Motto of Kenneth Robert Seton, of Nova Scotia

The Official History of the SEETON Family of Nova Scotia (updated June 2013)

Descended from the line of the Winton family-line and the Lord's Seton, the founder of this branch of the House of Seton was the 3rd son of George Seton 7th Lord Seton, Sir John Seton 1st Baron and Lord Barnes, who's descent later became heirs of the Lordship of Fyvie and the Earldom of Dunfermline.  Sir John's son and heir also called Sir John Seton, 2nd Baron of Barnes, purchased the land and estate of Moneylagan in Ireland, and it is as a result of that acquisition that we eventually came to be settled in Ireland. From Sir John Seton of Barnes then, descend the Seton/Seaton/Seeton's of Nova Scotia.

John Seton, younger of Barnes, married Anna Lothian and had son's who settled and remained in Ireland, after the family's estate was lost to the acquisitious Viscount Granard.  Hannibal Seaton was also noted in rolls in Moneylagan, while Sir John Seton 2nd of Barnes was in Shrule, both in Co. Longford, c1659.

Descended from John Seton and Anna Lothian was Thomas Seaton, also spelt Seeton and Seton, and of Thomas Seaton was also know very little.  We do know from Nova Scotian family notes from his son James, that he had three children: Mary, Thomas and James.  While there are precious few records remaining for this period in Ireland, his sons are listed on the Freeholder's List for 1796 in the Barony of Dungannon.  James Seeton's records in Londonderry and Glenholm, Nova Scotia, state that he came from Ireland, that he was of Scottish descent, and that he had had a brother Thomas and a sister Mary.  His name is spelt both as "Seeton" and "Seaton" in Nova Scotia.  His original tombstone was spelt as "Seeton", however when it was weathered and worn it was replaced by a descendant in the United States and the local stonemason carved the names as "Seaton" on the new headstone in the later 1900's.

In Ireland, Thomas Seaton (senior) died in 1811, aged 84 years and was buried in the Presbyterian Graveyard in the Town or Townland of Glebe (Derryloran also called Donaghenry), in the Civil Parish of Donaghenry, Donaghenry Old, County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland.  Of his three children: 1st a daughter Mary who died early in life at 19 years of age; 2nd his eldest son and heir also called Thomas (3rd) who died shortly after his father; and of course his 2nd son James Seeton, who married Martha Crawford of County Tyrone and who later emigrated to Nova Scotia and from whom descends the Seeton's of Nova Scotia.  (Note: Thomas may also have had other children who remained in Ireland who also utilized the spelling of Seeton as their family-name - noticed for George Seeton/Seaton who married Mary Coulter (called "Grimble or Trimble" in error) and who immigrated to America in the mid-to-late 1800's and his brother John Seeton who ended up in Australia circa the same time frame).

The family were ardent Freemason's, and Presbyterians, tradition's carried on for generations.  It was maintained that the family were a branch of the House of Seton, that the famed Mary Seton who had served Queen Mary Stuart was a sister of our ancestor, that we had originated in Seton, Scotland, and that there was a connection to a "Title and a castle in the Highlands", etc....  With the family records and Bible having been lost in a fire at the Seeton Farm in Nova Scotia, researches into the history and origins for which branch of the family we descended from, has taken generations to restore.

The association of the Seton family with the Estate of Barnes and of Ireland is a long one, and where it was recorded:

During the Wars of Independence of Scotland, Sir Alexander Seton, son of the famed Sir Christopher Seton, got from his royal uncle King Robert the Bruce, important grants of land for services rendered by his father and also certain honorable and uncommon additions to his paternal coat of arms. A little later he received another grant — this time of the Barony of Barnes, in East Lothian, for his own services, particularly in Ireland, whither he had accompanied the king's brother, Edward Bruce in support of his claim of that crown.

The appeal of the Irish chieftains for deliverance from their English conquerors, the Scottish expedition to Ireland, the crowning of Edward Bruce as King of Ireland in 1316, his victorious march at the head of a small army of Scotchmen, with very little native assistance, from Carrickfergus to Limerick, his unsuccessful siege of Dublin, his retreat northward, and his final defeat and death with nearly all of his followers at the battle of Dundalk, on October 5, 1318, is one of the most chivalrous episodes, as it was one of the most ill-advised measures in the history of Scotland.

Sir Alexander Seton was one of the thirty-nine nobles and others who assembled in Parliament at the Abbey of Arbroath on April 6, 1320, and addressed that famous letter to Pope John XXII. at Avignon, which is one of the most spirited and patriotic documents in history. It induced the Holy See to recognize the independence of Scotland and the title of King Robert Bruce. Sir Alexander was a benefactor of the monasteries at Haddington, and looked only to pass his remaining years in piety and repose; but the peace of the kingdom was violently broken by the attempt of Edward Baliol to seize the crown after the death of Bruce, and during the minority of his son David II.

