About Samuel Seabury, D.D.
Samuel Seabury (November 30, 1729 – February 25, 1796) was the first American Episcopal bishop, the second Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, and the first Bishop of Connecticut. He had been a leading Loyalist in New York City during the American Revolution.
Samuel Seabury was born in Groton, Connecticut in 1729. His father, also Samuel Seabury (1706–1764), originally a Congregationalist minister in Groton, was ordained deacon and priest in the Church of England in 1731, and was a rector in New London, Connecticut, from 1732 to 1743, and in Hempstead, Long Island, from 1743 until his death.
Samuel Seabury (the son) graduated from Yale College in 1748, and studied theology with his father. He studied medicine in Edinburgh from 1752 to 1753 and was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Lincoln and priest by the Bishop of Carlisle in 1753. Seabury was rector of Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey from 1754 to 1757, rector in Jamaica, New York from 1757 to 1766, and of St Peter's, Westchester (now annexed to The Bronx) from 1766 to 1775.
Samuel Seabury married Mary Hicks in 1756 and they had seven children. His son Charles (1770–1844) was rector in various Long Island churches; and Charles's son Samuel (1801–1872), who graduated from Columbia College in 1823, was rector of the Church of the Annunciation in New York City from 1838–1868, and professor of Biblical learning and the Interpretation of Scriptures at General Theological Seminary from 1862. William Jones Seabury (b. 1837), son of the last named, was rector of the Church of the Annunciation, from 1868 to 1898, professor of ecclesiastical polity and law at General Theological Seminary from 1873, and published Manual for Choristers (1878), Lectures on Apostolic Succession (1893) and An Introduction to the Study of Ecclesiastical Polity (1894). William Jones Seabury's son Samuel Seabury (1873–1958) was a judge of the New York Court of Appeals.
Samuel Seabury and Mary Hicks Seabury had seven children, one of whom died in infancy:
- Violetta Ricketts Seabury (b. 9 October 1758) married Charles Nicol Taylor, Royalist officer
- son I
- son II
- Charlotte Violetta Taylor married Isaac Wilkins
- Maria Taylor married Thomas H. Merry
- Abigail Mumford Seabury (b. 12 February 1760) married Colin Campbell
- daughter I
- daughter II married Mr. Treadwell
- Mary "Maria" Seabury (b. 20 July 1761) unmarried, d.s.p.
- Dr. Samuel Seabury (b. 29 October 1765) married Francis Taber; no issue
- Edward Seabury (b. 5 October 1767) married Lucretia Otis; no issue
- Rev. Charles Seabury (b. 29 May 1770) married Ann Saltonstall, daughter of Roswell Saltonstall and Elizabeth Stewart
- Samuel Seabury
- Charles Saltonstall Seabury
- William Seabury; no issue
- Edward Seabury; no issue
- Richard Francis Seabury
He was one of the signers of the White Plains Protest of April 1775 against all unlawful congresses and committees, and in many other ways proved himself a devoted loyalist. Seabury wrote the Free Thoughts on the Proceedings of the Continental Congress (1774) under the name "A. W. Farmer" (a pen name and acronym for 'a Westchester farmer'), which was followed by a second "Farmer's Letter, The Congress Canvassed (1774). Alexander Hamilton answered these open letters in A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress, from the Calumnies of their Enemies. Seabury wrote a third "Farmer's Letter" titled, A View of the Controversy between Great Britain and her Colonies, to answer Hamilton. Hamilton completed the exchange by writing, The Farmer Refuted (1775).
These three "Farmer's Letters" – a fourth was advertised but apparently was never published – were forceful presentations of the pro-British claim, written in a plain, hard-headed style; their authorship was long in question, but it is certain that Seabury claimed them in England in 1783 when he was seeking episcopal consecration. At the same time he claimed the authorship of a letter, not signed by the Westchester farmer, under the title An Alarm to the Legislature of the Province of New York (1775), which discussed the power of this, the only legal political body in the colony. Seabury's clarity of style and general ease of reading would set him apart from his ecclesiastical colleagues throughout his life.
Seabury was arrested in November 1775 by local Patriots, and was kept in prison in Connecticut for six weeks. He was prevented from carrying out his ministry, and after some time in Long Island he took refuge in New York City, where in 1778 he was appointed chaplain to the King's American Regiment. At the end of the war he did not return to England but stayed in the United States; he moved to Connecticut and was loyal to the new government.
