Stevenson, Seth William (DNB00)

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STEVENSON, SETH WILLIAM (1784–1853), antiquary, was born at Norwich in 1784.

His father, William Stevenson (1741–1821), publisher and author, eldest son of the Rev. Seth Ellis Stevenson, rector of Treswell, Nottinghamshire, was born in 1741, and was a printer and publisher in the marketplace at Norwich, the firm being Stevenson, Matchett, & Stevenson. For thirty-five years from 1785 or 1786 he was the proprietor of the ‘Norfolk Chronicle.’ In 1812 he saw through his own press a new edition of James Bentham's ‘History of the Church of Ely.’ In 1817 he brought out ‘A Supplement’ to the work. He also edited John Campbell's ‘Lives of the British Admirals,’ bringing the information down to 1812. To Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes’ and to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ he was a frequent contributor. For many years he was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He died in Surrey Street, Norwich, on 13 May 1821 (Gent. Mag. May 1821, pp. 472–3).

His son, Seth William, was taken into partnership with his father and Jonathan Matchett. From an early period he was connected with the ‘Norfolk Chronicle,’ of which paper, on the death of his father, he became proprietor, and to a great extent editor to his death. In 1817 he printed for private circulation ‘Journal of a Tour through part of France, Flanders, and Holland, including a visit to Paris and a walk over the Field of Waterloo in the summer of 1816.’ This work was dedicated to the Society of United Friars of Norwich, a literary society of which he was almost the last survivor. In 1827 he published in two volumes ‘A Tour in France, Savoy, Northern Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands,’ and in the same year was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1828 he was nominated a sheriff of the city of Norwich, became an alderman in the same year, and served the office of mayor in 1832. He was elected an associate of the British Archæological Association in 1845, and on the establishment of the Numismatic Society in 1836 he became a member. For many years all his leisure time was engaged in composing a complete dictionary of Roman coins. His idea was to give an explanation of the types, symbols, and devices on consular and imperial coins, biographical notices of the emperors from Julius to Mauricius, and mythological, historical, and geographical notices in elucidation of rare coins. This work, with illustrations by Frederick William Fairholt [q. v.], was left incomplete at the time of his death, as to the last letters U to Z. It was then revised in part by Charles Roach Smith [q. v.], and, being completed by Frederic William Madden, was published, after many delays, in 1889 under the title of ‘A Dictionary of Roman Coins, Republican and Imperial,’ and remains the standard work on the subject. Stevenson died at Cambridge on 22 Dec. 1853, in the house of his son-in-law, John Deighton, surgeon.

By his wife Mary, he had two sons, of whom Mr. Henry Stevenson, F.L.S., is author of ‘The Birds of Norfolk’ (1866–90, 3 vols. 8vo).

[Numismatic Chronicle, 1855, vol. xvii., Proceedings, pp. 17–18; Smith's Retrospections, 1883, i. 248–51; Smith's Collectanea Antiqua, 1861, v. 276; Journal British Archæol. Assoc. 1855, x. 124–5; Gent. Mag. 1854, li. 208.]

G. C. B.