Robert Seymour

Robert Seymour



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Robert Seymour was born in 1800. He became an illustrator who specialised in sporting scenes. One contemporary noted that he was "the most varied and the most prolific" caricaturist of his day.

In 1835 Chapman and Hall published a successful collection of his illustrations, Squib Annual of Poetry, Politics, and Personalities . The following year, Seymour suggested to William Hall, that he should publish in shilling monthly parts a record of the exploits of a group of Cockney sportsman.

Valerie Browne Lester, the author of Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens (2004), has pointed out: "Robert Seymour needed an author to write up each picture, that is, to provide text to support the narrative contained within the image. This was a common practice, and one in which author was subordinate to artist." William Hall approached Charles Whitehead to provide the words. He had just been appointed as editor of the Library of Fiction and was to busy to take up the offer. Whitehead suggested he should approach Charles Dickens, the author of the highly successful, Sketches by Boz , to become the writer on the project.

Hall offered Dickens £14 for each monthly episode and added that the fee might rise if the series did well. John R. Harvey, the author of Victorian Novelists and their Illustrators (1970), has argued: "Dickens, however, had no intention of writing up anyone else's pictures. When the Seymour plan was put to him, he insisted that he should write his own story and Seymour should illustrate that." Dickens already had an idea for a comic character, Samuel Pickwick, a rich, retired businessman with a taste for good food and a tendency to drink too much. He was based on Moses Pickwick, a coach proprietor from Bath, a man whose coaches he used while working as a journalist. The first number of The Pickwick Papers appeared in March 1836. It came in green wrappers, with 32 pages of print material and 4 engravings, and priced at one shilling.

On the 18th April 1836 Charles Dickens had a meeting with Robert Seymour. According to Peter Ackroyd: "Dickens asserted his proprietor rights over their venture by suggesting that Seymour alter one of his illustrations - a task which Seymour, no doubt against his wishes, carried out... Two days later, Seymour went into the summer-house of his garden in Islington, set up his gun with a string on its trigger, and shot himself through the head. He was, like many illustrators, a melancholy and some ways thwarted man. It has been suggested that Dickens's request to change the illustration was one of the causes of his suicide, but this is most unlikely. Seymour was used to the imperatives of professional life, and it seems that it was essentially anxiety and overwork which eventually killed him."

Dickens asserted his proprietor rights over their venture by suggesting that Seymour alter one of his illustrations - a task which Seymour, no doubt against his wishes, carried out... Seymour was used to the imperatives of professional life, and it seems that it was essentially anxiety and overwork which eventually killed him.

In 1835 Chapman and Hall issued The Squib Annual, a glossy book for the Christmas trade illustrated by the popular Robert Seymour, political caricaturist and humorous illustrator. In the course of discussion about that book, Seymour broached the idea of drawing plates for a series of cockney sporting scenes, to be issued with accompanying letterpress written to order. Accepting the suggestion, Edward Chapman urged that the plates come out monthly. Seymour agreed, and Chapman and Hall then attempted, without success, to find someone to compose the text. The commission was hardly a flattering one. While comic plates with letterpress were eminently commercial in the 1830s, credit and cash most often went to the illustrator, not the author, who usually took his direction from plates already designed.


The SEYMOUR immigration page

This page is devoted to maintaining a list of the SEYMOUR families who immigrated to the Americas. If you have any information to contribute, please feel free to edit this page or contact me.

"A History of the Seymour Family" (1939)

It is likely that the largest group of American Seymours descends from the original colonist, Richard Seymour, who came to Connecticut in 1638 or 1639. His family (complete to six generations) is documented in the 1939 book "A History of the Seymour Family" by George Dudley Seymour and the respected genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus.

The American Seymour immigrants

This list is in approximate order of immigration. For more information on a particular line, click on the immigrant's name.

This list needs to be longer! If you would like to contribute your Seymour database, feel free to contact me. I can accept GEDCOM files 1) , but if you feel up to it, feel free to enter the data yourself on this site. Contact me if you don't know where you should put something.


Robert Seymour - History

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Seymour Topping, Former Times Journalist and Eyewitness to History, Dies at 98

He was one of the most accomplished foreign correspondents of his generation and a newsroom leader under the renowned executive editor A.M. Rosenthal.

Seymour Topping, who chronicled the rise of China and the Cold War in Europe and Asia as a correspondent, shaped the crowning years of print journalism as an editor of The New York Times, and led the charge into the internet age in the classrooms of Columbia University, died on Sunday in White Plains, N.Y. He was 98.

His death, at White Plains Hospital, followed a stroke he suffered late last month, his daughter Robin Topping said.

In a peasant hut in Central China, where he was being held prisoner, Mr. Topping, as a young correspondent, listened all night to the thundering artillery. It ended at dawn on Jan. 7, 1949. As he looked up into the rifle muzzle of a People’s Liberation Army soldier, he wondered what the silence portended. As he would soon write, it was the end of China’s civil war, the triumph of Mao Zedong over the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek.

Sixty years later — after a career as a correspondent for wire services and The Times as foreign news editor and managing editor of the newspaper, subordinate only to the powerful executive editor A.M. Rosenthal as a teacher and author of four books and as one of America’s most respected journalists — Mr. Topping recalled that artillery silence as a defining moment in history.

“Mao’s victory in the Battle of the Huai-Hai marked the onset of an era in which East Asia would be engulfed in war, revolution, and genocide,” he wrote in a memoir, “On the Front Lines of the Cold War” (2010). “Tens of millions would die in China, Korea, Indochina and Indonesia in wars, political purges and sectarian violence.”

For Mr. Topping, known universally to colleagues as Top, the story was always about more than the day’s news developments, intriguing as they might be. It was about their historical significance, too.

Thoughtful and precise and a cool evaluator of events and people, he was equally at home in a war zone or an interview with a world leader in Moscow or Beijing, at the helm of a newsroom tempest of breaking news, or at a university lectern delivering an analysis of global events for a new generation of journalists who might see war but would never pound it out on a typewriter.

He learned the fast, often dangerous game of deadline journalism the hard way, as a globe-trotting, no-nonsense wire service reporter for 14 years, from 1946 to 1959, first with the International News Service covering China’s civil war, then with The Associated Press in Nanking, Saigon, London and Berlin, covering Cold War tensions and fighting.

In 1950, besides reporting events leading to the Korean War, he became America’s first correspondent in Vietnam since World War II, covering the French colonial war against Ho Chi Minh’s Communist forces in years when American interests in the region were strategically hidden. In Europe, he covered diplomatic conferences, the tug-of-war over Berlin and the nuanced threats of the East-West belligerents.

His scoops and perceptive writing caught the eye of Times editors, who hired him in 1959. Over the next 34 years, he became pivotal to the paper’s coverage of world events. As Moscow bureau chief, he broke the news of the U-2 spy plane incident in 1960 and the Sino-Soviet rift in 1963, and covered Soviet space shots and Nikita Khrushchev’s aggressive moves in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

As Southeast Asia bureau chief from 1963 to 1966, he covered the early American military involvement in Vietnam and wars in Laos and Cambodia.

