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Scotchtown

 

Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown is the only original standing home of Patrick Henry. Henry lived at Scotchtown from 1771-1778. In this house, Henry forged the famous “Liberty or Death” speech, delivered at St. John’s Church on March 23, 1775.

Scotchtown has a much deeper history, however. Built around 1719, the original owner of the property was Charles Chiswell. Upon Charles’ passing in 1737, the home was transferred to his son, Col. John Chiswell. The Chiswell family owned and ran the plantation until about 1760, when it was passed to John’s son-in-law, John Robinson, as part of debt payments. Rumored to have been sold in 1770 to Patrick Henry, Patrick eventually moves into the house and begins growing tobacco in 1771.

Patrick’s wife, Sarah Henry, began showing signs of mental illness shortly after moving into Scotchtown. After viewing the appalling conditions of the Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, VA, Patrick decided to keep Sarah at Scotchtown and have her attended to in a small apartment in the basement. Sarah passed in the house in 1775.

Scotchtown passed through many hands, including John Mosby Sheppard in 1801, who’s descendants lived on the property until 1958, when it was transferred to Preservation Virginia, who currently owns and operates the building and grounds as a museum. Preservation Virginia is dedicated to preserving, researching, and using historic locations such as Scotchtown to educate and teach people about our historical roots through tours, exhibits, interpreting, and more. Learn more about Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown here!

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