On 25 March 1783, a meeting of ten Episcopal clergy in Woodbury, Connecticut, elected Seabury bishop as their second choice (their first choice declined for health reasons). There were no Anglican bishops in the Americas to consecrate him, so he sailed to London on 7 July. In England, however, his consecration was seen as impossible because, as an American citizen, he could no longer take the oath of allegiance to the King. Seabury then turned to the Scottish Episcopal Church, whose bishops at that time refused to recognize the authority of King George III.
Seabury was consecrated in Aberdeen on 14 November 1784, with the one condition that in the matter of the Holy Communion he study the Scottish Rite and work for its adoption rather than the English rite of 1662. To the present day the American liturgy adheres to the main features of this Rite in one of its Holy Eucharist Liturgies. The anniversary of his consecration is now a lesser feast day on the calendars of both the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the Anglican Church of Canada.
The fact of Seabury's consecration by the non-juring Scots caused alarm in the (Whig) British Government, who feared an entirely Jacobite church in the United States, and Parliament was persuaded to make provision for the ordination of foreign bishops. Seabury's tenacity in the matter had the effect of making a continued relationship between the American and English churches a possibility. The problem was revealed not to be one of liturgical restrictions (the oath) but of politics.
- The Right Reverend Robert Kilgour, 39th Bishop of Aberdeen
- The Right Reverend Arthur Petrie, 37th Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness
- The Right Reverend John Skinner, Bishop Coadjutor of Aberdeen
Seabury returned to Connecticut in 1785 and made New London, Connecticut his home, becoming rector of St James Church there. A meeting of his Connecticut clergymen was held during the first week of August 1785 at Christ Church on the South Green in Middletown, Connecticut. At the August 2nd reception of the bishop his letters of Consecration were requested, read, and accepted. On 3 August 1785 the first Anglican ordinations on American soil took place at Christ Church in Middletown, Connecticut. Bishop Seabury said, prophetically, of Christ Church in Middletown,
"Long may this birthplace be remembered, and may the number of faithful stewards who follow this succession increase and multiply till time shall be no more."
Over the next 100 years there were 274 ordinations in Middletown. In 1790 Seabury took charge of the diocese of Rhode Island, and played a decisive role in the evolution of Anglican liturgy in North America after the Revolution.
He died in New London on 25 February 1796, where his remains lie in a small chapel at St. James. The church also features a stained glass window depicting his consecration in Scotland. Seabury's portrait, by Ralph Earl, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Another notable portrait hangs at the General Theological Seminary and yet another (smaller) painting is to be found at the College of Preachers on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral.
Seabury was a superior organizer and a strict churchman. His "Farmer's Letters" rank him as the most vigorous American loyalist controversialist and, along with his prayers and devotional writings, one of the greatest masters of style of his period. His printed sermons and essays enjoyed wide readership well after his death.
- Seabury is honored in the Church of England on November 14 and his consecration is honored with a feast in the Episcopal Church (USA) on the same date. The observance is also found in other Anglican Churches including The Anglican Church of Canada Book of Alternative Services and the Scottish Episcopal Church [Revised Scottish Calendar, 1991].
- Seabury Hall, at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, is named after Samuel Seabury.
- An Episcopal seminary, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, memorializes his honored position in the church.
- Bishop Seabury Academy in Lawrence, Kansas, and Seabury Hall in Makawao, Hawaii are private schools affiliated with the Episcopal Church that also honor Bishop Seabury in their naming.
