The Seton Family



'In Adversitate Patiens –In Prosperitate Benevolus – Hazard Yet Forward'
Motto of George, 7th Lord Seton


Kenneth Robert Seton, of Nova Scotia, of the Seton's of Barnes.

Kenneth Robert Seton, of Nova Scotia, of the Seton's of Barnes

My family line is from East Lothian in Scotland, descended from Sir John Seton of Barnes, 3rd son of George, 7th Lord Seton by his wife Isobel Hamilton of Sanquhar.  Some of the grandchildren of Sir John Seton had settled on the Moneylagan Estate, and once displaced from that estate, had remained in Ireland, and, who are of heirs-male lineage of the Earl's of Dunfermline.

Because the old family Bible was lost in a fire at the Seeton house on the Seeton farm in Nova Scotia, much of the documented history of the family line had been lost.  However, there were records from the local Presbyterian parish of Glenholm, and we did have the family traditions that had been passed on through the generations as keys to help re-construct our history: 

We knew that we originated from at the Seton Palace, at Seton in Scotland; that our ancestor was a brother to Mary Seton who was the famed hand-maid to Queen Mary, and that the Royal Family was of blood relation; that our family had been instrumental in saving the life of Queen Mary and also of King James VI and I; we knew that we had served in the Royal Courts and helped raise King James' sons; that our ancestor had served in a Royal Court in Europe; that there was a Highland-connection and a connection to Fyvie Castle; that we were in line as heirs of a Title; that our  direct-ancestor was from a John Seton's line, who's descendant had settled in Ireland; that the family had owned an estate in Ireland and had lost it; that there was enmity between our family and that of the Forbes' as a result of a feud over our land in Ireland.

However, due to the challenges of sourcing information in Irish records there have been error's between two different John Seton's: one from the Barnes line and one from the Meldrum line which caused significant confusion in tracing the family information.   This has been corrected, and it should be noted by the Nova Scotian Seeton/Seaton family that we are in fact descended from the Seton's of Barnes line.

My 3rd great-grandfather, James Seton (also spelt both Seaton and Seeton), was born in Ulster, Ireland in 1776.  He married Martha Crawford (of the Moneylagan-Crawfords) in Donaghmore, Co. Donegal by the Rev'd Samuel Dill in 1808, and in 1822 left with his family from Belfast, Ireland and settled in Glenholm, Londonderry, Nova Scotia, Canada.  The family in Nova Scotia were highly respected, active in real estate acquisition and were prominent Mason's, Aldermen and public figures. They were also involved in various business ventures including: farming, grocery and Robert and Joseph Seeton's shipping business which held the contract for the overseas mail in the mid-to-late 19th century, as well as 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 (I), and their older brother, also James (2nd), acquired lands in various parts of Nova Scotia, finally settling in Meagher's Grant on what became known as the Seeton Farm.  The family farm there was passed to his son, also James (3rd), who had my grandfather Harold there in "The Grant".  Harold had, as his oldest son, Robert Seeton, my father, and I am Robert's oldest son.  I left Nova Scotia to live first in the capital, Ottawa, and then in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, before more recently relocating to North Carolina in the United States.  I am then, 6th generation in descent from James Seeton of Nova Scotia, where I was born in 1967.

I have three children, from my first marriage to Lorelee Mae Remus, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  We were married while living in Ottawa, Canada (marriage in Bethesda, Washington, D.C., Aug. 25 1990).  My only three children are Sarah Elizabeth Seton b.1993), James Alexander Seton (b.1994) and Natasha Mary Seton (b.1997).  Lorelee sadly passed away in Oct. 2000 and I subsequently married, 2nd in 2003 (later div, sp), and now have a common-law partner from 2008.



