Galloway, Grace: Diary of a Loyalist

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The experiences of Grace Growden Galloway (1727– 1782) illustrate the challenges Loyalists faced when they remained in the colonies during the American Revolution. Her wartime diary, kept in Philadelphia from 1778 until 1781, reveals how the absence of male family members and the hardships of military conflict transformed women's daily lives. For Galloway, American independence meant poverty, abandonment, loss of social precedence, and the devastating disappearance of the prewar world she had known.

Galloway's father, Lawrence Growden, was a prominent businessman, landowner, and politician with considerable influence in Pennsylvania. In 1753 she married Joseph Galloway, a successful lawyer, who converted to Anglicanism from Quakerism in order to marry her. Galloway's earliest writings convey the turbulence of her marriage, as in these lines from a poem: "never get Tyed to a Man / for when once you are yoked / Tis all a Mere Joke / of seeing your freedom again." On another occasion she wrote that she had been "turn'd to that heavy lifeless lump of a wife" (as quoted in Norton, p. 45).

The Galloways adopted Loyalist opinions in the early 1770s. In 1777 Lord Howe appointed Joseph Galloway civil commissioner of Philadelphia while the British occupied the city. After the British retreated to New York, Joseph Galloway and the couple's only surviving child, Betsey, sailed for London in October 1778. Galloway stayed behind, like many Loyalist wives, because she and her husband assumed that the British would prevail. All she needed to do in her family's absence was retain control of their property and business interests. Her initial diary entries after his departure show her frustration in this endeavor: "It seems," she wrote on August 13, 1779, "as if ye world was in league against us."

Although Galloway relied initially on her husband's friends and business partners for advice, after Revolutionaries confiscated her house in September 1778 she pursued a campaign to protect her dower properties for her daughter on her own. This property, which she had inherited from her father, included five estates in Pennsylvania and Delaware totaling over 1,800 acres and a 30 percent share in the Durham Iron Works. Pennsylvania authorities eventually ruled that she could not control land she inherited from her father until after her husband's death. Only after Joseph's death in 1803 was Betsey able to inherit.

Galloway worried over the fate of her daughter and husband, from whom she received letters infrequently. Correspondence she received from them on May 4, 1779, left her feeling "more easey as I hope from what they write we shall not sink & they are well & happy." Galloway also feared the potential for violence against Loyalists. One night she "awoke early in a fright Dreamed I was going to be hang'd." The earlier hanging of Loyalist George Spangler must have made an impression on her.

Although Galloway socialized daily with an extensive network of female friends, she confided her fear and isolation to her diary. After she was evicted from her house, she boarded with Quaker Deborah Morris. While she lived with "dear Debby," a steady stream of visitors came to take tea with the two women, although these visits were not always to Galloway's liking. During one visit Galloway and an acquaintance "had a Dispute" over whether Britain or America was better. "We got at last very ernest & hated each other freely." Politics and war invaded women's social gatherings and tested Galloway's Loyalist sympathies.

Galloway found her material circumstances altered by the war. She had to make arrangements for basic daily needs with devalued Continental currency. She described the arduous process of purchasing firewood, salt, cider, and other necessities. Galloway resented other changes too, writing late in 1778 that "My dear child came into My Mind & what she wou'd say to see her Momma walking 5 squares in the rain at Night like a common Woman & go to rooms in an Alley for her home."


Thursday ye 9. Thomas Stackhouse he paid Me thirty pounds Israel Pemberton he advised Me to see Lawers [lawyers?] as the men were nominated to seize our estate; sent for Lewise gave him ten guineas … he promised to Consult Abel James & Mr. Chew [Benjamin Chew, the last chief-justice under the proprietors] to see if I cou'd have dower.

Friday ye 10th. Jones girls here in ye afternoon & told me 12 french ships of ye line was gone for New York & I was quite Mad with How[e] for betraying us to the provincials as it was in his power to have settled ye affair … Mr Chew here at Night … he do[es] not seem so kind as at first; & told me he cou&d not come often as he was afraid …

Saturday ye 11th. Nurse at ye generals [likely General Cadwalader] all day … they had a Turtle … sent me some soop. Chew girls here at Night told me the Roebuck was taken [British ship H.M.S. Roebuck was driven ashore on July 14, 1778 and deserted by the crew]; they boast of the kindness of english officers & I was very low & mad to think we that are ruin'd by them was the least noticed … everything wears a gloomy appearance … am quite low.

Sunday ye 12th. was very unwell in ye morn & the french Ambassadore came this day … I look'd out & saw the Cannon & soldiers & I thought it was like the execution of my husband & hurri'd away determine'd to see no more of it but Nancy Clifton came & I went down to her & she told me the Roebuck was not taken which raised my spirits & I look out & saw ye Contemptable [sic] sight … there was eighty two Men drawn Up before the generals & our house on ye opposeite side of the street, Under arms & general Cadwallader & Mr Morrise with some of ye Aid de Camps came with them …

Tusday ye 21st. was in very good spirits … Sucky Jones came in ye morn to tell me the Men [agents entrusted with the disposal of confiscated estates] was at Shoemakers yesterday [Samuel Shoemaker had supported the British cause and he was attainted, like Galloway, and his estates confiscated]: Mrs Jones here & about 2o'clock they came—one smith[,] a hatter & Col Will & one Shriner & a Dutch Man I know not his Name … they took an inventory of everything even to broken China & empty bottles… . I had such spirits that I appear'd Not Uneasy … they told Me they must advertise the house. I told them they may do as they pleased but till it was decided by a Court I wou'd not go out Unless by ye force of a bayonet but when I knew who had a right to it I should know how to Act; …

[source:Diary of Grace Growden Galloway, New York: Arno Press, 1971, pp. 38–41.]

Galloway was not alone in her struggles. Many Loyalist wives stayed in the colonies to protect property; sometimes their husbands abandoned them when they resettled in Canada or Great Britain, as Joseph Galloway seemed to have done, as Linda Kerber noted in Women of the Republic. As it became clear there was little hope of acquiring title to their American properties, Galloway wrote: "I am Determin'd to go from this wicked place as soon as I hear from JG [Joseph Galloway] & Not by My own impatience put it out of my power to leave this Sodom…." But she received no instructions from her hus band. Her poor health and precarious financial situation frustrated her in the final months of her diary: "all is Cloudy & I am wrap[p]ed in impenetrable Darkness will it Can it ever be removed & shall I once More belong to somebody for Now I am like a pelican in ye Desert."

Galloway died in Philadelphia in February 1782. Although histories of the American Revolution commonly celebrate the victors and sacrifices of patriots, Grace Galloway's diary reminds us that a large number of Americans paid a terrible price, especially wives of Tories, for opposing America's War for Independence.


Evans, Elizabeth. Weathering the Storm: Women of the American Revolution. New York: Scribners, 1975.

Kerber, Linda K. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980.

Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980.

Werner, Raymond C., ed. The Diary of Grace Growden Galloway. New York: Arno Press, 1971.

Rebecca Goetz

See also:Brown, Charlotte: Diary of a Nurse; Camp Followers: War and Women; Families at War; Sampson, Deborah; Women and the Homefront: Diaries.