Notes for Mary Hill:|
From "The Reads and Their Relatives," by Alice Read, at pages 32-36:
"Mary Hill, Madam Clement Read, was one of the remarkable women of Colonial Virginia. Such was the vitality of her extraordinary personality that it has persisted through two hundred years; even through those eras when the Male was the accepted tribal god, and when it might have been expected that her own male in particular, a man of such vigorous distinction, would have overshadowed her fame. So little data remains that it is difficult to isolate the essential essence of her quality; but to this day her memory is green in the County where she reigned.
"Beautiful, spirited, witty, 'educated in all that was useful as well as ornamental;' of exquisite figure and stately bearing; ardent, fearless, fiery-tempered and executive, she is described as 'one of the highest characters of her day.'
" 'Her strong family pride,' her loyalty to Church and King, her good management both of family and estate, won the admiration of her contemporaries and it is said that she wielded as much influence as anyone in the County of Charlotte. 'Col. Wyatt,' says Powhatan Bouldin, 'who was in the Senate of Virginia while John Randolph was in Congress, in enumerating the most talented men that Charlotte had produced always included 'Madam Read.'
"She was honoured by both State and Church; the county-seat, which Judge Hutcheson says 'for more than fifty years the Reads had for their own private town,' was by Act of Legislature named for her, -- Marysville.
"The rectors of the parishes of Cornwall and Cumberland paused in their pulpits while this zealous supporter of the Establishment, dressed in her lute-string silks, her laces and lawns, surmounted by an imposing 'round-topped hat,' moved majestically down the aisle, the eyes of the whole congregation upon her while she betook herself to prayer 'in the Upper Pew,' and settled herself for the rigours of the sermon, 'her silver tankard of water by her side.'
"After the death of her tall, blue-eyed husband, whose efforts in council, field and state she had furthered so well, she carried on his interests gallantly and with great industry and ability.
"Each day her saddled horse was brought up and she rode over her plantation, and kept her overseers in hand, giving them her orders for her hundred slaves and seeing that they were obeyed. She cultivated, drained and cleared her thousands of acres; she erected grist-mills on the banks of the Staunton and Little Roanoke. She 'made tobacco,' she raised 'English peas' and asparagus from seed, and she planted roses and cedars and white jasmine in her gardens.
"She saw to it that her sons were educated and drilled for the responsible stations in life for which they were destined, and she kept those young men under a discipline that insisted on their being responsible not only to their God and their Sovereign, but also to HER, for them as serious and a more immediate tribunal. She trained her daughters to be mothers of men and the heads of establishments as housewifely and orderly as her own: pungently remarking that they had better not try to show her 'a woman's armoire looking as though the Devil had had a fit in it.'
"Each morning she insisted that she and her household should serve the Lord: so the family and servants, black and white, were assembled and she would read the lessons for the day while old Betty Gale, a favourite negress, made loud responses as she inclined her heart to brooding over the coffee-pot and keeping the coffee hot and strong for breakfast when that function should supervene prayers.
"She treasured and used a rare possession on the Virginia frontiers, -- her 'Libra of Books.'
"Her house was the centre of entertainment for man and beast: not only the countless friends and connections, but all those, whether of high or low degree, who travelled through the 'Back Country' were put up at this hospitable place.
"She was the guardian of her three minor children and of the children of her daughter, Mary Nash. After the death of the latter and Col. Nash's removal to North Carolina, where he died, they were reared in her home.
"She was Defender of the Faith of her fathers on the South Side. She sent her son, Col. Clement Read, to ride with Maj. Bouldin to Maryland and fetch back thence Parson Johnston. For, said she, she would not permit the Parish to go to the devil and the dissenters, and it had been reported that this reverend gentleman could 'hold 'em.'
"The Revolutionary War was a dreadful shock and grief to her. She was loyal to the cause of the Colonies, but she was an aristocrat bred under the old regime.
"The horses for her coach and four were 'pressed' for the army. Her portraits of King George and Queen Charlotte had to be hid away in outhouses. She found that even she could not defy Gen. Rochambeau and the French allies: for when they were encamped on her lands and near the Court House, the headquarters of the officers being at Madam Read's house, there was some disturbance about the soldiers breaking into and looting the commissary supplies for the Continental troops which were stored on her place. During the subsequent excitement, 'Madam Read and her family were confined to one room at 'Bushy Forest' and a guard was placed round the house.' She survived these indignities. But there were graver matters to face. Though always a woman of wealth, she saw her resources crippled, her fortune jeopardized, the carefully planned future of her children menaced. And as the climax of tragedy, her most distinguished son, her father's name-child, Col. Isaac Read, at the high tide of his career: her grandsons, Lieut. Clement Read III, and Maj. Clement Read Nash, youths on the threshold of life,--all officers in the Revolutionary army,-- died in the service.
"She knew loss and bitter grief and she met them bravely. But it is doubtful whether she could have adapted herself to 'the changes consequent upon our success in arms. For the great moral revolution in the habits and feelings of the people,' for what she regarded as the abolition of manners and deportment in all classes, she was totally unprepared; and her youth was past. But she did not have to live long under the Republic.
