Mary Walton Morris

Mary Walton MorrisMary Walton Morris
Wife of Lewis Morris, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
1727 – 1794 A.D.

Mary Walton, who became the wife of Lewis Morris in 1749, came of a notable family of New York merchants. Her father was Jacob Walton who married Maria, daughter of Dr. Gerardus Beekman, and with his brother William carried on the great business founded by their father.

Mary Walton was an eminently capable woman and notwithstanding her wealth and social position was a well-trained and thrifty housewife and entered actively into the rural life that her husband had chosen for himself when he graduated from Yale College in 1746 and as the elder son, succeeded to the proprietorship of the manorial estate of Morrisania intending to devote himself to agricultural pursuits.

Ten children were born to them as follows: Lewis, Jacob, William, James Staats, Richard V., Catharine, Mary, Sarah, and Helena. The three oldest sons all entered the army and acquitted themselves with great credit.

Notwithstanding his large property lying close to New York City and almost certain to suffer, Lewis Morris was in advance of most public men of New York in counselling [sic] resistance to British encroachment upon the rights of the people and naturally was a marked man when he signed the Declaration. His family were forced to fly for safety and his magnificent estate was almost entirely despoiled. His house was ruined and his farm wasted. His cattle were drive off and appropriated to the subsistence of the invader. His beautiful forest of more than a thousand acres was given up to havoc and spoil. As illustrative of the disorganised [sic] condition of affairs in the Morris household at this time and also showing how much Mr. Morris was obliged to rely on his wife and how capable she was to act, his eldest son sent him a couple of letters as he helped his mother move from their family estate to safer grounds.

Mr. Morris left Congress in 1777, being succeeded by his brother, Gouverneur. He continue his service, however, part of the time as a member of the state legislature and part of the time in the field with the state militia. At the close of the war and after the evacuation of New York by the British he returned to Morrisania with his family and cheerfully began the work of bringing back the nearly ruined estate to the semblance of a home. The remains of Mary Walton Morris and her distinguished husband rest in the family vault at St. Ann’s Church (Episcopal), St. Ann’s Avenue and 40th Street, Bronx, New York.

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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.