I’ve managed to get hold of a copy of Edward William Seager: Pioneer of Mental Health by his grand-daughter, Madeleine Seager. The opening page provides some useful information about the Seagers, which is worth quoting at length:
Edward William Seager…was born in London on 8 May 1828. He was the youngest of the eight children of Samuel Hurst Seager and his wife Fanny. Of their early life in England we know little. Records say Samuel Hurst Seager was a porter at the Inner Temple, London. Also that he was deprived of any family fortune by the economic disturbances following the emancipation of slaves in the West Indies where the family owned considerable property. Among the Seagers there was an affluent and unencumbered uncle, to whom Samuel Hurst Seager was heir. The uncle took his impoverished nephew to Scotland to see the estate he would inherit. On the return journey the uncle died intestate in the family chaise. ‘His fortune was thrown into Chancery, and my great-grandfather (Samuel Hurst Seager) upon the world’.
Through influential friends Samuel Hurst Seager was given a position in the Inner Temple, London, and is buried near Oliver Goldsmith in the Temple churchyard. We understand Edward William Seager went to the choir school there, and owes to it his education and musical training. We do know he worked as a clerk for a Barrister-at-Law at the Temple.
The family fortunes were never recovered. Seager’s tales of money lost in Chancery were treated as dramatic exaggerations by his sons and daughters. Yet, upon his death in Christchurch, letters between Samuel Hurst Seager and a firm of London solicitors were found. There was reference to ancient lineage, estates in Scotland, a death in a family chaise, and monies in Chancery. ‘The sums were shatteringly large.’
Samuel Hurst Seager died at 7 Crown Court, in the district of St. Clement Dane, London, on 25 November 1837, aged 59, Edward Seager being then 9 years old.
Presumably the family moved from 7 Crown Court, as Fanny Seager, Edward’s mother, died at 47 Gerrard Street, Soho, on 4 May 1851, aged 70.
Crown Court was one of the many narrow streets and alleys running between the law courts and the Strand, and was close to Hemlock Court, where the 1841 census finds ‘Fanny Rob’ and ‘Fanny Seager’ (see this post). We know from 1851 census records that the Seagers were in Gerrard Street by this date (though the census gives the address as No. 46, not 47). The census was taken on 30 March and records Fanny senior as still alive at this date.
There are some photographs of Edward Seager and his family in the book which I’ll try to scan and include here at some point.