Chapter 3 The soap opera inspiring period of the tudors and the seymours, 16

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Catherine Fillol
“Catherine Fillol (born c. 1507) was the daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Fillol, of Woodlands, Horton, Dorset, and of Fillol's Hall, Essex
She became before 1519, at the age of 12, the first wife of Edward Seymour, who went on to become the first Duke of Somerset of a new creation, Lord Protector of England and the uncle of King Edward VI, after his sister Jane married King Henry VIII. Seymour's own marriage to Fillol was annulled before the rise in the Seymours' fortunes, when it was alleged that she was having an affair with his father, Sir John Seymour. The marriage was annulled, around 1535, and Seymour married secondly Anne Stanhope. Catherine is rumoured to have gone to a local convent. The timing here is very important. Note that the marriage was annulled in 1535, the same year that our John was born, and while she was rumoured to have been in a convent.
Catherine had two sons, John Seymour (buried 19 December 1552), who died unmarried and without issue (in the Tower just after Edward was executed), and Edward Seymour. It is unclear when she died, with some sources giving the date as 1535, when she was only around twenty-eight years old and others stating 1552, the same year that her former husband was executed for treason. It’s a reasonable question to wonder why the daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Fillol, of Woodlands, Horton, Dorset, and of Fillol's Hall, Essex, just disappeared without a trace. It’s not as though she were some peasant kid. The key here is the 1535 date, though. Also recall that Edward is the Lord of Hertford, in the county of Hertfordshire where our John was raised, and apparently had no parents according to extensive records searches by genealogists.
Edward Seymour had seven more children by his second wife (recall the story of Anne Stanhope in the Foreword), including his heir Edward Seymour (so he had two sons named Edward, which is confusing. In fact, I sometimes have a hard time following all of the names and titles, which is why I’m constantly adding explanatory notes). When he was later created Duke of Somerset, his children by his first marriage were still considered illegitimate, but the patent of nobility provides that the dukedom is to descend first to his heirs by Anne, and only in the event of the failure of that line to his heirs by Catherine. However, Fillol was the ancestress of the Seymour Baronets of Berry Pomeroy Castle, who in 1750 inherited the Dukedom of Somerset, according to the planned reversion, so that her descendants include the present Duke.”
So, Catherine’s sons ended up inheriting everything 200 years later when Edward’s second wife’s line came to an end. Interesting that his second wife, Anne Stanhope, was the granddaughter of King Edward III, and therefore a more beneficial pairing for him.
Let’s take a look at Thomas Seymour, who was easily the most ambitious of the lot, and that’s saying something:,_1st_Baron_Seymour_of_Sudeley

