Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Revolutionary War Women


Mary Buckman Brown
The wife of Francis Brown is one of the unsung heroines of the Revolutionary War. She was born in 1740, and died in Lexington in 1804. The only biography of her merely states that she was "small in stature, quiet and retiring; of great refinement and of considerable culture." But the descendants of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Brown are many and they have always been prominent or representative citizens in that part of New England. Her husband traced his descent bade to earliest Colonial ancestry in the persons of "John Brown and Dorothy his wife," who came to the New World in 1630. The knowledge of the Lexington Minute Men is such as to show that Francis Brown was a man of great decision of character, and well fitted by nature and training to meet the impending crises of that time. In letters treasured by his descendants we find the highest tribute to the true courage of his wife, and of her heroic conduct, when during the war her house was attacked, and after a hasty concealment of her household treasures, she was obliged to retreat to the woods and care for her children there for several days.

Elizabeth Clay
Elizabeth Clay, the mother of Henry Clay, was born in the county of Hanover, in Virginia, in 1750. Her early education was such as was attainable at that period in the colony. She was the younger of two daughters who were the only children of George and Elizabeth Hudson, and before she was fifteen years old she had married John Clay, a preacher of the Baptist denomination. She became the mother of eight children and Henry Clay was among the elder of these. Her husband died during the Revolution, and some years after Mrs. Clay contracted a second marriage with Mr. Henry Watkins, and in course of time eight more children were added to her family. The cares devolving upon her in the charge of so many children and the superintendence of domestic concerns naturally occupied her time to the exclusion of any participation in matters of public interest. She must, however, have borne her share in the agitations and dangers of the time, in behalf of those who claimed her maternal solicitude and guidance. She died in 1827, having survived most of her children.

Mrs. Richard Cranch
Mary Smithy the elder sister of Abigail Adams, was married in 1762 Richard Cranch, afterwards Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Massachusetts. In 1775 the family moved from Boston to Quincy, then a part of Braintree, where they continued to reside till 1811. In October of that year both Mr. and Mrs. Cranch died and were buried on the same day. Mrs. Cranch is remembered for the work she accomplished in collecting supplies and clothing for the ragged army in the Revolution. Judge William Cranch was her son.

Sabrina Elliott
In times of national stress a turn of wit has often done more to strengthen the spirit of a cause than a deed of spectacular resistance. The following anecdote of Sabrina Elliott's wit illustrates the point. Living a widow, and unprotected, her home was raided by the enemy's soldiers, and the British officer in command personally supervised the plundering of her poultry houses. Afterward, in surveying the wreck, she observed straying about the premises an old Muscovy drake winch had escaped the general search. She immediately had him caught, and mounting a servant on horseback, ordered him to follow and deliver the bird to the officer, with her compliments and to express her grief that in the hurry of departure he had left such an important acquisition behind.

This story, laughed over by grim camp fires, did more to hearten the discouraged American soldiers than hysterical resistance to the enemy on the woman's part could possibly have done.

Elizabeth Peabody
Elizabeth Smith, better known as Mrs. Stephen Peabody, was the sister of Abigail Adams, and was also remarkable in character and influence. She was born in 1750 and married the Reverend John Shaw, of Haverhill. Her second husband was the Reverend Stephen Peabody, at Atkinson. Like her distinguished sister, she possessed superior powers of conversation, combined with a fine person and polished and courtly manners. Her house at Haverhill was the center of an elegant little circle of society for many years after the Revolution, and the most cultivated and learned from Boston and its vicinity gathered there.

Her correspondence shows her to have been an ardent patriot and advocate for her country. "Lost to virtue, lost to humanity must that person be," she writes to her brother-in-law, John Adams, "who can view without emotion the complicated distress of this injured land. Evil tidings molest our habitations and wound our peace. Oh, my brother "Oppression is enough to make a wise people mad."

Mrs. Peabody's very useful life terminated at the age of sixty-three.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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