David Selden was born in Chatham, Connecticut, June 4, 1785, the son of the Congregational minister of Middle Haddam Church, David Selden (1761-1825), and his wife, Cynthia May (1761-1850). Selden sailed to Liverpool, England, in 1811, in order to make his fortune in the international mercantile trade. During the War of 1812, he was a prisoner on parole, and in 1818, he filed for bankruptcy. Afterwards, he returned briefly to the United States, where he married Gertrude Richards in 1820. The pair had 11 children. In 1822, he returned to England and with his business partner, William Hynde, became an important cotton importer. He also traded coffee, and in 1831, received a patent for a coffee-grinding mill. He died February 23, 1861.