Seymour Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Seymour Meaning
place-name Saint Maur in Normandy was said to
have been the origin of the English Seymours.
These Seymours claimed to have come over to England with William
Conqueror.  They rose to prominence
during Tudor times, being ennobled as the Duke of Somerset

Seymour Resources on

Seymour Ancestry

Seymour origins

may have been in northern France.  But
their first recorded sightings were in
fact in Monmouthshire on the Welsh borders in the mid-13th century.  Sir William Seymour, who was an attendant to
the Black Prince, was the first to use the anglicized version of the
name.  His son Roger established the family
home at
Wolf Hall in Wiltshire.

Sir John Seymour was the first to bring the family into
national prominence.  He took an active
in suppressing the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 and afterwards attended
Henry VIII
at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.   His
daughter Jane became the King’s third wife; his son Edward, created
Duke of
Somerset, acted as Lord Protector following the death of
the King.

The Seymours were never again
to be so close to royal power again.  In fact
Edward the Lord Protector and his brother Thomas, who had married Henry
widow Catherine Parr, were both executed for treason in the early
1550’s as the
political tide turned

family did remain haughty, influential and wealthy for several
generations after this,
although they split into several lines including a few illegitimate
ones as
well.  The Protector himself was married
twice.  Probably due to the adultery of
his first wife Catherine whom he repudiated in 1535, his titles and
were entailed first on the issue from his second wife Anne:

  • Edward
    Seymour of
    this second marriage became the Earl of Hertford.  His
    descendants re-adopted the title of Duke
    of Somerset until this male line died out in 1750.
  • Edward
    Seymour of the first
    marriage meanwhile established himself at Berry Pomeroy in Devon.  Six successive Edward Seymours followed, the
    last of whom succeeded as Duke of Somerset in 1750.
    From Francis Seymour, a second son, came the
    Marquess of Hertford line.

Marquess of Hertford line had become the most
conspicuous Seymour line by the late 18th century.
Their numbers included Lord Hugh Seymour, a
senior naval officer who was for a time a close drinking friend of the
Regent. He died of yellow fever in the
West Indies in 1801.  His younger brother
George, once described as “the handsomest giant in the world,” was also
carouser with the Prince.  He lived on,
an inveterate place-seeker, until his death in Brighton in 1848.   From this line or thereabouts came the Seymours of Thrumpton Hall

The Seymour name has also been evident in Hampshiire since the
mid-16th century when Sir Henry
a brother of the Lord Protector, acquired Marwell Hall near Winchester.  There had in fact been earlier sightings of
the name in Andover.  One Seymour family
line at Ringwood has been traced back to Robert Seymour who was born in
Lulworth in 1624.

Seymour name extended into Ireland.  One
line via John Seymour, a second son of the Seymours of Berry Pomeroy,
apparently settled in Limerick where James Seymour was recorded as
mayor in
1729.  From this line, it is thought,

  • Sir
    Michael Seymour the naval
    officer who saw combat with the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars
    and rose
    to be Rear-Admiral.
  • many
    other Seymours in Limerick who at this time were
  • and
    Horatio Nelson Seymour who was
    a prominent merchant in the city from the 1830’s to the 1870’s.  

Francis Seymour of the Hertford
Seymours was in charge of the British troops stationed in Antrim in the
1700’s and his descendants became sizeable landowners in the Lisburn
area.  Another Seymour branch in Ireland
around this time with Thomas Seymour, also an army officer who with his
John established himself at Ballymore castle in Galway.

.  Colonel John Seymour was
appointed the
colonial Governor of Maryland in 1704.
He came in fact from the Bitton Seymours of Gloucestershire, an
illegitimate line from the Lord Protector.
Upon his death in 1709 his family returned to England. 

Seymour, a Puritan from
Hertfordshire, came to New England in 1635 and
settled in Norwalk, Connecticut.  His
line through six generations was covered in the 1939 book A
History of the Seymour Family
by George Seymour and Donald
Jacobus.  One line extended to Horatio
Seymour who served twice as Governor of New York and was the Democratic
candidate against Ulysses S. Grant in 1868.

John Granderson Seymour arrived in North Carolina in 1792 from
England.  Family legend has it that he
came as a remittance man in that he had left his influential family
behind and
severed all family ties.  In 1829 he headed
west with his family on horseback to Morgan county, Illinois where they
settled.  Esther Seymour Atwood’s 1960 book
The Descendants of John Granderson and Agnes
covered this history.

of the other Seymours in America came from Ireland.
Their numbers included: 

  • Felix
    from Ulster who arrived in 1737 and settled in Hardy
  • and
    William Seymour, also
    probably from Ulster, who reached South Carolina in 1798.
    He and his family later moved onto

Cunningham, born in
Belfast in 1823, changed his name to Seymour when he arrived in New
York.  There he became a popular Irish
actor.  His son William Seymour was a
American stage actor, manager and director over a lengthy seventy year

Frederick Seymour, born in Belfast, came from an illegitimate
Seymour line and consequently had to fend for himself.
He served as a colonial administrator in
various parts of the world before becoming the Governor of British
Columbia in
1864.  He only lasted in the post for
five years before his death from dysentery.
But his name has lived on in a number of places in the province.

