297. RT. REV. GEORGE FRANKLIN8 SEYMOUR (Isaac Newton7, Jesse6, William5, John4, John3, John2, Richard1), born at New York, N.Y., 25 Jan. 1829, died at Springfield, Ill., Dec. 1906; married at New York, N.Y., 23 July 1889, HARRIET ATWOOD (DOWNE) AYMAR. No children.
He began his education at the Columbia Grammar School, and was graduated as Greek salutatorian and at the head of his class from Columbia University (A.B., 1850; A.M., 1853). He was graduated from the General Theological Seminary in 1854, and was ordained deacon in the Church of the Annunciation, New York, 17 Dec. 1854, by Bishop Horatio Potter, who gave him priest's orders in Zion Church, Greenburg (Dobbs Ferry), N.Y., 23 Sept. 1855.
His first field of labor was as a missionary at Annandale, Dutchess County, N. Y., from Jan. 1855 until July 1861. There he added to his pastoral work the founding of St. Stephen's College, of which he became the first warden. He was next transferred, Nov. 1861, to St. Mary's Church, Manhattanville, and in Oct. 1862 assumed charge of Christ Church, Hudson, N.Y., and a year later of St. John's Church, Brooklyn.
After serving these rectorships, the larger phase of Bishop Seymour's work opened with his installation as professor of Ecclesiastical History in the General Theological Seminary in 1865, and in 1875 he was chosen dean of the Seminary, a position which he filled in addition to his professorial duties. In Sept. 1874, he was elected Bishop of Illinois, but because of his strong ritualistic tendencies the House of Deputies did not confirm the election. During this period, he was invited to several rectorships, in Chicago, San Francisco, and elsewhere, but declined. He was active in raising $30,000 for new chapel and library buildings for the Seminary, and opposed its removal from the city into the country. From 1867 to 1879 he served as Chaplain to the House of Mercy, New York, without salary. He was also superintendent of the Society for Promoting Religion and Learning in the State of New York until 1878. He received the degree of D.D. from Racine in 1867, and that of LL.D. from Columbia in 1878; and afterwards, in 1905, that of D.C.L. from University of the South.
On 19 Dec. 1877, he was unanimously chosen Bishop of the new Diocese of Springfield (Illinois), and the election was confirmed by the standing committees and the House of Deputies, but Dr. Seymour declined in Apr. 1878. The Convention of the Diocese, at its annual meeting, May 1878, again unanimously chose him and requested the withdrawal of his declination. He was consecrated in Trinity Church, New York, 11 June 1878, by Bishops Potter, Southgate, Odenheimer, Lay, Quintard, Clarkson, Neely, Scarborough, and McLaren, together with the Bishop of Christ Church and Metropolitan of New Zealand, Dr. H. J. C. Harper.
Seymour brought to his episcopal work the results of deep and thorough study and a wide experience. His diocese prospered under his administration, and was well supplied with schools and other agencies for promoting the spread of the gospel. He attended the third Pan-Anglican Council held at Lambeth Palace, London, in July 1888, and during the conference made an address that was much admired.
“Seymour was an ardent Anglo-Catholic, in full agreement with the principles taught by Pusey. He broke with the more conservative high churchmen by defending the expression of doctrine in ritual, promoting the rise of amonastic communities, and pleading for toleration for those who had more advanced opinions that he did.”Dictionary of American Biography, quoted by permission.
Bishop Seymour was a scholar and teacher, an ecclesiastical historian, a man of great culture; an accomplished canonist, an eloquent and forceful speaker, a skilled controversialist, a ready writer. He was a “high churchman,” and maintained a very strong position on the subject of divorce and the indissolubility of the marriage relation. He published S0111,f Considerations Why the Name of the Protestant Episcopal Church Should be Changed (1887), advocating the title “Church of the United States”; and Modern Romanism Not Catholicity (1888). His high intellectual endowment was spiritualized and sweetened by great beauty of character.
His picture is inserted, furnished the author by his successor in the diocese of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. John Chanler White.