The Duke of Beaufort
The Duke of Beaufort by Allan Warren
|Master of the Horse|
February 1936 - 1978
|Bernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard|
|David Fane, 15th Earl of Westmorland|
|4th Chancellor of the University of Bristol|
|Sir Winston Churchill|
|Born||4 April 1900|
|Died||5 February 1984 (aged 83)|
Badminton House, Gloucestershire, England
|Spouse(s)||Lady Victoria Constance Mary Cambridge|
|Parents||Henry Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort|
Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort (4 April 1900 - 5 February 1984), KG, GCVO, GCC, PC , of Badminton House in Gloucestershire, styled Marquess of Worcester until 1924, was a peer, landowner, society figure and a great authority in the fields of horse racing and fox-hunting. As a relative and very close friend of the Royal Family, he held the office of Master of the Horse for 42 years (1936-1978), longer than anybody else. He founded the Badminton Horse Trials and was deemed "the greatest fox-hunter of the twentieth century"; his long tenure as Master of the Beaufort Hunt led to his being universally nicknamed Master and his car bore the private numberplate MFH1. In 1980 he published the authoritative book "Fox-Hunting".
He was the youngest child and only son and heir of Henry Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort (1847-1924) by his wife Louise Emily Harford (1864-1945), a daughter of William Henry Harford, JP, DL, of Oldtown, Tockington, Gloucestershire, and widow of Charles Frederic van Tuyll van Serooskerken (1859-1893), a Dutch baron, by whom she had two sons.
He was descended in the male line from Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester, 1st Baron Herbert (c.1460-1526), KG, an illegitimate son of Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset (1436-1464), 3rd in descent from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (3rd surviving son of King Edward III) by his mistress Katherine Swynford. Charles was given the surname "Somerset" and was created Baron Herbert in 1506 and Earl of Worcester in 1513. The present Dukes of Beaufort are thus the last known surviving male-line descendants of King Henry II (1154-1189) of England, Count of Anjou, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty, of which King Richard III (1483-1485) was the last ruling member in the male line. The present Queen is descended from King Henry II only through various female lines, all of them however legitimate. The surname Beaufort (properly de Beaufort, "from Beaufort") reflects the fact that Katherine Swynford gave birth to her illegitimate children by John of Gaunt at his French castle and manor of Beaufort ("beautiful stronghold") (from 1688 Montmorency-Beaufort) in Champagne, situated 100 miles east of Paris.
Beaufort left the Army after a few years with the rank of lieutenant. He was Honorary Colonel of the 21st (Royal Gloucestershire Hussars) Armoured Car Company, Territorial Army between 1969 and 1971 and Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry between 1971 and 1984, and the Warwickshire Yeomanry between 1971 and 1972.
Beaufort was Master of the Horse (1936-1978) to three British sovereigns, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II. As such he took part in royal functions, such as the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 1930, a Privy Counsellor in 1936, a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1937 and was awarded the decoration of the Royal Victorian Chain in 1953. In 1955, Francisco Craveiro Lopes, President of the Portuguese Republic, awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of Christ.
He was Steward of Tewkesbury between 1948 and 1984, Hereditary Keeper of Raglan Castle (an office created by his ancestor William ap Thomas, the Blue Knight of Gwent), Lord Lieutenant of Bristol from 1931 to 1974 and Lord High Steward of Bristol, Tewkesbury and Gloucestershire. He also held the office of Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire between 1931 and 1984 and was Chancellor of the University of Bristol from 1965 to 1970.
He authored the following works:
On 14 June 1923 Somerset, then styled Marquess of Worcester, married Lady Victoria Constance Mary Cambridge (1897-1987), a daughter of Adolphus Cambridge, 1st Marquess of Cambridge, a German prince whose mother was a granddaughter of King George III of England. The marriage was without issue. Victoria had been born with the title Princess Mary of Teck; however, on 17 July 1917, during World War I, King George V to outwardly renounce his German heritage issued a royal proclamation that changed the name of the British royal house from the German-sounding House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor. All the king's British-domiciled German relatives likewise relinquished their German titles and styles, and were granted new British titles. Mary's father was created Marquess of Cambridge, and she became known as Lady Mary Cambridge until her marriage.
Mary's paternal aunt was Queen Mary, wife of King George V, thus her first cousins were King Edward VIII and King George VI. The Dukes of Beaufort were among the closest friends of the Royal Family; Queen Mary lived at Badminton during World War II, and the royals stayed there several times a year, particularly for the Badminton Horse Trials which usually took place at the time of the Queen's birthday.
A biographer described the Duke as:
Among the Duke's myriad personal friends was David Niven; during World War II he hosted Eleanor Roosevelt and Haile Selassie at Badminton. James Lees-Milne, the conservationist, rented a house next door and records their poor relationship in his celebrated diaries--he thought the Duke was "feudal". He was "a legendary womaniser" who conducted affairs with, among others, Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk and Sally, Duchess of Westminster, a cousin of his wife's.
Beaufort died in 1984, aged 83, at his seat of Badminton House, and was buried in the churchyard of his parish Church of St Michael and All Angels, Badminton. Unusually, the Queen, who usually attends funerals of close family only, went to his, as did most other members of the Royal Family. On Boxing Day 1984 animal-rights activists vandalised his grave but stopped short of their plan to disinter his remains and send his head to Princess Anne.
The Dukedom of Beaufort, created in 1682 by letters patent not by writ, cannot pass via a female line. As he died childless, the dukedom, the titles Earl of Worcester (cr.1513), Marquess of Worcester (cr.1642) and his estates passed to his first cousin twice removed, David Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort (born 1928) (the grandson of his first cousin Henry Charles Somers Augustus Somerset, son of Lord Henry Somerset, second son of the 8th Duke), to whom he was close and who had lived for many years on the Badminton estate which he had helped to manage.
The ancient titles of Baron de Botetourt (cr.1305) and Baron Herbert (cr.1461), created by writ, are able to pass via a female line and thus on the Duke's death they fell into abeyance between various descendants of his elder sister Lady Blanche Somerset (1897-1968), the wife firstly of John Eliot, 6th Earl of St Germans. Lady Blanche's two daughters were:
|Ancestors of Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort|
The Earl of Granard
| Master of the Horse
The Earl of Westmorland
| Chancellor of the University of Bristol
The Earl Beauchamp
| Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire
| Senior Privy Counsellor
The Lord Balfour of Inchrye
|Peerage of England|
| Duke of Beaufort
| Baron Botetourt
| Baron Herbert
Title next held byDavid Seyfried-Herbert, 2002