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In which the author under the influence of the immortal Cervantes tells the story of this book, and introduces to the reader a Professor of Greek, a big- game hunter, a professional genealogist, a Chief Justice of Connecticut, a Governor of New York, a General in the United States Army, a member of Congress, a well-known feminist, the first mayor of Hartford, an antiquarian, English searchers, other interested persons, a parody, a verse of poetry, and a verse of scripture. To many members of the family this will be an unwelcome story. Alas, but the author feels that he has no option but to tell it. – For did not Cervantes say, “History is a sacred kind of writing, because truth is essential to it.”

The author's passion for genealogy goes back to his earliest years, when as a small boy he stood by his maternal grandmother's chair and listened, entranced, to stories of her “background with figures” – the background being her grandfather's fine farm in the outskirts of Newington, and the figures her grandfather and grandmother Wells and their large household. Born Laura Wells, she was doubly descended from Governor Thomas Welles of Connecticut, a connection that brought in the Wolcotts and Appletons, of which she was also proud. The author's first desire as a collector was sometime to acquire the gold loop earrings shown in her portrait, and ultimately he did acquire them, but only by acquiring the canvas itself, a primitive, if you please, but greatly admired by no less a judge than the late John LaFarge. The author also well remembers a fruitless boyhood search with his own father among the tombstones in the ancient burying-ground on Town Hill, New Hartford, for some memorial of John Seymour, 3d, one of the first settlers of the town, where he died in 1758, and that search, perhaps, began the taste for tombstones, evidenced in this volume, that the author has always had. How he came, at the end of life, to be the author of this volume will appear in the course of its Introduction.

Upwards of a hundred years ago, Nathan Perkins Seymour (1813-1891), a native of Hartford, in the line of John Seymour, grandson of Richard Seymour, the Colonist, began the collection of data for a History of the Seymour Family. About 1870 the work was taken up and carried on by his niece, Miss Mary Kingsbury Talcott (1847-1917), a born genealogist and antiquarian, who was greatly assisted by contributions of data from other members of the family; among them Judge Origen S. Seymour of Litchfield, sometime Chief Justice of Connecticut; Governor Horatio Seymour of New York; General Truman Seymour, U.S.A.; Mrs. Clara E. Seymour Morris of Chicago, mother of Mr. Seymour Morris; and many others, including the author, another born antiquarian, collector, and genealogist.

Miss Talcott's most active years in collecting data about the family seem to have been from 1880 to 1900. Even before the latter date she was already busy as professional genealogist and as author of historical articles for books and periodicals, but attempts made from time to time to get her to prepare her Seymour Family material for publication all failed, and one reason for her thus holding back the compilation of her material is certainly to be found in a story which the author has now to relate, not for pleasure, but for the reason that, as Cervantes said, “the writing of history is a sort of sacred writing, because truth is essential to it.” Miss Talcott, throughout her lifetime, had a high reputation as an accurate genealogist, and it may well be thought that she was unwilling to publish any History of the Seymour Family until an alleged family Bible that purported to connect Richard Seymour, the Colonist, with the ducal family of Somerset should be either disproved or confirmed.

About 1880, a member of the family who was wholly unknown to the Hartford or Litchfield or Utica branches of it appeared “out of the blue,” as it were, in Hartford, with what purported to be a Bible that had been handed down through the generations, even from Richard Seymour, the Colonist. It was a mutilated copy of the so-called “Bishop's Bible,” printed in 1584, and it contained inserts in the form of drawings and written material that, if true, connected Richard Seymour with the highest English nobility. At the time of its production the Bible was, most unfortunately, not subjected to even the ordinary rules of evidence as to its history and as to the intrinsic character of its insertions, but it was, also most unfortunately, made known to the family at large throughout the country and was accepted “as Gospel” by many of them. That even Miss Talcott, indeed, was in a measure responsible for circulating the story of the Bible her own correspondence appears to indicate, and to claim that the present author had wholly escaped the infection or had always refused to follow leading members of the family in falling for the “strawberry leaves” and the ducal family would be idle. He does not, however, recall any time when he did not have misgivings about it all, and from the moment that he learned of certain entries, soon to be described, in the Parish Records of Sawbridgeworth, County Herts, he was entirely disillusioned.

