Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer Arthur Middleton
Middleton Family Portrait
Benjamin West, Artist, 1771
Mary Izard was born on July 31, 1747, in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of Walter and Elizabeth Gibbes Izard. Arthur Middleton was born on June 26, 1742, at his family plantation, Middleton Place, near Charleston, South Carolina. Arthur’s father, Henry Middleton, sent Arthur to England at the age of twelve to be educated at the Hackney School, and at eighteen, he began study at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Middleton excelled in the classics, and developed a refined taste for painting, music, and literature while traveling through Europe after his graduation. Middleton returned home just before Christmas 1763.
Middleton Family History
In 1678, Edward Middleton emigrated from England to Barbados and from there to South Carolina, eight years after the founding of Charleston. Receiving large grants of land on Goose Creek, Edward settled at a plantation he named The Oaks, and served as Lords Proprietors deputy for many years. His estate passed to his son, Arthur, who also was active in public life and became president of the convention that overthrew the Lords Proprietors in 1719. In 1741, Arthur’s son, Henry, married Mary Williams, the only daughter and heiress of John Williams, a wealthy landowner, Justice of the Peace and member of the Assembly. Mary’s dowry included the house and plantation they named Middleton Place. Here, rather than at The Oaks, they made their home.
Henry Middleton, an influential political leader, was Speaker of the Commons, Commissioner for Indian Affairs, and a member of the Governor’s Council until he resigned his seat in 1770 to become a leader of the opposition to British policy. By this time, Henry was among the wealthiest landholders in South Carolina with more than 50,000 acres (about 8 square miles) and approximately 800 slaves. For the last twenty-three years of his life, Henry lived at The Oaks, returning there after the death of his wife in 1761. Henry twice remarried, but his five sons and seven daughters were all children of his first wife.
Marriage and Family
On August 19, 1764, Arthur Middleton married Mary Izard, with whom he would have nine children: Henry, Maria Henrietta, Eliza Carolina, Emma Philadelphia, Ana Louisa, Isabella Johannes, Septima Sexta, John Izard, and Middleton. Arthur and his bride settled at Middleton Place.