FitzRoy Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan

Fitzroy Richard Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan FRAI (10 June 1885 – 14 September 1964) was a British soldier, author, and amateur anthropologist. His books include The Hero, A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama and Monmouthshire Houses, with Cyril Fox.

The Lord Raglan

Lord Raglan in front of Raglan Castle
PredecessorGeorge Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan
SuccessorFitzRoy John Somerset, 5th Baron Raglan
Known forSoldier
Amateur Anthropologist
BornFitzroy Richard Somerset
(1885-06-10)10 June 1885
12 Albert Mansions, Victoria Street, Westminster
Died14 September 1964(1964-09-14) (aged 79)
ResidenceCefntilla Court
LocalityLlandenny, Monmouthshire, Wales
Spouse(s)Julia Hamilton (1923–1964)
  • Fitzroy Somerset
  • Janetta Somerset
  • FitzRoy John Somerset, 5th Baron Raglan
  • Geoffrey Somerset, 6th Baron Raglan
  • Cecily Somerset
ParentsGeorge Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan
Ethel Jemima Ponsonby


FitzRoy Richard Somerset, heir to the title of Baron Raglan, was born on 10 June 1885 to George Fitzroy Henry Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan and his wife Lady Ethel Jemima Ponsonby.[1] He was educated at Sandroyd School, Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and received a commission as Second lieutenant in the Militia regiment the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers on 10 June 1902.[2] In 1905 he entered the British Army and was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards. His military career included working as an aide-de-camp to the governor of Hong Kong, service in the Egyptian army from 1913 to 1919, district commissioner in Sudan and as a political officer in Palestine and Transjordan. In recognition of his services in Egypt he was made an Officer of the Order of the Nile.[3] He retired from the Army in 1922 as a major.[4]

With the death of his father in 1921, he assumed the title 4th Baron Raglan and, after retiring from the army, returned to his ancestral home, Cefntilla Court near Usk in Monmouthshire. Very active in local affairs, he was a Justice of the Peace for the county as early as 1909 and served for twenty-one years (1928–49) as a member of the former Monmouthshire county council. He took a great interest in the Boy Scout movement, was county commissioner for Monmouthshire for 27 years (1927–54), and served as Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire from 1942 until 1964.[1]

During his life he studied and wrote on topics such as anthropology, political science, and architecture. His interest in the antiquities of Monmouthshire led him, with Sir Cyril Fox, to write three volumes on the county's medieval and later domestic architecture, Monmouthshire Houses. In 1933 he became president of Section H (Anthropology) of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and from 1945 to 1947 he served as president of the Folklore Society. Chairman of the art and archaeology committee of the National Museum of Wales (1949–51) and president of the National Museum of Wales from 1957 to 1962, he was also president of the Royal Anthropological Institute from 1955 to 1957.[3]

On 9 April 1923 Raglan married Julia Hamilton (7 January 1901 – 17 April 1971), daughter of Lt.-Col. Robert Hamilton-Udny, 11th Lord Belhaven and Stenton by his marriage to Kathleen Gonville Bromhead. They had five children, the first of whom died a few days after birth. Lady Raglan also contributed to the study of folklore. In an article in the journal Folklore in 1939, she coined the term "Green Man" to describe the foliate heads found in English churches. Her theory on their origin is still debated.[5]

Lord Raglan was the source of various controversies over the course of his life. In 1938 he declared his wish to give up his job at the Ministry of Information on the grounds that he was not doing enough work to justify his salary. In 1958 he agitated Welsh nationalist feelings by declaring Welsh a 'moribund' language. Demands were made for his resignation from the National Museum of Wales, but he stood fast. (The motto of the Raglan barony is Mutare vel timere sperno: 'I scorn to change or to fear').[1]

Lord Raglan died on 14 September 1964.[6]

Literary worksEdit

Not only an active member of many societies and interested in administrative duties in national institutions, Lord Raglan also published a number of books and papers on archaeology and anthropology. His first book, Jocasta's Crime – An Anthropological Study, a study of incest and incest taboos, was published in 1933. He followed with The Science of Peace, a work on the origin, development, and prevention of war.

Lord Raglan's work, The Hero, a Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama was published in 1936. The book's central thesis is that hero figures of mythology have their origin in ritual drama, not historical fact. In the book's most influential chapter, he outlines 22 common traits of god-heroes which he calls the "mythic hero archetype". Raglan then encapsulates the lives of several heroes and awards points (marks) for thematic elements for a possible score of 22. He dissects Oedipus, Theseus, Romulus, Heracles, Perseus, Jason, Bellerophon, Pelops, Asclepios, Dionysos, Apollo, Zeus, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Watu Gunung, Nyikang, Sigurd or Siegfried, Llew Llawgyffes, Arthur, and Robin Hood. Oedipus earns the highest score with 21 marks. The pattern has been applied to other heroes including Beowulf and Harry Potter.[7]

Significantly, Raglan excludes Jesus from the study, even though Jesus matched a number of the identified traits.[8] Raglan later claimed to have omitted Jesus to avoid conflict with his publisher.

An outspoken atheist and active humanist,[9] in the 1960s, Raglan was among the MPs and peers who established the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group in the British Parliament.[10] He was a member of the British Humanist Association, serving on its advisory council.[11]


  • Jocasta's Crime: An Anthropological Study, Methuen (London), 1933, Fertig (New York, NY), 1991
  • The Science of Peace, Methuen, 1933, reprinted by Pierides Press, 2007 ISBN 978-1406789171
  • If I Were Dictator, Methuen, 1934 (contributor)
  • The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, Methuen, 1936, reprinted by Dover Publications, 2011 ISBN 978-0486427089
  • How Came Civilisation?, Methuen, 1939
  • Death and Rebirth, C. A. Watts, 1945
  • The Origins of Religion, C. A. Watts, 1949
  • (With Cyril Fox) Monmouthshire Houses, Parts I-III, National Museum of Wales, 1951–54 ISBN 978-0720003987
  • The Temple and the House, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964, Norton (New York, NY), 1965


  1. ^ a b c Miller, Dean A. (2004). "FitzRoy Richard, fourth Baron Raglan (1885–1964)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/75510. Retrieved 27 January 2016. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "No. 27441". The London Gazette. 10 June 1902. p. 3755.
  3. ^ a b Bowen, Emrys George. "Dictionary of Welsh Biography". The National Library of Wales. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  4. ^ Somerset, Fitzroy (January 2003). The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama. Dover Publications. p. About the Author. ISBN 978-0486427089.
  5. ^ "The Enigma of the Green Man — Theories and Interpretations". The Enigma of the Green Man. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Lord Raglan, Soldier, Author, Anthropologist". The Herald. No. 182nd year – No. 200. Glasgow. 15 September 1964. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  7. ^ Sienkewicz, Thomas J. "Lord Raglan's Hero Pattern". Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Life events shared by Yeshua (Jesus) and the "Mythic Hero Archetype"". Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  9. ^ Roth, Andrew (18 April 2010). "Lord Raglan obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Humanist Lobby". Humanist Heritage. Humanists UK. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Distinguished Supporters of the British Humanist Association". Archived from the original on 20 October 2000. Retrieved 30 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Baron Raglan
Succeeded by