As a descendant of the House of Seton, I have a passion for preserving our family's history, which of course has resulted in this website and for which I put countless years into, beginning when I was 18 years of age. My life's work is both a combination of this, and of my career in telecommunications, and have traveled throughout the world in both career and personal pursuits; with a passion for Asia, and China in particular.  Urbanizm, Multiculturism, Formula 1 auto-sport and Ferrari, and Jazz and Blues music and culture are some of my interests.

Both of my parents have influenced me greatly: My father was a soldier in the Canadian Military, a Field Engineer with the Corps of Engineers, who after his departure from the Service took up carpentry and mastering a combination of many trades and disciplines; My mother was a senior Training and Policy Officer at National Defense and the Government of Canada and Human Resources Officer and Project Manager at the University of Ottawa, as well as various other entities. 

In my youth, they provided many opportunities and excursions for travel throughout the maritime region in my earliest years in Canada, later expanding to both eastern Canada and the north-eastern United States, before traveling to the far western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada with my father. On my own I began traveling to the northern and mid-western United States by the time I was in my late-teen years after my mother moved us from Nova Scotia to the Canadian capital in Ottawa, and in my early twenties I spent three years piping with the Regiment of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.  Following this period, I began travels into Europe in my 30's as well as into Asia.

In my professional activities, I am a Telecommunications Professional, having spent all of my career in that industry.  I started working in the Technology and Telecommunications field when I was 18 years old, where my first exposure working in technology was at a company called "Filtran", in Ottawa, Canada, manufacturing electronic components. 

Following my employment at Filtran, I received a contract-job working at Canadian Marconi in Ottawa, Ontario, assembling telecom circuit boards, and it was that job that changed my life. There I was able to learn the basics of fiber-optics, which skill later enabled me to work doing fiber-optics installations.  During my time at Marconi, I was introduced by a few friends to  a company "Elan", based out of Toronto, who had been contracted to build the data communications infrastructure for Stentor Canada, and which friends were able to hire me into a position there. After two years in projects rebuilding the Bell Canada and Stentor infrastructure, I became a Field Installations Supervisor.  I was acquired by Belnet Canada, who sought me out to work in the Ontario-Quebec corridor, and later in Halifax, Nova Scotia, performing large commercial data and voice communications installations throughout eastern Canada and Quebec, where I was a senior technology consultant and later promoted to Vice-President of Operations for Eastern Canada 1996-97.

After 1 year of service in Halifax, I moved my young family from there back up to Montreal in 1997, where I began working as a consultant for various companies as well as operating my own small communications business for two years, and where my youngest daughter was born.  In 1999, I took opportunity to join Frontier ConferTech in Montreal, the telecommunications and conferencing pioneer, as a 2nd level Global Field Technician and traveled extensively, having also worked to be the local Engineering Site Manager for the Montreal facility. I stayed on during the Frontier merger with Global Crossing, and was promoted to 3rd Level Engineering, working with both the Conferencing Division as well as with Transmission Engineering for the global fiber optics design and support group, since I had a background in that discipline.

Following the bankruptcy of Global Crossing, and with almost 20 years in Telecommunications and direct-telecom design, installation, support, and in management, I was offered to join SITA from Geneva, Switzerland (the Societe Internationale de la Telecommunications Aeronautique), in their newly forming Global Network Operations Centre which they were undertaking to build in Montreal, Canada, and as the first employee hired to be part of the new technical group there.  And, following a successful 5 years at SITA, I left to pursue a more entrepreneurial position at Superclick Networks, in the Hotel industry's wireless and HSIA service, managing their installations around the world, and was very successful in the Asian contracts. 

Leaving the hospitality industry and with a strong desire to return to the conferencing and growing video-communications technology, and a more modern and advanced communications direction, I joined the Norwegian communications pioneering company, TANDBERG, with the Video Communications Service and Support team in Montreal, which became part of CISCO Systems upon merger.  I now am part of the CISCO Telepresence Solutions Group.



