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Ann Thompson Gerry


Wife of Elbridge Gerry

Ann Thompson was a New York woman whom Elbridge Gerry, the young statesman from Massachusetts met and married during the time he was a member of the Continental Congress. She was the daughter of James Thompson and came from an old and highly honored family. She was born in 1763 and educated in Dublin, Ireland, her two brothers being at the same time students of Edinburgh University, in Scotland. They afterward entered the English army but never saw service in America.

Elbridge Gerry was in Congress almost continuously from 1776 until 1785, when he returned to private life, in Cambridge, Mass., introducing his young wife who became almost at once a social favorite. She was not long to enjoy the companionship of her husband, however, as, in 1797, Mr. Gerry was sent to France by President Adams and after his return from that mission was almost constantly in office, either in the service of the state or nation. Whatever his position was, however, whether member of Congress, Governor of his native State, or Vice-President of the United States, Mrs. Gerry proved herself a fitting helpmeet of her husband and cheerfully and gracefully met the demands of official and social life which devolved upon her. Her husband's biographer says of her, "She possessed considerable force of character and a dignified and gentle manner and, although an invalid, she personally superintended the education and religious training of her children and inspired them with a strong affection and reverence for herself which was evidenced by their devotion to her in her later years in New Haven."

In a letter to James Monroe on affairs of state, written by Mr. Gerry, in 1787, there appears this paragraph: "Your sentiments are perfectly correspondent with my own respecting domestic Happiness; it is the only Happiness in this life which in my opinion is worth pursuit. Our little pet is named Catharine after its Grand Mama, and is our Mutual delight."

Mr. Gerry died suddenly, in 1814, in the midst of his term of office as Vice-President. His biographer relates that shortly before he breathed his last "he drew from his bosom a miniature which he always wore when the original was absent. He spoke of it with an interest to show that although the surpassing beauty delineated in the picture might have first charmed the imagination, more enduring qualities had left the impress of affection on his heart."

Three sons and six daughters survived Mr. Gerry, as follows: Catharine, married to Hon. James T. Austin; Eliza, married to Major David Townsend; Ann, Elbridge, Thomas Russell, Helen Maria, Captain James Thompson, Eleanor Stanford, and Emily Louise, who died in New Haven, December 58, 1894, and was the last surviving daughter of a signer of the Declaration of Independence.*

Elbridge Gerry inherited a large fortune from his father. After his death it was found that the fortune had been to a great extent sacrificed in the cause of his country, and Mrs. Gerry disposed of the beautiful home in Cambridge and eventually settled in New Haven where she died in I849 and was buried in the Old Cemetery, where sleep many of her children. The inscription on her momunent reads:

"Born Aug. 12, 1763; died March 17, 1849, Ann, the widow of Elbridge Gerry, Vice-President of the U. S. His name is immortalised on the Declaration of his country's Independence, hers in the transcendent virtues of domestic life. Both are embalmed in the veneration of their children."

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 83-86. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

*[from pg. 150] Hon. Elbridge Gerry of New York, for many years president of the Society for the Prevention of Vice, is a grandson of the signer.


Designed and Edited by John Vinci
Last modified January 5, 2004