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Somerset, FitzRoy James Henry [known as Lord FitzRoy Somerset], first Baron Raglanlocked

  • E. M. Lloyd
  • , revised by John Sweetman

FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, first Baron Raglan (1788–1855)

by Roger Fenton, 1855

Somerset, FitzRoy James Henry [known as Lord FitzRoy Somerset], first Baron Raglan (1788–1855), army officer, was the ninth and youngest son of Henry Somerset, fifth duke of Beaufort (1744–1803), and Elizabeth (1747–1828), daughter of Admiral Edward Boscawen (1711–1761). Lord Charles Henry Somerset (1767–1831), Lord (Robert) Edward Henry Somerset (1776–1842), and Lord John Thomas Henry Somerset [see below] were older brothers. Born at Badminton, Gloucestershire, on 30 September 1788, Somerset was educated at Goodenough's School, Ealing (1795–1801), and Westminster School (1802–3).

The Peninsular War

Somerset was commissioned cornet, by purchase, in the 4th light dragoons on 9 June 1804, and became lieutenant, by purchase, on 30 May 1805. In 1807 he accompanied the mission of Sir Arthur Paget to the Ottoman empire, which sought unsuccessfully to detach the sultan from his alliance with France. Of Somerset, Paget wrote: 'He is a most excellent Lad—I have the sincerest Regard for him' (Sweetman, 19). Somerset obtained a company as captain in the 6th garrison battalion on 5 May 1808, and on 18 August was transferred to the 43rd foot. Meanwhile, in July 1808, through the duke of Richmond's influence, he went to Portugal with Sir Arthur Wellesley as aide-de-camp, and was at the battles of Rolica (17 August 1808) and Vimeiro (21 August 1808). In action for the first time at Rolica he responded to Wellesley's query 'how do you feel under fire?' with 'better, sir, than I expected' (Sweetman, 23). On 27 August Wellesley wrote: 'Lord FitzRoy has been very useful to me, and I have this day lent him to Sir H. Dalrymple to go to the French headquarters' (Sweetman, 24) to assist peace negotiations.

After the defeated French had left Portugal, Somerset went home with Wellesley, but returned to the Peninsula with him in the spring of 1809, and served on his staff continuously until the close of the war. He was bearer of the dispatches after Talavera (28 July 1809), and was wounded at Busaco (27 September 1810). Appointed military secretary to the duke of Wellington on 1 January 1811, he established direct relations with the battalion commanders, by means of which he acquired, Sir William Napier observed in his History, 'an exact knowledge of the moral state of each regiment, rendered his own office important and gracious with the army, and with such discretion and judgment that the military hierarchy was in no manner weakened' (Sweetman, 32). He secured a brevet majority on 9 June, after Fuentes d'Oñoro.

Somerset distinguished himself at Badajoz, where he helped to persuade the French governor to surrender, and at Wellington's special request he was made brevet lieutenant-colonel on 27 April 1812. During the siege of Pamplona he succeeded in deciphering a message from its governor to Marshal Soult which came into Wellington's hands, leading to allied success. After the victory at Toulouse on 10 April 1814 Somerset went with Wellington to the victory parade in Paris and on to Spain before reaching England. Somerset received the gold cross with five clasps and silver war medal, also with five clasps, for the Peninsula, and was made KCB on 2 January 1815. On 25 July 1814 he was transferred to the 1st guards as captain and lieutenant-colonel. On 6 August 1814 he married Emily Harriet (1792–1881), second daughter of Wellington's brother, William Wellesley-Pole (later third earl of Mornington).

The battle of Waterloo

After Napoleon's first abdication Wellington went to Paris as ambassador, and Somerset accompanied him as secretary to the embassy. He was left in charge of the embassy as minister-plenipotentiary from 18 January 1815, when Wellington went to Vienna, until Napoleon's return. On 14 March—the day Joseph Fouché made his remarkable prediction that the empire would be restored but would last only three months—Somerset wrote to Wellington: 'I see no reason why it should be at all expected that Napoleon should not succeed' (Sweetman, 51–2). On the 20th Napoleon reached Paris, and on the 26th Somerset left it to join Wellington in the Netherlands as his military secretary.

