Lord Henry Somerset

The Right Honourable
Lord Henry Somerset
Comptroller of the Household
In office
2 March 1874  4 February 1879
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
Preceded by Lord Otho FitzGerald
Succeeded by The Earl of Yarmouth
Personal details
Born 7 December 1849
Died 10 October 1932 (1932-10-11) (aged 82)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Isabella Somers-Cocks (d. 1921)

Lord Henry Richard Charles Somerset PC, DL, JP (7 December 1849 10 October 1932) was a British Conservative politician and composer of popular music. He served as Comptroller of the Household under Benjamin Disraeli between 1874 and 1879.


Somerset was the second son of Henry Somerset, 8th Duke of Beaufort, by his wife Lady Georgiana Charlotte Curzon, daughter of Richard Curzon-Howe, 1st Earl Howe. He was the brother of Henry Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort, and Lord Arthur Somerset.[1]

Political career

Somerset was elected at a by-election in 1871 as Member of Parliament (MP) for Monmouthshire, and held the seat until he stood down at the 1880 general election.[2][3] When the Conservatives came to power in 1874 under Benjamin Disraeli, he was sworn of the Privy Council[4] and appointed Comptroller of the Household,[5] a post he held until 1879.[6] Apart from his political career he was also a Deputy Lieutenant of Monmouthshire and a justice of the peace for Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.[1]


Somerset married Lady Isabella Caroline Somers-Cocks,[7] the eldest daughter and co-heir of Charles Somers-Cocks, 3rd Earl Somers, on 6 February 1872. They had one child, Henry Charles Somers Augustus (18741945), but their marriage collapsed after a few years because of Lord Henry's infatuation with a seventeen-year-old boy. As a result, he withdrew to Italy, while his wife was ostracised from society for having made public, contrary to the conventions of the time, why she had left him.[8] She died in March 1921. Somerset remained a widower until his death in October 1932, aged 82. His only son married Lady Katherine, a daughter of William Beauclerk, 10th Duke of St Albans, and their grandson David Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort, succeeded to the dukedom of Beaufort in 1984.[1]


Somerset is the author of Songs of adieu (1889) and A song of sleep (Ricordi, 1903). His setting to music of Christina Rossetti's Echo enjoyed considerable success when it was published by Chappell & Co. c.1900.


  1. 1 2 3 thepeerage.com Lord Henry Richard Charles Somerset
  2. Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 529. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  3. Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "M" (part 3)
  4. The London Gazette: no. 24072. p. 1519. 6 March 1874.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 24071. p. 1453. 3 March 1874.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 24675. p. 601. 7 February 1879.
  7. Black, Ros. "Lady Henry Somerset 1851 - 1921".
  8. Rodney Bell (2011) As Good as God, As Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Octavius Morgan
Poulett Somerset
Member of Parliament for Monmouthshire
1871 – 1880
With: Octavius Morgan 1841-74,
Frederick Courtenay Morgan 1874-85
Succeeded by
Frederick Courtenay Morgan
John Rolls
Political offices
Preceded by
Lord Otho FitzGerald
Comptroller of the Household
Succeeded by
The Earl of Yarmouth

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