This Month in Delaware…

Wedding dress worn by Louisa Ridgley Dorsey for her marriage to George Read III (DHS collection, Gift of Mrs. Thomas Holcomb II)

Louisa Ridgley Dorsey (1792-1835) marries George Read III (1788-1836) on April 19, 1810.  She was the daughter of prominent Philadelphia physician and Revolutionary War veteran, Dr. Nathan Dorsey (1754-1806), and Anne Sword, a daughter of Philadelphia merchant seaman, Captain William Sword.  Louisa’s new husband George Read III, a lawyer and New Castle native, was the grandson of Delaware’s famous Continental Congressman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, George Read I (1733-1798). The couple met in New Castle, where Louisa was living at 8 East Third Street.

After their marriage, George and Louisa made their home in New Castle, eventually moving into the Read House on the Strand some time before 1820 to live with George’s father, George Read II (1765-1836).  George III and Louisa had nine children, about half of whom were born in the Read House. All of their children would eventually leave New Castle.  Although only one, Anne Dorsey Read Reeves (1818-1900), would return to New Castle during her life time, most of the rest would eventually follow in death. Louisa, George III, and seven of their children are all interred at Immanuel Episcopal Church on the Green in New Castle.

Here at the Delaware Historical Society, we are fortunate to have Louisa Ridgley Dorsey’s wedding dress as part of our costume collections.  This hand-stitched, white silk-satin Empire style gown has a wide neckline, simple puffed sleeves, and the high waistline and softly draped, full-length skirt that was fashionable during this time period.  Its simple lines and lack of surface embellishment give it an appealing, understated elegance. The Society’s Library and Archive also contains a collection of love poems that George III wrote to Louisa during their courtship.


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