named to a committee to examine into the work of the commission of accounts, taking the chair on the 3rd, and reporting that no commissioners had attended the committee and asking that a message be sent to the Commons desiring leave that they might attend.121 On 5 Feb. he reported that the commissioners had still not attended, but that the committee had continued their investigation and exonerated Halifax of neglect and breach of trust; he was then named to a committee to oversee the printing of their proceedings. When the Commons finally replied on 16 Feb. to the Lords’ message, the Lords present, presumably including Somerset, were appointed to draft a response. On 17 Feb. this committee found no reason not to grant a conference and Somerset was appointed to manage it. On the 18 Feb. the Lords voted to vindicate their right to take cognizance of the public accounts and their exoneration of Halifax and also voted the reasons delivered by the Commons at the last conference ‘unparliamentary’, and ‘tending to destroy all good correspondence between the two Houses, and to the subversion of the constitution’. Somerset was then named to the committee to consider their response. On 22 Feb. he was named to manage the conference charged with delivering their resolutions to the Commons. On 23 Feb. Somerset reported from the original committee on the completion of their investigations, and on the following day he was named to the committee to draw up an address on the matter and to oversee the publication of their findings, which he reported on 25 February. On the same day he was named to manage another conference on the conflict between the two Houses on the matter. Somerset was appointed to 27 committees during the session, reporting on one of them, the Cham navigation bill, on 20 January.

Somerset’s outlook was now that of a minister. On 12 Mar. 1703 he wrote to Stanhope that ‘such is our present misfortune that by the violence of a party, men are put into office for no other reason’, a prevailing theme of his correspondence during Anne’s reign.122 On 11 May he wrote to Thomas Coventry, 2nd earl of Coventry, about the latter’s failure to take out his commission as custos of Worcestershire in order to avoid Lord Keeper Wright complaining to the queen about his neglect.123 In May there were rumours of negotiations for a marriage between Hertford and Lady Elizabeth Noel, daughter of Wriothesley Noel, 2nd earl of Gainsborough, and in June Somerset told Godolphin that his ‘affair’ with her grandfather, Fulke Greville, 5th Baron Brooke ‘was very far from over’.124 On 11 June the queen wrote that ‘the Whigs were once extremely for the union when I first came to the crown, and the duke of Somerset was one of those that proposed my recommending it to the Parliament in my first speech’, however, as soon as the commissioners began deliberating the Whigs ‘were as much against it as they were for it before, and the D. of S. was very rarely at their meetings, and the meaning of this I cannot comprehend.’125 The difference now was that the Union was a project of some Tory ministers.

In 1703 Somerset attempted to get Stanhope appointed as envoy to Turin.126 Then, in early July, he approached Godolphin in favour of Stanhope’s appointment as envoy to the Archduke Charles. At the end of the month Somerset had to inform Stanhope’s father of his lack of success, because the appointment lay in Nottingham’s province and the secretary ‘I am sure will do nothing that I shall desire, but on the contrary I fear he will oppose it though for no other reason’. Somerset was also keen to have Alexander Stanhope succeed Lord Robert Russell as clerk of the pipe, but as Godolphin told Somerset on 1 Aug. the queen had already promised it to William Cheyne, Baron Cheyne [S].127 Later in August James Stanhope described Somerset as ‘my best and indeed only patron’. Somerset remained alert to increasing the strength of the Whigs in the Commons. Thus, the death of Lionel Boyle, 3rd earl of Orrery [I], on 24 Aug. saw him promote the idea of Peterborough’s brother, Hon. Harry Mordaunt, succeeding him at East Grinstead, only for Somers to point out that Orrery ‘was not of this Parliament’.128

On 4 Nov. Somerset joined in the Kit Kat’s commemoration of William III’s birthday.129 He was present on the second day of the 1703-4 session, 10 Nov., and in all he attended on 60 days of the session, 61 per cent of the total. About November, Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, forecast Somerset as likely to oppose the bill to prevent occasional conformity. He did not change his mind as to Somerset’s likely opposition to the bill when he amended his forecast between 26 Nov. and 8 Dec. and Somerset was duly listed as voting against the bill on 14 December. On 17 Dec. he attended a meeting of Whig Lords at Sunderland’s house to discuss the queen’s speech and the address. On 18 Dec. he was elected in second place (with 51 votes) to the committee of seven charged with examining Boucher and others involved in the Scotch Plot, meetings of which took place at Northumberland House on 19 and 20 December. His attempt to secure exemption from this task on the grounds that he had been deputed to compliment the king of Spain was evidently disallowed. Ever since early November Somerset had been reported to be ‘upon the wing, when Sir George Rooke gives notice where the king [of Spain] is like to land’ and as early as October Somerset had made preparations to ‘fit up his seat at Petworth’ in readiness for accommodating Archduke Charles during his sojourn in England.130 On 21 Dec. he was named to present an address to the queen for Boucher’s prosecution for treason, reporting back to the House on the 22nd. The House then adjourned until 4 Jan. 1704, but Somerset did not sit again until 12 January.

Somerset had left London to meet the archduke on 25 December. He landed at Portsmouth on 26 Dec. and was conveyed to Petworth en route to Windsor. He returned there with the archduke on 31 December. When storms forced the archduke to disembark at Portsmouth, Somerset went down to the coast to accompany him to Petworth, although they also appear to have stayed at Newport in the Isle of Wight. This explains his absence from Parliament from 23 Jan. to 7 Feb. 1704 inclusive, the archduke embarking again from Portsmouth on 4 February.131 On 13 Jan. Somerset had been appointed to the committee to draw up a representation to the queen on the rights of the Lords to examine people and to order them into custody. He reported the representation on 17 Jan. and was named to ask the queen when she would receive it, reporting back to the House on the 18th. On 17 Feb. Somerset and Carlisle joined a meeting of Whig Lords ‘after dinner’ to discuss the Scotch Plot, as Somerset did again on 21 March.132 On 22 Feb. he was named to a committee of seven to examine further into the Scotch conspiracy. Somerset reported on the following day that the committee desired the House to address the queen for a proclamation for a reward for any person helping to decipher some gibberish letters; Somerset and Wharton were then ordered to attend the queen with the address. On 26 Feb. it was reported that the committee sat ‘constantly every day at the duke of Somerset’s house’, ‘to take further examinations about the said plot’.133 On 18 Mar. Somerset informed the House that the committee’s report was ready, which he duly delivered on the 20th. He was named on 22 Mar. to draw up an address based on the resolutions of the House on the matter. The next day, Somerset hosted a meeting over dinner at Northumberland House, possibly related to this matter. 134 When the House took the report into further consideration on 24 Mar. Somerset entered his protest against the failure to put the question that ‘that part of the narrative relating to Sir John Maclean, and the papers relating to his examination, taken by the earl of Nottingham, and laid before the queen, the cabinet council, and this House, are imperfect,’ a motion aimed at Nottingham’s handling of the plot. The next day, though, when the Lords carried the resolution that ‘not passing a censure on the author of the said papers’ was ‘a great encouragement to her majesty’s enemies and of dangerous consequence’ Somerset was one of several prominent ministers missing from the proceedings.135 On 28 Mar. Somerset reported an address concerning the Commons’ representation to the queen ‘about the Lords taking the examinations of persons concerned in the Scotch Conspiracy’, which defended the rights of the Lords at great length. On that day Somerset informed Stanhope of the ‘brave things’ done by the Lords, who were ‘so much in the right’ in their dealings with the Commons’, whose ‘most unaccountable step’, in adjourning for a week had delayed the end of the session.136

Possibly as part of an attack on Lord Keeper Wright, Somerset was at the forefront of the request on 15 Mar. 1704 for complete lists of j.p.s, to which was added on the following day a request for a list of those dismissed from the bench.137 On 30 Mar. he was ordered to attend the queen to ask when the House could attend her with their address for a review of the commissions of the peace. He reported her answer the following day, and reported the address they were to present to her. Somerset was then deputed to ask the queen for special remuneration for the officers of the Lords following their trouble and charge over the proceeding on the Scotch Plot. In all he was named to a further 18 committees, reporting on 21 Feb. from the committee investigating William Keith, a forerunner of the committee investigating the Scotch Plot, and on 27 Mar. to a conference on the Lords’ amendments to the public accounts’ bill. Somerset summed up the session to George Stepney: ‘we have finished this session mighty well, notwithstanding all have been fought inch by inch’.138

On 17 Apr. Somerset attended ‘a great feast at my Lord Halifax’s at Westminster’ in company at which ‘about 50 persons of honour and quality were present all men of a kidney’.139 On 18 Apr. Nottingham demanded the dismissal of the remaining Whigs from the government. He mentioned Somerset specifically for his role in chairing the inquiry into the Scotch Plot, arguing that retaining him in the Cabinet Council ‘after what had passed would render the government contemptible’.140 Instead Edward Villiers, earl of Jersey, and Sir Edward Seymour were dismissed and Nottingham resigned. On 30 May, following their removal and Harley’s appointment as secretary, Somerset wrote to Stanhope:

we were at first in great hopes, of a general rout amongst them of the same kidney but we were disappointed, for it is not like to go any further at present for we are still on the old foot of just making an offer in doing well, and then to stop short.141

On 26 June Somerset was one of a number of Whig grandees, including Charles Powlett, 2nd duke of Bolton, Sunderland and between ten and a dozen ‘other great Lords’, who attended the court of exchequer in support of Hans Willem Bentinck, earl of Portland, who was being sued for a debt of £91,000 owed to the crown. On 14 Aug. Somerset was at Petworth, having recently returned from ‘a long journey which my own private affairs had obliged me to make into the west’. At the end of the month Somerset was annoyed by the failure of the queen to knight Joseph Wolf, one of the sheriffs of London, though this was done on 6 September.142 According to Sir William Simpson, Somerset had been on the point of breaking with the court over the matter because it ‘was not complied with readily’.143 Shortly afterwards he wrote to William Humfreys urging him to accept the shrievalty of London, as Sir John Buckworth had already done, as a matter of ‘the last consequence,’ ‘when we do see there is now endeavouring to set up such persecuting principles as Chancellor [George] Jefferys*, Baron Jeffreys was of, to prosecute and condemn all true English hearts, witness the violent and illegal temper they have so lately showed in Westminster Hall.’144

Somerset continued during the summer on a round of social and political engagements. On 7 Sept. he attended the service of thanksgiving at St Pauls. He also enjoyed success with his horses at races at Quainton and Newmarket. At the end of October he was one of those peers that accompanied the new lord mayor, Sir Owen Buckingham, to dinner at Drapers’ Hall. The death of Lewis Oglethorpe at the beginning of November, saw Somerset succeed in his attempt to have Thomas Meredyth appointed as his successor as an equerry to the queen, a project which had been on his mind since the opening months of the reign.145

Somerset was present on the opening day of the 1704-5 session, 24 October. He attended on 74 days of the session, three quarters of the total, and was named to a further 36 committees. On 15 Nov. the proxy of Henry Howard, 5th earl of Suffolk, was registered to him and on 22 Nov. that of Coventry. On 29 Nov. it was Somerset who helped the queen to the throne, before the debate on the Scotch act of security, a gesture of support for the Godolphin ministry. On 14 Dec. following Mohun’s successful motion that the thanks of the House be given to Marlborough upon his first sitting in the House, Somerset added that Lord Keeper Wright ‘might be desired to be more full, than usual, in expressing the sentiments of their Lordships’.146

On 6 Jan. 1705 Somerset accompanied Marlborough to a feast in his honour held in Goldsmiths Hall.147 As in the previous session, Lord Keeper Wright came under attack over the composition of the magistracy.148 On 16 Feb. Somerset was appointed to a committee to consider the lists of j.p.s delivered to the House in the previous session. He chaired the select committee the following day, and was requested to analyse various lists to evaluate what had been done since their address of the previous session. On 22nd he reported back to the committee, and then reported to the full House that ‘several persons of quality and estates, and of known affections to her majesty’s government, that were left out of the commission of peace in the year 1700, have not been restored; and that there remain several persons in the commission who are not so qualified’.149 The House then ordered the committee to produce an address on the matter, which Somerset reported later in the day, and was then given the task of presenting to the queen. He reported back on the following day. On 26 Feb. Somerset hosted a supper ‘where there was a great many other Lords, none but Lords’, which may have been related to events in the House the following day when he was named to a committee to draw up reasons for a conference on the rights of the Aylesbury freemen in the Ashby v. White case. He was named to the resulting conferences on 28 Feb. and 7 March.150 Also on the 7th he was named to draw up a state of the proceedings on the case for presentation to the queen (the last day upon which he attended).

