Note for:   Arthur Herbert Tennyson Somers Cocks,   20 MAR 1887 - 14 JUL 1944          Index
Arthur Herbert Tennyson Somers-Cocks 1887-1944 . Chief scout for Great Bri tain & the British

Commonwealth & Empire . Governor of Victoria , Australia . Acting general- governor of Australia

Born: 20 March 1887, Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Died: 14 July 1944, Eastnor Castle, Hereford
Major Teams: Worcestershire.
Known As: Lord Somers
Also Known As: He succeeded as 6th Baron Somers in 1896
Batting Style: Right Hand Bat 33293/

Chapter 1 Family Background
Lord Somer's mother was Blanche Clogstoun. She was the daughter of Colon el Herbert Clogstoun, V.C., and her mother Mary MacKenzie was the daught er of Colin MacKenzie and Adeline Pattle. Adeline Pattle was one of the fa med seven Pattle sisters (the daughters of James and Adeline Pattle) - fam ed for their intelligence, beauty and strength of character.
Spalding described them as follows: "Their distinguished beauty was blend ed with charm and energy; they had a natural gift for intimacy, were socia ble, warm-hearted; inclined to silliness but not unintelligent."1 They we re descended from Ambrose Pierre Antoine, Chevalier de L'Etang, page of ho nour to Queen Marie Antoinette, whose closeness to the Queen gained him ba nishment to India. The Chevalier's daughter Adeline married James Pattl e, an Englishman. The seven Pattle girls were their seven surviving childr en.

The Pattle sisters became very famous. The eldest, Adeline, was born in 18 12, and the youngest, Sophia, who was born in 1829, was the last to survi ve and died in 1911.
Adeline Pattle (c. 1812-1836) (Lord Somers' great-grand mother), at 19 yea rs married a Scottish soldier, Colin MacKenzie (later to serve gallant ly in the Afghan war and to become a General). A loving and unselfish pers on she was also very beautiful. They had three daughters, but complicatio ns from the birth of her third child caused her untimely death at the a ge of 24. All three daughters married soldiers, and the second daughter, M ary, married the then Major Herbert Clogstoun, V.C., one of Britain's mo st gallant soldiers who had earned his V.C. in the Indian Mutiny. The Clog stoun's second daughter was Blanche. The Clogstoun's died while their chil dren were young, and so the other Pattles looked after them. Blanche (Lo rd Somers' mother) was taken in hand by George Frederick Watts (1817-1904 ), a close family friend who was one of the most eminent painters of his d ay - and a dominant figure in British art. Watts was especially friendly w ith another of the Pattle girls, Sara, and her husband Thoby Princep (1792 -1878). Watts came to have a short stay with the Princeps and stayed f or 25 years. Watts was for a short time married to the actress Ellen Terr y. Thoby Princep had a distinguished career in the Indian Civil Service a nd soon after his return to England he and Sara become friendly with Wat ts and so began a long and close association.

Sara and Thoby Princep in 1850 took a lease of Little Holland House, a lar ge gabled house in London but in a rural setting. Although very much a Lon don house, and only two miles from Hyde Park corner, Little Holland Hou se was set in a farm where cattle grazed, with "stately elms and wide gre en spaces".2 However it was not the beautiful rustic setting which lured p eople to Little Holland House but the hostess, Sara Princep. It was not on ly her enthusiasm and vitality, but her ambition to attract writers, artis ts and intellects about her in a fashionable salon. She succeeded, and Lit tle Holland House (or the Pattlefield, or Kingdom of Pattledom as it was o ften known) became a social centre for fascinating people. The lavish host ess had the knack of bringing people together and drawing "wit, beauty a nd talent".(3)

Ellen Terry wrote, "Little Holland House, seemed to me a paradise, where o nly beautiful things were allowed to come. All the women were graceful a nd all the men were gifted".(4)

The most famous artists, writers, intellectuals and politicians of the d ay came to Little Holland House in abundance. There was Thackeray, Tennyso n, Browning, Rosetti, Carlyle, Ruskin, Herschel, Gladstone, Disraeli, Burn e-Jones, Whistler, Millais, Holman Hunt who were frequent visitors, as we ll as the resident G.F. Watts.

Little Holland House was "Pattlefield" because there was not only Sara, b ut the other sisters - and even those like Sophia, Louisa and Maria who sp ent periods in India were often about on various forms of leave. The relev ance of the Pattle's to Lord Somers is not only that his mother Blanche w as the granddaughter of Adeline, but that because of the death of her pare nts she was brought up by Sara and Watts, and was very much part of the wh ole Pattle family. As a young man Arthur was part of this group himself, a nd his creative interests in music and art undoubtedly were influenc ed by this background.

