(3rd E. Worcester)
Died: 21 Feb 1589, St.John's, near London (Hackney)
Buried: Raglan Church, Wales
Notes: Knight of the Garter.
Father: Henry SOMERSET (2º E. Worcester)
Mother: Elizabeth BROWNE (C. Worcester)
Married 1: Christian NORTH (C. Worcester) ABT 29 Jan 1549/50
1. Edward SOMERSET (4º E. Worcester)
2. Elizabeth SOMERSET
3. Lucy SOMERSET
Married 2: Teophila NEWTON (C. Worcester) (dau. of Sir John Newton of Hawtrey and Margaret Poyntz)
This noble Earl held positions at the courts of three sobereigns: Edward VI; Mary I and Elizabeth I. William Somerset was made a gentleman of the Privy Chamber and principal esquire to Henry VIII on 25 Jul 1544. He was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Edward VI and was summoned to Parliament as the third Earl of Worcester on 3 Jan 1550, following the death of his father.
He had an extensive career as a diplomat, accompanying Northampton to Paris in 1551 and in 1571 was Ambassador extraordinary to France to represent Elizabeth I at the baptism of the daughter of Charles IX. On his crossing the Channel, his ship was attacked by pirates and he was robbed while several of his men were slain.
He took part in the trial of the Lord Protector Somerset, and as the youngest of the peers present, was the first to vote for his condemnation. He reluctantly signed the device, giving the succession to the crown to Lady Jane Grey, but did nothing to promote her cause and was present at the proclamation of Queen Mary I at St. Paul's on 19 Jul 1553. A Roman Catholic in his heart, he conformed outwardly to the established church after the accession of Elizabeth and was among the peers who attended upon the Queen at her entrance into London. He was deputy chief butler at her coronation.
His sister Anne, and her husband Thomas Percy, 7° Earl of Northumberland, were involved in the Northern Rebellion. There were rumors questioning his loyalty, but he surmounted them. He was made a Knight of the Garter on 2 Apr 1571 and deputy earl marshall a year later. He was present at the trial of the Duke of Norfolk in Jan 1572. In 1579 he was made lieutenant of the order of the Garter. On 26 Oct 1586 he was named one of the commissioners to try Mary, Queen of Scots, and in 1588, he raised a force of men for the defense of the realm in the Armada crisis.
Interested in the theater, he maintained his own company of actors, and sponsored - among others - the eminent Elizabethan actor Edward Alleyn.
When he died in 1589 he was buried in Raglan Church, the first of his line to be so; little remain of the monument which was heavily damaged during the civil war. His widow then married William Paratt of Pantglas and may have made a third marriage to William Butler of Badminton.
His son Edward by his first wife Christian, daughter of Edward, first baron North, was his successor as fourth earl.
His second wife, Theophila, sister of Frances Newton, Baroness Cobham; and of Nazareth Newton, Baroness Paget; was another of the nineteen children of Sir John Newton or Cradock of East Harptree and Margaret Poyntz.
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