« PreviousContinue »
to receive an expected bride, but notwithstanding his ample preparation he lived and died a bachelor. His mother, Susanna Heath, was a prominent minister among Friends and made a number of religious visits to England, Ireland, and Holland. It seems that Samuel accompanied his mother across the Atlantic on one of these visits and became affianced to a young lady in England. Upon the completion of his new house he
. gave a housewarming and entertained his friends and neighbours with great hospitality. There was some conviviality, and Samuel, lying upon a settle in his cups, remarked, “ I've got the pen; all I want now is the sow!” His betrothed was brought news of this indelicate remark and being a lady of spirit promptly broke the engagement.
During the years 1745 to 1753, Samuel Morris was a justice of the peace in Whitemarsh and an overseer of Plymouth Meeting so that he must have had contrition for his unfortunate moment and lived an exemplary and useful life afterward. He died in 1772 and left his estate to his brother Joshua, who sold it in 1776 to William West, whose executors, in 1784, conveyed the property to the life interest of James Horatio Watmough with a reversion to Henry Hope.
Mr. Watmough was Henry Hope's ward and it was the wish of the latter that he should enter the banking house and pursue a career of financiering. Mr. Watmough, however, had other designs, so an estrangement
The difference was afterward happily adjusted and Henry Hope settled the Whitemarsh estate on Colonel Watmough as a peace offering. In compliment to his guardian, Colonel Watmough named the place Hope Lodge. One of Colonel Watmough's daughters married Joseph Reed, the son of General Joseph Reed, and another married John Sergeant, the celebrated lawyer. Both the Reeds and Sergeants as well as the Watmoughs lived at Hope Lodge at various times. The property now belongs to Mr. Wentz, who occupies the house.
T the end of a shaded drive that sweeps up the rise in a quarter circle, set amid great ancient oaks and pines and sycamores, the Highlands, from its lofty position, overlooks the Whitemarsh Valley, doubly rich in
natural beauty and historical associations. On the Skippack Pike about a mile and a half from Whitemarsh station it stands just where the road climbs well up into the hills that form the valley's northern boundary.
In 1794, Anthony Morris, son of Captain Samuel Morris, bought the land, and in 1796 finished the house, which is as fine an example of late Georgian architecture as one is likely to meet with. Though not strictly Colonial in point of date, yet all the associations of the Highlands are so closely allied to things Colonial that it ought to be included among Colonial Homes. The broad south front is built of carefully cut and squared stone and adorned with fluted Ionic pilasters of lightercoloured stone that support the pediment surmounting the middle part of the cornice. The sides are of ordinary rubble. An unusually wide hallway through the centre of the house joins an equally wide cross-hall at the back in which latter a broad stately staircase ascends by two flights and a gallery landing to the second floor. Above the landing and lighting the whole rear hall is a beautifully proportioned triple or Palladian window. The old Adam mantels with elaborate designs in stucco were unfortunately removed many years ago and replaced by classic black marble structures.
The chief beauty of the Highlands lies in its wonderful trees and in the old garden now, alas, all overgrown, its greenhouses empty, and its sundial broken. The spring-house built at the same time as the mansion is a picturesque octagonal stone structure set in a dell beneath a group of lofty sycamores.
Anthony Morris was born in 1766 and though admitted to the bar in 1787, subsequently became a merchant and engaged extensively in the East India trade. As a young man he represented the city of Philadelphia in the State Senate, and in 1793, when only twenty-seven years of age, was chosen speaker to succeed Samuel Powel. Because, as speaker, he signed the bill providing for troops to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, the Meeting of which he was a member disowned him. He was the intimate friend of Jefferson, Monroe, and Madison, and throughout the “ Memoirs and Letters of Dolly Madison,” who, by the way, was a Philadelphian herself, we find cordial references to Anthony Morris. During Madison's administration, he represented the United States at the Court of Spain for nearly two years, from 1813–1815, when he was entrusted with the adjustment of the boundary dispute in connection with the Florida cession. He was entirely successful in his diplomatic mission, which resulted in a final settlement.
At the time of his death, in his ninety-fifth year, he