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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 433. First ed., 1855.


Daughter of Sir John Temple, a British consul-general in the United States, Elizabeth Bowdoin Temple was raised in the Boston home of her grandfather, Massachusetts Governor James Bowdoin. As he regularly entertained many important French and American officers and authorities at his house over the course of the Revolution, Elizabeth became acquainted with prestigious men such as Benjamin Franklin and the Marquis de Lafayette. According to Rufus Griswold, she was “long the reigning belle of Boston,” and Lafayette was counted among her many admirers.[1] Related as well to one of Great Britain’s most revered families, the Grenvilles, Elizabeth was an “undeniably attractive” young woman who had much experience associating with the elite.[2]

On July 25, 1786, Elizabeth married merchant and Harvard graduate Thomas Lindall Winthrop (1760-1841), a man nine years her senior. Little evidence exists of their life together, but Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography claims that “few men of [Winthrop’s] time were so widely esteemed throughout New England for integrity, public spirit, and unostentatious hospitality.”[3] Mrs. Winthrop remained active in Boston society after her marriage, as John Adams’s grandson, Charles, attests, saying that she was “one of Boston’s great ladies.”[4] Near to the end of her life, she was friendly enough with John Adams himself to view his portrait while he was still sitting for it;[5] she also was great friends with writer Hannah Adams, who visited the Winthrop house on many occasions.[6]

One of the Winthrops’ seven children, Robert Charles, served as a representative and a senator for Massachusetts. He was one in a long line of politicians, including the senator and 2004 presidential candidate John F. Kerry, Elizabeth Winthrop’s great-great-great grandson.

Written by Annie Turner.

[1] Rufus W. Griswold, The Republican Court, or, American Society in the Days of Washington (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1867), 10.

[2] Lawrence Shaw Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1948), 215.

[3] Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, s.v. “Winthrop, John.”

[4] Carrie Rebora Barratt and Ellen G. Miles, Gilbert Stuart (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004), 322.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Gary D. Schmidt, A Passionate Usefulness: The Life and Literary Labors of Hannah Adams (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004), 283.

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