He became foreign news editor in 1966 (the title is now international news editor), and for three years directed the work of 40 correspondents, including coverage of the Vietnam War and Mao’s Cultural Revolution. He de-emphasized official reports from abroad and focused on how people lived and their social, cultural and intellectual pursuits. He promoted the “takeout,” a longer-form article written to add perspective, depth and understanding to the news.

As an editor he continued to write for The Times and its Sunday magazine, traveling widely to interview President Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa, the shah of Iran, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Premier Zhou Enlai of China, Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel and King Hussein of Jordan.

He was usually accompanied by Audrey Ronning, a writer and photojournalist he met in Nanking (known today as Nanjing) and married in 1949. Their five daughters were born at his postings — Susan in Saigon, Karen and Lesley in London, Robin in Berlin and Joanna in Bronxville, N.Y.

Mr. Topping’s years on The Times masthead, as assistant managing editor, deputy managing editor and managing editor coincided with Mr. Rosenthal’s 17-year tenure in charge of news operations, from 1969 to 1986. That was no accident.

While the two were as unalike as night and day, Mr. Topping was Mr. Rosenthal’s handpicked alter-ego, as tough as the boss, but with none of his rough edges. Mr. Topping’s quietly diplomatic, good-natured calm had a temporizing influence on Mr. Rosenthal, a table-pounding former correspondent whose brilliance as an editor did nothing to mask an abrasive, mercurial temperament that sometimes eroded staff morale.

Mr. Rosenthal acknowledged as much years later, explaining why he had chosen Mr. Topping over another deputy. “I passed over Arthur Gelb, a very close friend, because we were both emotional and excitable,” he told John Stacks, a biographer of the Times editor James Reston. “I chose Topping. There were things I was very good at, and things I wasn’t good at. Topping was very good.”

It was an excellent fit in other respects, too. Mr. Topping’s news and personnel judgments were solid, and he and Mr. Rosenthal, above all, prized high standards of reporting and editing, which demanded fairness, objectivity and good taste in news columns free of editorial comment, political agendas, innuendo and unattributed pejorative quotations.

Together, the two men shaped The Times’s news coverage of a tumultuous era — the war in Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers case, the Watergate scandals that drove Richard M. Nixon from the presidency, the vicissitudes of the Cold War and successive crises in the Middle East.

Throughout their tandem tenure, Mr. Topping took the lead in staff meetings, even with Mr. Rosenthal present, as editors decided which articles would appear on Page 1, and with what emphasis — decisions that influenced the judgments of news editors across America. And Mr. Topping basically ran the newsroom for weeks or months at a time when Mr. Rosenthal was away visiting correspondents, off on occasional reporting trips or absented by long-running problems in his personal life.

“We had an extremely close relationship,” Mr. Topping recalled in a phone interview for this obituary from his home in Scarsdale, N.Y. in 2012. “He never took a major decision without consulting me. When he got into trouble, I would pick up the pieces. I was totally loyal to him.”

The Rosenthal-Topping era was also one of innovation for The Times. A national edition was begun. The weekday paper grew from two to four parts, with separate metropolitan and business news sections. New feature sections were inaugurated: sports on Monday, science on Tuesday, and living, home and weekend activities on other days. Sunday sections for New York suburbs were added, as were magazine supplements on travel, education, fashion, health and other subjects. The innovations were widely copied.

While other newspapers struggled financially, The Times under Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Topping prospered, with remarkable advertising and circulation gains. Company revenues soared sevenfold to $1.6 billion in 1986 ($3.8 billion in today’s money) from $238 million in 1969, while net income in the same period rose to $132 million from $14 million.

In 1987, after Mr. Rosenthal stepped down to become a columnist as he neared his job’s mandatory retirement age of 65, Mr. Topping also left the masthead and became director of editorial development for the company’s 32 regional newspapers, a post he held until retiring in 1993. In his last year at the paper, he was president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

In 1993, he became a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, awarded by Columbia. He held both posts for a decade, until 2002. The author of “Journey Between Two Chinas” (1972) and two novels set in China and Vietnam, he continued to write for the Times Op-Ed page and to lecture at Columbia and other universities on world affairs, and especially on the transition of news from print to electronic media, about which he was optimistic.

“I believe that newspapers will adjust to their digital-era challenges if they retain the courage and quality of journalism that made such news organizations as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Associated Press worldwide the most respected and quoted of news outlets,” he wrote in his 2010 memoir. “The rising generations must be persuaded that the integrity and viability of their society, particularly as they relate to national security and the safeguarding of constitutional democracy, require a Fourth Estate.”

In addition to his daughter Robin, Mr. Topping is survived by his wife of more than 70 years three other daughters, Karen Topping Cone and Lesley and Joanna Topping seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His daughter Susan Topping died in 2015.

He was born Seymour Topolsky in Manhattan on Dec. 11, 1921, to Joseph and Anna Seidman Topolsky, Jewish immigrants from Russia. His mother had seen her mother slain in a Cossack pogrom in a Jewish village in Ukraine. His father, who had left behind relatives who were later killed in the Holocaust, Anglicized the surname.

As a teenager, Seymour read Edgar Snow’s epic “Red Star Over China” and dreamed of being a foreign correspondent. After graduating from Evander Childs High School in the Bronx in 1939, he attended the University of Missouri, whose journalism school was the nation’s oldest and had good contacts in China.

He earned a degree in 1943, and as a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps was called into the wartime Army, becoming an infantry officer in the Philippines. He was discharged in 1946. He was hired by the International News Service through contacts in Manila and, while lacking experience, eagerly accepted an assignment to northern China to cover a decades-old civil war that had resumed with full fury after World War II.

By 1949, after covering Chiang’s defeat in Manchuria and joining The A.P., Mr. Topping was in Nanking, the Nationalist capital, as Communist forces advanced on it. He went to the front, crossed a no man’s land and was taken prisoner by Communist guerrillas. He thus became the only Western reporter with Mao’s forces as the decisive battle loomed.

As a captive he was marched for miles to a field headquarters on a battleground cratered by shell fire and strewn with bodies and the wreckage of American-made Nationalist vehicles. At gunpoint, he was put into a hut, where he lay all night listening to the artillery.

In the morning, after the guns fell silent, a “deputy commissar” calling himself Wu came to the hut and returned Mr. Topping’s confiscated typewriter and camera. A military escort and horses were waiting to take him back, Wu told him.

“You know, I came here to tell your side of the story,” Mr. Topping said.

“You cannot help us,” Wu said softly.

Nationalist forces in the field had surrendered. Nanking would soon be taken. The war was over.

Mr. Topping, in his memoir, recalled the parting: “As I mounted my horse, Wu came up beside me, put his hand on the saddle, and said gently, speaking in English to me for the first time, ‘I hope to see you again. Peaceful journey. Goodbye.’”


History

Two years after the apocalypse that was called the Second World War ended, Magnum Photos was founded. The world’s most prestigious photographic agency was formed by four photographers – Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour – who had been very much scarred by the conflict and were motivated both by a sense of relief that the world had somehow survived and the curiosity to see what was still there. They created Magnum in 1947 to reflect their independent natures as both people and photographers – the idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist that continues to define Magnum, emphasizing not only what is seen but also the way one sees it.

