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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of History


Mary Eleanor “Polly” Laurens Pinckney (m. Charles Pinckney, 1788)

Mary Eleanor “Polly” Laurens Pinckney (1770-1794)
(m. Charles Pinckney, 1788)

Mary Eleanor “Polly” Laurens Pinckney (1770–1794) was the daughter of Henry Laurens (1724–1792) and Eleanor Ball (d. 1770). Less than a month after her birth in Charleston, her mother died, and when she was one-and-a-half years old, her father, focusing on the education of his sons, placed her and her sister in the care of his brother and sister-in-law, James and Mary Laurens. In 1775 when her uncle and aunt sailed for England, she went with them, and in 1777 when they moved to the village of Vignon in the south of France, she again accompanied them. After her uncle’s death there in 1785, she returned to South Carolina with her aunt and her sister, but having grown up in France, she was by then more French than American. Her European manners and good looks as well as her father’s wealth and prominence captured the attention of Charles Pinckney (1757–1824). They married on 27 April 1788. Together they had three children who survived to adulthood: Frances Henrietta (1790–1816), who married Robert Young Hayne; Mary Eleanor (b. 1792), who married David Ramsay; and Henry Laurens (1794–1863). Polly Laurens Pinckney, Charles Pinckney’s “little French girl,” died less than a month after the birth of her son.