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Breese Family Monograph

Part 2 - pages 487 to 494

The wife of Sidney Breese, whom he married Feb. t4th, 1733-34, was Elizabeth daughter of Captain Penkethman, a British officer, by a lady who, according to tradition, was a natural daughter of Lord........ (continued) Camden, 8 born in England. She is said to have left her native country, before marriage, "secretly, on board a merchant-ship sailing for New York. Her family" it is further said "were wealthy, and her brothers tried to propitiate her with costly presents, which she would not receive"-- all of which suggests the possibility of a runaway-match. After the death of Capt. Penkethman, the mother of my great grandmother Breese was married to Dr. Richard Ascough, a Surgeon in the British Army; and had a daughter Sarah, who became the wife of Col. William Malcolm, U. S. A.,9 and had children--these children were, of course, cousins of the half blood to my grandfather Breese. By a former marriage Dr. Ascough had a daughter Ann, who married Joshua Sands, the father of my cousin Elizabeth (Breese) Sands's husband William Malcolm Sands;10 and Mrs. (Penkethman) Ascough was married, for the third time, to John Carpender (who will be spoken of later, in another connection). There exists a letter of hers signed "Elizabeth Carpender," which refers to an account, dated May 25, 1771, received from London; and in which she speaks of condoling "the loss of [her] good friend the Duchess of Gordon."  

Elizabeth Penkethman, my great grandmother, was born in New York, in 1710. A portrait of her (preserved at Oneida, N. Y.) by a good artist, though nameless, of which a photograph is now before me, represents her as a stately lady, richly dressed, with sprightly countenance and determined mien11. "She was a handsome woman, with great energy and self-reliance, a very decided Whig, a warm supporter of this country and its institutions." She was also an earnest Christian woman, as appears from its following extracts from a letter of hers to her son Samuel, my grandfather, without date, but evidently written during her widowhood:

"Our good friend Mrs. Livingston followed her daughter Nancy that day 4 weeks; and her brother John Provost 2 days . . . she in full assurance, of faith, triumphing over the world, the flesh and the devil: she bore faithful testimony to Jesus, and the reality of religion--enough to convince the greatest infidel. O Sammy, how did my soul long to be in her soul's place! may God enable us to give, living and dying, a noble testimony to His grace!  …. "What a faithful, covenant-keeping God have we ! who would not be the Lord's ? pray for me, as I do-for you, that, when we have served our generation according to His will, we may enter into the joy of our Lord--which God in His infinite [mercy] grant. Amen and Amen.

"Last Sunday was commemorated the dying love of our once crucified, now ascended, Lord; it was solemn to me; the Lord was with minister and people. Billy Tenant of Freehold assisted our minister--solemn as if the Day of Judgment would come the next hour - a crowded house--I can't but hope some fruits may appear when the Lord comes to make up His jewels.  May we be found among them! is the prayer of your aflt mother Elizabeth B Breese.12''

She died in New York, Oct. 14, 1779. Sidney and Elizabeth (Penkethman) Breese had three children, as follows:

 1. Charles/ born Dec. 21, 1734, who was lost at sea, at about the
 age of twenty years; 3. Elizabeth, born Oct. 22, 1741, who died in early  childhood; and also

 2. Samuel born May 23, 1737. The earliest notice I find of my  grandfather Breese is the following relative to an affair of the Revolution which occurred April 26, 1779: "The enemy then returned to Shrews­bury. plundering all the way to Colonel Breeze's, whom they robbed of all Isis money, and most of his plate"13---which reminds me of my mother's saying that her father's house at Shrewsbury was at one time between the lines of the contending armies, so that he was levied upon by both parties. Next to this may be quoted some references to him and his family in the "Belknap Papers," or correspondence between Jeremy Belknap of Boston and Ebenezer Hazard of Philadelphia, lately published by the Massachu­setts Historical Society, marking his judicial position, showing his fondness for humor, which my mother used often to refer to as one of his char­acteristics, and alluding to some important domestic incidents:

"Pray let Mr. Breese have this story; it may relieve him if he should happen to be in the dumps "--Belknap to Hazard, 1786.

