Annis Boudinot married Richard Stockton, a future signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1762. He was a "prominent young lawyer", and she was a "woman of far more than ordinary intellectual ability and of a high character and patriotic spirit that made her a fitting companion…."
Annis descended from French Huguenot lines, and her family came to America about 1686. Her father was Elias Boudinot, a silversmith in Princeton. Her brother, Elias, "studied law in the office of Richard Stockton and married his sister, Hannah Stockton.
Richard owned a large estate inherited from his father and had a successful law business at the time of his marriage. Annis apparently "added materially" to his estate when he married her and took her home to "Morven," a beautiful Colonial home near Princeton. "Morven" had a reputation for being a hospitable gathering place for many of the intellectuals of the day.
Richard and Annis became parents of two sons and four daughters. One of their daughters, Julia, married Dr. Benjamin Rush, another signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The Stockton family was living at "Morven" when Richard was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress. While he was in Baltimore, the British, under the direction of Cornwallis, invaded Princeton in 1776. Annis hid quite a few important state papers and the rolls and records of the American Whig Society of Princeton College. For this act of courage she was adopted as a member of the Society.
Richard hurried home to move his family about thirty miles to safety, and then he returned to Princeton to spend the night with a friend. While the two friends were sleeping, a group of Tories took the two half-naked men to prison. Richard was first taken to Amboy and then moved to New York City. He was deprived of many comforts and even went without some necessities of life. He was deprived of food for twenty-four hours and then given food that was coarse and far from enough.
When Annis learned of Richard's situation, she contacted Congress. General Howe was told that British prisoners would be retaliated against if Mr. Stockton did not receive better treatment. Even though he received better treatment, his health had already been damaged by the abusive treatment.
"The British plundered his beautiful home, burned his splendid library and papers, and drove off his stock, much of which was blooded and highly valuable." The "devastation of his estate" and the "depreciation in value of the Continental currency" caused an embarrassed Stockton to apply for temporary assistance from his friends. He became so depressed about his situation that he died prematurely in 1781 at age 50.
Annis, three years younger than Richard, stayed at "Morven" until her son, Richard, married and inherited the estate. She and her youngest daughter, Abigail, moved to another residence in Princeton. Annis was "well known throughout the Revolution for her patriotic verse."
Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence.
Reviews of The Doctors Guide Series
5 hours ago