ARMS DISPLAYED IN THE HOME OF THOMAS SEYMOUR (1735-1829), THE FIRST MAYOR OF HARTFORD
From the original water-color drawing once owned in the family of the First Mayor. The arms, mantling, and inscription, are painted on a paper measuring 5 5/8“ x 7 3/4”, mounted on an age-browned piece of cardboard measuring 5 7/8“ x 10”. This relic was given to the author on October 14, 1935, in Washington, D.C., by the widow of the Hon. Henry W. Seymour, who had it from Miss Helena Seymour, the niece of Governor Thomas Hart Seymour, who inherited many of the family heirlooms. Miss Talcott remembered having seen this painting in the Seymour homestead on Governor Street, Hartford, where it had hung at least from the time of the First Mayor. Such cherished heraldic displays, done in water color on paper or in embroidery on a silk or satin panel, are occasionally seen even now in the front halls and parlors of old-time houses, handed down from a day when they were of fairly common occurrence, when misses at boarding and finishing schools brought them home to exhibit their proficiency to admiring parents and friends. The writer would not, therefore, regard this souvenir of the Hartford Seymours of any special evidential value, if it were not supported by the use of a seal, charged with the identical wings, used by Major Henry's father, the First Mayor, in executing his will in 1807, and by his grandfather, Col. Thomas Seymour, in executing his will in 1767, and also by the greatly significant use, in 1712, of a tiny seal, charged with the identical wings, by English-born Thomas Seymour, of Norwalk, son of Richard Seymour, the Colonist, who undoubtedly brought it over from England when he came in 1638. All this use is of the wings alone–the paternal coat–not the full ducal arms which were never used, so far as the writer is aware, until after the appearance about 1880 of the so-called “Seymour Bible,” now discarded as spurious.
The use of an old worn seal charged with “wings conjoined in lure” in executing his will–a serious act in the life of any man of any age–by Thomas Seymour, a man eighty years old and “Verry sick and Weak,” is prima facie evidence that he was entitled to use that seal, in the absence of proof to the contrary. That that particular seal bearing the paternal coat of the historic Seymour family was providentially present at the bedside of the dying man for his use at that moment, and was so used by him without any idea of its family significance, as suggested by Mr. Stewart Mitchell in his recent life of “Governor Horatio Seymour,” would be nothing less than a miracle,–and when have miracles been accepted by historical students? The fact that Thomas of Norwalk used such a seal is, to say the least, of great interest to all members of the Seymour family, even though some may regard it as of no vital importance. A very prominent member of the family recently pointed out to the author that in his mind the use of the wings here in America for over two centuries and a quarter is sufficient to justify the continued use of the wings by the family. The use of a coat of arms by old American families for so long a period is rare indeed.
The author throughout this book and in his illustrations has stressed the use of the wings to which he believes the Connecticut Seymours are unquestionably entitled. He confesses that he is under the spell of that crumbling but significant bit of wax on that faded document in the State Library in Hartford; namely, the original will of Thomas Seymour of Norwalk, son of Richard Seymour, the Colonist.