- Letters of a Westchester Farmer (1774-5)
- The Communion-Office, or Order for the Administration of the Holy Eucharist or Supper of the Lord with Private Devotions (1786)
- An Earnest Persuasive to Frequent Communion (1789)
- Hamilton's View of the Controversy between Great Britain and her Colonies as "A. W. Farmer"
- The Errors of Calvinism n.p. 1766 ST2
- A View of the Controversy between Great-Britain and Her Colonies. New York 1774
- Free Thoughts on the Proceedings of the Continental Congress New York 1774
- The Congress Canvassed. New York 1774
- An Alarm to the Legislature of the Province of New-York, Occasioned by the Present Political Disturbances. New York 1775
- A Discourse on Brotherly Love, Preached before the Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, of Zion Lodge, at St. Paul’s Chapel, in New York, on the Festival of St. John the Baptist, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven. New York 1777 SUI
- A Discourse on II Tim. III. 16. Delivered in St. Paul’s and St. George’s Chapels, in New-York, on Sunday the 11th of May, 1777. New York 1777 SUI
- St. Peter’s Exhortation to Fear God and Honor the King, Explained and Inculcated: in a Discourse Addressed to His Majesty’s Provincial Troops, in Camp at King’s Bridge, on Sunday the 28th Sept. 1777. New York 1777 Attributed although doubtful. SUI
- A Sermon Preached before the Grand Lodge, and the Other Lodges of Ancient Freemasons, in New-York, at St. Paul’s Chapel, on the Anniversary of St. John the Evangelist, 1782. New York 1783 SUI
- Samuel, by Divine Permission, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the State of Connecticut [injunction regarding political prayers] n.p. 1785 Broad-side SUI, ST2
- Bishop Seabury’s Second Charge, to the Clergy of His Diocess [sic], Delivered at Derby, in the State of Connecticut, on the 22d of September, 1786. New Haven 1786 SUI
- Forms of prayer for the United States in Congress Assembled 1786 Only a fragment survives
- The Address of the Episcopal Clergy of Connecticut, to the Right Reverend Bishop Seabury, with the Bishop’s Answer and, a Sermon, Before the Convention at Middletown, August 3d, 1785...Also Bishop Seabury’s first Charge, to the Clergy of his Diocess [sic], Delivered at Middletown, August 4, 1785. With a List of the Succession of Scot’s Bishops, from the Revolution 1688, to the present Time. New Haven 1786 The Charge is paginated separately.
- The Communion-Office, or Order for the Administration of the Holy Eucharist or Supper of the Lord. With Private Devotions. Recommended to the Episcopal Congregations in Connecticut. New London 1786
- A Sermon Delivered before the Boston Episcopal Charitable Society in Trinity Church; at Their Anniversary Meeting on Easter Tuesday March 25, 1788. Boston 1788 SUI
- A Sermon Preached in Christ Church, Philadelphia, Before the Corporation for the Relief of the Widows and Children of Clergymen at their Anniversary Meeting, October 7, 1789. Philadelphia 1789 SUI
- An Earnest Persuasive to Frequent Communion; Addressed to Those Professors of the Church of England, in Connecticut, Who Neglect That Holy Ordinance. New Haven 1789 SUI
- The Duty of Considering our Ways. A Sermon Preached in Saint James Church, New-London, on Ashwednesday, 1789. New London 1789
- An Address to the Ministers and Congregations of the Presbyterian and Independent Persuasions in the United States of America, by a Member of the Episcopal Church New Haven 1790 SUI
- A Discourse, Delivered in St. John’s Church, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at the Conferring the Order of Priesthood on the Rev. Robert Fowle, A.M. of Holderness, on the Festival of St. Peter, 1791. 1791 SUI
- A Discourse Delivered before the Triennial Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church at Trinity Church, New York, on the Twelfth Day of September, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Two. New York 1792 SUI
- Discourses on Several Subjects. New York 1793
- Samuel, by Divine Permission, Bishop of Connecticut and Rhode Island [regarding the deposition of James Sayre] n.p. 1793 Broad-side SUI
- A Discourse Delivered in St. James’ Church, in New-London, on Tuesday the 23d of December, 1794, Before an Assembly of Free and Accepted Masons, Convened for the Purpose of Installing a Lodge in that City New London 1794
- A Burial Office for Infants Who Depart this Life before they have Polluted their Baptism by Actual Sin n.p. 1795 SUI
- A Discourse Delivered Before an Assembly of Free and Accepted Masons, Convened for the Purpose of Installing a Lodge in the City of Norwich, in Connecticut, on the Festival of St. John the Baptist, 1795. Norwich 1795
- Samuel, By Divine Permission, Bishop of Connecticut and Rhode-Island… [charitable fund] New London 1795 SUI
- Samuel, By Divine Permission, Bishop of Connecticut and Rhode-Island…[Algerian Captives] New London 1795 ST2
- The Psalter or Psalms of David, Pointed as They are to be Sung or Said in Churches. With the Order for Morning and Evening Prayer Daily Throughout the Year. [Also containing the Athanasian Creed, the Litany, Prayers for special occasions, Thanksgivings, and a Catechism] New London 1795
- Discourses on Several Important Subjects. New York 1798
- Wikipedia profile
- Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of New London County, Connecticut with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis, 1882. 200-01. Google Books. Google Books. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.
- Life and correspondence of the Right Reverend Samuel Seabury, D.D.