At the battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), while he was accompanying Wellington, about seven o'clock in the evening, Somerset's right elbow was hit by a bullet from the roof of La Haye-Sainte, and the arm had to be amputated. After the operation Somerset said, 'Hey, bring my arm back. There's a ring my wife gave me on the finger' (Sweetman, 65–6). Wellington wrote to Somerset's brother, the duke of Beaufort, 'You are aware how useful he has always been to me, and how much I shall feel the want of his assistance, and what a regard and affection I feel for him' (Sweetman, 66). He recommended him warmly soon afterwards for the appointment of aide-de-camp to the prince regent. This was given to him with the rank of colonel in the army on 28 August. He was awarded Austrian, Russian, Bavarian, and Portuguese orders.

Secretary to the ordnance, 1819–1827

Heeding advice from Wellington, Somerset returned to the British embassy at Paris. When the allied armies were withdrawn from France, Wellington was made master-general of the ordnance in London, and, early in 1819, Somerset became his secretary. He accompanied Wellington to the congress of Verona in 1822. In January 1823 he was sent on a special mission to Spain to explain the duke's views upon the constitutional crisis to some of the leading politicians, in the hope of averting French intervention, but spent two months at Madrid ineffectually. Promoted major-general on 27 May 1825, in 1826 he went with Wellington on the accession of Nicholas I to St Petersburg, where negotiations were conducted for common action against Turkey on behalf of Greece. During this period Somerset twice sat in parliament as a tory MP for the corporation borough of Truro on the interest of his first cousin, Edward, fourth Viscount Falmouth—in 1818–20 and in 1826–9—but took no active part in any debate. Somerset demonstrated deep paternal interest in the welfare of his children, and Lady Somerset began to suffer the first of many ailments which thenceforth afflicted her.

Military secretary at the Horse Guards, 1827–1852

Having resigned from the Ordnance with Wellington in April, shortly after the duke became commander-in-chief on 28 August 1827, Somerset was made military secretary at the Horse Guards, a post that he held until 30 September 1852. He was noted for his quickness and accuracy, for impartiality, and for his tact and urbanity. In those twenty-five years he served Wellington and Rowland, first Viscount Hill, both of whom devolved more and more responsibility due to their increasing infirmity. He exercised considerable influence over military appointments, co-ordinated opposition to the proposal of Lord Howick in 1837 to enhance the powers of the secretary at war to the detriment of the commander-in-chief, and became officially embroiled in the controversial activities of James Thomas Brudenell, seventh earl of Cardigan, which attracted widespread press condemnation. Lady Somerset's health determined that he decline separately the offer of the captaincy of Cowes Castle and the post of governor-in-chief of British North America. Somerset was made colonel of the 53rd foot on 19 November 1830, and became lieutenant-general on 28 June 1838. He was awarded a DCL degree in June 1834 when Wellington was installed as chancellor at Oxford. On Wellington's death (14 September 1852) Lord Hardinge succeeded him as commander-in-chief and a disappointed Somerset became master-general of the ordnance on 30 September 1852. He was made GCB on 24 September 1852, a privy councillor (on 16 October), and Baron Raglan of Raglan, Monmouthshire, on 18 October. As master-general he continued Hardinge's policy of increasing the artillery and arming the horse and field artillery with heavier guns.