The Estate of Barnes (Barns and Barnis) having been long in the family possession, was noted continually in Charters and grants stemming from the 1st Lord Seton to the 7th Lord Seton, until ultimately bestowed by George, 7th Lord on his 3rd son, Sir John Seton of Barnes, such as that from Sir William Seton, 1st Lord Seton and descendant of Sir Alexander Seton: "Lord Seton belonged to the third Order of Saint Francis, and dying in February, 1409, was buried in the Church of the Franciscan Friars in Haddington, to whom he left by will six loads of coal weekly, out of his coal-pit of Tranent, and forty shillings annually, to be charged to his estate of Barnes. His widow is described as a virtuous and energetic woman, who got husbands for four of her daughters, and built a chantry on the south side of the parish church of Seton, prepared a tomb for herself there, and made provision for a priest to say mass perpetually for the repose of her soul."

Sir John Seton, Lord Barnes and 1st Baron of Barnes (b.1553, d.05.1594).  A noted diplomat who was reared as such by his father, he became a Knight of the Order of St. James of Calatrava in Spain (St. Jago) and of the Kings personal bodyguard, a Gentleman of the BedChamber and Master of the Kings Household under King Philip II of Spain, the highest Honour that he could bestow upon a subject.  As a result of his illustrious fame and so distinguished was he that he was recalled home to Scotland by King James VI; not wanting to have so noble a subject be lost from his Court and Kingdom.  He was appointed Treasurer, Master of the Kings Horse, and Master of the Kings Household (1586) and an Extraordinary Lord in the College of Justice as Lord Barnes (1588) in place of his younger brother Alexander Seton who at that time was Lord Urquhart, (later Lord Fyvie and 1st Earl of Dunfermline, and Chancellor of Scotland) and who was promoted to President of the College of Justice. Had he noted died prematurely, he was to have been raised to an Earldom like his two brothers were after his death.

Sir John Seton was proprietor of most of the land around Aimsfield, along with a variety of estates throughout Scotland and in the north in particularly.  He resided at the Royal Court at Holyroodhouse and Garleton Castle while he waited on his own Castle of Barnes to be built.  He began the building of the Castle of Barnes on a grand-scale, intending it to become a Court based on the Spanish-style square courtyard, but died before it rose above the vaulted first-level.  Unfortunately Sir John Seton died prematurely in 1594, and was said to be buried in the nave of the old church of Haddington, where now a grand carved monument can be seen in the Seton's of the Barnes' burying place. The farm of Amisfield Mains, formerly called Harperdean Mains was originally two farms; the west part of it was called "The Barnes".  Amisfield Mains formed part of the estate of Seton's of the Barnes.

His son and heir was the 2nd Sir John Seton of Barnes, who rose to become a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and officer of the Court of King Charles I.  He succeeded his father and was a noted companion of the Marquis of Montrose in 1646, and was also very close to his cousin (called uncle), Sir Alexander Seton of Foulstruther the 6th Earl of Eglinton (later Montgomerie upon his succession to that Earldom). Sir John acquired land in Ireland from Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, particularly the estate of Monylagan (Mionylangain or Moneylagan), Clongish Parish, in Co. Longford, in 1628 and had a Royal Charter for the same and is occassionally referred to as Sir John Seaton of Mionylangain, Longford. He is noted in the Funeral of Chancellor Seton in 1622, and he later acquired the lands of Hailes from the heirs of Hercules Stewart of Whitelaw (d. 1594).  With the acquisition of the Castle and Estate of Hailes, he left his father's work at Barnes unfinished. 

Sir John Seton's son from his first wife (a daughter of Baron Ogilvy of Poury), Alexander Seton, travelled to Ireland and while visiting his father's estate met and married a daughter of the family of O'Ferrall's, or the O'Ferrall's of Buoy, Lords of Annaly in Co. Longford, Ireland, and was known as Alexander Seton of Monylagan (or Mionylangain).  Later, he was accused of having collaborated with the "Ferrell's" who had been known to have acted against the British Monarchy in the interest of Ireland, and was imprisoned in Dublin before being transferred to the Tolbooth in Edinburgh, from which imprisonments he became gravely ill and later died, predeceasing his father and leaving no issue; Seton Estate in Ireland however, remained in the hands of the Seton's of Barnes.

