| ORIGIN AND EARLY DAYS
ST. MAUR OR SEYMOUR FAMILY
THE origin of every family, of no matter how great importance, can scarcely be traced without considerable difficulty to the time when it first became of sufficient greatness to obtain even the slightest mention in such few chronicles as were kept in the obscure and stormy days of European history preceding the Norman Conquest. Even such writings as remain in old and almost undecipherable manuscripts, can hardly be considered as affording reliable and trustworthy information. Most of them were written by the monks of old who, in the seclusion of their monasteries, could only write on hearsay evidence of the events passing around them. Such stories as thus came to their knowledge had already, we may be sure, passed through many repetitions, and were certain to have become inaccurate and distorted. One cannot, therefore, look upon them without a certain amount of suspicion.
In endeavouring to discover early traces of the St. Maur family, a further difficulty is encountered in the fact that, after William the Conqueror's arrival in England, accompanied, as will presently be seen, by a Seigneur de Saint Maur, no mention is made of the family for a considerable time (that is, no mention of their doings, though the name is to be met with in deeds and charters of the time). not in fact until they once again reach sufficient prominence to be noticed by the chroniclers. This has, not unnaturally, cast a doubt in the minds of historians as to their real origin, which the majority do not attempt to trace beyond the St. Maurs of Penhow, in Monmouth, whom, however, they generally agree to have been without doubt of Norman origin, and to have come to this country either with, or shortly after, the Conqueror.
In a history of this kind it is of course necessary to start as far back as possible, and it is my intention to begin with. the first mention of the name. At the same time ' 1 must caution the reader that 1 can obtain no authentic data earlier than the year 1000, and that although 1 commence at an earlier date, I myself can only look upon it as little better than a legend, drawn from unreliable sources.
There is in France a small but very ancient village named “Saint Maur-sur- Loire.” It is supposed to have been named thus on account of a black hermit, famous for, his goodness and piety,1) who is said to have lived in the 7th century, and to have been an Abyssinian prince, descended from the royal. race of Solomon and (sad to relate) the Queen of Sheba, but who had been obliged to leave his country during some insurrection in which his father and his nearest relatives had been massacred. In the year 710 this village is said to have been in the possession of the family 'of St. Maur, who no doubt must have taken their name from the place, from being the most important owners there, for it is beyond the bounds of possibility that they can have been the Issue of the hermit. The head of the family is supposed to have been Richard de St. Maur, and he is said to have been mentioned in a grant to the royal Abbey of Villers, founded by Queen Frédégonde.
In addition to Richard. a Guy de St. Maur is said to have performed his fealty and homage at the same Abbey in 701, and a Ludo de St. Maur is said to have been mentioned in a list in 919.
Even legend, however, does not supply us with any account of these or their descendants, and it is necessary to go on to Goscelin de Ste. Maur or Maure, surnamed Peitazinua, probably on account of some voyage, pilgrimage, or exploit, that he performed in Aquitaine.
This Goscelin de Ste. Maur is mentioned:
He is always styled 11 Castri Sanctæ Mauræ dei gratiâ jure hereditario possessor et dominus.“ Pope Gregory VII wrote him a letter (the 22nd in the second volume of his letters) which is reproduced in “I'Histoire de Sable” P. 254.