On 27 Feb. 1705 it was reported that Stanhope had been made a brigadier ‘by mediation of the duke of Somerset after his zeal in the House against places had given offence to the court and made it doubtful whether he should be turned out of the post he was in or preferred to a better.’151 Evelyn reported in March that the ‘old’ countess of Northumberland (his wife’s grandmother) had left much to Somerset.152 Her bequests included jewels to members of his family, and her grand-daughter, the duchess, was the residual legatee. The duke was made executor. On 25 Mar. Sir Thomas Cave, 3rd bt. reported rumours that Somerset would be president of the council, with Ormond taking over as master of the horse. At about this date Somerset was classed as a Hanoverian in an analysis of the peerage with relation to the Succession. In mid-April Somerset’s horse won the queen’s plate at Newmarket.153

With an election due in 1705, preparations were made early in some counties. At some point, probably in the second half of December 1704, Somerset, Wharton, Bolton and Evelyn Pierrepont, 5th earl of Kingston, met several Wiltshire gentlemen in London and agreed that Shaftesbury’s brother should join with Ashe to contest the county, although in the event Maurice Ashley did not stand.154 As early as 20 Feb. 1705 James Lowther reported that Somerset and Wharton had ‘set up each one and join against Mr Lamplugh’ at Cockermouth.155 This proved to be the case, but in a close contest Lamplugh was returned ahead of Wharton’s candidate, Harry Mordaunt, and although the election was set to be disputed, Mordaunt’s return elsewhere, ended the contest. In March, one of the candidates for Sussex paid tribute to Somerset’s influence in the county when he noted that ‘I hear that the duke of Somerset has been so kind to offer me his assistance without which there can be no prospect of success if the election should be at Chichester’. Meanwhile, at Marlborough, Somerset’s candidate, Edward Ashe (son of William), topped the poll, resigning the seat later in the year to facilitate the return of Hertford at a by-election.156 Nor did he neglect to support Marlborough’s attempts to establish his political interest at Woodstock, promising to dispatch an out-voter to plump for William Cadogan, future Earl Cadogan, in April 1705.157

On 27 Apr. Somerset’s assessment of Cambridge University– believing that Francis Godolphin, future 2nd earl of Godolphin, would be elected with either Arthur Annesley, future 5th earl of Anglesey, or Sir Isaac Newton - was wide of the mark as Annesley triumphed with Dixie Windsor.158 Nor was it plain sailing elsewhere. In May he was insulted ‘in the streets of Salisbury by the mob’, and although Somerset and Richmond made a fine spectacle on 24 May as they rode into Lewes at the head of the Whigs before the county poll for Sussex, the sheriff ordered them off the bench, citing the order of the Commons against peers appearing at elections. Somerset allegedly told the sheriff ‘you acted more like a gentleman had you told us of this before you came here’, only to receive the riposte that ‘till I came here I had nothing to do to tell you, neither could I believe you would come where you knew you had nothing to do.’159 In Yorkshire in 1705, Somerset backed the Whig ticket of Hartington and Wentworth, but the latter was easily beaten by Kaye.

Somerset returned out of Sussex, where he had been for ‘some days’ on 20 July 1705. On 25 Aug. he attended the thanksgiving service at St Pauls.160 At the end of August it was reported that Somerset ‘goes speedily to Holland to demand satisfaction for the late affront put upon the duke of Marlborough’, in reality the refusal of the Dutch to fight the French, although no-one was actually sent. Somerset was one of those offering congratulatory visits to William Cowper, future Earl Cowper, on 10 Oct. upon his appointment as lord keeper, also attending him on the first day of term on 23 October.161

Somerset was present on the opening day of the 1705-6 session, 25 Oct. 1705, attending on 56 days of the session, 59 per cent of the total. He was missing from the attendance list after 1 Nov. until 6 Dec. although he was not marked absent at a call of the House on 12 November. On that day Coventry’s proxy was registered to him. On 17 Nov. he left his own proxy with Godolphin. Somerset then went down to Wiltshire to ensure the victory of his son at the Marlborough by-election. He was certainly in Marlborough by 22 Nov. and reported success to Cowper on 27 Nov. when he intimated that he would be back in London in a week.162 On 6 Dec. he was named to prepare reasons for a conference to deliver the Lords’ resolution that the Church was not in danger, and was named as one of the managers of the conference on the following day and on the 11th. On the 12th he was named to draw up an address on the issue, which he reported on the 13th. He was then named to manage conferences on the address on 14 and 17 December.

On 11 Jan. 1706 Somerset dined with Francis Newport, earl of Bradford, Marlborough, Cowper, Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury, and several other Lords, though ‘nothing material’ transpired. The following day the same company, with the addition of Wharton, dined at Marlborough’s.163 The death of Charles Sackville, 6th earl of Dorset, in January 1706 saw attempts made to secure the lieutenancy of Sussex for Dorset’s son, but Spencer Compton, future earl of Wilmington, thought ‘it has been sometime promised to the duke of Somerset’. This report proved to be true as Algernon Seymour, styled earl of Hertford, later 7th duke of Somerset, was given the post.164 On 7 Feb. Somerset was named to manage a conference on the regency bill, and later in the day to a committee to draw up reasons why the Lords insisted upon their amendments, from which committee he reported on the 11th. He was a manager of the resultant conference, reporting that the Lords had given the Commons their reasons for insisting on the amendments. He managed and reported a further conference on the bill on 19 February. On 8 Feb. Somerset attended a dinner hosted by Charles Bennet, 2nd Baron Ossulton, future earl of Tankerville, with Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers, and Algernon Capell, 2nd earl of Essex. Virtually the same company attended at Essex’s on the 12th.165 On 22 Feb. according to William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, after counsel was heard on the bill for enlarging the pier and harbour of Parton harbour, there was a motion to reject the bill, but Rochester called for hearing the customs commissioners on it, and Wharton proved ‘willing to let the bill fall easily as we could, since the duke of Somerset seemed to espouse it’. Espouse it he did, for after the second reading on 26 Feb. he chaired the committee of the whole on the bill. As Nicolson reported, the committee rejected all amendments and carried it by one vote, although the only vote officially recorded was 13-10 on a motion to adjourn the House.166 As Sir Thomas Littleton noted, it passed the Lords ‘without so much as one amendment for fear it should have miscarried for want of time’, and that Somerset ‘espoused it heartily’.167 On 28 Feb. he was named to a committee to draw up reasons why the Lords had amended the Commons’ amendment on the bill of Francis Seymour, Baron Conway, being named to the resultant conferences on the 28 Feb. and 2 March. On 8 Mar. the proxy of James Berkeley, 11th Baron (later 3rd earl of) Berkeley, was registered to him. On 9 Mar. he was named to manage a conference over the pamphlet A Letter from Sir Rowland Gwynne, purporting to be written to Thomas Grey, 2nd earl of Stamford, which he reported later in the day. Following the passage of a series of resolutions condemning the work, Somerset was named to the committee to draw up the resultant address and on the 11th to the conference in which the address was given to the Commons. Also on 11 Mar. Somerset reported from the committee (appointed on 6 Mar.) charged with drawing up the reasons for the Lords’ disagreement to some of the amendments made by the Commons to the bill for the amendment of the law, and the better advancement of justice. All together, he was named to a further 31 committees during the session.

By 3 Apr. 1706 Somerset was at Petworth, where he was kept up-to-date with events by Sir Charles Hedges.168 On 19 June Somerset, Richmond, Bolton, Sunderland, Somers and others were entertained by the sheriffs of London at Drapers’ Hall.169 On 22 July he was one of the commissioners that signed the articles of Union between England and Scotland.170 On 10 Sept. it was reported that Somerset was again in the country, and it was noted on 22 Oct. that he had won nearly £1,000 from the recent horse-racing at Newmarket.171 On 29 Oct. Somerset informed Stanhope that ‘I have not been at any cabinet council, being obliged to go into the country for fourteen days, from whence I am but just returned’.172 Following the death of Kaye in August, the Whigs had cast around for a candidate for the ensuing by-election for Yorkshire. Although Somerset was pre-engaged to Conyers Darcy, and ‘obstinate’ in his espousal of his candidature, efforts were made to unite the Whigs behind Lord Fairfax, and in the event he defeated Henry Dawnay, 2nd Viscount Downe [I], on 1 Jan. 1707.173

Somerset was present at the prorogation on 21 Nov. 1706, and the opening day of the 1706-7 session on 3 December. He was rarely present before 20 Jan. 1707, attending in all on 48 days of the session, 56 per cent of the total, and was named to 22 committees. He also maintained his whirl of social engagements, many of them with political overtones. On 15 Dec. Ossulton dined at Somerset’s.174 On 18 Jan. 1707 Somerset was one of a number of Whig Lords dining at Ossulton’s, as he did on the 24th, possibly to discuss the Union. On 6 Feb. Somerset hosted another dinner, probably for the same purpose.175 In February Somerset described the current Parliament as ‘the best of Parliaments England ever had’, predicting that the queen would allow it to sit for a further year.176 On 14 Mar. the proxy of Henry Howard, earl of Bindon, later 6th earl of Suffolk, was registered to him. Somerset attended on eight days of the short session of April 1707, missing only the last day, 24 April.

The disposal of his children was much on Somerset’s mind in 1707. On 28 Mar. he had made an enquiry of John Holles, duke of Newcastle, about his daughter Lady Harriet Holles for his eldest son, an approach he renewed in February 1711, but to no avail.177 On 14 June, his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married Henry O’Brien*, 7th earl of Thomond [I], later Viscount Tadcaster.

On 19 Aug. Somerset wrote to Charles Montagu, 4th earl (later duke) of Manchester, that ‘all our affairs here at home do go just in the same dull train as when you left us, neither faster nor backwarder’, and that he was ‘going for a month to Petworth and then I return to wait on the queen to Newmarket where she intends to be the last day in September or the first in October’.178 Around this date, it was rumoured incorrectly that Somerset would succeed the recently deceased Devonshire as lord steward. In September Somerset was lobbying Marlborough from Petworth on behalf of Stanhope succeeding George Stepney at The Hague, but he lost out to Cadogan. Shortly before the session began, Somerset and the new duke of Devonshire met with Whig Members to inform them that although the queen would not renege on her appointment of Offspring Blackall, as bishop of Exeter or William Dawes, as bishop of Chester, ‘yet for the future she was resolved to give them full content’.179

Somerset was present on the opening day of the 1707-8 session, 23 October. He next attended on 19 Nov. being present in all on 66 days of the session, 62 per cent of the total. On 6 Dec. he tried to entice Coventry to Parliament ‘tho’ your lordship stayed no longer then to take the oaths &c thereby to qualify yourself to make a proxy’.180 During this session, Somerset showed himself to be at odds with the Junto, and its increasingly forceful campaign to acquire high office. Significantly, this accretion of power was opposed by the queen and as such alienated a number of Whig peers, particularly as one of the targets for their attacks was the admiralty, nominally headed by Prince George.181 On 24 Dec. James Brydges, the future duke of Chandos, informed Cadogan that the pressure exerted by the Whigs on the ministry had been alleviated by Devonshire, Newcastle, Somerset, Lord William Powlett, John Smith, Henry Boyle, Spencer Compton and Robert Walpole, the future earl of Orford, ‘declaring that they would never come in to press the queen and the ministry to measures so unreasonable in themselves’.182 For resisting the Junto’s harassment of the ministry these men were dubbed ‘lord treasurer’s Whigs’ by Robert Molesworth.183

Somerset was present in the Lords on 8 Jan. 1708, the second day after the Christmas adjournment. On 7 Feb. he entered his protest against the passage of the bill for rendering the Union more complete, in line with Godolphin, Marlborough and the court against the Junto and their Squadrone allies.184 On 8 Feb. it was Somerset who initiated the revolt in the Cabinet which led to Harley’s removal from office, when he said that if the queen ‘suffered that fellow (pointing to Harley) to treat affairs of the war without the advice of the general [Marlborough], he could not serve her, and so left the Council’.185 In a further move against Harley, on 9 Feb. he was chosen in the ballot of peers to examine William Greg, an under-secretary in Harley’s office, who had been found guilty of treason and sentenced to execution. He reported the committee’s examinations on 2 Mar., which took over three hours, being named to the resultant committee to take them into consideration. Although the Journal was silent on the reporter, it appears that it was Somerset that read ‘the long report’ from this committee on Greg’s examination, which followed the report of the address to the queen on Greg on 18 Mar., apparently noting ‘that he thought it was not worth anybody’s hearing, and for his own part if he was not obliged to read it he should not stay to hear it.’186 On 31 Mar. he was named to a conference on the bill for the encouragement of the trade to America. On 1 Apr. he was named to a conference on the bill to repeal a clause in an act for amending and repairing the highways. He was named to 25 committees, including the bill to allow his future son-in-law, Sir William Wyndham to make a marriage settlement. Wyndham had already set the marriage negotiations in train, by asking John Leveson Gower, Baron Gower, to approach Somerset with a marriage proposal, and the marriage took place on 21 July 1708.187

