Rev. Richard Seymour: 16 Feb 1832

January 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm (books, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Reading through letters and diaries for the early 1830s (I know, I know; I should be working about 15 years earlier than this!! I will get back to the 1810s…), I came across some exceptionally interesting news about Tring Church (St. Peter and St. Paul) and an 1832 connection with the four unmarried Smith sisters. This news I save for later, however…

But in looking through other diaries for the same year, I was searching through Richard Seymour’s published extracts (found in The Nineteenth Century Country Parson (1954), ed. by Hart and Carpenter), and just have to share two particular entries.

Richard, born in 1806, was therefore in his mid-20s in 1832; his diary shares many thoughts on the privileges his family enjoyed, contrasted to his desire to live a Christian life of duty and sacrifice. Was he idealistic, or simply young? His self-examinations can make for exhilarating reads, as in these entries (especially the second) from February 1832:

February 11: Drove Frances and Lizzy [his sisters] out to Codlington [sic: Cadlington]. Mrs. Morgan’s children’s dance. My conscience not at ease. Doubtful therefore whether I should have been there. I feel a great and I hope proper fear of being thought not to live up to what I preach. Shall avoid such things in future. May God mercifully guide me in my participation of those things which are perhaps lawful but not expedient.

February 16: While in the workhouse [his curate’s duty took him there] this evening the thought struck me, how different this scene from that of last night! [he had attended a ball at his father’s house in Portsmouth] There the handsome, well furnished and well lighted room. Here a cheerless, comfortless space with one small candle to throw its light on my book. There Youth and Beauty and affluence and careless hearts. Here the maimed, the blind, the halt, the aged, the sick, the deprived of reason, all, too, poor and destitute but for the aid of others. There the sound of music and revelry, mixed with the happy laughs. Here, the crying infant or the moan of the more aged. Most different indeed! His blessing upon my ministry, that these may become poor in spirit, as they are poor in this world’s goods, and that their heavenly and eternal prospects may grow brighter and clearer as their earthly hopes wax more dim and dismal.

Richard’s diaries are those which exist only on microfilm; I’ve blogged about them a couple times as they are among the great “missing” items; he married Emma’s sister Fanny in 1834. His sister Frances married Fanny’s brother Spencer the following spring; and eldest brother John (the Rev. Sir John Culme-Seymour, bart) later (in 1844) married the baby of the Smith of Suttons family, Maria. He and Fanny would live in the “remote” north — Warwickshire; Kinwarton to be specific.

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Where Art Thou?

April 25, 2009 at 10:19 am (books) (, , , , , , , , )

Thirty-five years ago a series of diaries got dropped off by their then-owner in order for the WARWICKSHIRE RECORD OFFICE to microfilm them. That roll of microfilm is the one I worked with in 2007. Unable to travel again to England, I recently contacted the WRO to request a copy of that microfilm. ALAS: they need to contact the owner, for whom they only have a 1974 address!

I more expected them to inform me that they had no master and could not copy the research room’s copy. Instead, this conundrum! How to find someone, or more likely that someone’s heirs, thirty-five years later?!? However, the archivist who contacted me said he/she would try – and I gratefully accepted that slim hope.

But this situation made me think of the one published account, with extracts from the diaries of the Rev. Richard Seymour of Kinwarton (Fanny’s husband). The book, published in 1954, is THE NINETEENTH CENTURY COUNTRY PARSON, edited by A. Tindal Hart and Edward Carpenter.

The preface to the text thanks “Miss A.M. Seymour, The Diaries of Richard Seymour.” Its opening line acknowledges that “we are inevitably and deeply indebted to a large number of contributors, who had lent us unpublished diaries or furnished oral reminiscences of parsons they have known. It is, unfortunately, quite impossible to record all their names here; but we should like, publicly, to thank those from whose MSS we are reproducing extracts in Part II.” Richard’s diaries, of course, make up part of Part II.

I must confess that it is heartening to see that the diaries were still in family hands in the 1950s (the preface is dated 1951), though that seem so long ago now… nearly sixty years.

Richard’s early diaries give vital information on his relationship to Fanny and her family; they even record Richard’s bedside visits to the dying William Gosling (Mary’s father). What more they hold, I could not uncover during my way-too-brief look at them. In the introduction to the Seymour section, Hart & Carpenter write: “The Diary itself, which stretches unbroken from January 1st, 1832 until November 26th, 1873, presents a day to day picture of the life and work of one of the more prosperous and better connected nineteenth century country rectors. And what a busy and varied life it was! There are long pleasant holidays spent on the continent and in nearly every part of the British Isles; there are visits to well-to-do relations in their lovely country residences; and there are sight-seeing jaunts to the Metropolis. Kinwarton rectory and gardens were large, but so was the family and the staff of servants. When the Seymours were in residence the house always seemed to be overflowing with guests…” Indeed, among the guests would be Mary’s children, especially her two daughters, who rather floated from the homes of various relations in the years between the death of their grandmother Mrs Smith in 1845 and their brother reaching his majority in 1848. They raised funds for new service books, which were gifted to St. Mary’s, Kinwarton, on Christmas Day, 1847.

Takeley Local Historical Society (see their section called “Loose Ends”) has long sought information on the whereabouts of the diaries of the Rev. Robert Hart (grandfather of Arthur Tindal Hart); and now I ask: If anyone can help secure permission for WRO to copy their roll of microfilm, please contact me!

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