George Ross (American politician)

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George Ross
George Ross (NYPL NYPG94-F149-419961) (cropped).tif
Born(1730-05-10)May 10, 1730
DiedJuly 14, 1779(1779-07-14) (aged 49)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Resting placeChrist Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia
Known forsigner of the United States Declaration of Independence
George Ross signature.png

George Ross Jr (May 10, 1730 – July 14, 1779) was a signer of the Continental Association and the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Pennsylvania. He was also the uncle of the man who married Betsy Griscom in 1773, giving her her famous married name: Betsy Ross. In 1952, he, George Washington, and Robert Morris appeared on a three-cent stamp commemorating Betsy Ross.


Coat of Arms of George Ross

George Ross was born May 10, 1730, in New Castle, Delaware. He was educated at home and later studied law at his brother John's law office, the common practice in those days, before being admitted to the bar in Philadelphia.[1] Initially a Tory, he served as Crown Prosecutor for 12 years and was elected to the provincial legislature in 1768. There, his sympathies began to change, and he became a strong supporter of the colonial assemblies in their disputes with Parliament.

He was a member of the Committee of Safety, and was elected to the Continental Congress. He was a colonel in the Pennsylvania militia (1775–1776), and vice-president of the first constitutional convention for Pennsylvania. He resigned from the Continental Congress in 1777 because of poor health, and was appointed to the Pennsylvania Court of Admiralty where he died at age 49.

His father was Rev. George Aeneas, the 5th Laird Balblair Ross (b.1679, d.1754), who had 2 wives and 16 children, and was an Anglican clergyman who had immigrated from Scotland. Their paternal line goes back to Farquhar Ó Beólláin (1173-1251) whom King Alexander II of Scotland named 1st Earl of Ross in 1226 after great wins in battle.

Beollain's son married a descendant of Scotland's king Donald and king

The Ross children received a sound classical education at home. He studied law at his half-brother John's Law Practice in Philadelphia. George's sister Gertrude married Thomas Till, the son of William Till, a prominent Sussex County judge and politician; after his death, she married George Read, another signer of the Declaration.[2]

George Ross was the last of the Pennsylvania delegation to affix his signature to the Declaration of Independence. He had been loyal to the King but he soon became disgusted with Tory politics and supported the cause of the Patriots.

Ann Lawler, portrait by Benjamin West

In 1750, he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar (member of Pennsylvania) when he was 20 years old, and he established his own practice in Lancaster. In 1751, he married Ann Lawler at Lancaster, Pa. He fathered two sons and a daughter. From 1768 to 1776, he was for 12 years Crown Prosecutor (which is attorney general) for Carlisle (Cumberland County), until 1778 when he was elected to the provincial legislature of his state.

He was elected to Continental Congress in 1774, 1776, and 1777. He was a Colonel in the Continental Army in 1776. In 1776, he undertook negotiations with the northwestern Indians on behalf of his Colony and that year he acted as vice president of the State constitutional convention, so then that led to helping draft a declaration of rights. He was re-elected to the Continental Congress again in January 1777 but resigned that same year because of poor health. He was vice president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention and was the Judge of the Admiralty Court of Pennsylvania in 1779. In 1778, while he was acting as admiralty judge, a congressional court of appeals overruled his decision in a case involving a dispute between a citizen of Connecticut and the state of Pennsylvania. He refused to acknowledge the authority of the higher court to counter State decisions, which initiated a dispute between manifestation of the states' rights controversy and did not subside until 1809.

In 1779 he died in office at the age of 49, and is buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.


  1. ^ Losser, B.J. (1857). Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the American Declaration of Independence. New York: Derby & Jackson. p. 130. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  2. ^ Biography of Gertrude Ross Read Colonial Hall

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