1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hertford, Earls and Marquesses of

HERTFORD, EARLS AND MARQUESSES OF. The English earldom of Hertford was held by members of the powerful family of Clare from about 1138, when Gilbert de Clare was created earl of Hertford, to 1314 when another earl Gilbert was killed at Bannockburn. In 1537 Edward Seymour, viscount Beauchamp, a brother of Henry VIII.’s queen, Jane Seymour, was created earl of Hertford, being advanced ten years later to the dignity of duke of Somerset and becoming protector of England. His son Edward (c. 1540–1621) was styled earl of Hertford from 1547 until the protector’s attainder and death in January 1552, when the title was forfeited; in 1559, however, he was created earl of Hertford. In 1560 he was secretly married to Lady Catherine Grey (c. 1538–1568), daughter of Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk, and a descendant of Henry VII. Queen Elizabeth greatly disliked this union, and both husband and wife were imprisoned, while the validity of their marriage was questioned. Catherine died on the 27th of January 1568 and Hertford on the 6th of April 1621. Their son Edward, Lord Beauchamp (1561–1612), who inherited his mother’s title to the English throne, predeceased his father; and the latter was succeeded in the earldom by his grandson William Seymour (1588–1660), who was created marquess of Hertford in 1640 and was restored to his ancestor’s dukedom of Somerset in 1660. The title of marquess of Hertford became extinct when John, 4th duke of Somerset, died in 1675, and the earldom when Algernon, the 7th duke, died in February 1750.

In August 1750 Francis Seymour Conway, 2nd Baron Conway (1718–1794), who was a direct descendant of the protector Somerset, was created earl of Hertford; this nobleman was the son of Francis Seymour Conway (1679–1732), who had taken the name of Conway in addition to that of Seymour, and was the brother of Field-marshal Henry Seymour Conway. Hertford was ambassador to France from 1763 to 1765; was lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1765 and 1766; and lord chamberlain of the household from 1766 to 1782. Horace Walpole speaks of his “decorum and piety” and refers to him as a “perfect courtier,” but says that he had “too great propensity to heap emoluments on his children.” In 1793 he became earl of Yarmouth and marquess of Hertford, and he died on the 14th of June 1794. His son, Francis Ingram Seymour Conway (1743–1822), who was known during his father’s lifetime as Lord Beauchamp, took a prominent part in the debates of the House of Commons from 1766 until he succeeded to the marquessate in 1794. He was sent as ambassador to Berlin and Vienna in 1793 and from 1812 to 1821 he was lord chamberlain. His son Francis Charles, the 3rd marquess (1777–1842), was an intimate friend of the prince regent, afterwards George IV., and is the original of the “Marquis of Steyne” in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and of “Lord Monmouth” in Disraeli’s Coningsby. The 4th marquess was his son, Richard (1800–1870), whose mother was the great heiress, Maria Emily Fagniani, and whose brother was Lord Henry Seymour (1805–1859), the founder of the Jockey Club at Paris. When Richard died unmarried in Paris in August 1870 his title passed to his kinsman, Francis Hugh George Seymour (1812–1884), a descendant of the 1st marquess, whose son, Hugh de Grey (b. 1843) became 6th marquess in 1884. The 4th marquess left his great wealth and his priceless collection of art treasures to Sir Richard Wallace (1818–1890), his reputed half-brother, and Wallace’s widow, who died in 1897, bequeathed the collection to the British nation. It is now in Hertford House, formerly the London residence of the marquesses of Hertford.