Mary Lum

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Mary Lum Girard (1758–1815) Mary Lum (otherwise known as Mary Girard) is known for being the wife of banker, philanthropist and merchant millionaire Stephen Girard.

Mary Lum was born in 1758, the daughter of a local Philadelphia shipbuilder. In 1776, at the young age of 18, Mary met and began to court Stephen Girard and eventually they married. Shortly after getting married in 1777, Mary and her new husband purchased a home at 211 Mill Street in Mount Holly Township, New Jersey.[1] There they lived and established a store selling sundry items to the locals, at the same time selling provisions to the American revolutionaries. They soon moved back to Philadelphia, where their business flourished.

However, in early 1785, Mary exhibited prolonged periods of uncontrolled emotional outbursts. Mental instability accompanied by violent rage over time led to a conclusion that Mary Lum Girard was insane.[citation needed] They had been married but eight years. After five years of attempts at recovery, in August 1790, Stephen Girard committed Mary to the insanity ward in the basement of Pennsylvania Hospital,[citation needed] then Philadelphia's only institution for the insane, citing she was an "incurable lunatic".[citation needed] At the time of commitment, Mary was pregnant.[citation needed] It is not known for sure who the father was, however, it is known that the baby girl was born while Mary was still confined at Pennsylvania Hospital and died five months after birth.[citation needed]

Mary Lum Girard resided at the Pennsylvania Hospital insanity ward for twenty-five years until her death on September 15, 1815. She was fifty-six years old. She was afforded the best care that could be provided at that time, despite the difficulty in understanding and treating the illness that plagued her. In accordance with her husband's wishes, Mary Lum Girard was laid to rest on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Hospital, her grave site unmarked and unadorned.


  1. ^ Harris, Jason. "New sign marks home of college founder", Burlington County Times, October 13, 2006. Accessed March 1, 2011. "Girard, the well-known philanthropist banker merchant and mariner, moved to Mount Holly in 1777 shortly after marrying Mary Lum. The couple lived on Mill Street..."

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