Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte’s Timeline

With special attention to costume.

Prepared by Barbara Meger for the Maryland Historical Society, November 2012

Burn, Helen Jean. Betsy Bonaparte. Baltimore: The Maryland Historical Society (2010). [B]
Lewis, Charlene M. Boyer. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte—An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic.
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press (2012). [L]

In Europe.

Date Location Event Costume/textile reference
1785: 6 February Baltimore Birth to Wm. & Dorcas (Spear) Patterson
1795 36 South Street
Day student at Mme Lacomb’s boarding school
1803: late summer Baltimore races Jerome first saw Betsy Buff-colored silk dress and hat with long ostrich plumes
1803: 24 December Baltimore Marriage to Jerome Bonaparte Muslin dress, richly embroidered, with a single undergarment
1803-1804 Parisian dresses had been acquired by Jerome Included “mantilla & dress made of black lace & others of silk & satin” (1875 account book, EPB)
1804: 3 February Washington, DC Ball at Mr. Smith’s “. . . thinnest sarcenet and white crepe. . .” (Margaret Bayard Smith) “. . . a gown of dampened muslin that clung to her body.”
1804: winter Washington, DC Painted by Gilbert Stuart
1804: April & May New York City Awaiting passage to France, 1st attempt
1804: June New York City British ships block voyage
1804: summer New York Trip up Hudson River &to Niagara Falls
1804: August 3 Boston
1804: September 5 New York City En route to Philadelphia & Baltimore
1804: October Delaware Bay Caught in storm
1804: December Annapolis Turned back at Hampton Roads blockade
1805: winter Baltimore Jerome purchased furniture for house
1805: 10 March Bound for Europe on Erin. Betsy 6 months pregnant.
1805: April Lisbon Arrival
1805: April 9 Lisbon Jerome ordered to meet Napoleon in Italy
1805: 10 May Amsterdam Erin denied arrival
1805: 19 May Dover Arrival
1805: May London
1805: June Pope refuses to annul marriage as requested by Napoleon
1805: 7 July London Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte (Bo) born
1805: 5 September London Departure With enormous wardrobe
1805: October Paris Jerome shops for Betsy; sends boxes to England 10 dresses of exquisite fabrics trimmed with laces & embroidery, 3 hats, personal linens & handkerchiefs, etc.
1805: 14 November Baltimore Arrival
1805: 21 November Jerome writes he has sent a 2nd box of Parisian clothing
1806: spring Baltimore Receives first of Jerome’s shipments
1806: October Paris French court nullifies marriage
1806: fall Begins friendship w/Dolley Madison
1806: December Wears “Black Lace Robe over pink. . . dress from Jerome worth 1500$” (Sophia May____)
1807: 7 July Westphalia Jerome made king
1807: 12 August Jerome marries Catherine of Wittemburg
1809: December Baltimore Receives first of French pension (60,000 francs, annually)
1811 Washington DC Residence
1812: February Wears fine crepe robe of azure interwoven with silver.
1812: fall Maryland Files for divorce
1813: January Maryland Divorce granted
1813 Washington DC Elbridge Gerry is frequent escort
1813: 24 November Dolley Madison asks Betsy to shop for her, “in case you meet with anything elegant in the form of a turban or an evening wrap of flowered lace in gold or silver thread.”
1814: 21 May Baltimore Death of Dorcas Spear Patterson.
Siblings Caroline & Artemius had died same year.
1814: September Receives last payment of French pension Itemized expenses ; kept altering clothing, removing trimming from one dress to another.
1815: 26 July Liverpool Arrival en route to London/Cheltenham
1815: November Paris Arrival
Paris Gave small gifts of needlework to friends.
1816: summer Geneva Searches for schooling for Bo
1816: August Paris Leaves for Le Harve; returns to Paris
Meets Lady Sydny Morgan
1817: September Sails for New York; coach to Baltimore
1817-1819 Baltimore Kept to her room, reading & working on needlework.
1818: 29 July Lady Sydney Morgan, “I wish you would embroider me some little thing that I might have some of your work to boast of.”
1819: June Amsterdam Arrives w/Bo en route through Germany to Geneva
1821: fall Italy Visits w/Bo Pauline Bonaparte Borghese gives Betsy a ballgown
1823: February Bo admitted to Harvard
1823 Florence, Geneva, Paris
1824 Baltimore Via Boston
1824-25 Baltimore Only distractions were reading & embroidery
1825: June Europe For 9 years in Florence, Geneva, Paris
1826: May Bo visits Europe
1829: November Baltimore Bo marries Susan May
1829: 21 December Asks for belongings left in Baltimore to be shipped to her.
1833 Paris Attends court of King Louis Philippe
1834 Baltimore Return Purchases Paris clothing and 50 fashionable hats; at least 22 gowns including gauze, satin, silk, hand painted muslin, lace & merino.
1835: February Baltimore Death of William Patterson
1839: summer Paris & Italy Return to Europe
1840 Baltimore Boarding house on Lexington St.
1849 London Visit w/friend Sydney Morgan
1860: 24 June Death of Jerome Bonaparte
1861 Paris To defend marriage contract
1861: August New York En route to Baltimore
1863 Final brief trip to Europe
1870: 17 June Baltimore Death of Bo
1870 Baltimore Living in a large room on 2nd floor of boarding house on Cathedral St.
1879: 4 April Baltimore Death

In her later years, Betsy regaled visitors with a history of particular pieces of clothing: “This was her husband’s wedding coat; this dress was given her by the Princess Borghese; this one had been worn at the court in Tuscany; this one she wore at the Pitti Palace the day she met her husband; this she wore when presented to Madame Mere, etc.” [Eugene L. Didier, The Life and Letters of Madame Bonaparte (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1879), p. 264.]

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