It should here be made clear, perhaps, that in 1880 the science of genealogy was still in its infancy in this country, that few Americans were then qualified to pass on claims as to the English connections of American colonists, and that Miss Talcott herself was only beginning her career in this field. Later, indeed, she felt the need of substantiating the allegations of the Bible through British documentary sources, and when in 1914 she went to England, one of the objects of her visit was definitely either to confirm or to disaffirm the ancestry set forth in the Bible. At the behest of other descendants of Richard Seymour, among them the Hon. Henry W. Seymour, M.C., with whom the author became acquainted while he too was a resident of Washington, the most exhaustive researches, over the course of the years, were undertaken abroad by several competent genealogists, but all of them failed utterly to establish the connection alleged in the Bible. On the contrary, half a dozen genealogists of repute, including Colonel Vivian, in his day the best-known authority on Devonshire families, and Henry F. Waters, an expert never excelled in the Anglo- American field, to whom photographs of the Bible entries were submitted, unanimously declined to accept the handwriting as script of the period when Richard Seymour and his son John flourished.

Meanwhile, the whole matter of the publication of a history of the family lay in abeyance, and it so happened that in 1914 Mr. J. Gardner Bartlett, an American professional genealogist, then living in England, was commissioned to investigate the English ancestry of the celebrated Chauncey family. His search took him to Sawbridgeworth, County Herts, where he found in the parish records entries regarding one Richard Seymour, his wife Mercy Ruscoe, and his son Thomas, and other members of both families. The dates of this Richard Seymour, his wife Mercy, and his son Thomas, when compared with corresponding dates of a Richard Seymour and his wife Mercy and his son Thomas, all as contained in Connecticut records, together with other significant facts, left no room for doubt that Mr. Bartlett had found the English home of Richard Seymour, the Colonist, who appeared in Hartford about 1639.

Mr. Bartlett forthwith embodied his discoveries in a comprehensive report, which for a consideration he offered in turn to two or three branches of the Seymour family in America, but all of them were unwilling to give it any credence or attention, until at length it was brought to the attention of the present author, always a “doubting Thomas” about the entries in the so-called “Seymour Bible.” He was enabled to buy the report, and he ultimately published it, in substance, in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register of 1917.

Due, in part at least, to the publication of Mr. Bartlett's report, the late Mr. Seymour Morris of Chicago, who accepted it without question and who despaired of the publication of the material collected by Miss Talcott, went ahead on his own account, collected data, and published in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register in 1918 and 1919 three installments of a proposed history of the family. Mr. Morris's work was unfortunately brought to a close by his death in 1921.

In 1934 the present author, whose active interest in a History of the Seymour Family had begun at least as early as when he went to Washington to live in 1878 and began corresponding with Miss Talcott, determined to carry Mr. Morris's work to a conclusion. Mr. Morris's widow deposited his papers, including his unpublished data, with the New England Historic Genealogical Society of Boston, and through the good offices of Mr. Jacobus, editor of the present work, the papers were made available by the Society. Mr. Jacobus then at long last began to prepare a comprehensive History of the Seymour Family, at first based on Mr. Morris's published and unpublished work. After the work was well under way Miss Katherine Seymour Day of Hartford, who had inherited a trunk full of Miss Talcott's correspondence, consented to make it, too, available to Mr. Jacobus, and he then went forward to compile the present work, combining the collections of Miss Talcott with the work of Mr. Morris. No attempt was made to collect any large amount of new material, but it was decided to carry all of the descendants of the Colonist down to the sixth generation, in order that subsequent workers in the field should have no difficulty in bringing the lines down to date.

