Lives twisted by a desire for POWER!
times were a very colourful period of English history
The Pomeroy’s at Berry Pomeroy
The De La Pomeroy family
held the large feudal barony of Berry Pomeroy from shortly
after the Norman
conquest of England, as the Domesday Book of 1086 records.
Early documents refer to a "capital
messuage" at Berry, signifying the caput or main residence,
of the manor,
which in turn was the caput of the barony and consisted in 1166 of almost 32 knight's fees, each equating an income from a single manor.
Henry Pomeroy enclosed a deer park
here in 1207, but the first reference to a
castle in records does not appear until 1496 and the death of Sir Richard. It was he who finished the castle which his father began, being a man of some substance due to his marriage to the very wealthy Elizabeth Densil daughter of a successful merchant and widow of the even more wealthy Martin Fortesque. Together they also enlarged the local church.
In 1496 Richard Pomeroy
died and his widow had the lands of Berry Pomeroy for her lifetime.
These included Coffyns Heannton (Lynton) Ogewell, Churston Ferrers, Clyst
Forneson (Sowton) Gattecombe in Colyton, Knighton Hethfield at Hennock,
Pynesford in Asprington and
Saltern at Budliegh Salterton and a moiety or a third of both the castle and the capital
messuage, ( a dwelling with land) which is now thought to have been on or near
the site of Berry House in the nearby village.
Berry Pomeroy Castle Under the Pomeroys the
castle consisted of a dry moat , a gatehouse and ramparts surmounted by the
curtain wall with buildings within that. Due to the extensive remodelling that later took place very few archaeological remains
survive to show the exact placement of these original buildings.
Richard's grandson, son of Sir Edward and his wife Johanna Sapcott was Sir Thomas Pomeroy. Like many of the landed gentry he was a Catholic and married into another wealthy land owning family
the Edgecombes. His wife Johanna being daughter of Piers Edgecombe of Cotehele. Like almost all the land owning families in the West Country the Pomeroys were joined in marriage to many of the other land owning families.
Thomas was neither wise nor a
clever in fact signs are that he may have been a bit dim. Maybe he was just an average man with a big position to fill. He had friends in high places his mother in law Johanna step mother, was Catherine and she ws a lady in witing to Anne of Cleves 4th wife of henry VIII.
Thomas may have been trying to keep up appearences as was the custom in that time for he certainly appears to have been extravagant as court records show-
he owed money, hundreds of pounds to the butcher, the baker and probably the candle stickmaker and certainly the clothier, all in London -Like many of his landed kind at that time, he was in a deep financial mess.
Like almost all the land owning families in the West Country the Pomeroys were joined in marriage to many of the other land owning families.
After Henry VIII died and during the early
part of the Protectorate, 1546, it is thought the ruthlessly ambitious Duke of Somerset,Edward Seymour the brother to Henry's third queen, Jane Seymour, used
pressure, maybe even some degree of blackmail, to ‘persuade’ the somewhat feather-headed Sir Thomas Pomeroy to part with his lands to pay off his
Sir Thomas sold all the Berry Pomeroy manors
and lands and the castle for £4000 in 1547. After this it looks as if Thomas and his brother Hugh of Tregony used the money they had left over to buy up numerous plots of monastic and chantry land.
Two years later Thomas became caught up in the Prayerbook Rebellion of 1549.
The castle now belonged to the Seymours and they set about redeveloping the castle and the site.
A POTTED HISTORY Men In High
Places Have Far To Fall
In 1547 Sir Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset was busily enriching himself. Amongst his acquisitions he bought Berry Pomeroy from a debt ridden Sir Thomas Pomeroy.
