Elizabeth Bassett married Benjamin Harrison, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. She was the daughter of Colonel William Bassett and was born about 1741 or 1742 on her father's estate "Eltham" in
. We do not know much about her girlhood or even the exact day of her birth or marriage. We do know that she was famous for "her beauty and her accomplishments as a girl" and for "her exemplary piety and benevolence" in her later life. We also know that she was related to many of the "most noted families of Kent County " and that "her father was a man of wealth and social prominence." It is probably safe to assume that "she was a gracious hostess" and "a mother of the true Old Dominion type" because her sons and daughters were of "such high character." Virginia
Benjamin Harrison was the son of Benjamin Harrison, "one of the largest landholders and one of the most prominent men of Virginia, and Anne Carter, "daughter of Robert Carter, "King Carter of Corotoman,"
Lancaster County, Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Rector of William and . Benjamin Harrison, the father, was killed by a lightning strike, when Benjamin, his son, was still a minor. As the eldest of six sons, Benjamin became the head of the house and owner of the estate known as Mary College . After his marriage to Berkley Elizabeth, he took her home to , and they lived there the remainder of their lives. Berkley
Benjamin was very active in the patriot cause of liberty and served with honor in many different and important offices. He was Speaker of the House of Burgesses, Governor of Virginia, a member of several Continental Congresses, and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Numerous children were born to Benjamin and
, but only seven survived infancy - three sons and four daughters. Two daughters were killed in the same stroke of lightning that killed their father. The children are as follows: 1) Benjamin (worked in the counting room of Robert Morris in Philadelphia; visited Europe where he made several important business connections; served as Paymaster General of the Southern Department during the Revolutionary War; established himself as a merchant in Philadelphia where he gained a large fortune which he sacrificed to help Robert Morris in his need; married twice, first to Anne Mercer and second to Susannah Randolph); 2) Carter Bassett (graduated from William and Mary College; became a lawyer; served in both the State Legislature and as a member of Congress in 1793; married Mary Howell Allen); 3) William Henry Harrison (was educated at Hampden Sidney College in Virginia; served in the army; became President of the United States in 1841; married Anne Symmes; great-grandfather of President Benjamin Harrison); 4) Lucy (married her cousin, Peyton Randolph, nephew of Peyton Randolph, the first President of Congress); 5) Anne (married David O. Copeland ); 6) Sarah (married John Wing of Weynoke). There was no mention of the fourth daughter. Elizabeth
Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers - The women behind the Declaration of
, pp. 247-250. Independence