Another sister Julia (1815-79), married Charles Cameron (1795-1880) a juri st who worked on the Indian Law Commission. Julia Cameron became a pione er photographer and her outstanding artistic portraits gained her a pla ce in photographic history.

Maria Pattle (1818-92) married Dr John Jackson, a physician in India, w ho was a devoted and revered medical practitioner. Due to ill health, Mar ia and her daughters spent a lot of time living in London. Maria's daught er Julie was to marry Sir Leslie Stephen and so be the mother of Vanessa B ell and Virginia Woolf.

Maria's daughter Mary married Herbert Fisher, and one of their children w as to become Admiral Sir William Fisher, and a daughter Adeline married t he composer Ralph Vaughan-Williams, and another daughter Florence marri ed Sir Francis Darwin.

Louisa Pattle (1821-73) became the wife of Henry Bayley, a High Court Jud ge in Calcutta, and Sophia (1829-1911) married Sir John Dalrymple.

Virginia Pattle (1827-1900) was the great beauty of the family, a nd it is recorded that after one fancy dress ball she received 16 proposa ls of marriage. (5) Watts of course painted and sketched her, as he had a ll the Pattle sisters.

Virginia in 1850 married Charles Somers-Cocks (1819-1883), Viscount Eastn or who became Earl Somers in 1852 on the death of his father. Virginia h ad inspired poetry amongst the artistic Pattle circle, and Thackeray wro te of her

When she comes into the room, it is like a beautiful air of Mozart breaki ng upon you; when she passes through a ballroom, everybody turns and as ks who is the Princess, that fairy lady? Even the women, especially tho se who are the most beautiful themselves, admire her. (6)
Earl Somers had taken a keen interest in young Herbert Haldane Somers-Cock s, and had financially supported him in his army career, and strongly appr oved of his marriage to Blanche Clogstoun. He wrote to him (31/12/1882) fr om Cannes where he spent a good part of each year:

You are young to marry but have made a good choice, I have a high opini on of Blanche, she is a charming and very good girl and I rejoice that s he is to be your wife, and will with you rightly maintain the honour and c haracter of our name. (7)
That Earl Somers approved in deed as well as word is evidenced by a lett er a few months later:

I feel that you would wish to know without further delay how far I am ab le to contribute toward your income, as you would be thinking of making ar rangements for your marriage - I undertake to give you 800 per annum fr om the date of your marriage, 500 of which will be in your settlement a nd the remaining 300 will consist of the present 200 with an addition al 100 - my wedding present to you will be 1,000 which I would suggest s hould be employed in furnishing your apartment. (8)
On the death of Earl Somers (Charles, 3rd Earl Somers) in 1883, the Earld om and Viscountery became extinct, as Charles and Virginia had only daught ers. The Barony survived and descended to his cousin Philip Somers-Cocks ( 1815-1899), who became the 5th Lord Somers and on his death on 30 Septemb er 1899 the title went to his great-nephew, Arthur Herbert Tennyson Somers -Cocks, who became the 6th Baron Somers at the age of twelve years.
The Earl and Countess Somers had three daughters: Isabel, Adeline and Virg inia. Virginia died of diphtheria in infancy. Isabel married Lord Henry So merset, son of the Duke of Beaufort who was an M.P. and poet. They had o ne son, but the marriage broke up when there was a scandal over Lord Hen ry Somerset's homosexual activities, and he resigned all public office a nd went to live in Florence. A long custody fight over their son, won by I sabel, brought the scandal even more prominence. The innocent Isabel fou nd herself ostracised by many in society over the scandal.9 Isabel and h er sister Adeline were both deeply religious. Adeline married the Du ke of Bedford - they had no children and she was a widow at a young age. S he died in 1920. Charles, 3rd Earl Somers had been M.P. for Reigate for s ix years until he succeeded in 1852, and then became a Lord-in-Waiti ng to Queen Victoria. The Somers seat was Eastnor Castle near Ledbury in H ertfordshire, but Charles also had a large Georgian house, the "Prior y" at Reigate.