“Back in France, I was completely lost,” legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson explained in an interview with Hervé Guibert in Le Monde. “At the time of the liberation, the world having been disconnected, people had a new curiosity. I had a little bit of money from my family, which allowed me to avoid working in a bank. I had been engaged in looking for the photo for itself, a little like one does with a poem. With Magnum was born the necessity for telling a story. Capa said to me: ‘Don’t keep the label of a surrealist photographer. Be a photojournalist. If not you will fall into mannerism. Keep surrealism in your little heart, my dear. Don’t fidget. Get moving!’ This advice enlarged my field of vision.”

Englishman George Rodger, another of Magnum’s founding photographers, recalled how his colleague Robert Capa, the agency’s dynamic leader, envisioned the photographers’ role after World War II, which had itself been preceded by the invention of smaller, portable cameras and more light-sensitive film: “He recognized the unique quality of miniature cameras, so quick and so quiet to use, and also the unique qualities that we ourselves had acquired during several years of contact with all the emotional excesses that go hand in hand with war. He saw a future for us in this combination of mini cameras and maxi-minds.”

There had been both emotional and physical excesses. Rodger, noted for his pictures of the Blitz and the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, had had to walk “three hundred miles through the bamboo forest and what seemed like a thousand mountain ranges” to escape the Japanese in Burma. He would give up war photography forever after finding himself “getting the dead into nice photographic compositions” upon entering the concentration camp. Cartier-Bresson spent much of the war as a German prisoner and, after escaping on his third try, in the French Resistance. Polish-born David Seymour (known as “Chim”), who received a medal for his work in American intelligence, had lost his parents to the Nazis (his father was a publisher of Hebrew and Yiddish books). And Hungarian Capa, whose name was synonymous with war photography since the Spanish Civil War, made the blurred, visceral photographs of the D-Day invasion that became its symbols. Tragically, two of the four founders – Capa and Chim – would die within a decade covering other wars.

These four formed Magnum to allow them and the fine photographers who would follow the ability to work outside the formulas of magazine journalism. The agency, initially based in Paris and New York and more recently adding offices in London and Tokyo, departed from conventional practice in two fairly radical ways. It was founded as a co-operative in which the staff, including co-founders Maria Eisner and Rita Vandivert, would support rather than direct the photographers. Copyright would be held by the authors of the imagery, not by the magazines that published the work. This meant that a photographer could decide to cover a famine somewhere, publish the pictures in “Life” magazine, and the agency could then sell the photographs to magazines in other countries, such as Paris Match and Picture Post, giving the photographers the means to work on projects that particularly inspired them even without an assignment.

In those days a photographer had a significant advantage: large areas of the world had hardly ever seen a photographer. They could choose to go almost anywhere they wanted, as Rodger pointed out, because in the early days one could “take pictures of just about anything and magazines were clamoring for it the mistake was in thinking that it would continue.” Still, four decades later, at the age of 75, Rodger was averaging one sale a month of the photographs he had taken in Africa in the late 1940s during a self-initiated post-war trip that he had undertaken “to get away where the world was clean.”

Magnum’s first move was to divide the world, rather loosely, into flexible areas of coverage, with Chim in Europe, Cartier-Bresson in India and the Far East, Rodger in Africa, and Capa at large and replacing Bill Vandivert (an American who had helped found Magnum but soon dropped out) in the USA. They had some early scoops, such as Robert Capa’s first uncensored look behind the Iron Curtain at the Soviet Union with the writer John Steinbeck, [originally published in “Ladies Home Journal” (for which Capa, according to John Morris, the Journal’s picture editor and later Magnum’s executive editor, was paid $20,000 to Steinbeck’s $3,000)], and Cartier-Bresson’s landmark coverage of India at the time of Gandhi’s assassination.

It was important for Magnum’s photographers to have this flexibility to choose many of their own stories and to work for long periods of time on them. None of them wanted to suffer the dictates of a single publication and its editorial staff. They believed that photographers had to have a point of view in their imagery that transcended any formulaic recording of contemporary events.

"There's no standard way of approaching a story. We have to evoke a situation, a truth. This is the poetry of life's reality"

- Henri Cartier-Bresson

“We often photograph events that are called ‘news’, ” Cartier-Bresson told Byron Dobell of “Popular Photography” magazine in 1957, “but some tell the news step by step in detail as if making an accountant’s statement. Such news and magazine photographers, unfortunately, approach an event in a most pedestrian way. It’s like reading the details of the Battle of Waterloo by some historian: so many guns were there, so many men were wounded – you read the account as if it were an itemization. But on the other hand, if you read Stendhal’s Charterhouse of Parma, you’re inside the battle and you live the small, significant details… Life isn’t made of stories that you cut into slices like an apple pie.”


Richard Seymour

Richard Seymour, Hartford, 1639 one of those settlers who received land "by the courtesie of the town" his home-lot was on the east side of the road to the Cow Pasture (North Main St.), and was bounded on the north by the Cow Pasture itself chosen chimney-viewer, 1647 he was one of the signers of the agreement for planting Norwalk, June 19, 1650, and was there soon after, with the first planters townsman at Norwalk, 1655 died in 1655 will dated July 29, proved October 25, 1655 inventory, October 10, 1655, 򣈥. 9. He mentions his wife, Mercy, eldest son, Thomas, "three other sons," John, Zachary, and Richard, the latter three being under age, and left to their mother's guardianship. She married (2) November 25, 1655, John Steele, of Farmington.

Children:

i. Thomas, one of the early settlers of Norwalk married (1) Jan., 1653-4, Hannah, daughter of Matthew Marvin, of Norwalk freeman, 1668 deputy from Norwalk, 1690 one of the patentees of 1686 and in 1687 had an estate of 򣆄. He married (2) Elizabeth, named in his will. He died in 1712 will dated September 22 proved November 7, 1712, sealed with the above coat of arms.

ii. John, was in Hartford as early as 1664, and married, probably not long after, Mary, daughter of John Watson, of Hartford freeman, 1667. He was a member, though not in full communion, of the South Church, when it was formed, February 12,1670. He died 1713 will dated December 10, 1712 proved, August 3, 1713 inventory �. 14. 01.

iii. Zachariah, born 1642 freeman, Farmington, 1669 from the record of law-suits in the County Court proceedings it is evident that he was engaged in trade with Barbadoes he removed to Wethersfield and married there, February 9,1688, Mary, daughter of widow Mary Gritt died in Wethersfield, August 1702, age 60 inventory 򣈀. 4. 3.

iv. Richard, freeman, Farmington, 1669 one of the 84 proprietors of 1672 the leader of the Great Swamp settlement in 1686 (Kensington), and captain of the fort. He married Hannah, daughter of Matthew Woodruff, of Farmington. He was killed by the fall of a tree in 1710 inventory presented November 29, 1710, 򣐖. 15. 3.

Ex-Governor Horatio Seymour, of New York, the Hon. Origen S. Seymour, of Litchfield, and Gov. Thomas H. Seymour, of Hartford, were descendants of John Seymour, of Hartford, who is the ancestor of nearly all of the name in this vicinity.

