A Tender Bond

Dorcas Spear Patterson (Mrs. William Patterson), 1761-1814, and child. Oil on canvas by Pine, Robert Edge (1730?-1788), ca. 1876. Three-quarter length portrait shows mother and child: Dorcas Spear Patterson (Mrs. William Patterson) and child. Mother wears white turban and white gauzy dress with pink sash. Child holds mother's dress. Gift of Mrs. Lawrence Tidrick

Dorcas Spear Patterson (Mrs. William Patterson), 1761-1814, and child.
Oil on canvas by Pine, Robert Edge (1730?-1788), ca. 1876.
Three-quarter length portrait shows mother and child: Dorcas Spear Patterson (Mrs. William Patterson) and child. Mother wears white turban and white gauzy dress with pink sash. Child holds mother’s dress.
Gift of Mrs. Lawrence Tidrick

By Heather Haggstrom, Exhibitions Manager

Elizabeth did not learn of the annulment right away and when she did hear the news it was not from Jerome or Napoleon, but from a newspaper report. She was so distressed by the news that she ceased going out. How could this have happened?

Only a few months before Jerome had been professing his love for her and showering her with gifts and now, in a most cowardly fashion, he had ended their marriage. What was to become of her? Of her son?

In her time of distress she undoubtedly turned to the one constant comfort in her life, her mother.

Unlike Elizabeth’s father, Dorcas was a quiet, gentle and kind woman. She came from a prominent Scottish family who were quite the opposite of the Pattersons in many ways. Though also successful merchants and immigrants, they were more high-spirited and outspoken than the Patterson clan. Dorcas’ sister Margaret married Colonel Samuel Smith and was said to be beautiful, spirited and imperious. Her other sister Anne was very intelligent, a skilled business woman and a great writer. Out of her sisters, Dorcas certainly took the most traditional path for a woman of that time. She was gentle and feminine, produced thirteen children and deferred to her husband. Dorcas was also a loving mother and Elizabeth often referred to her as her “kind parent.”

Elizabeth adored her mother and even years after Dorcas’ death she carried mementos of her whenever she travelled. It was surely her mother who comforted her after hearing the news of the annulment and the rumors that followed of Jerome’s pending marriage to another.


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