Isabel, on her separation from her husband, lived at the Reigate Priory, b ut on the death of her father, the 3rd Earl Somers she was heir to Eastn or Castle and the Eastnor estates, which she was to pass on to Arthur, 6 th Lord Somers. (10)

Isabel became active with a Methodist sect in Ledbury and from this to ok up the cause of temperance, a cause she was to devote much time and mon ey to. She, was an outstanding speaker, and so greatly in demand to addre ss meetings. She spoke all over England and also did a lecture tour of t he United States. She became President of the British Women's Temperance A ssociation, and a well known public figure. Her stance brought her difficu lties, as Hill states:

... the Methodists mistrusted someone outside their own sphere and suspect ed her of frivolity and insincerity, while people of her own station in li fe roundly accused her of being a traitor to her class. (11)
Her emphasis on temperance rather than total abstinence brought her into c onflict with some within the temperance movement. She also involved herse lf in social work and established a farm on her property for women convict ed of drunken offences.
When she inherited Eastnor Castle she proved to be an unsuccessful manag er - not knowing anything of estate management, and so she had to sell o ff some of the lands and the estate diminished during her stewardship. F or Arthur, 6th Lord Somers, who had no money in the first place, it w as to prove a burden when he assumed the estate on Isabel's death in 192 1. The Eastnor estates were not lucrative yet entailed considerable respon sibilities to local people and tenants as well as to other members of t he Somers-Cock's family and there was the maintenance of a large and cost ly castle.

So Arthur's maternal ancestory linked him with fascinating groups. A desce ndent of the Pattle's, his mother was brought up in Little Holland Hou se by Sara, and Thoby Princeps and Watts. Sara and Thoby persuaded Lord Te nnyson that Freshwater on the Isle of Wight was the place for a poet of h is eminence to live, and so they found Farringford to which he moved in 18 53. Tennyson (1808-1892) referred to as Alfred, Lord Tennyson to distingui sh him from his son Hallam, Lord Tennyson, was created Poet Laureate in 18 50 and a Baron in 1884. One of the Pattle's, Julia Cameron, bought two cot tages which she turned into a house called "Dimbola" just near Farringfor d. Watts followed and bought a place called "The Briary" complete with thr ee large studios, and of .course the Princeps. Watts regarded Blanche as h is adopted daughter and so gave her "The Briary" on her marriage. So it w as "The Briary", Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight in which Lord Somers w as born and which was to be his first home. Relations between "Farringford ", "Dimbola" and "The Briary" were close, and so it was no surprise that L ord Tennyson became Blanche's son's godfather, and that he was to bear t he name Tennyson. (12)

Even after Alfred, Lord Tennyson's death, his widow Emily, and his son Hal lam, 2nd Lord Tennyson, wrote to "Grand", Mrs. Somers-Cocks:

We shall think it a great kindness if you will let us know how my Father 's Godson prospers. (13)
Although Arthur's father was a soldier, he could also claim a notable mili tary tradition from his mother with General MacKen-zie, and his Grandfath er Clogstoun, a V.C.
Blanche married Herbert Haldane Somers-Cocks (b. 5/5/1861), a young offic er in the Coldstream Guards, on 26 June 1883. Herbert was heir to the Some rs Barony. Herbert was educated at Charterhouse and then at the Royal Mili tary College, Sandhurst. He served as a lieutenant with the Coldstream Gua rds in the Egyptian campaign against Arabi Pasha, and was present at all e ngagements which ended at Tel-el-Kebir. He became a captain in the 4th Bat talion of the Worcester regiment. He was invalided out - the long bivouac ks in the desert with cold nights and hot days caused his lungs to be affe cted.

Herbert and Blanche had three children. Isabel Joan, born in October 188 4, died in November of 1885. A second daughter survived and this was Adeli ne Verena Ishbel who was born in 1886. The name Adeline was very much in t he Pattle tradition, although she was always known as Verena. Their thi rd child was born on 20 March 1887, Arthur Herbert Tennyson. Arthur was ba ptised on 3 April 1887 at Freshwater, by the Reverend Rudd. The Reverend R udd, who was a Wrangler at Cambridge with a double first in classics, w as a great Greek scholar, Prebendary of the Cathedral at Bury St. Edmond s, and headmaster of the Hereford Cathedral School, had two children, Kenn eth who was killed in action in the First World War, and Edyth. Edyth, w ho went to live in the Hereford area and who was active in the Girl Guid es and an accomplished horsewoman, became a close friend of Arthur and Fin ola Somers.

In an effort to improve his health, and on medical advice, Herbert with Bl anche went to Canada, leaving their children at Freshwater. His health imp roved and they returned in 1891. He became active in the local militia rai sing the Freshwater Volunteers in which many local families became involv ed and he was popular in this work. He was also a devoted sportsman bei ng good at cricket, football, shooting and he was an accomplished horsema n. A charming generous man, a kind disposition brought him high regard fr om people. A number of his friends, including his kinsman Charles, 3rd Ea rl Somers (who provided him with an allowance) urged him to stand for Parl iament and even had a seat lined up. Ill-health prevented him from pursui ng a political career, and once again he travelled overseas to help resto re his health, but this time he and Blanche took their two children.