Goscelin de Ste. Maur married Aremburge in the year 1000, and by her had four sons, viz., Josbert, Guillaume, Hugues, Goscelin. Of these the latter had a son Guillaume who died s.p., and Hugues married Alner de Berlay de Montreuil by whom he had several children, only one of whom, Hugues (1087 to 1105), however, left any issue. This was a son Gautier, whose son Guillaume left an only daughter who married the Seigneur de Pressigny in Tourraine, who took the name of the heiress and founded the second house of Ste. Maur.2) The above Guillaume is mentioned in 1198 as being in Normandy.3)
Of Goscelin's two elder sons one appears to have been a priest. This must have been Josbert, for the second son Guillaume seems to have had a son Wido de Ste. Maur who came to England during the Norman invasion. It is of course impossible to show any proof as to who did or did not actually accompany the Conqueror, as there is no list of names in which the least reliance can be placed. In an account of the Battle Abbey Roll (the inaccuracy of which is, 1 believe, generally admitted) in Fuller's Church History by Brewer, where the lists in Holinshed and Stow's Chronicle are compared, the name appears in both. In Holinshed, P. 5, as Sent More and in Stow, P. 107, as Seint More. The difference in spelling has probably caused the name to be overlooked, but 1 feel confident that it is intended for Saint Maur. This name indeed has undergone very many changes of spelling and even pronunciation. In Latin deeds it generally became de Sancto Mauro, but we also find Saynt-Mor, Sayn-Maur, Seyne-More, SenneMaur, Seyne-Maure, Semor, Semore, Seimour, and finally Seymour. Even in Queen Elizabeth's time 1 have found it spelt Seymaur, and in Queen Anne's reign Seimour, whilst in these days of education 1 frequently receive letters addressed Saint Mor, St. Mor, St. More, and even St. Muyre.
Wido de St. Maur, as we have seen, came over to England in 1066 He died before 1086 leaving 1086 a son William Fitz-Wido who held a barony in Somerset, Wilts, and Gloucester. and ten manors in Somerset.4) Most of this property he no doubt inherited from his father, who must have received them from the Conqueror, as there is no mention of either marrying an heiress. We may therefore conclude that Wido must have rendered some service to the Conqueror to merit such a reward.
During the period immediately following the Conquest, when the country was still far from being settled down, very few records appear to have been kept or, if they were. they have for the most part been lost. It is not surprising, therefore, that we should find but little mention of a private family. There appears. however, to have been a Roger de St. Maur living in the year 1100,5) a son, apparently, of William Fitz-Wido, and in 1129 he appears as a witness to a charter of Richard de Cormeil to the Priory of Monmouth. 6)
This deed has no date. but it must have been signed in that year, for Baderon, Lord of Monmouth, and Rohesia his wife, who were married in 1128, also signed it as witnesses, and it was made prior to the death of Prior Godfrey which occurred in 1130.7) This Roger had therefore some connection with the county of Monmouth, and it may not be unreasonable to suppose that he had settled at Penhow, for we find the family owning that place not many years after. He is stated to have been the founder of two families, but there is some confusion in tracing them.8) An Almericus de Sancto Mauro is mentioned as being master of the order of Knights Templars,9) and also a Bartholemew de Sancto Mauro who witnessed a charter of William. Earl of Gloucester, to Keynsham Abbey about 1170.10) This Bartholemew seems without doubt to have been a son of Roger, and father of William de Sancto Mauro, one of the King's esquires in 1175.11) This William apparently had a son, Milo, for in 1217 we find a Milo de St. Maur who is stated to have been without doubt a direct descendant of Roger.12) But little is known about him. except that he took part with the rebellious Barons against King John, on the occasion when the latter was forced to sign the Magna Charta, and that he left two sons, Geffrey and William.13)
In the Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine, vol. xv, P. 142, we see Mr. J. R. Planché (Brit. Archæol. Journ., 18 5 6, P. 3 2 5) says : 11 There are two families of St. Maur. The St. Maurs or Seymours of Kingston Seymour, in Somersetshire, who trace their pedigree to Milo de Sancto Mauro, who with his wife Agnes, is named in a fine roll of King John ; and the St. Maurs or Seymours of Penhow, Monmouthshire, from which the present ducal house of Somerset descends. All our genealogists, from Dugdale downwards, are scrupulous in observing that there is no connection whatever between the two families, who bore different arms and settled in different counties, and 1 freely admit there is no connection to be traced between them from the earliest. date to which they have proved their pedigree ; but that fact by no means satisfies me that they did not branch from the same Norman stock. We have no proof that there were two St. Maurs who came over with the Conqueror (probably from St. Maure-sur-Loire in la Haute Touraine), nor can we assert that if there were two or more they were not, as in many similar instances, near kinsmen . . . . That their arms should be different is no proof at all, for, although a similarity in their bearings would be strong evidence in favour of some connection, it is one of the most common things in the world to find, in 'those early days of herald the son bearing a coat quite distinct from that of his father, as he frequently did a perfectly different name.” The St. Maurs of Kingston bore Argent, two chevrons gules, a label of five points. The St. Maurs of Penhow, Gules, a pair of wings conjoined in lure, or.
