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December 21, 1535 – Jane Seymour’s Father Dies

Photo of Sir John's tomb as uploaded by Simon Williams
Thanks to Simon Williams for adding this photo to FindaGrave!

So, back in 2014 I wrote a post entitled December 21, 1536 – Jane Seymour’s Father Dies. Off by a year. That said, I claim that I get a pass on this, since the 1536 date is the one carved on his tombstone. Talk about a typo!

The 1536 date had been accepted by pretty much everyone – though it was a little problematic for historians until the mistake was noticed just a few years ago. Specifically, Jane was Queen in December 1536 and so historians had to explain why she did not attend her father’s funeral (the consensus was that she was needed at court, especially since Robert Aske had been invited…). Similarly, historians speculated that Sir John must have been ill in June 1536 to explain why his son Edward Seymour received the earldom of Hertford instead of him…

So how did this happen? Well, it makes sense when you realize that the tomb was erected almost sixty years after his death, because Sir John Seymour was originally buried in a priory that was dissolved. In 1590, because of plans to fully demolish the building, Sir John’s grandson Edward (then Earl of Hertford) had him moved. It fell to Hertford because none of Sir John’s children was still alive; I suspect one of them might have noticed the mistake.

Hertford did well by his grandfather. The tomb is in the chancel of St. Mary’s Great Bedwyn Church in Wiltshire. Sir John’s effigy shows him in full armor, his head on a helmet and his feet on a lion. The base of the tomb is decorated with heraldic shields. The plate on the wall reads as follows:

This Knight departed this life at LX (60) years of age, the XXI (21) day of December, Anno 1536, and was first buried at Easton Priory Church amongst divers of his ancestors, both Seymours and Esturmys. Howbeit that Church being ruined, and thereby all their monuments either wholly spoiled, or very much defaced during the minority of Edward, Earl of Hertford, son to the said Duke, the said Earl after, as well for the dutiful love he beareth to his said grandfather, as for the better continuances of his memory, did cause his body to be removed, and here to be entombed at his own cost and charged, the last day of September, Anno 1590, in the XXXII (32) year of the most happy reign of our gracious Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth.

[In case you’re wondering, Sir John’s wife, Margery Wentworth, had been buried in the St. Mary churchyard when she died in 1550; she was left there…]

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