by Jim Seymour
Back in the late 1800's, a man unknown to the Seymour family came forth with an old Bible, which he claimed was the family Bible brought over by Richard Seymour in 1639. In it, a genealogy was documented that linked Richard with Sir Edward Seymour of Berry Pomeroy, whose grandfather, Edward was the Duke of Somerset and brother to the queen, Jane Seymour. This Bible, in addition to a family mystery regarding the Seymour coat of arms, convinced the family that they were, indeed, descended from “greatness”.
Sadly, the Bible was never scrutinized in detail for fifty years, and in that time, the belief of the royal ancestry spread across much of America. At least one article was written about the link: “The Royal and Noble Ancestry of the American Seymours” (1911) by Mabel Thacher Rosemary Washburn, genealogical editor of The Journal of American History. Included with the article were copies of several pages from the Bible.
When proper study was applied to the Bible, however, it was revealed to be a forgery. On the inside cover, a piece of paper had been affixed to cover an inscription stating that the book was a gift to a “George Cole” in 1821. In addition, the First Mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, Thomas Seymour, made a sworn statement in 1816 regarding his ancestry. He makes no mention of the Bible, nor does he mention any ancestry prior to Richard's arrival in America. The serious tone of the statement is such that, if he were aware of such lineage, he would almost certainly have mentioned it!
In addition, later research uncovered reasonable proof of Richard, the colonist's actual father in England (see the Richard Seymour ancestry page for more information), which should have put the royal ancestry sham in history's trash bin. Unfortunately, the American Seymours really wanted to believe! To this day, there are still Seymours who are convinced that they are related to the royal line. While it is possible that Richard, the colonist was related to the ducal Seymours, his line probably does not link up with the other Seymours for a century or more before his time. If he was related, it was very distantly.
We can thank the genealogists J. Gardner Bartlett and Donald Lines Jacobus for setting the record straight, beginning with an article in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1917), vol. 71. It was called “The English Home and Ancestry of Richard Seamer or Semer of Hartford, Conn.” and later formed the basis of the 1939 book "A History of the Seymour Family" by Donald Lines Jacobus and George Dudley Seymour.
I would like to thank Don H. Seymour for providing me with a copy of these (and many other) articles.