The Seton Family



Later Motto of the Seton's of Barnes


James Seton, Representative of Barnes, Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy and Governor of the Island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

James Seton was the famed Governor of the Island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the West Indies (or Caribbean), and who had a brilliant military career.  He is most noted for his Governorship and defense of the island of St. Vincent and those of the Grenadines in the Caribbean, during the French seige and Caribs revolt after the treaty of Versailles.

His father, Sir George Seton of Barnes, assumed the title of Earl of Dunfermline after the death of James Seton, 4th Earl in France in 1694, was famed during the '15 Rebellion for having "Proclaimed" the pretender, King James upon his arrival at Kelso. James' great-great-grandfather was Sir George Seton 3rd Baron of Barnes, Kt., was a Justice of the Peace in Haddingtonshire in 1663, and who was succeeded by his grandson, George, 5th of Barnes and father of Governor Seton.

In 1773, in recognition of his right as heir-male, James Seton presented a petition to King George III to be allowed the title, rank, and privileges of the Earldom of Dunfermline.  The claim was accepted, and the Arms granted, however, it was not further acted upon due to the want of funds.  In the words of Archbishop Robert Seton of Parbroath, where “it took two English fortunes to prosecute a peerage case before the House of Lords.”

In the records of the National Archives in the UK, there includes in the Coventry Family Papers:

James Seton, Representative of Barnes, Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy and Governor of the Island of St. VincentA bundle of genealogical notes and copy documents about the Seton family of Barnes, which includes a petition by then Lt. Col. James Seton requesting that the title of Earl of Dunfermline be conferred upon him, 1773; and notes about the pedigree and descent of the family from c. 1600. The Seton family papers listed here found their way into this collection because of the connection by marriage of the two families in 1842.

In a letter addressed to Governor James Seton from a number of residents of the Island dated 7 May 1798, they thank Seton for his actions on 8 May 1795, especially his reaction to the enemy capture of Dorsetshire Hill. They also commend Seton on the corps of 'Rangers' he established to deal with the insurrection of May 1795 which defended the island until reinforcements arrived from England.

Copy of minutes of a meeting of His Majesty's Privy Council of St. Vincent, 5 Mar 1795, attended by James Seton Esq, Governor in Chief of the Island, include a copy of a letter dated 4 Mar with news of an imminent attack on the Island of Granada and asking for supplies of gunpowder, and the response of the meeting to this. They order an alarm to be sounded and troops dispatched to all parts of the Island. Minutes also include a copy declaration by the Council ordering French inhabitants of the Grenadine Islands to 'remain at home during the continuence of the present alarm. Their conduct and behaviour will be watchfully observed, and in case of any appearance of disaffection on the part of any individual amongst them, they will be subjected to the utmost rigour of Martial Law'.

Also included in the Coventry Papers: Letter to Ensign James Seton of the 80th Regiment at Portsmouth from his mother Susan Seton at Moor Park, 7 Apr 1791, asks James to write with his news. Expects his departure to America at any moment to join Colonel Campbell. Gives James guidelines as to how he should behave; to be 'punctual', 'polite and civil to all', 'where you meet with kindness return it with gratitude', to take the advice of Colonel Dundass and to be 'a slave' to Sir William Erskine. She also wants him to take care of the cold and to mind the heat in America

The Vice Admiral had by his wife, Susan Moray, a great beauty in her day and daughter of James Moray of Abercairney, in the County of Perth, and of Lady Christian Montgomerie, daughter of the ninth Earl of Eglinton; with other children, a son and heir James Seton II,  who was a Captain in St. Vincent and later a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army. The Governor of St. Vincent later resided at his Estate of Brookheath House, Hants, and died in London at an advanced age, very much respected.General Sir George Don. Governor of Gilbraltar.

James Seton II was the heir of the Governor and was bred to the military, and likewise had a brilliant career.  He became Brigade Major, and then later a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, and married Margaret Findlater, only daughter of the Rev. John Findlater, and had among other children: his only son and heir, Captain James Alexander Seton who was killed in a duel leaving an only daughter; two daughters Francis and Eglinton; and Catherine, born 23rd May, 1818 who's line became the Seton-Coventry's.  Colonel James Seton died at Brookheath, Hants, in 1831.  His Will and codicils of BrookHeath, Hants near Fordingbridge, was proved 20 July 1831 by his wife Margaret.

Catherine Seton married John Coventry, Esq. of Burgate House, Hants, formerly Rector of Tywardteath and great-grandson of the Earl of Coventry.  One of their sons, Bernard Seton Coventry, born in 1887, founded the Seton-Coventry line and who's grandson John James Seton Coventry is the last male of the Vice Admiral's line. 

Sir George Seton of Barnes, the titular of Earl of Dunfermline had seven children, and his daughter Anne Seton married Jon Don and were the parents of General Sir George Don, the noted longest serving Governor of Gilbraltar (pictured on the right), nephew of the Governor, Vice Admiral James Seton.




Arms of Vice Admiral James Seton Rep. Earl of Dunfermline © The Seton Family 2011

The Seton Portraits
more >
The Seton Archives
more >
Historic Scotland
The National Trust for Scotland
National Museums of Scotland
Text Only News Media Centre How Do I...? Freedom of Information Children Recruitment Francais Gàidhlig
Contact us Search Site map Links Subscribe Copyright About this site


Arms of George, 7th Lord Seton.
  Seton's of Barnes
   Barnes Descent
   History of St. Vincent
   The Caribs War
   St. Vincent Website
   Seton's of Barnes
    Barnes History
    Barnes Line
   Seeton of Nova Scotia
    NS Lineage