Seatonian Prize

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The Seatonian Prize is awarded by the University of Cambridge for the best English poem on a sacred subject, and is open to any Master of Arts of the university. Seaton, and his prize, is referred to in the poem of George Gordon, Lord Byron 'English Bards and Scots Reviewers' 1809.


It was founded by the Rev. Thomas Seaton, educated at Stamford School and a Fellow of Clare College, who died in 1741. The prize was financed by the revenue from his Kislingbury estate bequeathed to the University. The bequest was not formally accepted by the University and no regulations drawn up for the Seatonian Prize until 1898. It has been awarded annually since 1750.


The winner in the first three years was Christopher Smart. 'On the Omniscience of the Supreme Being (Cambridge, 1752) was his prize-winning ‘poetical essay’ of that year. Smart won much credit by his success. In 1754 his fellowship was extended on condition that he continued to write for the prize. In 1759 the prize was won by Beilby Porteus for his poem on 'Death', for which he is still remembered.

In 1797 and 1798 and 1799 the prize was won by William Bolland.[1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Musae Seatonianae : A complete collection of the Cambridge prize poems, from the first institution of that premium by the Rev. Mr. Tho. Seaton, in 1750, to the present time. To which are added two poems, likewise written for the prize, Mr. [G.] Bally and Mr [J.] Scott. 1772. p. 334p. Reprinted in 1808 as two 2 volumes. Cambridge, J.Deighton.
  1. ^  Courtney, William Prideaux (1886). "Bolland, William". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 323.