From the first, however, the author determined not to go to publication with any History of the Seymour Family until the authenticity of the so-called “Seymour Bible” had been settled for good or for ill. When, in the “revolving years,” the person who had sprung the Bible “out of the blue” in Hartford died in Brookline (1906) and was “gathered to his fathers,” the Bible was acquired from his widow by two members of the Connecticut family, but they too implicitly believed in its authenticity, and in their hands it was still unavailable for subjection to ordinary rules of evidence. Thirty years and more passed and the problem presented by the Bible remained unsolved, until at last the Bible came to the hands of its present owner, happily cooperative, who allowed it to be put into the hands of the Librarian of Yale University, who in turn put it into the hands of competent experts for examination. The unequivocal report of the experts is that the Bible entries are forgeries.

And so we come to the story of the Bible itself, but first it must be explained that in June, 1881, the Bible's first owner, who was in funds, bought a house in Newport, on which the mortgage was foreclosed three years later, in 1884. During those few years, as is supposed, the owner of the Bible had a die made with the full ducal arms, which he used for embossing his own personal stationery; he had a similar seal cut, of which he sent impressions to Mr. Nathan Perkins Seymour, then a professor at Western Reserve College, at Hudson, Ohio; he had a handsome book-plate engraved with the full ducal arms; and he had the arms displayed on his Newport house. How much the display of the ducal arms in these several forms contributed to his Newport establishment may easily be surmised.

Also in the summer of 1881, probably in August, Professor Nathan Perkins Seymour was visiting in his native Hartford, and the Bible was shown to him and of course excited his great interest and curiosity. He was even allowed to remove bits of a. sheet of paper that was pasted over what appeared to be writing on the inside of the front cover of the book, and had the owner, supposedly present, cooperated with him and allowed him to remove all of the paper, the great delusion about the Bible would have been dispelled then and there, over half a century ago, and Professor Nathan Perkins Seymour would be the hero of this narrative. The owner, however, seems to have lacked curiosity, or to have begun even then to suspect that he had been “taken in” when (as will shortly appear) he bought the Bible, and although in a letter to Professor Seymour, dated at Newport, August 12, 1881, he announced his intention of peeling off all the paper, he never did so. His letter to Professor Seymour, embossed with the full arms of the ducal family of Somerset, contained this paragraph:

When I have peeled off all the paper and laid bare the writing
upon the cover of the Bible, I will send you a transcript, but from
what you took off, I judge that it is nothing but someone's careless
scribbling during the present century and of no account whatever.

When the paper was finally peeled off by an expert employed by the Librarian of Yale University, the following inscription was uncovered:

George Cole's Book
the Gift of his dear
friend Richard [ ]
the twenty third of the
Eleventh Month
One thousand Eight Hundred
Twenty One

On February 2, 1882, about six months after the near-revealing session between Professor Nathan Perkins Seymour and the owner of the Bible, the latter deposited the Bible (and took a receipt for it) in the vault of a Boston bank, and there it remained until after his death in 1906. As far as is known, it was seen during all of this period by only one member of the family. In the latter part of 1901 or in 1902 it was shown to Henry W. Seymour of Washington, but only in the ante-room of the vault. Some time about 1891 the author made a special trip to Boston for the purpose of seeing the Bible with his own eyes, but all he saw was its owner, then living in Brookline, apparently in reduced circumstances. The author had, of course, long had photographs of the significant pages of the Bible, secured from a Newport photographer, and he explained to the owner the object of his visit and his own belief that the Bible ought to be submitted to expert examination, but he was obliged to return to New Haven without seeing it. The reason seems obvious enough. Had he appeared, not as a “doubting Thomas,” but as a true believer, his journey to Boston might not have been in vain.

Since the actual examination of the Bible by experts, the author, not content with that alone, has undertaken further to unravel its history and has learned from persons close to the family of the owner's widow that the owner did not acquire the Bible by descent. He bought it. About the owner himself the author learned that he had a good record in the Civil War; that he had hunted big game in South America; and had hunted a fortune in Java; and none of these experiences can have prepared him to pass on the authenticity of the Bible when it was offered to him for purchase. It may be surmised that he was persuaded by the dealer of the genuineness of the entries in the Bible, and that he therefore welcomed the chance, as he viewed it, to bring the ownership of the Bible back into the family.