"Mr. Breese has left us. Your name was often mentioned, with pleasure, dur­ing his stay here. He asked me if I had heard any more about Justice Foss, and said he had had an exactly similar case to decide on, which diverted his family much. However, he did not order the mare to be brought before him " - Hazard to Belknap, 1787.

"Particular remembrance to Judge Breese and lady " - Belknap to Hazard, 1787.

 "From the inuendos in your last respecting Judge B. and his daughter. I please myself with the hope of having another laugh with his Honour and Lady at Boston or Charlestown "--Belknap to Hazard, 1789.

 "Mrs. Breese, Miss Breese and her two brothers are here. The three last are going to Commencement at New Haven. The two young gentlemen will return from thence, but Miss Breese will go on to Charlestown with Mr. Morse, who is expected to meet them at New Haven. She will probably spend the winter with her sister; and I think you find her sensible and prudent " - Hazard to Belknap, 1789.

 "I send you, also, Dr. Marant's sermon at the Negro Lodge .... Let his Honour  the Judge have the reading of it, if you please; and, after you have both read and laughed at it, return it " - Belknap to Hazard, 1789.

 "Mr. and Mrs. Breese are in town, and Abby. They are all well, and with my Rib join me in love to Mrs. Belknap and yourself. The Judge wants another laugh very much; that is, he did. I doubt his being in a laughing humour now, as I have kept him waiting rather long for his dinner "--Hazard to Belknap, 1791.

 "If the Monmouth Judge is with you, congratulate him on the birth of a grand­son. The young gentleman made his first visible appearance the day before yester­day. This afternoon Mrs. B. and myself have had the pleasure of seeing him, and next Sunday he is to be loaded with names, not quite as man)' as the Spanish ambassador who signed the Treaty of Peace in 1783, but only four, viz.: Samuel Finley Breese Morse. They intend to go through the catalogue at once, which I think is very ill policy; considering their age. However, they must please them­selves, and in so doing I hope they will please their friends ....

 "As to the child, I saw him asleep, so can say nothing of his eye, or his genius peeping through it. He may have the sagacity of a Jewish Rabbi, or the profoundity of a Calvin, or the sublimity of a Homer, for aught I know; but time will bring forth all things.

 "Tell the Squire, also (with my best compliments to himself and lady and Miss Susan), that our Committee is gone with a mathematician to survey the ground for the Sandwich Canal; and, if that perforation should be made through Cape Cod, I shall expect to see his Honour and lady come to Boston in a Shrewsbury boat .... " -Belknap to Hazard, 1791.

 "The Monmouth Judge, his lady and ,Abby were here lately.. They desired to be remembered to you, when I should write. They have sold their house at New York, and have gone there to execute the deeds " -Hazard to Belknap, 1791.

 "Our friend the Judge has been confined some weeks to his bed. He is free from pain, but so weak as to be unable to get into or out of bed without being lifted. He has lately been troubled with the cholic. In his case a regular fit of the gout would be desirable, but they have in vain attempted to produce it " -Hazard to Belknap, 1795.

"I have lately returned from a visit to the family of Judge Breese, at Shrewsbury in New Jersey. This gentleman is lately deceased widow is sister to Mrs. Hazard, whom I left there "--Hazard to Belknap, 1800.15

 Judge, e Breese died at Shrewsbury, N. J., April 16, 1800, and was buried there, where a marble tablet, resting on masonry of brownstone, covers his grave. In the year 1862, the original supporting masonry of bricks requiring repair, my mother ordered the tablet re-laid on blocks of freestone resting on a solid foundation below the surface.

 An original portrait of Samuel Breese was in the possession of his granddaughter the late Mrs. (Breese) Walker until the destruction by fire of Morell's Storehouse in New York in October I881, which involved the loss of this portrait, as well as that of most of the other family-portraits hereafter mentioned as having belonged to Mrs. Walker. This likeness, which formerly hung in "the best chamber" of the family-house at Shrewsbury, was believed by my mother to be contemporary with my' grandfather's second marriage in 1768; and Mr. Walker once expressed to me the opinion that it was painted by Matthew Pratt. an artist who returned from England. and began to practice portrait-painting in Phila­delphia, that very year. But, afterwards, the pose and tone of coloring were thought by Mr. Walker to be so like Blackburn's as to justify the supposition that the portrait was painted by him. A copy of it, by my cousin Mrs. Nathan Fitch Graves, is fortunately preserved in my house.

