Lazarus Seaman d.1675

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Lazarus SEAMAN d.1675

Biographical Note

Born in Leicester, to a poor family. BA Emmanuel College, Cambridge 1628, MA 1631. Lecturer at St Martin Ludgate, London 1634, at All Hallows Bread Street by 1638. Appointed minister at All Hallows 1643, and to sit in the Westminster Assembly of Divines; made Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge (to replace the ejected John Cosin) 1644. Seaman was a leading member of the puritan clergy in London during the 1640s and 50s, involved with government activity; he became President of Sion College, 1652, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University 1653-54. Ejected from Peterhouse 1660, and from All Hallows 1662; he spent much of the latter part of his life at Hammersmith, where he was licensed as a Presbyterian minister in 1672. He subsequently built a chapel in Holborn. He published a number of sermons and theological tracts.


Seaman accumulated a sizeable library which is well known as having been the first collection to be sold in England by public auction. His will is largely concerned with the arrangements for its disposal; the library was assigned to four trustees (including the London booksellers Edward Brewster and William Cooper, the latter a relation of Seaman’s) who were directed to sell it and use the proceeds to discharge his debts before dividing the remainder for the benefit of his family. His manuscripts were to be perused by a number of puritan ministers, to decide whether any should be printed (if so, they were to be delivered to Brewster and Cooper). All the rest of his estate (not described in any detail) was to pass to his daughter Elizabeth.

The sale catalogue, with 5610 lots, is larger and more carefully subdivided than most late 17th-century auction catalogues. It is dominated by theologically-related material in Latin, English, Greek and oriental languages (roughly 80% of the whole, including Latin theology 1780 lots, English theology 752, Biblical commentary in Latin or English 770, Patristics 408, books on the Socinian controversy 80, oriental/Hebrew/rabbinical books 600). Latin and English miscellaneous works, including history, classics, law, medicine and mathematics comprised 1119 lots. Examples: Cambridge University Library I.11.58(2); Marsh’s Library, Dublin F.2.3.46, F.2.7.34; Bloomsbury Auctions 20.3.2014/278.