Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset

Posted in Famous crimes, Historical articles, History on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Click on any image for details about licensing for commercial or personal use.

Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset (1590 – 1632) was an aristocrat of limitless ambition, whose singular claim to fame was that she poisoned Sir Thomas Overbury having conspired with her husband, lady-in-waiting and others in that famous eponymous  plot.

Countess of Somerset, picture, image, illustration

Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset

Her notoriety began after she sought an anulment from her first husband, the Earl of Essex, whom she claimed was impotent. Her uncle, the Earl of Northampton, presented her case and an examination of her was made, though because she was heavily veiled it was suggested a virgin had been substituted to ensure the desired outcome. Many scurrilous verses were written about this scene in the candlelit bedchamber. Since Essex had a dose of smallpox and doctors found in her favour, she was free to marry Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, but his friend, the unfortunate Sir Thomas Overbury, advised against the marriage, so the Howards hatched the successful murder plot. Frances was found guilty, along with her protesting husband, but both were spared execution, imprisoned for a while and eventually pardoned by King James. It may perhaps be said that the beautiful Countess of Somerset was England’s first upper class, celebrity murderess.

Many more pictures relating to Jacobean England can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Comments are closed.