Photo By Bernard Fisher, September 2, 2011, HMDB
Only archaeological remnants of Studley survive today, but in the 18th century this was the site of an impressive two-story brick house. Studley was built by John Syme in the 1720s for his wife Sarah Winston. After his death, she married John Henry. The couple’s nine children were born at the house, including their son, Patrick Henry, who was born on May 29, 1736. Patrick Henry attended a local school until the age of ten and also received instruction from his father in classics and theology. A childhood friend remembered his affinity for music and recalled that Henry could often be found “lying under the shade of some tree which over hung the sequestered stream” observing the natural world.
Archeological excavations and surviving insurance maps for Studley show that by 1796 the main 40-by-30-foot brick structure stood two stories high with a one-story brick wing and an attached porch. It was surrounded by a variety of outbuildings including a kitchen, dairy, study, stables, barn, and granary. The house burned in 1807. In 1995, Preservation Virginia purchased the property to ensure its protection and preservation.
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was the leading Virginia statesman in defending the rights of Colonial America.
Following Henrys death, John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson singing his praises: “In the Congress of 1774 there was not one member, except Patrick Henry, who appeared to me sensible of the Precipice or rather the Pinnacle on which he stood, and had the candour and courage enough to acknowledge it.”
Henry was the first elected governor of Virginia, a devoted father of 17 children, and the most famous orator of his day. Born in Hanover County, Henry made a name for himself as a young lawyer in the Parsons’ Cause at Hanover Courthouse in 1763. His 1765 resolutions against the Stamp Act articulated the basic principles of the American Revolution. Henry is perhaps best known for his immortal words “Give me liberty or give me death,” which he delivered during the Second Virginia Convention in a speech to fellow delegates George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at St. John’s Church in 1775. His impassioned words helped move colonists toward American independence and they continue to inspire the cause of freedom around the world.
Known as the “Voice of the Revolution,” Henry’s political career included 26 years of service in the Virginia legislature and five terms as governor. He helped draft the Virginia Constitution of 1776 and its Declaration of Rights. A leading critic of the U.S. Constitution, Henry also strongly influenced the creation of the Bill of Rights. Following his death, Henry was buried at Red Hill Plantation, now the site of the Patrick Henry National Memorial.
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