Friday, July 17, 2009


Some time ago I researched a family history that really did have some amazing family tales. Documented ones at that. I was thinking about this recently when Linda over at Flipside wrote about her gggg grandfather, Purnell Houston.

She mentioned in her post that Purnell had served in the militia under the command of General John Cadwalader. The name rang a bell so I looked up in my research and sure enough he was the 5th great grandfather of the person I researched for.
John Cadwalader, the son of Thomas Cadwalader was a man of great prominence during the American Revolution. He attended the Academy and College of Philadelphia from 1751 to 1758. Although he entered the College of Philadelphia with the class of 1760, he did not graduate but instead left to organize a very successful mercantile business with his brother Lambert Cadwalader.
From the earliest days of the American Revolution, John Cadwalader worked to persuade others to protest in favor of colonial liberties. He became a member of Philadelphia's Committee of Safety and captain of the City Troop or "Silk Stocking Company." He was later appointed Brigadier-General of the Pennsylvania Militia and commanded the Pennsylvania troops during the winter campaign of 1776-1777, in which he crossed the Delaware with Washington and engaged the British in the Battle of Princeton. As the war progessed, he was instrumental in forming a militia from the eastern shore of Maryland; with this militia he rejoined Washington as a volunteer to fight the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth.

After the British evacuated Philadelphia in June 1778, Cadwalader fought a duel with General Thomas Conway, who had been accused of plotting to remove Washington from command of the Continental army and whose conduct toward American officer was considered "offensive" by Cadwalader. Cadwalader gravely wounded Conway, but Conway did recover to write a letter of apology to Washington.

In 1779, the same year he was elected a trustee of the Academy and College of Philadelphia, Cadwalader also became a member of the Maryland Legislature. He died in Maryland in 1786.

If someone in this family could have blogged we would have had some amazing table scapes and what's on your walls for sure. Even George Washington had commented on the Cadwalader home and furnishings. The following notes are from

Cadwalader Furniture

John Hays of Christie's is on the lookout for missing pieces of the most famous suite of furniture made in American history. When John Cadwalader, one of the great patriots of the American Revolution, married the very wealthy Elizabeth Lloyd in 1768, he set out to build one of the most splendid houses in Philadelphia. Even George Washington was well known to have remarked in his diaries that Cadwalader's house, the pride and envy of the colony, was the grandest house he'd ever seen. Cadwalader left no stone unturned in the building of his magnificent home. He commissioned Thomas Affleck, who immigrated from England in 1763 and produced the most elaborate, high-styled furniture in Philadelphia, to create a suite of furniture to match the design of his house. Affleck brought in the leading carvers and cabinetmakers of the time to fill Cadwalader's huge order — chairs, tables, sofas, card tables, and the like — that needed to be done between 1768 and 1772. Cadwalader's furniture was carved in the very highest, most elaborate fashion of the day, the Chippendale style. The most distinctive feature of the furniture was the "hairy paw feet," which appeared on all of the forms. After Cadwalader died, his descendant Charles married their young housekeeper, which did not go over well with the people of Philadelphia. In response to this, Charles shut down the house and sold its contents in 1904. The furniture was dispersed throughout the U.S. and abroad. Since that fateful day, six saddle-seat chairs from the front parlor have been found in Ireland, and another in Italy. Four chairs from the back parlor set have also been found: a single chair sold at Christie's last fall for $400,000. Christie's was also lucky to have recently found a tea table at an auction for less than $5,000: a dealer recognized the famous hairy-paw foot. It later sold in New York for over $1 million. Among the pieces still missing are two sofas, last seen in Charles Cadwalader's 1904 auction in Philadelphia. They are so widely sought after that people are making up schematic drawings of what the sofas would look like. John Hays hopes that these drawings will help lead to the recovery of the rest of Cadwalader's furniture.

John married 3 times and his daughter Frances with Wilemina Bond, married Lord David Montagu Erskine and they moved to England where Lord David and his family were from. My research continued with this line.


Anonymous said...

General John Cadwalader married only two times. Between the death of his first wife and his second marriage he dallied with his daughter's nursemaid, producing a daughter.

Lori E said...

I don't have access to my database right now. Thank you for your information. I will look into this.

Anonymous said...

Any one know where John Hay's drawings are posted for the missing Hairy Paw sofas? If so, please send me the link to:


Jeffrey C said...

I have a portrait painting that look to me to be late 18th or early 19th century of a young woman with a strong family resemblance to Elizabeth Cadwalader in the Charles Wilson Peale painting. It was restored in the early 1950s by a very capable painter and friend/protégé of Georgia O'Keefe named David R Boyd of Leonia, NJ. His notes on verso (and the woman I bought the painting from) say the subject is a Cadwalader and dates from the 1830 or 40s. (Is there a Susan?) I don't know the genealogical answers, but I'm curious to know whose lovely face is peering out at me!

If you're interested, I can send you a pic. Or if you know of any other place that might help me, I would appreciate it.