Theodosia Bartow Burr

Theodosia Bartow Burr

Female 1783 - 1813  (29 years)
Person ID: I49046 


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  • Name Theodosia Bartow Burr  [1
    Relationshipwith Jeffrey Scott Vitter
    Born 21 Jun 1783  Albany, Albany, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 13 Jan 1813  At sea, Hatteras, Dare, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • Either the ship The Patriot sank or she was killed by pirates who made her "walk the plank"
    Theodosia Burr Walk The Plank
    Theodosia Burr Walk The Plank
    Siblings
     1. Sally Reeve Burr (ID:I49064),   b. 20 Jun 1785, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Oct 1788, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 3 years)
     ½2. John Pierre Burr (ID:I49041),   b. Jun 1792, New Jersey, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Apr 1864, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 71 years)
     ½3. Louisa Charlotte Burr (ID:I49042)
     ½4. Frances Ann Burr (ID:I49114),   b. Between 1828 and 1829
     ½5. Aaron Columbus Burr (ID:I49111),   b. 1808, Paris, Île-de-France, France Find all individuals with events at this location
     ½6. Charles Burdett Burr (ID:I49112),   b. 1814, Paris, Île-de-France, France Find all individuals with events at this location
     ½7. Elizabeth Burr (ID:I49115),   b. Between 1832 and 1833
     ½8. Augustine James Frederick Prevost (ID:I49047),   b. 1766, The Hermitage, Paramus, Bergen, New Jersey, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Oct 1842, Jacksonville, Morgan, Illinois, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years)

    Parents

    Family ID: F27911 Group Sheet  |  Family Chart  
    Father Aaron Burr, Jr. (ID:I36845),   b. 6 Feb 1756, Newark, Essex, New Jersey, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Sep 1836, Port Richmond, Staten Island, Richmond, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years) 
    Mother Theodosia Stillwell Bartow (ID:I36846),   b. 5 Oct 1746, Shrewsbury, Monmouth, New Jersey, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 May 1794, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 47 years) 
    Married 2 Jul 1782  Paramus, Bergen, New Jersey, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [3

    Family

    Family ID: F37466 Group Sheet  |  Family Chart 10 Nov 2020   
    Husband Governor Joseph Alston (ID:I49065),   b. 15 Aug 1778, Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Sep 1816, Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 38 years) 
    Married 2 Feb 1801  Albany, Albany, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
      1. Robert Francis Withers Alston (ID:I49068),   b. 21 Apr 1801, All Saints Parish, Waccamaw, Georgetown, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Apr 1864, Waccamaw, Georgetown, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 62 years)
      2. Aaron Burr Alston (ID:I49067),   b. 29 May 1802, Charleston, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Jun 1812, Dubordieu Island, Charleston, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 10 years)
      3. Adele Alston (ID:I49066),   b. Abt 1805, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
  • Event Map

    Link to Google MapsBorn - 21 Jun 1783 - Albany, Albany, New York, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 2 Feb 1801 - Albany, Albany, New York, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 13 Jan 1813 - At sea, Hatteras, Dare, North Carolina, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
  • Photos
    Theodosia Burr by Gilbert Stuart
    Theodosia Burr by Gilbert Stuart
    Histories
    Aaron Burr: Not Throwin' Away My Shot
    Aaron Burr: Not Throwin' Away My Shot
    Which character in the play Hamilton are you related to? Sharon (née Weaver) Vitter has a connection in her family to Aaron Burr — the conflicted antihero who shot Alexander Hamilton.

