Margaret Wilson Pryor

Margaret Wilson Pryor (1785-1874) was best known simply as "Aunt Margaret" within her circle of reformers, friends and relatives. And her husband was "Uncle George." This active reform couple was quite a bit older than those with whom they associated and seemed to be universally liked and respected. Their teenage grandniece remarked in 1853, "I like to have them [visit] they are such nice old people."

Margaret was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of Quakers John and Sarah Wilson. She and signer/organizer Mary Ann M'Clintock were half-sisters. In 1816 Margaret married George Pryor, five years her senior. They moved to northern New York State a few years later, before moving to Skaneateles where they owned a boarding school. In the late 1830s they joined the M'Clintock family in Waterloo.

For most of her long life, Margaret Pryor was a constant in abolition, woman's rights, Hicksite Quaker organizational reforms and other social movements of the nineteenth-century. Margaret provided many reformers with the comforts of home when they were traveling, including American Anti-Slavery Society lecturer, Abby Kelley. In the 1840s Margaret accompanied Kelley on her anti-slavery speaking tours, guarding her from hecklers and acting as her clerk. Elizabeth Cady Stanton once remarked "Abby used to say she always felt safe when she could see Margaret Pryor's Quaker bonnet."

Pryor attended the First Woman's Rights Convention with her son, George W. Pryor, who also signed the Declaration of Sentiments. Margaret Pryor was among a group of Hicksite Quakers who formed the Congregational Friends in October of 1848 along with a number of other Quaker families who supported the woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls.

In later life, Margaret and her family continued their reform activities. Margaret voted in the presidential election of 1868 along with her daughter-in-law, Lucetta Brown Pryor and a large contingent of women in the reform community of Vineland, New Jersey. This protest action foreshadowed the more organized New Departure strategy of the National Woman Suffrage Association to test the constitutionality of voting rights for women.

Eighty-nine year old Margaret was living with the M'Clintock family in Philadelphia, when Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton visited all of them for tea. Margaret was anxious to see Mott and Stanton and they climbed up to her third floor bedroom to visit with their old friend. Margaret died a year later and was buried beside George in Vineland, New Jersey.

Last updated: April 6, 2020

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