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T would seem that the name of Freneau was likely
to die out. Philip was the only descendant of
the American branch that had a family; and his four children were all daughters. The two younger ones, Catherine Ledyard and Margaret, never married; his eldest daughter, Helen Denise, married Mr. John Hammill, a merchant of New York, and had four daughters; none of whom have left any descendants.
Agnes Watson Freneau, the poet's second and favorite child, is said to have been beautiful in her youth, and she retained much of her beauty even to an advanced age. She was a person of rare intelligence and refinement of taste, and possessed an active and vigorous temperament and a genial and sociable disposition. She inherited from both parents a great love for poetry and other literature, and like them she was a great reader, and a charming conversationalist. Her tastes were much the same as those of her father, which fact seemed to bind them even more closely together, and cause them to be almost constant companions from the time Agnes was old enough to be companionable to him. She frequently accompanied her father to New York to attend dinner and card parties, then greatly in vogue; and her vivacity and personal attractiveness caused her to be much admired.
But, notwithstanding Agnes' love of society, she was capable of deep thought, and her memory was so retentive that even to old age she has entertained her friends by reciting, at some length, passages from her favorite poets that she had committed to memory in her young days. She also composed some creditable poems, but our informant says that she probably
either destroyed them, or gave them away, as they were not found among her papers.
In the year 1816 Agnes married Mr. Edward Leadbeater, a prominent merchant of New York, and graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, formerly a surgeon in the British army. He was a son of Dr. Henry Leadbeater, a prominent physician, who owned a fine estate near Coote Hill, County Cavan, Ireland. Dr. Leadbeater was physician to, as well as an intimate friend of, Lord Beresford, who was foremost in church and state. He and his son, Agnes' husband, were fond of fox-hunting, and kept fine hounds for the purpose. An old gentleman, who died within the last decade of years, aged ninety, remembered them well, and enjoyed talking of them; he said they entertained the nobility a great deal.1
Mr. Edward Leadbeater's aunt by marriage was an authoress of some note, and was an intimate friend of Miss Maria Edgeworth. Miss Edgeworth wrote the preface for Mrs. Leadbeater's work, entitled "Poems and College Dialogues." Mrs. Leadbeater also left a manuscript history of the events in the family and neighborhood, entitled "Annals of Ballytown," which, with her correspondence with the mother of Archbishop Trench of Dublin, and also with the poet Crabbe, were published in two volumes by Fisher, under the title of "Leadbeater Papers." Many of the anecdotes contained in her "Annals" were gained in her frequent visits among the poor, in company with the wife of the Episcopal minister, the Rev. Mr. Pyncheon. Mrs. Leadbeater was a Miss Shackleton, daughter and sister of the two presidents of Ballytore School, in which Edmund Burke first studied; the second president, son of the former one, was his schoolmate and friend.
1 Dr. Leadbeater had an offer of knighthood, but he declined the proffered courtesy.