Susan May Williams

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Susan May Williams
Princess Napoleon
Born(1812-04-02)April 2, 1812
DiedSeptember 15, 1881(1881-09-15) (aged 69)
Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte
(m. 1829; died 1870)
IssueJerome Napoleon Bonaparte II
Charles Joseph Bonaparte
FatherBenjamin Williams
MotherSarah Copeland

Susan May Williams Bonaparte (April 2, 1812 – September 15, 1881) was an American heiress and the wife of Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte, a French-American nephew of Napoléon I, Emperor of France, who lived as a farmer in Baltimore. Although nominally a princess, by virtue of her father-in-law being first King of Westphalia then Prince of Montfort, she and her descendants are not normally considered part of the Bonaparte dynasty.[1]

Susan was the daughter of Benjamin Williams, a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who became a prominent Baltimore merchant; and his wife, Sarah Copeland, widow of Nathaniel Morton. In 1827, Williams helped found the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the first railroad company in the United States, in response to the opening of the Erie Canal and its competition with the port of Baltimore.

In November 1829, Susan married Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte-Patterson, the son of Elizabeth Patterson, an American heiress, and Jérôme Bonaparte; their marriage had been annulled after three years on the orders of Napoléon himself, so that his brother could make a more advantageous marriage.[2] Jérôme Napoleon too had been offered an arranged marriage, but rejected the idea in favour of the $200,000 fortune that Susan had inherited. In the following year, the groom's maternal grandfather, William Patterson, one of the wealthiest men in Maryland, gave the couple Montrose Mansion as a wedding gift.[3]

Their sons were the soldier Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte II (1830-1893) and the lawyer and government official Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1851-1921).[4]

General Lew Wallace described Susan as:[2]

...staunchly Union, a tall, handsome, black-eyed, Franco-American woman, decidedly masculine in mind, but true to her woman's place


  1. ^ Jan Onofrio (1 January 1999). Maryland Biographical Dictionary. Somerset Publishers, Inc. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-0-403-09823-1.
  2. ^ a b Gail Stephens (2010). Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War. Indiana Historical Society. pp. 178–. ISBN 978-0-87195-287-5.
  3. ^ "Maryland State Archives, Montrose Mansion and Chapel" (PDF). Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  4. ^ Robert Sobel (1990). Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch, 1774-1989. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-0-313-26593-8.