Lady Lucy Somerset, Baroness Latimer (c.1524 – 23 February 1583) was an English noblewoman and the daughter of Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester and his second wife, Elizabeth Browne.
By her mother, Lucy descended from the brother of “Warwick, the Kingmaker” (Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick), John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu. The Marquess was also brother to Lady Alice FitHugh (born Neville); great-grandmother of Queen Katherine Parr. Warwick and Montagu were casualties of the War of the Roses. Montagu’s surviving children included Lucy’s grandmother, also named Lucy. Lucy married Sir Anthony Browne and they were parents to Lady Elizabeth Somerset, who became Countess of Worcester upon her marriage to Sir Henry Somerset. Lady Worcester’s sister, Anne, married to Charles Brandon, later Duke of Suffolk, in 1508. As such, the Countess was aunt to Ladies Anne and Mary Brandon. Lady Worcester became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. However, Lady Worcester was an informant against the Queen when she was tried in 1536. Queen Anne was tragically sentenced to death and was executed shortly after.
Lucy Somerset may have served as a Maid of Honour to Queen consort Catherine Howard. Queen Catherine was the other ill fated wife of King Henry VIII. After Catherine was found to have had liaisons with other men before and possibly during her marriage to the King, she was also beheaded like her cousin, Queen Anne. Interesting fact: The holder of Catherine’s jewels after her execution would become the next sister-in-law to King Henry–Lady Herbert, lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine Howard.
Lady Lucy married in 1545 to John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, the stepson of King Henry’s sixth consort, Katherine Parr. As a teenager, John had proved to be a confident sulking, lying, and over-sensitive boy. His father, the 3rd Baron, did not name him as heir to his properties and made sure that his son could not meddle with his inheritance or the Baron’s legacy. In the 3rd Latimer’s will, Katherine Parr was named guardian of his daughter and was put in charge of his affairs which were to be given over to his daughter at the age of her majority. Despite the turbulance of the 4th Baron’s youth, Katherine Parr kept her stepchildren close, especially the Baron’s sister, Margaret. As Queen, Katherine made the new Lady Latimer a lady-in-waiting. Parr and the new Lady Latimer also happened to be cousins as their great-grandparents were siblings.
Unfortunately, the 4th Baron became an emotionally unstable man later in life. The imbalance must have made it difficult for Lady Latimer. In the summer of 1553, John was sent to Fleet Prison on charges of violence done to a servant. He was arrested for attempted rape and assault in 1557 and in 1563, he killed a man. Of the situation in 1553, Thomas Edwards wrote to the Earl of Rutland describing the violence which had taken place with the servant quoting “too great a villainy for a noble man, my thought.”
The couple had four daughters who all married quite well.
- Hon. Elizabeth Neville (c. 1545 – 1630), married firstly Sir John Danvers of Dauntsey, and secondly Sir Edmund Carey, a cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. Her children include Sir Charles Danvers, who was executed for his part in the Essex Rebellion in 1601. Elizabeth’s descendants by John Danvers included the Dukes of Leeds [extinct in 1964]; the Earls of Lichfield; and the Earls of Leicester of Holkham from which Sarah, Duchess of York (mother of Princess Beatrice and Eugenie of York) descends.
- Hon. Katherine Neville (1546 – 28 October 1596), married firstly Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland, and secondly Francis Fitton of Binfield. Lord and Lady Northumberland were parents to Sir Henry, 9th Earl of Northumberland. Her descendants include Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales; HM Queen Elizabeth II by her mother; Sarah, Duchess of York; and others. Katherine was buried in the Chapel of St. Nicholas in Westminster Abbey, within the Percy family, Dukes of Northumberland.
- Hon. Dorothy Neville (1547 – 23 March 1609), married Sir Thomas Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s counselor, later Earl of Exeter. Cecil was the half-brother of the Earl of Salisbury. Her descendants also include Lady Diana Spencer, the late Princess of Wales (mother of the future King William and the Duke of Sussex).