"After five years she died, and was buried at 'Bushy Forest' beside her husband, whom she had survived twenty-three years. 'Her funeral was preached by Parson Johnston according to the forms of the church so dear to her heart,' the church which throughout most of her former domain was fast being overwhelmed by Presbyterianism.
"When we come to examine the records, we find that surprisingly few actually exist concerning the life of Mary (Hill) Read.
"The only date which we have absolutely, not 'approximately,' is that of her death, -- which is so often misstated in the old histories. It is recorded in the Bible of her grandson, Thomas Read of 'Ash Camp,' thus:
"Mary Read . . . 'died at Bushy Forest on Saturday the 11th day of Novem'r - 1786 - aged 75 years. She outlived her husband about 23 years.'
"Her will, written April 26, 1783, was probated in Charlotte Co., Dec. 4, 1786.
"There are various deeds, etc., concerning her business transactions, transfers of land, guardianships, etc., on file; there is her will, and we have records of five of her eight children. That is all.
"Her birth-date is deduced from her age given at death, which indicates 1711 as the year. Her marriage-date is inferred from the birth-dates of her eldest children.
"As to her parentage, we have the traditions recorded as fact by the Rev. Mr. Foote, and copied by various other writers; and Mr. Bouldin's curious pamphlet, in which he preserves sundry recollections supposed to be those of his great-great-grandaunt. Also a family record made by Dr. Isaac Read of Valley Land, Charlotte County, in 1830. All these repeat the tradition that Mary Read was the daughter of 'a British Naval officer, younger son of the Marquis of Lansdowne,' named by some as 'William Hill,' and his wife, 'the only daughter of Gov. Edmund Jenings,' -- in some accounts her name is given as 'Priscilla Jenings.'
"There is nothing to prove these statements. At that period there was no Marquis of Lansdowne: there was a Baron, Lord Lansdowne, but his name was not Hill; it was Granville. In 1784, a Marquis of Lansdowne was created, but his name was Fitzmaurice, not Hill.
"In 1779, William Hill, second Viscount Hillsborough, LL.D., was created Marquis of Downshire. He descended from William Hill, Esq., of Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland, who died in 1693. It is possible that this may have been the family from which Mary Hill's father came. There must be some reason for this persistently recurring Marquis, -- but he could not have been Lansdowne. Also there is no evidence that Mary Hill's father's name was William, -- nor has William been used as a baptismal name in the family of Mary and Clement.
"On Christ Church Parish Marriage Register, Middlesex Co., Va., appears this entry:
" '1708 -- ye 28 July -- Isaack Hill and Margaret Jenings.'
"In June 1734, it appears from the Caroline County Court Records that Clement Read was the administrator of Isaac Hill, deceased.
"In 1711, Mary Hill was born.
"Circ. 1730, she married Clement Read.
"In 1734, Margaret Read, her second daughter, was born.
"In 1739, Isaac Read, her second son, was born.
"Circ. 1775, her daughter, Anne (Read) Jameson, named her second daughter Margaret Jenings Jameson.
"There is in possession of her great-great-great-great-granddaughter, a silver tray that was Mary Hill's, which bears the Jenings crest.
"The safe inference from these records is that the parents of Mary (Hill) Read were Isaac Hill and Margaret Jenings.
"It is clear that Isaac Hill was living in King and Queen Co. 1704-1722 and most probably until his death, which occurred prior to June 1734. He was Justice there in 1714, and married in Middlesex Co., -- which adjoins King and Queen to the north, -- in 1708."
From "The Cabells and Their Kin," by Alexander Brown, D.C.L., at page 208:
"Mrs. Mary Hill Read was a wealthy and most accomplished lady. She lived at 'White Bank,' one of the old Robinson homesteads in King and Queen County, and it was there that Clement Read, the adopted son of John or 'President' Robinson, first saw her.
" 'Madam Read,' as she was called, was one of the most imposing characters in the beginning of Charlotte. The county seat was named in her honor, Maryville, and many anecdotes of this spirited old dame, her stately bearing, her strong family pride, her zealous support of the church of her forefathers, etc., are still preserved. She is said to be the only daughter of William Hill, an officer of the British Navy of the same family as the Marquis of Downshire, by his wife, Priscilla Jennings, daughter of Governor Edmund Jennings of Virginia.
"The records of King and Queen County having been destroyed, I have not been able to verify the parentage of Col. Clement Read, or of his wife."
Although, because of destroyed records, it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that Mary Hill Read was the daughter of Issac Hill and the granddaughter of Edmund Jennings, the compiler of this family history concurs with Alice Read (and many others) that there is little doubt of this is the correct family connection. This family history has therefore included these very probable relationships.
|503||i.||Margaret Read, born Abt. October 12, 1734 in "Bushy Forest", Charlotte County (then Lunenburg County), Virginia; died May 01, 1766 in "Mulberry Hill", Charlotte County, Virginia; married Judge Paul Carrington, Sr. October 01, 1755.|
|iii.||Clement Read, Jr.|
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