A Family Crisis

Hannah and her Family
The newly formed family
How might you feel in this situation?

As autumn of 1739 arrived, the maples, oaks, and tulip poplars of London Town had turned vibrant shades of orange, red, and gold. Most days were sunny with blue skies. For the Hill family, however, there was a sense of darkness. Due to extreme financial pressure, Richard Hill and his wife decided to leave London Town to rebuild their fortune. They chose to move to Madeira, a cluster of Portuguese islands 300 miles off the coast of Africa, where Hill had business interests. Perhaps for economic reasons or because of the dangers of sea travel, they had decided not to take all of their children with them.

Richard, their eldest son, and Hannah, the oldest daughter, had inherited their uncle's Philadelphia estate. The youngest children were left in Hannah's care. She was only fifteen, but had recently married her older cousin Samuel Preston Moore. How incredibly difficult it must have been for such a young person to take responsibility for her five younger siblings and a household! Through family letters, it is clear that Hannah had great anxiety about her parents' departure and her separation from them. As a new wife and guardian to her siblings, Hannah faced several changes and adjustments in a short amount of time.

What do you think Hannah had to give up caring for her siblings?

This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Historic London Town and Gardens.