Sir Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley KG (c. 1508 – 20 March 1549) was an English politician.
Early years
Seymour was a son of Sir John Seymour and the former Margery Wentworth. Sir John and Lady Seymour had eight surviving children; the eldest was Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, the second, Thomas. He was an older brother of Jane Seymour, the third Queen consort of King Henry VIII of England and mother of Edward VI. After the death of that king, Thomas Seymour married Henry VIII's sixth wife and widow, Catherine Parr.”
This is an important difference between our line, which includes the current Duke of Somerset, John Michael Seymour, and the line of Edward and Thomas. Their mother, Margery Wentworth includes the Cheney family, as her grandmother was Elizabeth Cheney. Hmmmmmmm. One must understand the US presidency of George Bush II and Vice President Cheney to understand my scepticism here, but the blind ambition displayed by Sir John and Margery’s children might be explained this way. It appears that Catherine Fillol’s line has a bit more integrity, but of course, I’m biased.
“Thomas spent his childhood in Wulfhall, outside Savernake Forest, in Wiltshire. Historian David Starkey describes Thomas thus: 'tall, well-built and with a dashing beard and auburn hair, he was irresistible to women'. A prominent Tudor courtier, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, described Thomas Seymour as 'hardy, wise and liberal...fierce in courage, courtly in fashion, in personage stately, in voice magnificent, but somewhat empty of matter'.
Family's royal connection through marriage
The Seymour family's power grew during Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn, to whom Jane became a lady in waiting. As Anne failed to give King Henry a son, the Seymour brothers saw an opportunity to push their sister Jane in the King's direction. Henry married Jane eleven days after Anne's execution in May 1536 (in the Wikipedia account, the same day, or the day after), and she gave birth to their son and only child (future King Edward VI) in October of the following year.”
Here again, the timing is important, the year after Catherine Fillol was secreted away to a convent after having an affair with Sir John. It was rumoured that the affair was discovered due to Catherine’s pregnancy which occurred while Edward was away.....
“It was the elder brother, Edward Seymour, who benefited most from his sister's marriage to the King. Historians have speculated whether the division between Edward and Thomas began at that time, as Thomas unsurprisingly began to resent his brother and the relationship between them began to dissolve. Although Thomas was named Lord High Admiral, he was consumed by jealousy of his brother's power and influence.
In 1543, John Nevill, 3rd Baron Latymer, died leaving a wealthy widow, formerly Catherine Parr. An attachment then developed between Catherine and Thomas. Unfortunately for Thomas, Henry VIII also became interested in Catherine and eventually married her, having been impressed with her dignity and intelligence. Jealous of Seymour's attentions to Catherine, the King sent Thomas away on a diplomatic mission to the Netherlands.
Henry VIII died in January 1547, leaving Catherine one of the wealthiest women in England. Thomas had been made Master-General of the Ordnance in 1544 and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1545. He returned to court a few months before Henry's death and saw his brother Edward become Lord Protector of England and, in effect, ruler of the realm as Regent for his nephew, Henry VIII's minor son and successor, the short-lived Edward VI. As part of an 'unfulfilled gifts clause' left unmentioned in Henry's will, Thomas was granted the title Baron Seymour of Sudeley. However, Thomas' fervent desire was to unseat and replace his brother as Lord Protector.
Though Thomas Seymour's name had been linked to Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond, he was still unmarried at the time of the King's death. One view is that Thomas schemed to marry either Princess Mary or Princess Elizabeth, Henry VIII's daughters by his first two marriages, and there were rumours that he attempted to pursue a relationship with Elizabeth, still in her early teens. If he hoped for such a marriage as a route to power, he was unsuccessful, though his secret marriage to Catherine Parr, Elizabeth's guardian, in late April of 1547 was viewed by some as an attempt to become close to the young princess. Certainly, many regarded this marriage as having occurred too quickly after the King's death. Anne Stanhope, Somerset's proud wife, disliked Catherine and Thomas and began to turn many people in court against them. To demonstrate her hatred, Anne kept the Queen's jewels, which by right were Catherine's.
Princess Elizabeth, Catherine Parr's ward, had gone to live with her stepmother in Chelsea after Henry VIII's death. Thomas, therefore, acquired the guardianship of Elizabeth and also of Lady Jane Grey, another young member of the household. The overly-ambitious Thomas started to make advances toward Elizabeth, sneaking into 'the Lady Elizabeth's chamber before she was ready, and sometimes before she did rise; and if she were up he would bid her good morrow and ask how she did, and strike her upon the back or on the buttocks familiarly....' Thomas, while doing this, was often only partly dressed. He was forty; she was just fourteen. As gossip began to spread, Kat Ashley, Elizabeth's governess, implored Seymour to quit his bedroom antics with the princess. Indignant, Thomas retorted, 'By God's precious soul, I mean no evil, and I will not leave it!' Strange episodes followed as he continued his advances towards Elizabeth. Elizabeth was confused by these affairs. Sometimes she acted as if it were all a game; other times she would become offended. Although Elizabeth's governess at one time averred that the Queen had found Elizabeth in Seymour's arms (implying a sexual encounter or close to it), she later withdrew the story. Catherine did, nevertheless, try to save Elizabeth's reputation by sending her away to the house of Anthony Denny in Hertfordshire. However, when Catherine died in childbirth in August 1548, Thomas renewed his attentions to the Princess.
Thomas also bribed a man called John Fowler, one of King Edward VI's closest servants, from whom he received information that the King frequently complained about the lack of pocket money he received. Thomas smuggled money to the King and began to voice open disapproval of his brother's administrative skills. As Lord High Admiral, he was able to control the English navy, and he openly asked people for support in case of a coup. As admiral, he also encouraged piracy, allowing pirates safe passage in exchange for shares of their booty. He was completely and thoroughly indiscreet in his bid for power.

