Lydia Darragh (Barrington) (1729 - 1789)

‹ Back to Darragh surname

1

Matches

0 1 0
Adds burial place.

View Lydia Darragh (Barrington)'s complete profile:

  • See if you are related to Lydia Darragh (Barrington)
  • Request to view Lydia Darragh (Barrington)'s family tree

Share

Related Projects

Birthplace: Ireland
Death: Died in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Managed by: Elizabeth Laumas
Last Updated:

About Lydia Darragh (Barrington)

I wrote this based upon my research. -Elizabeth R. Laumas

Although the Darragh family were Quakers, and thus, pacifists, their son Charles fought in the Revolutionary War. During the year 1777, when the British occupied Philadelphia, the British army general, William Howe began living across the street from the Darragh family. Thus the scene was set for Lydia to go from being a rather anonymous Quaker wife and mother to being a legendary spy remembered for her bravery! Lydia took advantage of the fact that General Howe was her neighbor and she began to collect information to aid the Americans which she would then send to her son Charles. Lydia wrote the information in simple codes on paper scraps which she hid in her clothing or her messenger’s clothing. Some sources say that her son John was one of her messengers taking her information to his brother Charles who would in turn hand it over to high ranking officers in the Continental army. The most notorious incident in Lydia’s life as a spy occurred in the winter of 1777. The following is a summary of the story as Lydia related to her daughter Ann who later published the story in 1827. In the fall of 1777, British troops demanded that they be allowed to use the Darragh family home for meetings. Interestingly, one of these British soldiers was a member of Lydia’s family from back in Ireland. Using this connection, as well as the fact that her family were Quakers and thus, it was known they did not take sides, Lydia ensured that her family would be allowed to remain in residence in the home while the soldiers essentially occupied it. Her youngest children were sent to live with relatives in the countryside out of harm’s way. On the night of December 2, 1777, the British soldiers asked that the Darragh family go to bed by 8pm. The soldiers informed Lydia that they would wake her up once their meeting was over so that she could close up the home for the night. Lydia saw her chance! Lydia pretended to be fast asleep but she was actually listening to the soldiers through the door and she learned that they were planning a surprise attack on the Americans, led by General George Washington, who were camped at Whitemarsh. When the meeting was over, one of the British soldiers knocked on Lydia’s bedroom door so that she would wake up and let the soldiers out and take care of extinguishing the candles and locking the doors. The solider was none the wiser as Lydia pretended to be roused from sleep after he knocked on her bedroom door. Lydia knew that she must get this information to General Washington! She also knew that it would be very dangerous to do so but she knew that she must do it! Lydia decided not to tell a single soul what she had come to know… not even her own husband, for she was fearful of the danger to her loved ones if they should know the information. She obtained a pass from General Howe to purchase flour and also to go for a visit to her younger children who were living in the countryside. Lydia walked through the snow to Frankford Mill and purchased twenty-five pounds of flour. She then began her walk to a local tavern that was known as a place to deliver messages such as the one she wished to deliver. Lydia came upon an American soldier on the road to that tavern and she told him everything she knew. The message was delivered and the Americans were ready and waiting for the British to attack them. Lydia saved the day! One of the British soldiers questioned Lydia afterwards because he was curious as to how the Americans knew of the attack which was supposed to be a surprise. He inquired as to whether anyone in the Darragh household had been awake and listening on the night of December the second when the soldiers had their meeting. Lydia assured him that no one had been awake and the solider believed her!

Lydia is buried in Friends Arch Street Meeting House Burial Ground, Pennsylvania, USA

view all

Lydia Darragh's Timeline

1729
1729
Ireland
1755
1755
Age 26
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
1757
1757
Age 28
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
1763
1763
Age 34
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
1766
1766
Age 37
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
1768
1768
Age 39
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
1789
December 28, 1789
Age 60
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
????