It would appear, therefore, according to Dugdale and others, that the two families were entirely distinct, but I am more inclined to agree with Mr. Planché’s reasoning and even to go further and assert that. as far as probabilities can be made to take the place of evidence, these probabilities all tend to show that the two families were the signatures we find an Aymer de Sancto Mauro, Master of the Temple.-Cott. MS., Aug. 1 1106.) connected, though, for some reason or other, they were neither of them inclined to acknowledge the fact. To begin with, we must notice that the St. Maur family obtained lands in Wilts and Somerset through Wido de St. Maur. Afterwards, Roger de St. Maur obtained additional lands in Monmouth. Milo de St. Maur undoubtedly held these lands in Monmouth, as well as those in Wilts and Somerset yet, immediately after him, we are told that the St. Maurs holding the Monmouthshire property and the St. Maurs holding the Somerset and Wilts property are separate families, having absolutely no connection. And yet Milo left two sons ! There is, however, no record of whom he married, and it is possible that the sons were by different wives, or even that one of them may have been a natural son, which might account for their disclaiming each other. It would be futile to enter into any long argument either for or against the descent of the Seymour family from Milo de St. Maur in the absence of any proofs which could prove or disprove it. The reader must draw his own conclusions from the slender materials here produced, always remembering that Dugdale is by no means an authority to be absolutely relied on, and that many later genealogists have merely copied what he wrote.14)
Of Milo's sons the elder, Geffrey, married a daughter of William de Rughdon,15) but beyond this there appears to be no mention of him. except that he was succeeded by a son, Laurence de St. Maur, who. in 1274, obtained from King Edward 1 a grant for a market, to be held at his Manor of Rode. in Somerset. upon the Thursday in every week, and also to hold a fair there every year upon the eve, day, and morrow of St. Margaret, the Virgin.16) In 1282 we find him 1282. acknowledging the service of half a knight's fee for his own inheritance in Wilts, and one-third of a knight's fee for the inheritance of Sibilla, his wife, in the county of Northumberland.17) In August of the same year he led an expedition against the Welsh. In 1295 he was exempted from the general summons of persons holding land by military tenure, for the King's expedition to Gascony (June 14).18) In July, 1297, he was summoned to perform military service beyond the seas. 19) This summons can only have arrived after his death which had taken place the previous winter. He left one son, Nicholas.20)
Nicholas de St. Maur did his homage, and had livery of his father's lands. He also had been summoned in July, 1297, for military service abroad, and appears to have attended the summons, and gone furnished with horses and arms.21) In 1298 he was summoned to perform military service against the Scots, by a letter dated May 25, and in June, 1300, he was again summoned for a similar purpose.22) In 1306 he again served there in the retinue of Henry of Lancaster, the younger son of Edward Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster. In 1313 he obtained a pardon, as 1313. an adherent of the Earl of Lancaster, for having participated in the death of Gaveston, and in the same year was summoned to Parliament as representative of Gloucester.23) In the following years, 1314, 1316, 1317, he was summoned to perform military service against the Scots.24) In 13 16 he was certified as Lord or joint Lord of the following hundreds and townships :-North-Molton in Devon, Hampton-Maysi in Gloucester, Yonkill and Weston in Hereford, Woolverton and La Road in Somerset, Eton- Maysi, Poulton, and Witham in Wilts.25) His first wife had been Eve de Meysi, who had brought him considerable property, but had not lived long. (Note i.) His second wife was Helen, the eldest of the three daughters and coheirs of Alan la Zouche of Ashby, in Leicester. By this marriage he gained considerable importance as well as more property. (Note 2.) He died in 1317, leaving a son. Thomas. His wife, Helen, survived him., and married Alan de Cherleton.26)