He was succeeded by his second son George Seton (Seatoun/Seattoun), 3rd of Barnes and the advocate and Justice of the Peace in Haddington noted in the records of the Privy Council, from his father's third marriage to the daughter of Sir John Home of North Berwick.  His appointment as a Judge came at the instigation of his cousin, George, 3rd Earl of Winton, and as a result was appointed as a trial Judge to oversee the trials of witchcraft in Haddington along with William Seton the Provost of Haddinton of the Northrig family-line and other local Lairds, in 1649.  There were later continual legal actions between George Seton of Barnes and the Seton's of Garleton, over encroaching on the lands of Barnes by the latter during the 17th century and noted in Edinburgh court records. He also pursued the Irish Estate of his father as noted in legal proceedings records in Edinburgh, against his half-sister Isobel (Esther) Seton, Lady Bearford's challenge for acquisition.  This suit was continued by his grandson, also George Seton, the 5th and last of Seton Barnes.  He was in turn succeded by his eldest son Sir John Seton, 4th of Barnes.

Sir John Seton, 4th of Barnes was twice married.  From his first wife he had a son and heir, George Seton, and from his second wife Lady Margaret Hay he had at least 2 son's Henry and John.  Henry was active in the Jacobite troubles against the Prince of Orange and fled to Virginia, and who's only son George was the ancestor of William Winston Seaton of the noted Washington Intelligencer fame in the United States.  Sir John's younger son John Seton married Anne Lothian in 1684, and his line founded that of the Seton's of Nova Scotia who had settled in Ireland before emmigrating to Nova Scotia in what became later, part of Canada.

George Seton (Seaton) 5th of Barnes pursued the Irish Estate from Sir Arthur Forbes, Viscount Granard, when Forbes assumed ownership of that estate in Ireland as he was expanding his territory there, and who had conjoined with George's step-mother Margaret Hay, his father's 2nd wife.  The courts records in Edinburgh noted for the years during the middle to the end of the 18th century document the continual legal proceedings, and the estate was finally lost to Forbes along with most of George Seton's estates.  The Seton/Seaton/Seeton descendants left on the Irish estate then, such as Hannibal Seaton, having to relocate elsewhere throughout Ireland, and into the province of Ulster primarily.

The second son of Sir John Seton, 1st of Barnes and Lord Barnes, was the noted Dr. Sir George Seton (Seaton/Seatoun) who undertook his studies at St. Andrews and later St. John's College at Cambridge in England, and became generally known as 'Seton of Hailes' (or Hallis) after the family's acquisition of that Castle (from the heirs of Hercules Stewart), and who also had later acquired Crichton Castle, albeit briefly, from James Stewart, brother of Lord John Stewart, Prior of Coldingham.  He was written by Maitland as having died young, and which was not accurate.  He married his cousin, Dame Mary Seton (noted in the burial records of Greyfriars in Endinburgh as widow of Sir George Seton of Haills, of the fishmarket).  Hailes was acquired with the assistance of his cousin George Seton, 3rd Earl of Winton and his son Alexander Seton, Viscount Kingston.  In 1650, Hailes was largely dismantled by Cromwell's forces during the raids in Scotland, along with many other Seton strongholds, and left in ruins. 

Sir George Seton of Hailes was a signatory of the declaration in support of the first proposal of a merger or union between Scotland and England, and "quitted" Hailes Castle during Cromwells sacking of Dunbar and was later reimbursed by the Government to the sum of 4,700 "in English money for troops quartered on his tenants and for damage caused by them", as a result of the raid in 1650.  The ruined castle and estate of Hailes was eventually sold by Viscount Kingston in 1700 to Sir David Dalrymple, of the noted legal family (who's son became Lord Hailes) and who died in 1721.  It is known that Sir George had at least one son, Robert Seton of Hailes who married Lady Anne Montgomery, daughter of the Earl of Eglinton, and had by her one son and successor also Robert, called Captain Robert Seton and who was a Judge Advocate for North Britain, and a daughter Marie Seton.

Also of note was Hannibal Seton, who was the illegitimate son of Sir John Seton, 1st of Barnes and Lord Barnes, and who was noted in the Will and Testament of Robert Seton, 8th Lord Seton and 1st Earl of Winton.  Hannibal was a Burgess in Haddington and was involved with his half-brother Sir John Seton 2nd of Barnes with his estate in Ireland and was noted in census records there.  Hannibal had a numerous family who were recorded in the Haddington and the Tranent records and who themselves had significant descent, including his son and heir, also Hannibal Seton.

Some of the descent of the Seton's of Barnes were Vice-Admirals and Governor's of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, and also Governor's of Gibraltar (the son of Anne Seton and John Don - General Sir George Don); in the late 1700's and early 1800's.


For the Seeton family of Nova Scotia, some of them are buried in Ireland as per the Headstone inscription from Donaghendry, Dungannon, Tyrone, Ireland as follows:

Here lieth the body of Mary Seaton who departed this life May 9th 1781 aged
19 years. Also Thomas Seaton who departed this life 14th May 1811 aged 84
also his son Thomas who departed this life 19th June 1818 aged 44 years.
Also Jane Seaton also departed this life 18th Novr. 1828 aged 103 years.


