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Carr, Robert, 1st Viscount Rochester, 1st earl of Somerset

Carr, Robert, 1st Viscount Rochester, 1st earl of Somerset (c.1587–1645). Carr, a royal favourite, began his career as page to James VI of Scotland, whom he accompanied to London in 1603 when James ascended the English throne. By 1607 he was established as the king's favourite, but he only acquired political significance after the death of James's chief minister Robert Cecil in 1612, acting as the king's secretary and building up a considerable clientage. His main alliance was with Henry Howard, the pro-Spanish and pro-catholic earl of Northampton, and this was reinforced when he fell in love with Northampton's relative Frances Howard. She was the wife of the earl of Essex—son of Elizabeth I's favourite—but James, ever indulgent, set up a tribunal which annulled the marriage, and in 1613 Frances married Carr, now earl of Somerset. Meanwhile Carr's former friend and adviser Sir Thomas Overbury, who had opposed the match on political and personal grounds, was removed from the scene when James sent him to the Tower of London, where he died, apparently of natural causes. Only in 1615 did James become aware that in fact Overbury had been poisoned by Frances. Carr and his wife were tried for murder, and although Carr protested his innocence, they were both found guilty. They were saved from execution by James, who issued a pardon, and after a few years' comfortable imprisonment they retired into private life, taking with them the very fine collection of works of art which Carr had acquired. His place as favourite was filled by Buckingham.

Roger Lockyer

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"Carr, Robert, 1st Viscount Rochester, 1st earl of Somerset." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Carr, Robert, 1st Viscount Rochester, 1st earl of Somerset." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carr-robert-1st-viscount-rochester-1st-earl-somerset

"Carr, Robert, 1st Viscount Rochester, 1st earl of Somerset." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved April 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carr-robert-1st-viscount-rochester-1st-earl-somerset

Somerset, Robert Carr, earl of

Robert Carr Somerset, earl of, 1587?–1645, Scottish favorite of James I of England. His family name also appears as Ker. He may have accompanied James to England as a page in 1603, but he appears to have spent some time in France before returning to the English court. He soon became close to James, was knighted (1607), and in 1609 he was granted lands that had been forfeited by Sir Walter Raleigh. He was created (1611) Viscount Rochester, served James as personal secretary, and became earl of Somerset in 1613. In the same year he married Frances Howard, the countess of Essex (who had her marriage to the 3d earl of Essex annulled in a sensational trial). In 1614, Somerset was made lord chamberlain. He became an important counselor to the king, but his jealous and arrogant nature alienated James's affections. On the discovery of the murder of his former friend, Sir Thomas Overbury, Somerset and his wife were tried and found guilty (1616) of perpetrating it, although Somerset's guilt was not definitely established. They were both pardoned but not released until 1622.

See M. A. DeFord, The Overbury Affair (1960).

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"Somerset, Robert Carr, earl of." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Somerset, Robert Carr, earl of." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/somerset-robert-carr-earl

"Somerset, Robert Carr, earl of." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/somerset-robert-carr-earl