Somerset was able to exercise some patronage in his post as master of the horse, and following the death in March of William Walsh he named major general Thomas Meredyth as his replacement as ‘gentleman of the horse’. Somerset was equally at home in forwarding the parliamentary careers of others. In the 1708 election he supported the candidature of James Lowther in Cumberland, and at Cockermouth, Somerset and Wharton shared the spoils in an unopposed election.188 With the election results generally favouring the Whigs, the summer saw much manoeuvring by the Junto to force their members into office. It was probably to Somerset that Maynwaring was referring when he described a discussion on 26 Apr. 1708 about the prospect of employing Somers in the Cabinet ‘without an employment’; ‘his grace’ seemed favourable, as it represented a moderation of Junto demands, but Maynwaring detected a sense ‘that this would in some measure eclipse his present lustre in the court, for tis certain never man had such a thirst for power, not without some ingredients of vanity. But yet he is without doubt as honest as it is possible for so great a statesman to be.’189

However, the duchess of Marlborough also thought that Somerset had the power to ‘hurt’ the Whigs by sowing divisions in their ranks. In June he appears to have had this intention when he informed Wharton that the queen had a personal objection to granting office to Somers, ‘upon account of his having disobliged the Prince’, rather than any aversion to the Whigs as a whole and suggested that Wharton be put forward instead – all done with the air of a ‘great minister’. Wharton refused to take the bait and remained steadfast to his party. Marlborough was concerned he and Godolphin would be implicated in the plan, telling his wife ‘I can’t be so indiscreet as to employ Somerset in anything that is of consequence’.190

Maynwaring was also called upon to convince Halifax that he should not fall in with Somerset’s divisive plans, pointing out that ‘there could be nothing so ridiculous, after carrying such a majority for the next Parliament, as to let it be broke to pieces by those that have no hopes of ever rising again, but by their divisions’. Halifax said he would talk to Somerset and ‘endeavour to convince him that they two (as great a man as his grace was) should make but a sad figure if they thought to leave their friends, and a worse if they pretended to carry on the party alone’. Again, Maynwaring felt that there was a danger that Wharton would perceive Godolphin’s hand behind Somerset’s manoeuvring.191

Not that Godolphin or the Whigs could ignore Somerset’s potential influence with the queen. On 5 Oct. 1708 Godolphin and Somerset went in a coach to Newmarket, the latter having already been used by the former to bolster his arguments to the queen for coming to an agreement with the Junto.192 From the campaign, Marlborough wrote to his wife on 13/24 Oct. 1708, to underline his potential value as an ally: ‘what you say of the vanity of Somerset I know to be true, for he does not only think he has power with Wharton, but with many more’, and that although this ‘does do hurt with the queen’, yet ‘that must be suffered, for if he be a little managed he will sometimes do good’.193 Maynwaring offered a template for such management during 1708 when he rather perceptively noted of Somerset that:

our sovereign … is not so difficult to deal with as he appears to be, especially as to the getting him to do what one wishes, provided there be time for it, and he be not pre-engaged. For tis only laying a thing carelessly before him in discourse, and if it be any matter in which the exercise of his power may appear, or his interest may be increased, he is sure to catch it, and afterwards to make it his own.194

Not surprisingly, therefore, on 16 Oct. Maynwaring wrote of Somerset’s displeasure at being left out of a meeting hosted at Newmarket by John Moore, bishop of Ely: ‘tis certain he will be very troublesome if he be kept out of their secrets and more so if he be let into ’em; so that they will have a fine time either way’. On the same day that Maynwaring wrote this missive, Sunderland had accused Somerset of being a dupe of the ministers, and then been forced to assuage the ‘Seymour blood’ by explaining himself and his plans to ‘force’ ministers to comply with Whig demands. On 18 Oct. Maynwaring reported that Somerset had sent to see Wharton that morning and that the duke ‘is extremely discomposed’.195

On an analysis of the 1708 Parliament, Somerset was classed as a Whig, although the markings for the Lords probably referred to the Sacheverell affair in 1710. Somerset was present at the opening of the 1708-9 session, 16 Nov. 1708, where he served as one of the queen’s commissioners owing to her ill health. On 19 Nov. together with Ormond, he introduced James Douglas, 2nd duke of Queensberry [S], into the House as duke of Dover. He did not attend after 16 Apr. 1709, having been present on 60 days of the session, 65 per cent of the total, and been named to 23 committees.

Meanwhile, the duchess of Marlborough had written to Somerset’s wife on 20 Dec. 1708 of her belief that Somerset’s attitude to her had changed since she had seen him at Windsor, which Sarah later attributed to their having ‘great designs against me, but I did not discover them till some time after this letter’. Somerset’s wife denied a rift and noted that her husband ‘was under some uneasiness with the thoughts that of late you looked on him with a reservedness so different from what you used to do.’196 In reality Somerset was unequivocal in his support for Marlborough, even attempting on 23 Dec. to amend the address on the capture of Ghent, to remove mention of Prince Eugene because it diminished the role of Marlborough.197 However, Somerset remained at odds with the Junto. On 24 Dec. James Johnston thought that Somerset and Mohun ‘are outrageous against the Juncto and others are falling off from them’. On 28 Dec. it was reported to Trumbull that Somerset had ‘gone with his family to Sussex which we in town call discontent. The reason is the party can no longer endure him, and marquess of Dorchester [the former earl of Kingston] is set up to be his rival, even to treat of his grace’s feasting days all his table retainers’.198

On 14 Jan. 1709 Somerset wrote to Marlborough ‘of the usual high hand some people have already carried themselves towards the queen’, meaning the Junto, which caused Sarah to comment later that ‘when his grace writ this letter he was pleased to be angry at the Whigs and with what they did in the Parliament’.199 On 21 Jan. he voted in favour of Scottish peers with British titles being permitted to vote in the election of Scottish representative peers, that is against the Junto’s attempt to put pressure on the Court, and may explain why Peter Wentworth noted on 25 Jan. that ‘tis talked as if the duke of Somerset was not so well with the junto as usual’, and that James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], would replace him as master of the horse.200 At the beginning of February, Marlborough in Brussels, wrote to his wife of the continued violence of the Whigs, noting that Somerset was a friend of them both, despite the inconvenience of his ‘ill judgment and great desire of having credit with the queen’, which ‘will make him both troublesome and do hurt’. Nevertheless, ‘whilst in the world we must bear with such uneasiness’.201

On 4 Mar. 1709 Nicolson referred to ‘Somerset’s kindness in the Whitehaven bill’, although on the 5th he noted that the bill was ‘hardly allowed (by duke of Somerset) to pass the grand committee’. Even so, it was reported by Halifax without amendment. On 13 Mar. around 30 gentlemen were entertained at Somerset’s by the opera singer, Mrs. Tofts. On 17 Mar. Somerset dined with a number of Whigs at Ossulton’s.202 At the end of March Trumbull asked, ‘what company at Somerset’s drink the [con]fusion to the Junto.’ In reply Johnston wrote, ‘I think what you hear of the two tables at the duke of Somerset’s is true. The Scotch are often there and many of the English young Lords.’ Some of these may be identified from a dinner hosted by Somerset on 3 Apr. for a number of peers: the guests included John Campbell, 2nd duke of Argyll [S], James Ogilvy, earl of Seafield [S], William Byron, 4th Baron Byron, Lionel Sackville, 7th earl (later duke) of Dorset, Henry Clinton, 7th earl of Lincoln, Ossulton, Mohun, and Charles Powlett, styled marquess of Winchester, the future 3rd duke of Bolton.203

On 7 Apr. Godolphin reported the presence of both Somerset and Devonshire at Newmarket. On 19 Apr. Godolphin believed that Somerset favoured the appointment of Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend, for a role in the peace negotiations, rather than himself. On 23 May Somerset wrote from Marlborough to the duchess of Marlborough to thank her ‘for sending so early the good news of an ensuing peace that all people must wish for, tho some may be sorry it is so good that they cannot find fault with it and others that they had not a hand in the making of it.’ He attended the prorogation of 23 June. In June and again in August Somerset was one of those peers engaged in lobbying the queen to employ General George Maccartney, although with little success given the queen’s resistance to the idea, following his conviction for rape.204

On 1 Aug. 1709 Maynwaring offered the following on Somerset’s ‘opinion’ of himself as ‘being mighty useful and important about the queen’s person: there is one thing very unlucky to men of his grace’s character, which is, that those who are so forward to undertake everything are generally fit for nothing.’ On 9 Aug. Maynwaring reported that Walpole was ‘in disgrace’ with Somerset, who had thus approached Henry Boyle to lobby him on behalf of Colonel Breton.205 On 22 Aug. Wentworth wrote of ‘town talk’ that the duchess of Marlborough would resign her post, if it could be passed on to her daughter, the countess of Sunderland, but that Somerset contested the matter in favour of his wife, and that as a consequence he ‘does keep close to Windsor, I don’t think he has been three days absent this season.’206 Somerset was certainly at Windsor in September and early October 1709, when he wrote to Marlborough, and Maynwaring was later to refer to the interest Somerset had acquired ‘by this summer’s rather watching than waiting’.207

Somerset’s main complaint against Godolphin was ‘for hindering his project of being a great man at Court’. On 23 Sept. Maynwaring wrote to Sarah about Somerset’s dissatisfaction with Marlborough and particularly Godolphin:

nothing can be so ridiculous as the situation he is in at Court; for a man that has no talents to do any one thing in the world to think that he is to do every, and to have all preferments pass through his hands, is something so much out of the way that it is hard to find a name for it. But people that are good for nothing in any party, when they are encouraged to make a break and division, think from that time that they are the only useful people.208

Maynwaring’s opinion seems to have mellowed a little by about 13 Oct. when he wrote that Somerset’s ‘resentments and uneasiness proceed from a right principle in him, though he mistakes in his judgment’, and that ‘being vain and loving to have court and applications made to him, he does not distinguish enough to know that the disappointments he meets with arise from the wrong solicitations he engages in, and not from any disrespect or ill-will towards him’. When Maynwaring had advised Somerset to avoid making divisions among the Whigs, the duke had replied that ‘he did live very civilly with Somers and Sunderland’, and did not say a word against Orford when the matter of the admiralty was discussed. Without Somerset ‘those worthless people that now shelter themselves under him, must return to the old body of their party’. Around this time, October 1709, Maynwaring distilled the essence of Somerset’s influence down to his ability to ‘keep an interest with many people, by making them drunk every Sunday and receiving any applications they make in such a manner as to convince them he would do whatever they ask, tho ever so unreasonable, if it were in his power’. At this time Somerset was endeavouring to persuade Godolphin to grant Rivers a pension, which Marlborough thought would make Somerset ‘troublesome’.209 Marlborough’s opinion on 10 Oct. was that Somers and Sunderland should use their influence over Somerset to ‘make his mob as you call them, to act with their friends, it would very much help the carrying everything in the House of Lords’. By 1 Nov. Somerset and Sunderland had ‘newly struck up’ a friendship, which had led to ‘nothing new but whispering when they meet’.210

Somerset attended the prorogation of 6 Oct. and in October he also secured a regiment for his son, Hertford.211 He was present at the opening of the 1709-10 session, on 15 November. He next attended on four days between 5-9 Dec. and then on 22 December. After the Christmas recess his attendance was more regular. In all he attended on 50 days of the session, 54 per cent of the total, and was named to 16 committees.

