Seaman, Lazarus (DNB00)
|←Seally, John||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51
SEAMAN, LAZARUS (d. 1675), puritan divine, was a native of Leicester, where he was born of poor parents early in the seventeenth century. On 4 July 1623 he was entered as a sizar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1627, M.A, in 1631. Straitened means led him to leave Cambridge and teach a school, apparently in London. He was chosen lecturer at St. Martin's, Ludgate, and became chaplain to Algernon Percy, tenth earl of Northumberland [q. v.] In 1642 he was presented by Laud to the rectory of Allhallows, Bread Street; Laud had promised this presentation out of 'courtesie' to Northumberland, and complains that, though aware of this, Sir Henry Montagu, first earl of Manchester [q. v,], had written, commanding him in the name of the House of Lords to give the benefice to Seaman (Hist. of the Troubles, 1095, p, 199). In 1643 he was nominated a member of the Westminster Assembly of divines, and he was a regular attendant; the best thing he said was on 18 Feb. 1645, 'In no institution did God go against nature.' By a private discussion on transubstantiation, held about this time against two Romish priests, he was the means, according to William Jenkyn [q. v.], of preventing the conversion of a noble family to the Roman catholic church.
On 11 April 1044 Seaman was admitted master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, by Edward Montagu, second earl of Manchester [q. v.], in the room of John Cosin [q. v.], ejected on 18 March. Calamy reports that he discharged the duties of the mastership with 'abundant honour;' Walker relates that at the Restoration the fellows, in a petition to the crown, complained of his 'unstatutable government.'
On 6 Nov. 1645 Seaman was placed on the committee of accommodation designed by parliament to arrange terms for the comprehension of the independents; the project fell through, as the independents rejected , comprehension and insisted on toleration. He was one of the remonstrants (26 May, 1646) against the toleration of 'separate congregations,' and maintained in the Westminster Assembly the divine right of the presbyterian discipline. At the second meeting (8 Nov. 1647) of the provincial assembly of London, Seaman, a member of the first London classis, was moderator. In September-November 1648 he was one of the four presbyterian divines commissioned to the Isle of Wight to recommend their case to Charles in discussion with the king, aided by episcopalian divines; Charles complimented Seaman on his ability. In January 1649 he signed the 'Vindication' drawn up by Cornelius Burges, D.D. [q. v.], protesting against the king's trial. He proceeded D.D. in 1649. In 1653 he was vice-chancellor, and in 1654 was appointed by Cromwell one of the visitors of his university. Cosin was restored to the mastership of Peterhouse on 3 Aug. 1660. Seaman held aloof, with William Jenkyn and a few others, from the negotiations with Charles II in the presbyterian interest, and was looked upon as an uncompromising man, whom it was useless to tempt with offers of preferment. He resigned his benefice in consequence of the Uniformity Act; his successor, Risden, was appointed on 26 Aug. 1662. On the passing of the Five Miles Act, 1665, Baxter drew up a statement of reasons for not taking the oath which exempted from its operation; Seaman persuaded him to abstain from publishing it, and recommended a policy of 'silent patience.' He privately ministered to a congregation of his former parishioners, preached publicly after the great fire of 1666, and after the indulgence of 1672 built a chapel in Meeting-house Yard, Silver Street, Wood Street, Holborn. Wood, who knew him personally, refers to him respectfully as 'a learned nonconformist.' He died in Warwick Court, Newgate Street, about 9 Sept. 1675; Jenkyn preached his funeral sermon on 12 Sept.; an elegy on his death was issued (1675) as a broadsheet.
Seaman was a man of much learning, noted as a casuist, charitable in disposition, and a model of prudent reserve. He is chiefly remembered for his library, numbering upwards of five thousand books, which was the first sold in England by auction. The catalogue was published with the title 'Catalogus Variorum et Insignium Librorum instructissimee Bibliothecæ … Quorum Auctio habebitur Londini in aedibus Defuncti … Cura Gulielmi Cooper Bibliopolæ,' &c., 1676, 4to, pp. 137. A notice "To the Reader' states that 'it hath not been usual here in England to make sale of Books by way of Auction,' though this was 'practised in other countreys.' Four rules of sale are given, and the auction was to begin on 8 Oct. and continue each day at 9 A.M. and 2 P.M. till the books were sold. Of the two British Museum copies (821, i. 1 and 11906, e.l.) of the catalogue, the former, once in the possession of Narcissus Luttrell, has the prices added in manuscript. The highest sum obtained for a single lot was 8l. 2s. for the set of St. Chrysostom (Paris, 1636); the highest for a single volume was 1l. 15s. for Servetus's 'Dialogorum de Trinitate Libri Duo,' 1532, 8vo. Over 700 l. was realised in all (Bibliographica, i. 376).
Besides sermons before parliament (1644-1647), before the Lord Mayor (1650), and a farewell sermon (in the London collection, 1663), Seaman published:
- 'The Διατριβὴ proved to be Παραδιατριβή. A Vindication of … the Reformed Church … from Misrepresentations concerning the Ordination,' 1647, 4to (against Sidrach Simpson [q. v.] and Edmund Chillenden [q. v.]).
- 'His Majesties Papers … with an Answer … by … Mr. Seaman,' 1648, 4to, reprinted as 'The Papers which passed between His Majesty … and Mr. Seaman … concerning Church-government' , 8vo. He prefixed an address to 'A Glance of Heaven,' 1638, by Richard Sibbes, D.D. [q. v.] For the Turkish version of the catechism by John Ball (1585-1640) [q. v.], erroneously ascribed to him, see Seaman, William.
[Funeral Sermon by Jenkyn, 1675; Baxter's Reliquiae, 1696, ii. 229, iii. 13; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss) iii. 777, 1122, iv. 213; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 16 sq.; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 17; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714, ii. 152; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1810, iii. 6sq.; Neal's Hist. of the Puritans (Toulmin), 1822, vol. iii.; Mitchell and Struthers's Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, 1874, pp. 62, &c.; Longman's Magazine, December 1893 (by Mr. A. W. Pollard); information kindly furnished by the Master of Emmanuel and the Master of Peterhouse.]