Cornelia Lee’s Wedding
Ludwell Lee Montague


* Dr. Montague, a great-great-grandson of Cornelia Lee and former president of the Society of the Lees of Virginia, died on February 29, 1972, at Ware Neck, Virginia.

1 For a description of “Sully” as it was when Cornelia Lee lived there, see Eleanor Lee Templeman and Ludwell Lee Montague, “Sully, the Home of Richard Bland Lee,” Virginia Cavalcade, XX, no. 2 (Autumn 1970), 26–33.

2 In 1790 Richard Bland Lee took Portia (then thirteen) to “Mount Vernon” for an overnight visit with Nelly Custis (John E. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Diaries of George Washington [Boston and New York, 1925], IV, 280).

3 Cornelia Lee to Elizabeth Lee, October 20, 1801, May 9, 1808, Dumbarton House MSS.

4 The two older children, Elizabeth and Martha, remained with their mother. Washington Custis is now usually identified by his full name, George Washington Parke Custis, which seems unnaturally formal. His contemporaries called him Washington.

5 Columbian Mirror and Alexandria Advertiser, May 14, 1799.

6 Portia Hodgson to Elizabeth Lee, June 17, 1799, Lee Family Letters (Ac. 6093), Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress.

7 Portia Hodgson to Elizabeth Lee, June 1, 1799, Dumbarton House MSS.

8 Alexancria County Deed Book A-T, p. 10; Portia Hodgson to Elizabeth Lee, May 16, 1801, Dumbarton House MSS. At that time Montgomery Street marked the north edge of town.

9 “Ossian Hall” was built by Nicholas Fitzhugh about 1783 on his share of the “Ravensworth” estate. It was about fourteen miles from “Sully,” much farther than “Hope Park” had been, and only nine miles from Alexandria. It stood until 1959, when it was deliberately destroyed to make way for a housing development (Eleanor Lee Templeman, Northern Virginia Heritage, . . . [Arlington, 1966], p. 83).

10 In 1942, Eleanor Lee Templeman, a great-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Collins Lee, presented these letters to the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the District of Columbia. They are preserved at Dumbarton House, Washington, D.C.

11 Elizabeth Lee to Zaccheus Collins, February 7, 1803, Virginia Historical Society.

12 Portia Hodgson to Elizabeth Lee, March 9, 1803, Cornelia Lee to Elizabeth Lee, May 3, 1804, December 11, 1805, April 23, 1806, Dumbarton House MSS.

13 Ann Stuart to Elizabeth Lee, August [?] 1804, Dumbarton House MSS.

14 Ann Stuart to Elizabeth Lee, May 15, 1807, Dumbarton House MSS.

15 Cornelia Lee to Elizabeth Lee, March 28, 1804, Dumbarton House MSS.

16 Cornelia Lee wrote a deeply moved and moving tribute to him at the time of his death (Edmund Jennings Lee, Lee of Virginia, 1642–1892 [Philadelphia, 1895], p. 208).

17 Cornelia Lee to Elizabeth Lee, March 28, 1804, April 23, 1806, Ann Stuart to Elizabeth Lee, August [?], 1804, Dumbarton House MSS.

18 His first wife was Lucy Lyons, a daughter of Judge Peter Lyons, of “Studley” in Hanover County (Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser [Richmond], October 15, 1789). He had by her two children, Lucy Lyons Hopkins and John Hopkins, Jr. (“Judge Peter Lyons’ Letters to His Granddaughter,” Tyler’s Quarterly, VIII, 190).

19 Alexandria County Deed Book A-T, p. 317. John Hopkins sold his home in Richmond and his plantation in Hanover County, and moved to Alexandria with his two children by his first marriage. The Hopkinses lived successively at 207 Prince Street, 404 Duke Street, and 609 Oronoco Street. At the last address they were next-door neighbors to Mrs. Henry Lee and her children, including young Robert Edward Lee.

20 The Reverend Thomas Davis, rector of Christ Church, Alexandria.

21 If it be thought remarkable that Mrs. Lee was not present at the wedding herself, it should be remembered that the twenty-five-miles from “Sully” to “Bellevue” were a long day’s journey in a horse-drawn carriage, and that “Bellevue” was full of house guests. Mrs. Lee could expect the bridal pair to visit “Sully” on their wedding journey.

22 Sarah (“Sally”) and Ariana Stuart.

23 Her fiance, William Robinson, of “Bunker’s Hill,” Westmoreland County.

24 Elizabeth (“Betsy”) and Frances (“Fanny”) Fitzgerald, daughters of Colonel John Fitzgerald of Alexandria.

25 In 1806 a short dress would have been what is now called midi length.

26 Mrs. Merry was the wife of Anthony Merry, the British Minister in Washington.

27 Cornelia’s first cousin, Francis Lightfoot Lee II, an M.A. of Harvard College and a lawyer in Alexandria. On April 9, 1807 he married Betsy Fitzgerald, one of Comelia’s bridesmaids (Norfolk Gazette & Public Ledger, April 15, 1807). Ater her early death, he married her younger sister, Jane Fitzgerald.