Somerset was equivocal when the crisis over the disposal of Essex’s regiment to Abigail Masham’s brother, John Hill broke in January 1710. Maynwaring noted that ‘since the discontents of 39 [Marlborough] were discussed at 13’s [Somerset], I am sure 42 [queen] will be prepared for whatever is said.’ Nevertheless probably on 18 Jan. Maynwaring spent two hours with Somerset, but found him not keen to ‘come in at the end of a business that had been concerted with others’, although he said he had spoken to the queen on Marlborough’s absence from Council that ‘if he was dissatisfied, whether right or wrong, I thought we were undone both at home and abroad.’212 Despite this claim, on 21 Jan. Godolphin observed that Somerset ‘is very busy in speaking to people not to desert 42 [queen] on this occasion’.213 On 22 Jan. Ossulton dined at Somerset’s with ‘a great deal of company, to[o] many to enumerate’.214 In February 1710 Wentworth reported a story about Somerset and Hertford accusing Marlborough of plotting to move an address against Abigail, while denying so doing to the queen, and that as a result Somerset had ‘told the q[ueen] he would stand by her with his life and fortune, even against her insolent general’.215

Fall of the duumvirs and the Oxford ministry

The acute political antennae of Robert Harley identified in Somerset’s rifts with the Junto and devotion to the queen, a potential ally in his attempts to undermine the ministry, not least because, as Godolphin himself acknowledged, he was ‘one of the greatest favourites’ of the queen.216 Swift later interpreted Somerset’s actions in 1710 as a reaction to the Junto growing ‘weary of his indigested schemes, and his imperious manner of obtruding them’. When they ‘began to drop him at their meetings, or contradict him with little ceremony, when he happened to be there’, his unhappiness was picked up by Harley, who led him into the resulting intrigues.217 Thus, on 5 Mar. Henry St John, the future Viscount Bolingbroke, told Harley that both Rivers and Argyll had informed him that Richard Hampden had visited Somerset to offer the assistance of his friends, should it be required. Later that night he was told that it was Morton [presumably Matthew Ducie Moreton, the future Baron Ducie] who had pledged support in the name of Hampden.218

Harley’s opportunity to destabilize the ministry came with the impeachment of Dr Henry Sacheverell. St John had sounded out Shrewsbury and found him keen to move on the impeachment provided it was in concert with Somerset and Argyll. Likewise, on 9 Mar. St John told Harley, ‘I shall see Lord R[ivers] after he has been with the duke of Somerset.’219 Here we see the formation of Harley’s ‘juntilla’, which comprised of Somerset, Shrewsbury, Rivers, Peterborough and St John, with whom he worked to undermine the ministry in the early months of 1710.220 Somerset was blamed by the Marlboroughs for ensuring that his wife chose to stand during her attendance on the queen at the trial of Sacheverell, whereas the duchess of Marlborough had sought permission for the ladies attending the queen to sit in her presence. In response to the duchess’s letter of 7 Mar. reporting on the trial, Marlborough replied on the 13th that the behaviour of Somerset, Argyll and Rivers reflected ‘the queen being of their mind’. A further missive from his wife of the 10th engendered a postscript which correctly predicted that ‘I can’t think it possible that he will give his vote or opinion for the clearing of Sacheverell. If he does there is nothing he would not sacrifice to have power with the queen. His behaviour in this matter will be a true weathercock of the queen’.221

Some commentators believed that Somerset and Devonshire were behind the appointment on 11 Mar. of Sir Thomas Parker, future earl of Macclesfield, as lord chief justice, a key appointment in the middle of the trial, and one of the most prominent managers of the impeachment.222 On 14 Mar. Charles Boyle, 4th earl of Orrery [I], and the future Baron Boyle of Marston told Harley that Argyll thought he might oppose any excessive punishment of Sacheverell and might bring Somerset to be of that opinion.223 On 17 Mar. Godolphin wrote that Somerset:

labours hard against us, and makes use of the queen’s name to South and North Britains [sic] with a good deal of freedom. I doubt he is pretty sure of not being disavowed and I believe him entirely linked with the opposite party, upon the foot of knowing the queen’s inclinations and flattering them, but is so vain and so simple as not to be sensible, he is uncapable of being anything more than what he is, or that that scheme is not supportable above six months.224

Somerset was listed as absent on 20 Mar. from the voting on whether Sacheverell was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours. Later that day Godolphin confirmed that ‘Somerset did not vote. Some of his friends said he was sick, but I fancy it was only his profound wisdom that kept him from the House’, and made him take the waters at Epsom. When the House came to consider the question of Sacheverell’s punishment on 21 Mar. Somerset was crucial in ensuring that the proposal that he be barred from preferment during his suspension of one year was defeated by one vote, calling Queensberry back to the chamber to vote against it. On this occasion Godolphin added that ‘the conjunction of Somerset and Rivers with Argyll and his brother [Archibald Campbell, earl of Ilay, [S], later 3rd duke of Argyll [S]] has been the great occasion of this disappointment’. As Anne Clavering put it Somerset was ‘one whom the queen of the Friday [17 Mar.] had, in civil terms, asked a vote, and yet drunk the waters the Monday [20] and cast us of Tuesday [21]’. On 30 Mar. Godolphin reflected on the queen showing ‘a great deal of weakness in countenancing and supporting the folly and impertinence of Somerset’. On 8 Apr. Marlborough denounced the ‘knavery and folly’ of Somerset, who ‘if he were not countenanced by the queen, he would not dare to act as he does, so that the Whigs should endeavour to have him mortified’.225

Somerset’s dalliance with Harley led to demands that he be purged from the Kit Kat Club. Brydges reported on 7 Apr. that ‘Thursday was sevennight’, [30 Mar.] Somerset had been expelled from the Club ‘by a vote brought in ready cut and dried by Lord Wharton: the crime objected, the words of the vote say, was for being suspected to have held conferences with Robin the Trickster’.226 On 1 Apr. Anne Clavering had noted that an inquiry would be made of a member of the Club who had ‘made an elopement with Robin the Trickster’.227 However, Somerset may have been reprieved, or suffered only a temporary expulsion, for on 22 June Maynwaring reported that Somerset ‘was to have been turned out of the Kit-Cat today, but the town is so empty, that it was thought best to adjourn a thing of that consequence to be done in a full House’. He was listed by Oldmixon as a member in 1711.228

By this point Somerset was deeply involved in plotting a reconstruction of the ministry. On 9 Apr. Shrewsbury wrote to him concerning his reservations about taking office on his own, although this did not deter him from accepting the post of lord chamberlain on 14 April. On 15 Apr. Godolphin wrote to the queen concerning the ill consequences of employing Shrewsbury, which would ‘make every man that is now in your cabinet Council, except the duke of Somerset and Queensberry run from it, as they would from the plague’. Godolphin thought Harley was behind Shrewsbury’s appointment, although Somerset ‘gives himself the air of it very much, but he will be one of the first and the most mortified by it’.229 The duchess of Marlborough also sought to belittle Somerset’s pivotal role, opining that he ‘can only do people mischief and tell lies, and that he is not relied on for advice any more than the Bug [Henry Grey, duke of Kent] was that is turned out’.230 Maynwaring about 18 Apr. repeated Godolphin’s view that:

nobody would be so much hurt by 28 [Shrewsbury] as 13 [Somerset], who fancied he had brought him in; for all that officious part of attendance, setting 42’s [queen’s] chair at Council, leading about &c, which he had taken upon him, and was no part of his office, 28 would do so much better than him, that in a very short time 42 would show that she had little occasion for his service.

He continued that:

so much trouble is occasioned by Abigail and Harley, under the cover of 13 [Somerset], who knows not all the while what consequence any one thing will have that he fancies he is doing, but is ruining people that have been friendly to him, to set up others that will despise him.231

On 19 Apr. Maynwaring informed Sarah that Somers had been called to a meeting with Somerset that day, at the latter’s request, although he could not discern the reason for the meeting, adding somewhat tartly that ‘tis more likely that 13 [Somerset] has no meaning at all, at least none of his own.’ Also, on 19 Apr. Maynwaring reported on Sunderland’s meeting with Somerset, whereby the latter made great professions of friendship to the Whigs ‘and an utter abjuration of Mr Harley, whom he swears he only met by chance at the duke of Argyll’s, but neither there, nor anywhere else ever spoke with him of any business’. Only Godolphin continued in ‘disgrace’ with Somerset. On 23 Apr. Somerset hosted a dinner where ‘there was a great deal of company’.232

On 8 May Marlborough wrote of his disapproval of the rapprochement between Somerset and the Whigs, which he felt was merely to accept the ‘false profession of Somerset after his base behaviour to them all, and his continuing to own his enmity to Godolphin and Marlborough’. On 12 May, Maynwaring referred to Shrewsbury being shut up everyday with Harley and Somerset.233 On 16 May Godolphin again blamed Somerset’s ‘malice and inveteracy’ for increasing the queen’s displeasure with the duchess of Marlborough and ‘those who will not forsake her’. On 19 May Godolphin reported that Somerset spent more time with the queen than Abigail and ’thinks of nothing but doing mischief’, and together with Rivers ‘are driving everything they think will be disagreeable to Marlborough, and to make their court to Abigail’. Godolphin continued of this opinion on 26 May noting that the ‘mortifications’ aimed at Marlborough were ‘fomented and pressed chiefly by Somerset and Rivers and the rest of his underspur leathers’. When the next target in the ministerial re-shuffle, Sunderland, was removed on 14 June, Godolphin reported Shrewsbury’s opinion that Somerset ‘stayed away on purpose in the hopes that the affair of Sunderland might be ended before his return, and that he might have room to impute it to other people.’ Thomas Coningsby, future Baron Coningsby, concurred, believing that Somerset ‘was not withdrawn as was justified out of disgust but out of policy’.234

In June 1710 the duchess of Marlborough lamented the possible removal of the Whigs in office to make way for Tories and ‘which is still more strange, to make the duke of Somerset a great man and a first minister’.235 On 21 June Godolphin thought that ‘though there yet continues a seeming fairness betwixt them two [Somerset and Shrewsbury], yet his wings are very much clipped by Shrewsbury, and he continues still in perfect coldness and distance to the Whigs and Godolphin’.236 Meanwhile, Somerset was again coming under more fire from some of the Whigs. Halifax had a plan ‘for running and singing down the Sovereign’, especially ‘a ballad upon him like the verses in [Abraham] Cowley which begins thus, Margaretta first possessed and so name all his governors from Lord Rochester to Lord Rivers’.237

On 3 July Godolphin noted that Vrijberghen’s interview with the queen had been used by Somerset and Shrewsbury to suggest that the States-General and Heinsius had taken too much upon themselves in seeking to persuade her not to dissolve Parliament. Other observers were keenly aware of Somerset’s influence at this point: on 10 July, Charles Berkeley, 2nd earl of Berkeley, sought to ensure a smooth succession for his son as lord lieutenant of Gloucestershire by approaching Somerset as an appropriate agent. That month, Somerset was lobbied by James Lowther over the Irish coal bill, which was later rejected by a committee of the privy council and then by the full council.238

In July Somerset (together with Shrewsbury) continued to hold many secret meetings with Harley, phrases such as ‘you shall find a servant at the gate under the clock to conduct you the private way to your most humble servant’ littering his correspondence.239 At the end of July, William Legge, 2nd Baron, later earl of, Dartmouth, recorded Somerset and Shrewsbury as opposing Somers’ view that the war should be continued vigorously and that the French were being encouraged by ‘intrigues’ at home. Somerset attended the prorogation on 1 August. On 4 Aug. Wentworth recorded that ‘Somerset is a great favourite, and is said to govern in concert with th’other duke [Shrewsbury] and Harley’. On 6 Aug. Somerset summoned Harley to meet the queen ‘at the usual hour’, which on this occasion presaged the final settling of the new treasury commission on the 7th, and Godolphin’s dismissal on the 8th.240 On 8 Aug. Somerset sent to Godolphin with news of his dismissal.241 This gave rise to Sarah’s charge that it ‘was sent by no worthier messenger than a man in livery, to be left with his Lordship’s porter’. Harley and Shrewsbury were seen by some as ‘putting it on the duke of Somerset as if he were the doer of it.’242 For others, Somerset’s role in the fall of Godolphin was a step worth lauding. Argyll wrote of the queen and her subjects regaining their liberty and that ‘everybody my Lord must confess the part you have acted in this great transition and the honour you must have by it’.243

Godolphin’s removal marked the high-point of Somerset’s satisfaction with the ministerial changes. At some point shortly after the change in the treasury, Joseph Addison opined that Somerset ‘represents himself as actuated by personal picques in what he has done, and has resolved to adhere to the Whiggish principles. It is generally said he is fallen off from the new ministers, and that he has recommended Whigs to all his boroughs’.244 This certainly seems to have been the case with Stanhope for on 14 Aug. Godolphin noted that Somerset ‘talks publicly of continuing’ to secure his election at Cockermouth and on 15 Aug. James Lowther wrote that Somerset ‘certainly recommends General Stanhope at Cockermouth. His grace is out of town. As soon as he returns I shall have his recommendation and interest [for Cumberland].245 However, the view of Robert Price at the end of August that Somerset was secure of one seat at Cockermouth, proved wide of the mark, as Wharton’s candidate topped the poll, with Stanhope returned after a scrutiny only to be unseated by the Commons in April 1711. On 20 Aug. John Aislabie approached Harley for Somerset’s interest in Yorkshire for Lord Downe and Sir Arthur Kaye, having not had a response from him following an initial approach.246