SOURCE: James Hammond Trumbull, editor, The memorial history of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884, Volume 1 (Boston, Massachusetts: Edward L. Osgood, 1886), page 258. Retrieved: 3 May 2011 from Google Books

  • Richard Seymour
  • M, #83815, b. 27 January 1605, d. 25 November 1655
  • Father Robert Seymour b. 30 Nov 1573
  • Mother Elizabeth Waller b. 12 Dec 1578
  • Richard Seymour was christened on 27 January 1605 at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England. He married Mercy Ruscoe, daughter of Roger Ruscoe and Sarah, on 18 April 1631 at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England.1 Richard Seymour died on 25 November 1655 at Norwalk, Fairfield, CT, at age 50.
  • Family Mercy Ruscoe b. c 1608
  • Child
    • Thomas Seymour+ b. 15 Jul 1632, d. 22 Sep 1712
    • SEYMOUR, Thomas
    • SEYMOUR, Mary b. JAN 1634/5 Sawbridgeworth, Herts, England d. APR 1635 Sawbridgeworth, Herts, England
    • SEYMOUR, Mercy b. JUL 1636 Sawbridgeworth, Herts, England
    • SEYMOUR, John
    • SEYMOUR, Zachariah
    • SEYMOUR, Richard
    • 1. Richard SEYMOUR
    • 2. Mary SEYMOUR
    • 3. Zacharia SEYMOUR
    • 4. Thomas SEYMOUR
    • 5. Mercy SEYMOUR
    • 6. John SEYMOUR
    • ’. i. THOMAS2, bapt. at Sawbridgeworth, co. Herts, Eng., 15 July 1632.
    • ii. MARY, bapt. at Sawbridgeworth, co. Herts, Eng., 9 Jan 1634/5 bur. there 3 Apr. 1635.
    • iii. MERCY, bapt. at Sawbridgeworth, co. Herts, Eng., 8 July 1636 no further record of her has been found.
    • “. iv. JOHN2, b. probably at Hartford, Conn.
    • ”. v. ZACHARIAH, b. at Hartford, Conn., abt. 1642.
    • •. vi. RICHARD, b. at Hartford, Conn.
    • Richard Seymour (____ - 1710)*
    • Zachariah Seymour (1642 - 1702)*
    • Thomas, John, Zachariah, Richard.
    • SECOND GENERATION.
    • Hannah, Mary, Thomas, Mathew, Abigail, Sarah, Mercy, Elizabeth, Rebecca.
    • John, Margaret, Richard, Zachary, Mary, Thomas, Jonathan, Nathaniel.
    • Samuel, Richard, John.
    • THIRD GENERATION.
    • John, Jonathan, Zebulon, Daniel, Nathaniel, Moses, Timothy, Susanna, Richard, Elizabeth, Margaret.
    • Mary, Thomas, Sarah, Jerusha, Ruth, Basil, Alice.
    • Hannah, Zachariah, Rebecca.
    • (+) In this indenture his name is among those styled "Planter of Norwalk." On p. 14 of Hall's Anceienct Historical Records of Norwalk he states that "on the 15th of February 1651, the planters were here as appears from the deed from Runckingheage. Some of them, at least were probably here the year before."
    • 2-Richard Seymour ( -29 Nov. 1710)
    • + Hannah Woodruff (1648-16 Sept 1712)
      • 3-Ebenezer Seymour (bp 1 Feb. 1684-bef Sep 1733)
      • + Abigail Hollister (16 Aug 1688- )
        • 4-Elizabeth Seymour (20 Apr 1714-18 Dec 1800)
        • + Ebenezer Richards (12 May 1712-20 Oct 1788)
          • . etc.
          • A genealogical register of the inhabitants of the town of Litchfield, Conn., from the settlement of the town, A. D. 1720, to the year 1800, . by Woodruff, George Catlin
          • SEYMOUR, RICHARD. All of the name of Seymour in this country are probably descended from Richard Seymour. He was one of the original settlers of Hartford, Conn., 1635-6, and as such his name appears on the noble monument in the ancient burial ground in that city. He lived in Burr Street, probably one of Mr. Hooker's congregation, from Chelmsford, Essex County, England (Braintree or East-Colne). That congregation first seated themselves at Cambridge, Mass.
          • His sons were Richard, John, who lived in Hartford on the south bank of Little River, and died in 1713: Zachariah and Thomas.
          • SEYMOUR, JOHN, of Richard m. Mary Watson.
          • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register
          • Pg.lxxix
          • SEYMOUR MORRIS (formerly Tyler Seymour Morris), of Chicago, Ill., elected a resident member in 1894 and made a life member in 1898, was born at Utica, N. Y., 15 February 1863, the youngest son of Joseph and Clara Elizabeth (Seymour) Morris, and died in Chicago 27 September 1921. He was descended from Lieut. Edward1 Morris, who was baptized at Nazeing, co. Essex, England, 8 August 1630, the son of Thomas and Grissie (Hewsome) Morris, and emigrating to New England, settled at Roxbury, Mass., and later at New Roxbury (Woodstock), Conn., through Dea. Edward2 of Roxbury and Woodstock, Lieut. Edward3 of Woodstock, Isaac4 of Wilbraham, Mass., Ephraim5 of Bethel, Vt., and Joseph6 of Utica and Chicago, his father. On the maternal side he traced his descent from Richard1 Seamer (Seymour), who was baptized at Sawbridgeworth, co. Herts, England, 27 January 1604/5,* and appears as a proprietor at Hartford, Conn., in 1639, through Capt. Richard2 of Farmington, Conn., Egenezer3 of Farmington, Capt. Stephen4 of Plymouth, Conn., Gideon5 of Paris, N. Y., Salmon6 of Westmoreland, Oneida Co., N. Y., and Clara Elizabeth,7 his mother. His father was born at Bethel, Vt., and his mother at Paris, Oneida Co., N. Y.
          • He was educated .
          • Proceedings of the New England Historic Genealogical Society . By New England Historic Genealogical Society
          • lxxix
          • SEYMOUR MORRIS (formerly Tyler Seymour Morris), of Chicago, Ill., . etc.
          • Genealogies of Connecticut Families: From the New England . Volume 1
          • Pg.312
          • 16. CAPT. THOMAS4 SEYMOUR (Capt. Matthew,3 Thomas,2 Richard1), of New Canaan Parish, Norwalk, Conn., born at Norwalk about 1702, died at New Canaan 11 Apr. 1796, aged 94 years. He married first, before 18 Aug. 1727, ELIZABETH3 BETTS, born at Norwalk 23 Oct. 1699, died before 1748, daughter of Thomas2 (Thomas1) and Sarah (Marvin) secondly, before 10 Apr. 1748, ELIZABETH ___, who died at New Canaan, 23 Aug. 1749, aged 70. Elizabeth, second wife of Thomas Seymour, was received into the church at New Canaan 10 Apr. 1748. . etc.
          • Pg.314
          • 19. JOHN4 SEYMOUR (John,3 Thomas,2 Richard1), of Norwalk, Conn., born at Norwalk about 1710, died there 8 Sept. 1796, aged 85 (gravestone record). He married first RUTH5 BELDEN, born at Norwalk 18 Jan. 1712/13, died there 29 May 1782, in her 70th year (gravestone record), daughter of William4 (Daniel,3 William,2 Richard1) and Margaret (Arms) and secondly, at New Canaan, Conn., 4 Feb. 1784, ELIZABETH WOOD of Huntington, Long Island, N. Y. . etc.

