Annis Boudinot Stockton was an American poet, one of the first women to be published in the Thirteen Colonies. Her poems appeared in leading newspapers and magazines of the day. She was the author of more than 120 works, but it was not until 1985, when a manuscript copybook long held privately was given to the New Jersey Historical Society, that most became known. Before that, she was known to have written 40 poems. The copybook contained poems that tripled her known work. A collection of her full works was published in 1995.
A member of the New Jersey elite, Stockton was the only woman to be elected as an honorary member of the American Whig Society. The secret group in Princeton had been opposed to the Crown before the American Revolutionary War. Afterward, they recognized Stockton's service in protecting their papers during the British attack on the town.
The wife of the prominent attorney Richard Stockton, Annis became known as the "Duchess of Morven", the name of their estate in Princeton, New Jersey. She had a correspondence with George Washington, whom they had entertained, and sent him numerous poems.
Early life and education
Annis Boudinot was born in Darby, Pennsylvania, to Elias Boudinot, a merchant and silversmith, and Catherine Williams. Her father's family had been French Huguenot refugees who came to North America in the late 17th century. She was second of ten children, but only about half survived to adulthood.
Marriage and family
About 1757, Boudinot married Richard Stockton, an attorney from a prominent family. Part of the New Jersey elite class, they had several children.
|Offspring of Richard Stockton and Annis Boudinot (1736-1801) ¢|
|Julia Stockton (1759-1848)||1759||1848|| Benjamin Rush (1746-1813)|
|Mary Stockton (c1761-)|| |
|Susan Stockton (c1762-)|| |
|Richard Stockton (1764-1828)||17 April 1764 Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States||7 March 1828 Morven, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States|| Mary Field (1766-1837)|
|Lucius Horatio Stockton (1765-1835)||1765 Morven, Princeton, New Jersey, United States||26 May 1835 United States|| |
|Abigail Stockton (c1767-)|
During the American Revolution, Richard was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence. Annis Stockton became known as the "Duchess of MorvenMorven," their mansion and estate in Princeton, New Jersey. It was named after a mythical Gaelic kingdom.
The Boudinot-Stockton families were also connected through Annis' younger brother Elias Boudinot. He had studied law with her husband to prepare for the bar. After getting established as an attorney, Elias married Hannah Stockton, Richard's younger sister. Boudinot became a statesman from New Jersey and was elected as President of the Continental Congress in 1782-1783. He signed the Treaty of Paris.
During the war, the British under General Cornwallis plundered Morven, burned Richard Stockton's "splendid library and papers, and drove off his stock, much of which was blooded and highly valuable." Her husband had escaped but was later captured and imprisoned by the British. He suffered lasting ill effects to his health and died in 1781 at the age of 51, before the official end of the war.
Annis Boudinot Stockton was one of America's first female published poets. She published 21 poems in the "most prestigious newspapers and magazines of her day." They addressed political and social issues, and she used the wide variety of genres considered integral to neoclassical writing: odes, pastorals, elegies, sonnets, epitaphs, hymns, and epithalamia. Her works were read both in the colonies and internationally, in England and in France.
She was well known as a prolific writer among her Middle Atlantic writing circle. The group included Elizabeth Graeme Ferguson, Benjamin Young Prime, Samuel Stanhope Smith, Philip Freneau, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge. Stockton's connection to Ferguson also linked her to such women writers as Anna Young Smith, Susanna Wright, Milcah Martha Moore and Hannah Griffitts. At the time, many of these writers passed most of their works to each other in manuscript. This was particularly true of women. Because of that, they were not as well known to later scholars as writers whose works were published, but they represented an active and influential part of the literary culture. In the late twentieth century, more manuscripts of their works have been made public.
In 1984 a large manuscript copybook containing numerous poems and other pieces by Stockton was donated to the New Jersey Historical Society by Christine Carolyn McMillan Cairnes and her husband George H. Cairnes. The following year, it was made available to researchers for the first time. Before then, Stockton was known to have written 40 poems, but the copybook expanded the total of her works threefold. In 1995 Carla Mulford published a collection of 125 poems, all of Stockton's known pieces; she also provided a lengthy introduction that provided insights into the poet's time and late eighteenth-century society.
A Patriot in her own right, prior to the British invasion of Princeton, Stockton rescued and hid important papers of the American Whig Society, which was a secret society important to the revolution. After the war, the Society honored her as an honorary member for her services. She was the only woman to be so recognized.
In correspondence with George Washington, whom she had hosted at Morven, Stockton sent him both poems and letters. His reply to one, giving an idea of their shared topics, may be seen at The Papers of George Washington.
- Annis Boudinot Stockton, Only for the Eye of a Friend: The Poems of Annis Boudinot Stockton, ed. by Carla Mulford, University of Virginia Press,
- Annis Boudinot Stockton, Colonial Hall. This biography includes the text of one of her poems to George Washington and his response.
- "Manuscript Group 1221, Annis Boudinot Stockton (1736-1801), Poet", New Jersey Historical Society. Includes a biography, a description of her surviving manuscripts, and a list of her poems.
- Annis Boudinot (1736-1801) at Find a Grave
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||American poet|
|DATE OF BIRTH||July 1, 1736|
|PLACE OF BIRTH|
|DATE OF DEATH||February 6, 1801|
|PLACE OF DEATH|