Ann Bourne Gwinnet
Wife of Button Gwinnet, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
1735 – 1780 A.D.
But little has come down to us of Mrs. Button Gwinnet, wife of that unfortunate Englishman who, coming to Georgia in 1773, was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775, ’76, and ’77, and then President of the Council, the highest office of the Province. We know that she was a wife and mother when they came from Bristol, England, to South Carolina in 1770. We know that the Gwinnets spent two years in the mercantile business in Charleston and that then Mr. Gwinnet paid £5250 for a tract of land in Georgia on St. Catharine Island, “including a stock of horses, cattle, and hogs, some lumber and a plantation boat.” We know that she went to live on this island with her children, and that is about all that has been told.
Until 1777, Gwinnet’s rise had been phenomenal. Converted from his natural Tory principles by Dr. Lyman Hall, he entered with all ardour [sic] of his positive, determined nature into the struggle for independence—going farther, even, than a majority of the native Georgia leaders. But the tide of his popularity turned. He made enemies and
excited jealousies. He was defeated in the selection of a brigadier-general for a brigade of troops which Georgia was required to raise for the Continental Army, and afterward for Governor. Growing out of these defeats came the quarrel with Col. Lacklan McIntosh, and the duel which resulted fatally for Gwinnet.
All we know of Mrs. Gwinnet at the time is that she nursed him during the twelve days he lay groaning with his shattered hip, and then she and her children drop out of all knowledge, and the chroniclers of the day who mention her simply say that “Mrs. Gwinnet and her children soon followed him.”
Reference: The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. Third Volume, Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.