Monday, March 14, 2016

William Russell Sever (1791-1887) Obituary in Boston Post Newspaper

I recalled that Findmypast had added the NewspaperARCHIVE collection recently, and knew that several of my distant Seaver and Sever cousins had obituaries written about them that might be in the collection.

One of those persons was William Russell Sever (1791-1887) of Plymouth, Massachusetts.  I searched in Findmypast for him and had 14 matches:

The first match on the list is from the Boston Post newspaper dated Monday, 3 October 1887;  there are thirteen other articles from newspapers all over the United States.

Here is the screen with the page at maximum resolution on Findmypast:

I couldn't read it clearly, so I downloaded the page, then opened my photo program and was able to magnify the image more.

Here is a screen shot from the photo program of the obituary in the far right column:

The obituary transcription is:


     William Russell Sever, the oldest graduate
of Harvard College and the oldest male resi-
dent of Plymouth, died yesterday morning,
 aged 96 years.  He was born in Kingston,
Mass., May 30, 1791.  His father was John
Sever and his grandfather William Sever, judge
of probate.  His father, grandfather and great-
grandfather were all graduates of Harvard.
William R. was fitted for college by the Rev.
John Allyn, entered Harvard in 1808 and
graduated in 1811, in the class with Ed-
ward Everett, the Rev. Nathaniel Lang-
don Frothingham, pastor of the First
Church, Boston, the Rev. Samuel
C. Gilman, the distinguished Unitarian
divine of Charleston, S.C., Dr. Edward Rey-
nolds, John C. Gray, Harrison Gray Otis, Jr.,
Judge Ebenezer Lane, Judge Benjamin F.
Dunkin, Dr. William Perry of Exeter, N.H.,
Charles P. Curtis, William Powell Mason and
Professor John White Webster, who murdered
Dr. Parkman.  None of this class survive, Dr.
Perry having died during the past year.  Leav-
ing college Mr. Sever studied law with Judge
Joshua Thomas and was admitted to the bar
in 1814, but never was in active practice.  He 
became a resident of Plymouth in 1834, and
was treasurer of Plymouth county from 1836
to 1876.  He never married.  His funeral
will be held at his late residence Wednesday
at 11 o'clock.

The source citation for this record is:

"William Russell Sever," The Boston [Mass.] Post, Monday, 3 October 1887, Page 1, Column 7, William Russell Sever obituary; digital image, Findmypast ( : accessed 14 March 2016), U.S. and World Newspapers collection, accessing NewspaperARCHIVE (

I can now add this obituary transcription to the Obituary Note in my RootsMagic 7 database.

William Russell Sever (1791-1887) was the son of John and Nancy (Russell) Sever of Plymouth, and is my 4th cousin 6 times removed.


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1 comment:

Elizabeth Handler said...

I love that the Harvard men (and the media of the day) always knew who was their oldest living graduate (OLG).

I have a second great-grandfather who, when he died at 91, was the OLG of Harvard. See Sunday's Obituary ~ Samuel Sewall Greeley 1916 .