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Seward family, of Badsey, near Evesham

The Seward family were early supporters of both Calvinistic and Arminian Methodism and of John Wesley's New Room, Bristol. Both John and Charles Wesley declined offers from them to cover the cost of their preaching tours. William Seward (1711-1740, though his gravestone in Cusop churchyard said '1742') was an Anglican layman and a financial expert employed in the South Sea Office of the Treasury. Coming under the influence of Charles Wesley in 1738, he was converted and associated with George Whitefield, whom he accompanied to Georgia. He returned the following year to raise funds for Whitefield's Orphan House. While accompanying Howell Harris on a preaching tour in South Wales in September 1740, he was mobbed at Caerleon and struck in the eye by a stone. He died the following month, though the later accounts of his 'martyrdom' at Hay on Wye have been questioned and lack contemporary evidence.

His brother Benjamin Seward (b. 1705), educated at Cambridge, was converted in 1739 and was a close friend of the Wesleys despite the opposition of his Baptist brother Henry Seward. He accompanied John Wesley on his secession from the Fetter Lane society in 1740. Another brother, Thomas Seward (1708-1790), was a prebendary of Lichfield and the father of the minor literary figure, Anna Seward, known as 'the Swan of Lichfield'.

See also under Evesham.

Sources

  • WHS Proceedings, 17 pp.187-91; 39 pp.2-5
  • Hilda Lofthouse, 'The Journal of William Seward', in WHS Proceedings, 34 pp.17-20
  • John Isherwood, William Seward and the Wesleys (Birkenhead, [1994])
  • Gareth Lloyd, [catalogue of] The Letters of William Seward (Manchester, 2004)
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: EWD
Category: Person

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