That the Bible could not have gone to the owner by descent ought, in fact, long since to have been apparent, especially to Miss Talcott. In the trunk containing her papers, as may now be told, was found a sheet of the Bible owner's correspondence paper, embossed with the ducal arms of Somerset, and on the paper, in the owner's handwriting, is a schedule of his claimed descent from Richard the Colonist, but the schedule is incorrect. It postulates his descent from Thomas3 Seymour of Hartford,. the grandfather of the First Mayor, rather than from Zachariah3 Seymour, youngest son of John2, a younger son of the Colonist. In other words, the owner's own conception of his place in the family was entirely wrong. The improbability that a family Bible of the highest import should have descended through younger sons in nearly every generation ought alone, it must be thought, to have been enough to put Miss Talcott, and others in the family who accepted the Bible, on their guard. The schedule of the owner's claimed descent is not dated and not accompanied by any letter, but presumably, it was submitted to Miss Talcott at the same time that the Bible itself was first called to her attention, back about 1880 or 1881.

Nor is this the only evidence long available that denies the ancestry set forth in the Bible. On September 2, 1816, Thomas Seymour, the venerable First Mayor of Hartford, then in his eighty-first year, entered in a “Memorandum Book” that had belonged to his father an attested statement which he called “a summary of the origin of my ancestors from their very first coming from England and settlement in this Town”; and since 1892, when Dr. Parker's “History of the Second Church in Hartford” was published, the First Mayor's statement has been easily accessible to all. “For more than two hundred years,” says Dr. Parker in his History, “this Seymour family maintained an unbroken continuity of membership in this Church or Society which John Seamer helped to found, and for the greater part of that time exercised a commanding influence in its affairs”; and he quotes the First Mayor's statement, which is in part as follows:

A summary of the origin of my ancestors from their first coming
from England and settlement in this Town, and of the time of
their births and deaths, so far as appears from old Books and
entries found and now in my possession, and the information of old
people now deceased.

Richard Seymour, from England, was the first of the name, and
amongst the early settlers of the Town, and from whom the numer-
ous families of that name {it is said} have descended in America,
particularly in this Town and in Connecticut. He had several sons,
one of which was named John, my great-grandfather, and settled in
this Town. Another of them settled in Norwalk, whose posterity
remain there till this day. Capt. Thomas Seymour, the son of John,
died August 30th, 1740, aged 72. His mother's name was Watson.

Thomas Seymour, Esq., my Father, died March, 1767, aged 62.
He was a Deacon of the 2d Church, Justice of the Peace, King's
attorney, &c., &c.: married in the year 1730 to Hepzibah Merrel,
Daughter of Deacon Daniel Merrel.1) ……, Attest, Sept.

2d, 1816. T. Seymour, aged 81 years, & 6 months, the 17th day of
this month.

As to what purpose the First Mayor had in mind in making this sworn statement there is now no evidence, but it is clear that he was very serious about it, as he specifically says that he consulted “old Books and entries found and now in my possession, and the information of old people now deceased.” The statement itself, moreover, appears to be in every respect correct, and no doubt exists either as to the authenticity of the “Memorandum Book,” which is dated 1747, or as to the fact that the First Mayor himself made the statement quoted from it. At the time the statement was made, the First Mayor was the virtual head of the American Seymour Family. He was a college-bred man (Yale, 1755), as was his father before him (Yale, 1724); he had an enviable position at the bar, as had his father before him; he had been King's Attorney, as had his father before him; he had been State's Attorney after the Revolution; he had been the First Mayor of Hartford, which position he held for twenty-seven years; he and his family had occupied a first social position in the community; and he was great- grandson of John Seymour, through whom the so-called “Seymour Bible” purported to have descended to the person who produced it about 1880. Yet in the carefully worded and attested statement of this distinguished man there is not the least suggestion (If the existence of any family Bible or of any knowledge about Richard the Colonist except the bare statement that he came from England. The First Mayor was grandson of Richard's grandson; his branch of the family had resided continuously in Hartford; and if there had been among the “old people now deceased” any knowledge or tradition of a family Bible or of noble descent or connections, it is inconceivable that he would not have referred to it in his statement. The lack of any such reference is almost conclusive evidence that no tradition of the kind was known among the older members of the family, even though they were, both in line and descent, close to Richard the Colonist.

