Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mary Miller Taylor Quilts #5: Marrying into a Family of Pirates?

Quilts for Alexander and his two boys

Mary Miller Taylor had two children who survived infancy, Alexander born in 1800 and Elizabeth Ann born in 1802. Quilts with Alexander's name and those of his sons descended in his family but Elizabeth's descendants seem to have left none. Could Mary have favored her boy over her girl?

Many men in Mary's family went to Rutgers, now
the State University of New Jersey.
Queen's College building, erected in the early 19th century still stands.

Alexander moved to New Jersey probably to go to school, met Julia Clark of Newark, married her and lived the rest of his life in New Jersey. Elizabeth remained in Savannah where at the age of 19 she married Robert Morris Goodwin (1796-1861) of Baltimore, Maryland. Robert had been a young Second Lieutenant in the infantry during the War of 1812. After the war he joined his Goodwin and Ridgley relatives in the pirating business.

I know it's hard to believe this, but Mary Miller Taylor's son-in-law and his family were part of the thriving privateering business sailing Baltimore clippers down to the Caribbean, capturing Spanish ships under dubious authority and selling the captured merchandise in their Baltimore stores.

David Head in his book Privateers of the Americas tell us that Baltimore was "famous---or notorious---for its embrace of Spanish American privateering, " and that Elizabeth's husband-to-be was a key figure in the trade.

Robert Goodwin and his brother first cousin are listed as engaged in Baltimore's privateering in David Head's table of pirates (there are several Lyde Goodwins but this one is probably Lyde Goodwin 1777 – 1836). Robert was rather notorious on his own, remembered by New Yorker Walter Barrett as "one of the most splendid looking young men of his day...over six feet high... [His] good looks and his money made him a lion in [NYC]."
Barrett spends a few pages on Robert M. Goodwin in his 1863 memoir
of commercial gossip

Piracy or privateering is not, however, without consequence and while he was in the mercantile business in 1819 in New York the Spanish consulate had Robert arrested for piracy. He spent time in jail, swearing he would get his revenge on the son of the Spanish Consul, attorney James Stoughton. 

Gilbert Stuart portrait, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1794

James Stoughton was a cousin of Matilda Stoughton de Jaudenes y Nebot, daughter of Spain's Boston consul Don Juan Stoughton. The merchant Stoughtons represented Spain in Boston, New York and  Philadelphia where Matilda's husband was consul. All were engaged in countering the Baltimore privateers.

One December afternoon in 1819 Robert ran into James Stoughton while the two were promenading on Broadway. Words followed between the two young men; Robert stabbed James and fled to Elizabeth, New Jersey, presumably heading back to Baltimore.

The killing took place at the corner of Broadway and Courtlandt Streets,
pictured here about ten years earlier. By 1819 King & Mead's Dry Goods
Store was on the corner.

But Robert was arrested in Elizabethtown and tried for manslaughter in the spring of 1820. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, according to Goodwin family expert Ronda McAllen.

According to Walter Barrett: "I do not think any event occasioned more excitement at the time." Robert was found not guilty in the second trial, "went south" remembered Walter Barrett "and married a wealthy heiress in South Carolina, who had sympathized with his misfortune." That would be Elizabeth Ann Taylor. We cannot know what her parents Mary and William Taylor had to say about her suitor, although William's connections to the shipping trade may have inclined him to be sympathetic too.

Robert moved to Savannah where he was a rather exemplary and wealthy citizen for the rest of his life, serving several terms as a city alderman.  (I found just one or two more law suits.) He and Elizabeth had ten children (I like to think their grandmother dedicated a quilt to each one) born between 1822 and 1845.
Woman In A Green Taffeta, Mrs. Taylor. 
John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840)

This may be a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor Goodwin. Jarvis signed a portrait of her mother about 1830 and is assumed to have painted one of her father. "Mrs. Taylor" looks so much like a younger version of  Mary Miller Taylor that we can guess it's Mrs. Goodwin, the former Miss Taylor in her early 30s.

