Seller, Abednego (DNB00)

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SELLER, ABEDNEGO (1646?–1705), non-juring divine, son of Richard Seller of Plymouth, was born there about 1646, and matriculated from Lincoln College, Oxford, as ‘pauper puer,’ or servitor, 26 April 1662. He left Oxford without a degree, and ‘past through some mean employment’ (Wood, Athenæ, iv. 564). On 11 March 1665 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Seth Ward at Exeter, and was described as a literate, but did not proceed to the priesthood until 22 Dec. 1672, when he was ordained by Bishop Sparrow in Exeter Cathedral. He was probably the Abednego Seller who married Marie Persons at Abbotsham, near Bideford, on 2 Dec. 1668.

Seller was instituted to the rectory of Combe-in-Teignhead, near Teignmouth, Devonshire, on 29 March 1682, and vacated it on 8 Sept. 1686 by his institution to the vicarage of Charles at Plymouth. Refusing the oaths to the new sovereigns, he was deprived of this preferment, and his successor was admitted to it on 2 Sept. 1690. Seller removed to London and settled in Red Lion Square. Bishop Smalridge wrote rather harshly of him in 1696, that he ‘had the reputation of a scholar, though not of a good man, before he was a non-juror’ (Nichols, Illustr. of Lit. iii. 253). His library was of considerable value, but on 17 Jan. 1699–1700 ‘a fire hap'ned in Red Lyon Square,’ and burnt, among other properties, ‘Mr. Sellar's the nonjuring parson's library, with a great number of choice and scarce manuscripts’ (Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 605). He died in London in 1705.

Seller left to the Bodleian Library a manuscript of the end of the fifteenth century, containing William of Malmesbury's ‘De Gestis Pontificum’ and the ‘Chronicon Lichfeldense.’ To Lincoln College he gave ‘ye perpetual use of his Byzantine Historians in folio.’ The rest of his books were to be sold ‘for the benefit of his grandchildren who are under age.’ Twenty-two manuscripts in his collection are described in Bernard's ‘Catalogi lib. Manuscriptorum’ (1697, ii. 96), and he possessed nearly two hundred coins. A copy of the ‘Thesaurus’ of Bonaventure Vulcanius (1600), now at the British Museum, was his property, and contains some notes in his handwriting (cf. Granger, Biogr. Hist. ed. 1824, v. 216; Herbert, Autobiogr. ed. Lee, p. xlvi).

Seller was the author of: 1. ‘An Infallible Way to Contentment in the midst of Publick or Personal Calamities’ (anon.), 1679 and 1688. It was translated into Welsh about 1790, and reprinted in 1803 and 1822; to the latter reprint a preface was contributed by the Rev. Thomas Tregenna Biddulph [q. v.] In 1883 it was reproduced by the Religious Tract Society as the third of its ‘Companions for a Quiet Hour.’ It was then described as eloquent and as ‘singularly free from all trace of sectarianism,’ but the writer is often indebted to the author of the ‘Whole Duty of Man’ (Academy, 12 Jan. 1884, p. 24). 2. ‘Remarques relating to the state of the Church of the First Centuries; with Animadversions on J. H.'s “View of Antiquity”’ (anon.), 1680, dedicated to Dr. William Cave. J. H. was Jonathan Hanmer [q. v.] of Barnstaple. 3. ‘The Devout Communicant assisted with Rules, together with Meditations, Prayers, and Anthems for Every Day of the Holy Week,’ 1686; 6th edit. 1695. This work, after much revision and enlargement, was republished in 1704 as ‘The Good Man's Preparation for the Receiving of the Blessed Sacrament,’ and was then dedicated to Sir W. Boothby. 4. ‘Remarks upon the Reflections of the Author of Popery Misrepresented [Gother] on his answerer [Stillingfleet], particularly as to the Deposing Doctrine’ (anon.), 1686. 5. ‘A Plain Answer to a Popish Priest questioning the Orders of the Church of England’ (anon.), 1688. It was answered by Thomas Fairfax [q. v.], a jesuit, to whom Seller in 1689 replied in a second edition ‘with an answer to the Oxford Animadverter's Reflections.’ 6. ‘History of Passive Obedience since the Reformation’ (anon.), 1689. 7. ‘Continuation of the History of Passive Obedience’ (anon.), 1690; to some copies an appendix of fifty-six pages is added; it was written to show that the oath of allegiance to William and Mary should not be taken, and was answered by numerous writers, including Bishop Stillingfleet, Samuel Johnson, rector of Corringham, Essex, and James Parkinson, fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. Seller probably wrote ‘A Letter to the Author of a late paper entituled “A Vindication of the Divines of the Church of England” in defence of the “History of Passive Obedience”’ (anon.), 1689. 8. ‘Considerations upon the Second Canon in the book entituled Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical’ (anon.), 1693. 9. ‘Form of Prayer and Humiliation for God's Blessing upon his Majesty and his Dominions’ (anon.), 1690. 10. ‘An Exposition of the Church Catechism from our Modern Authors and the Holy Scriptures’ (anon.), 1695. 11. ‘The Antiquities of Palmyra, with an appendix on the names, religion, and government; and a commentary on the inscriptions lately found there,’ 1696; 2nd edit. 1705 (cf. Philosophical Transactions, xix. 358–60). Seller assisted Dr. William Cave in his ‘Historia Literaria’ (1688), though Cave rarely acknowledged his aid. Some Greek lines by him are prefixed.

[Western Antiquary, v. 289–92 (by Rev. J. Ingle Dredge), afterwards issued separately on 21 Jan. 1886; Supplementary note by Mr. Dredge from vol. vi. with date 19 July 1886; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Halkett and Laing's Dict. of Anonymous Lit. pp. 501, 864, 942, 1145, 1920, 2163–4; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 587; Hearne's Collections, ed. Doble, ii. 235; Macray's Bodleian Libr. 2nd ed. p. 174; Harl. MS. 3782, f. 26; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iv. 101.]

W. P. C.