The Somers-Cocks' established a fruit orchard on a ranch near Denver, Colo rado. Helping keep house was Maggie Smith, who had served Sara Princeps be fore helping Blanche, and her notebooks provide details of this part of t he tragically short lives of Herbert and Blanche together. Of this ti me in America, H.W. Barrett, the Isle of Wight historian, writes:

They had happy years in America and often travelled. The children delight ed in train journeys and talking to the American people. Arthur was very p roud to tell one gentleman when asked if he had ever seen the Poet Tennys on replied "He is my Godfather". At one hotel he was lost and had the who le staff searching for him. He had wandered into a gentleman's bedroom a nd when the occupant came in, Arthur shot under the bed and remained the re until it was clear to come out. Herbert Somers-Cock's health again dete riorated and he died on 26 December 1894. As Mrs. Somers-Cocks wanted h er husband embalmed and as accommodation was limited, the ranch itself bei ng small, he was placed in a tent. The visiting doctor became worried f or it was winter time and wolves were corning down from the mountain s. So the body was taken into Denver and placed in a room above a cycle sh op until arrangements could be made.
They all returned home, and Herbert Somers-Cock was buried in All Saints C hurchyard, Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight on February 15, 1895. (14)
The church at Freshwater was crowded for the funeral of the popular Capta in H.H. Somers-Cocks. Blanche had with her his mother, young Arthur and Ve rena, 7 and 8 years of age respectively, and Blanche at 32 years was one y ear younger than her husband. Also there were the Artillery volunteers, He rbert's brother - the Reverend Henry Somers-Cocks, his sister - Mrs. Harme r, Lord and Lady Tennyson, and Hay Cameron.

Blanche not in good health herself was inconsolable and one year later, s he also died on the same day as her husband had died - 26 December, 18 95 at 33 years of age, and a service was held at All Saints on 3 Januar y, 1896. So at 8 and 9 years, Arthur and Verena were orphans. Herbert's fa ther, Arthur Herbert Somers-Cocks, C.B., B.C.S. (1819-1881) had also serv ed in the army in India. He married Anna Eckford, daughter of General Jam es Eckford, C.B., of the Bengal Army. Anna Somers-Cocks was Arthur and Ver ena's grandmother who after the death of their parents played a major ro le in their upbringing. Their childhood, when not at school was spent at " The Briary" with "Grand" and surrounded by the Tennysons, the Camerons a nd other Pattle connections, and at Eastnor Castle, the Somers seat whe re their cousin Isabel (Lady Henry Somerset) had them to stay.

"Grand" - (Mrs. Anna Somers-Cocks) would recall tales of the Mutiny and In dia to her young charges and show them the sword of Lawrence, which the fa mous General had presented to their grandfather. (15)

Arthur had commenced his schooling at St. Andrews, Southborough, a scho ol run by a Mr. Bull in Tunbridge Wells. After his mother's death, he w as sent to Mulgrave Castle, a school run by the Marquis of Normanby at Whi tby in Yorkshire. Leinster-Mackay in his book, The Rise of the English Pr ep School, refers to Mulgrave -

Nor were there many clergy so materially blessed as the Reverend the Marqu is of Normanby who as Lord Mulgrave (a junior title) inherited 8,000 acr es in Yorkshire and kept a school. (16)
He was also a Canon of Windsor, the Marquis of Normanby Constantine, 3rd M arquis (1846-1932) was in holy orders, and became a Canon of St George's C hapel, Windsor, as well as running Mulgrave school in Yorkshire. To quo te Leinster-Mackay:
He partially solved his problem by moving the school for one term each ye ar to Windsor. (17)
The poor orphan was not happy at school and the following letter he wro te to his sister Verena is ample evidence: (18)
Darling Verena, I have got into an awful row because I ran away again. I n early got expelled. I have been birched by His Lordship but not publicl y. I want His Lordship to forgive me but I don't know how to do it. The bo ys are all horrid what shall I do? I do feel so unhappy because I wish I h ad not tried to run away a second time it is awful. The confirmation is be ing held today. I do wish I could come away but I can't. Oh it is horri d. I don't know what to do because I feel disgraced but I think it wi ll be all right at the end of this term. All the boys think I am goi ng to be expelled. Oh it is so beastly. Another boy ran away with me a nd he was my only friend and he has turned against me now "I have got no f riend in the school. Oh how I wish Daddy was alive to help me but I haven 't got a father or mother what shall I do? Don't show this letter to anyo ne but write and give me advice because I feel so lonely and you are the o nly person I have in the world to tell everything to. I told another l ie to His Lordship because I promised not to run away again and I hav e. I ran away to York then I came back. His Lordship has written to Gran ny and Cousin Isabel and I am sure I will get into an awful row. Couldn 't you do anything to help me, all the boys are again against me and I fe el so sad I tried to say my prayers last night as earnestly as I could b ut it didn't seem to do me any good. I was out all Sunday night and I walk ed 24 miles. Oh Darling I feel inclined to cry and cry. I am so unhappy a nd ashamed of myself. Do help me if you can and tell granny that I am so s orry for what I have done. With lots of love, from your loving brother, Ar thur.
Young Arthur learned to survive the rigors of a British boarding scho ol - although he and to a lesser extent his sister Verena, were shuttl ed to and fro between friends and relations, and for Arthur from scho ol to school, to University and then the regiment.
When in later years, Verena complained to her brother how hard it was to s ee her young son Nicholas go back to England and be parted from him, Lo rd Somers reminded her how she had urged him to bear partings from famil y, when he was a boy. He recalled how in days gone by such young sons wou ld be sent to sea as midshipmen, yet "the men that emerged from that train ing were sturdy and reliable, mentally, morally and physically. B ut it is hard on you darling and you must just be the "British Matron" a nd bear it with a stiff lip." (19)

