Mrs. Ralph Izard
The correspondence of Ralph Izard was published a few years since by his daughter, Anne Izard Deas, at the desire of her mother, whose anxiety to do justice to the memory of her husband proves her worthy of sharing in his fame. Moving in her youth in the gayest circles of New York society, her amiable qualities, and the discretion and modesty joined to her singular personal attractions, won the admiration and regard of all her acquaintances, and gave promise of those virtues which shone amid the trials of after life.
She was the daughter of Peter De Lancey, of Westchester, and niece to James De Lancey, Lieutenant Governor of the province of New York. It is remarkable how many women of this distinguished family have married eminent men. Susan, the daughter of Colonel Stephen De Lancey, whose first husband was Lieutenant Colonel William Johnson, became the wife of Lieutenant General Sir Hudson Lowe, and was the beautiful Lady Lowe praised by Bonaparte. Charlotte De Lancey, who married Sir David Dundas, did not escape her share of trials during the war. When their house at Bloomingdale was burned, her mother hid herself in a kennel, and not being able on account of her deafness to discover when the enemy departed, narrowly escaped death. On a visit afterwards from a party of soldiers, the young girl was put into a bin for concealment by the servants, and covered with oats, into which the soldiers, who were in search of a prisoner they might hold as a hostage, plunged their bayonets repeatedly, but luckily did not touch her. A Miss De Lancey was the wife of Sir William Draper. in later years one of this family married a distinguished American, whose genius is the pride of his country - James Fenimore Cooper.
Alice was married in 1767, to Ralph Izard; and after some years accompanied him to Europe. After the breaking out of the war, her anxious desire was to return with him to this country; but not being able to do so, she remained in France during his absence, devoting herself to the care and improvement of her children.
On their arrival at home, after the establishment of peace, their estate was found in a state of lamentable dilapidation; but the energy and good management of Mrs. Izard soon restored a degree of order, and rendered "the Elms " - the old family residence - the seat of domestic comfort and liberal hospitality. During her husband's illness, which lasted seven years, she was his devoted nurse, while the management of his large estate, embarrassed by losses sustained during the war, devolved upon her. She wrote all his letters of business, besides attending to the affairs of her family, then augmented by the addition of two orphan grandchildren; yet found time to read to him several hours of every day. The charge of two other families of grandchildren was afterwards undertaken by her. Notwithstanding these multiplied cares, each day was marked by some deed of unostentatious charity. Her piety, though deep and sincere, was cheerful, for a humble faith directed her steps, and taught resignation in trials the most severe - the loss of many children. In the faithful performance, from day to day, of the duties before her, and the promotion of the good of others, her useful life was closed in 1832, in the eighty-seventh year of her age.
An interesting anecdote is related of another Mrs. Ralph Izard, a relative of the patriot, who resided near Dorchester, within the range of excursions made by the British, at that time in the neighborhood of Charleston. When the enemy ventured beyond their lines, the inhabitants of the country were frequently subjected to depredations. The plantation of Mr. Izard, who at that time acted as aid-de-camp to the commanding officer of the Light Troops, was often visited, but had been preserved from destruction by the prudent deportment of his wife. She invariably received the officers with polite attention, and by the suavity and gentle dignity of her manners, disarmed their hostility, and induced them to retire without disturbance. On one occasion her courage was put to a severe trial. Her busband was at home, when the alarm was suddenly given by the appearance of a party of British soldiers, from whom there was no way of escape, the house being surrounded. Mr. Izard hastily concealed himself in a clothes-press, while his wife awaited the entrance of his enemies, who had been informed of the visit of the master of the house, and were determined on his capture. A search was instituted, which proving unsuccessful, the soldiers threatened to fire the house, unless he surrendered himself. In their rage and disappointment, they proceeded to outrages they had never before ventured upon; Mr. Izard's wardrobe was robbed, and several of the marauders arrayed themselves in his best coats; valuable articles were seized in the presence of the mistress of the mansion, and an attempt was even made to force her rings from her fingers. Through all this trying scene, Mrs. Izard preserved, in a wonderful manner, her firmness and composure; her bearing, on which she knew her husband's safety depended, was marked with her accustomed courtesy and urbanity, and she betrayed no apprehension, notwithstanding the indignities offered. So calm, so dignified was her deportment, that the plunderers, doubting the correctness of the information they had received, and perhaps ashamed of their insolence, withdrew. No sooner were they gone, than Mr. Izard made his escape, and quickly crossing the Ashley, gave notice to the Americans on the other side of the river of the proximity of the enemy. Meanwhile, the British soldiers, returning to the house, again entered Mrs. Izard's apartment, and burst open the press, which they had before forgotten to examine. Finding no one there, they retired; but were speedily intercepted by a body of cavalry that had pushed across Bacon's bridge, and so completely routed, that but a few of their number returned within their lines to relate the disaster. The property taken from Mr. Izard's house was recovered, and restored by the conquerors to the owner, with a compliment to the matron whose strength of spirit had proved the means of their obtaining the victory.