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John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
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John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset

John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (c. 1373 - March 16, 1410) was the first of the four children of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford. He was born in about 1373, probably at his father's Beaufort Castle in Anjou, France. In any event, their father gave them the surname "Beaufort" and the portcullis as their emblem. John had his nephew Richard II of England declare his Beaufort children legitimate in 1390 (but with the proviso that they were barred from the succession to the throne, although their father was a son of Edward III of England); it is thought that this may have been a "private" act (that is, not entered in the public records), because, in January 1397, the Duke had Parliament issue a similar declaration, with the same proviso (he married Katherine that same month, although they had been living apart for some years, and that may have been for the purpose of having their children publicly declared legitimate).

John Beaufort was created Earl of Somerset on February 10, 1397. On September 28 of that year he married Margaret Holland, daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent; the next day he was created Marquess of Somerset and Dorset. Also sometime that year he was made a Knight of the Garter. He lost the two marquessates in 1399 after the accession of Henry IV. In 1404 he was Constable of England.

He and his wife had six children:

Preceded by:
New Creation
Earl of Somerset Followed by:
Henry Beaufort