Thomas seems also to have hoped to finance a coup by bribing the vice-treasurer of the Bristol Mint, Sir William Sharington. Sharington was responsible for debasing the coinage in Bristol and he had been fiddling the account books and keeping the majority of the profit. When Thomas learned of the scheme, he blackmailed Sharington.

Thomas' downfall
By the end of 1548, Thomas' plans had been reported to the Privy Council by an informant. The Bristol Mint was investigated and Sharington revealed all. Somerset attempted to protect his brother and called a council meeting that Thomas was supposed to attend in order to explain his actions. However, Thomas did not appear and developed a plan to kidnap the King.

On the night of the 16th of January, Thomas broke into the King's apartments at Hampton Court Palace. He entered the privy garden and awoke one of the King's pet spaniels. Alerted by the dog, the guards arrested Thomas, and he was sent to the Tower of London.

Fantastic! Hollywood couldn’t write it any better. Sir Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral of one of the largest Navies in the world, was sneaking through the palace garden in the middle of the night in order to kidnap his nephew, King of England, but woke up a spaniel who barked and gave him away, and he got arrested. That’s beautiful.
On 18 January, the council sent agents to question everyone associated with Thomas, including Princess Elizabeth, who by now was suspected of a sexual relationship with him and even of being pregnant with his child, and possibly of being involved with him in a plot to seize the throne from her half-brother, Edward VI.
On 22 February, the council officially accused him of thirty-three charges of treason. Somerset (his big brother, in case you’ve lost track) delayed signing the death warrant, so the council went to Edward VI (his nephew) for his signature. On 20 March, Seymour was executed at the Tower, dying 'dangerously, irksomely and horribly.' His daughter by Catherine Parr, Mary Seymour, was placed in the care of the Duchess of Suffolk, Catherine Brandon. Mary should have been left wealthy, but her mother, dying at her birth, had left her entire fortune to Thomas. When Thomas was executed, the crown confiscated everything he had, including Catherine's bequest. The child appears to have died around the age of two, when she disappears from the historical record. The title 'Baron of Sudeley' passed to Catherine Parr's brother, William. Here again, sorry to be so cynical, but the daughter of the Queen of England just disappears from the historical record?
It is falsely alleged that upon hearing of his death, Princess Elizabeth remarked, 'Today died a man with much wit and very little judgment.' It seems true, however, that whatever the truth was about her experience with Thomas Seymour, Elizabeth afterwards became considerably more wary in her interactions with men.
Here’s a short biography of King Edward, King Henry the VIII’s and Jane Seymour’s son. He didn’t really do much during his short life, and didn’t live long enough to become so corrupt. Please excuse the repetition of information previously included.
Edward VI was king of England from 1547 to 1553. He was born in 1537 at Hampton Court and died in 1553. He was the son of Henry VIII by Jane Seymour. Being only nine at his accession a council of regency was formed under his uncle the Earl of Hertford. Edward VI was intellectually precocious (fluent in Greek and Latin, he kept a full journal of his reign) but not physically robust. His short reign was dominated by nobles using the Regency to strengthen their own positions. The King's Council, previously dominated by Henry, succumbed to existing factionalism. On Henry's death, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and soon to be Duke of Somerset, the new King's eldest uncle, became Protector. Edward Seymour was an able soldier; he led a punitive expedition against the Scots, for their failure to fulfill their promise to betroth Mary, Queen of Scots to Edward, which led to Edward Seymour's victory at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 - although he failed to follow this up with satisfactory peace terms.
During Edward VI's reign, the Church of England became more explicitly Protestant - Edward VI himself was fiercely Protestant. The Book of Common Prayer was introduced in 1549, aspects of Roman Catholic practices (including statues and stained glass) were eradicated and the marriage of clergy allowed. The imposition of the Prayer Book (which replaced Latin services with English) led to rebellions in Cornwall and Devon.
This is actually historically significant. The Seymours played a major role in breaking England away from the Catholic Church and the Pope after Henry VIII got the ball rolling. This single fact changed the course of English, and therefore American and World history.
