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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (G)
Graham, Isabella Marshall


Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, on July 29, 1742, Isabella Marshall grew up in Elderslie, near Paisley, in a religious family and received a good education. In 1765 she married John Graham, an army surgeon whom she accompanied to Canada in 1767. They lived successively in Quebec, Montreal, and Fort Niagara and on the island of Antigua, where John died in 1773. She then returned with her children to Scotland and opened a small school in Paisley. Later she opened a boarding school for girls in Edinburgh, where she also was active in various charitable enterprises, notably a "penny society," a fund for mutual relief in case of sickness to which the subscribers contributed a penny weekly. The society later became the Society for the Relief of the Destitute Sick. In 1789 she returned to America and settled in New York City, where she opened a girls' school that was immediately successful. She also continued her charitable work and in 1797 led a group of women, including Mother Elizabeth Seton, in organizing a Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children. Graham gave up teaching the next year to devote her time to philanthropy.

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