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FitzRoy Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan

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Spouse(s)  Julia Hamilton
Name  FitzRoy 4th
Died  1964
Mother  Ethel Jemima Ponsonby
Noble family  House of Beaufort

FitzRoy Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan
Father  George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan

Fitzroy Richard Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan (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 Sir Cyril Fox.



FitzRoy Richard Somerset, heir to the peerage title Baron Raglan, was born on 10 June 1885 to George Fitzroy Henry Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan and his wife Lady Ethel Jemima Ponsonby. He was educated at 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. 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. He retired from the military in 1922 with the rank of major.

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. He was 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 and was county commissioner for Monmouthshire for twenty seven years (1927–54). He served as Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire from 1942 until 1964.

During his life he studied and wrote on topics in areas such as anthropology, political science, and architecture. His interest in the antiquities of Monmouthshire led him to write, with Sir Cyril Fox, 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. He was 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.

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. The Lord and Lady Raglan had five children, the first of whom died a few days after birth. Julia, 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.

Lord Raglan was also 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’).

Lord Raglan died on 14 September 1964 at age 79 and was buried in the family plot in the Church of St John, Llandenny.

Literary works

Lord Raglan was not only an active member of many societies and interested in administrative duties in national institutions but 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 had their origin in ritual drama, not historical fact. In the book's most influential chapter, he outlined 22 common traits of god-heroes which he called 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.

Significantly, Raglan excludes Jesus from the study, even though Jesus matched a number of traits in lord Raglan. Raglan later claimed to omit Jesus to avoid conflict with his original publisher.


FitzRoy Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan Wikipedia