UPDATE: Ronda sent a 1963 newspaper clipping about a historic house
in Talbot, Maryland, owned by Elizabeth's great-grandson William Goodwin Ludlow Jr.
who had a "portrait over the mantel ...of Elizabeth Ann Taylor Goodwin...by Jarvis,"
probably this painting.

After Mary's husband William died in 1840 she lived with Elizabeth and Robert Goodwin at their home at the corner of Montgomery and Broughton (close to the Telfair Museum where one of her quilts is kept). She died in 1846 and is buried in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery.

Savannah in 1860, Library of Congress

Several of Elizabeth's children left their own paper trails. Daughter Mary Elizabeth married George Ludlow, a future Governor of New Jersey. Alexander Taylor Goodwin also had a political career as Mayor of Utica, New York at the end of the century. 

Julia Clayton Goodwin & Jared Scutter late in life

Daughter Julia Clayton married into a family of missionaries to India, the Scudders.

More Relatives

Mary's husband Robert was the youngest son in a large family of Baltimore merchants. His cousin Dr. Lyde Goodwin was a ship owner and one of the privateers that David Head lists. Relative Milcah Dorsey's family quilts were documented during the 1940s by Dr. William Rush Dunton of Baltimore.

Appliqued chintz quilt associated with the elder Milcah Goodwin
(she had a daughter named Milcah too)

The popular pheasant fabrics are repeated in the center,
framed by a pieced border and a final frame of chintz.

I desaturated Mary's last quilt to show the similarities.

Dr. Dunton showed many photos of quilts associated with Milcah's daughter Achsah Goodwin Wilkins (1775-1854) too. 

The unquilted coverlets attributed to the younger Goodwin women
show a sure hand at composition, attributed to Achasah's design skills.

Cut out chintz quilt with inked inscription
"A. G. Wilkins 1820 / M. D. Davis 1890”
Smithsonian Collection

Mary Miller Taylor was thus an in-law of the famous Achsah Goodwin Wilkins--- Mary's daughter was married to Achsah's cousin. Mary born in 1774 and Achsah born a year later may have known each other. But then again---maybe they didn't and any resemblance of their quilts is a coincidence of fashion.

Update:Ronda tells me I'm confused about all those Goodwins & Dorseys. (No surprise!) Achsah was first cousin to Robert and Lyde. Here's what she says. Since it's an interesting connection (which we both will further pursue) here is the genealogy.
UPDATE from Ronda: Robert was the youngest son of Dr. Lyde Goodwin (1754 – 1801) and Abby  Levy.  The Dr. Lyde Goodwin (1777 – 1836)  mentioned in “Privateers of America was the fourth child of William Goodwin and Milcah Dorsey and the younger brother of Achsah.  Dr. Lyde Goodwin (1754 – 1801) and William Goodwin ((1745 – 1809) were brothers.  Which means that Robert was the 1st cousin of Achsah and her brother Dr. Lyde (1777-1836).

See a preview of Privateers of the Americas: Spanish American Privateering... by Dr. David Head:

Read Walter Barrett's The Old Merchants of New York City, a nice slice of New York City life from the point of view of a dry goods clerk. He does seem quite confused about Robert Morris Goodwin's relatives, mixing them up with the Goodings of Baltimore. Robert was a Goodwin.

Just one more post: Tomorrow.


  1. I'm enjoying this trip into history so much! Thank you - pirates now! So many twists and unexpected turns.

    Am so happy to testify about a great spell caster that helped me when all hope was lost for me to unite with my ex-girlfriend that I love so much. I had a girlfriend that love me so much but something terrible happen to our relationship one afternoon when her friend that was always trying to get to me was trying to force me to make love to her just because she was been jealous of her friend that i was dating and on the scene my girlfriend just walk in and she thought we had something special doing together, i tried to explain things to her that her friend always do this whenever she is not with me and i always refuse her but i never told her because i did not want the both of them to be enemies to each other but she never believed me. She broke up with me and I tried times without numbers to make her believe me but she never believed me until one day i heard about the DR. EMU and I emailed him and he replied to me so kindly and helped me get back my lovely relationship that was already gone for two months.
    Email him at: Emutemple@gmail.com  
    Call or Whats-app him: +2347012841542