Motto of Francis Seton


Old Arms of Seton of Barnes

Captain-Lieutenant Francis Seton (Seaton), of the Grenadiers of Madras

Fort St. George, Madras, India - line engraving by Jan van Ryne 1712-1760The Garrison of Madras was formed by soldiers that were brought from Bengal by Charnock, and formed into four companies, commanded by Cap't-Lieut. James Bett, Lieut. Francis Seaton, Lieut. Zouch Troughton and Lieut. Henry Sinclaire.  Each company had an Ensign, four Sergeants, four Corporals, and four Rounders.

P.C., vol. xv., 15th May, 1689.  Seaton accompanied Charnock from Bengal.  Anne Seaton, who died in May, 1691, is described on her tombstone at St. Mary's as 'wife to Francis Seaton, Captain of the Grenadiers of the Garrison.'  Seaton married secondly, in 1693, Hannah MacKrith (or Mackreeth), who died in 1710.  Her monument also is preserved at St. Mary's.

Two companies were on duty daily.  Half of one company guarded the Inner Fort, and the other half was stationed at St. Thomas' Gate, James Bulwark, Charles Point and the Sea Gate.  Of the other company, half was posted at the Choultry Gate, Middle Gate and York, and Gloucester Points, and the remaining half at the Bridge Gate and other gates and bastions of the Black Town.

A little later, Seaton's company was converted into one of Grenadiers, with extra pay and the sole duty of guarding the Inner Fort.  Bett, however, continued to be the senior in rank.  He died in 1692, and was succeeded in the command of the garrison by Captain Francis Seaton.

Succeeded James Betts as Captain of the Guard in 1692, having obtained his first commission under him four years earlier. He was a man of violent and overbearing temper.  Early in his career he was tried for drunkenness and for wounding a Portuguese and was reprimanded.

In 1698 he fought a duel with a brother officer and for this was tried by court martial and cashiered, but later on he was reinstated on apologizing to Pitt.  In 1703 he fought another duel with Stratford of the Civil Service, just outside the Fort Walls. For this both were fined.

In 1704 he got into trouble with Pitt for marching his soldiers over the calico spread out to bleach on the Maidan.  He was suspended and Roach succeeded him. Seaton then turned against Pitt, and started the scandalous story of the diamond, which led to Pitt's recall.

In 1708 he was ordered home by the "Heathcote", and as he refused to go was taken alongside by force. The Captain (Tolson) refused to take anyone who did not go of his own free will, and Seaton was sent on shore again.  In 1710 his wife died and he then left India for good. He was twice married; both his wives are buried in the cemetery.

There is an entry in the baptismal register book of St. Mary's church which rebuts the accusation of Paganism on the part of Charnock. It is as follows: — "August 19th, 1689, Charnock, Mary, Elizabeth and Katherine, daughters of Job Charnock, baptised by J. Evans. Francis Ellis, Godfather, Ann Seaton and Margery Heathfield, Godmothers."  Mrs. Seaton and Mrs. Heathfield were both Madras ladies.  The latter has been already mentioned as the widow of Robert Fleetwood. The former was the wife of Captain Francis Seaton who commanded the garrison.

In 1694 one Thomas Gutteridge, whose person was wanted at Madras, fled to the Portuguese town for security.  The Captaine Moor declined to extradite him unless Fort St. George engaged to hold the man harmless.  Higginson determined on reprisals, and Lieut. Seaton was ordered to arrest any San Thome Portuguese he might find in Madras, and confine them in the Inner Fort pending instructions from the Mayor.