Despite his military ability, Edward Seymour was too liberal to deal effectively with Kett's rebellion against land enclosures in Norfolk. Edward Seymour was left isolated in the Council and the Duke of Northumberland subsequently overthrew him in 1551. Edward Seymour was executed in 1552, an event which was briefly mentioned by Edward VI in his diary: 'Today, the Duke of Somerset had his head cut off on Tower Hill.' Yawn. I guess he was getting used to seeing family members executed by this time. Edward’s oldest son John, with Catherine Fillol, also died just a few months after Edward’s execution at a young age. Very little is known about him, and I think there’s something suspicious about that, and wish that I knew more about why he died so soon after his father, and was never married. Maybe it had something to do with his fathers’ suspicions about his parentage?
Northumberland took greater trouble to charm and influence Edward VI; his powerful position as Lord President of the Council was based on his personal ascendancy over the King. However, the young King was ailing. Northumberland hurriedly married his son Lord Guilford Dudley to Lady Jane Grey, one of Henry VIII's great-nieces and a claimant to the throne. Edward VI accepted Lady Jane Grey as his heir (instead of Mary and Elizabeth, who ended up as Queens, and understandably, not big fans of the Seymour family) and, on his death from tuberculosis (at age 15, shortly after his uncles had been executed, and under the constant attendance of John Dudley, who some believed to have poisoned the King, but that’s pure unsubstantiated rumor.) in 1553, Lady Jane Grey assumed the throne.”
A common trivia question in England: Who was the last Tudor King? That would be Edward VI. Following him was Lady Jane Grey for 9 days, who was pushed into office by the same John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who led the Coup to overthrow Edward. Before dying, Edward VI signed papers to install Dudley’s daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey onto the throne. While he was off trying to arrest Princess Ann a few days later, he was betrayed by the Council and arrested. He begged for his life and disavowed his protestant beliefs and accepted Catholicism, but was executed anyway. Afterward he was vilified for having plotted for years against Thomas and Edward Seymour, and even the King. During this time Edward Seymour was proclaimed the “Good Duke”, and John Dudley the “Wicked Duke”. Some say he was a convenient scapegoat for the rest of the evildoers, which looks very possible.
Just before being executed, and after his wife Catherine Parr died, Thomas Seymour was trying to Marry Lady Jane Grey himself. After Thomas’ execution, Dudley tried to have her married to Edward’s oldest son Edward, but it never panned out.
On the whole, to me, it looks like Seymour and Dudley were two of a kind. Two of the top Generals of the day, who were also very ambitious, but weren’t very good politicians. Two of Seymour’s daughters, on Anne Stanhope’s side, were married to Dudley’s sons in attempts to bring peace, but they just couldn’t trust each other, and brought about each others’ destruction, being manipulated by those who were good at politics.
In a much smaller way, of course, I was similar, and wonder if such traits are genetic. Although I was the leader on the football field, which is a little like a military environment where performance is the only factor that matters, I was much less successful with corporate politics. At the office, although recognized as extremely competent in my work, I didn’t exactly rise to the top, nor even near it. In the military, as in sports, being liked is very secondary. If you kick ass, you’re number 1. If the other guys don’t like you, at least they respect you, and will do as you say. In the office, I’ve seen a lot of very mediocre performers rise ahead of superior talents due solely to their political skills. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same……
When Lady Grey was dethroned, “Bloody” Mary, for whom the cocktail was named, and granddaughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, and half sister of Edward VI, took over. Lady Jane, and her husband, the son of John Dudley, were both executed. She was only 16 at the time, and died with great dignity. She became a protestant martyr. Mary was queen for only five years, but managed to burn about 300 dissenters at the stake in order to bring back her Catholicism, which Henry VIII, the Seymours and Edward VI had managed to almost shed the country of. When she died in 1558, she was replaced by another of Edward’s half sisters, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth I, who spent a year in house arrest during Mary’s reign, ruled for 45 years, and brought back Protestantism to England, this time for good. As the daughter of Anne Boleyn, she was distantly related to the Seymours through the Cheney family, so not related to our branch through Catherine Fillol. Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour shared a great-grandmother in Elizabeth Cheney. Here we see how she dealt with the huge problem of Catholicism vs. Protestantism, which played a big role in the development of both England and America.
