Title: Portraits of signers of the Declaration of Independence
Call Number: MSS 12130
Citation: Robert Edge Pine. Copies of Pine's Portraits of Signers of the Declaration of Independence,1820, Accession #12130, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
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(1731 - 1773)
Read Spouse Bio
Children:George, James, and Mary
George Ross was born in May of 1730 in New Castle, Delaware, into a very large family. His father was a minister, educated at Edinburgh, and the Ross children received a sound classical education at home. George read law at the office of his older brother, John. George attained the Bar in Philadelphia at the age of 20 and established his own practice in Lancaster, PA. As was typical of many gentlemen of the day, his politics were Tory. He served for twelve years as Crown Prosecutor (attorney general) to Carlisle, until elected to the provincial legislature of his state in 1768. There he came to understand firsthand the rising conflict between the colonial assemblies and the Parliament. He was an unabashed supporter of the powers of the former. In 1774, he was elected to the provincial conference that would select delegates to attend the General Congress and was selected as a representative of Pennsylvania that same year. Ross continued to serve his provincial legislature and was a member of the Committee of Safety for his colony in 1775. In 1776, he was again elected to the Continental Congress, while serving as a provincial legislator and a Colonel in the Continental Army. His strong stance for the Colonists’ freedom led to his greatest contribution by being one of nine signers of the Declaration of Independence from Pennsylvania. He also undertook negotiations with the Northwestern Indian on behalf of his colony, and took a seat as vice-president of the first constitutional convention for Pennsylvania. He was re-elected to the Continental Congress once more in 1777, but resigned the seat before the close due to poor health. In March, 1779, he was appointed to a judgeship in the Pennsylvania Court of Admiralty. He died in that office in July 1779.
To the union of Ann Lawler and George Ross three children were born; George, James, and Mary. The eldest of Ann’s children, George Jr., was born on June 1, 1752. On April 5, 1773, he married Mary Bird (Byrd), daughter of Colonel William Bird, of Birdsboro, Berks County, Pennsylvania. They had nine children during their marriage. Both George Jr. and Mary Byrd Ross were members of the Saint James Episcopal Church. George Jr. was a devoted patriot during the Revolution, served as Vice-President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, and was commissioned by the Governor as the Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds in 1791. He served in that position for eighteen years. When he died at the age of eighty, on November 13, 1832, he was buried in the churchyard at the Saint James Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His grave is one of the two hundred in the cemetery which is no longer marked.
Their second child, James, was born on November 28, 1753. In 1775, James raised the first company of troops in Lancaster County under Colonel Thompson’s Regiment, and was later made captain. In the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment he was elevated to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and fought at Long Island, Trenton, Germantown, Brandywine, and in various other battles. The Ross family Bible, which was in the possession of George Ross Eshleman in 1907, stated James died without issue in Louisiana on August 20, 1809. His burial site is unknown, but thought possibly to be in Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi or that his body may have been returned to Lancaster.
The third child of Ann and George Ross was a daughter, Mary, born on December 3, 1765, perhaps the namesake of Ann’s mother. Mary first married her cousin, William Byrd who died in 1812. Her second marriage was to Joshua Scott who was a well-known civil engineer who apparently died in 1839. It appears that Mary Ross Byrd Scott married a third time because the Ross Family Bible noted she married James Wilson. Mary died at the age of 92 on December 20, 1858, and is buried in the Saint James Episcopal churchyard among her other relatives in Lancaster.
George Ross studied law under his influential half-brother, John, in Philadelphia before opening his practice in Lancaster. John was the first husband of Betsy Griscom, who is the Betsy Ross celebrated for sewing the first flag for the new country, and therefore the niece of Ann Lawler Ross and George Ross.
Ann Lawler Ross passed away on May 28, 1773, more than three years prior to her husband’s signing of the Declaration of Independence. Because George Ross reportedly did not support independence until 1774, Ann may have never known about his change of heart. Her obituary appeared in The Pennsylvania Packet in Philadelphia on June 14, 1773, seen below. Ann is buried in Saint James Episcopal Church Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania in a grave that is no longer marked. Two of her children, George Jr. and Mary also rest in the same churchyard.
George only lived another six years after his wife’s death. At the age of 49, George died on July 14, 1779, afflicted with a severe case of gout. He is buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Neither Ann nor George saw the birth of the new nation they helped found, but their many contributions to the cause of independence were nonetheless an important part of the story of America. His three children played major roles in the establishment of the country. The family contributed immeasurable amounts of courage, bravery, and intellect, which laid the foundations of the new United States.