It is likewise recorded for the Seeton's in Nova Scotia that:
James Seeton, 1st of Nova Scotia, had a brother Thomas and a sister Mary.  We know that James was the youngest of his family, and the above inscription confirms that, by the death-date of his father, brother and sister.  James was born circa 1776, was married to Martha Crawford of County Tyrone in 1808 in Donaghmore, County Donegal by the Rev'd Samuel Dill.  He and his family immigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada, leaving from the port of Belfast in either May 1821 or the 22nd of June 1822 and arriving in St. John's New Brunswick in either June 1821 or the 22nd of July, 1822 respectively.  There are two stories regarding their crossing, which are both currently under research.  Nevertheless. they remained in St. John's for only one month before settling at Londonderry, Nova Scotia (now called Glenholm, just north of Truro) and he died there in his 82nd year, in 1858.

Our family then, descends from Thomas Seton (Seaton), who’s descendant, James Seeton (also spelt "Seaton" and "Seton") was raised in County Tyrone and married in Donaghmore, County Donegal, Ireland.  James married Martha Crawford of nearby County Tyrone, in 1808.  James was a Presbyterian, and an active freemason like most of the family.  They were married in the Donaghmore Presbyterian Church in Co. Donegal by the Reverend Samuel Dill, Presbyterian, and had seven children, the first four children were born in Ireland:  Mary Ann (1810), Andrew (1812), James (1814) and Elizabeth (1818).  In 1820 and 1821, James attempted to gain a grant of land in the colony of Nova Scotia and was unsuccessful.  However, in June of 1822, after liquidating his assets, he left on a ship with his family from Belfast, Ireland and landed in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, in July, 1822.  There he remained with his family for one month before acquiring land in what was then called Londonderry, Nova Scotia, just north of the city of Truro.  James and Martha had three other children in Nova Scotia:  John-William Seeton, Joseph Seeton, and Robert Barry Seeton.

The family is listed on the 1838 Census for Londonderry, Nova Scotia, held in the National Archives in Ottawa, Canada.

Of the family in Nova Scotia, some remained there and others left for America.  However, before the death of James Seeton Sr., the principle family had relocated from the farm at Londonderry to that of Meagher's Grant near Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia.  Besides farming, the family in Nova Scotia were also involved in land investing and in various business ventures, including Robert and Joseph Seeton's merchant and shipping business which held the contract for the overseas mail in the mid-to-late 19th century and having a marital-alliance with the Inman family of the famed shipping line, and The Old Public House in downtown Halifax, which miraculously survived the Halifax Explosion during World War I.  Robert and Joseph were both younger sons of James Seeton, and their older brothers', Andrew and James, acquired lands in various parts of Nova Scotia, also finally settling in Meagher's Grant. 

Author's note: The senior line of the family of Nova Scotia, then, follows that of Andrew Seeton and Matilda Porter and which line I will follow along with shortly. The family farm at Meagher's Grant, known as the Seeton Farm was passed to James Seeton (3rd), who had my grandfather Harold there in "The Grant", before passing it to the Bayers family.  Harold (d. Nov, 1963) had, as his oldest son, Robert Seeton, my father, and I (website author Kenneth Robert Seton) am Robert's oldest son and now live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Some of the Nova Scotia family buried in the Cemetery at Meagher's Grant, Nova Scotia are as follows:

SEETON, Aldon R.  b. d. 1863 age 10
SEETON, Rupert b.  d. 1875 age 4 mos
sons of James & Sophia SEETON broken stone

SEETON, Fenwick Willliam b.  d. June 14, 1867 age 4 mos, son of Andrew & Matilda SEETON
SEETON, Frances b. 1864 d. 1940

SEETON, James b. d. Nov. 9, 1901 age 87

SEETON, James E.  b. 1870 d. 1936
SEETON, Emma M.  b. 1872 d. 1939

SEETON, John W.  b. 1844 d. 1907
VAUGHAN, Margaret b. 1859 d. 1903

SEETON, Joseph H.  b. 1846 d. 1922
SEETON, Annie L. b. 1855 d. 1951

SEETON, Lottie Maggie b.  d. Dec. 30, 1880 age 1 mo
daughter of Howard & Ruby SEETON

SEETON, Mary b. Oct. 2, 1834 d. May 29, 1918
wife of James SEETON

SEETON, Maud b.  d. May 4, 1900 age 23
daughter of James & Mary SEETON

SEETON, William S.  b. March 26, 1879 d. Jan. 11, 1943
buried at Crescent City, California, USA
SEETON, Frederick E.  b. Jan. 6, 1886 d. Aug. 18, 1963
buried at Gays River, NS

To be continued
Armorial depiction of Arms for Seeton of Nova Scotia - non-matriculated
The Seeton Family of Nova Scotia © The Seton Family 2005
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