Our Namesake, Lady Fenwick
|Our founder, Nettie C. Smith, shared much of Lady Fenwick's history in an address she delivered about 1915.|
Lady Fenwick was born Alice Apsley. Prior to her marriage to George Fenwick, she was married to Sir John Boteler, the elder son of a baron. She was, by courtesy, called Lady Boteler, and later Lady Fenwick.
In 1639, Lady Fenwick came to the little settlement and fort at the mouth of the Connecticut River as the bride of George Fenwick, one of the gentlemen colonists who first came in 1635.
The Fenwicks took up their abode in a "faire house well fortified" within the fort, near the bank of the river, where it flowed into the Sound, a beautiful spot. It is said that she was tall and graceful, with a wealth of auburn hair, and we read of her being seen riding horseback or practicing with her "shooting iron."
Reared in the midst of wealth and refinement, she bravely adapted herself to her new life, and for eight years gave her best, courageously and unselfishly, for the advancement of the new country and the welfare of the people.
She was united with the Rev. Thomas Hooker's Church in Hartford, and carried her little daughter, Elizabeth, there to be baptized.
Lady Fenwick could not long endure the severe winters or the life of a colonist and she died soon after the birth of her daughter, Dorothy, and was buried on a small hill within the enclosure of the fort.
Soon after her death, disappointed and discouraged, George Fenwick returned to England; his two little daughters and their nurse followed later.
Why was Lady Fenwick chosen to be our namesake? In Nettie Smith's words, "We were not troubled with a lack of patriotic women during the Revolution" from whom to select our patron saint. However, Lady Fenwick exemplified the spirit on which this country was founded. "Her interest, help, and encouragement in the work of founding this little settlement, under such hardships, entitles her to a place of honor."