 The lady spoken of in the last quotation from the Belknap-Hazard correspondence as the widow of Samuel Breese was his second wife. My grandmother. He was first married, Nov. 14, 1765, by Rev. William Tennent, minister at Freehold, N. J., to Rebecca daughter of Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley, a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian16 then President of the College of New Jersey. This lady died in New York, Jan. 27, 1767, at the early age of eighteen years and eight months. "a dutiful child, a beautiful youth, a prudent and. affectionate wife, a fond mother… in the faith and hope of the Gospel," leaving one child:

Elizabeth Ann born Sept. 29, 1766; who married Rev. Jedidiah Morse, May 14, 1789, about the time of his installation as pastor of the First Church of Charlestown, Mass.; and died in New Haven, Conn., May 28, 1828. It is believed to hare been justly said of her, in connection with her distinguished husband, that "in his duties as a host his admirable wife zealously cooperated, making her home attractive to visitors of every description by her cordial, dignified and graceful manners, and her animated conversation. She was, indeed, distinguished for possessing. in an eminent degree, both the fascination and the virtues which most  adorn a woman.17 Her father having married his second wife before this daughter was two years old, she was brought up by her father's mother till thirteen years of age, i. e., probably, till the death of her grandmother, which took place, as we hare seen, in 1779. 

Jedidiah Morse was descended in the sixth generation from Anthony Morse, who left Marlborough, co. Wilts, England, in 1635, and settled at Newbury, Mass. A native of Woodstock. Conn., he was graduated at Yale College in 1783, in his twenty-second year; and received the Doc­torate of Sacred Theology from the University of Edinburgh in 1794. He was the author of "the first Geography ever printed on the American continent," which appeared in New Haven in 1784; after which, for the next five years. he traveled extensively through every State of the Union, to obtain "extensive, minute and reliable geographical information." and embodied the results in a larger "Geography," which,, being immediately reprinted in London, Edinburgh and Dublin, and translated into French and German, "greatly promoted migration from Europe to America." and led to correspondence between the author and some of the most eminent men of Great Britain and the Continent. He was distinguished, also, as a leader in the introduction of vaccination into this country, two of his three sons being among the first four persons vaccinated in America: and as one  of the earliest friends of American Negroes, whose first actual colonization on the soil of Africa was due to his influence. He was a pioneer in the publication and distribution of religious tracts, and in the distribution of the Bible, before the formation of any Society for either object, He took a leading part in the great religious controversy of the first quarter of the present century in Massachusetts, on the side of old New England orthodoxy, and in the establishment of the Andover Theological Seminary, which grew out of that debate. In 1820, having resigned his pastorate at Charlestown, and received an appointment from President Monroe as Agent of the United States to visit all the Indian tribes in the neighbor­hood of white settlements throughout the Union, in order to acquaint himself with their actual condition. "and to devise and report a plan for the promotion of their civilization and welfare," he traveled during two successive summers for this purpose, and afterwards prepared and pub­lished a full report of his observations and suggestions, leading the way to the establishment by the Government of an Indian Territory. He spent his last days in retirement in New Haven, Conn., dying there June 9, I826.19

 Portraits of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Morse, painted by Savage in 1794, 'are in the possession of their grandson Gilbert Livingston Morse. The family of the late Richard Cary Morse own a portrait of his mother in candle-light, painted by her artist-son: and there is a portrait of Dr. Morse, in his later years, by the same hand.