  • Source Citations

    1. [S307] Family Database of Vitter-Weaver Family, Jeffrey & Sharon Vitter, (Name: Self; Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Date: Since 1996;), Aaron Burr: Not Throwin' Away My Shot.
      Which character in the play Hamilton are you related to? Sharon (née Weaver) Vitter has a connection in her family to Aaron Burr — the conflicted antihero who shot Alexander Hamilton.
      https://vitter.org/familytree/histories/AaronBurr.php

    2. [S1389] Sad Lady, Kathy Warnes, (Name: Self; Date: 2011;), Theodosia Burr Alston. Wikimedia Commons.
      Theodosia Burr Alston boarded a ship to sail from South Carolina to New York to visit her father, Aaron Burr. He haunted the docks, but she never arrived.

      Fate wove the lives of Aaron Burr, Theodosia Burr Alston, and Alexander Hamilton together into an intricate sailor’s knot of tangled maritime tragedy. Born in Nevis in the West Indies, Alexander Hamilton acquired a deep respect for the power of the sea while still a young man.

      Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr
      As a student and businessman, Alexander Hamilton made frequent trips between New York and the Virgin Islands, and in 1773, during one of his voyages on the Thunderbolt, a fierce storm struck the ship off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

      The storm battered the Thunderbolt and the galley caught fire. Alexander Hamilton and the ship’s crew fought for twelve hours to control the fire before the devastatedThunderbolt could creep northward toward Boston. Hamilton vowed that if he ever had the power, he would build a lighthouse on Cape Hatteras to warn other mariners of the dangerous waters. He eventually became a leader of the American Revolution and Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington. In 1790, he passed a bill in Congress that provided for the first lighthouse on Cape Hatteras, and nine years later workers finished the lighthouse.

      While he served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton met another ambitious young man, a New York lawyer named Aaron Burr. After the Revolution, Hamilton and Burr worked together to build America and their own families and fortunes. In 1781, Aaron Burr married Theodosia Prevost and in 1783,Theodosia, their only child, joined them at Richmond Hill, their family home in what is now Greenwich Village, New York City. Theodosia’s mother died of cancer in 1794, and she assumed the role of mistress of Richmond Hill and became her father’s close companion and confidant. She hosted lavish parties at Richmond Hill to advance her father’s political career and served as a gracious, charming hostess to regular visitors including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton.

      Theodosia Burr Marries Joseph Alston and Moves to South Carolina
      Many young men wanted to marry Theodosia Burr, but her thoughts didn’t turn to marriage until she met Joseph Alston, a handsome southern aristocrat who visited Albany in 1800. They were married in February 1801, and Theodosia left her father and Richmond Hill to live at The Oaks, one of the Alston family plantations in South Carolina.

      In May 1802, after a difficult labor, Theodosia Burr Alston gave birth to a son, Aaron Burr Alston. Shortly after her son’s birth, the people of South Carolina elected Joseph Alston governor and her additional responsibilities as first lady and her fragile health took their toll on Theodosia.

      Theodosia Burr Alston, The Melancholy Lady
      Theodosia’s life grew even more difficult in 1804. The relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr had steadily disintegrated, and finally Aaron Burr, the sitting Vice President of the United States, and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton faced off in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey on July 11, 1804. Burr fatally shot Hamilton who died the next day. During her father’s subsequent murder trial, Theodosia traveled to New York several times and fully supported her father. Acquitted but still politically ambitious, according to some sources, Burr schemed to convince several western states to secede and make him the head of the government.

      Again in 1807, Burr defended himself against a conspiracy charge and again Theodosia fully supported him. After a year long, difficult trial, Aaron Burr once again won acquittal, and he left the United States for exile in Europe. When Theodosia returned to South Carolina, her health had become more fragile and when her son died of tropical fever in June 1812, she collapsed.

      Theodosia wrote her father, “Less than a fortnight ago your letter would have gladdened my soul. Now there is no joy, and life is a blank. My boy is gone-forever dead and gone!”

      Newly returned from Europe and deeply worried about his daughter, Aaron Burr convinced Theodosia to come to New York for the holidays. Joseph Alston couldn’t leave South Carolina, and he felt uneasy about Theodosia’s voyage. The United States and Great Britain were at war, Theodosia’s health continued to deteriorate, and rumors about pirates along the North Carolina Outer Banks circulated around the Carolinas.