Victory on the Alma

In February 1854, when war against Russia seemed imminent, Raglan was selected to command the expeditionary force sent to the east. Though sixty-five he had the strength and vigour of a much younger man. He had never led troops in the field, but Hardinge pointed to his 'great professional experience under the Duke' (Sweetman, 169). His diplomatic skills, as well as his personal character and charm of manner, marked him out for an expedition with the difficulties of both combined operations and alliance warfare. On 27 March, Britain declared war. Raglan left London on 10 April, his primary task to defend Constantinople but warned by Henry Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, fifth duke of Newcastle, secretary of state for war and the colonies, that 'no blow … would be so effective for this purpose as the taking of Sebastopol' (Sweetman, 179). After spending some days in Paris he reached Constantinople on 29 April. There he resisted attempts by the French commander (Marshal Saint-Arnaud) to assume overall direction of the allied forces, travelled to Schumla to meet the Turkish commander-in-chief (Omar Pasha) and agreed to move troops into Bulgaria, as Russian units were south of the Danube. By the end of June most of the British and French armies were in camp near Varna; but by then the Russian army had recrossed the Danube, and the European provinces of Turkey were no longer threatened.

On 29 June instructions were sent to Raglan that he should prepare to besiege Sevastopol, 'unless with the information in your possession, but at present unknown in this country, you should be decidedly of opinion that it could not be undertaken with a reasonable prospect of success' (Hibbert, 56). In view of Newcastle's comments in April this could not have completely surprised Raglan, but he and Saint-Arnaud had grave misgivings about the enterprise, and they had no such information as the letter mentioned. However, they regarded the instructions as 'little short of an absolute order', and they acquiesced. The ravages of cholera and the need to concentrate men, equipment, and sea transport caused some delay. Not until 14 September did the first troops land without opposition at Calamita Bay, on the west coast of the Crimea, a beach chosen by Raglan himself. Due to bad weather it took four days more to land the horses and guns, and to collect transport. Eventually, on 19 September, the invaders advanced south. That afternoon only Raglan's vigilance prevented the British cavalry from being attacked by superior enemy forces at the Bulganek River.

The following day, on 20 September 1854, the battle of the Alma was fought. The allies' right comprised 28,000 French and 7000 Turkish infantry, with sixty-eight guns; the left 23,000 British infantry, 1000 British cavalry, and sixty guns. The bulk of the Russian army—21,000 infantry, 3000 cavalry, and eighty-four guns—were in front of the British; while they had only 12,000 infantry, 400 cavalry, and thirty-six guns to oppose the French, whose advance could be supported by the fire of the fleet. Crucially, twenty-one guns in two redoubts on Kurgan Hill barred the British path. It was agreed, therefore, that the French should begin the battle, and turn (or threaten to turn) the Russian left. But before this movement was sufficiently developed to make itself felt, Raglan, partly because his waiting troops were incurring mounting casualties, but also at the urgent instance of the French commanders, ordered the British infantry to attack the redoubts. He then rode forward with his staff across the stream, through the French skirmishers, and up to a knoll well within the Russian position. He gained an admirable point of view, which enabled him to observe progress of the action, bring up guns and infantry to enfilade the enemy, and evaluate the situation as the Russians withdrew. Paying tribute to Raglan's bravery Saint-Arnaud wrote that in the midst of cannon and musket fire he displayed a calmness which never left him.

Attack on Sevastopol

Victory on the Alma raised high hopes of the prompt capture of Sevastopol, both in the armies and at home. The enemy's works on the south side of the fortress were thought to be weak, whereas the strength of those to the north was obvious. The allied armies, therefore, marched east of Sevastopol to occupy upland to the south. Once established there, the commanders determined that a bombardment by siege guns must precede an assault. Already 172 guns were mounted on the works, and the garrison, after the withdrawal of the field army under Prince Menshikov, numbered 30,000, mostly seamen and marines. Trenches were dug and batteries built. The French, on the left, attacked the works of the town, and the British, on the right, those of the Korabelnaya suburb. On 17 October the allies opened fire with 126 guns, but by this time, through the energy of Lieutenant-Colonel Todleben, the enemy's works had been greatly strengthened, and 341 guns were mounted on them, of which 118 bore on the besiegers' batteries. Lack of co-ordination with the naval bombardment that day and early explosion of a French magazine signalled failure. All thoughts of an assault had to be postponed, and the allies needed to look to their own defence against the growing strength of the Russian field army. Raglan had both to protect the allied right flank and to hold his supply port of Balaklava.

