Lady Sterling Biography | Women of the Revolution


    About the author

    Edward St. Germain.
    Edward St. Germain

    Edward A. St. Germain created in 1996. He was an avid historian with a keen interest in the Revolutionary War and American culture and society in the 18th century. On this website, he created and collated a huge collection of articles, images, and other media pertaining to the American Revolution. Edward was also a Vietnam veteran, and his investigative skills led to a career as a private detective in later life.


      Sarah, Lady Stirling, was the sister of Governor Livingston. She accompanied the Earl, her husband, who was Major General in the American army, to the camp. While the Earl was in the camp at White Plains, she paid a visit to New York – then in possession of the British – with her youngest daughter, Lady Catharine Alexander, to visit her eldest daughter, whose husband, Robert Watts, had remained quietly in the city, taking no active part on either side.

      The letters of both mother and daughter descriptive of this visit are interesting as showing the situation and temper of those Americans who had continued in the city during its occupation by the enemy. Lady Catharine, who writes – August, 1778 – from Parsippany, the place where Governor Livingston’s family had taken refuge after an invasion of Elizabethtown, is sanguine in her hope of soon seeing her relatives as zealous patriots as herself. Mr. Watts, she says, is among the number of those who are heartily sick of the tyranny witnessed; and “as to Mary, her political principles are perfectly rebellious . . . The sentiments of a great number have undergone a thorough change since they have been with the British army; as they have many opportunities of seeing flagrant acts of injustice and cruelty of which they could not have believed their friends capable. This convinces them that if they conquer, we must live in abject slavery.”

      Lady Stirling exhibits her disinterested patriotism by refusing to avail herself of the permission sent from Sir Henry Clinton, to take anything she pleased out of the city; fearing “there would be a handle made of it,” if she accepted the offer. The last time I saw him (Mr. Elliot,) he told me I must take a box of tea; but I stuck to my text.” Lady Catharine afterwards became the wife of the Hon. William Duer. A letter of condolence from Washington to the Countess of Stirling upon her husband’s death has been preserved in the Historical Collections of New Jersey.

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