          Richard Seymour was a settler of Hartford, CT. His home lot was on the "east side of the road to the cow pasture. He was a chimney viewer"(?).

          Richard Seymour, Hartford, 1639 one of those settlers who received land 𠇋y the courtesie of the town” his home-lot was on the east side of the road to the Cow Pasture (North Main St.), and was bounded on the north by the Cow Pasture itself chosen chimney-viewer, 1647 he was one of the signere of the agreement for planting Norwalk, June 19, 1650, and was there soon after, with the first planters townsman at Norwalk, 1655 d. in 1655 will dated July 29, proved Oct. 25, 1655 inv., Oct. 10, 1655, 򣈥. 9. He mentions his wife, Mercy, eldest son, Thomas, “three other sons,” John, Zachary, and Richard, the latter three being under age, and left to their mother's guardianship. She m. (2) Nov. 25, 1655, John Steele, of Farmington.-Ch.: i. Thomas, one of the early settlers of Thomas Seymour's Norwalk m. (1) Jan., 1653-4, Hannah, dau. of Matthew Heal. Marvin, of Norwalk freeman, 1668 deputy from Norwalk, 1690 one of the patentees of 1686 and in 1687 had an estate of 򣆄. He m. (2) Elizabeth, named in his will. He d. in 1712 will dated Sept. 22 proved Nov. 7, 1712, sealed with the above coat of arms.1 ii. John, was in Hartford as early as 1664, and m., probably rot long after, Mary, dau. of John Watson, of Hartford freeman, 1667. He was a member, though not in full communion, of the South Church, when it was formed, Feb. 12, 1670. He d. 1713 will dated Dec. 10, 1712 proved, Aug. 3, 1713 inv. �. 14. 01. iii. Zechariah, b. 1642 freeman, Farmington, 1669 from the record of law-suits in the County Court proceedings it is evident that he was engaged in trade with Barbadoes he removed to Wethersfield and m. there, Feb. 9, 1688, Mary, dau. of widow Mary Gritt d. in Wethersfield, Aug. 1702, a. 60 inv. 򣈀. 4. 3. iv. Richard, freeman, Farmington, 1669 one of the 84 proprieton of 1672 the leader of the Great Swamp settlement in 1686 (Kensington), and captain of the fort. He m. Hannah, den. of Matthew Woodruff of Farmington.2 He was killed by the fall of a trea in 1710 inv. presented Nov. 29, 1710, 򣐖. 15. 3.-Ex-Gov. Horatio Seymour, of New York, the Hon. Origen S. Seymour, of Litchfield, and Gov. Thomas H. Seymour, of Hartford, were descendants of John Seymour, of H., who is the ancestor of nearly all of the name in this vicinity.

          1 A 𠇋ishop's Bible,” printed in 1584, now in the possession of one of Richard Seymour's descendants, has on one of the fly-leaves a drawing of the arms of the Seymours of Berry Pomeroy, the Same as those given above with the quarterings granted by Henry VIII., and his name written below, “Richard Seymor, Bery Pomery, heytor bond., in ye corn. Devon. his Book. Hartford ye collony of Conecticot in New England. Annoque Domini, 1640.”

          2 Savage says (iv. 58) that he m. Hannah, dau. of Anthony Hawkins, but I have found no other authority for his statement as yet

          He came to Hartford in 1639 where he appears as a proprietor and he was also one of the settlers who received land "by the courtesie of the town." His home lot was on the east side of the road to the cow pasture and was bounded on the north by the cow pasture itself. He was chosen chimney viewer at Hartford in 1647. He was one of the signers of the agreement for the planting of Norwalk, Conn., 19 June 1650, removed to that place soon afterwards, and became one of its first settlers, being chosen a townsman or selectman in 1655.

          1639 Arrived in Hartford, CT. 1655 Appointed a selectman at Norwalk, CT.

          His name is on the Founders Monument as an original proprietor who received land "by the courtesie of the town". His homelot was on the east side of the road to the Cow Pasture (North Main Street) and was bounded on the north by the Cow Posture itself. He signed the agreement for planting Norwalk on June 19, 1650 and was a first planter at Norwalk. (Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut, p. 501)

          According to "Four American Ancestries: White, Griggs, Cowles. " by Peter H. Judd, p. 908: Richard Seymour was baptized Jan. 27, 1604/5 at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England, son of Elizabeth Waller and Robert Seymour, and it was here that he married Mercy Ruscoe, daughter of Roger & Sarah Ruscoe of Sawbridgeworth, Eng. on April 18, 1631. He died between July 29, 1655 (date of will) and Oct. 10, 1655 (date of inventory) at Norwalk, Conn. Note: this conflicts with the death date given in "Families of Early Hartford" which was Nov. 1655..

          In Norwalk his home lot was opposite the meeting house and Parade Ground in 1652 and was elected selectman of Norwalk on March 29, 1655. In his will written July 29, 1655, he was described as "very week & sike". After his death, Mercy married John Steele of Hartford on Nov. 20, 1655.

          He is not buried in the Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford. The place of his burial is unknown, but probably somewhere in Norwalk. This is a Cenotaph.

          Richard SEYMOUR (SEAMER) B: 1604 D: 25 Nov 1655 Norwalk, Fairfield, Connecticut M: 18 Apr 1631 Sawbridgeworth, Herts, England


          Seymour Surname Meaning, History & Origin

          The place-name Saint Maur in Normandy was said to have been the origin of the English Seymours. These Seymours claimed to have come over to England with William the Conqueror. They rose to prominence during Tudor times, being ennobled as the Duke of Somerset .

          Select
          Seymour Resources on
          The
          Internet

          England . The Seymour origins may have been in northern France. But their first recorded sightings were in fact in Monmouthshire on the Welsh borders in the mid-13th century. Sir William Seymour, who was an attendant to the Black Prince, was the first to use the anglicized version of the name. His son Roger established the family home at Wolf Hall in Wiltshire.

          Sir John Seymour was the first to bring the family into national prominence. He took an active part in suppressing the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 and afterwards attended Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. His daughter Jane became the King’s third wife his son Edward, created Duke of Somerset, acted as Lord Protector following the death of the King.

          The Seymours were never again to be so close to royal power again. In fact Edward the Lord Protector and his brother Thomas, who had married Henry VIII’s widow Catherine Parr, were both executed for treason in the early 1550’s as the political tide turned .


          The Seymour family did remain haughty, influential and wealthy for several generations after this, although they split into several lines including a few illegitimate ones as well. The Protector himself was married twice. Probably due to the adultery of his first wife Catherine whom he repudiated in 1535, his titles and estates were entailed first on the issue from his second wife Anne:

          • Edward Seymour of this second marriage became the Earl of Hertford. His descendants re-adopted the title of Duke of Somerset until this male line died out in 1750.
          • Edward Seymour of the first marriage meanwhile established himself at Berry Pomeroy in Devon. Six successive Edward Seymours followed, the last of whom succeeded as Duke of Somerset in 1750. From Francis Seymour, a second son, came the Marquess of Hertford line.

