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Rufus W. Griswold, The Republican Court, or, American Society in the Days of Washington. New and rev. ed. (New York, 1856), plate opposite 139. First ed., 1855.


Alice De Lancey, the second daughter of Peter and Alice Colden De Lancey, was born and raised in West Farms (now part of Bronx County), New York. Her uncle James De Lancey was lieutenant governor of the Colony of New York, and it was this family connection to high society that put Alice in touch with the South Carolina-born and British-educated Ralph Izard (1741/1742-1804), whose grandfather was governor of the Province of South Carolina.[1] The two were married on May 1, 1767, and lived for a time in New York before moving to London in 1771. For the duration of the American Revolution, Ralph Izard worked as a diplomat overseas; he and his wife and children (together, they would raise seven children past early childhood; seven others died very young) returned to America after his appointment as a representative to Congress from South Carolina.

It was in her capacity as the wife of a politician that Alice De Lancey Izard met George Washington and other prestigious members of American society. John Adams would describe her at one point as “a Lady of great beauty and fine Accomplishments as well [as] perfect purity of conduct and Character through Life.”[2] Rufus Griswold described her as having been “famous for her beauty and spirit.”[3]

At The Elms, the Izard family’s estate in Charleston, South Carolina, Alice Izard raised silkworms and took care of the children. When her husband suffered a debilitating stroke in retirement, Alice was forced to take over the family affairs which she managed for the last seven years of his life.

Alice returned to Philadelphia after Izard’s death, and joined women such as Anne Bingham in hosting dinner parties and other social gatherings for the elite of that city. She died at age 87.

Written by Annie Turner.

[1] Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., Patriot Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1999), 169.

[2] John Adams’s autobiography, part 2, “Travels, and Negotiations,” 1777-1778, sheet 15 of 37 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/ (accessed March 4, 2009).

[3] Rufus W. Griswold, The Republican Court, or, American Society in the Days of Washington (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1867), 172.


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