- Hon. Lucy Neville (c. 1549 – April 1608), married Sir William Cornwallis of Brome Hall. Their daughters made advantageous marriages to nobility such as the marriage of their daughter Anne to the 7th Earl of Argyll by whom she had issue. Another daughter, Elizabeth, became Viscountess Lumley as the wife of Sir Richard, 1st Viscount Lumley.
Lord Latimer died in 1577. He was buried in St. Michael’s Church, Well, North Yorkshire which adjoined Neville’s home, Snape Castle. The church had a long standing history with the Neville family going back to John, Lucy, and Queen Katherine Parr’s ancestor, Sir Ralph Neville, the 1st Earl of Westmorland. Westmorland married Lady Joan Beaufort; the only daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster by his mistress, later wife, Katherine Roet Swynford. Ralph Neville was responsible for the building of the present church c. 1330. The 4th Lord Latimer’s mural monument lies in Nevilles’ Chapel within Well’s Church. Latimer’s daughter, Dorothy, Countess of Exeter inherited Snape Castle and is also buried there with her husband Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter. According to a card placed upon the tomb of the 4th Baron, the four coat of arms on his tomb represent that of his four daughters and their husband.
The Latimers died without sons and their four daughters became joint heiresses. The barony became abeyant until 1913, when its abeyance was terminated in favour of the 4th Baron Latimer’s descendant Francis Money-Coutts, who became the 5th Baron Latymer.
Lady Latimer died on 23 February 1583. She was buried away from her husband in Hackney Parish Church in London. Her grand tomb has her effigy surrounded by her four daughter’s coats of arms. Her tomb is one of only a few in England which feature such noble bearings; the other being the tomb of George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland at Skipton which is surrounded by no fewer than seventeen richly adorned shields which include that of Brandon, Dacre, de Clare, St. John, and more. The Earl himself was a descendant of Queen Katherine Parr’s great-aunt, Mabel Parr, Lady Dacre. Lady Latimer’s tomb not only includes the arms many of those on Clifford’s tomb as Neville, Beauchamp, Dacre, Berkeley, and Percy but also those of de Vere Earl of Oxford, Walcot, and Cecil. Lord Latimer’s arms (the Neville) are at one end of the tomb. The statues of the four daughters were two on each side of the monument; at the side of each the shield of the husband impaling the Neville arms. These arms are thus repeated five times. At the other end are Lady Latimer’s arms: the lions and fleur de lis that is France and England, quarterly, the arms of Beaufort, as she descended from the eldest legitimated son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset as well as his sister, Lady Joan, Countess of Westmorland.
In Robinson’s History of Hackney we find:
“The effigy of Lady Latimer was exquisitely sculptured and was fixed on the top of the table monument She appears to be dressed in a scarlet robe with a coronet on her head and the other part of the dress was richly gilt This effigy was probably intended for a portrait of her.”
Her epitaph reads:
Such as she, is such surely shall yee bee; Such as shee was, such if yee bee, be glad: Faire in her youth though fatt in age she grew; Virtuous in bothe whose glosse did never fade. Though long alone she ledd a widowe’s life, Yet never ladye live da truer wife. From Wales she sprang, a Branch of Worcester’s race, Grafte in a stock of Brownes her mother’s side: In Court she helde a maide of honor’s place, Whilst youth in her, and she in Court did byde. To John, Lord Latimer, then became she wife; Four daughters had they breathing yet in life. Earl of Northumberland tooke the first to wife; The nexte the heire of Baron Burleigh chose: Cornwallis happ the third for terme of life: And Sir John Danvers pluckt the youngest Rose. Their father’s heirs, them mothers all she sawe: Pray for, or praise her: make your list the Lawe, Made by Sir William Cornwallis, Knight, this Ladye’s Sonne in Lawe.
- Susan E. James. Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s Last Love. The History Press, 2009.
- Richard Simpson. Some Accounts of the Monuments in Hackney Church, Billing and Sons, 1881; Chapter: Lady Latimer.
- W. Harbutt Dawson. History of Skipton, Simpkin, Marshall, London, 1882.
- History: Village of Well, North Yorkshire. http://www.wellvillage.org.uk/history/