One hundred and eighty-nine years ago, on March 20, 1827, Robert Bartow (1792–1868) and Maria Rosina Lorillard (1800–1880) tied the knot. He was thirty-five, and she was twenty-six, a bit on the old side for a first marriage at that time. He was a descendent of the Lords of the Manor of Pelham and America’s landed gentry. She was an heiress to part of the great Lorillard tobacco fortune. Wealth, social position, and (hopefully) love—marital bliss had a promising future.
The couple were married by the Reverend Dr. James Milnor (1773–1845), Rector of St. George’s (Episcopal) Church, then located at 41 Beekman Street, whose members included some of the city’s elite. This was Robert Bartow’s neighborhood church; his address in 1827 was just a few doors away at 33 Beekman. Bartow and some of his relatives were parishioners, along with the bride’s uncle Jacob Lorillard (1774–1838), who had served on the vestry. It is unknown whether the ceremony took place at someone’s residence (a common practice of the day) or in the church.
The Reverend Dr. Milnor had represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Congress before becoming an Episcopal minister and was Rector at St. George’s for almost thirty years from 1816 to his death in 1845.
The New-York Mirror and Ladies’ Literary Gazette announced the wedding, simply stating the name of the bride, groom, officiant, and date. However, as was the custom at the time, the bride probably wore a satin or silk dress in a shade of white, a veil, and perhaps a wreath of fragrant orange blossoms. Bridesmaids and groomsmen would have attended the matrimonial pair. Wedding cake was a highlight of nuptial celebrations then, as now, and wine allowed guests to drink to the health of the newlyweds.
Mr. and Mrs. Bartow set up their new household in New York City. About ten years later, they moved to their country estate on Robert Bartow’s ancestral land situated along Long Island Sound, where they built an elegant stone mansion. Here, they raised seven children to adulthood and spent the rest of their lives. Here’s to the happy couple!
Margaret Highland, Historian