On 22 Aug. Godolphin wrote of ‘some great uneasiness happened between Somerset and Shrewsbury’, and that Somerset had been ‘absent (all of a sudden) these eight or ten days, and declares everywhere publicly for Parliament as it now stands’. Also on the 22nd Henry St John gave the Tory view of Somerset, ‘I expect him to be very much out of humour. It’s prodigious to see a man so zealous for a proposition and so averse to everything necessary to support and make that good’. By 25 Aug. news of Somerset’s wavering had reached Durham, from whence Thomas Conyers wrote to Harley: ‘I hear the duke of Somerset is now against us. I thought he was for us, therefore went twice to Newcastle to prevent their setting up another to throw out Lord Hertford, so if you would have him out be pleased to let me know.’ On 29 Aug. Godolphin wrote ’I hear from all hands that Somerset declares publicly for the Whigs in general, and particularly against the enemies of Parliament’. On 1 Sept. Somerset dined with Dartmouth and Henry Boyle and ‘a great deal of such choice company’.247

On 1 Sept. William Bromley found the delays in the formation of the ministry ‘imputed’ to Somerset, who had ‘been very serviceable, but of late intolerable, or to use your friend Sir Tom’s word, impracticable. They have been unwilling to break with him, because a certain person has a kindness for him, and therefore all means have been tried to make him easy’. If such means had no effect they would ‘break with him’.248 Possibly with this in mind, on 4 Sept. a memorandum by Harley, which may have been a list of possible admiralty commissioners should Orford quit, included Somerset’s name.249 However, Somerset did receive one plum inducement: on 13 Sept. a great seal was ordered for his appointment as keeper of the park at Hampton Court, which Luttrell recorded passing the seals in late September.250

On 5 Sept. 1710, Wentworth wrote that ‘the town’ gave Somerset ‘the character of being very whimsical and changeable as to his resolves’. On 10 Sept. Somerset told Sir Peter King, the future Baron King, that ‘he was, is, and ever would be a Whig, that he would serve them in all elections, and would oppose a dissolution to the utmost’, and that he had never consented to the replacement of the duke of Bolton as lord lieutenant of Hampshire by Henry Somerset, 2nd duke of Beaufort.251 On 12 Sept. Somers informed Newcastle that Somerset was one of those backing Stanhope’s candidature at Westminster in the forthcoming election, and on 14 Sept. James Lowther noted that Somerset was ‘entirely against a dissolution and thinks still there will be none, which is the reason he does not write into the countries where his interest lies.’252

Godolphin had confirmed this on 12 Sept. when he wrote that Somerset ‘grows more and more uneasy and his audiences of late are very much reduced’.253 Clearly Somerset held a minority opinion among the queen’s new advisers and Maynwaring told the duchess of Marlborough on 14 Sept. 1710 that:

tis certain that 13 [Somerset] does not now see 42 [Queen] so many minutes in a day as he used to do hours. So that he has played a wise game, but the judgment upon him is just. And if it were not for the hopes of making his Lady great, by all accounts I hear, he would almost be ready to retire.254

On 15 Sept. Wentworth informed his brother of ‘a report about the town that the Whigs had got his grace again, for they say he often flys out, and is angry if things are not just as if he would have them. I don’t send you this as a truth but to show some people are very angry with him, and would have him pass for an unsteady man.’255 On 19 Sept. a correspondent of George Baillie wrote that Somerset was ‘entirely reunited’ with the Whig Lords and opposed the dissolution of Parliament, and on the same day Anne Clavering reported that Somerset was ‘disobliged at the Tories.’256 On 21 Sept. James Lowther noted that ‘they go on, too, furiously for the duke of Somerset, who is also like to be out in a few days’.257 On 23 Sept. Addison informed Joshua Dawson that Somerset was ‘discontented to the last degree: he seems to have pulled down the pillars like Sampson to perish among those he has destroyed.’258 Three days later, Wentworth reported that ‘Somerset has left the Court in a pet and gone to Petworth’. The cause of his ‘huff’ was the decision to dissolve Parliament, whereupon he ‘came out of Council in such a passion that he cursed and swore at all his servants, and ordered them to pack up all his things at Kensington, and though his supper was ready he would not stay to eat it. The next day he came to offer the queen to lay down his place, with leave to go into the country; but the queen bid him consider on it, and gave him leave to go into the country’. Somerset had then apparently admitted he had ‘been deceived by Mr Harley, for all he intended to do was to free the queen from the power of the two great men, and was promised that things should be carried no further’. As a consequence he had met with the Junto and been cordially received, and promised his interest to Whig candidates in the election. Wentworth also put down his anger to the failure of Harley and others to believe he could manage the existing Parliament as he pleased.259

Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury, later recorded that Somerset ‘complained openly of the artifices had been used, to make him instrumental to other people’s designs, which he did, among others, to myself’. Apparently on 26 Sept. Somerset wrote to Meredyth acknowledging that he had acted unwisely during the summer and pledging to be firm to the Whigs. The next day, Somerset wrote from Petworth to Newcastle having arrived the previous day ‘to take care to keep out as many Tories and Jacobites in this new Parliament as I can. I am glad to find so true a spirit among the poor discarded Whigs as to unite and keep out the common enemy’. As such he requested Newcastle’s interest in the Sussex county election.260 Somerset certainly backed Stanhope, both at Westminster as well as Cockermouth.261 Many people thought, like Lady Cowper, that Somerset would

have the mortification to have his son thrown out in Northumberland, by a man who is not worth above two or three hundred pound a year, which sure must be a great humiliation to that high blood when they see neither their birth nor money can prevail, but one can’t be sorry for any that has given up the honour and interest of their country upon a picque tho’ they had repented, much less when they are such hipocrites.262

However Hertford was returned top of the poll.

On 2 Oct. 1710 Lady Cowper wrote to Sarah that ‘I don’t at all wonder the new ministry are weary of the duke of S[omerset]. I thought he had been gone into the country.’263 By the time Harley came to analyse the English peers on 3 Oct. he was doubtful whether Somerset would support his ministry. On 15 Oct. Somerset was one of the company that dined at Orford’s and then called on Godolphin, who ‘took very little notice of him, more than just a bow, and went to bed’.264 On 19 Oct. it was reported that:

Somerset came to Hampton Court and looked as he used to do, but without doubt but he’s inwardly nettled to have return to court, with the loss of the elections he has endeavoured to carry, and to see he was so much out in his judgment, as to think the Whigs would have a great majority in the new House. … The part the duke of Somerset has acted and is like to act is looked upon with very contemptible eyes by both parties.265

Halifax later reported to Newcastle that Somerset had come to court on 20 Oct. ‘had a long audience, and a very rough one on his part’; he had then left on the 23rd ‘to avoid the council, to which he pretends to go no more, but is gone with the queen to Windsor.’266

Somerset may have lost political influence, but he retained his office and maintained his position at court. At the beginning of November James Craggs thought him ‘highly discontented, yet ‘tis not sure he’s quit’.267 On 5 Nov. the countess of Scarbrough described him as ‘so great a favourite as to be two or three hours at a time in the drawing room’ with the queen. This puzzled some Tories, Wentworth on 7 Nov. not knowing what to make of Somerset, who had yet to attend council, and having come up to ‘town’ had gone that morning to Sion.268

Somerset was present at the opening of the 1710-11 session on 25 Nov. 1710. His attendance was very poor compared to previous sessions: he was present on a mere 16 days of the session, 14 per cent of the total. Royal favour continued to see rewards sent in his direction, Hertford being made governor of Tynmouth in place of Meredyth in December 1710. However, Somerset had laid claim to the post as early as August 1707, citing the tenure of the place by his wife’s family and her estates in the area, and he had received a promise of the post for his son in 1707, before it was given to his protégé, Meredyth.269 Further, his wife remained high in the queen’s favour and was shortly to succeed the duchess of Marlborough as groom of the stole, an appointment confirmed officially on 24 Jan. 1711.270 Somerset was unhappy: on 16 Dec. 1710 Cowper recorded a visit from the duke, who:

entertained me with a long discourse of the peace, things he had said to the queen of the ministry, of his being irreconcilable to ’em; and at last how the queen over-persuaded him to keep his place, but that he would not come to the council. On the whole he appeared to me a false mean spirited knave, at the same time he was a pretender to the greatest courage and steadiness.271

Somerset attended the Lords on 20-23 Dec. 1710, and 2-3 Jan. 1711. At the beginning of January 1711 his youngest son, Charles, died of smallpox, which may partly explain his absence until 22 February. Somerset also avoided the most contentious issue of Spain, which resulted in a series of votes in January.272 Thereafter, he attended 26, 28 Feb. and 1, 3, and 6 Mar., Nicolson recording on 5 Mar. that Somerset had ‘gone to Court’.273 He was then absent until 16 May, his solitary attendance until the last day of the session on 12 June. On 4 May it was the duchess who informed the select committee on the estate bill of his son-in-law, the earl of Thomond, that Somerset was out of town, but that he consented to the bill.274

On 22 Apr. 1711 Somerset wrote from Marlborough to thank Harley for his news, having been there since 16 Apr. and hoping to be at Petworth by the 26th, for a stay not exceeding ten days. He pressed upon him a petition from the corporation in favour of a local man to be receiver of the leather duties. In May 1711 he was one of those rumoured to be a potential successor to Rochester as lord president. Following the death of Newcastle in mid July, Somerset and his wife were believed to be urging the queen to support the appointment of a Whig successor.275

The Whigs remained at best ambivalent to Somerset; summed up, perhaps, by the verses in the hand of the duchess of Marlborough in mid 1711:

Seymour to whom no mortal can decide
If fool, or knave, more justly be applied.276

Somerset remained a presence at court, assiduously attending the queen at Windsor during the summer of 1711, but according to Swift, usually leaving ‘Windsor on Saturday, when the ministers go down thither, and returns not until they are gone’.277 However, he broke this pattern by attempting to attend a meeting of the cabinet on 12 August. The timing was significant because it followed shortly after Matthew Prior had been spotted in Deal conveying two Frenchmen (Gaultier and Mesnager) towards Windsor and almost certainly represented an attempt by the Junto to discover what moves were afoot about a peace. Probably because the cabinet was about to discuss sending instructions to Prior, the other members, headed by St John, refused to sit with him, as he ‘had so often betrayed them’. Faced with this opposition, Somerset attended a horse-race when the cabinet reconvened on the 13th, and both Swift and Brydges confirmed that Somerset did not endeavour to join the cabinet on 19 Aug. when it next met.278 This rebuff, evidently saw Somerset review his options. Cowper recorded in late August that Somerset had requested an appointment with him, ‘to advise if [he] should go out but found his business was really to get it to say that my opinion (among others I suppose) was for his staying in: but I gave him a contrary opinion yet left him minded to stay in, if he could.’279 Swift thought this incident led Somerset ‘to declare open war against the ministry, and from that time to the session, employed himself in spiriting up several depending Lords to adhere to their friends, when an occasion should offer’.280 In this he was able to rely on his position at court and the queen’s known favour towards him and his wife. This he exploited to win over courtiers and pensioners to the impending Whig attack on the peace, shamelessly making use of the queen’s name so to do. He could also put pressure on the queen more directly, and it was Somerset or his wife who probably drew the queen’s attention to the memorial that had been presented to St John on 28 Nov. (and printed in the Daily Courant a week later) by Bothmer, the Hanoverian envoy, denouncing a ruinous peace.281

On 25 Sept. 1711 Somerset wrote to Oxford (as Harley had since become) thanking him for ‘the particular honour your Lordship did me this morning to communicate affairs of so much consequence’. He had ‘so much reason to be uneasy in my thoughts’, but as Oxford was ‘the only man that can save us from a most dreadful storm that is very near over turning us, my hopes are there fixed, and I do depend entirely on you.’282 Further, on 28 Nov. Oxford made a long visit to Somerset in an endeavour to influence his thinking on the need for peace, the consequences of the failure of his peace policy and the ‘art and cunning’ used by his opponents.283

