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Sarah 'Sallie' Shelton[1, 2]

Female 1738 - 1775  (37 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Sarah 'Sallie' Shelton 
    Born 1738  Middlesex, Virginia Colony Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died Feb 1775  Hanover County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I19155  My Reynolds Line
    Last Modified 28 Oct 2017 

    Father John Armistead Shelton,   b. Est 1700, Greencastle, Antrim Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Mother Eleanor Parks,   d. Yes, date unknown, Greencastle, Franklin Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F7108  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Patrick Henry,   b. 29 May 1736, Hanover Co., Colonial Virgnia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jun 1799, Charlotte County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 63 years) 
    Married 1754 
    Last Modified 16 Oct 2017 
    Family ID F7109  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Documents
    Patrick Henry-Death Notice
    Patrick Henry-Death Notice
    Hartford Courant
    Jun 24, 1799
    Sallie Shelton, Wife of Patrick Henry, Sister of Eleanor and her husband Alexander McClanahan
    Sallie Shelton, Wife of Patrick Henry, Sister of Eleanor and her husband Alexander McClanahan
    Sallie Shelton.jpg

    Patrick Henry-Scotchtown Home Restored
    Patrick Henry-Scotchtown Home Restored
    Chicago Tribune
    Jun 29, 1975
    Patrick Henry-Scotchtown Va. Home
    Patrick Henry-Scotchtown Va. Home
    Reno Gazette Journal
    Jul 8, 2001

  • Sources 
    1. [S82] Wikitree,
      Sarah Henry (nee Shelton)
      Born about 1738 in Rural Plains, Hanover County, Virginia
      Ancestors ancestors
      Daughter of John Armistead Shelton & Eleanor Parks
      Sister of William Parks Shelton, James Shelton, William Shelton, Thomas Shelton, William Shelton, Elisabeth Shelton, Eleanor Shelton and John Shelton
      Wife of Patrick Henry ? married 1754 (to 19 Mar 1775) in Rural Plains (Shelton House), Hanover County, Virginia
      Descendants descendants
      Mother of Martha (Henry) Fontaine, John Henry, William Henry, Anne (Henry) Roane, Elizabeth Henry and Edward Henry
      Died 19 Mar 1775 in Scotchtown, Hanover County, Virginia

    2. [S32],

    3. [S100] Internet Source,
      "Give me liberty, or give me death!" School children learn these words that Patrick Henry exclaimed on the eve of the American Revolution. However, that is nearly all most Americans know about this Founding Father from Virginia. This year's anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a good time to recover the history of how people in the past, including statesmen such as Patrick Henry, understood disability. Henry's wife, Sarah Shelton Henry, dealt with depression and violent outbursts. Despite recommendations, together they refused to place her in a hospital, instead providing care for her at home until her death.
      Patrick and Sarah knew each other from childhood and fell in love. They married in 1754 at a very young age, even by 18th century American standards. He was 18 and she 16, and together they had six children. After the sixth child, Sarah became increasingly unwell.

      There is little information on the specific nature of Sarah's illness, nor is there a record of Sarah's participation in decisions about her treatment. But there is no doubt that she experienced mental instability. She was ill in 1774 with signs dating back to 1767. She was emotionally unsettled and became violent at times, to the point that she had to be restrained by a strait-dress (an early form of a strait-jacket) to prevent her from harming herself and others. Patrick knew he had to do something to help his wife and care for his family.

      Mental illness was understood very differently in the 18th century compared to now. The populace generally viewed it as sinful and criminal, a sign of the devil. A new hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, the Eastern State Hospital, opened in 1773 specifically for the mentally ill. It served as an alternative to prison or other punishments. The treatments were harsh but also common?patients were bled, blistered, subjected to pain, shock, and terror. They were dunked in water and restrained, resulting in injury or death. The fact that there was an institution separate from almshouses and hospitals for treating the mentally ill is noteworthy. Eastern State Hospital represented progress in care for the mentally ill.
      Patrick Henry, who had spent much time in Williamsburg, knew about the hospital and refused to send Sarah there. The Henrys were a family of some wealth, and this probably helped in the decision for Sarah to remain at their home, Scotchtown Plantation. They created a small apartment for her in a sunny section of the mansion's basement. Patrick assigned a slave to serve as a nurse to her, and he also aided directly in her care. He and the children visited her often, and their eldest daughter and her husband moved home to help care for her mother. Sarah died in 1775, possibly of suicide, but historians do not know the exact cause of her death.
      Patrick had the option to send Sarah away to an institution, and although ground-breaking at the time, hospitalization would have resulted in a much lower quality of life for his wife. Whether his decision was a result of love for his wife or concern for his reputation and political ambition, his approach to mental illness was remarkably innovative for the 18th century. The example of Sarah Shelton Henry and the Eastern State Hospital mark the beginning of a wave of reform in the approach to mental illness and disability.