Skip to comments.General who lost his wife to the American Revolution
Posted on 01/20/2006 3:40:15 AM PST by Pharmboy
Behind the sale of an 18th-century gold box in New York today lies one of the saddest love stories of the American Revolution.
When the box, embossed with the arms of New York, was presented with the freedom of the city in 1773 to Thomas Gage he was the commander-in-chief of the British Army in North America and was deeply in love with his American-born wife.
Gen Thomas Gage, Margaret Gage and the 18th-century gold box
Two years later, the general was a broken man, his career was in tatters and he was estranged from Margaret Gage for ever after she put the land of her birth before her husband and handed his military secrets to Paul Revere, the most famous of all the revolutionaries.
Gage and Margaret Kemble, from Brunswick, New Jersey, had been devoted, with 11 children and large estates in America and England.
Their marriage fell apart on April 18, 1775, the day Gage sent 800 men to Concord, Massachussetts, to destroy arms caches and to seize the leading revolutionaries Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
But Revere rode through Lexington, Massachusetts, warning of Gage's plans to attack, with the cry, "The British are coming, the British are coming".
Gage was convinced his wife had leaked the details to Revere. "My confidence has been betrayed," he wrote to a fellow officer, Lord Percy, "for I had communicated my design to one person only [apart from you]."
Humiliated, Gage turned over his command to Gen William Howe and banished his wife to England. He followed six months later, but the couple, who were once painted by John Singleton Copley, a leading artist of the period, never spoke again.
The box, valued at £285,000 by Sotheby's, is being sold by the family of the Earl of Rosebery. A previous Lord Rosebery, prime minister from 1894-95, bought the box for £50 from an antique dealer who got it from Gage's descendant, Viscount Gage.
The document from the mayor of New York granting the freedom of the city, originally kept in the box, is at Firle Place, East Sussex, the seat of the present Viscount Gage.
"The box has been kept in a safe for 100 years," said Lord Rosebery's heir, Lord Dalmeny. "I hope it will end up in a New York museum, or bought and given back to the Gages and reunited with the original document."
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Incredible is right. If that happened today, the MSM would rip Margaret Gage to pieces.
Juts noticed a funny thing: it is interesting that the Daily Telegraph uses the term "American Revolution" rather than "the Americsn War of Independence" that is traditionally used for the event on its side of the pond.
She was an American and banished to England?
Evidently Gage sent her packing...but remember, at that time Americans were all still subjects of the Crown.
That was back in the days when a woman not only took on her husband's name but his citizenship as well.
Thank You Mrs Gage.
PS: Want to bet there was more to her decision than "patriotism"?
You have to remember, we were all Englishmen back then...
I'll take that ping.
No, that is not quite true. We were not a nation until July 4, 1776 united for Independence. Up till then we were still British Colonies paying British taxes and following British parlamentary law. Though, the colonies were not getting the representation in Parlament as they should have with the taxes and had a lazy King who was supposed to represent them.
I forgot we weren't Americans yet.
Today she could jet to mexico and walk right back in.
LOL... Today, she would be a liberal hero..
huh..? I'm no liberal and I consider her a hero. Unless I read this wrong, she sided with and defended her Country. You will be hard pressed to find any liberals who respect that quality.
Thanks for posting this. I plan to share it with my DAR chapter at our Feb meeting.
And to their husbands.
If the story is true, then Gage was a fool who destroyed his marriage for nothing.
Indeed...in all my readings about the run-up to Lexington and Concord I have never encountered any murmurings related to Mrs. Gage and Revere. Something obviously inflamed the General's suspicions, and the underneath story here is likely better than any Hollywood script.
More proof that the American Revolution/War of Independence was in truth a devastating Civil War. We tend to forget now how split the colonies were.
Many towns and families were ripped apart on the subject. Not just Gen. & Mrs. Gage, but Benjamin Franklin and his son. Franklin's son was ,IIRC, a Major in the British Army (60th Regt. of Foot, the Royal Americans, I think.)
The results of the war were a water shed moment in human history and stuck a strong blow in the evolution of human liberty and constitutional government. But like the English Civil War before it and the American Civil War/War Between the States, that came after, the human toll in both blood and broken families, was devastating.