Balaklava and the charge of the light brigade

On 25 October came the unsuccessful Russian attack on Balaklava, and the disastrous charge of the light brigade [see Nolan, Lewis Edward]. All agreed that 'some one had blundered'. Raglan, in his dispatch, blamed Lord Lucan: 'From some misconception of the order to advance, the lieutenant-general considered that he was bound to attack at all hazards' (Sweetman, 253). But he himself did not escape blame on the grounds that the wording of the order did not make his intention clear.

Victory at Inkerman

On 5 November the Russians concentrated on the allied right, sending 35,000 men onto the upland while another 22,000 manoeuvred on the plain below, and the battle of Inkerman was fought. Aware of British weakness in this area, Raglan had pleaded in vain for French reinforcements. The main attack, upon the 2nd division under Sir John Lysaght Pennefather, began at 6.30 a.m. Raglan was on the field an hour later, but he did not interfere with Pennefather in his conduct of the fight. However, he decisively ordered up two 18-pounder guns, which did much to reduce the Russian preponderance in artillery. He also sent off for French assistance, showing better judgement than two of his divisional generals, who declined Bosquet's offer of aid. He watched the course of the battle from the ridge which formed the main position, where Strangways, the artillery commander, was killed while talking to him, and Canrobert (Saint-Arnaud's successor) was wounded. 'I am not at all aware of having exposed myself either rashly or unnecessarily, either at Alma or Inkerman', he wrote afterwards in reply to Newcastle's remonstrances.

Raglan had been gazetted colonel of the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues) on 8 May 1854, and had been promoted general on 20 June. He was made field marshal from 5 November. The notification was accompanied by a letter from the queen, in which she said:

The queen cannot sufficiently express her high sense of the great services he has rendered and is rendering to her and to the country by the very able manner in which he has led the bravest troops that ever fought.

Martin, 3.154

It was a last ray of sunshine.

Winter in the Crimea

The allies had narrowly escaped destruction at Inkerman, after which wintering in the Crimea became inevitable, and want of men made it impossible to press actively the siege of Sevastopol. On 14 November a hurricane in the Black Sea wrecked twenty-one vessels laden with urgently needed stores. Next day Raglan informed Newcastle, 'you cannot send us too many supplies of all kinds'. Immediately afterwards the cold weather set in. The sufferings and losses of the troops increased, and criticism at home increased.

Unaware of Raglan's efforts to secure French reinforcements the Times correspondent, William Howard Russell, resentful of Raglan's ignoring him, had already attributed the absence of trenches covering the allies' right to indolence and overweening confidence. He alleged that if central depots had been established while the fine weather lasted, much, if not all, of the misery and suffering of the men and of the loss of horses would have been averted. Anonymous letters from officers and men added more complaints and before Christmas The Times charged Raglan and his staff with neglect and incompetence.

The commander of the forces had no direct responsibility for supply and transport. Up to 22 December, when a change was made, the commissariat was a branch, not of the war department, but of the Treasury, and so far as any one cause could be named for the terrible hardships of the troops, it was Treasury failure to comply with the requisitions it received for forage. The horses were starved, and there were inadequate means of transporting stores from Balaklava to the camps. But in face of the rising storm of indignation at home, the government blamed the staff in the Crimea. In an official dispatch of 6 January 1855, as in earlier private letters, the duke of Newcastle censured the administration of the army, and pointed especially to the quartermaster-general, James Bucknall Estcourt, and the adjutant-general, Richard Airey. But Raglan refused to make them scapegoats.

