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, September 21, 2011

Two Anne Lees

                    Richard Henry Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was one of the most eminent and patriotic sons of Virginia.  Richard was the fifth son of Thomas and Hannah Ludwell Lee of Stratford House, Westmoreland County, and he was married twice.  His first wife was Anne Aylett, and his second wife was Mrs. Anne Gaskins Pincard.  Children were born of both unions.

                    Old Virginia was different materially from other provinces and other countries.  The women there were sheltered and protected as there were no large cities and very little town life.  Hospitality there was both a virtue and a fine art.  "The old families, with their large estates and numerous house and field servants, their wealth and culture, visited and intermarried among themselves until the entire commonwealth was like one big family."  The estates were scattered over vast stretches of country and sometimes miles apart.  Due to the lack of population found in more thickly settled areas like Maryland, the Carolinas and the northern Colonies, Virginia did not suffer the same depredations of war such as being overrun by British troops and Hessians.  Even though the men were often called away to Congress or war, the women of Old Virginia were not left unprotected or any less patriotic or loyal to the cause of liberty than any other colonial women.  The fact that the men of Virginia were such steadfast patriots is a tribute to the support and sacrifices made by their women.

                    The Aylett family was as wealthy and prominent as the Lees.  The following note is included in the Historic Families of Virginia:  "It is claimed that the Ayletts are descended from a companion of the Conqueror whose sons received grants in Cornwall.  In 1657, Captain John Aylett came to Virginia and had a son William whose daughters intermarried with prominent families."

                    Anne Aylett was a cousin to Col. William Aylett of "Fairfield," King William County, who was one of the leading citizens of Virginia at that time.  Anne's sister Mary married Thomas Ludwell Lee, brother of Richard Henry Lee.  Col. Aylett and George Washington were members of the House of Burgesses at the same time and were good friends.  In fact, Col. Aylett's mother was a first cousin of Martha Washington, and his brother John married Martha's sister.  There were other marriages between the two families.  Col. Aylett's home was on the road between Mount Vernon, the Washington home, and Williamsburg.  George and Martha generally stopped to spend several days with the Ayletts whenever leaving or returning home.  This was also the custom of Richard and Anne Lee as well as Thomas and Mary Lee.

                    Anne Aylett Lee bore the following children:  Thomas Lee (born October 20, 1758, lived at "Park Gate" in Prince William County, was a lawyer, married Mildred Washington, daughter of Augustine and Hannah Bushrod Washington, and married second Eliza Ashton Brent); Ludwell Lee (born 1760, served on the staff of General LaFayette, married his cousin Flora, daughter of Philip Ludwell and Elizabeth Steptoe Lee); Mary Lee (born 1764, married Colonel William Augustine Washington, son of Augustine and Anne Aylett Washington, and nephew of George Washington); Hannah Lee (born about 1766, married Corbin Washington, son of John Augustine and Hannah Bushrod Washington and brother-in-law to her brother Thomas Lee).  Anne Aylett Lee died at age 35 in 1767. 

Two years after the death of his first wife, Richard Henry Lee married Mrs. Anne Gaskins Pincard, daughter of Thomas Gaskins of Westmoreland County and sister of Colonel Thomas Gaskins, Jr. who was a distinguished officer of the Revolution.  The children of this union were:  Anne Lee (born 1770, married her cousin, Charles Lee); Henrietta Lee (born 1773, married Richard Lee Turberville); Sarah (born 1775, married her cousin, Edmund Jennings Lee, of Alexandria); Cassius (died in boyhood); Francis Lightfoot.  This Mrs. Lee survived her husband, but the date of her death is not known.

                    Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers:  The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 235-240.

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