November 15, 2009

Madame Hepzibah Clarke Swan

Hepzibah Clarke Swan (1757–1825) was a wealthy and well connected heiress who was among the most cosmopolitan, intelligent, and erudite of ladies in Federal Boston. Madame Swan was said to be charismatic, not least because of her wealth but also in good measure because of her effusive personal charm. With her close friend Sarah Wentworth Aprthorp Morton, they founded the Sans Souci Club in Boston, which revelled without regret! Her estranged husband, James Swan, who lived out his adult life in splendour in a Paris debtors prison, also sat for his portrait that was painted by Gilbert Stuart. She was to commission a portrait of her longtime companion, General Henry Jackson (1747-1809) who is also buried in the family lot at Forest Hills Cemetery. But while this sophisticated and charming doyenne of Boston society was said to enjoyed the rapt attention of many, she was also said to be a pendant to no one man in particular, neither in her long and eventful life nor in her soignee portrait. The Swan Family sandstone obelisk is located on Lilac Path and was originally erected in a secluded area of the Swan Estate on Dudley Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts where her companion General Henry Jackson, and later Madame Swan, was interred. Charles Bulfinch had designed her elegant Parisian inspired country house in Dorchester (as well of that of SArah Morton's who was also Bulfinch's cousin) and though she kept a town house on Franklin Place in Boston, it was a favorite resort for family and friends and where she entertained the Marquis de La Fayette on his triumphal tour of the Unuted States on the fiftieth anniversary of the American Revolution. In 1872, with the sale of the estate and the encroachment of development after Dorchester had been annexed to the city of Boston in 1870, the obelisk and the bodies were removed by the family to Forest Hills Cemetery. The development of Woodward Park had been laid out through the once elegant grounds, and her descendants lived on Beacon Hill and Milton. In front of the sandstone obelisk is a large white marble urn that marks the graves of her daughter and grandchildren, members of the Sargent Family.


Lance Ozier said...

Good to see you tonight! Thanks for posting (and researching) so much of the Forest Hills history!

Anthony M. Sammarco said...
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