The Seymour family history is very confusing history because
the children of Edward Seymour's first marriage were declared bastards - and he had two sons called Edward -
Edward Seymour who was from a Wiltshire family, an
soldier and an ambitious man. He was created Duke of Somerset in 1547 and was an man of considerable influence at Court. He had the good fortune to be brother to Jane Seymour, Henry
VIII's third queen, he was also the eldest brother of Thomas Seymour, Lord
High Admiral from whom he later became estranged –
Thomas like Edward, was also bent of gaining power and used the boy king's, support to
circumvent Edward Duke of Somerset’s opposition to marry Henry VIII's widow Catherine
Parr in April 1547. Her Protestant household at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe
Gloucestershire included the 11-year-old Lady Jane Grey and the
13-year-old Princess Elizabeth.
His brother was Thomas Seymour who secretly married the Dowger Queen Catherine Parr shortly after Henry VIII died.
He had courted Princess Elizabeth before
his marriage and pursued her whilst his wife was alive, he may have even seduced her although that is unproven. He renewed his
attentions after Catherine's death in childbirth, proposing marriage to her but the ever cautious and very savvy Elizabeth rejected him. It was this and his other risky behaviours that ultimately resulted in his attainting
on thirty-three charges of treason.
His brother Somerset
delayed signing the death warrant so the council went to boy king Edward VI for his
signature and bold Thomas Seymour was executed in 1549.
Edward Seymour Knight of the Garter ,
Lord Protector Duke of Somerset, 3rd Earl of Hertford and Marquess of Hertford,
Earl of Yarmouth, Vicount Beauchamp of Hache-
His first marriage, in about 1527 was to Catherine Fillol
but this was apparently annulled , the alleged reason being a
relationship between Catherine and John Seymour, Edward's father. The children
of this marriage were placed in second place to those of his second wife Anne
Anne seems to have been powerfully influential over her husband in
private. She bore him nine children and was regarded by one and all as a predatory, arrogant,
pushy and vindictive woman bent only on grasping power for herself and her
children. (yet she looks like a sweet little thing in her portrait here on the right ! )
Even before Edward VI 's coronation
she claimed, without entitlement, precedence
over the Dowager Queen Catherine Parr,
scandalously taking possession of the Queens jewels - which annoyed Catherine
Parr no end.
being Lord Protector of England, and king in all but name, Lord Edward Seymour wanted more but his activities made him unpopular.
Everyman of the council have misliked your proceedings ... would to God, that, at the first stir you had followed the matter hotly, and caused justice to be ministered in solemn fashion to the terror of others ...".
By 1 October 1549, Somerset, alerted that his rule faced a serious threat, issued a proclamation calling for assistance. With the council plans planning to remove him as Protector he took possession of the king's person, and carried him, (hostage) to the fortified Windsor Castle, where Edward wrote, "Me thinks I am in prison". A sequence of events followed that led to Somerset's removal from power in what in fact was a coup d'état.
The Council published details of Somerset's government mismanagement making clear that the Protector's power came from them, not from Henry VIII's will.
On 11 October 1549 the Council had Somerset arrested and brought the King to Richmond. In his diary the 15 year old Edward VI summarised the charges against his uncle Seymour
"ambition, vainglory, entering into rash wars in mine youth, negligent looking on Newhaven, enriching himself of my treasure, following his own opinion, and doing all by his own authority, etc."
It was John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who emerged as the leader of the Council , in effect Somerset's successor. Although Somerset was released from the Tower and restored to the Council, his attempt to overthrow Dudley led his re arrest and condemnation.
Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset was executed for treason in January 1552.
On that day his young nephew Edward VI noted in his journal
"the duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill between eight and nine o'clock in the morning".
King Edward, Henry VIII's much longed for son by Jane Seymour did not live long, he died in July 1553 age 15.
Seymour of Berry Pomeroy, son of the 1st Duke of Somerset by his
first wife Catherine, was of the senior line, set aside by the
annulment of his father’s first marriage.
He became a considerable
landowner, High Sheriff of Devon in 1583 and a Justice of the Peace
Berry Pomeroy Castle became his main residence and between 1560 and 1580 he removed the earlier Pomeroy buildings inside the castle walls and at the north end
of the courtyard erected a new four-storey house in the fashionable style of the period, the shell of which survives mostly to its original height.