          The Marquess of Hertford line had become the most conspicuous Seymour line by the late 18th century. Their numbers included Lord Hugh Seymour, a senior naval officer who was for a time a close drinking friend of the Prince Regent. He died of yellow fever in the West Indies in 1801. His younger brother George, once described as “the handsomest giant in the world,” was also a carouser with the Prince. He lived on, an inveterate place-seeker, until his death in Brighton in 1848. From this line or thereabouts came the Seymours of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire.

          The Seymour name has also been evident in Hampshire since the mid-16th century when Sir Henry Seymour, a brother of the Lord Protector, acquired Marwell Hall near Winchester. There had in fact been earlier sightings of the name in Andover. One Seymour family line at Ringwood has been traced back to Robert Seymour who was born in East Lulworth in 1624.

          Ireland. The Seymour name extended into Ireland. One line via John Seymour, a second son of the Seymours of Berry Pomeroy, apparently settled in Limerick where James Seymour was recorded as mayor in 1729. From this line, it is thought, came:

          • Sir Michael Seymour the naval officer who saw combat with the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and rose to be Rear-Admiral.
          • many other Seymours in Limerick who at this time were Quakers.
          • and Horatio Nelson Seymour who was a prominent merchant in the city from the 1830’s to the 1870’s.

          Colonel Francis Seymour of the Hertford Seymours was in charge of the British troops stationed in Antrim in the early 1700’s and his descendants became sizeable landowners in the Lisburn area. Another Seymour branch in Ireland began around this time with Thomas Seymour, also an army officer who with his brother John established himself at Ballymore castle in Galway.




          America
          . Colonel John Seymour was appointed the colonial Governor of Maryland in 1704. He came in fact from the Bitton Seymours of Gloucestershire, an illegitimate line from the Lord Protector. Upon his death in 1709 his family returned to England.

          Richard Seymour, a Puritan from Hertfordshire, came to New England in 1635 and settled in Norwalk, Connecticut. His line through six generations was covered in the 1939 book A History of the Seymour Family by George Seymour and Donald Jacobus. One line extended to Horatio Seymour who served twice as Governor of New York and was the Democratic Presidential candidate against Ulysses S. Grant in 1868.

          John Granderson Seymour arrived in North Carolina in 1792 from England. Family legend has it that he came as a remittance man in that he had left his influential family behind and severed all family ties. In 1829 he headed west with his family on horseback to Morgan county, Illinois where they settled. Esther Seymour Atwood’s 1960 book The Descendants of John Granderson and Agnes Seymour covered this history.

          Some of the other Seymours in America came from Ireland. Their numbers included:

          • Felix Seymour from Ulster who arrived in 1737 and settled in Hardy county, Virginia.
          • and William Seymour, also probably from Ulster, who reached South Carolina in 1798. He and his family later moved onto Mississippi.

          James Cunningham, born in Belfast in 1823, changed his name to Seymour when he arrived in New York. There he became a popular Irish actor. His son William Seymour was a prominent American stage actor, manager and director over a lengthy seventy year career.


          Canada
          . Frederick Seymour, born in Belfast, came from an illegitimate Hertford Seymour line and consequently had to fend for himself. He served as a colonial administrator in various parts of the world before becoming the Governor of British Columbia in 1864. He only lasted in the post for five years before his death from dysentery. But his name has lived on in a number of places in the province.

          Maurice Seymour was said to have been born in Ireland around the year 1820. After serving in the British army, he migrated from Jamaica to New York and then to Goderich in Ontario. His son Maurice, born there in 1857, was in charge of public health in Saskatchewan for more than forty years.
          .

          New Zealand. Henry Seymour from Gloucestershire was one of the earliest settlers in Nelson, arriving there in 1842 and planting two oak seedlings that he had brought with him from England. He and his compatriot Alfred Fell soon set themselves up as merchants
          and land agents and became very prosperous in the process .


          Select
          Seymour Miscellany

          Seymour Origins. According to the Victorian writer Agnes Strickland:

          “The Seymours were a family of country gentry who, like most holders of manorial rights, traced their ancestry to a Norman origin. One or two had been knighted in the wars of France, but their names had never emerged from the herald’s visitation rolls into historical celebrity. They increased their boundaries by fortunate alliances with heiresses and the head of the family married into a collateral branch of the lordly line of Beauchamp. After that event two instances were quoted of Seymours serving as high sheriff of Wiltshire.

          Thomas Cranmer granted a dispensation for nearness of kin between Henry VIII and his prospective bride Jane Seymour. Although the royal kindred appears somewhat doubtful, yet it is undeniable that the sovereign of England gained by this alliance one brother in-law who bore the name of Smith and another whose grandfather was a blacksmith at Putney.”

          Sir Henry Seymour at Marwell Hall. Sir Henry
          Seymour who had acquired Marwell Hall in Hampshire in 1551 was a zealous Protestant and, on taking over the property, treated the local Catholic priest
          at Owslebury with bigoted cruelty. The
          priest in revenge solemnly and openly in the parish church cursed him and his posterity with bell, book, and candle.
          Outraged Sir Henry retaliated by shooting the priest while he
          was celebrating the rites of his faith.

          The story goes that, whether as the fulfillment of the curse or not, by the time of the second generation from Sir Henry, the sons and daughters of his only son Sir John were without land or
          money and dependent on handouts from the Marquess of Hertford. One member of the family came to such poverty as to receive a pauper’s burial in the very parish where the curse was pronounced.

          The Seymours of Thrumpton Hall. George Fitzoy Seymour had the haughty demeanor of the Seymour family and the belief that he was descended from Charles II and his bastard son the Duke of Grafton. He was in fact the son of Lady Byron’s sister Lady Victoria Seymour and related to the Hertford Seymours. His own father had been a diplomat, but a failed one and the British Foreign Office had parked him off to Paraguay in 1924 where it was believed that he could do no harm.

          George was the presumptive heir of Thrumpton Hall, a Jacobean country house in Nottinghamshire, from his nephew Lord Byron. In the event he had to acquire the house, which he did at an auction in 1949. This made him even more determined to strut around as the local squire.

          But not even Thrumpton was enough for George Seymour. As his daughter Miranda explained: “The house couldn’t give more than it was, It couldn’t confer friendship or success. This was a source of bewilderment, sadness and disappointment.”

          So in middle age George embraced bikerdom. He bought himself some leathers and a 750-cc Ducati and began tooling around the countryside, usually in the company of young men hardly to the manor born.

          Miranda Seymour followed her father George into Thrumpton Hall when he died in 1994. In 2008 she wrote a bitter-sweet memoir of him in Thrumpton Hall: A Memoir.

          Richard Seymour, Early American Immigrant. Richard Seymour (sometimes Seymer) from Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire was influenced by the Essex preacher Rev.
          Thomas Hooker to leave England and come to New England.
          One of the original Puritans, he traveled on
          the Increase in 1635. He was one of the first fourteen settlers of Norwalk, Connecticut. The location of his house there
          is still known – at present-day Fitch Street and East Avenue.