For our ancestor then, he was Sir John Seton of Barnes, Lord Barnes and 1st Baron of Barnes, who was the 3rd son of George, 7th Lord Seton.  The lands of Barnes were long held by the Seton's, and the Barony of Barnes was erected by George Seton, 7th Lord Seton, for his third son, Sir John.  Sir John Seton of Barnes like his younger brother Chancellor Seton, had been educated both in Scotland, France and Italy, before himself proceeding to Spain.  There he served initially on Royal dispatches from his father's embassy in France, later as a diplomat in the Royal Court of King Philip II.

He was born in 1553, and has been described as a brave man, well travelled and well educated.  He was brought up at the court of King Philip II of Spain and rose to become a knight of the Kings personal bodyguard and master of his Household.  So distinguished was he that he was summoned home by King James VI & I to serve in his Royal Court.  He was given the office of Treasurer, as well as Master of the Horse, and Master of the Kings Household for life,

Sir John was a diplomat and was highly recommended by the Spanish Ambassador in France to the King of Spain.  He received a commission from Queen Mary Stuart to be Ambassador to the Spanish Royal Court, and in due course was made a Knight of the Order of St. James in Spain (St. Jago) and of that Kings personal bodyguard, a Gentleman of the Royal BedChamber and Master of the Kings Household under King Philip II of Spain.

Recalled home to Scotland by King James VI and I, who, "not wanting so noble a subject to be excluded from his court", was made Master of the Kings Horse, Master of the Kings Household for life (1586) like his illustrious father, Treasurer, and an Extraordinary Lord in the College of Justice and sat in Parliament as Lord Barnes (1588) in place of his brother Alexander Seton (at that time Lord Urquhart, later Lord Fyvie and 1st Earl of Dunfermline) who was promoted to President of the College, and was vice Prior of Pluscarden, and proprietor of Hailes Castle and that of Garleton Castle, while he waited for his Castle at Barnes to be built. 

He was named as heir male of his younger brother the later famed Chancellor Seton, following his own heirs male, which later made the Seton's of Barnes the heirs of the Lordships of Fyvie and Urquhart, and the Earldom of Dunfermline, although it was commonly known that he would have been himself raised to an Earldom but died unexpectedly in 1594. Later, from his descent, this branch assumed the title of the Earl of Dunfermline, forfeit, which claim is still maintained to this day.

It was Sir John who had begun the Spanish-styled castle of Barnes in East Lothian, which was never completed beyond the first level following his death, which remains still exist and are now commonly-known as the Barney Voults, or Vaults.  His castle, with it's symmetrical square design and courtyard was very unusual in it's time and very advanced, and it was designed as a grand country residence to be his principal seat when away from court, where he spent the majority of his time at the Royal court in Edinburgh and in-residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Sir John Seton was proprietor of most of the land around Aimsfield.  The farm of Amisfield Mains, formerly called Harperdean Mains was originally two farms.  The west part of it was called "The Barnes", and Amisfield Mains formed part of the estate of Seton's of the Barnes.  He died suddenly and unexpectedly, in 1594.

A branch of the Seton's of Barnes from his second son George, later became generally known as the Seton's of Hailes (or Haillis) after his 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 a noted scholar at Oxford and was frequently referred as George Seatton of Hallis, or Dr. Seaton, and who had obtained a Degree of M.A. granted by University of St. Andrews, Doctor of Theology, and was a fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge circa 1619-1629, noted in the "Memorabilia Cantabrigiae" where in he was recommended personally by King James VI and I.  Prior to his involvement with Hailes and Crichton, he was Vicar of Kingston-upon-Thames, and Rector of Bushey in Hertfordshire in Engand.

Sir John's 'natural' 3rd son, Hannibal Seton (also as Seaton), who was noted in the Will and Testament of Robert Seton, 1st Earl of Winton, was a Burgess in Haddinton and later engaged in the family's estate in Ireland at Moneylaggan.  He left descendants in Ireland as well as in Haddingtonshire, Scotland.

