Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A photo of Mary Munroe Sanderson (1748 - 1852) who witnessed the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts

This is an amazing old photo of Mary Munroe Sanderson (1748 - 1852) from the collections of the Boston Public Library.  Thank you to my sister's friend, who shared a copy to her from Facebook (see the link below).  We all share Munroe ancestry!

Mary Munroe was born 10 October 1748 in Lexington, Massachusetts.  She married Samuel Sanderson of Woburn on 27 Ocotber 1772 and had six children.  On 23 September 1852 the women in Lexington had a fundraising party for Mary Munroe Sanderson, who was more than 100 years old and suffering from severe arthritis.  The party raised $300, and she died a month later, aged 104. She died on 15 October 1842 in East Lexington, and is buried at the Old Burying Ground.   Her epitaph reads:

Mary Munroe relict of Samuel Sanderson
Born in Lexington Oct 10, 1748
Died in East Lexington Oct 15, 1852
Age 104 years 5 days
A witness of the first revolutionary conflict, she recounted its trying scenes to the last. The vitality of her Christian faith was envinced by cheerfulness under severy bodily infirmity for more than twenty years.

Mary is the daughter of William Munroe and Rebecca Locke.  William Munroe is the brother of my 6th great grandfather, Andrew Munroe (1718 - 1766).  These are the generations that lived through the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the American Revolutionary War.  The Sanderson House still stands next to the Munroe Tavern in Lexington, Massachusetts.  

Mary's husband, Corporal Samuel Sanderson [from the Hudson History of Lexington, Volume II Genealogies]: He was sergeant in a detachment from Lexington militia company commanded by Capt. John Bridge, service 5 days; detachment reported on command at Cambridge from 11 May to 15 May 1775, by order of Committee of Safety; also corporal, pay-roll of a detachment from Lexington militia company commanded by Capt. John Parker, service 2 days; detachment reported on command at Cambridge from 17 June to 18 June 1775, by order of Committee of Safety; also private, Capt. John Briges company, Col. Eleazer Brook’s regiment, service from 4 March to 8 March 1776, 5 days; company stationed in Roxbury.

From Canavan Papers Vol I:  To the east of Munroe Tavern is the Sanderson place, in 1775 this long low house was occupied by Samuel Sanderson and his wife Mary Munroe Sanderson, to whom he was married in 1772. With them was his brother Elijah. These two Sandersons were cabinetmakers. At a later period Elijah lived in Salem and from time to time sent venture of cabinet to France and Spain where they sold well, for the old New England joiner was an artist and made all kinds of woodwork from Pine coffins to the most beautiful desks and sideboards.

(Mary) …She was the daughter of one of the Munroe’s in that part of Lexington known as Scotland, and was born in 1748. She married Sanderson in 1772, he worked at his trade as a “Jiner” in the basement of the house, and his wife often held a candle as he made a coffin. When he heard that the British were coming he piloted his wife over to her father’s carrying his babe, and accompanied by a little girl who was at their house. Over at Scotland they found the mother getting breakfast and the brothers at first did not believe the report. After the British retreated Mary returned home and found a good many things had been stolen. Her cow (which was a good part of her marriage portion) had been killed; and a wounded British soldier was stowed away in her bed. She cried out “ I wont hae him there. Why didn’t you knock him on the head?” But the town authorities insisted he be taken care of. Those who lived on that part of Lexington called Scotland had a little of the Scottish accent and Mrs. Sanderson kept it all her life. The soldier begged for Tea but she refused. “what for should I gae him tae for? He shall hae none.” The wounded man refused to eat or drink unless the food was tasted by some of the family.

The Sandersons moved to Lancaster in 1776 but after her husbands death she returned ot Lexington and died there in 1852 at the age of 104.

I don't know the year this photo was taken, but she looks like she was very elderly at the time.  

For the truly curious:

The Facebook link with the photo of Mary Munroe Sanderson:   

The Sanderson House:  

This sketch of Mrs. Mary Sanderson is from the Locke Family Association website:  It is from the book Book of the Lockes: A genealocial and historical record of the descendants of William Locke, of Woburn, Massachusetts, by John Goodwin Locke.  


To cite/link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A photo of Mary Munroe Sanderson (1748 - 1852) who witnessed the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 7, 2023, ( accessed [access date]).