 Jedidiah and Elizabeth Ann (Breese) Morse had eleven children, of whom, however, only three survived their infancy:

 (1.) Samuel Finley Breese, born Apr. 27, 1791, the child referred to in a quotation, made above, from the Belknap-Hazard correspondence, as about to receive "not quite as many names as the Spanish ambassador," with an added intimation of the possibility of his developing some surprising form of genius - which, indeed, was not belied by his subsequent life. But, although the career of this son proved so brilliant, making his name as an inventor familiar in both hemispheres, or, rather, for this reason, and because, in consequence of the distinction he attained to, the details of his life have been fully drawn out in an elaborate published  memoir,19 I shall speak of him briefly. He was graduated at Yale College in 1810; early became a fellow-student and intimate friend of Allston in the studio of West in London, having even in childhood manifested a strong predilection for the art of painting; achieved success as an artist, both in the historic field and in portraiture and landscape; founded and was the first President of the National Academy of Design in New York; and was Professor of the Literature of the Arts of Design in the New  York City University. He also possessed poetic powers. For a cousin to whom he one evening jocosely boasted of his versatility of talent, saying: "Cousin, I am sculptor as well as painter, am a good deal of a musician, and can write poetry," and who, having been serenaded the night before, without walking, thereupon somewhat doubtingly gave him for a subject The Serenade, he wrote these verses:

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8 The first Lord Camden was born in 1714; so that, if there is any truth in this tradition, it must have been one of his family - the Pratts, of an earlier generation, who was father to the wife of Capt. Penkethman. See Debrett's Geneal, Peerage of Great Britain and Ireland .... By Henry Collens Esq. London, 1884, p. I25.
9 "Of Scotch descent, by profession a lawyer, an officer in the Revolution, who raised and commanded a regiment of artillery in the state of New York, having Aaron Burr for his Lieutenant." See, also, History of the City of New York . . . By Mrs,  Martha J. Lamb . . . New York and Chicago [1880], ii. 90, 279.
10 See below, and comp. The History of Long Island . . . By Benjamin F. Thompson . . . New York, 1843, ii. 468.
11 Theodore Salisbury Woolsey has a copy of this portrait.
12 The originals of this letter and that of "Elizabeth Carpender" referred to above are preserved, with other family-papers, at Sconondoa, N.Y. I am indebted for the use of them, and for other valuable assistance, to my cousin, Mrs. Elizabeth {Breese) Stevens, who occupies her father's old homestead. I have already cited words of Mrs. Stevens, and shall do so again, without special acknowledgment.
13  Diary of the Am. Revolution . . . By Frank Moore, New York, 186o, ii. I57, note.
14 An allusion to the marriage of my grandfather's eldest child, Elizabeth Ann, to Jedidiah Morse of Charlestown, which took place in the following May. 
15 Collections of the Mass. Hist. Soc. vol. iii. Fifth Series. Boston, 1877.  Belknap Papers, i. 423, 475, 4So; ii 103, 165, 166, 252, 254, 256, 356, 368.
16 Samuel Finley was one of seven sons, born of Scotch parents who fled from persecution to county Armagh, Ireland, where he was born. He married Sarah Hall, by whom he had eight children, among them Rebecca. A sister of Sarah Hall was the mother of Dr. Rush of Philadelphia. He married, secondly, Ann Clarkson, sister of Mayor Matthew Clarkson of Philadelphia, the father of Mrs. Robert    Ralston, and sister, also, of the mother of Ebenezer Hazard (see below, and Chebalier Anderson).
17  Quoted in The Life of Samuel F. B. Morse By Samuel Irenaeus Prime. New York, 1875, p. 8.
18 See Memorabilia in the Life of Jedidiah Morse, D.D .... By his son Sidney E. Morse. Boston, 1867; and The Life of Jedidiah Morse. By William B. Sprague, D.D. New York [1874] .... The follow­ing graphic sketch of the personal appearance of Dr. Morse, by- one of his wife's nieces, is too good to be lost: "The personal appearance of Mr. Dr. Morse impressed me as a child peculiarly. He was tall, extremely thin, had a singularly dark complexion, was grave and solemn-looking. We young ones thought that being a clergyman, he might think it wicked for us to romp or laugh, so that . . . we were under great restraint. ' In his full suit of black cloth and white necktie Mr. Morse had a decidedly clerical look. He had bright black eyes, with a soft, gentle expression, and his manner was kind and gracious, especially to children, of whom he was fond: nevertheless, we all stood in awe of him. I recollect his officiating in the church where our family attended, and how wearied we were with listening to his long sermon, slowly delivered, and our rushing out of church so glad when the service was over."
19 Prime's Life, et supra.

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