Rundlet-May House

James and Jane Rundlet

James Rundlet (1772-1852) was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of a yeoman who owned a successful blacksmith shop and a slaughterhouse, as well as a shop attached to his house. James attended the newly-formed Phillips Academy in Exeter where he concentrated on sciences and technology studies. At twenty-two, he came to Portsmouth and began as a commission merchant, and delved into commercial enterprises such as importing limes from the West Indies. He then imported and sold textiles, and eventually opened his own dry goods shop on Market Street. His investments in two woolen mills, in Amesbury, Massachusetts and Salmon Falls, New Hampshire, boosted his fortune when he was commissioned to provide uniforms for the War of 1812. When he died, he was one of the wealthiest businessmen in Portsmouth.

He married Jane Hill (1774-1849), the daughter of a successful Portsmouth blacksmith. Just eleven months after their marriage in 1795, Jane Rundlet gave birth to their first child, Harriet (1795-1840). Twelve more children followed, some of whom did not live to adulthood: Caroline (1797-1880), William (1800-1846), Elizabeth (1802-1810), Edward (1804-1805), Edward (1805-1874), John Samuel (1807-1835), George (1808-1830), Alfred (1811-1851), Elizabeth Jane (1813-1839), James (1815-1855), Louisa Catherine (1817-1895), and Frances Matilda (1824-1834).