Mary Peale Field

1743 – 1816

I was a widow whose home was nearly destroyed by war.

I was born in Philadelphia in 1743 to Oswald and Lydia Peale. I married a prominent merchant farmer named Robert Field, Jr. and moved to his home White Hill in Burlington on the Delaware River. We were Patriots and he was a member of the Committee of Correspondence. Tragically, he died on January 29, 1775, when he fell out of a canoe and drowned.

So now I was a widow on my own. And when the war came to us in December 1776, Captain Tom Houston of the Pennsylvania Navy arrived at my landing, took flour from my stores, and ate at my tavern. Four days later, the British arrived and accused me of harboring rebels, threatening my home. They departed, but then another group of British horsemen arrived and reported that my neighbors accused me of the same thing. Thankfully, they again left me in peace.

On December 14, the Hessians arrived. Captain von Wreden chose my house to be his headquarters and protected it from being plundered or destroyed. Hessian officers and Loyalists came and went. After the Patriot victory at the Battle of Trenton, the Hessians left. Then, on December 28, American troops came looking for horses and supplies, and General Mercer very kindly protected the house. White Hill was safe!

I married Commodore Thomas Read, on September 7, 1779, and after the war we prospered. I died in 1816.


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