Sir John Seton, 2nd Baron of Barnes and heir of his father, was educated in France and Spain, and became a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and officer of the Court of King Charles I.  He was also a noted companion of the Marquis of Montrose, in 1646 for which he was fined heavily.

He acquired land in Ireland from Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, the estate of Monylagan (Mionylangain or Moneylagan), Clongish Parish, in Co. Longford before 1646 and is occassionally referred to as Sir John Seaton of Mionylangain, Longford, and was noted in the Funeral of Chancellor Seton in 1622. The Moneylagan estate was active in Linen production, giving the estate a worth of more the 500 pounds sterling a year, to which he added the lands of Shrule, also in Longford.

Some of the Seton-Seaton-Seeton descendants of Sir John Seton, 2nd Baron of Barnes and of Moneylagan, settled and maintained the estate in Ireland (such as Hannibal Seaton) before it passed out of the family in the mid-1700's through the actions of the Viscount of Granard, who was expanding his estate there.

He retired from active public life and resided peaceably in Haddington until his death in 1660.  His Will and Testament being dated in 1659.

George Seton, 3rd of Barnes succeeded his father and elder brother Alexander, and was placed in ownership of the lands of Barnes early in life.  He was a Justice of the Peace in Haddingtonshire in 1649 and 1663, he was appointed as a trial Judge to oversee the trials of witchcraft in Haddington along with William Seton the Provost of Haddinton and other local Lairds in 1649; and was active in the Cromwellian period in support of the securing of the Borders and in signing the Declaration of Union in 1652 along with his cousin, Sir George Seaton of Haillis. 

He was renewed as a Justice of the Peace in 1663, and noted in The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2013) in the Manuscripts of Charles II: Manuscript > 1663, 18 June, Edinburgh, Parliament > Parliamentary Register > At Edinburgh the nynth day of October 1663 > Legislation: [1663/6/144] -  Act for renewing justices of peace.

As a result of an agreement with his eldest son and heir, and responding to legal challenges to his estate from his half-sister, he bestowed the lands of Barnes onto his son.  He also pursued the Irish Estate of his father and was noted in legal proceedings and Court of Session records in Edinburgh, against Sir Arthur Forbes, (later 1st Viscount Granard), in 1683, where his half-sister Lady Bearford also sought to acquire rights to the estate, and which suit cost him most of his lands and estate's in Amisfield and Ireland as result. He also had long standing disputes with Sir John Seton of Garleton over rights to water on their adjoining estates of Barnes and Garleton, noted in Court of Session records (in 1676, 1677 and 1678).

After his assigning the Estate of Barnes to his son and heir Sir John Seton (4th of Barnes), also early in his life, he was then generally known as 'George Seaton' in Haddington' until his death in circa 1683.  His singular Will and Testament was dated in 1663.


Sir John Seton 4th of Barnes (d. 03.1659):  active in the affairs of his father, he succeeded but died a relatively young man shortly afterwards in Edinburgh, and was buried at his request, "with decency, but without pomp or great show", and interred in the place of his father's burial at Seton Collegiate Church.  He was however twice married: his son George from his first marriage succeeding him and his second son John Seton who settled in Ireland and from whom descend the Seaton/Seeton's of Nova Scotia; and from his second marriage to Lady Margaret Hay, the daughter of 9th Earl of Erroll and sister to Lady Ann Hay who married George Seton, 3rd Earl of Winton, he had a son Henry Seton (also as Seaton), who was noted in his mother's challenge against the heir of Barnes, George Seton 5th of Barnes.  Henry Seton fled after resistance to William of Orange and settled into Virginia in the colonies and who's descendants include the noted William Winston Seaton in Washington.

Sir George Seton, 5th of Barnes, succeeded his grandfather in 169.  He later Proclaimed the Pretender in 1715, and was the acknowledged heir of the Earldom of Dunfermine.  He likewise claimed the Lordship of Urquhart, including the Abbott's House in Elgin, before selling the Lordship to the Gordon's. Although he sold the lands of Barnes, he resided peacefully in his latter years at the family's small estate of St. Laurence House in Haddington until his death circa 1737.  He was succeeded by his eldest son, James Seton (later Vice Admiral and Governor of St. Vincent), and his second son John was also engaged with his brother in the Carribean.


