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Codee Scott
Francis W. Seabury
Francis William Seabury (1868–1946), attorney and state legislator, served as the thirty-eighth speaker of the Texas House of Representatives from 1905 to 1907. Courtesy Legislative Reference Library of Texas and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

SEABURY, FRANCIS WILLIAM (1868–1946). Francis William Seabury, considered by many to be “the finest parliamentarian in the house,” lawyer, state representative of Starr County, and thirty-eighth speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, was born on May 10, 1868, in Norfolk, Virginia. Seabury was one of five children of William H. and Martha Maria (Hicks) Seabury. Seabury attended Norfolk Academy and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1888.

Upon graduation Seabury worked in Leesburg, Virginia, as a private tutor and as a teacher in Culpepper, Virginia. He moved to Brownsville, Texas, in 1890 and studied law under James D. Wells. The next year he was admitted to the State Bar of Texas and practiced law in Brownsville for four more years. He served as city attorney in Brownsville by 1894. In 1895 Seabury moved to Rio Grande City and opened the law firm of Monroe & Seabury, which was involved in almost every major law case from that portion of the state. While in Rio Grande City, Seabury served as county attorney for Starr County and as a member of the county board of school examiners.

Seabury was nominated by the Democratic party in 1894 to represent District 85 (consisting of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Zapata counties) in the Texas House of Representatives. Upon his election Seabury joined the Twenty-fourth Texas Legislature. Seabury served in the Texas House of Representatives continuously from 1895 to 1899 and again from 1901 to 1907. During his service, he was a member of a number of committees, including the Rules Committee, Judiciary No. 1 Committee, Judicial Districts Committee, and others. Seabury served as chairman of the Mining and Minerals Committee during the regular session of the Twenty-fifth Texas Legislature. Between 1899 and 1901 he served as county attorney for Starr County. 

In 1905 he ran unopposed for speaker of the Texas House at the regular session of the Twenty-ninth Legislature and was elected unanimously. Seabury’s term as speaker of the House focused on Texas banking. In 1904 a constitutional amendment was approved, allowing the state of Texas to charter banks. Following this amendment, the issue of banking regulation dominated Seabury’s two-year term.

Once his term as speaker of the House concluded, Seabury ended his legislative career and returned to serve as county attorney in Starr County. In 1909 he moved back to Brownsville and served at a private law practice until his retirement in 1945.

On September 25, 1901, Seabury married Margaret Cater in Austin. They had four children. Seabury learned Spanish during his years in Brownsville and often published political articles written in Spanish. He served on the Board of Texas Legal Examiners from 1911 to 1915. He was a member of the Episcopal Church. While visiting the Houston area, Seabury died from myocarditis caused by a cerebral hemorrhage on February 6, 1946, at Keightly Hospital in Almeda, Texas. He was buried at the Buena Vista Burial Park in Brownsville. 


Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Francis William Seabury (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=3298&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=seabury~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed March 7, 2016. E. H. Loughery, Texas State Government (Austin: McLeod and Jackson, 1897). Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 1846–2006 (Austin: Texas Legislative Council, 2006). Francis William Seabury Papers, 1714–1946, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Codee Scott, "SEABURY, FRANCIS WILLIAM," accessed July 11, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fseab.

Uploaded on June 16, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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