Lady Christina Stuart Griffin



Lady Christina Stuart Griffin

Daughter of the 6th Earl of Traquair





Lady Christina’s husband, Cyrus Griffin of Virginia, was elected President of the United States, in Congress Assembled January 22, 1788 serving until January 21, 1789. Cyrus Griffin was born in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia in 1749 and died in Yorktown, Virginia on December 14th, 1810. He was educated in Britain, studying law at the University of Edinburgh and at the Temple in London. In Europe Griffin was admired for his fresh, unwavering colonial spirit and his bright mind at the University of Edinburgh. It was at the University he became a close friend to Charles Stuart, Lord Linton, first son and heir of the Earl of Traquair. During the Christmas holiday, with Cyrus being so far from home, Charles invited him to his family's Traquair estate. 




John Stuart, the Earl of Traquair had three daughters, the Lady Christina, the Lady Mary and the Lady Louisa. The Lady Christina was strikingly beautiful and her personality so magnetic that the handsome Cyrus Griffin couldn't resist making a bold, but private, declaration to win the Lady's heart. When the Earl learned of Cyrus' intentions, he immediately admonished his son Lord Linton for allowing this Virginia plebian to enter Traquair's noble gates. The Earl reportedly raved and ranted at the rest of his family, for not uncovering this mischief sooner as such a scandal threatened the social standing of his noble house. Cyrus was escorted off the estate becoming persona non grata in the House of Traquair. The Earl forbade Christina from ever seeing Cyrus again and implemented estate security measures to end the love affair.




Traquair Family Estate






The courtship did not end and it became real runaway months later through the forests, over hill and dale in a wild flight from Traquair on a spring day in 1770. In the escape, the Lady Christina fell and broke her ankle. Family legend has it that Cyrus, underdetermined to let the event spoil their passionate plans, scooped her up and carried his lover through the countryside not to a doctor but to a parson. The minister, despite their disheveled appearance and her swollen ankle, united them in the bonds of matrimony on April 29, 1770.[i] The couple took residence in London while Griffin completed his studies. They returned to Virginia in 1776 with two children. 

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Eight years later President Griffin and Lady Christina would find themselves in New York awaiting the 13 state ratification of a new U.S. Constitution that, if approved, would mean the complete dissolution of the Articles of Confederation Presidency and the entire confederation government. During this transition, the Griffin’s social status as President and “First Lady” of the United States in New York was second to none under the Articles of Confederation. Griffin’s office, English education, and his marriage to nobility solidified his standing as the pinnacle in confederation society among the nation's leaders. Lady Christina’s state events held for foreign dignitaries were legendary in New York’s social circles. Their last Presidential hospitality duty was to welcome the newly elected President under the current U.S. Constitution George Washington while participating in the inauguration festivities. The Presidential installation Broadside published by the new Federal Government marked the beginning of a new U.S. Presidency and its tripartite political system and the demise of the unicameral Confederation government. The Inaugural Broadside began:

Broadside Announcing Ceremonial for Washington's Inauguration, 29 April 1789
THE Committees of both Houses of Congress, appointed to take order for conducting the ceremonial of the formal reception &c. of the President of the United States, on Thursday next, have agreed to the following order thereon, viz.

 That General Webb, Colonel Smith, Lieutenant-Colonel Fish, Lieut. Col. Franks, Major L'Enfant, Major Bleecker, and Mr. John R. Livingston, be requested to serve as Assistants on the occasion.  That a chair he placed in the Senate-Chamber for the President of the United States. That a chair be placed in the Senate-Chamber for the Vice-President, to the right of the President’s chair; and that the Senators take their seats on that side of the chamber on which the Vice-President’s chair shall be placed. That a chair be placed in the Senate-Chamber for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the left of the President’s chair—and that the Representatives take their seats on that side of the chamber on which the Speaker’s chair shall be placed.

 That seats be provided in the Senate-Chamber sufficient to accommodate the late President of the United States in Congress Assembled [Cyrus Griffin of Virginia], the Governor of the Western territory [Arthur St Clair], the five persons being the heads of the three great departments [Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, Secretary of War Henry Knox, Commissioners of the Treasury Arthur Lee, Walter Livingston, and Samuel Osgood], the Minister Plenipotentiary of France [Eleanor Francois Elie, Cpmte de Moustier], the Encargado de negocios of Spain [Don Diego de Gardoqui], the Chaplains of Congress [Bishop Samuel Provoost. Dr. William Liin], the persons in the suite of the President:42 and also to accommodate the following Public Officers of the State, viz. The Governor [George Clinton], the Lieutenant-Governor [Pierre Van Cortlandt], the Chancellor [Robert R. Livingston], the Chief Justice [Richard Morris], and other Judges of the Supreme Court [Robert Yates, Jon Sloss Hobart], and the Mayor of the city [James Duane]. That one of the Assistants wait on these gentlemen, and inform them that seats are provided for their accommodation, and also to signify to them that no precedence of seats is intended, and that no salutation is expected from them on their entrance into, or their departure from the Senate-Chamber.

After the inauguration, Cyrus  Griffin  was appointed by President George Washington as the first Federal Judge for the District of Virginia, where he served until his death. In that capacity, he joined Chief Justice John Marshall in presiding over the treason trial of Vice President Aaron Burr. Judge Griffin and Lady Christina lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, from 1794 until their deaths.  Lady Christina died in Williamsburg in 1807 and was interred in Bruton Parish Churchyard in Williamsburg, Virginia.




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United Colonies and States First Ladies
1774-1788


United Colonies Continental Congress
President
18th Century Term
Age
09/05/74 – 10/22/74
29
Mary Williams Middleton (1741- 1761) Deceased
Henry Middleton
10/22–26/74
n/a
05/20/ 75 - 05/24/75
30
05/25/75 – 07/01/76
28
United States Continental Congress
President
Term
Age
07/02/76 – 10/29/77
29
Eleanor Ball Laurens (1731- 1770) Deceased
Henry Laurens
11/01/77 – 12/09/78
n/a
Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802)
12/ 10/78 – 09/28/78
21
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
09/29/79 – 02/28/81
41
United States in Congress Assembled
President
Term
Age
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
03/01/81 – 07/06/81
42
07/10/81 – 11/04/81
25
Jane Contee Hanson (1726-1812)
11/05/81 - 11/03/82
55
11/03/82 - 11/02/83
46
Sarah Morris Mifflin (1747-1790)
11/03/83 - 11/02/84
36
11/20/84 - 11/19/85
46
11/23/85 – 06/06/86
38
Rebecca Call Gorham (1744-1812)
06/06/86 - 02/01/87
42
02/02/87 - 01/21/88
43
01/22/88 - 01/29/89
36


Constitution of 1787
First Ladies
President
Term
Age
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
57
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
52
Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
September 6, 1782  (Aged 33)
n/a
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
40
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
48
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
50
December 22, 1828 (aged 61)
n/a
February 5, 1819 (aged 35)
n/a
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
65
April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842
50
June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
23
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
41
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
60
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
52
March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
46
n/a
n/a
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
42
February 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
54
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
43
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
45
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
48
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
n/a
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
21
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
56
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
28
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
49
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
40
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
47
March 4, 1913 – August 6, 1914
52
December 18, 1915 – March 4, 1921
43
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
60
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
44
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
54
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
48
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
60
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
56
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
31
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
50
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
56
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
56
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
49
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
59
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
63
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
45
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
54
January 20, 2009 to date
45





[i] Robins, Sally Nelson Love Stories of Famous Virginians, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia Published in 1923 by the Dietz Printing Company, pages 133-135







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