Ann Wood Henry – Women in the American Revolution


Ann Wood Henry (January 21, 1734 – March 8, 1799) was the wife of William Henry of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a gunsmith, inventor, and patriot in the American Revolution.

Born Ann Wood in Burlington, New Jersey on January 21, 1734, she married William Henry in 1756; the couple had thirteen children, including John Joseph Henry (1758-1811), a judge; William Henry, who moved to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and carried on his father’s gunsmith business; and Benjamin West Henry (1777-1806), a painter, named after the famous painter who had, in 1756, lodged in the Henry home. Benjamin West painted portraits of both Ann and William Henry, as well as the precocious “Death of Socrates”, which was passed down in the Henry family until 1989 (when the will of Mary Henry Stites bequeathed it to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania).

The Henry household during the Revolutionary War was an important military and intellectual center. During the British occupation of Philadelphia, David Rittenhouse, then Treasurer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, stayed in the Henry home, as did Thomas Paine, who wrote his fifth Crisis there. According to John Joseph Henry, who was in Lancaster recuperating from injuries suffered while serving with Benedict Arnold in Quebec, Paine’s indolence and irreligion disgusted Ann Henry.

After the death of her husband, Ann Wood Henry assumed his duties of Treasurer of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She was appointed to serve out the remainder of his term, and served for several additional years. She died on January 8, 1799, and was buried two days later in the Moravian cemetery in Lancaster.