Elizabeth Herbert, Marchioness of Powis

Elizabeth Herbert, Marchioness of Powis (c.1634 – 16 March 1691), formerly Lady Elizabeth Somerset, was an English court official and noblewoman, the wife of William Herbert, 1st Marquess of Powis.[1] She was the daughter of Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester, and his wife, the former Elizabeth Dormer.


She married William Herbert, then the heir to Percy Herbert, 2nd Baron Powis, on 2 August 1654.[2] He succeeded his father to the title in 1666.

They had six children:

In 1674, Herbert was created Earl of Powis, and his wife became a countess. Her portrait, painted around 1674 by John Michael Wright, is held in the Powis Castle collection.[3]

Popish PlotEdit

She was Lady of the Bedchamber to Catherine of Braganza, queen consort of King Charles II of England. However, in 1678, her husband was one of the "Five Catholic Lords" who were falsely accused of treason in the Popish Plot fabricated by Titus Oates, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1684.

His wife's frantic efforts to secure his release led her into unwise dealings with such unsavoury underworld characters as the notorious informer and confidence trickster Thomas Dangerfield. She had hoped that Dangerfield would discredit her husband's accusers: but Dangerfield, who was "faithless to all" turned on Lady Powis and her friend, the prominent Catholic midwife Elizabeth Cellier , instead and accused them of treason. Fortunately by the time they came to trial in the summer of 1680, Dangerfield's reputation had sunk so far that they were both easily acquitted.[4]

Later lifeEdit

On 24 March 1686, her husband was created Marquess of Powis, and his wife became a marchioness. A Catholic, he was loyal to King James II and VII, whom he followed into exile. James created him 1st Duke of Powis and 1st Marquess of Montgomery on 12 January 1689, in the Jacobite peerage. He was subsequently outlawed from England.

The marchioness followed her husband into exile and acted as First Lady of the Bedchamber to James's queen, Mary of Modena, and as Royal Governess to James, Prince of Wales,[5] until her death in 1691.


  1. ^ G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume X, page 647.
  2. ^ Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes. Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999.
  3. ^ "Lady Elizabeth Somerset, Countess of Powis, Marchioness of Powis (1633/4-1691)". National Trust Collections. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  4. ^ Kenyon, J.P. "The Popish Plot" Phoenix Press reissue 2000 pp.227-8
  5. ^ Elizabeth L. Ewan; Sue Innes; Sian Reynolds (8 March 2006). The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 261–. ISBN 978-0-7486-2660-1.