["Family Memorials - A series of Genealogical and Biographical Monographs, on the families of ...,
Breese, ...", Edward Elbridge Salisbury, 1885]
The earliest notice I find of my grandfather Breese is the following relative to an affair
of the Revolution which occurred April 26, 1779: "The enemy then returned to Shrewsbury. plundering all the way to
Colonel Breeze's, whom they robbed of all his money, and most of his plate" which reminds me of my mother's
saying that her father's house at Shrewsbury was at one time between the lines of the contending armies, so that he
was levied upon by both parties. Next to this may be quoted some references to him and his family in the "Belknap
Papers," or correspondence between Jeremy Belknap of Boston and Ebenezer Hazard of Philadelphia, lately published
by the Massachusetts Historical Society, marking his judicial position, showing his fondness for humor, which my
mother used often to refer to as one of his characteristics, and alluding to some important domestic incidents:
"Pray let Mr. Breese have this story; it may relieve him if he should happen to be in the dumps." --Belknap to Hazard,
"Mr. Breese has left us. Your name was often mentioned, with pleasure, dur≠ing his stay here. He asked me if I had
heard any more about Justice Foss, and said he had had an exactly similar case to decide on, which diverted his family
much. However, he did not order the mare to be brought before him." --Hazard to Belknap, 1787.
"Particular remembrance to Judge Breese and lady." --Belknap to Hazard, 1787.
"From the inuendos in your last respecting Judge B. and his daughter. I please myself with the hope of having
another laugh with his Honour and Lady at Boston or Charlestown." --Belknap to Hazard, 1789.
"Mrs. Breese, Miss Breese and her two brothers are here. The three last are going to Commencement at New Haven.
The two young gentlemen will return from thence, but Miss Breese will go on to Charlestown with Mr. Morse, who is
expected to meet them at New Haven. She will probably spend the winter with her sister; and I think you find her
sensible and prudent." --Hazard to Belknap, 1789.
"I send you, also, Dr. Marant's sermon at the Negro Lodge .... Let his Honour the Judge have the reading of it, if you
please; and, after you have both read and laughed at it, return it." --Belknap to Hazard, 1789.
"Mr. and Mrs. Breese are in town, and Abby. They are all well, and with my Rib join me in love to Mrs. Belknap and
yourself. The Judge wants another laugh very much; that is, he did. I doubt his being in a laughing humour now, as I
have kept him waiting rather long for his dinner." --Hazard to Belknap, 1791.
"If the Monmouth Judge is with you, congratulate him on the birth of a grandson. The young gentleman made his
first visible appearance the day before yesterday. This afternoon Mrs. B. and myself have had the pleasure of seeing
him, and next Sunday he is to be loaded with names, not quite as many as the Spanish ambassador who signed the
Treaty of Peace in 1783, but only four, viz.: Samuel Finley Breese Morse. They intend to go through the catalogue at
once, which I think is very ill policy; considering their age. However, they must please themselves, and in so doing I
hope they will please their friends ....
"As to the child, I saw him asleep, so can say nothing of his eye, or his genius peeping through it. He may have the
sagacity of a Jewish Rabbi, or the profoundity of a Calvin, or the sublimity of a Homer, for aught I know; but time will
bring forth all things.
"Tell the Squire, also (with my best compliments to himself and lady and Miss Susan), that our Committee is gone
with a mathematician to survey the ground for the Sandwich Canal; and, if that perforation should be made through
Cape Cod, I shall expect to see his Honour and lady come to Boston in a Shrewsbury boat .... " --Belknap to Hazard,
"The Monmouth Judge, his lady and Abby were here lately. They desired to be remembered to you, when I should
write. They have sold their house at New York, and have gone there to execute the deeds." --Hazard to Belknap, 1791.
"Our friend the Judge has been confined some weeks to his bed. He is free from pain, but so weak as to be unable to
get into or out of bed without being lifted. He has lately been troubled with the cholic. In his case a regular fit of the
gout would be desirable, but they have in vain attempted to produce it." --Hazard to Belknap, 1795.
"I have lately returned from a visit to the family of Judge Breese, at Shrewsbury in New Jersey. This gentleman is
lately deceased, widow is sister to Mrs. Hazard, whom I left there." --Hazard to Belknap, 1800.
Judge Breese died at Shrewsbury, N. J., April 16, 1800, and was buried there, where a marble tablet, resting on
masonry of brownstone, covers his grave. In the year 1862, the original supporting masonry of bricks requiring repair,
my mother ordered the tablet relaid on blocks of freestone resting on a solid foundation below the surface.
