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, December 14, 2011

Mary Izard Middleton

                    Mary Izard married Arthur Middleton, signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1764.  She was the daughter of Col. Walter Izard of Cedar Grove - an officer in the militia - and his wife, Elizabeth Gibbs.  Mary was described as being "one of the most beautiful and accomplished young women of her day in South Carolina."  Arthur was the son of Hon. Henry Middleton of The Oaks and Middleton Place and a brother of Mrs. Edward Rutledge, another signer of the Declaration.

                    A portrait of Arthur, Mary and their eldest son Henry (painted by Benjamin West in London when the family was traveling in Europe before the Revolutionary War) hangs at Alverthorpe (near Philadelphia), the country home of a great-grandson, Dr. Henry Middleton Fisher.  A miniature portrait of Mary (set in rubies and diamonds) was inherited by one of her great-great-granddaughters.  "Both pictures show an aristocratic, high-bred face with arched eyebrows, dark hair, white skin, and slender throat."

                    An obituary in the Courier of Charleston in July 1814 described Mary as being an "excellent woman" who was "endeared to society by her Virtues and her good works."

                    The Middleton family suffered greatly from the Revolutionary War.  When the British went to South Carolina, Arthur was with the militia trying to protect their state.  He wrote to Mary and told her to go to the home of a friend who lived about "a day's journey north of Charleston."  Even though the British "spared" the buildings at Middleton Place, they "rifled" the house and barns.  They demolished "everything that could not be converted into lucrative purpose."  They smashed pictures and broke their frames. 
The British carried away 200 slaves from the Middleton estate.  Arthur went "deeply into debt" and had "unceasing struggles" but continued with his "generous hospitality."

                    The Middleton home, located "on the Ashley," was "large and commodious," but two modern wings did not seem to fit the main house.  Arthur talked of tearing the whole building down and replacing it, but he was persuaded by friends to leave it "because it was too large a superstructure to sacrifice to any plan of improvement."  The house caught fire one day when Arthur was out walking, and Mary sent a servant to tell him of the fire.   He looked around and determined that the wings were not in danger; he sent word back to his wife to "let it burn."  Mary didn't agree with her husband's counsel, and the fire was soon extinguished.

                    Mary and Arthur were parents of nine children, three sons and six daughters.   Their sons were:  Henry Middleton (served in both branches of the Legislature, Governor of his state, member of Congress, and Minister to the Court of St. Petersburg; married Mary Helen Hering, daughter of Julius Hering of Heybridge Hall, Captain in H. M. 34th Regiment), John Izard Middleton (of Cedar Grove; received his mother's large fortune; married Elisa Augusta, daughter of Theodore de Palazieu Falconet; spent most of his life in France and Italy; was devoted to art; was an amateur painter of talent and author of Grecian Remains in Italy), and John (died in infancy in 1787).  Their daughters were:  Maria Henrietta (born 1772; married Joseph Manigault), Elisa Carolina (born 1774, died unmarried), Emma Philadelphia (born 1776, married Henry Izard, eldest son of Hon. Ralph Izard, U.S. Senator), Anne Louise (born 1778, married Daniel Blake), Isabella Johannes (born 1780, married Hon Daniel Elliott Huger, U.S. Senator for South Carolina), and Septima Sexta (born 1783, married Henry Middleton Rutledge).

                    Arthur died on his plantation in 1787.  (Another source listed his date of death as January 1, 1788.)  Mary passed away in 1814, a half century after their marriage and twenty-seven years after the death of her husband.

                    Facts and quotes from Wives of the Signers:  The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp 270-273.

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