Catalogue description Family correspondence, printed pamphlets and articles, photographs and printed pedigrees, concerning the Seebohm family, of Hitchin, and their relatives, 1786-1951

This record is held by Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Details of DE/So
Reference: DE/So
Title: Family correspondence, printed pamphlets and articles, photographs and printed pedigrees, concerning the Seebohm family, of Hitchin, and their relatives, 1786-1951
Date: 1786-1951
Related material:

See also DE/Se for other earlier papers.


See V Glendinning, A Supressed Cry (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1969)

Held by: Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Seebohm family of Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Physical description: 4 series
Immediate source of acquisition:

[Accession 1977]


Deposited 11 March 1983

  • Seebohm, Benjamin, b 1798, fl 1814-1833
  • Seebohm, Frederic, 1833-1912Exton family of Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Administrative / biographical background:

Benjamin Seebohm, an evangelical Quaker, left Germany in 1814 and settled in Bradford. He married Esther Wheeler of Hitchin in 1831 and they had four children, Henry (born 1832) who became a distinguished ornithologist, Julia, Benjamin and Frederic (born 1833). The records listed here concern Frederic Seebohm and his family.


Frederic Seebohm married Mary Ann Exton in 1857 and became a junior partner in the Hitchin Bank, Sharples and Company, although he had trained as a lawyer, after having been educated at York school. Mary Ann's father was a senior partner in the Bank. This gave Frederic a chance to exercise his ability as an historian and by his death in 1912 he had written a number of books including, The English Village Community (1883) which investigated early systems of land tenure, work on Sir Thomas More and Erasmus and a text book entitled The Era of the Protestant Revolution. Many of his working notes and correspondence about his work are to be found in this deposit.


Frederic and Mary Ann had six children, Juliet (born 1859), Esther (1861-1951), Wilhemina (1863-1885), Freda (1865-1936), Hugh (1867-1946) and Hilda (1870-1931). Wilhelmina, known as Winnie died in 1885 after having spent a few weeks at Newnham College, Cambridge. She suffered from asthma and died in December 1885 at Fairfield, William Ransom's home from a severe attack. After her death her family borrowed as many of her letters as they could and copied extracts from them. These extracts can be found in DE/So/C1-4. Freda became mentally ill and had to be confined in an institution where she died in 1936. Juliet Seebohm married Rickman J Godlee in 1891, who later became surgeon-in-ordinary to the Royal Family and President of the Royal College of Surgeons. He eventually became Sir R J Godlee. He was nephew to Lord Lister of whom he wrote a biography. Esther and Hilda remained single. Esther was the family "curator" and kept the family papers in order. Hugh married Leslie Gribble in 1903 and they had four children, Derrick, Frederic, George and Fidelity. Leslie died in 1913 in childbirth and Hugh remarried in 1933, this time to Mrs Marjorie Lyall.


All the Seebohms were public-spirited. Frederic was engaged in a number of worthy causes and had asked leave to be excused from the Bank to stand for Parliament. However, the other partners in the Bank maintained that he could not be spared. Freda, Esther and Hilda were all governors of the Hitchin Schools and Hugh was a Governor of the Grammar School in Hitchin and a member of the Hertfordshire Education Committee. Hugh followed his father into the Bank which became a part of Barclays in 1896 and became vice-chairman and deputy chairman of Barclays Bank.


Mary Ann Seebohm's sister married Joseph Gurney Barclay and the Seebohms were also related to the Ransom family. The Tuke family lived opposite the Seebohm family home in Hitchin and the Tukes and the Seebohms were very close friends. The Seebohms were also related to the Rowntree family of York.


The family house, the Hermitage, in Hitchin was sold in 1918 and Esther and Hilda moved to Fairfield, William Ransom's old home. Fairfield, now known as Little Benslow Hills is the home of the Benslow Music Trust

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