On 6 Dec. Somerset received the proxy of the 6th earl of Suffolk (the former Bindon). He was present on the opening day of the 1711-12 session, 7 Dec. 1711, attending on 59 days of the session, including the adjournment on 8 July 1712, 55 per cent of the total. He was named to nine committees. More importantly, Somerset had backed the amendment to the address which called for no peace to be made without Spain. On 8 Dec. he was either forecast as a certain opponent of the court in the projected division of this date, or voted in favour of presenting the address containing the No Peace without Spain clause. His name duly appears on Oxford’s list of 10 Dec. as an office-holder who had voted against the ministry in support of the ‘No Peace Without Spain’ motion. As one contemporary noted ‘Somerset has been warm and active against the Court in this struggle’.284 Swift also noted that the queen turned to him, after the debate on 7 Dec. to lead her from the House, even though Somerset had been ‘louder than any in the House for the clause against peace’. On reflection Swift felt that ‘those scoundrel starving Lords would never have dared to vote against the court, if Somerset had not assured them, that it would please the queen’, a point in which Oxford apparently agreed.285 Another witness to the vote on 7 Dec. recorded that ‘Somerset, just by the queen, call out louder for the question than anybody, and was not only content with that and a proxy he gave that way, but pulled out the duke of Cleveland [Charles Fitzroy, 2nd duke] with him’. All were agreed that Somerset had been remarkably successful, albeit with help from Marlborough, as Oxford calculated that ‘fourteen of the queen’s servants’ had deserted the ministry.286

On 11 Dec. James Lowther reported that Somerset would ‘forward’ the Whitehaven harbour bill when it reached the Lords, and he was present on the day that the bill was dealt with in the committee of the whole on 23 Feb. 1712.287 Somerset last attended before Christmas on 12 Dec. 1711, and on 15 Dec. he registered his proxy with John Manners, 2nd duke of Rutland, and went to Petworth that same day.288 One of the reasons he was absent was to avoid voting on Hamilton’s peerage case. On 19 Dec. he was forecast as likely to oppose the duke’s claims in the division expected on the 20th. According to Wentworth, the queen had been forced to defend Somerset’s vote on 7 Dec. by noting that ‘when anything came before them that immediately concerned her interest, they might depend upon it he would vote agreeable to it’. Hamilton’s patent was clearly a question of the royal prerogative, so Somerset’s enemies challenged the queen over it. Somerset:

declared in his opinion he must be against having more Scotch peers brought into the House, but as an expedient and to show how ready he was to comply with her desires, he desired leave to go into the country, and that he would leave his proxy with one that would vote for; and this expedient has been turned upon him as an imposition and a trick, which was not fit to be used towards her, for he knew [the] duke of Hamilton was to have counsel, and when ever counsel is heard proxies are not admitted.

Hence the queen determined to dismiss him, only to be faced with duke’s threat: ‘he would never leave her majesty till she dismissed him, and when ever that was her pleasure, he must have the duchess’. Swift then weighed into the fray with his poem, The Windsor Prophecy, written on 23 December. This virulent attack on the duchess of Somerset backfired, angering the queen, and damaging fatally Swift’s prospects of advancement in the Church.289

Another reason for Somerset’s absence was the impending by-election at Midhurst, which was held on 28 Dec. and saw the Whig candidate John Pratt, the future lord chief justice, narrowly defeat his Tory opponent, aided no doubt by the block of 18 burgages acquired by Somerset from Henry Browne, 5th Viscount Montagu, in October 1711.290 The elevation of Charles Bruce, 3rd Baron Bruce of Whorlton, the future 3rd duke of Ailesbury, to the peerage, at the turn of the year, also created a vacancy at Marlborough, which provided another reason to stay in the country.291 In order to retrieve the political situation, one of the remedial measures insisted upon by Oxford was Somerset’s dismissal. Swift had reported that a decision had been made to dismiss Somerset on 29 Dec., but that there was a delay in formally dismissing him, owing to the queen’s desire to ensure that the duchess continued in her service.292 When Somerset returned to London on 18 Jan. 1712, he saw the queen on the 19th, and when he came home from St James’s he pulled off the queen’s livery from his men, to demonstrate his loss of office. Over the next few days, the queen’s physician, Dr Hamilton, recounted the strenuous efforts made, in particular by Cowper, at the queen’s behest, to persuade Somerset to allow his wife to keep her post as groom of the stole.293 These clearly succeeded for on 26 Jan. Somerset wrote to Cowper:

I will submit myself entirely to your judgment and venture the censure of the world upon it, hoping all my friends will support me, by doing it I do hope by acting thus against my own judgment your Lordship will be convinced of the very great respect I pay to yours.294

Somerset having returned to the Lords on 19 Jan. 1712, on 21 Jan. the proxy of Robert Darcy, 3rd earl of Holdernesse, was registered to him. After 29 Feb. he was absent until 17 Mar. registering his proxy with Cowper on 3 March. After attending on 29 Mar., he registered his proxy on 31 Mar. with Holdernesse. Shortly afterwards Somerset went to Newmarket.295 On 24 Apr. Holdernesse’s proxy was again registered with him, but on 25 Apr. he registered his proxy with John Montagu, 2nd duke of Montagu. He next attended on 5 May, possibly being one of the Lords summoned back from Newmarket by Townshend on the 1 May in expectation of new developments on the peace.296 On 14 May Suffolk’s proxy was registered with him. On 23 May he registered his proxy with Thomas Windsor, Viscount Windsor [I] (Baron Mountjoy). Meanwhile, on 6 May, William Berkeley, 4th Baron Berkeley of Stratton, told Strafford that Somerset had been talked of by some as taking up the mastership of the horse again, as he had not been replaced following his dismissal.297 On 28 May Somerset voted against the court over the ‘restraining’ orders issued to Ormond. On 7 June he entered his protest against the rejection of an amendment to the address thanking the queen for communicating the peace terms, which asked the queen to act with her allies in a mutual guarantee of the treaty.

Rumours of a meeting between Oxford and some prominent Whigs in March 1713, led to speculation that Somerset would return to office as master of the horse.298 In mid-March to early April 1713, a list in the hand of Swift, with Oxford’s additions, suggested that Somerset was expected to oppose the ministry in the forthcoming session. He attended the prorogations on 3, 10 and 17 Mar. 1713, and the opening day of the 1713 session, 9 April. However, after attending on 10 Apr., he was then absent until 8 May. He attended on 34 days, 52 per cent of the total.

Meanwhile, on 18 Apr. Dr Hamilton mentioned ‘a story of the duchess of Somerset’s going between the queen and the duchess of Newcastle, in order to get a match between the duke of Newcastle’s daughter and the duke of Somerset’s son’.299 This was the third attempt to secure the Holles heiress, and it failed, the favoured suitor being Oxford’s eldest son. On 24 Apr. it was reported that Somerset had refused to introduce the representatives of Cambridge University to present their address on the peace.300 At the end of May, Somerset hosted a ‘great meeting … when the Whigs concerted about breaking the Union’ over the malt tax.301 On 8 June he entered his protest against the passage of the malt bill, one of only five (including Argyll) English peers to do so. About 13 June, Oxford expected Somerset to oppose the bill confirming the 8th and 9th articles of the French commercial treaty.302 On 26 June, Somerset sent a letter to recall Sir Richard Onslow, future Baron Onslow, and his son, Thomas, future 2nd Baron Onslow, from Clandon in Surrey for the Whigs’ intended surprise motion on 29 June ‘in both Houses’, relating to the Pretender’s residence in Lorraine. Following the passage of an address in the Lords on 30 June, requesting the queen to take care to secure the removal of the Pretender from Lorraine, Somerset tried Onslow again, noting that the Lords had not yet sent the address down to the Commons ‘least some untoward amendments might be added, but if our friends will make the like motion in the House of Commons tomorrow or Thursday, we shall leave it to them’, and hoping Onslow would be there to support it on 1 July.303 On 4 July James Lowther reported that ‘the border act is going on very well in the House of Lords’ and that he had ‘engaged’ Somerset, among others, ‘to forward it.’304 Somerset last attended on 6 July 1713.

In the 1713 election, Somerset and Wharton appear to have failed to co-ordinate adequately for the election at Cockermouth, and with Stanhope both absent and sure of election elsewhere, he lost to a Tory. On 13 Sept. Somerset informed Stanhope of his failure to secure his return owing to ‘false friends’ who had opted to ensure the return of Nicholas Lechmere, future Baron Lechmere, by failing to give their second votes to Stanhope. As Weymouth wrote on the 25th, Somerset had dined with him at Longleat the previous week and ‘is much displeased with his steward at Cockermouth, who has betrayed him. Neither is he more satisfied with the usage of Lord Wharton’.305

On 31 Dec. ‘all the best front of Petworth … burnt down’, although not Somerset’s own apartments.306 This may explain the duke’s absence from the opening of the 1714 session, on 16 Feb. 1714. He first attended on 15 March. After attending three consecutive meetings between 15-19 Mar. the House adjourned for Easter, and Somerset did not sit again until 12 April. He attended on 48 days of the session, 63 per cent of the total. On 20 Mar. Somerset registered his proxy with Argyll, as he did again on 14 May. On 7 May Somerset was one of eight peers, seven of them Whigs, whom Oxford invited to meet him that evening.307 On 13 May the House adjourned until 26 May and Somerset did not attend until 1 June. Between 27 May and about 4 June Nottingham, forecast Somerset as against the bill to prevent the growth of schism.308 On 2 June Holdernesse’s proxy was registered with him; as was that of Robert Benson, Baron Bingley, on 4 June; Ossulston’s on the 16th; and on the 19th that of Suffolk.

On 8 June 1714, Oxford wrote a memorandum for a meeting with the queen, which included the advice ‘send for the duchess of Somerset. Nobody else can save us’, an approach renewed through Somerset at the beginning of July.309 On 15 June Somerset entered his protest against the passage of the schism bill. On 8 July he entered his protest against the rejection of a ‘humble representation’ to the queen that ‘the benefit of the Asiento contract and of the licenses have been greatly obstructed, by unwarrantable endeavours to gain private advantages to particular persons’.

By this date Somerset was again engaged in intrigue. Oxford later recalled that at the time of his dismissal, Marlborough was on the point of leaving Flanders to be at the head of the scheme, which had been framed by Bolingbroke, and included Cadogan, Somerset and others. Indeed, on 29 July Swift recorded that Somerset was due to dine ‘with the fraternity at Greenwich’ with Lieutenant-general Henry Withers, who resided there, and was linked to both Marlborough and Bolingbroke. Following a meeting with Bothmer, Somerset and Argyll attended a council called after the queen fell ill on 30 July.310 This was possible because although not summoned to the Privy Council, they were still members having never been ‘formally struck out’. Somerset had been named a regent by Princess Sophia under the provisions of the Regency Act much earlier in the reign, as his name was listed by Rivers during one of his missions to Hanover. He was still a nominated regent when the queen died.311

Somerset was present on the opening day of the session convened following the queen’s death, 1 Aug. 1714, when he took the oaths. On 5 Aug. he was one of 14 lords justices attending to hear a speech from the lord chancellor. On 13 Aug. he was one of 13 lords justices in attendance for another speech on their behalf from the lord chancellor. He was present when Parliament was prorogued on 25 Aug., having attended on five days of the session, a third of the total, and been named to two committees.

With a new reign, Somerset’s interest began to revive. On 19 Aug. James Lowther was informed that ‘endeavours are used for retrieving’ the duke of Somerset’s interest at Cockermouth.312 On 31 Aug. he was one of the regents appointed to see that Bolingbroke’s office was sealed up following his dismissal as secretary.313 He also attended the prorogation on 23 September. Somerset was eventually appointed master of the horse on 27 Sept. ‘which was not done sooner because he asked to be groom of the stole, and there being a great many pretenders to it the king could not resolve so soon about it’.314 He continued in office briefly after the Hanoverian Succession, before joining the opposition Whigs. He remained involved in politics until the mid-1730s.

