1910 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Seward

William Prideaux Courtney, in Dodsley's Collection of Poetry, its Contents and Contributors (1910) 128-29.



A few details relating to Thomas Seward may be added to the notices in the D.N.B. and in the volume of Admissions to the College of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge, Part III., ed. by R. F. Scott, 1903.

He was a brother of William Seward, gent., "companion in travel with the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield," who published in 1740 a journal of a voyage from Savannah to Philadelphia, and from Philadelphia to England. It is stated in this journal (p. 82) that after Lord Charles Fitzroy's death Thomas Seward was chaplain to a man-of-war commanded by Lord Augustus Fitzroy, and that a benefice worth £400 a year was given him by Lord Burlington. This was no doubt the rectory of Eyam, which is still in the gift of the Cavendish family. The brothers Seward had a controversy in print. Thomas condemned his brother for his friendship with Whitefield, and William retorted that his brother had deserted his flock and was travelling for profit (Byrom, Remains, ii., part i. 258).

It would appear from Dr. Johnson's letter to Taylor and from Gray's letter to Mason that in 1742, and again in 1755, he desired to exchange this living for a chaplaincy on the establishment of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, then a Cavendish (Johnson's Letters, ed. Hill, i. 10; Gray's Letters, ed. Tovey, i. 282). The centenary sermon which he preached in 1766 upon the plague at Eyam is referred to in William Seward's Anecdotes (1798 ed.), ii. 113.

A stanza by Dr. Darwin, one line of which sets out that "by Seward's arm the mangled Beaumont bled," is quoted in Ernst Krause's Life of Erasmus Darwin (1887), p. 41. John Byrom on 13 April, 1737, "drank green tea" with him, and talked "about his correction upon Timon" (Remains, ii. part. i. 104). A long letter from him to Sir William Bunbury, pointing out in the name of Sir Thomas Hammer some mistakes in Warburton's edition of Shakespeare, is in Hanmer's Correspondence, pp. 352-70.

Seward's wife died on 31 July, 1780, aged sixty-six. His second daughter, Sarah, died June, 1764, age twenty, "on the eve of her nuptials." Mother and daughter were buried in the "lady-choir" of Lichfield Cathedral. A costly monument by Bacon, which was erected to the memory of father, mother, Sarah and Anna Seward, is described in the Monthly Magazine, xxxii. (1811), p. 291. Several other daughters and one brother died in infancy (Gent. Mag., 1781, p. 624; 1809, pt. i. 378). Seward wrote the poetical inscription on the temporary monument to Gilbert Walmesley (ib., 1785, pt. i. 166).

When Green was made Bishop of Lincoln the claims of Seward, their common friend, to a prebendal stall in that cathedral were urged upon him by Bishop Newton. Green promised to keep them in mind, but said that he was "then engaged eleven deep." When fifteen years had passed the bishop offered Seward a stall, but he asked that he might waive his claim in favour of Hunter, his wife's nephew (Newton, Autobiog., 1782 ed., pp. 113-14).

Anna Seward left to Sir Walter Scott a manuscript collection of her father's poems, some of which were unpublished (Poems of Anna Seward, i., p. iv.