When the First Mayor's sworn statement became easily accessible with the publication of Dr. Parker's History in 1892, only about a decade after the appearance of the Bible in Hartford, there was every reason for Miss Talcott and for all believers in the Bible to be on their guard. It may be, indeed, that Miss Talcott was already familiar with the statement, but it is also quite possible that she never knew of it at all until Dr. Parker's book appeared, and in either case it is more than likely that she did not fully appreciate its significance. In 1916, however, the present author communicated to her the news of the Bartlett report, with the discovery of the entries in the Parish Records of Sawbridgeworth, and she then at once foresaw that when the report was made known to the family at large, the publication of a family history on her part would be made very difficult. The author is constrained to believe that while her faith in the so-called “Seymour Bible” must have been shaken long before the blow actually fell, she had never seriously entertained the thought that the Bible was an out-and-out forgery or that it had been bought by the person who produced it.

Other members of the family, too, failed to see the significance of the First Mayor's statement, and in spite of its publication in Dr. Parker's book, the efforts to confirm the forged entries in the Bible were continued. for years thereafter, showing, it must be declared, not so much that the believers were gullible as that they were human, eager to exalt their own ancestry, one of the oldest weaknesses of the race. Exalted claims of noble if not royal ancestry have been made, at one time or another, for nearly every old American family. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says of genealogies published in this country that many “combine the results of laborious research in American records with extravagant and unfounded claims concerning the European origin of the families dealt with.” One after another, these claims have been examined and rejected by the better-informed of our native genealogists, only to reappear with undiminished splendor in the next publication, due we must suppose to indifference or to stubborn vanity. In passing, we must refer to the sad demolition, as recently as April 1938 in The American Genealogist, of the oldest and most cherished of our Connecticut “pedigrees of delusion,”-the Haynes-Harlakenden descent from the Plantagenets has now been proclaimed a myth!

The author, indeed, opines, though he be put down a cynic for saying so, that there are thousands of Americans of the old stock who would far rather trace their descent from Edward Seymour, First Duke of Somerset, than from Richard Seymour of Sawbridgeworth, even though the latter may be thought to have sired a finer race of men than the former. The author cannot refrain from inserting here a parody that has long amused him and that will be readily recognized by all readers of Tennyson.

Of course 'tis noble to be good,
But what are hearts to coronets
And simple faith to Norman blood.

The task of “tearing the strawberry leaves,” so to speak, from the brows of the American Seymours is not a grateful one to the author and is not commending him to many members of his family; but then he reflects that, as our own Bryant tells us,

Truth crushed to earth shall rise again, —
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers.

Nor can he forget the words of a still greater writer: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

The fact is that from the time the author first decided to publish the present book it has been his intention to discuss the Bible at length. He has been advised that this is not necessary, that it is quite sufficient simply to state that expert examination has proved the Bible a forgery, but since many people. as the author feels sure, do not value expert opinion. and since different experts may, in fact, give different opinions, it he seemed necessary to give some history of the Bible, quite apart from what any expert says about it. When Mr. Jacobus had access to Miss Talcott's papers, more. over, he found a great body of letters from members of the family, all thrilled at the idea of noble descent, and it is to them and to their offspring that a complete explanation is due.

To-day the Bible plainly appears to be what it is-a crude forgery that was produced under circumstances so suspicious in themselves that acceptance, even tentatively, by so many members of the family seems incredible. The particular copy of the Bishop's Bible used by the forger had been rebound at some remote period; it lacks some twenty pages, including the title-page; and from what the author can learn, its auction-room value in 1880, as an imperfect copy, can have been only a trifling sum. What the person who first bought it paid for it will, of course, never be known, but at his death in 1906 his widow sold it to a believer for a very substantial price. With the forgeries made a part of it, its worth proved to be many times what it could have brought merely as a defective copy of a famous old edition of the Bible.