The Seton's of Barnes not only have descendants in both England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as into the America's, but are also cousin's of the Seton's of Parbroath in New York through intermarriage, and cousin's of the famed Governor of Gibraltar,  General Sir George Don. The Senior representative in the late 1700's and early 1800's was James Seton, Governor of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, then to his son Lieutenant Colonel James Seton, and then his son, Captain James Alexander Seton who was killed in the last duel fought in England in 1845, leaving an only child, Marion Frances Seton who's female line is that of the Seton-Browne.

Other male-line Seton's of Barnes include that from Andrew Seton of New York and Fernandina, Florida and who's son Charles Seton was noted in the branch of the family there.  He was thought to be senior male of the Barnes line after Governor Seton's line, and which was not correct, and they are thought to be descended from a younger son of George Seton, 3rd or Barnes.  Both Andrew and his son Charles petitioned for the Honours to the Earldom of Dunfermline, which was declined at the time, and they recorded arms in the Lyon Register.  Charles had a Charter of his lands from the King of Spain, and following Florida's acquisition by the United States, re-claimed his lands as a grant.  Although later challenges reduced that 'Plantation', his only surviving son and heir Captain George Sibbald Seton had various petitions seeking to recover ownership.  George settled for a time in New Orleans, and later near Washington.  He had a daughter and an only son, Charles Fraser Seton, however any further descent is as of yet, unknown.

The Seeton's in Ireland and Nova Scotia then, descend from the younger son of Sir John Seton, 4th of Barnes, John Seton (or Seaton, called 'younger of Barnes') and who married m. Anna Lothian (married by the Dean, Mr. William Annand on 30th May, 1684 in Edinburgh) and who settled in Ireland.  Their grandson, Thomas Seaton is the ancestor. The Barnes line having long held an interest and lands, in Ireland, and who were likewise long-active Mason's, it is of no surprise then that our family that had settled in Ireland and continued the Masonic traditions there, brought them to Nova Scotia.

James Seton (Seaton-Seeton), of Ulster, Ireland and later 1st of Nova Scotia, was descended from Thomas Seaton and was born in the Scottish plantation of Ulster in 1776.  He married Martha Crawford (of the Moneylagan-Crawfords) in Donaghmore, Co. Donegal by the Rev'd Samuel Dill in 1808, and in 1822 left with his family from Belfast, Ireland and settled in Glenholm, Londonderry, Nova Scotia, Canada.  They had five son's, and his eldest son and heir-of-line was Andrew Seeton (which continues), followed by James, John-William, Joseph and Robert Barry Seeton (although there are noted a possible three other sons, William, John and George).

The family in Nova Scotia became highly respected, active in real estate acquisitions and were prominent Mason's, Aldermen and public figures. They were also involved in various business ventures including: farming, grocery and Robert and Joseph Seeton's shipping business which held the contract for the overseas mail in the mid-to-late 19th century, as well as The Old Public House in downtown Halifax, which miraculously survived the Halifax Explosion during World War I.

James (2nd), acquired lands in various parts of Nova Scotia, finally settling in Meagher's Grant on what became known as the Seeton Farm.  The family farm there was passed to his youngest son from his second marriage, also James (3rd), who had my grandfather Harold there in "The Grant".  Harold had, as his oldest son, Robert Seeton, my father, along with three other son's Edward, Charles and Timothy and one daughter Mary; and I am Robert's oldest son.  I am then, 6th generation in descent from James Seeton of Nova Scotia, where I myself was born in 1967.


The Arms of the Seton's of Barnes.
Arms of the Seton's of Barnes and Nova Scotia © The Seton Family 2011

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