snarkychaser's Blog

Chasing the Elusive is My Muse.


New Jersey, USA
January 01
Snarky is my elusive muse. It is grasping for the unobtainable that causes anguish, and in the anguish and negative space, creativity can flourish.However, I am afraid that Snarky has given me very little to chase after lately....maybe...if I'm really lucky, he will send me a picture of his poison ivy.


MAY 17, 2012 5:30PM

Was Elizabeth Loring Patriot or Whore?

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William Howe 

            General William Howe courtesy of Google Images.

 Elizabeth Loring is cited in some contemporary history books on the American Revolution with a small sentence that she was General William Howe’s mistress during his active duty in the thirteen colonies as Commander in Chief of the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Elizabeth Loring was married to Joshua Loring, Jr. who was appointed to the lucrative position of commissary general to the prisoners (it is speculated) in return for his acquiescence of the affair.

 That they were reportedly lovers is hearsay and speculative gossip since we have no way of really knowing what went on behind closed doors. However, they were in each others constant company gambling and drinking. It is titillating to wonder what kind of husband could allow his wife to openly spend so much time in the company of his commander even earning herself the title of “Billy Howe’s Cleopatra”. New Jersey congressman, Francis Hopkinson penned his famous poem called “The Battle of the Kegs”

                        Sir William, he, snug as a flea,

                        Lay all the time a-snoring;

                        Nor dreamed of harm, as he lay warm

                        In bed with Mrs. L____g.

Some disgruntled Loyalists of the period have even insinuated that Loring was the cause for the negligence that Howe showed as Commander in Chief. There were so many occasions that Howe could have wiped out the Patriot army, yet held back.  An anonymous handbill was delivered to parliament concerning Howe’s failure to quash the rebellion: “General Howe was at New York in the lap of Ease: or, rather amusing himself in the lap of a Mrs. L____g, who is the very Cleopatra to this Antony of ours.”  This reticence to act prompted even the Patriots to wonder what game Howe was playing. Patriot Israel Putnam was to note that Howe was “either a friend of America or no General.”  Patriot General Lee also wrote of Howe: “He shut his eyes, fought his battles, drank his bottle and had his little whore.”[1]

What was Elizabeth Loring like? How could she have captivated a decadent titled battle worn career military man? I have not been able to find one image of her. She was a young 25 year old mother of two. Loring was described by her contemporaries as a “a very handsome woman, and noted for her love of play”. She was a" blue eyed flashing blonde” and “the favorite sultana lost 300 guineas at a single sitting”. What is even more interesting is that in 1778 she moved to England, reunited with her husband Joshua Jr. at the end of the war and had three more children with him. 

What kind of man was Elizabeth’s husband, Joshua Jr.? In the words of a Loyalist contemporary “Joshua had a handsome wife. The general …was fond of her. Joshua had no objections. He fingered the cash, the general enjoyed the madam.” Joshua Jr. was described as a vile sociopath in Ethan Allen’s  words:

  This Loring is a monster!...There is not his like in human shape: He exhibits a smiling countenance, seems to wear a phiz of humanity, but has been instrumentally capable of the most consummate acts of wickedness…(clothed with the authority of a Howe) murdering premeditatedly (in cold blood) near or quite 2000 helpless prisoners…(at N.York). He is the most mean- spirited,cowardly,deceitfuland destructive animal in God’s creation below.[2]



courtesy of Google Images 

18th centurey card playing

[1] Revolutionary Ladies by Philip Young Copyright 1977 Alfred A. Knopf,Inc page 59

[2] Revolutionary Ladies by Philip Young Copyright 1977 Alfred A. Knopf,Inc p.71


Revolutionary Mothers Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence by Carol Berkin (First Vintage Books Edition Copyright 2005)

1776  by David McCullough (copyright 2005 Simon & Schuster Paperbacks)

Revolutionary Ladies by Philip Young Copyright 1977 Alfred A. Knopf,Inc.


 Blog post: The United Empire Loyalists of Canada

"Loyalist Trails" 2010-31: August 1, 2010

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Interesting post... raises as many questions as it answers. To my mind that's the mark of good history.
Whoa. What an interesting piece of historical speculation. Something else to add to my treasure trove of information.
Boanergesi- I haven't seen you for a while but I did think about you when I wrote this. You seem to know a lot about military history and you will note that I linked to a Canadian Loyalist Association. I wondered if you were aware of them.
Nope, I'm pretty ignorant about that part of history, I must confess, although I do know some about the UELs in general -- some of them helped settle this area. Thanks for the link -- I went and checked it out. Some good stuff on there.
I say patriot. Given the very limited opportunities women had at that time to effect change and make any kind of difference, she did what she was able to do. She did as much. Howe was distracted.
Can I vote for skanky, patriotic, ho???

(I'm also proud of the fact that I didn't say she was cheating on her hubby because of Howe big the General was...


sorry! )
What was that movie with Woody Harrelston and Demi Moore where she slept with Robert Redford for a million dollars with Woody's okay. I think that is sooo HOT. Turns out Woody really wasn't so keen on it. Strange strange things happen even way back then. I love your kind of history. More More!!
Zanelle- That is exactly the movie that I kept thinking of. The only thing is the more I learned about her husband I thought she was a bit of a masochist. He was horrible. Why would she return to him? Women had few economic choices and she ended up petitioning the government for money based on her husband's services to the crown.They seemed to have blow threw all of the money that he grafted from his post.

Mary- I agree. There are many stories about women who fought bravely in the war. However, if the women were manly about (read butch) it they were drummed out of the army, if they joined up to be with their male lovers, then they were accepted and often rewarded for service.

SafeBet. Ha. I think they were both so drunk it may not have mattered much.
You mean the Indecent Proposal? What a stupid movie was that!
Paul- That's the name!Thanks.
I love learning historical tidbits like this. Could be the foundation of a Masterpiece Theater Drama. Thanks for doing the research and posting.