George Mason married Ann Eilbeck on April 4, 1750 and Ann gave birth to her first child, George, Jr., three years later. Over the next twenty years she gave birth to eleven more children, three of which died in infancy. During her last pregnancy, she suffered from ill health, and gave birth to twin sons two months prematurely. Both sons died the next day, and Ann Mason never recovered her health. She died three months later, on March 9, 1773--her oldest son was 20, her youngest, 3. George Mason recorded each of the births, deaths, and marriages of his family in the Mason Family Bible. The following entry reflects Mason's love for, and devotion to, his wife.
Eulogy for Ann Eilbeck Mason
in the Mason Family Bible
On Tuesday, the 9th. of March, 1773, about three O'Clock in the morning, died at Gunston-Hall, of a slow-fever, Mrs. Ann Mason, in the thirty-ninth [ye]ar of her Age; after a painful & tedious Illness of more than [nine months, which she] bore with truly Christian Patience & Resignation, in [faithful hope] of eternal Happiness in the World to come. She [,it may be truthfully said, led a] blameless & exemplary Life. She retain[ed unimpaired her mental faculties to] the last; & spending her latest Moments [in prayer for those around her,] seem'd to expire without the usual [pangs of dissolution. During the whole course] of her Illness, she was never heard to utter one peevish or fretful Complaint, and [constan]tly, regardless of her own Pain & Danger, endeavoured to administer Hope & Comfort [to her] Friends, or inspire them with Resignation like her own! For many Days [be]fore her Death she had lost all Hopes of Recovery, & endeavour'd to wean herself from the Affections of this Life, saying that tho' it must cost her a hard Struggle to reconcile herself to the Thoughts of parting with her Husband & Children, she hoped God wou'd enable her to accomplish it; and after this, tho' she had always been the tenderest Parent, she took little Notice of her Children' but still retain'd her usual Serenity of Mind. She was buried in the new Family-burying- Groun[d] at Gunston-Hall; but (at her own Request) without the common Parade & Ceremo[ny] of a Grand Funeral. Her funeral Sermon was preach'd in Pohick Church by the reved. Mr. James Scott, Rector of Dettingen Parish in the County of Prince William, upon a Text taken from the 23d, 24th, & 25th Verses of the 73d. Psalm.
In the Beauty of her Person, & the Sweetness of her Disposition, she was equalled by few, & excelled by none of her Sex. She was something taller than the Middle-size, & elegantly shaped. Her Eyes were black, tender & lively; her Features regular & delicate; her Complexion remarkably fair & fresh-- Lilies and Roses (almost without a Metaphor) were blended there-- and a certain inexpressible A[ir of] Chearfulness, Health, Innocence & Sensibility diffused over her Coun[tenance] form'd a Face the very Reverse of what is generally called masculi[ne. This is] not an ideal, but a real Picture drawn from the Life. Nor was this be[autiful out]ward-Form disgraced by an unworthy Inhabitant:
Free from her Sex's smallest Faults, And fair as Woman-kind can be;
She was bless'd with a clear & sound Judgement, a gentle & benevolent Heart, a s[incere] & an humble Mind; with an even calm & chearful Temper to a very unusual degree Affable to All, but intimate with Few. Her modest Virtues shun'd the public-Eye, Superior to the turbulent Passions of Pride & Envy, a Stranger to Altercation of every Kind, & content with the Blessings of a private Station, she placed all her Happiness here, where only it is to be found, in her own Family. Tho' she despised Dress, she was always neat; chearful, but not gay; Serious, but not melancholly; she never met me without a Smile! Tho' an only Child, she was a remarkably dutiful One; an easy & agreeable Companion; a kind Neighbour; a steadfast Friend; an humane Mistress; a prudent & a tender Mother; a faithful, affectionate, & most obliging Wife; charitable to the Poor, and pious to her Maker; her Virtue & Religion were unmixed with hypocrisy or Ostentation.
Form'd for domestic Happiness, without one jarring Attom in her Frame! [Her . . .] irreparable Loss I do, & ever shall deplore; and tho' Time I hope will [soften my sad im]pressions, & restore me greater Serenity of Mind than I have lately enjoy[ed, I shall ever retain the most tender and melancholy] Remembrance of One so justly dear.
* The original Mason Family Bible is located at the Gunston Hall museum.