William Seward (1702-1740) was the fourth of seven sons of John and Mary Seward, who moved to Badsey in the late 17th century. The Sewards were a wealthy family, interested in estate management, and the house that the family lived in for around a hundred years, still bears the name Seward House today. William Seward was closely involved with the early Methodist movement.
Terry Sparrow, in his book, A Brief History of Badsey and Aldington, has the following to say about William Seward:
'Born at Badsey in 1702, William went to London as a young man and there he acquired considerable wealth as a successful business-man; he also enjoyed a reputation as a generous benefactor of the poor. In 1738, William met the Reverend Charles Wesley and soon became closely involved with the evangelistic campaigns of the early Methodists. One of the group, George Whitefield, wrote in his diary in April 1739, "went to Badsey and preached in Mr Seward’s brother’s yard". In all, Whitefield preached at Badsey on three consecutive days, on the third occasion to "a weeping audience".
In 1740, following his return from a trip to America, William Seward commenced open-air preaching on his own account. He encountered hostile crowds in South Wales and then at Hay-on-Wye in October he was heavily stoned by a particularly aggressive mob and a few days later died from his wounds, thus becoming the first Methodist martyr. He is buried near Hay, in the village churchyard at Cusop.'