Maurice Seymour was
said to have been born in Ireland around the year 1820.  After
serving in the British army, he migrated from Jamaica to New York and
then to Goderich in Ontario.  His son Maurice, born there in 1857,

was in charge of public health in Saskatchewan for more than forty

Zealand.  Henry

from Gloucestershire was one of the earliest
settlers in Nelson, arriving there in 1842 and planting two oak
seedlings that
he had brought with him from England.
He and his compatriot Alfred Fell soon set themselves up as
and land agents and became very prosperous in the process


Seymour Miscellany

Seymour Origins.  According
to the Victorian writer Agnes Strickland:

Seymours were a family of country gentry who, like most holders of manorial rights, traced their ancestry to a Norman origin.  One or two had been knighted in the wars of
France, but their names had never emerged from the herald’s visitation rolls into historical celebrity.  They increased their boundaries by fortunate alliances with heiresses and the head of the family married into a collateral branch of the lordly line of Beauchamp.  After that event two instances were quoted of Seymours serving as high sheriff of Wiltshire.

Thomas Cranmer granted a dispensation for nearness of kin
between Henry VIII and his prospective bride Jane Seymour.
Although the royal kindred appears somewhat
doubtful, yet it is undeniable that the sovereign of England gained by this alliance one brother in-law who bore the name of Smith and another whose
grandfather was a blacksmith at Putney.”

Sir Henry Seymour at Marwell Hall.  Sir Henry
Seymour who had acquired Marwell Hall in Hampshire in 1551 was a
Protestant and, on taking over the property, treated the local Catholic
at Owslebury with bigoted cruelty.  The
priest in revenge solemnly and openly in the parish church cursed him
and his
posterity with bell, book, and candle.
Outraged Sir Henry retaliated by shooting the priest while he
celebrating the rites of his faith.

story goes that, whether as the
fulfillment of the curse or not, by the time of the second generation
from Sir
Henry, the sons and daughters of his only son Sir John were without
land or
money and dependent on handouts from the Marquess of Hertford.  One member of the family came to such poverty
as to receive a pauper’s burial in the very parish where the curse was

The Seymours of Thrumpton Hall.  George Fitzoy
Seymour had the haughty demeanor of the Seymour family and the belief
that he
was descended from Charles II and his bastard son the Duke of Grafton.  He was in fact the son of Lady Byron’s sister
Lady Victoria Seymour and related to the Hertford Seymours.  His own father had been a diplomat, but a
failed one and the British Foreign Office had parked him off to
Paraguay in
1924 where it was believed that he could do no harm.

George was the presumptive
heir of Thrumpton Hall, a Jacobean country house in Nottinghamshire,
from his
nephew Lord Byron.  In the event he had
to acquire the house, which he did at an auction in 1949.
This made him even more determined to strut
around as the local squire.

But not even Thrumpton was enough for George
Seymour.  As his daughter Miranda explained:

house couldn’t give more than it was,  It couldn’t confer
friendship or success. This was a source of bewilderment,
sadness and disappointment.”

So in middle age George embraced bikerdom. He
bought himself some leathers and a 750-cc Ducati and began tooling
around the
countryside, usually in the company of young men hardly to the manor

Seymour followed her father George into Thrumpton Hall when he died in
1994 and in 2008
wrote a bitter-sweet memoir of him in Thrumpton
Hall: A Memoir

Richard Seymour, Early American Immigrant.  Richard Seymour (sometimes Seymer) from
Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire was influenced by the Essex preacher
Thomas Hooker to leave England and come to New England.
One of the original Puritans, he traveled on
the Increase in 1635.  He
was one of the first fourteen settlers of Norwalk,
Connecticut.  The location of his house
is still known – at present-day Fitch Street and East Avenue.

Records indicate
that he and his wife Mercy had three children before they traveled to
England and four more after they reached Norwalk.  Richard
was appointed a Selectman in Norwalk
in 1655, the year of his death.

Felix Seymour in Virginia.  Felix Seymour, born in Ulster in
1725, accompanied his father to America at the age of 12 on an apparent
expedition to spy out the land.  His
father left Felix with a Virginia gentleman named Thomas Renick while
returned to Ireland for the rest of the family. He was never heard from
and was presumed lost at sea.

settled near Moorefield in present-day West
Virginia and married Margaret, the eldest Renick daughter, in 1753. He and Margaret had eleven children. Felix
served with distinction in the Continental Army during the
Revolutionary War and
was rewarded with the commission of Colonel.
He died in 1798.

Reader Feedback – Maurice Seymour in Canada.  I think I have developed a lead on my Seymour family of Ireland.  I
do know from my ancestor’s death certificate
specifically states that our family is from England.  Some
of my Seymour ancestors were born in
Ireland, but their families are from England. They were Roman Catholic.

Seymours we’re also merchants from Dr.
Seymour’s father Captain Maurice Bain Seymour.  Captain
Seymour was a captain in the British army but
was also a merchant.

Brian MacDonald Seymour ( 

The Seymour Oak in Nelson, New Zealand.  Henry
Seymour had been the secretary of the Cheltenham
Horticultural Society and brought out acorns with him to New Zealand
when he
came out in 1842.

planted two seedlings in Nelson that year.  One
grew on the road that became known as
Seymour Avenue, the other on private property near a brook.  A high flood shortly afterward washed one of
these seedlings away.  A diligent search
led to its recovery over a mile away on the banks of the Maitai river
the brook was a tributary. The seedling was brought back in triumph and
time was planted in the field at a safe distance from the brook.

this tree is a fine massive specimen of
the oak tree in good health.  There is a
plaque from the Historic Places Trust which reads: “Planted by Henry
Seymour in 1842 and replanted by Alfred Fell the following year.”


Seymour Names

  • Jane Seymour was the third wife of Henry VIII and the only wife to bear him a male heir.  
  • Edward Seymour, her elder brother and the first Duke of Somerset, acted as Lord Protector of
    England after the death of Henry VIII

Seymour Numbers Today

  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Seymour and Like Surnames.

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.




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