The island is formed by the branching of the Cooum near the sea. It is a level piece of grass-land full of historical interest. It was here that the contumacious old soldier, Captain Francis Seaton, commandant of the garrison, marched his troops over the Company's calicoes to the great indignation of Governor Pitt. At that time the Company had a large dyeing establishment on the island by the edge of the river, where the washers could work in safety under cover of the fort guns. It was usual for the Governor to attend the fort church in state every Sunday. He sat in the gallery, and reached his seat by way of the outside staircase, which is still to be seen. The duty of the commandant of the garrison was to parade his troops and line the road. When the

Governor lived in the fort this was done without much trouble, but when he chose to occupy the garden-house by the river, the Sunday parade was a much more arduous business. The calicoes on one particular Sunday (1708) were spread out in the sun after having been dipped. Pitt was proceeding to church in his palanquin. Instead of finding the road on the island lined with troops as usual, he saw Seaton parading them all over the calicoes. His wrath knew no bounds. Descending from his palanquin, he went in person to the spot and ordered the men off, but they had already done considerable damage. The next day the commandant was called before the council to be reproved. The reproof was not received with proper humility, so he was suspended until the matter of ' breaking him altogether ' could be discussed.

There was further friction between Seaton and Pitt, and it was decided in council that the captain should be sent home by the first ship sailing. This happened to be the Heathcote, commanded by Captain Tolson. When the time came to embark Seaton refused to stir. The council ordered him to be carried on board, and told off an officer with a file of soldiers to carry the order into execution. It was easier said than done. They succeeded in getting Seaton through the surf and alongside of the ship ; but they could not put him aboard without the assistance of hoisting tackle, and this Captain Tolson refused to lend.

He said that he was quite willing to receive anyone as a passenger who desired to sail with him, but he would carry no one by force. He asked Seaton if he wished to come on board ; and, on his replying in the negative, the captain ordered the boat to leave the ship's side. Against this decision there was no appeal, for the commander of an East Indiaman was a veritable monarch on board his own ship. There must have been much amusement in the fort over the incident and possibly some gratification, for Seaton had friends and relatives on the council who sympathized with him rather than with Pitt.


Legg, Hannah ; the wife of John Legg, Esq,, one of the Council and Mayor of Madras. She died in childbirth July 27th, 1717, in the twenty-third year of her age. (She was the daughter of Francis Seaton by his wife Hannah Mackrith.  See was baptized July 1695, 21^^ was married Feb: 17 13. See Seaton.)

Titus Gates.

Seaton, Anne; wife of Francis Seaton, Captain of the Grenadiers of the Garrison.  She died May 16th, 1691.  Note. — The legend is •' Hazard yet Forward ", not upward.

Seaton, Elihu ; son of Francis and Anne. He died May 3rd, 1691.

Seaton, Francis; son of Francis and Anne. He died May 1st, 1692.

Seaton, Hannah; wife of Captain Francis Seaton. She died Feb: 3rd, 1710. (There are some verses on her memorial stone, the initial letters of each line form her name.  Francis Seaton married Hannah Mackrith as his second wife in Feb: 1693.)




Near the above, and directly over the pulpit, is a white tablet with scrollwork and draperied canopy in the form of mi Indian tent, based with a skull and supported by cherubs, commemorating that—

"Near this place lyes interred ye Body of George Hannibal Seton, Son of Captain Francis Seton of fort S' George in у East Indies, born in y' Countrey y* 5th day of June Anno Do 1698 & departed this Life y° 25th day of Aprill Anno D—1711, in the 13th year of his Age."

Note that the arms bear those of Seton of Barnes: three crescents within a bordure flory-counter-flory, surmounted by a sword hilted and pommeled upright supporting an imperial crown.

Company's service 1692. Deputy Governor of Fort York, Bencoolen ; died 
1712. His wife was dau. of Captain Francis Seaton and Ann, his wife. She 
was bap. 31 Jan. 1688-9. 

Legg, Hannah ; the wife of John Legg, Esq,, one of the Council 
and Mayor of Madras. She died in childbirth July 27th, 
1 717, in the twenty-third year of her age. (She was the 
daughter of Francis Seaton by his wife Hannah Mackrith. 
See was baptised July 1695, 21^^ was married Feb: 17 13. 
See Seaton.) 





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