Somerset died on 2 Dec. 1748, at Petworth. He was buried on 26 Dec. in Salisbury Cathedral, although one almost contemporaneous source reported him being carried from Petworth on the 26th and buried in Salisbury Cathedral on the 28th.315

Somerset may have been ridiculed as ‘The Sovereign’ by many of his contemporaries for his aloof manner, but he could not be ignored. His territorial power and associated hold on a number of seats in the Commons made him an important patron for young politicians, like James Stanhope. Hence the duchess of Marlborough looking back to 1704 described him as ‘very unreasonable and troublesome. But I thought him then honest and in the queen’s true interest because of his great stake’. Ailesbury, also in retrospect, was able to allude to a junto of Devonshire, Somerset, Wharton, Sunderland, Townshend, Halifax and Somers. Allied to this was an appetite for power, which was not matched by any administrative ability or political talent. Further, his parliamentary impact was somewhat blunted by what Macky referred to as ‘a great hesitation in his speech’, whereby he ‘wants expression’. However, his political assets, especially in Anne’s reign included his wife, according to Dartmouth, ‘the best bred as well as the best born lady in England’, and whom in May 1708, Queen Anne described, along with Lady Fitzhardinge, as ‘two of the most observing, prying ladies in England’. Undoubtedly, her presence at court during the period 1710-14 gave succour to the Whigs and easy access to the court for her husband. Unfortunately, a more precise assessment of her influence, and how Somerset exploited it, is made more difficult by the destruction of the queen’s letters to her that were ordered to be burnt by the duke after his wife’s death, as were his own papers.316


