Ancestor Story: William Seward

William Seward was born around 1746 in Killingworth, Connecticut to the Rev. William Seward and his wife Concurrence Crane. He was third in a line of William Sewards, though there doesn’t appear to be any records showing a III after his name. They were all descendants of a William Seward who immigrated from England and settled in Guilford, Connecticut in 1654.

His father was the pastor of New Haven Second Congregational Church in Killingworth for 44 years and William the son followed in his footsteps both by attending Yale and going into the ministry. After marrying Thankful Parmelee in 1771, he took a position at the Congregational Church in Stanwich Society in Greenwich in 1773.

In 1775 the American Revolutionary War began. Later that same year, William Seward served as Chaplain for Col. Waterbury in the 5th Connecticut Provincial Regiment. Waterbury’s Regiment was sent to New York City in June of 1775 then began traveling up the Hudson in July to Canada. The normal term for a chaplain during that year was six months, so it is not known how far up the Hudson Wm. Seward traveled with the regiment. It is likely that he saw some of the Hudson Valley because after retiring from the ministry in 1794, Seward and his family left Connecticut and moved to a farm in New Hackensack, Dutchess County, New York in 1795.

William and Thankful had eight children total and five lived to adulthood. He died in 1822 at the age of 76 and was buried in the Reformed Dutch Churchyard in New Hackensack. He died intestate [with no will] and divided up his possessions among his living children before his death. His youngest son, Philander, took over the family farm and was sued in court in 1837 for debts William owed. His lawyers had the surnames Ogden and Tallmadge and in 1838,  Philander Seward had a son and named him… Ogden Tallmadge Seward. He lost his case but must have appreciated the work his lawyers did for him.

Postscript: My new header for this website includes the location of his farm in Dutchess County. Right underneath the middle of “Hackensack” is the listing for W. Seward’s farm.

Sources: “Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920.” Database with images. Ancestry. : 2017.

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Ancestor Database database, (, accessed 29 September 2017), William Seward #A102241.

Reynolds, Helen Wilkinson. Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley before 1776. New York: Dover, 1965.

Wendell, John Lansing. Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature, and in the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of Errors of the State of New York [1828-1841] Vol 18. Albany, New York: 1844. Digital images. Google Books. : 2016.

Bachman, Chas, G. H Corey, John E Gillette, and Robert Pearsall Smith. Map of Dutchess Co., New York: from actual surveys. Philadelphia: John E. Gillette, publisher, 1858. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed October 16, 2017.)


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