Thomas de St. Maur was only 9 years of age at the time of his father's death. He became, in consequence, a ward at the disposal of the Sovereign, Edward 11, who almost immediately granted letters patent to Hugh le Despencer, the elder, giving him the wardship of the Manors of Hampton-Maysi, in Gloucester, and Eton- Maysi, in Wilts, which the late Nicholas had held, as part payment of certain debts which were owed him by the King.27) (Note 3.) This wardship was to be held during the minority of Thomas, who does not, however, appear to have lived many years after coming of age. Little further can be found about him, except that he founded the Priory of Dulton, in Wilts, annexing it, as a cell, to the Priory of Semplingham, in Lincoln.28) The successor to the estates was Sir Nicholas de St. Maur, Knight, who served in the wars in France in the retinue of Maurice de Berkeley in 1348, and again in the 1348. retinue of Thomas de Holland in 136o. He was summoned to Parliament from 1352 to 1361.29) He married Muriel, the daughter and heiress of James, the son and heir of Richard. Lord Lovel. by whom he had two sons, Nicholas and Richard., the former of whom died young.30)
Richard de St. Maur inherited all his father's estates, which appear to have been considerable. (Note 4.) In 1387 he served in the wars in France, in the retinue of Richard, Earl of Arundel, Admiral of England. He was also summoned to Parliament 1381. from 1381 to 1401.31) He married Ela, the daughter and coheir of Sir John St. Loe, Knight, and died May 15, 1401, leaving three sons, Richard, John, and Nicholas. of whom both the latter died without issue.32) By her testament, dated 1409, Ela bequeathed her body to be buried in the new chapel of Staverdale Priory, next to her husband's grave. She left her son Nicholas twenty pounds, her son John. a set of beads of coral, garnished with gold, and made him her heir male, whilst Alice, her grand-daughter, was made her heir female.33)
Richard de St. Maur served in Ireland under Thomas, Duke of Surrey, the Lieutenant of that realm, in 1399, and afterwards in France, in 1402. He was summoned to Parliament from 1402 to 1407, and died the following year, leaving no male issue. His wife. Mary, received at his death a considerable dowry, and his daughter, Alice, inherited the re mainder of his property. This daughter was born either just before or just after his death in the house of Thomas Cressy, citizen and mercer of London, in the parish of St. Laurence, in Cripplegate Ward, and was baptised in the church of St. Laurence. She married Sir William le Zouche, Knight, of Totnes, who performed fealty, and had livery of her lands.34)
Thus the elder or the two families started by Milo de St. Maur came to an end in an only daughter. We will therefore now go back to his second son, William, for from him apparently are descended the St. Maurs or Seymours of the present day. Sir William de St. Maur, Knight, was expressly called “of Penhow,”35) which was one of the border castles in Monmouth erected against the Welsh., and which, as has been already noticed, had formed part of the possessions of the family for some time. These possessions Sir William evidently determined to increase, for, in 1235-6, he entered into an agreement with Gilbert Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, to wrest the Manor of Woundy or Undy (as it was called later) from a Welshman, Morgan ap Howell, Lord of Caerleon,36) an attempt which appears to have been successfully carried out, the manor being subsequently divided between the Earl and Sir William. An old Latin record, which is transcribed in Vincent's manuscript baronage in the College of Arms, No. 20, says: “Gilbertus Marescallus., comes Pembrochiae tenetur praebere domino Willo de S. Mauro consilium in quantum poterit, secundum leges Angliae, ad perquirendum manerium de Woundy, de Morgano filio Hueli, tali conditione quod si praed ; Willus dictus menerium perquirere poterit. dictus Gilbertus habebit medietatem dicti manerii, et aliam medletatem ciat extendi dicto Willo, per probos et legales homines ad hoc ex utraque parte electos ita quod pro qualibet summa 20 L. redditus dictus Gilbertus dabit Willo de S. Mauro decem libras. Et quod idem Willus de S. Mauro teneat medietatem dicti manerii in manu sua, donec inde plenam solutionem, sicut praescriptum est, receperit. Et si forte contigerit, quod idem Willus de consilio dicti Gilberti defecrit, dictus Willus de S. Mauro remaneat soiutus et quietus de obligatione, quam dictus Gilbertus fecit super dictum manerium de Woundy.”
