Elizabeth Bassett HarrisonElizabeth Bassett Harrison
Wife of Benjamin Harrison, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
1730 – 1792 A.D.

Elizabeth Bassett, who became the wife of Benjamin Harrison, afterward signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the daughter of Colonel William Bassett, and was born about 1741 or 17142 on his estate “Eltham,” in Kent County. Not much has come down to us of her girlhood or her personality, even the exact date of her birth or her marriage being unknown.

She was famed for her beauty and her accomplishments as a girl, she was in later life for her exemplary piety and benevolence, but that is about all Mr. Harrison’s biographers have seen fit to tell. But as she was related to many of the most noted families of Virginia and her father a man of wealth and social prominence, we may presume that she is a most gracious hostess, and from the high character of her sons and daughters, we know that she was a mother of the true Old Dominion type.

Benjamin HarrisonBenjamin Harrison, Father of the signer, was one of the largest landholders and one of the most prominent men of Virginia, and his wife was Anne Carter, daughter of Robert Carter, “King Carter of Corotoman,” Lancaster Counter, Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Rector of William and Mary College. Benjamin Harrison, the elder, was killed by a stroke of lightning at Berkeley, his son Benjamin, the eldest of six brothers, who had not yet attained his majority, became head of the house and owner of the estate, and it was to Berkeley that he brought his bride, and there they lived during the remainder of their lives, she surviving him about a year. He died in 1791, after having filled with honours [sic] many important offices of trust, from Speaker of the House or Burgesses to the Executive chair of his native State and several terms in Congress, of which Peyton Randolph, who as married to one of his sisters, was the first President.

A number of children were born to Elizabeth Harrison and her husband, seven of whom survived infancy, three sons and four daughters.


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.