November 9: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1854)

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was the wife of American statesman and founding father, Alexander Hamilton. She was the daughter of Philip Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general and Catherine Van Rensselaer, whose family was one of the richest and most politically influential in the state of New York. Elizabeth, or “Eliza”, married Hamilton in 1780. Eight children were born to the couple in their 24-year marriage before Hamilton was killed in a duel. Eliza outlived her husband by 50 years. In her later years, she moved to Washington, D.C. to live with one of her daughters and became associated with the Church of the Epiphany. Founding rector John French’s daughter, Mary French Weir, in her book Remembrances wrote about Eliza Hamilton at Epiphany.

 “Though I was a very young child at that time, I can clearly remember with what unabated and absorbing interest I watched Sunday after Sunday, the preparations for Mrs. Hamilton’s entrance into the Church, for as she was not able at her advanced age to sit through all the service, she only came in for the Sermon. Just before my Father was to ascend the steps of the Pulpit and begin his Sermon, Mrs. Hamilton’s daughter, Mrs. Holly, began to make her studied preparations for the event, where she was sitting in the front pew. In a most impressive manner, or so it seemed to my youthful mind, Mrs. Holly would slowly close her prayer book, and lay it carefully in its accustomed place. Then she adjusted to its proper angle the hassock on which she had been kneeling. After a few more arrangements of an elaborate nature, she slowly rose from her seat, straightened out the folds of her gown, and opening the door of her pew, in a solemn and pompous manner walked with measured steps down the middle aisle of the Church, ‘the observed of all observers’, towards the door where she was to meet her mother, Mrs. Hamilton. It was then to me a never ending source of interest to watch Mrs. Hamilton’s stately little figure, slowly walking up the aisle of the Church, leaning upon her daughter’s arm, dressed, as she always was in silk stockings and black satin slippers, no matter what the weather, a rather short black crepe de chine skirt, and a shawl of finest texture with deep fringe, and a poke bonnet which almost concealed her face. With great dignity Mrs. Hamilton entered her pew, which was immediately under the pulpit, where she quietly seated herself. Then, adjusting her ear trumpet, she turned her face toward my Father, and listened motionless to his sermon.”

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