28 William Allen Daingerfield was born near Fredericksburg, studied medicine in Edinburgh and Paris, and came to Alexandria in 1802. He was thirty-seven in 1806. In 1807 he married Maria Rozier, a widow. I am indebted to Ethelyn Cox, Historic Alexandria Foundation, for this identification and for others at footnotes 40, 41, and 44.

29 William H. Fowle, a native of Marblehead, Mass., who came to Alexandria about 1800 and established there a prosperous shipping business.

30 That is, no one spoke up when Mr. Davis called on each one present to “speak now, or ever after hold his peace.” Did Ann expect that one of Cornelia’s rejected suitors might interrupt?

31 Cornelia’s life had no evening. She died at thirty-six, soon after the birth of her fourth daughter.

32 It appears that only the immediate family, their house guests, and the wedding party were present during the marriage ceremony. “The company,” all young people, came in later to dance until after midnight.

33 He was a brother of the bridesmaids, Betsy and Fanny Fitzgerald.

34 Her fiance, William Robinson, of Westmoreland.

35 Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick and his wife, Hannah Harman, came to Alexandria from Pennsylvania in 1783. Dr. Dick had attended George Washington in his last illness. He was forty-four in 1806.

36 Her half-sister, Elizabeth Custis, who married Thomas Law. Mrs. Law was thirty in 1806.

37 According to the custom of that time, the newlyweds remained at “Bellevue” for several days, receiving their friends resident in the vicinity, and then went to visit more distant friends on their wedding journey. Thus they were present during the next day’s proceedings.

38 This dinner was an entertainment for older friends who would not have cared to dance past midnight.

39 Wiliam Herbert came to Alexandria from Ireland in 1773 and married Sarah Fairfax Carlyle, a daughter of John Carlyle, one of the Scots merchants who founded Alexandria. In 1806 he was sixty-three and president of the Bank of Alexandria.

40 Tristram Dalton was a former senator from Massachusetts and a director of the Bank of the United States. His attendance at this dinner party, with Mrs. Dalton, is the earliest record of his presence in Alexandria, but he was designated as “of Alexandria” in a deed of 1807, in which he was associated with Lewis Deblois.

41 Lewis Deblois and his wife came to Alexandria from Massachusetts in 1803. He was a notable shipowner, importer, and merchant, and became the honorary consul of Portugal in Alexandria (which had a considerable trade with Lisbon and Madeira).

42 James Patton, of Fairfax County, was a merchant in Alexandria.

43 Mr. and Mrs. Chevallié (sometimes spelled Chevalier) were from Richmond; Cornelia Lee had stayed with them there on her way to “Green Sprng” in 1804. Jean Auguste Marie Chevillié came from France to Richmond in 1781 to press is father’s claim against the Commonwealth for munitions supplied during the war. It took him 22 years to settle that account. Meanwhile he married and settled in Richmond. His wife was Kitty Lyons, a sister of the first Mrs. Hopkins; Judge Lyons, writing to his granddaughter, Lucy Lyons Hopkins, referred to her as “your aunt Chevallié” (Tyler’s Quarterly, VIII, 193; Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser [Richmond], May 21, 1794).

44 Henry Hiort was a lawyer in Alexandria and Wiliam Hodgson’s tenant at 207 Prince Street. Was he evicted when the Hopkinses took over that house?

45 Charles Lee, forty-eight, was an older brother of Richard Bland Lee and a former attorney general of the United States, 1795–1801. His first wife, Ann Lee, an older sister of Frank Lee, had died in 1804. In 1809 he married Margaret Scott Peyton, a widow.

46 The Reverend William Maffitt was sent in 1798 to be a Presbyterian missionary in Alexandria and Fairfax County. He was principal of the Alexandria Academy and conducted religious services on occasion, but had no established church. (He was not the pastor of the Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria.) In 1803 he married Frank Lee’s older sister, Henrietta (“Harriot”) Lee, the widow of George Richard Lee Turberville (Alexandria Advertiser, May 7, 1803).

47 In 1822 Frank Lee bought “Sully” from Richard Bland Lee. In 1812 Maffitt bought 42 acres, part of “Langley,” from Richard Bland Lee and named that place “Salona.” President James Madison took refuge at “Salona” when the British captured Washington in 1814.

48 Philadelphia.

49 That is, she would remain at “Ossian Hall” for only three days after her wedding, in order to get to “Bunker’s Hill” as soon as possible.

50 Eleanor Stuart to Elizabeth Lee, February 15, 1807, Dumbarton House MSS.