          Records indicate that he and his wife Mercy had three children before they traveled to New
          England and four more after they reached Norwalk. Richard
          was appointed a Selectman in Norwalk
          in 1655, the year of his death.

          Felix Seymour in Virginia. Felix Seymour, born in Ulster in 1725, accompanied his father to America at the age of 12 on an apparent expedition to spy out the land. His father left Felix with a Virginia gentleman named Thomas Renick while he returned to Ireland for the rest of the family. He was never heard from again and was presumed lost at sea.

          Felix settled near Moorefield in present-day West
          Virginia and married Margaret, the eldest Renick daughter, in 1753. He and Margaret had eleven children. Felix
          served with distinction in the Continental Army during the
          Revolutionary War and was rewarded with the commission of Colonel. He died in 1798.

          Reader Feedback – Maurice Seymour in Canada. I think I have developed a lead on my Seymour family of Ireland. I
          do know from my ancestor’s death certificate
          specifically states that our family is from England. Some
          of my Seymour ancestors were born in Ireland, but their families are from England. They were Roman Catholic.

          My Seymours we’re also merchants from Dr. Seymour’s father Captain Maurice Bain Seymour. Captain Seymour was a captain in the British army but was also a merchant.

          Brian MacDonald Seymour ([email protected])

          The Seymour Oak in Nelson, New Zealand. Henry
          Seymour had been the secretary of the Cheltenham
          Horticultural Society and brought out acorns with him to New Zealand when he came out in 1842.

          He planted two seedlings in Nelson that year. One
          grew on the road that became known as
          Seymour Avenue, the other on private property near a brook. A high flood shortly afterward washed one of
          these seedlings away. A diligent search
          led to its recovery over a mile away on the banks of the Maitai river of which the brook was a tributary. The seedling was brought back in triumph and this
          time was planted in the field at a safe distance from the brook.

          Today this tree is a fine massive specimen of
          the oak tree in good health. There is a
          plaque from the Historic Places Trust which reads: “Planted by Henry Seymour in 1842 and replanted by Alfred Fell the following year.”

          • Jane Seymour was the third wife of Henry VIII and the only wife to bear him a male heir.
          • Edward Seymour , her elder brother and the first Duke of Somerset, acted as Lord Protector of England after the death of Henry VIII .
          • Jane Seymour, born Joyce Frankenberg, is a well-known British-American actress.

          Select
          Seymour Numbers Today

          • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
            in London)
          • 9,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
          • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

          Select Seymour and Like Surnames.

          The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them. Over time their names became less French and more English in character. Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth. The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

          The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy. Over time the name here also became more English. Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

          Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.


          Robert Seymour - History

          Township Facts, 1878:

          The township of Seymour lies north north-west of Murray, being bounded on the north by the township of Belmont in Peterborough, on the south by Brighton and Murray, on the east by Rawdon in Hastings, and on the west by Percy and Asphodel. The Trent traverses it. Population, 4,289. The population in1850 was 2,117 in 1861, 3,842. The native population number about two thirds, and the settlers from England, Ireland and Scotland, about one third in equal proportions--the Scotch however, have a small preponderance. Quite a number of retired half-pay military and naval officers located in the township after the first survey.

          Seymour was surveyed and laid out, first in 1819, and again in 1833. Major CAMPBELL, of Cobourg, after whom Campbellford has been named and by whom the village was founded, has done much in advancing the prosperity of the township of Seymour. He took up with his partners some 4000 acres of land, and his enterprise and encouragement induced quite a flourishing settlement.

          Amongst the early settlers were the ANDERSON s, ARNOLD s, CASSAN s, CLARK s, CURTIS , DAVIDSON , DENMARK , FREE , HAIG, HALL, HUME, JOY, MORRISON, MATTHEWS, MELVILLE, MEYERS, MILNE, MCARTHUR, MCNAUGHTON, MACOUIN, RANNIE, ROWE, STILLMAN, THUD, THOMPSON, WATSON, WALLACE, SCOTT, SMITH, STEPHENS, WHITE .

          The old CASSIDY settlers have now disappeared altogether. The family of DENMARK own considerable property. Mr. DENMARK was reeve of the township for some time. Mr. BRADFORD , a very popular man, now occupies the position. Mr. BELL , another well-to-do farmer, is deputy reeve. There are several descendants of the CLARK s, English old settlers, farmers. The family of BONNYCASTLE is a well-known family of old Scotch settlers in Seymour. They have taken a large interest in municipal and local matters, are noted as intelligent councillors and good farmers the old gentleman holds a commission as Major in t he Volunteer Militia. William FREE settled over fifty years ago. The DINWOODIE famiLy settled about the same time from Scotland one of them is the present reeve of Campbellford, and has also been reeve of the township. The HUGHES family came from Ireland a long time ago and settled on their present improved farms. The MELVILLE family settled from Scotland at an early date in the settlement of the township -- one has been in the township council. The MACOUIN s are Irish farmers, and very old settlers. George RANNIE is well known as an old settler and Government employee. He keeps the slides. The descendants of the ROWED family, also very old settlers, still reside in the Township One of the daughters married Dr. DENMARK .

          CAMPBELLFORD VILLAGE :

          Campbellford, in the township of Seymour, also on the Trent, sends, like Hastings, Brighton, Newcastle, Colborne, one representative to the united counties council. It was incorporated in 1876. Population about 1,100. Assessed value, $257, 310. Emilyville forms part of the village. Owing to its splendid waterpower, Campbellford is becoming extensively known as a manufacturing town. There are large woolen mills, employing many hands at the place also foundry, grist, and tanning manufacturers, and a planing factory. There is a handsome Town hall and schoolhouse, both of stone, and Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches. Campbell is growing in importance, and thriving rapidly. Distant from Cobourg, 39 miles Toronto, 109 Montreal, 253 miles and Brighton [with which it is connected by daily stage] 21 miles. A printing office has been lately started in the place.

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          Ontario Genealogy Historical Newspaper Collection Historical Newspaper Files from various regions of Ontario

          Ontario (Upper Canada) Map Collection Great site for locating your ancestors in Ontario

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          SleuthSayers

          Mention Sidney Paget or John Tenniel and aficionados of Sherlock Holmes and Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories recognise the original artists who illustrated the characters we know and love today. But bring up Robert Seymour and puzzled looks abound. A new author, Stephen Jarvis, intends to change that.

          I’m not sure how I stumbled across Stephen Jarvis, although Velma claims credit. Once I realized he was writing about Charles Dickens and Pickwick, I had to know more. Indeed, we’ve written about Pickwick’s manservant, Sam Weller, and when I realised a mystery was involved, I asked Mr Jarvis to write an article for us. After you read today’s column, take a moment to read about Jarvis and his wife’s 2005 detective work discovering Robert Seymour’s tombstone.

          Stephen Jarvis was born in Essex. After dropping out of graduate studies at Oxford University, he quickly tired of his office job and began doing unusual things every weekend and writing about them for The Daily Telegraph. These activities included learning the flying trapeze, walking on red-hot coals, getting hypnotized to revisit past lives, and entering the British Snuff-Taking Championship. Death and Mr. Pickwick is his first novel. He lives in Berkshire, England.

