Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Elizabeth Meredith Clymer


Wife of George Clymer

Elizabeth Meredith was the daughter of Reese Meredith, a prominent and wealthy merchant of Philadelphia for more than half a century prior to the Revolutionary period. She was a handsome accomplished girl of most exemplary character, and her marriage in March 1765, was considered a highly advantageous union on both sides.*

George Clymer was twenty-seven years old at the time of his marriage, and his bride, several years his junior. Left an orphan at the age of seven, he had been brought up in the family of his mother's brother, William Coleman, who not only gave him a liberal education, including two years' training in his own counting room, but dying, left to him most of his considerable fortune. After completing his education, young Clymer went into the mercantile business and afterward formed a partnership with Reese Meredith and his son. It was soon after this that Mr. Clymer was married to Elizabeth Meredith. He was very public spirited and, during the Stamp Act agitation, began taking an active part in public affairs. He was at the head of a vigilance committee and afterward was a member of the Committee of Safety. In 1776 he was one of the delegates elected to the Continental Congress because of his pro-independence views and from that time practically gave up his private business to devote himself to public affairs. In Congress he was an indefatigable worker, whose cool judgment and unswerving patriotism were recognized on every side. Mr. Clymer seems to have been especially obnoxious to the British. At the time of General Washington's defeat at Brandywine, when the British army was marching towards Philadelphia, Mr. Clymer's family retired for safety to their country home in Chester County. Tories led the enemy to their retreat. The house was sacked and the furniture destroyed; the wine cellars were raided and everything portable on the place was carried away. Upon this occasion, Mrs. Clymer and her children saved themselves by a hasty flight back into the interior.

The married life of the Clymers was very harmonious and happy and only marred by the enforced separations and the hardships caused by the Revolution. Like most of the signers, he suffered large losses of property from British depredations. Eight children were born to Elizabeth and George Clymer, three of whom died in childhood. The others were: Henry, born in 1769, married Mary Willing; Meredith, who died married; Margaret, who married George McCall; Nancy, who married Charles Lewis, and George who married Maria O'Brien; their son was Dr. Meredith Clymer a noted physician of Philadelphia and New York.

Source: Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence, by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1997). Orignaly Published in 1912 as volume 3 of 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 (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons). Pages 195-197. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

* [from pg. 280] Reese Meredith and George Washington were personal friends, long before the Revolution. Their acquaintance is said to have come about in this way: Mr. Meredith was lunching at an inn in Philadelphia, and fell into conversation with a tall young Virginian over some venison that had been served. They became mutually interested and, before separating, Mr. Meredith had invited the young man to his home, to discuss a haunch of venison which had been sent to him. Washington accepted and the friendship then formed was never broken.


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Last modified January 8, 2004