Raglan knew from his war experience under Wellington the importance of military intelligence. He had been sent to the East in 1854 without any intelligence organization, and it was lack of intelligence which had resulted in the fatal decision not to attack Sevastopol immediately from the south, and the British being surprised at the battle of Balaklava. Thereafter intelligence significantly improved, with the secret intelligence department improvised and run by Charles Cattley (alias Calvert)—a civilian member of Raglan's staff and formerly British vice-consul at Kerch, who died of cholera in July 1855—using largely Tartar agents and Polish deserters. Raglan encouraged and utilized competently Cattley's department, and British military intelligence was largely successful. Concerned to prevent the Russians gaining intelligence, Raglan complained to the government of W. H. Russell's reports which published information which 'must be invaluable to the Russians, and in the same degree detrimental to H. M.'s troops' (Hankinson, 99). In January 1855 he complained, 'The Enemy at least need spend nothing under the head of “Secret Service”' (Harris, 76).

On 30 January 1855 the Aberdeen government was defeated upon the motion of J. A. Roebuck for an inquiry into the condition of the army in the Crimea. It fell, and Palmerston formed a ministry, with Lord Panmure as secretary for war. On 12 February Panmure wrote to Raglan: 'It would appear that your visits to the camp were few and far between, and your staff seems to have known as little as yourself of the condition of your gallant men' (Sweetman, 284). He added in a private letter that a radical change of the staff was the least that would satisfy the public. In a long and dignified reply on 3 March, Raglan wrote:

I have served under the greatest man of the age more than half my life, have enjoyed his confidence, and have, I am proud to say, been ever regarded by him as a man of truth and some judgment as to the qualifications of officers, and yet, having been placed in the most difficult position in which an officer was ever called upon to serve, and having successfully carried out difficult operations, with the entire approbation of the queen, which is now my only solace, I am charged with every species of neglect; and the opinion which it was my solemn duty to give of the merits of the officers, and the assertions which I made in support of it, are set at naught, and your lordship is satisfied that your irresponsible informants are more worthy of credit than I am.

Hibbert, 289–90

The charge brought against Raglan of not visiting the camps was vigorously rejected by homecoming wounded in press interviews. As regards his staff, Lieutenant-General Simpson (who was sent out to report upon it) declared to Panmure that Raglan was 'the worst used man I have ever heard of', the staff 'very much vilified'. According to Raglan's daughter Charlotte, 'Papa is a good deal annoyed' at the unwarranted slurs on his staff (Sweetman, 289). In 1855 he was awarded the order of the Mejidiye (first class).

Siege of Sevastopol

Siege operations were actively resumed at the end of February 1855. The French had been greatly reinforced, and were now much stronger than the British. Still responsible for the allied left, they had also taken over the extreme right, where the battle of Inkerman was fought. On 9 April the second bombardment began, and the assault was fixed for the 28th; but Canrobert drew back on the 25th. An expedition against Kerch, at the entrance to the Sea of Azov, was then arranged, to cut the line of communication of the Russians from the east, but it had no sooner started than Canrobert insisted on its recall. It was successfully carried out, though, at the end of May, when Pélissier had replaced Canrobert. Meanwhile, there had been a third bombardment of Sevastopol, the Mamelon (an advanced work in front of the Malakhov) had been taken by the French, and the Quarries before the Redan by the British. The 18 June, the anniversary of Waterloo, was chosen for the general assault.

It was to be preceded by two hours' bombardment, but Pélissier decided at the last moment to attack at 3 a.m., and Raglan reluctantly concurred. The result was disastrous. Due to a misunderstanding the French columns for the assault of the Malakhov, numbering in all 25,000 men, attacked piecemeal. They were met by a storm of fire and were driven back with heavy loss. Seeing their plight Raglan ordered the British forward against the Redan, though the chance of success there was much less. He knew that otherwise 'the French would have attributed their non-success to our refusal to participate in the operation' (to Panmure, 19 June). The two leading British columns, about 500 men each, 'had no sooner shown themselves beyond the trenches than they were assailed by a most murderous fire of grape and musketry. Those in advance were either killed or wounded, and the remainder found it impossible to proceed' (official dispatch).

