The Sweetheart of Graeme Park: Elizabeth’s Loves, Losses, and Heartbreak
Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson led a life of wealth and privilege, romance and intrigue, heartbreak, poverty and sorrow. She was the youngest child of the prominent and wealthy Dr. Thomas Graeme and his wife, Ann Diggs Graeme, and the step-granddaughter of Sir William Keith, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania. She spent her summers at idyllic Graeme Park and her winters enjoying the social scene in Philadelphia. She was well educated and spent time traveling abroad, writing, and in the company of Philadelphia’s political, social, and literary elite.
After early heartbreak at the hands of William Franklin, Elizabeth met and married a man she would describe in one of her poems as tall, handsome, brown-haired, blue-eyed, charming, and a little untrustworthy and careless with the feelings of others. Henry Hugh Fergusson would side with the British during the Revolution and as a result of his loyalties, Elizabeth would find herself after the war fighting to keep her ancestral home and a scant few of her possessions.
Henry returned to England and the couple would never again be together. Rumors swirled through Philadelphia of his infidelity and an illegitimate child and Elizabeth began an unrelenting quest to learn the truth on this matter, which alienated all but her closest of friends. She spent the years after the Revolution at Graeme Park with her friend Betsy Stedman as her companion, struggling to pay debts left by her father and to regain title to her home. Her last years were spent as a border and then a guest in the home of a friend. She died on February 23 with Betsy Stedman and her grandniece, Anna Smith, at her side.