Charity Bryant

Charity Bryant

Birth
Massachusetts, USA
Death 6 Oct 1851 (aged 74)
Weybridge, Addison County, Vermont, USA
Burial Weybridge, Addison County, Vermont, USA
Memorial ID 112580287 · View Source
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Charity Bryant (May 22, 1777[1] – October 6, 1851[2]) was an American business owner and writer. She was a diarist and wrote acrostic poetry.[3] Because there is extensive documentation for the shared lives of Bryant and her partner, Sylvia Drake (1784 – February 18, 1868), their diaries, letters and business papers have become an important part of the archive in documenting the history of same-sex couples.[4]

Charity Bryant was born on May 22, 1777 in North Bridgewater, Massachusetts[5] to Silence (née Howard) and Phillip Bryant.[6] Her mother died of consumption shortly after her birth.[7] She was the sister of Peter Bryant (August 12, 1767 – March 20, 1820), a doctor and later a state legislator,[8][9] and the aunt of William Cullen Bryant.[10] She was a descendant of Francis Cooke through her father's line.[11]

In 1807, she went to visit a friend, in Weybridge, Vermont and met Sylvia Drake, her friend's sister.[a] The two quickly became partners and worked together in a tailoring business, which allowed them to live together.[13] Their community, including their relatives, accepted them as a married couple.[13][14][15]

Drake discussed their relationship in her diaries:

Tuesday- 3 [July]—31 years since I left my mother’s house and commenced serving in company with Dear Miss B. Sin mars all earthly bliss, and no common sinner have I been, but God has spared my life, given me every thing I would enjoy and now I have a space, if I improve it, to exercise true penitence.[16][17]

Also Charity’s nephew, William Cullen Bryant, described their relationship:

If I were permitted to draw the veil of private life, I would briefly give you the singular, and to me interesting, story of two maiden ladies who dwell in this valley. I would tell you how, in their youthful days, they took each other as companions for life, and how this union, no less sacred to them than the tie of marriage, has subsisted, in uninterrupted harmony, for more than forty years.[4]

Charity and Sylvia are buried together at Weybridge Hill Cemetery, Addison County, Vermont.[18]

Sources:
Cleves, Rachel Hope (2014). Charity and Sylvia: A Same-sex Marriage in Early America. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-933542-8.
Horowitz, Helen L. (Spring 2015). "Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves (review)". Journal of Interdisciplinary History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. 45 (4): 588–589. ISSN 0022-1953. Retrieved 18 July 2017 – via Project MUSE. (Subscription required (help)).
Kurian, George Thomas; Lamport, Mark A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4422-4432-0.
Washington, Ida H. (1991). History of Weybridge, Vermont. Weybridge Bicentennial Committee.
Contributor: Elisa Rolle (48982101)


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  • Created by: Randy H
  • Added: 19 Jun 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 112580287
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Charity Bryant (22 May 1777–6 Oct 1851), Find a Grave Memorial no. 112580287, citing Weybridge Hill Cemetery, Weybridge, Addison County, Vermont, USA ; Maintained by Randy H (contributor 47361195) .