Death and burial

Raglan described 'the failure' as 'a great affliction to me' and 'a great disappointment' (Sweetman, 315). On the 23rd one of the staff wrote: 'He looks far from well, and has grown very much aged lately'. He was further distressed by the death of Estcourt the following day. Although apparently suffering physically only from mild diarrhoea, Raglan's strength was undermined by all he had endured, and he was very depressed. On the 26th he wrote his last dispatch, and on the evening of the 28th he died, at camp before Sevastopol, 'the victim of England's unreadiness for war', Sir Evelyn Wood remarked. Apparently he died, in Victorian terms, of a broken heart. Raglan's unexpected death caused grief and gloom in the army. Pélissier, in his general order next day, paid tribute to Raglan's courage in battle and greatness of character. In the words of the general order issued from the Horse Guards,

By his calmness in the hottest moments of battle, and by his quick perception in taking advantage of the ground or the movements of the enemy, he won the confidence of his army, and performed great and brilliant services. In the midst of a winter campaign—in a severe climate and surrounded by difficulties—he never despaired.

This last characteristic well deserved emphasis. Saint-Arnaud had often been tiresome, Canrobert despondent, and Omar Pasha frequently at odds with his own government. One of Raglan's divisional commanders—Sir George de Lacy Evans—strongly urged him after Inkerman to give up the siege and embark the army. His capacity as a general was questioned, and he had been the object of much undeserved blame; but belatedly the nobility of his character had made itself felt even by those who had been loudest in complaint (for example, The Times, 2 July). His successor as British commander in the Crimea, Sir James Simpson, wrote: 'His loss to us here is inexpressible', and the prince consort observed: 'Spite of all that has been said and written against him, an irreparable loss for us!' Florence Nightingale wrote, 'It was impossible not to love him … He was not a very great general, but he was a very good man' (Hibbert, 342).

The body was embarked on the paddle gunboat Caradoc with full military honours, the 7 miles of road from his headquarters to Kazatch Bay being lined with troops. It reached Bristol on 24 July, and was buried privately at Badminton on the 26th. A pension of £1000 was voted to his widow (who died on 6 March 1881), and £2000 to his heir; £12,500 was subscribed for a memorial to him, and Kefntilla estate, near Usk, was bought and presented to his heir. He left one son, Richard Henry FitzRoy Somerset, second Lord Raglan (1817–1884), and two daughters, Charlotte Caroline Elizabeth and Katherine Anne Emily Cecilia. His eldest son, Major Arthur William FitzRoy Somerset, had died on 25 December 1845 of wounds received four days before at the battle of Ferozeshahr; Frederick John FitzRoy had died in infancy.

Of 'spotless reputation' (Sweetman, 338), 'the most modest and least vain of men' (Lady Westmorland, his sister-in-law, quoted in Sweetman, 348), with 'too good and kind a heart' (Captain H. Keppel RN, quoted in Sweetman, 348), Raglan was a devout high-church Anglican, socially popular, and an accomplished rider and shot. Of medium height, with, in his younger years distinctive ash blond hair, he was unostentatious and in the Crimea moved with a minimum of military display. With an average annual turnover of £4000 and credit balance of £800, he showed, his bankers noted, 'no sign of his having been embarrassed at any time or in any way'. In the Crimea he was a better general than his critics allowed. Balaklava did not fall on 25 October 1854. Had he lost that battle, either the Alma or Inkerman, the allies would have been faced with ignominious withdrawal from the peninsula. Shortly before his death Raglan referred to having 'served the Crown for above fifty years' (Sweetman, 338). Duty guided his public life, devotion to his family the private part.

W. H. Russell's and The Times's criticisms were long influential, and for many years Raglan was considered a blundering failure in the Crimea, an image repeated in cinematic portrayal. However, after 1960 revisionist studies—Christopher Hibbert's The Destruction of Lord Raglan (1961), John Sweetman's Raglan (1993), and Stephen Harris's British Military Intelligence in the Crimean War (1999)—have provided more balanced and favourable portrayals.