      Granting his wife’s request, Joseph Alston wrote a letter to the British Navy blockading the coast, asking for safe passage for his wife. Aaron Burr sent a trusted friend and doctor, Timothy Green, to make the voyage with Theodosia, and on December 30, 1812, Theodosia Burr Alston, Dr. Green, and a maid climbed aboard the schooner The Patriotwhich lay moored in Charleston Harbor.

      The Patriot had just returned from several months of West Indies privateering raids for the United States government with a hold filled with booty from these raids. The sailors lifted The Patriot’s anchor in late afternoon and the captain set a course for the open sea. Theodosia Burr settled in her cabin with several chests filled with her wardrobe and accessories. Some stories say that she also carried a recent portrait of herself that she intended to give her father as a Christmas gift. The Patriot sailed out of Charleston Harbor on December 30, 1812, bound for New York City. Theodosia Burr Alston, her fellow passengers and crew, and The Patriot itself were never seen again.

      What Happened To The Patriot?
      Almost from the time the schooner The Patriot disappeared, rumors piled upon rumors as years piled upon years. In 1836, two shore pirates were captured and brought to Norfolk, Virginia, in irons. While waiting to be executed, they confessed that with other “bankers,” –pirates who operated on the Outer Banks of North Carolina- they had used lights to lureThe Patriot on the rocks at Nag’s Head, North Carolina. After that, they blindfolded all of the passengers and crew and made them walk the plank.

      A sailor in Texas confessed that he and other members of The Patriot’s crew had mutinied and murdered the ships officers. He said that they had made all of the passengers walk the plank and he especially remembered Theodosia Burr Alston, describing how she had been the last to go over the ship’s side. He said that her look of horror had haunted him for forty years.

      In 1833, an Alabama newspaper printed a story that a local resident, a former pirate, admitted to being involved in plundering The Patriot at Nags head and murdering everyone on board.

      A story in the Brooklyn Eagle of January 3, 1880, reported that a former pirate, Old Frank Burdick, confessed on his deathbed in a poorhouse in Cassopolis, Michigan, that he had held the plank for Mrs. Theodosia Alston. She had begged him to send word of her fate to her father and husband and walked calmly over the side, dressed completely in white. He said that once the crew and passengers had been murdered, they plundered The Patriot and abandoned her under full sail.

      The fate of The Patriot, whether she sank in a fierce storm or pirates captured her, is a maritime mystery. The fact that a lonely stretch of North Carolina beach where Alexander Hamilton had ordered a lighthouse built to save lives might be where Aaron Burr’s daughter, Theodosia, lost her life is a maritime irony and a human tragedy.

      References

      Cote, Richard N. Theodosia Burr Alston: Portrait of a Prodigy. Corinthian Books, 2002.
      Isenberg, Nancy. Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. Penguin, 2008.
      Melton, Jr., Bucker. Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason. Wiley, 2001.
      Theodosia Burr

