John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset

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John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
John Beaufort 1st Earl of Somerset.jpg
Bornc. 1371
Beaufort, Champagne, France
Died16 March 1410
London, England
St Michael's Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral
AllegianceRoyal Arms of England.png Kingdom of England
Service/branchFlag Kingdom of England.gif English Navy
Years of service1390–1407
RankHigh Admiral
Commands heldConstable of Wallingford Castle
Captain of Calais
Constable of Dover Castle & Warden of the Cinque Ports
Irish Fleet
Northern and Western Fleet
Navy Royal

John Beaufort, 1st Marquis of Somerset and 1st Marqis of Dorset, later only 1st Earl of Somerset, KG (c. 1371 – 16 March 1410) was an English nobleman,[1] politician and military commander.


Between May and September 1390, Beaufort saw military service in North Africa in the Barbary Crusade led by Louis II, Duke of Bourbon.[1] In 1394, he was in Lithuania serving with the Teutonic Knights.[2]

John was created Earl of Somerset on 10 February 1397,[1][3] just a few days after the legitimation of the Beaufort children was recognized by Parliament. The same month, he was also appointed Admiral of the Kings Fleet in Ireland, as well as Constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports.[4] In May 1387 he was appointed Admiral of the Northern Fleet.

In the summer of 1397, the new earl became one of the noblemen who helped Richard II free himself from the power of the Lords Appellant. As a reward, he was created Marquess of Somerset and Marquess of Dorset on 29 September, and sometime later that year he was made a Knight of the Garter and appointed Lieutenant of Aquitaine on held that office until 1401.[1] In addition, two days before his elevation as a Marquess he married the king's niece, Margaret Holland, sister of Thomas Holland, 1st Duke of Surrey, another of the counter-appellants.[1] John remained in the king's favour even after his older half-brother Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) was banished from England in 1398. In 1397 he was appointed High Admiral of England until 1398

From 1398 until 1399 appointed as Constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports, In 1398 he was elevated to Admiral of the North and West holding that office until 1399. In 1399 he was made Lord Chamberlain of England for one year. After Richard II was deposed by Henry Bolingbroke in 1399, the new king rescinded the titles that had been given to the counter-appellants, and thus John Beaufort became merely Earl of Somerset again. Nevertheless, he proved loyal to his half-brother's reign, serving in various military commands and on some important diplomatic missions. It was Beaufort who was given the confiscated estates of the Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyndŵr in 1400, although he would not have been able to take possession of these estates unless he had lived until after 1415. F

In 1401 he was appointed Captain of Calais , then 1403 assumed the title of Lieutenant of South Wales . In 1404 he was named Vice Constable of England. From 1406 until 1407 appointed Admiral of the North and West for the second time. In 1407 he was appointed as Constable of Corfe Castle. He served three times as a Privy Councillor of England in 1401, 1404 and 1406.

Appointments and Offices Held

Admiral of the Irish Fleet

# Appointment Term
1. Lieutenant of Aquitaine 1397-1401
2. Constable of Wallingford Castle 1397
3. Admiral of the Irish Fleet 1397-1398
4. Constable of Dover Castle & Warden of the Cinque Ports 1398-1399
5. Admiral of the North and West 1398-9, 1406-7,
6. High Admiral of England 1397-1398
7. Lord Chamberlain of England 1399
8. Privy Councillor of England 1401, 1404, 1406
9. Captain of Calais 1401
10. Lieutenant of South Wales 1403
10. Vice Constable of England 1404
11. Constable of Corfe Castle 1407


John Beaufort and his wife Margaret Holland, the daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Alice FitzAlan, had six children. His granddaughter Lady Margaret Beaufort married Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, the son of Dowager Queen Catherine of Valois by Owen Tudor.

Somerset died in the Hospital of St Katharine's by the Tower. He was buried in St Michael's Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral.

His children included the following:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Michael K. Jones and Malcolm G. Underwood, The King's Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 19-20.
  2. G. E. C., ed. Geoffrey F. White. The Complete Peerage. (London: St. Chaterine Press, 1953) Vol. XII, Part 1, p. 40.
  3. Pollard 158
  4. Michael K. Jones and Malcolm G. Underwood, The King's Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, 23.