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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of History

Elizabeth “Betsey” Motte Pinckney (m. Thomas Pinckney, 1779)

Elizabeth “Betsey” Motte Pinckney
(m. Thomas Pinckney, 1779)

Elizabeth “Betsey” Motte Pinckney was the eldest daughter of Rebecca Brewton (1737–1815) and Jacob Motte Jr. (1729–1780). She grew up in Charleston and at the Motte family plantations of Fairfield on the Santee River and Mount Joseph on the Congaree River. At Fairfield, she was Harriott Pinckney Horry’s (1748–1830) neighbor after Harriott moved to Hampton at her marriage, and the Motte and Pinckney families had a long and close friendship. She married Thomas Pinckney (1750–1828) on July 22, 1779 when she was seventeen years old and he was serving as a major in the Second South Carolina Regiment. In 1781, soon after the birth of their first child (Thomas Pinckney 1780–1842), her husband Thomas was severely wounded in Camden and spent part of his time recovering at Mount Joseph with Elizabeth as his primary nurse. When the British occupied Charleston, Thomas and Elizabeth Pinckney traveled to Philadelphia with their brother Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (1746–1825), Edward Rutledge (1749–1800), and their families. After the war, the couple lived at Fairfield and also spent time at Murphy’s Island. They had five children, two sons and three daughters. During their marriage, Thomas served as governor of South Carolina (1787–1789) (when the capital was still in Charleston) and as the United States minister to Great Britain (1792–1796). Following his appointment to London, the entire family traveled to Philadelphia and then London, Elizabeth reluctantly. She died in London at the age of 32.