Sir William de St. Maur thus became possessed of the Manor of Undy in addition to that of Penhow.37) The latter place he made his residence, and soon transformed it into a larger and more important castle, surrounded by a large park, both of which he named St. Maur.38) He also dedicated the church there to St. Maur) the patron saint of the family,39) who seems to have been of some importance in ancient days, for even now churches are to be found abroad that were dedicated to him. Camden. in his chronicles of events in Ireland, 1361, also mentions him: “On the feast of St. Maur the Abbot., there happened a violent wind, that shook or blew down the pinnacles, chimneys, and such other buildings as overtopped the rest ; trees without number and several steeples ; particularly the steeple of the Friar's Preacher's.” (Note 5.)
Sir William's signature appears as witness to two charters of Gilbert Marshall, and to three of Walter Marshall, two being undated, and the third bearing the date 1245.40) He married the 3rd daughter of William Marshall. Earl of Pembroke, but nothing more is to be found about him except that his son, Roger, is mentioned as succeeding him.
Sir Roger de St. Maur inherited his father's possessions at Undy and Penhow. He is mentioned as Lord of the Manor of the former in 1269. He died before 1300 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Roger.41) (Note 6.)
It is at this period that we first find mention made of the arms of the St. Maur family which, from a seal appending to a grant of message to Thomas Elliot, of the chapel of Undy, surrounded by this inscription : (1 Sigill, Rogerii de Seimour,“ appear to have consisted of two. angel's wings, joined, tips downward. In an MS. of Percy Enderby, which was in the possession of S. R. Bosanquet, Esq., in 1867, he records that in the “South windows at Penhow there were in the centre the arms of Seymour, Gules, 2 wings conjoined, or.” In his History of Modern Wiltshire, vol. i, p. 115, Sir Richard Colt Hoare says: “Percy Enderby, in his book entitled Cambria Triumphans, informs us, that the arms, now borne by Seymour (viz. : a pair of wings) Were, in his time, visible in the church at Penhow ; both cut in stone and in painted glass ; and 1 have been informed by a friend of mine, who lately visited Penhow at my request, that he perceived the wings on two old windows, belonging to a tenant at that place, and which being rather singular as to their application and situation, I think worthy of remark.”42)
Of Roger de St. Maur but little is known, except that he lived in the year 1314, and married Joan, daughter of ??? Damarel, of Devonshire,43) by whom he had two sons, Sir John St. Maur and Sir Roger St. Maur, the former of whom died about 1358, 1358. leaving a son, Roger, born in 1340, who in turn left an only daughter who married into the family of Bowlays, near Penhow, and apparently brought her inheritance of Penhow Castle into that family. 44)
Sir Roger St. Maur, or Seymour as we may now call him, became Lord of the Manor of Woundy in succession to his father. He does not, however, appear to have spent much of his time there, preferring to reside at Evinswinden, in Wilts.45) He married Cecilia, daughter of John de Beauchamp, Baron of Hache, in Somerset.46)
Camden says: “From William de St. Maur, knight, who first settled at Woundy, descended Roger de St. Maur, knight, who married one of the heiresses of the illustrious John Beauchamp (this John Beauchamp of Hache married Cecilia, daughter of Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, as may be seen in Sir William Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire), the noble Baron de Hache, who was descended from Sybill, one of the coheiresses of that most puissant William Marshall (so called from his office), Earl of Pembroke ; and from William Ferrers, Earl of Derby; Hugh de Vivon ; and William Malet, men of eminent worth in their times. The nobility of all which, as also of several others, have (as may be made evident), concentred in the Right Honourable Edward de St. Maur or Seymour, now Earl of Hertford, a singular encourager of virtue and learning ; for which qualification he is deservedly famous.”
In his description of the county of Somerset, Camden again says: “The Beauchamps, otherwise de Bellocampo; have flourished in great honour from the time of Henry 11, especially since Cecilia de Fortibus, descended from the Earls of Ferrariis, and from the famous Marshall of England, William, Earl of Pembroke, was married into this family. But in the reign of Edward III, the estate was divided by sisters, between Roger de Sancto Mauro and John Meriel, both of them sprung from ancient and honourable ancestors. This is the cause why Henry VIII, after he had married Jane Seymour, Edward VI's mother, made Edward Seymour, her brother, Viscount Beauchamp.”
