Anne Seymour was the second wife of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of Edward VI. Anne was born in 1497 to Sir Edward Stanhope and his wife Elizabeth and it is through her mother that Anne is descended from Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of King Edward III.
Anne married Edward Seymour sometime in 1535. Edward was the brother of the future queen of England, Jane Seymour. After Jane’s marriage to King Henry VIII the Seymour’s began being honoured with lands and titles. Edward was elevated to Viscount Beauchamp and in 1537 after Jane gave birth to Henry’s son, Edward, he was created Earl of Hertford. Finally in 1547 he was created Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of his young nephew, Edward.
Anne and Edward had ten children and Queen Jane Seymour acted as godmother to their first child as well as Thomas Cromwell and Princess Mary.
Anne did not go unnoticed at court Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey took a fancy to her and although he had argued with her husband Howard still went on to write a sonnet about Anne entitled ‘A lady who refused to dance with him’ it portrayed Anne as a spiteful and cold lady.
Anne in 1545 sent aid to Anne Askew, the Protestant preacher who was burned at the stake for foretelling the King’s death. This showed that she was in favour of the Protestant faith and it was not the first she would be implicated in Protestant conspiracies.
Anne Seymour had a very prominent life at court; she was present throughout the latter days of Henry VIII’s reign and was not afraid of confrontation. Although she was present at Henry’s wedding to his final queen, Catherine Parr. Once Henry died and her husband became Lord Protector, Anne and Catherine found it difficult to get along. Anne deemed herself the most important lady in the realm and the rift deepened when Catherine married Anne’s brother in law, Thomas Seymour. Anne refused to enter a room behind Catherine however; Catherine invoked the Third Act of Succession, Henry’s final Act which restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession. The Act also stated that Catherine, Mary, Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves were still took precedence over any other woman in the country and this included Anne Seymour.
Anne’s husband, Edward, was appointed Lord Protector by 13 of the 16 members of the council created in Henry VIII’s will to govern for the young King Edward VI until he was 18. This appointment made Seymour the most powerful man in England. After a series of rebellions during 1548/49 the blame fell at Seymour and the Privy Council had Edward Seymour and his wife arrested and placed in the Tower. Anne was released soon after and Seymour in January 1550. Anne was helpful in securing Seymour’s release by making visits to John Dudley, the new head of the council. Through Anne’s negotiations Seymour was admitted back into the Privy Council and her daughter was married to the eldest son of John Dudley.
Edward Seymour was arrested again on 1st December 1551 and was executed less than a month later on 22nd January 1552 Anne was released on 30th May 1553.
With the death of Edward Seymour Anne remarried to Francis Newdigate who was steward to her late husband. Little is known of their relationship and marriage. Anne appears to have taken herself away from court. Anne died at Hanworth Palace, Middlesex on 16th April 1587 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.