      Death at sea
      Posted 02 Apr 2016 by npschutz

      THEODOBIA BURR ALSTON. pp138-9

      Oh, pardon me, my God, if I regret leaving these. I resign myself. Adieu once more and for the last time, my beloved. Speak of me often to our son. Let him love the memory of his mother, and let him know how he was loved by her. Your wife,your fond wife, Theo." This letter was written inthe summer of 1805. In this summer of 1812, her malady had greatly increased. She sank into a listless apathetic state, pitiful to see and from which itwas difficult to rouse her. Her boy was dead, henceforth life was a blanks and existence a burden. In the fall,her father, alarmed, insisted that she should come North; he even sent an old friend to her home to accompany her on the journey. It was manifestly impossible for her inher enfeebled state to make the journey by land, and the party, comprising Theodosia, her maid, her physician and Mr. Green, proceeded to Charleston, and embarked on a small schooner called the Patriot. The vessel sailed on the 30th of December, 1812, and was never again heard of. It was the commonly received opinion that she foundered off Hatteras, in a heavy storm that visited the coast a few days after she left port; but forty years after, a paragraph appeared in a Texan newspaper and went the rounds ofthe press, giving adifferent version of her fate. This paragraph purported to be the confession of a sailor, who had recently died in Texas, and who declared on his death bed that he was one of the crew of the Patriot in December 1812, and that during the voyage the sailors mutinied and murdered all the officers and passengers, Mrs. Alston being the last to walk the plank. To this statement the Pennsylvania Enquirer added corroborative evidence as follows: " An item of news just now going the rounds relates that a sailor, who died in Texas, confessed on his death bed that he was one of the crew of mutineers who, some forty years ago, took possession of a brig on its passage from Charleston to New York, and caused all the officers and passengers to walk the plank. For forty years the wretched man has carried about the dreadful secret, and died at last in an agony of despair.

      " What gives this story additional interest is the fact that the vessel referred to is the one in which Mrs. Theodosia Alston, the beloved daughter of Aaron Burr, took passage for New York, for the purpose of meeting her parent in the darkest days of his existence, and which, never having been heard of, was supposed to have been foundered at sea. The dying sailor professed to remember her well, said she was the last who perished, and that he never forgot her look of despair as she took the last step from the fatal plank. On reading this account,I regarded it as a fiction; but on conversing with an officer of the navy he assures me of the probable truth,and states that on one of his passages home some years ago, his vessel brought two pirates in irons, who were subsequently executed at Norfolk for recent offences, and who, before their execution, confessed that they had been members of the same crew and participated inthe murder of Mrs. Alston and her companions. "Whatever opinion may be entertained of the father, the memory of the daughter must be revered as one of the loveliest and most excellent of American women, and the revelation of her untimely fate can only serve to invest that memory witha more tender and melancholy interest." And this is all that can be certainly known in regard to her death. The reader will draw his own conclusions; but in either case what a tragic fate was hers! " To her father this was the event that separated him from the human race." To her husband thus doubly bereaved, it proved a blow from the effects of which he never fully recovered. He survived his wife and child but a few years, dying at Charleston, Sept. 10th, 1816, at the early age of thirty-eight years.

      http://memory.loc.gov/master/gdc/scdser01/200401/books_on_film_project/loc06/20060630021ag.pdf

      Burr,Theodosia,engraving by Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Memin,c1796
      Hide Details

    3. [S1251] Find A Grave, Theodosia Stillwell Bartow Prevost Burr.
      The wife of Aaron Burr. She was the daughter of Reverend Theodosius Bartow (1712 – 1746) and Alice Anne Stillwell (later de Visme) (1714 – 1782). In 1763 she married James Mark Prevost (1736-1781), an officer in the British Army, with whom she had five children. During the Revolution Lieutenant Colonel Prevost continued to serve with the British Army, and Theodosia developed pro-American leanings while remaining in New Jersey to manage her family's estate, "The Hermitage". James Prevost died in Jamaica, and in 1782 Theodosia married Aaron Burr. The Burrs had one child who survived to adulthood, Theodosia Bartow Burr Alston (1783-1813). The elder Theodosia was in ill health even before her marriage to Burr, and died from the effects of what was probably uterine cancer. She was buried at St. John's Burying Ground, one of the cemeteries associated with Trinity Church. St. John's was later developed as a park, and most remains were not moved, so the exact location of Theodosia Burr's interment is not known. A no longer extant Trinity Church Cemetery was the Old Saint John's Burying Ground for St. John's Chapel. It was later turned into a park, with most of the burials left in place. The park was renamed several times, and is now called James J. Walker Park.
      https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63069344/theodosia-stillwell-prevost_burr
      Theodosia Stillwell Bartow
      Theodosia Stillwell Bartow