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Julia Stockton Rush


Wife of Benjamin Rush

Julia Stockton was the eldest daughter of Richard Stockton, an eminent New Jersey patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, the gifted Annis Boudinot Stockton. She was born March 2, 1759, at "Morven," the estate of Richard Stockton, near Princeton, N. J., and received as liberal an education as was open to women of her day, supplemented by association with the cultivated people whom her father and mother were wont to gather in their hospitable home.

She was married January 11, 1776, to Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, already one of the prominent medical practitioners of his day, a writer of acknowledged ability on medical subjects, and a public-spirited citizen, held in high esteem by his fellow townsmen.

Dr. Rush in his memoirs pays this tribute to his wife: "Let me here bear testimony to the worth of this excellent woman. She fulfilled every duty as a wife, mother, and mistress with fidelity and integrity. To me she was always a sincere and honest friend; had I yielded to her advice upon many occasions, I should have known less distress from various causes in my journey through life.... May God reward and bless her with an easy and peaceful old age if she should survive me, and after death confer upon her immediate and eternal happiness!"

It was not alone in his published writings that Dr. Rush pays tribute to his wife. A great-grandson of Benjamin Rush,* writing to the authors, says: "I am afraid our forebears did not keep with accuracy the deeds of noble women in the days that truly tried the souls of both men and women. I spent last evening going over a mass of data, including a copy of the Commonplace Book or diary of my great-grandfather Benjamin Rush. She is spoken of everywhere as a devoted wife and mother and of her urging her husband to take more care of himself during the terrible yellow-fever scourge of 1793, in Philadelphia, when, much against her wishes, she remained out of town with her children, yet by daily letters encouraged Dr. Rush in his great work for humanity."

Thirteen children were born to Dr. Rush and his wife, as follows: John, Anne, Emily, Richard, Susannah, Elizabeth, Mary, James, William, Benjamin, a second Benjamin, Julia, Samuel, and a second William. Four died in infancy, Susannah, Elizabeth, the first Benjamin, and the first William. John Rush, who was a lieutenant in the U. S. Navy, died unmarried. Emily, the eldest daughter, married Ross Cuthbert, a young Canadian who had been graduated from Princeton and who afterward won distinction in Provincial affairs. Richard Rush, the third child, was Attorney-General of Pennsylvania, Attorney-General of the United States, Minister to Great Britain, Secretary of the Treasury, Minister to France, and unsuccessful candidate for the vice-presidency. He was married to Catharine Eliza Murray of Maryland, who bore him ten children. Julia Stockton Rush, a grandchild, married John Calvert, a lawyer of Maryland and a descendant of George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore. James Rush, the third son of the "signer," became a noted medical authority and a writer, succeeded his father as Treasurer of the U. S. Mint, and endowed the "Ridgway" branch of the Philadelphia library. He was the husband of Phebe Ridgway Rush, for many years a leader of Philadelphia society and one of the most famous women in America. They died childless. Benjamin Rush, the sixth son of the" signer," died unmarried, and Julia the next child, who married Henry Jonathan Williams, a prominent member of the bar, died childless; Samuel Rush, the twelfth child, became a prominent attorney and married Anne Wilmer. The thirteenth child, William Rush, was a physician and married Elizabeth Fox Roberts.

Mrs. Rush died at their country seat, "Sydenham" (now Fifteenth Street and Columbus Ave., Philadelphia), July 7, 1848, and was buried in the grave of her husband in Christ Church burying ground, south-east corner Fifth and Arch streets, Philadelphia.

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 169-174. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)


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Last modified January 8, 2004