Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802) was the wife of John Jay who was featured this week as our person of interest. She was the daughter of New Jersey Governor William Livingston. While she was educated at home, she was a very political wife when many wives stayed at home. She occasionally served as her father’s secretary. Her beauty, vivacious personality, intelligence, and family connections attracted many suitors. At 18 years of age, she chose Jay as her husband though he was already 29 years old at the time.
Theirs was a love match in a time when that was uncommon. Young Sadie advised her husband on politics and was not shy about complaining when she lacked attention. She not only kept his home and raised children, she accompanied Jay to Spain and France on diplomatic missions. She especially enjoyed their time in France where her husband joined Franklin in negotiating the Treaty of Paris.
She had hoped to have more time with Jay when the war ended and they returned home. Jay, however, was drafted to assist with writing and approving the Constitution. That was followed by service as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and as Governor of New York.
While living in New York in the late 1790s, the Jays began developing their Bedford estate into a home where they could live out their lives together. The house was completed in 1801. Sadie who had been ill with a fever and arthritis died suddenly in May, 1802 at 46. Jay was devastated by her death and never recovered. He turned down opportunities to continue in politics and retired to his estate to raise their children. He never remarried.
Tomorrow, A Place of Interest Rita Bay