Ohio History Journal


Editorialana.                        119



The Century for July (1901) contains an article by Therese Blenner-

hassett Adams on "The True Story of Harman Blennerhassett." The

author very briefly recites the history of the Blennerhassetts who built

that magnificent mansion on the historic island in the Ohio near Belpre

in the year 1798.* The article is valuable historically as authentically

stating that the main, if not sole cause of the departure from Ireland

and emigration to America of the Blennerhassets, was their social

ostracization, owing to the fact that the wife of Harman Blennerhassett

was his niece.

"Early in 1796 Harman Blennerhassett, then thirty-one years old,

married in England Miss Margaret Agnew, daughter of Captain Robert

Agnew of Howlish, County Durham, a young lady of eighteen. Her

father was lieutenant governor of the Isle of Man, and a son of General

James Agnew of American Revolutionary fame." The mother of Mar-

garet Agnew was Catherine, one of the sisters of Harman Blenner-

hassett. For this cause she (Margaret) was disinherited. The young

lady was absent at school; her uncle (Harman) was sent to take her

home; instead of doing so he married her. He was thirty-one. The fam-

ilies on both sides-the Agnews and the Blennerhassets, forever after-

wards turned their backs upon the eloping couple. Harman broke the

entail established by his father Conway Blennerhassett, and sold his

share of the estate to Thomas Mullin, afterward Lord Ventry. He re-

ceived $160,000 in money. Besides this he was the recipient of an

income of $6600 and more, which belonged to the entailed estate as

a separate portion, which could not be transferred and the use of which

he had until death.

The connection of Blennerhassett with the Burr expedition is not dis-

cussed at any length. It is only admitted that Blennerhassett became

heavily involved financially in the schemes of Burr. "Blennerhassett's

reason" says the author, "for joining Burr was not that of adventure,

but to remove himself farther from those who knew him. He had family

friends who respected him through the position he occupied in his own

country. Among those who knew the sad story of his life, there were

not many on this side of the water, but the dread was with him always

that the truth would become known to his children."

Therese Blennerhassett Adams repudiates the generally promulgated

account of the extreme poverty and desolate "taking off" of both Harman

and Margaret Blennerhassett. "The abject-poverty tales of Blennerhas-

sett and his family serve well the purpose of romance but not of fact,

because they are untrue." Blennerhassett was well cared for till his death,

which occurred at Port Pierre, Island of Guernsey, February 2, 1831.

Margaret died June 16, 1842, in her sixty-fourth year "in the house

she herself rented and paid for" at 75 Greenwich Street, New York.

See Volume I, page 127, Publications Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society.