Some years ago the author had a slide made from a photograph of a page of the Bible that purported to give an account of some commercial transaction. In what appeared to be a specimen of genuine seventeenth century handwriting, the account had been written over and so changed as to bring the name “Seymour” into it, and when the slide was thrown on the screen, the changed inscription :was palpably the work of a forger. At about the same time the author employed Mr. Jacobus, now the editor of this book, but also well known for his familiarity with old handwriting, to examine photographs of the Bible, and Mr. Jacobus then reported that the entries bore evidence of being faked. This was years before the Bible was submitted to expert examination through the good offices of Mr. Keogh, the Yale Librarian, and years before the author had gone into the history of the Bible and proved to his own satisfaction that the person who first displayed it never inherited it, but actually bought it.

In the old days, or had one better say “in the lost years,” Miss Talcott told the author over and over again that she was prepared to enrich her data with many stories of the family that she had gathered from her elders and kinsfolk in Hartford, and the author began at an early date to collect illustrations for her use; but she never got around to making notes of her vast stores of personal material, now impossible to recover, and the author, quite naturally, long ago abandoned his idea of collecting illustrations for her use. He has, however, done what he could to collect material about the First Mayor of Hartford and his family, and he has been able to pick up several illustrations of the First Mayor's belongings, to represent him, in away, in lieu of his portrait, which was destroyed. As the author is publishing this book entirely at his own expense, he has naturally chosen such illustrations as suit his own feelings or as happen to be at hand. Any compiler of a family history knows how hard it is to secure data from members of the family. Letters and pictures are withheld, apparently, for no better reason than indifference. Any member of the family who is disposed to criticise the work is free to try his own hand at writing and publishing a history to suit his own taste.

If the author had begun back in 1880 or thereabouts to collect basic material for this history, he would have asked in his questionnaire for information regarding the height, size, color of eyes, hair and skin, and facial characteristics. He would also have called for portraits and pictures of houses and of matters of family tradition. In this way he might peradventure have collected enough material to predicate characteristics of the family as a race. Miss Talcott reached the conclusion that the spirit was martial and it does appear that many men were engaged in the different wars notably as officers as well as in the ranks.

As for the inordinate family pride with which the members of the family have long been charged, it must be admitted as true so far as the Hartford branch descended from the first John Seymour of Hartford is concerned. This pride long antedates the appearance of the alleged Seymour Bible. The author leaves it to the readers of this book to determine the reasons for this pride, but will not add more himself except to say that so far as his experience goes the members of the family have not suffered from what is now described as an “inferiority complex.” It is often said that, pride of blood is less to be condemned than pride of purse. Money getting has never been a family characteristic. No more has display on the part of those who had it. Despite the high social position occupied for years by groups of the family in Hartford and Litchfield, Conn., and in Utica and Cazenovia, N.Y., the family has been free from anything like ostentation. They built no notably fine estates and in general paid little attention to the appanages of wealth and social caste. Even their mortuary remains (and the author deplores it) are meagre and insignificant, and one is reminded of the attitude of the high-born Wyllyses in that regard. No monument of any sort can be found to-day to the First Mayor of Hartford, and the stones erected to some members of his family have been allowed to fall into decay.

In conclusion, it may be said that the records at Sawbridgeworth and elsewhere indicate that Richard the Colonist and his wife Mercy were far removed from the arms-bearing class; but the fact remains that over two and a quarter centuries have passed since the day in 1712 when Thomas Seymour of Norwalk, English-born eldest son of the Colonist, being then very “sicke and weak,” sealed his will with a small seal (which seal may be seen to-day in the State Library in Hartford) charged with the wings forming the paternal coat of the Seymours of Penhow. That Thomas Seymour used a seal for any other purpose than to comply with the common law requirement of a seal of some kind is wholly incredible, and that any contemporary who saw the seal on the document had the faintest idea what those wings signified is almost equally so, but it is certain that a relatively poor man, living in a pioneer settlement, would not have thought of having a seal cut to “exalt his horn” and would have had no opportunity for doing so, if he had thought of it. The actual impression on the will, moreover, shows that it was made from a seal that was already old and worn. The seal from which it was made must have been brought to this country by Richard the Colonist, whose original will no longer exists to show whether it too was sealed with the same seal.

