October 22, 1494 – Marriage of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth

October 22, 1494 – Marriage of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. Read more on www.janetwertman.com

Sir John Seymour, by an unknown artist (image from Reformation.org)

Only four days ago, I posted about Margery Wentworth’s death in 1550 – it is strange how the vagaries of the “on this day” format sometimes lead to these seemingly out-of-order couplings! Still, since I just talked a lot about Margery, this post will focus on Sir John and the marriage itself.

Sir John Seymour was the oldest son of John Seymour of Wolfhall, Wiltshire and Elizabeth Darrell; he started with a solid pedigree then acquitted himself well at court. First, he was knighted in the field by Henry VII in 1497, for helping to defeat Cornish rebels in the Battle of Blackheath. Similar military service to Henry VIII in 1513 got him elevated to Knight banneret in connection with the sieges of Therouanne and Tournay. He was also chosen to accompany Henry to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and welcomed his King to Wolf Hall on at least two occasions (once to hunt Savernake Forest with a small group, another time with the entire court during the 1535 Summer progress).

The marriage was by Tudor standards a successful one in that it produced successful children, lots of them. That said, there was a huge scandal that rocked the family: Sir John is alleged to have had an affair with Katherine Filliol from 1527-1529 – while she was married to his son Edward. It is believed Sir John actually fathered two of his own grandchildren – Edward certainly thought so, since when he repudiated Katherine he also disinherited the children they had together. There is no mention of how well familial relationships were repaired after that, though there was no record of any bad blood when Henry VIII’s Court stopped at Wolf Hall in September 1535 near the end of its Summer Progress.

Sir John died in December 1536, proud in the knowledge that his daughter Jane was Queen of England. Margery lived for 34 more years, until 1550. She never remarried.

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October 18, 1550 – Death of Margery Wentworth Seymour

October 18, 1550: Death of Margery Wentworth, Jane Seymour's mother. Read more about her on www.janetwertman.com

Margery Wentworth, possibly by Holbein (image via Reformation.Org)

Margery Wentworth Seymour, Jane Seymour’s mother, was born around 1478 – making her 72 or so when she died and an old woman by Tudor standards. She had a life that climbed to unexpected heights at its start, then devolved into tragedy.

Margery was said to be a great beauty in her youth, even rhapsodized by John Skelton in his poetry as a shy, kind girl reminiscent of primrose and columbine. She married Sir John Seymour when she was around 16 (he was 20). The couple went on to have nine children, six of whom survived childhood and four of whom became prominent at court. Indeed, their daughter Jane displaced Anne Boleyn to become the third wife of Henry VIII – and bear his son and heir. There was no greater pinnacle than royal scions.

There was some sadness mixed in with the good (after Sir John died in 1535, Jane succumbed to puerperal fever in 1537), but the Seymour fortunes continued to rise through 1547. They hit their apogee upon the death of Henry VIII: Margery’s grandson became King Edward VI of England, her son Edward became Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England, and her son Thomas became 1st Baron Sudeley and married Henry VIII’s widow Queen Katherine Parr.

Unfortunately, two years later Sudeley lost his mind and tried to kidnap his royal nephew – he was executed in 1549. Margery died shortly after that, still believing in the great future of her family. She missed seeing everything crumble, first when Somerset overstepped his power and was executed in 1552, then when Edward VI died in 1553, four months before his 16th birthday….

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