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Somerset, Earls And Dukes Of

SOMERSET, EARLS AND DUKES OF. In the 1ith century Somerset and Dorset were under the jurisdiction of one sheriff, and for a considerable period titles derived from each of these shires were borne by the same person. (See DORSET, EARLS, MARqUESSES AND DUKES OF.)

The earldom of Somerset in the Beaufort family dated from 1397, in which year it was granted by Richard II. to John Beaufort (c. 1373-1410), the eldest of the three illegitimate, but afterwards legitimated, sons of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, by Catherine, wife of Sir Hugh Swynford, and daughter of Sir Payne Roelt. He was followed in the earldom successively by his three sons: Henry, who died unmarried in 1418; John (1404- 1444), who in 1443 was created earl of Kendal and duke of Somerset, both of which titles became extinct at his death; and Edmund, who was created earl of Dorset in 1441, marquess of Dorset in 1443,' and duke of Somerset in 1448. (See SOMERSET, EDMUND BEAUFORT, DUKE OF.) On the execution of Edmund's son Henry, sth earl and 2nd duke of Somerset, by the Yorkists in 1464, his titles were forfeited by act of parliament; but his brother Edmund was from that date styled duke of Somerset by the Lancastrian party till his death in May 1471, when the house of Beaufort became extinct. (See BEAUFORT.) In 1499 Henry VII. nominated his infant son Edmund to the dukedom of Somerset at his baptism, but the child, who died within a few months, was probably never formally created a peer; the title, conjoined with the dukedom of -Richmond, was, however, borne by Henry Fitzroy, illegitimate son of Henry VIII., from 1525 till his death without heirs in 1536.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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