Seward, Thomas (DNB00)

SEWARD, THOMAS (1708–1790), canon of Lichfield and of Salisbury, son of John Seward of Badsey, Worcestershire, born in 1708, was admitted a foundation scholar of Westminster school in 1723. He was elected by the school to scholarships at Christ Church, Oxford, and Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1727, but upon his rejection by both universities he became a pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1730 and M.A. in 1734; then he became travelling tutor to Lord Charles Fitzroy, third son of the Duke of Grafton, who died while on the tour in Italy in 1739 (cf. Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunningham, viii. 415). The Duke of Grafton subsequently promised some preferment for Seward. He became rector of Eyam, Derbyshire, and Kingsley, Staffordshire. He also obtained the prebend of Bubbenhall in the church of Lichfield, though the date of his admission does not appear, and on 30 April 1755 he was collated to the prebend of Pipa Parva in the same church. He was installed in the prebend of Lyme and Halstock in the church of Salisbury on 5 June 1755. He resided at Lichfield from 1754, and was acquainted with Dr. Johnson, whom he used to entertain on his visits to Lichfield. Boswell describes him as a great valetudinarian, and ‘a genteel, well-bred, dignified clergyman, who had lived much in the great world.’ In 1779 he was portrayed as the Canon in the novel ‘Columella,’ by Richard Graves (1715–1804) [q. v.] He died at the bishop's palace, Lichfield, on 4 March 1790. He married Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. John Hunter, headmaster of Lichfield grammar school, and was father of Anna Seward [q. v.], the authoress, who caused a monument to be erected to her parents in Lichfield Cathedral. The monument was executed by Bacon, and the verses which form part of the epitaph were the composition of Sir Walter Scott. His portrait, painted by Wright of Derby, was engraved by Cromell for Miss Seward's ‘Letters,’ vol. ii.

Seward edited, in conjunction with Sympson, the ‘Works’ of Beaumont and Fletcher, and wrote the preface, 10 vols. London, 1750, 8vo. It was a poor performance; Coleridge exclaimed in his ‘Lectures on Shakespeare’ (p. 146): ‘Mr. Seward! Mr. Seward! you may be, and I trust you are, an angel, but you were an ass!’ ‘The Female Right to Literature’ and four other poems by Seward were printed in Dodsley's ‘Collection,’ ii. 296–308 (cf. Gent. Mag. 1780, p. 123). Seward also published:

  1. ‘The Conformity between Popery and Paganism,’ London, 1746, 8vo [cf. Middleton, Conyers].
  2. A curious sermon, preached at Lichfield in 1756, entitled ‘The late dreadful Earthquakes no proof of God's particular Wrath against the Portuguese.’

[Boswell's Johnson, ed. Hill; Gent. Mag. 1790 i. 280, 369; Graduati Cantabr.; Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 588, 621, ii. 672; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit.; Nichols's Lit. Anecd.; Welch's Alumni Westmon., ed. Phillimore, pp. 281, 296.]

T. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.245
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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