This marriage not only greatly advanced the importance of the Seymour family, but brought them a considerable increase in wealth for, as we have seen, the Lady Cecilia was one of two sisters, the last of the Beauchamp 1363. family, and, in, the entire possessions of that family were divided between them.47) (Note 7.) She died in 1393, having survived her husband, by whom she had five sons, the eldest of whom, William, being the only one about whom any information is to be gathered.
This Sir William Seymour, knight, resided for the most part at Undy. (Note 8.) He is mentioned, in 1362, as attending the Prince of Wales to his government of Gascony, after first obtaining the King's letter of protection, dated from Bamberg on February 8 of that year. He married Margaret, daughter of Simon de Brockburn, and died in 1390, leaving a son, Roger, born in 1366. 48) (Note 9.)
Within three years of the death of his father, Roger Seymour inherited all the possessions of his grandmother, Cecilia, in addition to the property already received from his father. He was at this time 27 years of age.49) He married Maud, daughter and coheir to Sir William Esturmy, knight, of Wolfhall in Wilts,50) and died in 1420, leaving a son, John, born in 1402. Camden says:” The Esturmies had been bailiffs and guardians of the forest of Savernake. by right of inheritance., from the time of Henry III. The Earl of Hertford, descended from this Roger, had in his possession their hunter's horn of a mighty bigness and tipped with silver. The Esturmies are famous for being the founders and patrons of the hospital of the Holy Trinity at Easton, near Marlborough, in Wilts.”
John Seymour inherited all his father's possessions, which had been so greatly encreased by his marriage, at the age of 18. Being also heir to his cousin, Sir Peter de la Mere, knight, he became of still greater importance. In 1431 he served as Sheriff of the county of Southampton, and in the following year of Wiltshire. Soon after this he was made a knight, and appears to have become one of the most important of the gentlemen of Wilts ; for, in the list of names of the gentlemen of that county returned by the Commissioners in 1434 his name appears first, after those of the elder knights and William Westbury, Justiciarus. He also served as Sheriff of Gloucester and Somerset, and again of Southampton in 1437. In 1451 he served in Parliament as one of the knights for the county of Wilts, this Parliament being one held at Reading.51) His wife was Isabel, daughter of Mark Williams, of Bristol, by whom he had a son, John.52)
Isabel Seymour, who had been married in 1424, survived her husband for many years, dying April 14, 1485.53) Two years after her husband's death, in 1463, she took the vow of perpetual chastity in the collegiate church of Westbury, inter missar solempnia, in the presence of Bishop Carpenter, who gave her his benediction and put upon her the vidual vesture, June 3, 1465.54) She was possessed in fee of divers messuages. cottages, and gardens, in the town and suburbs of Bristol ; and held in dower, or by joint feoffment with her late husband Sir John Seymour, various lands in the counties of Southampton, Wilts, Hereford. and Somerset. Her heir was found to be her grandson, John Seymour of Wolfhall, in Wilts, who at the time of her death was 34 years of age. His father and mother had both predeceased his grandmother.55)
John Seymour, described as of Wolfhall (the Ulfela of the Saxons), in Wilts, served as Sheriff for that county in 1458. He married Elisabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Coker of Laurence Lydiard, in Somerset, and died in 1463, a month or two before his father, leaving two sons, John and Humphrey, the latter of whom settled at Evinswinden,56) and married the daughter and coheiress of Thomas Winslow of Burton, Oxon. The Seymours of Oxford and Gloucester were directly descended from him. Elisabeth Seymour died 1472.57)
The elder brother, John Seymour of Wolfhall, was born in 1450 He was, therefore, barely 14 years of age when his father and grandfather died. He was twice married, first to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Darell, of Littlecote in Wilts, by Margaret, daughter of John, Lord Stourton ; secondly to a daughter of Robert Hardon, by whom he had one son, Roger, who in turn left four daughters, his coheirs. The death of John Seymour occurred in 1491.58) By his first wife, Elizabeth, he left numerous issue: