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 William Magee Seton

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William Magee Seton

  • Birth 20 Apr 1768 At Sea
  • Death 27 Dec 1803 Pisa, Provincia di Pisa, Toscana, Italy
  • Burial Livorno, Provincia di Livorno, Toscana, Italy
  • Memorial ID 46325224

Husband of St. Elizabeth Seton, first American-born Catholic to be beatified. The eldest child of William Seton, a wealthy New York merchant descended from the Scottish Setons of Parbroath, and his first wife, the former Rebecca Curson (aka Curzon), William Magee Seton was born at sea during his parents' return voyage to America after a trip to London. Called "Magee", he was educated in England and Continental Europe prior to joining his father's import-export company. A fine musician, he delighted in playing a Stradivarius violin he acquired and would treasure to his dying day. On January 25, 1794, he married "Eliza" Bayley, the future saint, in New York City. The socially prominent newlyweds were very much in love and admirably suited to one another: the 26-year-old groom was charming, sophisticated, and idealistic; his 19-year-old bride well-educated, graceful, and devout, and their happy marriage produced five children within seven years. The couple were friends and neighbors of Alexander Hamilton, influential members of historic Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, and had once hosted a reception for George Washington. By the turn of the century, however, they had suffered a devastating reversal of fortune. The Seton mercantile company went bankrupt, and the death of William's father had left him with the responsibility of supporting a large extended family in addition to his own. Afflicted with tuberculosis, and further distressed by the loss of their house and many of their possessions, he became debilitated by the disease. Hoping that a stay in a warmer climate would restore his health, he set sail for the home of an Italian friend, the banker Filippo Fillichi, accompanied by Elizabeth and their eldest daughter. Upon their ship's arrival in Livorno, the Setons were mistakenly quarantined in a harbor lazaretto, a precautionary measure taken by Italian authorities to prevent the spread of yellow fever. Confinement in the damp, drafty lazaretto proved fatal to William, who died just days after the Setons were allowed to continue on to the Filicchi villa in Pisa. He was 35 years old. Originally buried in the old English Cemetery in Livorno, William's remains were transferred to the modern Church of St. Elizabeth Seton in the city's Piazza Lavagna in 2004. There a statue of the saint is flanked by busts of William Seton and Filippo Fillichi, the family friend who inspired her to embrace the Catholic faith.


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  • Created by: Nikita Barlow
  • Added: 4 Jan 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 46325224
  • Makalaka
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Magee Seton (20 Apr 1768–27 Dec 1803), Find A Grave Memorial no. 46325224, citing Church of St. Elizabeth Seton, Livorno, Provincia di Livorno, Toscana, Italy ; Maintained by Nikita Barlow (contributor 46508077) .