Mary Pickersgill Facts and Biography

Mary Young Pickersgill

Biography Summary: Mary Young Pickersgill (1776 - 1857) was famous for being the maker of the Star Spangled Banner Flag. Having inherited her mother, Rebecca Young’s skill in flag making she continued the trade and supported her family doing so when she was widowed at a young age. Mary Pickersgill was asked to create a flag to fly over Fort McHenry that would not be easily forgotten and would in fact inspire the writing of a poem that would become the United States National Anthem.

After the success of the Stars and Stripes her business flourished and she was able to help other women in times of destitution and hardship long before they became social concerns.

Mary Young Pickersgill Fact Sheet: Sheet:- Who was Mary Pickersgill? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times and history of Mary Pickersgill.


Facts about Mary Young Pickersgill


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Mary Young Pickersgill Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1776 - 1857 *** Full Name: Mary Young Pickersgill *** Occupation: Seamstress and Flagmaker *** Date of Birth: Mary Young Pickersgill was born on February 12th 1776 *** Place of Birth: Mary Young Pickersgill was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, America *** Family background: Her father was William Young and her mother was Rebecca Flower. Early life and childhood: Mary Pickersgill grew up with five siblings and her mother in Baltimore, Virginia *** Education: Mary Pickersgill was educated by her mother and also taught how to sew and learned that art of flag making from her mother *** Mary Pickersgill died on October 4, 1857

Mary Pickersgill Fact 1: Mary Young Pickersgill was born on February 12th 1776. Her father was William Young and her mother was Rebecca Flower. Her mother would be widowed when Mary was just two years old and took over the flag shop in Philadelphia where she made flags for the Continental Army ***

Mary Pickersgill Fact 2: When Mary was eighteen years of age she married John Pickersgill who was a merchant and the couple moved back to Philadelphia.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 3: Mary Pickersgill had four children but sadly on one survived through childhood, Caroline.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 4: Her husband worked for the United States Government in the British Claims Office and travelled to London. He died while on a trip to London in June 1805 leaving twenty nine year old Mary Pickersgill a single mother and widow. Together with her mother and daughter Caroline, the family moved back to Baltimore.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 5: Mary Pickersgill rented a house where she took in borders to help supplement her income as well as opening a flag making shop that sold “silk standards, cavalry and divisions colors of every description.”

Mary Pickersgill Fact 6: Among her customers were the United States Navy, the United States Army as well as visiting merchant ships.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 7: By 1813 Great Britain and the United States were at war and Baltimore was getting ready for an attack by the British as they had control of the sea ways of the Chesapeake Bay.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 8: In charge was Major George Armistead and although Fort McHenry was battle ready he felt they were missing a flag.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 9: He wrote to Major General Samuel Smith "We, sir, are ready at Fort McHenry to defend Baltimore against invading by the enemy. That is to say, we are ready except that we have no suitable ensign to display over the Star Fort and it is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance."

Mary Pickersgill Fact 10: A delegation was sent to see Mary Pickersgill which included Armistad and Smith, General John Sticker and Commodore Joshua Barney who was Mary’s brother-in-law.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 11: Two flags were commissioned “one American ensign, 30 x 42 feet, first quality bunting” and another measuring 17 x 25 feet.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 12: Such a large undertaking was not possible by herself and so Mary Pickersgill enlisted the help of family and friends to make the flag.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 13: Even with many hands and many hours of work put into the marking the flags still took around six weeks to make.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 14: Mary’s daughter Caroline would write of her mother’s efforts: "The flag being so very large, mother was obliged to obtain permission from the proprietors of Claggetts brewery which was in our neighbourhood, to spread it out in their malt house; and I remember seeing my mother down on the floor, placing the stars: after the completion of the flag, she superintended the topping of it, having it fastened in the most secure manner to prevent its being torn away by (cannon) balls: the wisdom of her precaution was shown during the engagement: many shots piercing it, but it still remained firm to the staff. Your father (Col. Armistead) declared that no one but the maker of the flag should mend it, and requested that the rents should merely be bound around".

Mary Pickersgill Fact 15: The dimensions of the flag were staggering and consisted of four hundred yards of fabric which included fifteen stars and fifteen stripes for each of union states. Every stripe was two foot wide and each star measured from tip to tip was twenty four inches. The end product weighted fifty pounds and took eleven men to position it on to a ninety foot flagpole.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 16: After the Battle of Baltimore on the daybreak of September the 14th 1814 it was the larger of Pickersgill’s flags that could be seen flying over Fort McHenry.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 17: On board a British ship, while the negotiations for a prisoner exchange was taking place, Francis Scott Key viewed the flag and was there inspired to pen the words that would become the United States’ Nation Anthem, The Defense of Fort McHenry”.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 18: On the back of her success in completing such a large order and the honor of doing so Mary Pickersgill was able to purchase the house she had rented for her family. She was also able to actively address issues of a social nature such as job placement, housing the financial aid for unfortunately women.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 19: Mary Pickersgill was elected as President of the Impartial Female Humane Society which assisted women in education children as well as finding employment for destitute women. Having already established a home for aged women in time a home for aged men was established beside the women’s home. The two homes would be combined and moved to Maryland in 1959 and by 1962 and an entirely new facility was erected and called the Pickersgill Retirement Community in Mary’s honor.

Mary Pickersgill Fact 20: Mary Pickersgill died on October 4, 1857 aged eighty one years. Her body was laid to rest in Loudon Park Cemetery in southwest Baltimore.

 Influence & Legacy of Mary Pickersgill: The Star Spangled Banner Flag itself was kept by George Armistad and after his death would be looked after by his widow, Louisa. She faithfully kept the flag for the next four decades of her own life, occasionally allowing it to be displayed. After her death her daughter Caroline took ownership and likewise kept the Star Spangled Banner Flag secure until her grandson inherited it and which point he allowed the Star Spangled Banner Flag to be exhibited at the Smithsonian. The arrangement would become a permanent one in 1912 and today the Star Spangled Banner Flag is the center piece of the National Museum of American History.

Short Facts about Mary Young Pickersgill for Kids
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