  • 1 Coll. Top. and Gen. v. 346.
  • 2 Harrow Reg. 24; Verney ms mic. 636/31, J. to Sir R. Verney, 9 May 1678.
  • 3 CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 352; 1680-1, p. 292; HMC Portland, iv. 225.
  • 4 Collins Peerage, i. 185.
  • 5 Collins Peerage, i. 185.
  • 6 TNA, PROB 11/766.
  • 7 CSP Dom. 1700-2, pp. 392-3.
  • 8 Hay, Chichester, 589.
  • 9 W. Suss. RO, Add. 8935, arbitration award, 30 Oct. 1691.
  • 10 CSP Dom. 1686-7, p. 231.
  • 11 CTB, xxiv. 449-50.
  • 12 Verney ms mic. 636/40, J. to Sir R. Verney, 7 Aug. 1685.
  • 13 Verney ms mic. 636/31, J. to Sir R. Verney, 9 May 1678.
  • 14 Bodl. Tanner 39, f. 150; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 352; HMC 4th Rep. 228.
  • 15 Verney ms mic. 636/32, Sir R. to E. Verney, 20 Mar. 1678[-9]; A. Nicholas to Sir R. Verney, 10 Oct. 1681; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 103; 1680-1, p. 292.
  • 16 HMC Rutland, ii. 58.
  • 17 Add. 75362, [Sir W. Coventry] to Halifax, 27 Feb. [1682].
  • 18 Bodl. Carte 216, f. 39.
  • 19 Suss. Arch. Coll. xcvi. 96.
  • 20 Suss. N. and Q. xii. 135.
  • 21 Holmes, Pol. Relig. and Soc. 294; Eg. 3359, Bank stockholders, 25 Mar. 1710; HMC Rutland, ii. 76-77.
  • 22 Habakkuk, Marriage, Debt and Estate System, 92; Suss. Arch. Coll. xcvi. 96.
  • 23 Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 199.
  • 24 Reresby Mems. 281; CSP Dom. 1682, p. 533.
  • 25 Verney ms mic. 636/37, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 22 Mar. 1682[-3].
  • 26 Wood, Life and Times, iii. 38; CP, xii. pt. 1, p.78; HMC Buccleuch, i. 215.
  • 27 CSP Dom. 1683 July-Sept., pp. 26, 182; HMC Dartmouth, iii. 124.
  • 28 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 12, f. 37; Beinecke Lib. Osborne mss 1, box 1, folder 39, Yard to Poley, 7 Jan. 1683/4; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, ii. 463.
  • 29 Northants. RO, Finch Hatton mss FH4391.
  • 30 Morrice, Entring Bk, ii. 452; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 300; Bodl. ms Eng. Hist. c.711, f. 2.
  • 31 CSP Dom. 1685, p. 155.
  • 32 HMC 11th Rep. II, 306; Morrice, Entring Bk, iii. 18; HMC 3rd Rep. 96-99.
  • 33 Morrice, Entring Bk, iii. 80-81, 223; Verney ms mic. 636/41, Dr H. Paman to Sir R. Verney, n.d. [17 Aug. 1686].
  • 34 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iii. 338; iv. 55; Luttrell, i. 401; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 42, f. 177.
  • 35 Reresby Mems. 459.
  • 36 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iv. 160; HMC Downshire, i. 252.
  • 37 POAS, iv. 111.
  • 38 Add. 72517, ff. 15-18; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 42, f. 240; Ellis Corresp. i. 317; HMC Dartmouth, i. 135.
  • 39 HMC Downshire, i. 272.
  • 40 Squibb, High Court of Chivalry, 90; HMC Downshire, i. 275; Osborne mss 1, box 2, folder 73, [-] to Edmund Poley, 18 Nov. 1687.
  • 41 Heraldic Cases in Ct. of Chivalry, 1623-1732 ed. Squibb (Harl. Soc. cvii.), 60.
  • 42 Squibb, 99-100; HMC 11th Rep. II, 307-8.
  • 43 HMC Le Fleming, 211.
  • 44 Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 43, ff. 180-81.
  • 45 Tanner 28. f. 179.
  • 46 Osborne mss 1, ser. II, box 4, folder 189; Life of James II, i. 233.
  • 47 Kingdom Without A King, 115, 124, 153, 158, 165.
  • 48 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, iv. 400-1, 426.
  • 49 Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/24, Tickell to Sir J. Lowther, 6 Jan. 1688/9.
  • 50 Reresby Mems. 551.
  • 51 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk, v. 7, 15, 45, 120; Swift Works, vii. 13.
  • 52 CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 22.
  • 53 HMC 12th Rep. VI, 279.
  • 54 HMC 13th Rep. V. 12.
  • 55 HEHL, Ellesmere mss 9909.
  • 56 Verney ms mic. 636/44, A. Denton to Sir R. Verney, (2 Nov.) 1690.
  • 57 WSHC, Ailesbury mss 1300/787, G. Harcourt to duchess of Beaufort, 1 Jan. 1690[-1].
  • 58 Add. 61474, ff. 84-87.
  • 59 HMC Finch, iii. 108.
  • 60 HMC 3rd Rep. 101.
  • 61 Lancs. RO, Kenyon mss DDK 1615/9.
  • 62 Osborne mss 1, box 2, folder 98, R. Warre to Poley, 16 Feb. 1691/2.
  • 63 Gregg, Q. Anne, 88; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 365; Add. 61414, f. 201; Swift Works, vii. 13.
  • 64 Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 476.
  • 65 HMC 7th Rep. 211.
  • 66 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 5.
  • 67 ST, xii. 1048-9.
  • 68 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 36, 39, 44; Wood, iii. 416-17; Tanner 25, f. 8.
  • 69 HMC 14th Rep. VI, 320-21; Luttrell Diary, 383, 480.
  • 70 HMC Rutland, ii. 148.
  • 71 Add. 57862, ff. 5-6.
  • 72 HMC 7th Rep. 219.
  • 73 Castle Howard, J8/37/3, Somerset to Carlisle, 17 Apr. 1694.
  • 74 AAW, Browne pprs. 165, [?] to Vanderling [Brown], 8 May 1694.
  • 75 Castle Howard, J8/37/6, Somerset to Carlisle, 10 Oct. 1694.
  • 76 LPL ms. 2730/2, copy, n.d.
  • 77 Castle Howard, J8/37/13, Somerset to Carlisle, 29 June 1695, J8/1/679, same to same, 30 Aug. 1695.
  • 78 Add. 40771, f. 75; 72533, ff. 134-5.
  • 79 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 127, 134, 140.
  • 80 Carte 130, f. 377.
  • 81 HMC Lords, n.s. i. 371-2.
  • 82 HMC Kenyon, 418; Verney ms. mic. 636/50, A. Nicholas to Sir J. Verney, 30 Sept. 1697.
  • 83 Add. 72486, ff. 153-54.
  • 84 CSP Dom. 1697, p. 479.
  • 85 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/L1/1/36/7, Godolphin to Lonsdale, 2 June 1698.
  • 86 HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 256.
  • 87 Lowther Corresp. 648; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 142; Add. 75370, [Gwyn to Halifax], 10 Aug. 1698.
  • 88 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 604; Petworth, Egremont mss, 14, Tankerville to Somerset, 20, 21 July 1698, 15, Rochester to same, 30 July [1698]; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 368.
  • 89 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, p. 163; HMC Portland, iii. 604; Luttrell, iv. 560.
  • 90 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 18.
  • 91 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 108.
  • 92 HMC Portland, iv. 3.
  • 93 Egremont mss 14, Montagu to Somerset, 17 Aug. 1700; Add. 72539, f. 71.
  • 94 Egremont mss 15, Carlisle to Somerset, 19 Sept. [1700].
  • 95 Castle Howard, J8/1/685, Somerset to Carlisle, 2 Oct. 1700.
  • 96 HMC Bath, iii. 427, 428; Bagot mss, Levens Hall, Weymouth to Grahme, 15 Nov. 1700.
  • 97 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/3, James to Sir John Lowther, 9 Nov. 1700.
  • 98 Add. 28927, f. 127; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 616.
  • 99 Carte 228, ff. 389-90; PROB 11/459.
  • 100 Macky, Mems. 17; Swift Works, vii. 13; CP, xii. pt. 1, p. 78.
  • 101 Add. 70272, `Large Acct. Revolution and Succession’ [draft, n.d.]; Horwitz, Parl. Pol. 297.
  • 102 W. Yorks. AS (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss TN/P0 10/4, Somerset to Irwin, 13 Nov. 1701.
  • 103 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/4, J. to Sir J. Lowther, 13 Nov., 30 Dec. 1701, 1 Jan., 24 Feb. 1701[-2].Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 162.
  • 104 Clarendon Corresp. ii. 422; Private Corresp. of Duch. of Marlborough, (1838), i. 250; POAS, vi. 624.
  • 105 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/4, James to Sir J. Lowther, 27 Jan. 1701[-2]; Luttrell, v. 135.
  • 106 TNA, PRO 30/24/20, ff. 135-36.
  • 107 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 26 Feb. 1702.
  • 108 Gregg, 152.
  • 109 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 213.
  • 110 Horwitz, Rev. Pols. 167.
  • 111 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 7 May 1702.
  • 112 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/4, James to Sir J. Lowther, 19 Mar. 1702.
  • 113 Kent HLC (CKS), Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Somerset to Stanhope, 2 July 1702.
  • 114 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 125, 718; Add. 29588, f. 39.
  • 115 HMC Portland, iv. 37; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 192; CSP Dom. 1702-3, pp. 488-9.
  • 116 Add. 61498-500.
  • 117 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 194, 223; HMC Portland, iv. 48.
  • 118 Nicolson, London Diaries, 136; PH, xvi. 209.
  • 119 Nicolson, London Diaries, 163.
  • 120 Add. 70075, newsletter, 19 Jan. 1702/3.
  • 121 HMC Lords, n.s. v. 192, 194.
  • 122 Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Somerset to Stanhope, 12 Mar. 1702/3.
  • 123 Badminton House, Coventry pprs. FMT/A4/3/30.
  • 124 Luttrell, v. 293; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 204.
  • 125 Add. 61416, ff. 86-87.
  • 126 Stud. in Dip. Hist. ed. Hatton and Anderson, 58.
  • 127 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 218, 227n.
  • 128 Boston Public Lib. Somerset mss (K.5.5), Stanhope to Somerset, 15 Aug.1703, [Somers to Somerset], 2 Sept. [1703].
  • 129 HMC Rutland, ii. 177.
  • 130 PH, x. 170; Add. 70075, newsletter, 21 Dec. 1705; HMC Lords, n.s. v. 301; HMC Rutland, ii. 177; Luttrell, v. 353.
  • 131 Add. 70075, newsletter, 25 Dec. 1705, 8 Feb. 1703[-4]; Luttrell, v. 374-75, 383-84.
  • 132 PH, x. 171-2.
  • 133 Osborne mss 163, box 1, Biscoe to Maunsell, 26 Feb. 1703[-4]; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 45, ff. 37-38.
  • 134 PH, x. 172.
  • 135 KSRL, Simpson-Methuen corresp., ms C163, Simpson to Methuen, 28 Mar. 1704.
  • 136 Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Somerset to Stanhope, 28 Mar. 1704.
  • 137 Glassey, JPs, 160-61.
  • 138 Horwitz, Rev. Pols. 196.
  • 139 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 45, ff. 69-70.
  • 140 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 280-1.
  • 141 Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Somerset to Stanhope, 30 May 1704.
  • 142 Add. 70075, newsletter, 27 June 1704; 61134, f. 51; 61416, ff. 180-83.
  • 143 Simpson-Methuen corresp. ms C163, Simpson to Methuen, 19 Sept. 1704.
  • 144 Somerset mss, K.5.5 [Somerset to Mr Humfreys], n.d.
  • 145 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 462-63, 474; HMC Portland, iv. 146; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 396-8.
  • 146 Nicolson, London Diaries, 238, 252-53.
  • 147 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 506.
  • 148 Glassey, JPs. 163.
  • 149 HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 287.
  • 150 PH, x. 173.
  • 151 Simpson-Methuen corresp. ms C163, Simpson to Methuen, 27 Feb. 1705.
  • 152 Evelyn Diary, v. 587.
  • 153 PROB 11/481; Verney ms mic. 636/52, Cave to Fermanagh, 25 Mar. 1704/5; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 541.
  • 154 PRO 30/24/20/87, Somers to Shaftesbury, n.d.
  • 155 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/8, Lowther to Sir John Lowther, 20 Feb. 1704[05].
  • 156 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 125, 686; Eg. 929, f. 72.
  • 157 Add. 61134, ff. 53-54.
  • 158 Ibid.
  • 159 HMC Portland, iv. 185, 190, 213, 270.
  • 160 Add. 61134, f. 55; Luttrell, v. 585.
  • 161 Add. 72490, f. 57; Cowper Diary, ed. Hawtrey (Roxburghe Club 49), 5-7.
  • 162 Herts. ALS, Cowper (Panshanger) mss DE/P/F56, Somerset to Cowper, 22, 27 Nov. 1705.
  • 163 Cowper Diary, 34.
  • 164 HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 7; CSP Dom. 1705-6, p. 74.
  • 165 PH, x. 178.
  • 166 Nicolson, London Diaries, 383, 385; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 400.
  • 167 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/3/8, Littleton to [Sir J. Lowther], 2 Mar. 1705/6.
  • 168 SP34/7/58, f. 108.
  • 169 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi 59.
  • 170 LJ xviii. 212.
  • 171 HMC Portland, ii. 196-7; Verney ms mic. 636/53, R. Palmer to Fermanagh, 22 Oct. 1706.
  • 172 Stanhope mss, U1590/C9/28, Somerset to Stanhope, 29 Oct. 1706.
  • 173 HMC Portland, ii. 198; UNL, Portland (Holles) mss, Pw2 191, 194.
  • 174 C104/116, pt 1, 15 Dec. 1706.
  • 175 PH, x. 173-4.
  • 176 Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Somerset to Stanhope, 12 Feb. 1706/7.
  • 177 HMC Portland, ii. 199, 224-5.
  • 178 Osborne mss fc 37, vol. 10, no. lxix, Somerset to Manchester, 19 Aug. 1707.
  • 179 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 204; Add. 61134, f. 61; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 918; Burnet, History (1833), 340.
  • 180 Badminton House, Coventry pprs. FMT/A4/3/30.
  • 181 Holmes, Pol. Relig. and Soc. 68; PRO 30/24/141, 235.
  • 182 HEHL, Stowe 57 (2), pp. 5-7.
  • 183 Holmes, Brit. Pols. 110-11, 229.
  • 184 Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scot. 1707-27, 95.
  • 185 Swift Corresp. ed. Woolley, i. 175.
  • 186 HMC Portland, iv. 479, 482.
  • 187 Staffs. RO, D868/6/36c, Wyndham to Gower, (copy).
  • 188 Addison Letters, 105-6; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 111, 125.
  • 189 Add. 61459, f. 36.
  • 190 Add. 61459, ff. 36, 56; Holmes, Brit. Pols. 238; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1031.
  • 191 Add. 61549, f. 66.
  • 192 HMC Portland, iv. 506-7.
  • 193 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1129.
  • 194 Add. 61459, f. 115.
  • 195 Ibid. ff. 116, 119, 121.
  • 196 Add. 61457, ff. 3-5.
  • 197 Leics. RO, Finch mss, DG 7, box 4950, bdle. 23, A44, Guernsey to Nottingham, 27 Dec. 1708.
  • 198 Add. 72488, ff. 40-41; HMC Downshire, i. 867.
  • 199 Add. 61134, ff. 68-69.
  • 200 Wentworth Pprs. 73.
  • 201 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1217-8.
  • 202 Nicolson, London Diaries, 483; HMC Egmont, ii. 236; PH, x. 179.
  • 203 Add. 72488, ff. 60-61; PH, x. 180.
  • 204 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1242, 1247, 1294, 1346, 1349; Add. 75400, Somerset to [duchess of Marlborough], 23 May [1709].
  • 205 Add. 61459, ff. 180-81, 185.
  • 206 Wentworth Pprs. 98.
  • 207 Add. 61134, ff. 72-77; 61460, f. 77.
  • 208 Add. 61460, ff. 39-42.
  • 209 Priv. Corr. DM. i. 249-51, 252; Add. 61460, f. 94.
  • 210 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1396-7, 1402, 1404.
  • 211 Ibid. 1371-2, 1387, 1393-5.
  • 212 Add. 61460, ff. 158, 162-4.
  • 213 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1416.
  • 214 PH, x. 180.
  • 215 Wentworth Pprs. 108-9.
  • 216 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1432.
  • 217 Swift Works, vii. 14.
  • 218 HMC Portland, iv. 535-6, 666.
  • 219 Ibid. iv. 536, 666.
  • 220 Holmes, Brit. Pols. 202.
  • 221 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1433-4.
  • 222 Holmes, Trial of Doctor Sacheverell, 211; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 514; Burnet, v. 446.
  • 223 HMC Portland, iv. 537.
  • 224 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1437.
  • 225 Ibid. 1440, 1451, 1457; Holmes, Sacheverell, 226, 229; Clavering Corresp. (Surtees Soc. clxxviii), 74.
  • 226 Holmes, Brit. Pols. 297-8; HEHL, Stowe mss 57 (3), p. 204.
  • 227 Clavering Corresp. 76.
  • 228 Add. 61461, f. 63; Holmes, Brit. Pols. 503n 33.
  • 229 Egremont mss 14, Shrewsbury to Somerset, 9 Apr. 1710; Add. 61118, ff. 30-35; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1465.
  • 230 Add. 61460, f. 209.
  • 231 Ibid. f. 217.
  • 232 Add. 61461, f. 1; Private Corresp. of Duch. of Marlborough i. 316-17; PH, x. 180.
  • 233 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1488; Add. 61461, f. 40.
  • 234 Ibid. 1497, 1501, 1508, 1518; Add. 57862, ff. 56-59.
  • 235 Add. 61418, ff. 124-8.
  • 236 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1539.
  • 237 Add. 61460, f. 190.
  • 238 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1554; Egremont mss 14, Berkeley to Somerset, 10 July 1710; Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to Gilpin, 11, 13, 22 July, 1 Aug. 1710.
  • 239 Add. 70256, Somerset to [Harley], 18 July [1710].
  • 240 Burnet, vi. 7; Wentworth Pprs. 128; Gregg, 319.
  • 241 NLS, Yester mss 7021, f. 233.
  • 242 Hamilton Diary, 15, 76.
  • 243 Egremont mss 15, Arygll to Somerset, 29 [Aug.] n.s. [1710].
  • 244 Addison Letters, 233.
  • 245 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1603; Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to Gilpin, 15 Aug. 1710.
  • 246 HMC Portland, iv. 570, 579; HP, Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 125-27.
  • 247 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1613, 1618; Cam. Misc. xxvi. 149; HMC Portland, iv. 575; Add. 61461, ff. 80-81.
  • 248 Bagot mss, Bromley to James Grahme, 1 Sept. 1710.
  • 249 Add. 70333, Harley’s memo. 4 Sept. 1710; PH, xxix. 304.
  • 250 CTB, xxiv. 449-50; Luttrell, vi. 633.
  • 251 HMC Portland, iv. 592.
  • 252 HMC Portland, ii. 218; Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to Gilpin, 14 Sept. 1710.
  • 253 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1634.
  • 254 Add. 61461, ff. 85-86.
  • 255 Wentworth Pprs. 143.
  • 256 Mellerstain, Haddington mss, Mellerstain letters IV, [?Roxburgh to Baille] 19 Sept. 1710; Clavering Corresp. 98.
  • 257 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to Gilpin, 21 Sept. 1710.
  • 258 Addison Letters, 240-42.
  • 259 Wentworth Pprs. 143-44.
  • 260 Burnet, vi. 14; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1644; HMC Portland, ii. 221-2.
  • 261 Wentworth Pprs. 145.
  • 262 Add. 61463, ff. 77-78.
  • 263 Ibid. ff. 75-76.
  • 264 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1648.
  • 265 Wentworth Pprs. 149-50.
  • 266 HMC Portland, ii. 223.
  • 267 Stanhope mss U1590/140/12, Craggs to Stanhope, 3 Nov. 1710.
  • 268 Add. 61456, ff. 70-72; Wentworth Pprs. 154.
  • 269 Add. 61134, f. 59; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 594, 907.
  • 270 Sainty and Buckholz, Royal Household, i. 7.
  • 271 Cowper Diary, 50.
  • 272 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 674.
  • 273 Nicolson, London Diaries, 555.
  • 274 HMC Lords, n.s. ix. 127.
  • 275 HMC Portland, iv. 676, 693; Holmes, ‘Great Ministry’, 124, 131; Add. 70027, f. 110.
  • 276 Add. 61479, ff. 14-15.
  • 277 Swift Corresp. i. 371.
  • 278 Swift, Jnl. to Stella, 331-2; Holmes, ‘Great Ministry’, 135-7; Swift Corresp. i. 371; Add. 61134, f. 142.
  • 279 Cowper (Panshanger) mss DE/P/F56, Somerset to Cowper, 28 Aug. 1711.
  • 280 Swift Works, vii. 15.
  • 281 Holmes, ‘Great Ministry’, 142-5.
  • 282 Add. 70256, Somerset to Oxford, 25 Sept. [1711].
  • 283 HMC Portland, v. 118-19.
  • 284 PH, xxviii. 199.
  • 285 Jnl. to Stella, 433, 436.
  • 286 Wentworth Pprs. 223; Bolingbroke Corresp, ii. 49.
  • 287 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to Gilpin, 11 Dec. 1711.
  • 288 Wentworth Pprs. 225.
  • 289 Wentworth Pprs. 232-34; Gregg, 352.
  • 290 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 613; Cowdray Archives, ed. Dibben, ii. 312.
  • 291 Wentworth Pprs. 252.
  • 292 Jnl. to Stella, 450; PH, xxiv. (supp), 13.
  • 293 Wentworth Pprs. 257; Hamilton Diary, 37-40.
  • 294 Cowper (Panshanger) mss DE/P/F56, Somerset to Cowper, sat. aft. [26 Jan. 1712].
  • 295 HMC Portland, v. 163; Nicolson, London Diaries, 598.
  • 296 Devonshire mss at Chatsworth, Townshend to [Devonshire], 1 May [1712]; Holmes, Brit. Pols. 309.
  • 297 Wentworth Pprs. 289.
  • 298 Ibid. 325.
  • 299 Hamilton Diary, 53-54.
  • 300 Add. 72500, f. 159.
  • 301 BLJ, xix. 169.
  • 302 Add. 70331.
  • 303 C.E. Vulliamy, Onslow Fam. 31-32.
  • 304 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/46, Lowther to Gilpin, 4 July 1713.
  • 305 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 127; Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Somerset to Stanhope, 23 Sept. 1713; Bagot mss, Weymouth to James Grahme, 25 Sept. 1713.
  • 306 HMC Portland, v. 377-78.
  • 307 Add. 70331, Oxford memo. 7 May 1714; Holmes, ‘Great Ministry’, 387.
  • 308 Leics. RO, Finch mss DG7 box 4960 P.P. 161.
  • 309 Add. 70331, Oxford’s memo. 8 June 1714; Holmes, Brit. Pols. 216.
  • 310 HMC Portland, v. 478, 662; Swift Corresp. ii. 34; Trevelyn, Eng. Under Q. Anne, iii. 302; Add. 72501, ff. 152-53.
  • 311 Wentworth Pprs. 408; Add. 70278, ‘Electorice’s Regents copied by earl Rivers at Hanover’; NLS, Avocates mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 146-47.
  • 312 Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/3/15, John Cockell to James Lowther, 19 Aug.
  • 313 Add. 72502, f. 1.
  • 314 Wentworth Pprs. 419.
  • 315 CP, xii. pt. 1, p. 79; Mems. of Life, Family and Character of Charles Seymour, Duke of Somerset, 62-63.
  • 316 Pols in Age of Anne, 226; Add. 61416, ff. 182-83; Ailesbury Mems. 534; Macky, Mems. 17; Burnet, vi. 34; Add. 61118, ff. 25-27; N. and Q. ser. 2, iv. 305.