Seymour, Michael Hobart (DNB00)

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SEYMOUR, MICHAEL HOBART (1800–1874), controversialist, born on 29 Sept. 1800, was sixth son of John Crossley Seymour, vicar of Caherelly (d. 19 May 1831), who married in January 1789 Catherine, eldest daughter and coheiress of Rev. Edward Wight, rector of Meelick in Limerick. He claimed to be the lineal descendant of Sir Henry Seymour, brother of Jane Seymour, wife of Henry VIII. Aaron Crossley Hobart Seymour [q. v.] was his brother. In 1823 he graduated B.A. of Trinity College, Dublin, and proceeded M.A. in 1832. He was admitted ad eundem at Oxford on 2 June 1836, and comitatis causa on 26 Oct. 1865. Seymour was ordained deacon in 1823 and priest in 1824. The first thirty-four years of his life were passed in Ireland in active clerical work. He was also secretary to the Irish Protestant Association. An untiring opponent of the dogmas and practices of the church of Rome, he became very unpopular in Ireland, and about 1834 migrated to England. For several years he was evening lecturer at St. George the Martyr, Southwark, afternoon lecturer at St. Anne's, Blackfriars, and travelling secretary for the Reformation Society. In January 1844 Seymour married, at Walcot church, Bath, Maria, only daughter of General Thomas of the East India Company's service, and widow of Baron Brownmill, physician to Louis XVIII. From that time he resided, when in England, at Bath, and did not hold any preferment in the church.

In September 1844 Seymour and his wife travelled by easy stages to Rome, and he described his visit in two books, ‘A Pilgrimage to Rome,’ 1848, 4th edit. 1851, and ‘Mornings among the Jesuits at Rome; being Notes of Conversations held with certain Jesuits in that City,’ 1849 (3rd edit. 1850; 5th edit. 1852). The first book was criticised in ‘A brief Review by A. M.,’ Bath, 1849, and the second in ‘The Rambler,’ iv. 144–9 (1849). Seymour had a rhetorical way of marshalling his facts, and his deductions could not always be relied upon. But he followed up his attack in ‘Evenings with the Romanists. With an introductory chapter on the Moral Results of the Romish System,’ 1854; 2nd edit. 1855. This was issued at New York in 1855, and in the same year was reissued at Philadelphia in a mutilated form. It was also translated into Spanish, and had a large circulation in Mexico. Seymour died at 27 Marlborough Buildings, Bath, on 19 June 1874, leaving no issue, and was buried at Locksbrook cemetery on 25 June. He possessed the fluency of speech and the racy humour of most Irishmen (cf. Grant, Metropolitan Pulpit, pp. 266–81).

Through life Seymour was unwearied in contributing to newspapers, and in publishing pamphlets and lectures against the church of Rome. A lecture on ‘Nunneries,’ issued in 1852, involved him in a controversy with Cardinal Wiseman, who published a reply. Seymour brought out in 1838 a new edition, with five appendices, of Foxe's ‘Acts and Monuments of the Church.’ It purported to be ‘carefully revised, corrected, and condensed.’

[Gent. Mag. 1844, i. 310; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Foster's Baronetage; Men of the Time, 8th edit.; Todd's Dublin Graduates; Record, 24 June 1874, p. 2; Bath Express, 27 June 1874, p. 8; Keene's Bath Journal, 27 June 1874, p. 4.]

W. P. C.