SOMERSET, Lord Robert Edward Henry (1776-1842).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



27 Mar. 1799 - 1802
14 Nov. 1803 - 1831
6 Aug. 1834 - 1837

Family and Education

b. 19 Dec. 1776, 4th s. of Henry, 5th Duke of Beaufort, and bro. of Lord Arthur John Henry Somerset*, Charles Henry Somerset*, Fitzroy James Henry Somerset*, and Henry Charles Somerset, Mq. of Worcester*. educ. Westminster 1789. m. 17 Oct. 1805, Hon. Louisa Augusta Courtenay, da. of William, 2nd Visct. Courtenay, 2s. 5da. KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCB 17 Oct. 1834.

Offices Held

Jt. dep. paymaster-gen. 1807-13; lt.-gen. of Ordnance June 1829-Nov. 1830, surveyor-gen. Dec. 1834-Apr. 1835.

Cornet, 10 Drag. 1793, lt. 1793, capt. 1794; a.d.c. to Duke of York in Holland 1799; maj. 12 Drag. 1799, 28 Drag. 1800; lt.-col. 5 Ft. 1800, 4 Drag. 1801; col. 4 Drag. in Portugal 1809; a.d.c. to King with rank of col. 1810; maj.-gen. i/c Hussar brig. 1813, i/c heavy cav. brig. in Netherlands 1815, i/c 1 brig. cav. France 1815-18; col. 21 Drag. 1818; inspecting gen. cav. 1818-25; col. 17 Lancers 1822, Royals 1829, 4 Drag. 1836; lt.-gen. 1825, gen. 1841.


Lord Edward Somerset, as he was usually known, was a captain in the army when he came in for Monmouth Boroughs on the family interest.1 His father was a friend of Pitt’s government, and Lord Edward, when he attended, followed the same line: but he was on active service in Holland in 1799. In 1802 he made way for his elder brother Charles. On his father’s death in October 1803, he replaced his eldest brother Henry as county Member for Gloucestershire and retained the seat until he was defeated for the western division in 1832. He voted with Fox and Pitt against Addington’s ministry on defence, 23, 25 Apr. 1804, and was listed a friend of Pitt on his return to power, voting against the censure motion on Melville, 8 Apr. 1805.

There is no further evidence of political activity for ten years, although he took sinecure office in 1807 and was considered a friend of administration. In 1808 he was stationed in Dublin where the Duke of Richmond’s partiality for his wife was the scandal of the season.2 In 1809 he joined Wellington in Portugal. He served in the Peninsula until the end of the war, and after appearing in government majorities on 14 Apr. and 8 May 1815, in the Waterloo campaign, acquiring a reputation as a dashing cavalry leader. He was twice thanked by the House for his services3 and received many decorations. On his return home he again, when present, gave his silent vote to government, and voted against Catholic relief, 9 May 1817. His politics remained conservative and he later took office under his friend Wellington, as usual in a military capacity. He died 1 Sept. 1842.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. DNB; Gent. Mag. (1843), i. 199; R. D. Rees, ‘Parl. Rep. S. Wales 1790-1830’ (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1962), ii. 514.
  • 2. Leveson Gower, ii. 333.
  • 3. On 26 July 1814 and 27 and 29 Apr. 1816.