Since the above was written, Stewart Mitchell's biography of “Horatio Seymour of New York” has been issued (1938) by the Harvard University Press. Dr. Mitchell comments (page 4) on the will of Thomas Seymour in 1712, “to which he affixed a seal with wings that recalled [sic] those of the arms of the great house of Seymour of Penhow,” and reaches the astonishing conclusion that he “had probably used the first seal which came to hand, with never a thought of its significance or any knowledge of what it might resemble.” Such an explanation will hardly satisfy students of heraldry,-nor, for the matter of that, should it satisfy students of history. The wings on the seal do not recall or resemble, to use his own terms, the wings of the Seymours of Penhow; beyond question they are the “two wings conjoined in lure” of the Penhow family. To suppose that Thomas Seymour reached for “the first seal which came to hand,” and inadvertently, in that primitive colonial hamlet, picked up the actual seal of the historic Seymour family, is to ask us to believe in miracles. Heraldic symbols were exceedingly rare in that time and place, and when one was used it was not by chance. The author has examined dozens of wills of Fairfield County residents in the period between 1700 and 1720, and saw only one other which was sealed with an unmistakable heraldic device, most of the wills being sealed with red wax bearing no impression or with seals of conventional. non-heraldic designs.

If Thomas Seymour of Norwalk “used the first seal which came to hand,” and the author concedes that as likely, then we are constrained to believe that he used his own seal ring, and that it was an heirloom which, although his generation may not have been aware of it, pointed to a remote connection with the Seymours of Penhow, though possibly the connection may have been derived through the Seymers of Dorsetshire2) rather than through the Devonshire, later the ducal, branch of the ancient family, both of which used the “two wings conjoined in lure,” as on the seal of Thomas.

Moreover, Thomas Seymour, Esq. (1705-1767), of Hartford, grand-nephew of Thomas of Norwalk, sealed his will with a seal bearing the same wings, and his son, the First Mayor of Hartford, did the same. This shows that both the First Mayor and his father had an appreciation of the value of arms-bearing ancestry and that a knowledge or tradition of the right to display the Seymour wings had surely been transmitted to them. This fact makes it all the more likely, however, that if the First Mayor had had any specific knowledge of noble ancestry, he would have embodied the tradition in the attested statement, already quoted, that he made on September 2, 1816.

Whether any attempt to trace the family in England further back than John Seymour, grandfather of Richard the Colonist, can be anything but futile, is extremely doubtful. Mr. Bartlett tried to do so, but without success, for the simple reason that the search took him into a period when parish records were not compulsory. The author also employed Mr. Bartlett to make further investigations along the line of the Colonist's grandfather, but without finding any clue. Mr. Bartlett's opinion was that Richard's grandfather had come from a different locality. The author subsequently employed Mr. Jacobus too, through his English correspondents, to make further searches, but again without success. F or his own part, the author feels that the record of the family in this country is sufficient in itself. The American Seymours have been men and women of character, high breeding, integrity, and devotion to public service, and until the unfortunate appearance of the so-called “Seymour Bible,” they were without any pretense to noble ancestry. The ghost of the Bible has now been laid. It was General Truman Seymour who said:3)

Except as a motive of curiosity there is little to be gained by
settling the question [the English origin of the family]. The
American Seymours are quite as respectable as the English and
have nothing to ask, in dignity, from any relationship.

(<-- Table of Contents) (Back to Start) (The English Origin -->)

The writer listed here, before attesting, the births of the children of Thomas and Hephzibah (Merrel) Seymour, including his own. To present the attested statement as nearly as possible in its original form, the author has omitted some explanatory detail which Dr. Parker inserted in square brackets. The full statement will be found at page 134 of the “History of the Second Church of Christ in Hartford,” by Edwin Pond Parker, published at Hartford in 1892.
In a letter, 28 May 1881.
book/introduction.txt · Last modified: 2014/10/03 17:42 by jims