New Castle, Delaware
Community History and Archaeology Program 
George Read Sr.

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George Read Sr.   (1733-1798)

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Title/OccupationSigner Declaration of Independence and Constitution
U. S. Senator, President of Delaware
Address38 The Strand
Stonum (900 Washington Street)
ArtistUnknown after Robert Edge Pine
Date painted1830-1860
CreditDelaware Historical Society
MarriedGertrude Ross (1763)
ParentsJohn Read & Mary Howell
ChildrenJohn (1763), George II (1765-1836), William (1767-1846), John (1769-1854), Mary (1770-1816)

William T. Read's Life and Correspondence of George Read
Rossiana Ross/Read family genealogy
Stonum National Register nomination
Jeannette Eckman report
on Read's Strand parcels

Portraits of George Read William T. Read wrote in 1870:

"there are two portraits extant portraits of George Read. One of these is in the possession of his grandson, William T. Read." George Read Jr. wrote that .. the features [of his father] are find and very intellectual... the expression one of mingled benevolence and melancholy...The picture was found ... by Leonard Eicholtz ... covening a hole in a chimney.

"The other portrait ... was painted by Robert Edge Pine. It was considered by Mr. Read's family to have an expression of sternness not his. His daughter.. when she first saw this picture exclaimed "Take away that Saracen's head."

Although the portrait shown here does not appear to be stern or scary, it is attributed by Delaware Historical Society to be a copy of the Pine painting.

George Read Sr. grew up near Christiana, DE, went to school (together with John Dickinson) under Rev. Allison (founder of U.D.) in New London, and received his law training and passed the bar in Philadelphia. He came to New Castle in 1754, and bravely started a law practice for the three lower counties. Brave, because he was competing with able lawyers: attorney general John Ross, Benjamin Chew, Joseph Galloway, George Ross, John Dickinson and Thomas McKean.

George's Read Sr.'s primary residence was on the Strand at what is now the part of the garden immediately adjacent to his son's mansion. According to the the National Register nomination for Stonum, Read built the house on The Strand in 1763. However, according to Eckman, he rented his house on The Strand until a few months before he died in 1798.

Stonum was apparently both a one mile away getaway, hobby, and thorn in his side:
"... is part of a farm callen" Stonum," which runs up nearly to the southwestern boundary of New Castle. This marsh fronts on the Delaware, there nearly three miles wide, and expanding into a reach below it, and is much exposed to storms from the northeast, but especially to those from the southeast. The embankment of this marsh was twice broken and repaired, at great expense, by Mr. Read while he held it, and he erected, besides, a suhstantial barn on "Stonum," and made other improvements. After the second breach of his embankment (in 1789), he sold "Stonum," and counselled his sons never to buy marsh. If he did not suffer in health from his meadow, as Mr. Wharton feared, he certainly did in purse... In a letter to his brother, Colonel Read, dated 8th of April, 1769, he writes: "Every moment I have to spare from my office I spend among some people at my marsh, which may now he properly called my hohby-horse, that I every now and then ride at a great rate."

Jim Meek
nc-chap.org 2014, 2015