SEYWARD, Edward (1634-1704), of Bradninch, Exeter, Devon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1695 - 1698

Family and Education

b. 28 Oct. 1634, s. of John Seyward of Clyst St. George, Exeter by his w. Margaret.  m. 25 Sept. 1672, Hannah, da. of Nicholas Brooking, merchant and mayor, of Exeter, 3s. d.v.p. 1da. d.v.p.  Kntd. 24 Mar. 1696.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Exeter 1667, steward 1683–d., alderman ?1683–d., sheriff 1688–9, mayor 1691–2; gov. Exeter corp. of the poor 1698–1701.2


Seyward, a grocer’s son, became a prominent Whig member of Exeter’s corporation and a wealthy local merchant, and was married to the daughter of a Presbyterian ex-mayor. He nevertheless joined with Tory aldermen in sending assurances of loyalty to James II after William’s landing in 1688. His moderate political spirit was also apparent in his support for the strongly Tory alderman Christopher Bale* in the election of 1689, while in 1691 he stood surety for Bale in his successful application for the receivership of taxes in Devon and Exeter. Successful for Exeter against the Seymour interest at the bitterly contested election of 1695, he was forecast in January 1696 as likely to support the government on the proposed council of trade, signed the Association at the end of the following month, and in March voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. He was knighted by the King along with his fellow MP Sir Joseph Tily* in March, and soon afterwards, on 2 Apr., obtained leave of the House. In the next session, he acted as teller on 23 Nov. against the committal of a bill sponsored by the Tory John Grobham Howe* to impose qualifications for election to Parliament; and two days later voted in favour of the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He was granted leave again on 6 Mar. 1697, and on his failure to appear at a call of the House on 16 Dec., was ordered into custody, and released on the 30th. During March and April 1698, however, he played a leading part in obtaining for his Exeter constituents an Act for establishing a corporation of the poor in the city. He was soon afterwards named as its first governor, and was remembered as a generous patron and benefactor. He was granted leave on 10 May, presumably to enable him to prepare for the impending election at which he was defeated. An analysis of the old and new Parliaments classed him retrospectively as a member of the Court party. In 1703 he gave £600 towards the education of poor children in St. John’s Hospital, Exeter. He died on 1 Mar. 1704 and was buried at St. Paul’s, Exeter.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Trans. Devon Assoc. lxii. 210; C. Worthy, Devonshire Wills, 145; B. Cresswell, Exeter Churches, 139; IGI, Devon.
  • 2. Exeter Freemen (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. ex. ser. i), 155; A. Jenkins, Exeter, 192; Trans. Devon Assoc. 210, 221.
  • 3. R. Newton, Eighteenth Cent. Exeter, 52–53; W. G. Hoskins, Industry and Trade in Exeter, 121; Add. 41805, f. 158; Trans. Devon Assoc. 210; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 458, 976; Jenkins, 330; Cresswell, Exeter Churches, 139.