- Hebb, Ross N. Samuel Seabury and Charles Inglis: Two Bishops, Two Churches (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; 2010); 164 pages;
- E. Edwards Beardsley, Life and Correspondence of the Rt. Rev. Samuel Seabury (Boston, 1881).
- Steiner, Bruce Samuel Seabury, 1729-1796: a study in the High Church tradition (Ohio University Press, 1972); 508 pages;
- William Jones Seabury, Memoir of Bishop Samuel Seabury (New York, 1908)
- Paul V. Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic—Samuel Seabury and the Early Episcopal Church. New York: Church Publishing Incorporated (2004).
- Wilkinson, Todd. The Scottish Roots of the Episcopal Church. Scottish History Online. Accessed 14:49, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
- Find A Grave Memorial# 8281890
- Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934. Name: Rt Rev Dr Samuel Seabury; Death Date: 3 Mar 1796; Death Place: Death Notice American Mercury Issue 7 Mar 1796; Gender: Male; FHL Film Number: 3198.Source Information: Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: "Connecticut Deaths and Burials, 1772–1934." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.
- Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934. Name: Samuel Seabury; Death Date: 25 Feb 1796; Death Place: Connecticut; Gender: Male; FHL Film Number: 3245. Source Information: Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: "Connecticut Deaths and Burials, 1772–1934." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.
- New York City, Marriages, 1600s-1800s. Name: Samuel Seabury ; Spouse Name: Mary Hix; Marriage Date: 1756; Marriage Place: Hempstead, Queens, New York; Marriage ID: 2220287849; Other Comments: On microfilm at Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Source: The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (quarterly), 1881, selected extracts Publisher: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Publication Place: New York, NY. Page: 145. Source Information: Genealogical Research Library, comp.. New York City, Marriages, 1600s-1800s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: For specific source information see the publication information listed with each entry. Many of the source documents are available in the Genealogical Research Library collection. Many of the records may also be found on microfilm at the Family History Li.
- 1790 United States Federal Census. Name: Samuel Seabury; Home in 1790 (City, County, State): New London, Connecticut; Free White Persons - Males - Under 16: 2; Free White Persons - Males - 16 and over: 2;Free White Persons - Females: 4; Number of Slaves : 3; Number of Household Members: 11. Source Citation: Year: 1790; Census Place: , New London, Connecticut; Series: M637; Roll: 1; Page: 166; Image: 98; Family History Library Film: 0568141. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1790 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: First Census of the United States, 1790 (NARA microfilm publication M637, 12 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
- Oxford University Alumni, 1500-1886. Name: Samuel Seabury. Source Information: Ancestry.com. Oxford University Alumni, 1500-1886 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Foster, Joseph. Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886 and Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714. Oxford: Parker and Co., 1888-1892.
- American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI). Name: Samuel Seabury; Birth Date: 1720; Birthplace: Connecticut, Rhode Island; Volume: 155; Page Number: 236; Biographical Info: bishop; Reference: Genealogical hist. of the Allen fam. By Mrs. Francis M. Stoddard. Boston, 1891. (135p.):36. Source Information: Godfrey Memorial Library, comp.. American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Godfrey Memorial Library. American Genealogical-Biographical Index. Middletown, CT, USA: Godfrey Memorial Library.
- Mayflower Deeds and Probates, 1600-1850. Name: Reverend Samuel Seabury; Event Type: Estate; Record Date: 10 Oct 1796; Record Place: New London, Connecticut; Residence: New England. Source Information: Ancestry.com. Mayflower Deeds and Probates, 1600-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Roser, Susan E. Mayflower Deeds and Probates: From the Files of George Ernest Bowman at the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1994.
- Mayflower Births and Deaths, Vol. 1 and 2. Name: Reverend Samuel Seabury; Death Date: 10 Oct 1796; Relationship: Self (Head); Household Members: Samuel Seabury Self (Head). Source Information: Ancestry.com. Mayflower Births and Deaths, Vol. 1 and 2 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Roser, Susan E. Mayflower Births and Deaths: From the Files of George Ernest Bowman at the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants. Volumes 1 & 2. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1992.
Right Reverend Samuel Seabury, D.D., Bishop of Connecticut and Rhode Island's Timeline
November 30, 1729
Groton, New London, Connecticut, American Colonies [present United States]
December 14, 1729
Groton, New London, Connecticut, American Colonies [present United States]
October 12, 1756
October 9, 1758
February 12, 1760
July 20, 1761
October 29, 1765
October 5, 1767
May 29, 1770