Julia Stockton was born March 2, 1759, at home on her family's estate, "Morven." She was the oldest daughter of her father Richard Stockton - a famous patriot from New Jersey as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence - and her gifted mother Annis Boudinot Stockton. She was well educated for a woman of her day, and she had numerous opportunities to associate with the many "cultivated" people who visited her family home.
Julia married Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia on January 11, 1776. Dr. Rush was "already one of the prominent medical practitioners of his day, a writer of acknowledged ability on medical subjects, and a public-spirited citizen, held in high esteem by his fellow townsmen." He later became a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Dr. Rush paid the following tribute to Julia when he wrote his memoirs: "Let me here bear testimony to the worth of this excellent woman. She fulfilled every duty as a wife, mother, and mistress with fidelity and integrity. To me she was always a sincere and honest friend; had I yielded to her advice upon many occasions, I should have known less distress from various causes in my journey through life. … May God reward and bless her with an easy and peaceful old age if she should survive me, and after death confer upon her immediate and eternal happiness!"
After studying a great deal about Julia, a great-grandson said, "I am afraid our forebears did not keep with accuracy the deeds of noble women in the days that truly tried the souls of both men and women. … She is spoken of everywhere as a devoted wife and mother and of her urging her husband to take more care of himself during the terrible yellow-fever scourge of 1793, in Philadelphia, when, much against her wishes, she remained out of town with her children, yet by daily letters encouraged Dr. Rush in his great work for humanity."
Julia and Benjamin Rush were the parents of thirteen children: John, Anne, Emily, Richard, Susannah, Elizabeth, Mary, James, William, Benjamin, a second Benjamin, Julia, Samuel, and a second William. Four children died in their infancy: Susannah, Elizabeth, the first Benjamin, and the first William.
Mrs. Rush lived about thirty-five years after the death of her husband. She died at age 89 at "Sydenham," their country seat but later part of Philadelphia, on July 7, 1848. She "was buried in the grave of her husband in Christ Church burying ground in Philadelphia."
Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, 169-174.
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