          Death and Mr Pickwick

          Charles Dickens left behind two mysteries when he died: the well-known mystery of the ending to his unfinished last novel Edwin Drood, and the much lesser-known mystery of his illustrator Robert Seymour, who shot himself shortly after starting work on Dickens’s first novel, The Pickwick Papers. Why did Seymour kill himself? What happened when he and Dickens met? And what role did Seymour play in the creation of The Pickwick Papers? It is astonishing, when you consider all the thousands of academic papers, articles and books that have been written about Charles Dickens’s life and works – often on the most obscure subjects - that so little has been written about Seymour. For me, Seymour is THE key person in Dickens’s career and in my forthcoming novel, Death and Mr Pickwick, which tells the story of the creation and subsequent history of The Pickwick Papers, Seymour is the main character.

          But who was Robert Seymour?

          />
          Robert Seymour (1798-1836)
          self portrait
          Seymour was the most prolific cartoonist of his era, and he drew literally thousands of pictures. He was best-known for his political cartoons – even though Dickensians usually refer to Seymour as a “sporting artist”. Actually, his sporting pictures represented just a small fraction of his overall output. In his own time, Seymour was famous: he was called “the Shakespeare of caricature” and “the ubiquitous Seymour”. And yet today, Seymour is so little-known that I have been in shops that sell antique prints and even the proprietor has not heard of the artist. You would almost think that people deliberately want to hush up Seymour’s life – and indeed, there are some indications that that is so.

          In the 1920s, an American called Dr Samuel Lambert came over to England, to investigate Seymour’s role in The Pickwick Papers. My opening statement about the two mysteries that Dickens left is a homage to Lambert, for that is what he said himself. Lambert approached the Dickens Fellowship in the course of his research – and soon discovered that the Fellowship was most unwilling to talk to him. What’s more, an attack on Lambert was published shortly afterwards, in the Fellowship’s journal The Dickensian, stating that the idea that Seymour had any significant role in the creation of Pickwick was “exploded long ago” and was not even worthy of serious consideration.

          When I read that piece in The Dickensian, it sounded to me that the Fellowship was trying to steer people away from Seymourian research. A possible explanation is that Seymour may have been gay. In the 1920s, there were taboos about even mentioning homosexuality – and the idea of a gay man being associated with Dickens, and with the largely male cast of The Pickwick Papers, would in all likelihood have horrified Dickensians of that time.

          Seymour’s wrapper design
          for original serialisation
          of The Pickwick Papers
          But there is also the question of the role that Seymour played in the creation of The Pickwick Papers. At first, when I started doing research for the novel, I believed the statements that Dickens, his publisher Edward Chapman (of the firm Chapman and Hall, the publishers of Pickwick) and his biographer John Forster, made about the origins of Pickwick. In essence, they stated that Seymour had an idea for the adventures of a club of cockney sportsmen, called the Nimrod Club - but that Dickens overturned this idea, and that only vestiges of Seymour’s original plan remained, in the form of the sporting tastes of the character Mr Winkle. Moreover, Edward Chapman claimed that he was responsible for the visual image of the novel’s main character, Mr Pickwick, and that Seymour had followed instructions to base the image on the appearance of a man that Chapman knew. In other words, the role of Seymour was minimal. However, as I continued my research, I came to realise that this supposed origin simply could not be correct.

          Contradictions started to emerge, and there was a complete lack of evidence for the statements made by Dickens and his associates. Also, contemporaries gave a rather different account of Pickwick’s beginnings – for instance, an engraver called Ebenezer Landells, who was working for Chapman and Hall at the very time Pickwick was published, said that Seymour created Sam Weller. The artist Robert Buss – who temporarily replaced Seymour as the Pickwick illustrator after the suicide – said that Seymour had created Mr Pickwick and the members of the Pickwick Club. Also, there were reports in the press that Dickens was “writing up” to Seymour’s pictures – the opposite of what Dickens later claimed. Nor were these simply wild allegations. If one looks at Seymour’s output, one can indeed find prototypes of the likes of Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller. And when I looked into the background of John Forster, I discovered firstly that he had written a number of historical works, and secondly that he had no reputation as a historian – he was quite prepared to fabricate material, and be fiercely partisan.

          But what of the suicide? Most Dickensians simply deny that Dickens had anything whatsoever to do with Seymour’s death. They point to the artist’s suicide note, in which Seymour said he blamed no- one and that the suicide was down to his own “weakness and infirmity”. One Dickensian even said to me that Seymour “exonerated” Dickens in that note. Another distinguished Dickensian told me that “we must look elsewhere” for the causes of the suicide, not towards Dickens. What the Dickensians don’t point out, though, is that Seymour returned from a meeting with Dickens in a state of extreme emotional distress – and he immediately burnt his papers and correspondence about Pickwick.

          Mr Pickwick Addresses the Club
          by Robert Seymour
          Another fact not usually told is the nature of the law surrounding suicide at this time. The law distinguished between suicide and felo de se, or self-murder: if an inquest decided that a suicide was a rational act, that is felo de se, then it would have the most terrible consequences for the victim and his family. In the first place, the victim would be denied a Christian burial, but also the victim’s family would instantly be reduced to destitution – because the Crown would take away all the victim’s property, leaving the wife and family to inherit nothing. So of course in a suicide note, Seymour wouldn’t blame Dickens - he would be unlikely to blame anyone at all – because if he had done so, he would be handing the inquest evidence that his death was felo de se, a rational escape from the problems of life. Seymour’s real feelings were communicated by the way he left his etching plates for his last drawings for Pickwick: He turned the plates to the wall, as though they disgusted him. And this was for a project which Seymour’s wife said was the artist’s “pet idea”. An idea which – until he came into contact with Dickens – was of immense personal importance to Seymour.

          You will notice also that I said that Seymour returned from a meeting with Dickens. Not the meeting. For Dickens claimed that he met Seymour only once in his life. That, too, I believe to be a lie.

          I am not trying to denigrate Dickens’s abilities as a writer. But I do say that he did not tell the truth about Seymour and he tried to pass off Seymour’s ideas as his own.

          The Pickwick Papers catapulted Dickens to global fame and it went on to become the greatest literary phenomenon in history: it was the most famous novel in the world for almost a hundred years, with a circulation that was exceeded probably only by the Bible. And The Pickwick Papers would not have happened without Robert Seymour.

          It is surely time to acknowledge Seymour’s great significance in the life and career of Charles Dickens. Death and Mr Pickwick sets the record straight.

          Death and Mr Pickwick will be published on 21 st May 2015 by Random House (in the UK) and on 23 rd June by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (in the USA).

          Further information can be found at DeathAndMrPickwick.com where there are also links to the publishers’ sites for pre-ordering.

          The publisher, Farrar Straus & Giroux, will provide two ARCs as prizes to SleuthSayers readers. ARCs are Advance Reader Copies, bound uncorrected proofs, available now in advance of the publishing release in May (UK) and June (US). Among readers, ARCs are considered collectors’ items. Not only are they rare and unusual and suggest you know someone who knows someone, they often give insight into the writing and editing process. For our readers, these come with a clever bookmark and a special address from the head of FSG.


          Watch the video: Robert Seymour EAP highlights