Margaret Arnold

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Margaret Arnold (Shippen)

Also Known As: "Peggy Shippen"
Birthdate: (44)
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Province of Pennsylvania, (Present USA)
Death: Died in London, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
Cause of death: Cancer
Place of Burial: Battersea, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Edward Shippen and Margaret Shippen
Wife of Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold, V
Mother of Lt. Edward Shippen Arnold; Lt.-Gen. James Robertson Arnold; Sophia Matilda Phipps; Lt.-Col. George Arnold; Capt. William Fitch Arnold and 1 other
Sister of Elizabeth Burd; Sarah Lea; Mary McIlvaine; Dr. Edward Shippen; John Francis Shippen and 1 other

Occupation: conspirator
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Margaret Arnold

Peggy Shippen, or Margaret Shippen (July 11, 1760 - August 24, 1804), was the second wife of General Benedict Arnold (following Margaret Mansfield, who died in 1775).

Peggy's Childhood

Peggy was the daughter of Edward Shippen and born into a prominent Philadelphia family. Edward Shippen was a judge and member of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania. Her father suffered major persecution from the Zealots in authority at Boston.[1] Peggy was the youngest child of the family, though there were two other boys born later who died in infancy. She grew up as the baby of the family, but soon became the favorite of her father.

When she was very young, she learned that she could get anything she wanted from her sister, Elizabeth, by throwing a tantrum. Either her mother or father would give in and allow her to have what she wanted. She used this to her advantage throughout her life.[citation needed] She enjoyed music, doing needlework and drawing, but her favorite thing to do was read newspapers and study politics. She looked up to her father and learned many things about politics and the Revolution that was about to begin throughout the colonies.

[edit] Introducing Major John Andre and Benedict Arnold

The Shippen Family had many parties and events in Philadelphia. At one of the parties her family gave, Peggy met a man named Major John Andre, who was an British officer for General Howe. He began enjoying spending time with the Shippen Family, and Peggy was his favorite of the sisters. They became good friends, some even say there were mild flirtations. Around 1778, Andre left Philadelphia with his fellow troops, but both Peggy and John stayed in contact with one another. When he left, he gave her a lock of his hair in a golden locket.

When her family heard that Philadelphia was about to become a war zone, Peggy and her father left their house in the city to live on a farmhouse in the country, a few miles northeast of Philadelphia. They returned to Philadelphia when they thought it was safe. The state had passed a law that all Loyalists, even Neutralists could be arrested. Judge Shippen thought they would be safer in their city home, since the country near Philadelphia was dangerous and had been the scene of numerous battles and skirmishes.

After Andre's exit, Peggy met Benedict Arnold, an American military commander and governor of Philadelphia. Peggy met him at a dance and offered to dance with him, even though he had a lame leg. The two flirted. Shortly after Elizabeth (Peggy's sister) got engaged, Benedict Arnold sent Peggy's father a letter for permission for an engagement to Peggy. At first, Edward Shippen was unsure about his choice, because at that time Benedict Arnold had charges held against him of the huge amounts of money he paid of the state's money. Eventually, Edward Shippen gave Arnold permission of marrying his daughter. On April 8, 1779, Benedict Arnold (age: 38) and Peggy Shippen (age: 18) were married. They moved to their new home in Mount Pleasant manor, located near the Schuylkill River. Many people thought of their relationship as "mysterious."

The Secrets Between The Arnolds and Major John Andre

Although Peggy was newly wed, she still kept in contact with her dear friend, Major John Andre. The couple had many close friends that were members of the Tory political party. Peggy Shippen may have instigated the correspondence between Arnold and Major John André, her friend and previous suitor, who served as aide-de-camp to General Henry Clinton. She may also have been sending military secrets to the British before she married Arnold. Other suspects in Philadelphia, for whom there is evidence in the form of letters of correspondence with André, are loyalists Rev. Jonathan Odell and Joseph Stansbury.[2]

General Arnold attempted to hand over pertinent information regarding the fortifications at West Point along the Hudson River. During a rendezvous with Major John Andre, a series of delays caused Andre to remain on shore and subsequently have to hid himself in a house whose owner was friends with General Arnold. General Arnold encouraged the Major to don a coat that was not his 'regimental' uniform coat, and as he rode on horseback to Manhattan to hand over the information to General Sir Henry Clinton, he was stopped and searched, resulting in the discovery of the plot. Soon after the capture of Major John Andre, Washington obtained the letters and wanted to punish Arnold for his sneakiness and for being a traitor. Peggy Shippen Arnold remained for a short time at West Point with her husband, long enough to convince George Washington and his staff that she had nothing to do with her husband's betrayal, but Arnold escaped in fear of his consequences, leaving Peggy with a newborn. In thought of losing safety, she went to Philadelphia to stay with her family, but she was forbidden to go to the city on October 20, 1780. After that, she travelled to New York City and waited for Arnold to come back to her. Later, they met back together in England. In England, many people treated Peggy unfairly and she didn't like it there.

New evidence[citation needed] suggests that she confided to her friend Theodora Prevost, the widow of a British officer, that she had always hated the American cause and had actively worked to promote her husband's plan to switch allegiance.

Eventually, after a military trial, Major John Andre was condemned to death as a spy and was hanged in Old Tappan, NY. He was later reinterred in London's Westminster Abbey in "Poet's Corner".

[edit] What Happened to the Arnolds?

Peggy Shippen rejoined Arnold and followed him to London in 1781 and resided with him in New Brunswick (now part of Canada) from 1787 until 1791 before returning to London again. Shippen loyally remained at her husband's side in spite of financial disasters and the cool reception he received in Britain and New Brunswick. After his death in 1801, she used his estate to pay off his bad debts.

In 1788 Shippen returned to the United States to care for her parents and then returned to England. She died in England in 1804, and was buried with her husband at St. Mary's Church, Battersea, Surrey, on 25 August 1804.

[edit] The Arnold Family

Benedict Arnold had a total of eight children, three of whom were with Margaret Mansfield. Arnold had five children with Peggy Shippen. All of his sons with Peggy Shippen served in the army. They are as followed.

   Edward Shippen Arnold (1780-1813) (Lieutenant)
   James Robertson Arnold (1781-1854) (Lieutenant General)
   Sophia Matilda Arnold (1785-1828)
   George Arnold (1787-1828) (Lieutenant Colonel)
   William Fitch Arnold (1794-1846) (Captain)

[edit] Timeline

   1760 Peggy (Margaret) Shippen was born on July 11 in Philadelphia.
   1779 Peggy Shippen was married to Benedict Arnold on April 8th.
   1780 George Washington discovered that Benedict Arnold had given plans of West Point to Major John Andre. After that, Andre was arrested as a spy. Benedict Arnold was accused of being a spy. Arnold fled to British territories and Margaret Shippen was forbidden to return to Philadelphia.
   1804 Margaret Shippen died from cancer. 

First wife of Benedict Arnold

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Margaret Arnold's Timeline

June 11, 1760
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Province of Pennsylvania, (Present USA)
March 19, 1780
Age 19
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
August 28, 1781
Age 21
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
July 28, 1785
Age 25
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
September 5, 1787
Age 27
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
June 25, 1794
Age 34
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
August 24, 1804
Age 44
London, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
Battersea, Greater London, England, United Kingdom