Raglan's nephew and aide-de-camp, Colonel Poulett George Henry Somerset (1822–1875), was the fourth son of General Lord Charles Henry Somerset (1767–1831), colonial governor and second son of the fifth duke of Beaufort, and Mary (d. 1860), daughter of the fourth Earl Poulett. He was born on 19 June 1822, was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, was commissioned as ensign in the 33rd foot on 20 March 1839, exchanged into the Coldstream Guards on 1 May 1840, and became captain and lieutenant-colonel on 3 March 1854. He acted as aide-de-camp to Lord Raglan in the Crimean War, received the order of the Mejidiye (fourth class), and was made CB on 5 July 1855.

His uncle declared himself 'very much pleased with Poulett', sending him, for example, after Russian withdrawal from Silistria 'to desire' Lord Cardigan to take the light brigade 'as far as he could in order to discover what the enemy's left was about'. Poulett rode for a short distance on that lengthy, painful reconnaissance towards the Danube. Once in the Crimea he lived at British headquarters, was present at Raglan's death, travelled home with his body to take part in the funeral procession through Bristol, and joined family mourners for the burial at Badminton. He had a narrow escape at Inkerman, where a shell burst in the body of his horse. Somerset exchanged into the 7th fusiliers on 2 February 1858, became colonel five years later, and went on half pay on 21 June 1864. He was a JP and Conservative MP for Monmouthshire from 1859 to 1871.

Somerset was twice married: first, on 15 April 1847, to Barbara Augusta Nora, daughter of John Mytton of Halston, Shropshire, who died on 4 June 1870; second, on 10 September 1870, to Emily, daughter of J. H. Moore of Cherryhill, Cheshire. There were two sons and one daughter from the first marriage, and one daughter from the second. He died at Homestead, Dundrum, near Dublin, on 7 September 1875.

Raglan's brother, Colonel Lord John Thomas Henry Somerset (1787–1846), the eighth son of Henry Somerset, fifth duke of Beaufort (1744–1803), and Elizabeth (1747–1828), daughter of Admiral the Hon. Edward Boscawen, was born on 30 August 1787. He attended Goodenough's School, Ealing, and Westminster School at the same time as his younger brother, FitzRoy. Commissioned as cornet in the 7th light dragoons on 4 August 1804, he advanced to lieutenant on 14 August 1805 and transferred to the 23rd light dragoons as captain on 15 April 1808. He served with the regiment in the Peninsula, taking part in the battle of Talavera (28 July 1809) with his brothers Edward and FitzRoy. He married, on 4 December 1814, Lady Catharine Annesley (d. 1865), daughter of the earl of Mountnorris, and they had one son and three daughters. Somerset joined the 60th foot on 15 May 1815, advancing to major on 18 June, the day that he fought at Waterloo, where he reputedly 'saved a brother officer's life' (Durant, 174). On 25 July he went on half pay, progressing to brevet lieutenant-colonel (19 July 1821), lieutenant-colonel (16 July 1830), and colonel (10 January 1837). In 1843 he was restored to full pay on appointment as inspecting field officer to Bristol recruiting district, a post that he held until his death. Suffering from a persistent cough and violent rheumatic pains in his shoulder and neck, he then developed a tumour between his legs, according to his younger brother 'due to the inactive state of his liver'. He moved from Bristol to Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in the hope that the sea air would improve his health. However, he died there on 3 October 1846, to the grief of FitzRoy: 'I have lost an affectionate brother … the companion of my youth' (Sweetman, 135). FitzRoy believed that, although frugal, Somerset left little money because of his wife's extravagance. He was buried in a vault in the nave of Bristol Cathedral.


