Jane Mary Jauncey (Herman Thorn’s wealthy wife) was raised by her uncle, William Jauncey. He took her into his care, with the help of his sister, when his brother John, b.1755 approx. (Jane Mary’s father), took his own life. I have not been able to ascertain who Jane Mary’s mother was. Apparently, John Jauncey had an affair with a “lowly vulgar actess” and his daughter was born out of wedlock. The identity of John’s paramour (Jane’s mother) is one of the great mysteries of my research so far. I would love to discover who she really was. What happened to her? Did she see her daughter? Or was she denied access?
I have collected a few snippets of info about John who was educated in King’s college (now Columbia University) and was expelled for challenging the Principal to a duel after he was held to account for missing prayers and failure to hand in homework. Subsequently, he was reinstated after apologising and graduated in 1774 alongside his classmates John Rapelje, George Ogilvie, Robert Troup, Benjamin Seaman, and Henry Nicoll among others.
"He [William] had a brother John who some twenty 3 or 4 years ago, weary of life, terminated it by drowning & left an illegitimate daughter by a vulgar low actress. This child was taken home & bro't up by Miss Jauncey. She grew up handsome, dressed elegantly, but not overstocked with mind. An heiress, a match was intended with a son of Col. Barclay, another of our Tory citizens, but of excellent character & British Consul. Her uncle settled it is s*^ in consequence of the certainty of the marriage $10,000 Guineas on her. Miss however fancied a handsome genteel young man a M"" Thorn, of no great family, but a midshipman or Lieu* in our Navy & married him, to the great mortification of M"" Jauncey & disappointment of young Barclay. The Aunt how- ever protected her, received her home & she has always lived in the same House. But M"" Jauncey. w*^ never & has hitherto for many years tho' residing under the same roof, spoken to M"" Thorn. A separate table is kept for each, & you may judge of the establishment of the house- hold by this fact. (John Pintard)"
“…at Kings College in New York, John Jauncey shocked President Myles Cooper in 1773 by challenging him “to fight with pistols before ye whole class whilst they were engaged in their recitation.” Connecticut Review.
“John Jauncey, who had been expelled, wherein he made a due acknowledgment of his offense, prayed Forgiveness, and entreated to be reinstated in the College…” Columbia University Quarterly
Imagine challenging the Principal of your college to a duel? What undercurrents and unspoken issues must have been going on? And what drove John Jauncey to suicide?
More recently I have found reference to John Jauncey in a letter date 24th January in 1781 from Lady Cathcart to Mrs Gore. “He had six curls aside and more dress’d than anybody I ever saw.” He must have been around twenty six at the time. The letter was sent from London to New York.