August 28: John Hancock Gets Married in Fairfield


Today in 1775, several members of prominent families from Connecticut and Massachusetts gathered at the Burr homestead in Fairfield, Connecticut to witness the marriage of one of America’s most famous patriots, John Hancock, to his fiancée Dorothy Quincy.

1775 had already been quite a memorable year for the couple. In April, John Hancock had narrowly escaped capture by British soldiers in Lexington, Massachusetts by fleeing his uncle’s house on Lexington Green mere hours before the first shots of the Revolutionary War rang out a few hundred yards away. As Hancock fled, Dorothy Quincy remained behind with Hancock’s aunt and was an eyewitness to the next morning’s battle. Afterwards, Hancock fled to Philadelphia, where he was elected president of the Second Continental Congress which convened in May. Dorothy Quincy relocated to Fairfield to stay with Thaddeus Burr (uncle of Aaron Burr), because it was considered to be a much safer location for outspoken patriots than the British-occupied city of Boston.

John and Dorothy spent most of the intervening months apart, keeping up a brisk correspondence. With a Boston wedding out of the question, they decided to tie the knot at the estate where Dorothy had been staying since April: the Thaddeus Burr house in Fairfield. On August 28th, the couple exchanged vows in front of family and friends. Soon after the wedding, the newlyweds departed for Philadelphia, where Hancock resumed his duties as the president of Congress and, less than a year later, attached his larger-than-life signature to the Declaration of Independence.

Further Reading

Cathryn J. Prince, “Burr Mansion: A Love Story,” Journal of the American Revolution