Henrietta Middleton Rutledge
Wife of Wife of War Governor Edward Rutledge
1745 – 1795 A.D.
Henrietta Middleton, who married Edward Rutledge, afterward a member of the Continental Congress and Governor of South Carolina, was a noted woman of a notable family. She was a daughter of Henry Middleton, President of the Provincial Council and afterward of the Continental Congress. He was probably the largest landowner in South Carolina., having over 50,000 acres, twenty plantations, and 800 slaves. She was born in Charleston in 1745 and married at the age of twenty-four to the brilliant young lawyer, Edward Rutledge,m still fresh from completing his legal education in England.
Mrs, Rutledge’s mother was Mary Williams. On the tomb at Middleton Place on the Ashley river, near Charleston, is this inscription: “Underneath this stone is deposited Mary Middleton, a sincere Christian. She was the only child of John Williams and the beloved wife of Henry Middleton with whom she lived near twenty years in unreserved confidence. Two sons and five daughters lived to lament her. She departed this life Jan. 9th, 1761, in the forty-sixth year of her age—Much loved and much lamented.”
Mrs. Rutledge fell into ill health soon after her marriage, lived quietly, and took no part in social or political life. Possessed of great wealth in her own right, the wife of the most successful lawyer in the State and well fitted by birth and education to grace and society, she had not the physical strength and died in 1795, leaving two children, a son, Henry Middleton Rutledge, afterward a prominent citizen of Tennessee, and a daughter, Sarah, who never married.
Some time after the death of his first wife, Col. Rutledge was married to his first love, Mary Shubrick, widow of Col. Nicholas Eveleigh, formerly Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury by appointment of President Washington. Thomas Shubrick had opposed the suit of Edward Rutledge when the young man first desired to pay court to his daughter, and old Andrew Rutledge, his father, refused to allow his son to pay his addresses to Miss Shubrick. The young people obediently married to please their parents, as was largely the custom in those days, but remained friends.
When Providence removed the wife of one and the husband of the other in the same year, it was not long until they came together and were married, and, it is said, lived most happily together.
No children were born of this second marriage, but the second Mrs. Rutledge is said to have been a devoted step-mother and friend to Sarah Rutledge, and the two lived together after Governor Rutledge’s death, devoting much of their time to caring for the poor and friendless and other charitable work. To this work Sarah Rutledge practically gave up her life, caring for orphan and homeless girls, and looking after their maintenance and education.
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.