- Read, Harmon Pumpelly, and Francis Nev Reed fa Reid. Rossiana: Papers and Documents Relating to the History and Genealogy of the Ancient and Noble House of Ross, of Ross-shire, Scotland, and Its Descent From the Ancient Earls of Ross, Together With the Descent of the Ancient and Historic Family of Read, From Rede of Troughend, Reade of Barton Court, Berks, and Read of Delaware. Also Some Account of the Related Families. “Descendants of George Ross, The ‘Signer’.” Albany, N.Y.: [Press of the Argus co.], 1908, 169-171.
- Read, William Thompson. Life and correspondence of George Read: A signer of the Declaration of Independence. With notices of some of his contemporaries. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1870.
Secondary and Consulted Sources Barthelmas, Della Gray. The Signers of the Declaration of Independence: A Biographical and Genealogical Reference. Jefferson, North Carolina, and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1997.
- Clark, Martha Bladen. “The Homes of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Ross” in Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine: The American Monthly Magazine, Vol, 20, 1029-1030. https://books.google.com/books?id=xtIQAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1029&lpg=PA1029&dq=Anne+Lawler+Ross+of+Lancaster,+PA&source=bl&ots=MfixlSaUG7&sig=ACfU3U1qDEFd7iRylrsWh4cumrkgrzkbRQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwir2ra3sNLgAhXn7oMKHdQICPo4ChDoATADegQIBhAB#v=onepage&q=Anne%20Lawler%20Ross%20of%20Lancaster%2C%20PA&f=false (accessed October 29, 2020).
- Green, Harry Clinton and Mary Wolcott Green, Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence. (A.B. Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1997). Originally published in 1912 as volume 3 of The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
- http://www.djhooker.com/26/10987.htm. (accessed October 29, 2020).
- https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/146282552/anne-ross (accessed April 3, 2020).
- Huesken, Gerald. “George Ross, Lancaster Attorney & Signer of the Declaration of
Independence.” Clio: Your Guide to History. July 4, 2016.
https://www.theclio.com/entry/24134 (accessed October 30, 2020).
- https://historyswomen.com/early-america/ann-lawler-ross/ (accessed April 3, 2020).
- Rodney, Richard S. Immanuel Church New Castle. Reprinted from Historical Magazine of the
Protestant Episcopal Church for December 1948, Volume XII, pp. 367-392. (Resource
Contributed by DSDI member Richard Cooch).
- Vinci, John, ed. http://colonialhall.com/ross/rossAnn.php (accessed April 3, 2020).
- http://www.womenhistoryblog.com/2009/08/anne-lawler-ross.html (accessed April 3, 2020).
Images -In Order of Appearance
- Ann Lawler Ross. Portrait by Benjamin West (Phillips Museum or Art, Franklin & Marshall
(accessed April 3, 2020)
- Portrait of George Ross. Read, Harmon Pumpelly, and Francis Nev Reed fa Reid. Rossiana:
- Papers and Documents Relating to the History and Genealogy of the Ancient and Noble House of Ross, of Ross-shire, Scotland, and Its Descent From the Ancient Earls of Ross, Together With the Descent of the Ancient and Historic Family of Read, From Rede of Troughend, Reade of Barton Court, Berks, and Read of Delaware. Also Some Account of the Related Families. Albany, N.Y.: [Press of the Argus co.], 1908, 207. http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use#pd (accessed October 29, 2020).
- Betsy Ross Flag Painting. This image depicts what is presumed to be Betsy Ross and two children presenting the “Betsy Ross flag” to George Washington. The image is a version of a painting entitled “The Birth of Old Glory” by Percy Moran cir 1917 (Library of Congress) Huesken, Gerald. “George Ross, Lancaster Attorney & Signer of the Declaration of Independence.” Clio: Your Guide to History. July 4, 2016. https://www.theclio.com/entry/24134 (Accessed October 30, 2020).
- Home of George Ross. Clark, Martha Bladen. “The Homes of the Signers of the Declaration of
- Independence – George Ross” in Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine: The
- American Monthly Magazine, Vol, 20, 1030. https://books.google.com (accessed
- October 29, 2020), 1029.
- Obituary of Ann Ross. The Pennsylvania Packet, 14 JUN 1773.
- https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18513804/obituary_of_ann_lawler_ross_in_14_jun/ (accessed October 29, 2020).
- George Ross Marker. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/2775/george-ross (accessed October 31, 2020).