“Elizabeth and her advisors perceived the threat of a Catholic crusade against heretical England. Elizabeth therefore sought a Protestant solution that would not offend Catholics too greatly while addressing the desires of English Protestants; she would not tolerate the more radical Puritans though, who were pushing for far-reaching reforms. As a result, the parliament of 1559 started to legislate for a church based on the Protestant settlement of Edward VI, with the monarch as its head, but with many Catholic elements, such as priestly vestments.”
The Puritans then took off for America and Holland. They were even more anti-Catholic, and therefore Elizabeth thought they could create big problems during this period. What she proposed was a softer separation, which in America is the Episcopal Church, which in fact is what my grandparents Westley C. and Leone Dann Seymour practiced. It looks like Richard of Sawbridgeworth left for America seeking more economic opportunities than anything religious, but I’m not sure. When I was reading the history of the Leventhorpes in Sawbridgeworth I saw a letter written by one of them in the 1600’s about trying to escape religious persecution by sailing to France. They were Catholics, and having a hard time. With the Puritans headed to America, it wasn’t the place for Catholics. Anyway, our branch of the Seymour family obviously was never going to be recognized as what they were—Part of the Berry Pomeroy line, and future inheritors of the Dukedom of Somerset in 1750, so off to America where family names were largely meaningless.
Here’s a section from the Wikipedia site on Elizabeth I about she and Thomas Seymour-
“Henry VIII died in 1547, when Elizabeth was 13 years old, and was succeeded by her half brother, Edward VI. Catherine Parr, Henry's last wife, soon married Thomas Seymour of Sudeley, Edward VI's uncle and the brother of the Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset. The couple took Elizabeth into their household at Chelsea. There Elizabeth experienced an emotional crisis that some historians believe affected her for the rest of her life. Seymour, approaching age 40 but having charm and "a powerful sex appeal", engaged in romps and horseplay with the 14-year-old Elizabeth. These included entering her bedroom in his nightgown, tickling her and slapping her on the buttocks. Catherine Parr, rather than confront her husband over his inappropriate activities, joined in. Twice she accompanied him in tickling Elizabeth, and once held her while he cut her black gown "into a thousand pieces." However, after Catherine Parr discovered the pair in an embrace, she ended this state of affairs. In May 1548, Elizabeth was sent away.
Thomas Seymour continued scheming to control the royal family. When Catherine Parr died of puerperal fever after childbirth on 5 September 1548, he renewed his attentions towards Elizabeth, intent on wedding her. The details of his former behaviour towards Elizabeth emerged during an interrogation of Catherine Ashley and Thomas Parry, Elizabeth’s cofferer. For his brother and the council, this was the last straw, and in January 1549, Seymour was arrested on suspicion of plotting to marry Elizabeth and overthrow his brother. Elizabeth, living at Hatfield House, would admit nothing. Her stubbornness exasperated her interrogator, Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, who reported, "I do see it in her face that she is guilty". Seymour was beheaded on 20 March 1549.

From the start of Elizabeth's reign, it was expected that she would marry and the question arose whom. She never did, although she received many offers for her hand; the reasons for this are not clear. Historians have speculated that Thomas Seymour had put her off sexual relationships, or that she knew herself to be infertile. She almost married one of John Dudley’s sons, but it didn’t come to be because of political pressures by others who were opposed”

“By 1570, senior figures in the government privately accepted that Elizabeth would never marry or name a successor. William Cecil was already seeking solutions to the succession problem. For this stance, as for her failure to marry, she was often accused of irresponsibility. Elizabeth's silence strengthened her own political security: she knew that if she named an heir, her throne would be vulnerable to a coup.”
Elizabeth I was the last Tudor monarch. When she dies the throne passed to James Stuart of Scotland. The Seymours were still trying to marry into the royal succession, and for that reason 5 generations of Seymours spent time in the Tower of London. First, of course we’ve already seen what happened to Edward, Thomas, and John, an illegitimate son of Sir John who lived with Edward, and was his trusted advisor and apparently acted as his attorney as well. Now here’s Edward’s 3rd son, oldest surviving with Anne Stanhope, who was also named Edward:

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