Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Mrs. McKean

Mary Borden, eldest daughter of Thomas Borden of Bordentown, New Jersey, married Thomas McKean, future signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1763. Mr. Borden was described as being "a wealthy and public-spirited citizen." He became very active during the Revolutionary War in the patriot cause of liberty. I found it very interesting that both of his daughters, Mary and Ann, married men who later signed the Declaration of Independence. Ann, the younger daughter, married Francis Hopkinson.

Thomas McKean came from a well-to-do, Irish-American family. His parents settled in Chester County, and he attended the "celebrated school of Rev. Francis Allison of Philadelphia." He later studied law in the office of David Finney, "a prominent attorney of Newcastle, Delaware," and was appointed deputy prothonotary and register of the probate court of Newcastle County before he turn 20 years old. There apparently was no one who exceeded McKean's sense of duty to public service for more than sixty years - early 1750's to 1817 when he died. During that period of time he held at least one "high official" position and sometimes more in either Pennsylvania or Delaware. "In 1777, for instance, he represented Delaware in the Continental Congress, was chief justice of Pennsylvania, and president of Congress. The chief justiceship he held for twenty-two years, after which he was governor of Pennsylvania for nine years."

Mary lived only ten years after her marriage to McKean. She did not live long enough to see the great success of her husband, but she did live long enough to give him six children. The children are: Joseph Borden (born 1764), Robert (born 1765), Elizabeth (born 1767, married Andrew Pettit), Letitia (born 1769, married George Buchanan), Mary (born 1771, died in childhood), and Ann (born in 1773, married Andrew Buchanan).

Thomas McKean married Sarah Armitage of Newcastle on September 2, 1774. They were parents of four children: a son who died in infancy, Sarah (born July 8, 1777, and became the Marchioness de Casa Yrujo), Sophia Dorothea (born 1783), and Maria Louisa (born 1785 and died unmarried).

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 215-217.


  1. Is there a reason that the son, Thomas JR, shown in this painting is not included in this biography?

  2. I am sure I had a good reason at the time, but I do not remember it. Sorry!