It was while at Mulgrave Castle School at the age of 12 that he succeed ed to the title on 30th September 1899, on the death of his great Uncle Ph ilip, 5th Lord Somers. In a letter to his sister on 8th October, Arthur wr ites "Granny was the first person who has addressed me Lord Somers". He w as also able to report that things were better now that he was an older bo y, and was able to help stop any bullying. So Arthur Somers-Cocks, was n ow Lord Somers. Somers-Cocks was the family name, but the title was just S omers.

Although the joined names Somers-Cocks was assumed as the family surna me by Royal Licence in 1841, the name derives from the marriage of Charl es Cocks, M.P. for Diotwich in 1695 with Mary Somers's sister and heire ss of Lord Chancellor Somers. Lord Chancellor Somers (John Somers) was bo rn in 1650 and became a brilliant advocate. He spoke at the trial of the s even Bishops in 1688, and as chief promoter of the "Declaration of Right s" he worked for the Protestant succession and the coronation of William I II. He was knighted in 1692, became Attorney-General, Lord Keeper of the G reat Seal and in 1697 appointed Lord Chancellor, and Lord Somers of Evesha m. He fell from favour in 1700 but in retirement became President of the R oyal Society. He died in 1716. Mary Somers and Charles Cocks' grandson Cha rles pursued a Parliamentary career and in 1722 he was given the revived C ocks baronetage and Somers peerage. His son, John, who was Lord Lieutena nt of the Country and High Steward, was Created Earl Somers and Viscount E astnor in 1821 who built Eastnor Castle.

1. F. Spalding, Vanessa Bell. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983, p.4
2. H. Gernshein, Julia Margaret Cameron: Her Life and Photographic Worl d. New York: Apenture, 1975, p.20.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Brian Hill, Julia Margaret Cameron: A Victorian Family Portrait. New Yo rk: St. Martin's Press, 1973, p.50.
6. Ibid, p.65.
7. Eastnor Papers. Charles, Earl Somers (Cannes) to Herbert H. Somers-Coc ks (London), 31/12/1882.
8. Ibid, Charles, Earl Somers to Herbert H. Somers-Cocks, 28/2/1883.
9. Hill, op. cit.t pp.168-170.
10. Finola, Lady Somers & Elizabeth Hervey-Bathurst, Eastnor Castle Ledbu ry Herefordshire - A Guide. Maidstone: Royal Legion Press, 1978.
11. B. Hill, op. tit, p.170.
12. From material kindly supplied by Mr. H.W. Barrett, a historian on t he Isle of Wight, formerly Director of Education.
13. Eastnor Papers. Lord Tennyson (Farringford) to Mrs. Somers-Cocks, T he Briary, 1/1/1896.
14. Mr. Barrett has derived much of this material from Maggie Smith's note books.
15. Adelaide Advertiser, 24 June, 1926. Lord Somers passed through Adelai de on his way to Melbourne. Mrs. Bussell, wife of the Archdeacon of Adelai de was related through marriage to Lord Somers' aunt.
16. D.P. Leinster-Mackay, The Rise of the English Prep. School. London: Fa lmer Press, p.76.
17. Ibid., p.87.
18. This letter from Lord Somers to his sister Verena is in the Eastern pa pers. It is dated March 13 - there is no year given.
19. Eastnor Papers, letter by Lord Somers (Stonnington) to Countess of Cla rendon (Capetown), 15/5/1931.