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 William Seton

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William Seton

  • Birth 24 Apr 1746 Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Death 9 Jun 1798 New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Burial Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Memorial ID 109750139

William Seton was born April 24, 1746 at his mothers family's home of Hillside, Edinburgh, while on a trip to visit her family and designed to ensure that her son would be born in Scotland. He recieved a good education and was well traveled, speaking English, French and Spanish fluently, and was sent to study for a time in San Lucar, Spain.

He was the 2nd son and heir of London businessman John Seton and his cousin Elizabeth Seton (of the family of John Seton, Town Clerk of Burntisland, Fife, in the early 18th century, and who's son James Seton acquired the lands of Belshes, Haddington between 1715-1721 and who's son, also James Seton of Hillside was for many years, Director of the Bank of Scotland and who when he sold the estate of Belshes, he allotted to his sister Elizabeth her portion of the sale, which was at that time a considerable sum, 1600 Pounds). William's older brother John Seton emigrated and died unmarried in the British West Indies and was buried "within the parish of St. James', Barbados, Dec 22nd, 1768", and William then became heir of the Seton's of Parbroath.

William's sisters Isabella, Jane, Elizabeth, all married Gentry: Isabella married Sir Thomas Cayley, Bart., of Yorkshire; Jane married Sir Walter Synnot, Knt, of Ballymoyer House, County Armagh, Ireland in 1770 and founded the Seton-Synnots; Elizabeth married Robert Berry, Esq., of Kirkbridge House, Yorkshire, nephew of Fergusson of Raith, Fife. Williams two other sisters Margaret and Barbara were married into branches of the Setons: Margaret married Andrew Seton, Esq., of the family of Barnes who settled for a time in New York, but later went to Florida after the Revolutionary War and had issue; and Barbara who married George Seton, Esq., of the Seton's of Abercorn and brother to Captain Sir Henry John Seton, Bart, and had an only daughter, Barbara Seton, "Bab".

William emigrated to New York in 1763, at the instigation of his brother-in-law Andrew Seton of the Barnes Family, and became superintendent and part owner of the iron-works of Ringwood, N.J. as well as owner of various lands in the interior of New York around 1766, which lands were referred to as the Mohawk Lands. In 1765, he was elected an officer of the Saint Andrew's Society, and became a member of the New York Chamber of Commerce in 1768, the year of it's foundation. In 1786, he was further elected as one of the founding members of the St George's Society of New York as well.

It was in New York that William began to establish his fortunes and was an active merchant in importing goods from Europe and India, with his place of business at what was then known as Cruger's Dock. He also acquired a considerable property in Halifax, Nova Scotia, called in his old family papers as the Halifax Estate, which later became very valuable, being estimated at approx. 600, 000 Pounds circa 1890, and on which property now stands the Government Buildings of Nova Scotia in downtown Halifax. The property in Halifax was lost during the Revolutionary War, through both mismanagement and fraud, and as the English authorities condemned Seton for his remaining in New York and not leaving with the Loyalists. There were various attempts made to regain possession of the Estate, but all of which were denied or were simply unsuccessful.

Though financially ruined at the close of the Revolution, he founded the once famous mercantile house of Seton, Maitland & Co., and was similarly the first Cashier and Officer of the Bank of New York for which he was nominated to become the first President, though he declined out of 'political consideration'. His enterprising nature, however, soon restored his fortunes, and he was noted as a considerate and generous man, hospitable and keeping an exemplary house at his residence at Hanover Square, and much given to entertaining. In addition to his residence in the city, he acquired, in 1784, the property which at that time was a country place several miles from the heart of New York, in Bloomingdale, on the west-side of the island of Manhattan about where 78th St. is now, and called this place or estate, Craigdon (Cragdon or Craggdon), as a country retreat, and which is preserved now as a Public Park, called Seton Falls.

William Seton was twice married, 1st, on March 2, 1767, to Rebecca Curzon, eldest daughter of Richard Curzon of the family of John Curzon of Waterperry, Oxfordshire, of the Curzon Baronets (by which his son became heir-of-line), and had four son's and one daughter: William Jr "Magee", James, John, Henry Seaton, and Anna Maria (married the Hon US Senator John Middleton Vining, of Delaware). William married, 2nd, his wife's sister, Anna Maria Curzon, on November 29, 1776, at Brunswick NJ in the Presbyterian Church there. By his second marriage William Seton had 2 sons and 6 daughter's: Samuel Waddington, Edward Augustus, Charlotte (married Gouverneur Ogden Esq who was a partner of Alexander Hamilton and who founded Ogdensburg NY), Elizabeth (married James Maitland Esq of the noted Scottish family), Mary, Rebecca, Henrietta, and Cecilia Seton.

His family portrait, painted shorty before his death, was done by the American artist, Gilbert Stuart. He suffered intensely from pain in his final year, resulting from injuries sustained from an accidental fall at the entrance to his home on January 25, 1798, died prematurely in his 52nd year, on the June 9, 1798 and was buried in Trinity Churchyard.


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  • Created by: Mémoriaux Atlantique
  • Added: 30 Apr 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 109750139
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Seton (24 Apr 1746–9 Jun 1798), Find A Grave Memorial no. 109750139, citing Trinity Churchyard, Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA ; Maintained by Mémoriaux Atlantique (contributor 47102973) .