In The Secret Life of The Earl St. Maur (1835-1869) - Was He My Great-Grandfather?, many aspects of history come to the fore from time to time, beyond what the Earl's life-span implies. For instance, in Chapter 4, we are taken back to 1066, the time when the genuine St. Maurs first arrived on British shores at Pevensey and Hastings. Therefore it is not only Modern British History that we are dealing with, but also with several aspects of Medieval British and French History.
To study how that early, already feudal, baronial family evolved, we must go through several centuries. As the Seymours only emerge with any 'clout' in the late 1300s and are not known to have any family links with the St. Maurs (from the Norman knight, Wido de Sancto Mauro's line) and no Seymour member was known to have been a Knight Templar, or actually baronial, until at least four centuries after the St. Maurs established themselves as a very rich baronial family in Britain, the very powerful Norman 'class' system, would have seen to it that these two famous families, seldom, if at all, were allowed to communicate openly with one another. Therefore, the history of these two families must be kept separate, too.
Chapter 4 explains how the baronial St. Maurs were the ultra-rich and privileged set, involved in the Exchequer and other very high positions in the various royal courts and forest courts held throughout the land, from the very early origins of the family. Its members were always mentioned in numerous Rolls (Close, Feat of Fine, Curia Regis, Patent, Gascon, etc.) as being the recipients of gifts from several kings of the periods up to the 1300s; they were, in addition, invariably the witness signatories of wills, grants, and other legal or diplomatic documents. They were also steeped in the administration of the Palatinate of Chester, which acted as a sort of Regency, representing the Normans.
Meanwhile, the family that was supposed to be related to the St. Maurs - the Seymour family - was never heard of until around the mid-1300s. The family had not yet made its mark. Aymeric de St. Maur was the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in Britain. As such, he was so powerful, although a cleric, as to be the right-hand-man of King John, and persuaded the King to sign the Magna Carta. Milo de St. Maur, on the other hand, was one of the barons of that puissant dynasty who rebelled against the King.
All these St. Maurs married into very rich families, such as the Lovells of Castle Cary, the de la Zouche of Ashby, Long, etc., moving ever further away from whoever the Seymours might have been. Their family trees simply did not connect, via title or land inheritance, or in any other way. All this was happening while the Seymours were beginning to build a name for themselves, only after marrying into entirely different sets of families; first into the extremely powerful and very rich Beauchamp family in the mid-1300s, which introduced the barony of Hache and brought with it many manors.
Later, in the early 1400s, John Seymour married Isabella Williams, but John was the grandson of Sir William Esturmy, of a dynasty originally established by Richard L'Estourmy in the 11th century, whose family settled at Wolf Hall, in Wiltshire. They were the hereditary Wardens of the Savernake Forest. Sir John Seymour became the first Seymour hereditary Warden (1427-1464), at the time of his marriage to Isabella Williams. Sir John's father, Roger Seymour, had married Matilda Esturmy. John Seymour (4th Duke of Somerset) was the last Seymour Warden of the Savernake Forest (1671-1675). The Bruce family (Earls of Ailesbury) then took over the Wardenship.
Almost twelve generations later, the Eleventh Duke of Somerset - the Earl St. Maur's grandfather - decided to rename the family 'St. Maur', in the romantic belief that the family had arrived with the Duke of Normandy and, therefore, dated back to the time of the Conquest (or earlier in Normandy). The St. Maurs did originate there, but the Seymours' origins are so obscure that it is very difficult to find when they began to be Seymours, or how or when or by whom their arms were conferred.
The above Sir John Seymour was the grandson of Sir Roger Seymour and Cecily Beauchamp. This Sir Roger Seymour was said to be of Woundy, Monmouthshire, (in the mid-late 1300s). However, there was also a Roger 'St. Maur' at Woundy about the same time; therefore, it has never been made clear if these two Rogers were one and the same. I personally think that the St. Maurs and the Seymours contemporarily inhabited that same part of Monmouthshire, namely around Woundy (Undy) and Penhow, but that they are and always were separate families.
One family was even said to bear the Wings of the Seymours, until absorbed by marriage into the female line of the Bowles, or Bowlays family, of Monmouthshire. The fact that these two families - the 'winged' Seymours and the 'chevronned' St. Maurs - were living side-by-side in that part of Wales in the late mid-1300s, but using totally different sets of armorial bearings, reinforces my belief that the two were completely separate, and separately evolved, families.
Knowing that the Templar Grand Master Aymeric de St. Maur's arms (on his personal seal) consisted of two chevrons on a plain field (background), and his fourteenth century family members in the Zouche, Lovell or Long family, were using the same chevrons in their arms, is sufficient evidence to the effect that the two families had separate origins. When Jane Seymour married King Henry VIII, it was clear that her arms, seen here, were not chevrons but 'wings'. At that time, the last remaining St. Maurs, were still using their 'chevrons', by now consigned to quarterings and grand-quarterings in the shields.
When, during the term of the Eleventh Duke of Somerset, the surname was changed to 'St. Maur', the eldest son-and-heir of every branch would still be known as 'Seymour', and later 'Lord Seymour'. Why? Because that was their surname originally. In 1863, there were two Earls of St. Maur of Berry Pomeroy, Devon; the Twelfth Duke of Somerset and his son, Edward Adolphus Ferdinand St. Maur, who used 'the Earl St. Maur' as a courtesy title, while his father was still alive, and in fact until his own death.
The title was created in the Earl's father's barony of St. Maur of Berry Pomeroy. As Lord St. Maur died in his father's lifetime, in 1869 - the Duke died in 1885 - and his younger brother had not survived after being mauled by a bear in India, four years before, the dukedom in 1885 devolved on the Twelfth Duke of Somerset's two brothers, in turn. When the last of that line, the Fifteenth Duke, Algernon St. Maur, died in 1923, also without male succession, Ferdy St. Maur's illegitimate son Major Richard Harold St. Maur, was one of several petitioners before the Committee for Privileges at the House of Lords, who contested the title.
However, unable to prove that his parents had actually married, the title went to Brigadier-General Sir Edward Hamilton-Seymour, a genuinely distant relative, as Sixteenth Duke of Somerset, who was the ancestor of the present line of Dukes of Somerset. For a very interesting excursion into the alleged witnessing of Harold's parents' marriage, please refer to this site managed by my fellow researcher Eddy Habben-Jansen, of Utrecht, Netherlands, and please also read chapter 22 of my present book, entitled 'That Marriage - A Man Called Ravesteyn' and to Volume One in the forthcoming series.
It is no longer recommended to use the links below to buy the Book and Ebook from the current publisher, as the Author has now terminated the Agreement to publish this work. Therefore, we would not like to see you waste your money, when perhaps you might not receive the book. You may, alternatively, wish to donate a small amount of money towards the cost of past and present research and republication. This site will eventually be replaced by the new website: 'earlstm3v', which relates to the forthcoming 3-volume publication still in progress.
The Earl St Maur died at only 34 years of age but in his short yet intriguing life he managed to fight in two wars and father at least two children. But was there a third child, the authors grandfather, Mohamed U'Led Slimane? 30 years of research has uncovered more controversy than this.
Edward Seymour became the 1st Duke of Somerset at the time of his sister Jane's marriage to King Henry VIII. Centuries earlier Wido de St. Maur accompanied William the Conqueror to Britain and fought alongside him at Hastings. These two prominent family names became accidently linked together with the resurrection of the dormant Dukedom.
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