Hannah Seeley Conarroe (Morris)
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Daughter of Robert Morris, Jr., signer of the "Declaration of Independence" and Mary Morris
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About Hannah Seeley Conarroe
Biographies indicate and numerous historic records corroborate that Robert Morris, Jr., signer of the "Declaration of Independence" and Mary Morris had seven children - five sons and two daughters. A claim has been made that a third daughter, Hannah Seeley Morris, was disowned by Robert Morris because she married a Quaker. There is a further claim that he deleted her name from his will and from the town church birth records and the church roll. The Daughters of the American Revolution have recognized Hannah as Morris' daughter by affidavit only.
This claim is problematic on several counts. Firstly, to have a child's name struck from church records would be difficult in any circumstance. It would have been even more difficult since the church the Morrises attended was led by Bishop William White, who was the brother of Mary (White) Morris, and therefore the uncle of all of Robert Morris' children. Bishop White and Robert Morris were extremely close friends all their lives, and the Bishop's moral integrity and exactitude are well attested. The records of Christ Church were meticulously kept. Removing the record of a child's baptism would require either blackening out an entry, or removing an entire page from the church book. For Morris to have falsified a church document would have been audacious in the extreme. No one has come forward with any evidence of such tampering.
Secondly, Robert Morris was a prominent man in Philadelphia. For a daughter of such a family to have eloped without the support of that family would have caused remark. A man of Morris' stature banishing such a daughter, removing her from a will and effectively trying to erase her existence would have caused a great deal of gossip, which would certainly have made its way into print and thus into the historical record. No trace of any such occurrence has been produced.
Further doubt is cast on the inclusion of Hannah among the children of Mary and Robert Morris by a letter written by Robert Morris to his wife in late July, 1789. He wrote to tell her about their friends George and Martha Washington visiting Philadelphia. He closes by mentioning that Nelly Custis asked after Maria Morris, and Mrs. Washington asked after both Hetty and Maria. Given a birthdate of 1773, Hannah would have been about 16 years old when this letter was written. It is unthinkable that a family of the Morrises' stature would have disowned a daughter at that age. It is also rather unlikely that a woman of Martha Washington's tact and position would have failed to ask after a third daughter, if one had existed.
Many letters survive which were written by or to various members of this family. These letters span a range of decades and naturally mention the children at various ages. No reference to a daughter by the name of Hannah can be found in any of them.
In 1877, Charles Henry Hart was given access to the Morris family bible to prepare for an address given to the descendants of Col. Thomas White. A written version of this address draws from this family bible, specifically the handwritten birth records made there by Robert Morris. Had there been a daughter named Hannah, her birth would have been recorded fourth out of eight children, between William and Hester. Hart transcribed the details of birth for all seven known Morris children. He made no mention either of a daughter named Hannah, nor any obliterated record which would give support to the claim of a disowned child.
Quaker meetings also kept exacting records of those who joined their faith. No record has been put forth to show that a daughter of Robert Morris - and a niece of the most prominent Anglican cleric in the state - converted and became a member in good standing just prior to her marriage. Again, given the prominence of the family, such a conversion would have been notable and well worth recording.
Neither Hannah nor Charles are recognized by NSSAR as no descendants of these children have applied for membership.