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  • Army List
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  • T. Martin, The life of … the prince consort, 5 vols. (1875–80), vols. 2–3
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  • A. D. Lambert, The Crimean War: British grand strategy, 1853–56 (1990)
  • GM, 2nd ser., 26 (1846), 645


  • Badminton House, Gloucestershire, family corresp.
  • Gwent RO, Cwmbrân, corresp. and MSS; Raglan private papers
  • NA Scot., corresp., GD172
  • NAM, department of archives, corresp. and MSS, 6807/279–305
  • NAM, Raglan military papers
  • University of Keele, corresp.
  • All Souls Oxf., corresp. with Sir Charles Vaughan, C
  • BL, corresp. with J. W. Croker, Add. MS 41124
  • BL, corresp. with Sir Robert Peel, Add. MSS 40278–40594, passim
  • BL, corresp. with Lord Strathnairn, Add. MS 4808
  • BL, corresp. with earl of Westmorland, M/512/1 [copies]
  • BL OIOC, letters to marquess of Tweeddale, MS Eur. F 96
  • Bodl. Oxf., corresp. with Napier family, MS Eng. lett c248–249, d235
  • Bodl. Oxf., Phillipps–Robinson MSS, corresp. with Sir Thomas Phillipps
  • Cumbria AS, Carlisle, corresp. with Sir James Graham, D/GN3
  • Derbys. RO, letters to Sir R. J. Wilmot-Horton
  • Dorset RO, letters to Sir Rowland Hill
  • Durham RO, letters to Lord Londonderry, D/Lo
  • Lpool RO, letters to fourteenth earl of Derby, 920 Der 14, box 137
  • NA Scot., letters to G. W. Hope, GD 364
  • NA Scot., corresp. with Sir Andrew Leith-Hay, GD 225
  • NA Scot., letters to Fox Maule, GD 45
  • NL Scot., corresp. with Sir George Brown, MSS 1847–1859, 2837–2854, passim
  • NL Scot., letters to Lord Lynedoch, MSS 3609–3623, passim
  • NL Wales, letters to Louisa Lloyd
  • NRA, priv. coll., letters to Lord Cathcart
  • TNA: PRO, corresp. with Stratford Canning, FO 352
  • TNA: PRO, letters to Lord Cowley, FO 519
  • TNA: PRO, corresp. with Lord John Russell, PRO 30/22
  • U. Durham L., corresp. with third Earl Grey, GRE/B120/5
  • U. Nott. L., corresp. with duke of Newcastle, NE
  • U. Southampton L., corresp. with Lord Palmerston, MS 62
  • U. Southampton L., corresp. and MSS as secretary to the duke of Wellington, 9/2
  • U. Southampton L., letters to the duke of Wellington, MS 61
  • U. Southampton L., letters to duke of Wellington, MS 61
  • W. Sussex RO, letters to Lady Caroline Maxse
  • W. Sussex RO, letters to the duke of Richmond, vol. 3
  • Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, letters to Lord George William Russell


  • T. Heaphy, watercolour drawing, 1813–14, NPG
  • T. Lawrence, black and white chalk on canvas, 1814, priv. coll.; Christie's, 22 May 2014, lot 44
  • F. Grant, oils, 1853; formerly at the United Service Club, London
  • R. Fenton, group portrait, photograph, 1855, NPG
  • R. Fenton, photograph, 1855, NPG [see illus.]
  • oils, 1858 (after F. Grant), Army and Navy Club, London
  • T. J. Barker, group portrait, oils (Duke of Wellington writing for reinforcements at the bridge at Sauroren), Stratfield Saye, Hampshire
  • Edwards, bust
  • J. W. Pieneman, group portrait, oils (The battle of Waterloo), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
  • J. W. Pieneman, oils, Wellington Museum, London
  • W. Salter, group portrait, oils (The Waterloo banquet at Apsley House), Wellington Museum, London
  • W. Salter, oils, NPG
  • memorial tablet, Badminton estate church, Gloucestershire
  • memorial tablet, Great Bookham church, Surrey
F. Boase, , 6 vols. (privately printed, Truro, 1892–1921); repr. (1965)
G. E. C. [G. E. Cokayne], , 8 vols. (1887–98); new edn, ed. V. Gibbs & others, 14 vols. in 15 (1910–98); microprint repr. (1982) and (1987)
J. Burke, A general [later edns A genealogical] and heraldic dictionary of the peerage and baronetage of the United Kingdom [later edns the British empire] (1829–)
R. G. Thorne, ed., , 5 vols. (1986)
Gentleman's Magazine