The old formula was a third, a third and a third: Loyalist, Patriot and Leave Me Alone. One particular area during the RevWar that exemplifies this was Westchester County in NY--for most of the war it was a no man's land fraught with danger for those traversing it unarmed. The so-called "Cowboys" were Loyalists who brought meat to the Brits who were running things from NYC.
Some areas of the colonies had more representation among the neutrals, for instance, the Quakers in PA and the Dutch farmers in Brooklyn, NY.
How do you figure that? Mrs. Gage was a patriot defending her country and her husband was an enemy attacking it.
No, General Gage would be a hero of liberals if this occurred today.
Thank You Mrs Gage.
PS: Want to bet there was more to her decision than "patriotism"?""
After 11 kids? NO BET here......
It is also worth noting that the term "patriotism" has only endured because we were successful. At the time, it was treason.
Robert E. Lee is considered a great American by many, but the label of "patriot" is never used.
This article is historically incorrect. There were two other riders with Revere. Dawes and Prescott and they did not say 'The British are Coming.'
They said the 'Regulars are coming.' At the time in history, most of the Colonist still considered themselves British. The British military was called the Regulars; thus, the people were warned the "Regulars are coming."
Here is the whole story:
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I'd like to know more about if she professed her innocence or not. If I was innocent, there's nothing that would stop me from trying to convince the love of my life of that.
BTW Queens College was founded in 1766 and assumed its new name after General Henry Rutgers who left his fortune to the school. I know that the rumors about Gage and Rutgers having a love child are false but, then again, Rutgers has always lived to a higher standard than those Harvard clods!!!
Thank you for the good info...always appreciated.
Thanks...I must read up a bit more on that story. Sounds fascinating.
As a Rutgers alum I am steeped in our school's history, (BA History and PoliSci!). Rutgers students were excused from class so that could reinforce Washington's army at the Battle of Monmouth. Of course, Molly Pitcher, a real American Heroine was in the thick of the battle and is a well respected New Jersey Revolutionary!!!
There is a tavern in Toms River New Jersey that dates to the revolutionary days, is still a fine restaurant today and has one of those many historical markers which announce "Washington Slept Here!"
I've had eight children. Am I supposed to betray my husband's confidence?
"Am I supposed to betray my husband's confidence?"
Depends on the circumstance...read in the Bible what happened with Abigail, Nabal, and the future King David!
You must know the spot on the Raritan on your campus where Hamilton set up his cannon to slow the pursuing Cornwallis down.
To American Revolution buffs:
I find Cornwallis's story about his wife even sadder than Gage's. Jemima Cornwallis was a very beautiful British woman;he was madly in love with and faithful to her. Jemima wasted away and died while her husband was at war. He left the army to be with her, but went back in after her death. Of course, he was humiliated in the seige at Yorktown by MY HERO George Washington.
Does anyone know why Jemima Cornwallis died? It seems to be a total mystery.
Thanks for this post. I'm an American Revolution nutcase.....
But not because we have eight or eleven children.
Excellent links..........btw there are some who believe the Boston Tea Party was nothing of the such......the belief is that there was a demonstration by the locals but they were actually dumping drugs such as opium that were being delivered for distribution into the colonies by the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. The company had used such drugs to keep local populations subdued has they were building their empire around the world. Don't know if this is true or not but it would be an interesting twist to the story.
I heard they were shipping magic spears, leprechauns, and cod-liver oil that could turn a man into a newt. Not sure if it's true, but it's an intriguing theory.
banished his wife to EnglandThat'll teach her. ;')
And I heard you were some kind of limpwristed schmuck......an intriguing theory also.
No it is not true. The tea belonged to the East India Company and the tax was imposed for it.
Opium was not much used for another couple of decades.
hahaha. With the views you hold, I'm surprised you haven't got a thick skin from being ridiculed.
if she were to pass info to the terrorists?
OK, you do have this in a different perspective... The Country was Britain, all of us at that time were Englishmen, there wasn't a American country and to speak of it would be treason, punishable by hanging...