An original portrait of Samuel Breese was in the possession of his granddaughter the late Mrs. (Breese) Walker until
the destruction by fire of Morell's Storehouse in New York in October 1881, which involved the loss of this portrait, as
well as that of most of the other family-portraits hereafter mentioned as having belonged to Mrs. Walker. This
likeness, which formerly hung in "the best chamber" of the family-house at Shrewsbury, was believed by my mother to
be contemporary with my grandfather's second marriage in 1768; and Mr. Walker once expressed to me the opinion
that it was painted by Matthew Pratt, an artist who returned from England and began to practice portrait-painting in
Philadelphia, that very year. But, afterwards, the pose and tone of coloring were thought by Mr. Walker to be so like
Blackburn's as to justify the supposition that the portrait was painted by him. A copy of it, by my cousin Mrs. Nathan
Fitch Graves, is fortunately preserved in my house.
The lady spoken of in the last quotation from the Belknap-Hazard correspondence as the widow of Samuel Breese was
his second wife. My grandmother. He was first married, Nov. 14, 1765, by Rev. William Tennent, minister at Freehold,
N. J., to Rebecca daughter of Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley, a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, then President of the College of
New Jersey. This lady died in New York, Jan. 27, 1767, at the early age of eighteen years and eight months. "a dutiful
child, a beautiful youth, a prudent and affectionate wife, a fond mother in the faith and hope of the Gospel,"
leaving one child:
["Family Memorials - A series of Genealogical and Biographical Monographs, on the families of ...,
Chevalier-Anderson, ...", Edward Elbridge Salisbury, 1885]
Jane [Chevalier], born Nov. 3, 1722-23, and baptized in the First Presbyt. Church of Philadelphia, Dec. 6, 1723. She was
twice married. Her first husband was Garland Anderson whom she married in that same church, May 6, 1740, and by whom she had
Elizabeth, born Nov. 10, 1742, the second wife of my grandfather Breese.
Her [Elizabeth Anderson's] eldest son Samuel Sidney Breese of Sconondoa, N.Y., writes of her...
"She regularly attended the preaching of the Word, and when quite young was converted under the preaching of
Mr. Whitefield, whose discourse so sensibly affected her that she fainted in church, and had to be carried out.
From that time to the day of her death she walked worthily of her vocation, in all godliness and with singleness
of heart. When she became about twenty-six years old, she was married to Samuel Breese of Shrewsbury, New Jersey, who
was a professor of religion, with whom she lived above thirty years. After his death she resided with her children, all
of whom were glad to have her with them. She was a kind, affectionate, indulgent mother, a generous friend, a benevolent neighbour,
a promoter of most of the pious and charitable socieiteis fo the day. She corresponded much with her children, and never
(so far as I can discover) closed a letter without some pious sentiment or advise.
"She had, during the course of her life, associated with ladies of the first respectability, and being herself a very polite, accomplished
lady, at the same time that she was most devotedly pious, she was very much courted and respected by all ranks of ladies:
the young and the old, the rich and the poor, all honored and loved her.
"Her whole heart was devoted to the cause of religion - it was the constant subject of her conversation; she did not
incline to read books on any other subject -- her Bible was her constant friend and companion, she never could hear too much from that
sacred book; her thoughts by day and her dreams by night appeared to be influenced by her religion. Politicks, the news of the day, the rise and fall of states,
had very little place in her thoughts; her Saviour, her God, and her immortal hopes appeared to absorb all her
thoughts and wishes: all other things, the riches, honors and greatness of this vain world pass'd by her like the idle winds
she regarded not.
"She was always punctual in her daily devotions, and constant at church wnen the weather and her health would admit, until by old age
and infirmity she became unable to attend. During the two last years of her life she suffered considerable pain, which she bore with
Christian resignation; the inflammation that occasioned her sufferings disappeared, and for some months prior to her death
she was comparatively easy; still the effects of extreme old age were gradually undermining her constitution: her memory failed, her strength failed ...
and finally, on the return of her inflammatory complaint, she soon sank under its influence, and expired in the eighty-ninth year of her age, beloved and respected by all her
[William Paterson files, New Jersey archives, letter from Samuel Breese to William Patterson]
William Paterson Esqr.
As we, executors of the last will of the Revd Dr. Saml Finley
late Presidt of Jersey college are desirous of disposing of the Estate he left near Brunswick,
and as you kindly offered to serve us in this Business, we request you will advertise the same for sale in the public Papers, and make
such Bargain as you shall judge most advantageous for our interest. The terms are that one third part of the
purchase money be paid at executing the Deed and one third annually till the whole is paid, giving security and paying
We shall esteem it a favor that you expedite this matter as soon as your conviency will admit and are with
great esteem your friends.
Philada Sep 22 1787