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Chapter 5

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval Story

by
Walter B. Norris

published by
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 7

This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

p92 Chapter VI

Some Tory Families and their Homes

Around the shores of Chesapeake Bay and the rivers and inlets which are tributary to it stand to‑day more representatives of the life of Colonial times than are to be found in any other area of equal size. The men and women of those days are gone and many of them sleep in unmarked and forgotten graves, but the Colonial houses, nearly a thousand in number, still survive to give us an actual touch with the life of the past. In Annapolis are probably found more of the more pretentious of these homes than can be seen in any other place. Because the town has had little commercial, and almost no industrial, development since the end of the Revolution there has been little need to tear down ancient mansions to accommodate the spread of business and industry.

In many cases the mansion which the family occupied has been the chief reason for keeping alive the memory of its builders, for so beautiful p93was the structure raised in the prosperous days when land was cheap, labor plentiful, and the favors of the Lord Proprietor frequent that to‑day it draws from all parts of the country a succession of visitors and admirers. To step into one of these Colonial mansions with its high ceilings, its wonderful carving, and its absolute purity and simplicity of design, is to draw a breath of the pure, pristine air of a golden age. It will be worth while, therefore, to linger a while in the homes of the principal characters in the life of Annapolis before the Revolution, learn their histories, and estimate their service in creating the ideals of America to‑day. It is in this last feature that all genealogical study and historical interest find their justification. And it will be seen that, divided though they were when the Revolution came into what may be called the parties of the Tories and the patriots, there was not a clear cleavage between the two either in education, manners, or wealth. And the old houses that they have left us are about equally divided between the two groups.

In a colony where, as in Maryland, the whole area had originally belonged to one man, the p94Proprietary, and was his to give away or sell as he pleased, it was natural that those close to him or who served his interests faithfully should be bountifully rewarded. This generally took the form of very extensive grants of uncleared land or lucrative offices in the government of the colony. Where both were secured the fortunate family found it easy to establish itself.

In the period from about 1730 to the breaking out of the movement for independence, a few families almost wholly comprehended the ruling class as far as the power of the Lord Baltimores went. In 1742 Thomas Bladen, a native of Maryland but a relative by marriage of the Lord Baltimore then living, for they had married sisters, became Governor, and his descendants, either directly or by marriage alliances, occupied the offices of government and were the leaders of what was facetiously called the "Court Party" for many years afterwards.

Perhaps the chief episode of Governor Bladen's administration was his effort to erect a fitting residence for the Governors of the province. In 1744 he purchased four acres of land on what is now the campus of St. John's College p95and received from the Assembly funds for starting the construction of a Governor's mansion. He secured the services of Simon Duff, a Scottish architect, and pushed the work until, when the foundations and side walls had been raised and the roof was almost completed, the Assembly, thinking the Governor extravagant, refused to appropriate the money needed to finish the work. Although practically all the materials were on hand, the deadlock continued until the structure fell into a dilapidated state and the loose pieces of ornament stored in the basement were stolen. Not till 1784 was anything done, and then the Legislature turned the property over to St. John's College for its chief building. By them it was completed, and stands to‑day in appearance as it was in Colonial days, — since when the interior and roof were devastated by fire in 1909 the reconstruction was on the old lines and the foundations and part of the side walls were retained. But Bladen's name was chiefly commemorated for many years by its nickname — "Bladen's Folly."

Governor Bladen's sister Ann married Benjamin Tasker, who already had received large p96grants of land from Lord Baltimore and who was President of the Governor's Council for many years, and acted as Governor whenever that official was absent from the province or when the office was vacant. Their daughter married Samuel Ogle, a captain of cavalry in the British Army who had been sent out in 1731 as Governor and who also served a second term from 1747 to his death in 1752. In this last administration he occupied the gray brick mansion on the corner of King George Street and College Avenue he may have built. Its beautiful box hedges and arched doorway at the side still remain. It is related that so great was the Governor's love for horses that he even placed his stables along the walk leading to the main entrance so that he might more easily see his pets as he entered or left his house.

When Governor Ogle married the eighteen-year‑old Ann Tasker in 1741, he became about the climax of wealth and aristocracy. From his father-in‑law he had bought an estate, Belair, about twenty miles from Annapolis, and there, on a 3600‑acre plantation with 600 acres of deer park, a race track, kennels, bowling green, and p97the four-in‑hand coach with outriders in which he and his bride made the journeys to and from Annapolis, he maintained all the traditions of the English Tory gentleman with perhaps larger resources than most of them possessed.

Another daughter of President Tasker, as he was generally known, married Daniel Dulany, Jr., and helped to add to the strength of this latter family's connections with the circle about the Governor. The elder Dulany was already one of the leading officials of the province. He had originally come to Maryland from Ireland as an indentured servant, although he had studied at Trinity College. So favorably did he impress his purchaser, a wealthy land owner, George Plater, that he released him, sent him to Gray's Inn, London, for a legal education and even approved his allying himself in marriage with one of his family. After Dulany removed to Annapolis in 1721 he rose rapidly and became in quick succession Alderman, Councillor, and Recorder of the City, and then Attorney-General, Agent and Receiver-General, as well as a member of the Governor's Council. p98Though he at first was a leader of the party opposed to the Proprietary and the Governor, he changed his position in Ogle's time and became a strong Tory.

Daniel Dulany, the Younger, was, like other well-to‑do Annapolis youths, sent abroad for his education. After graduating from Eton, and attending Clare Hall, Cambridge, he entered the Temple for the study of law. When he returned to his native colony in 1747 and was admitted to the bar, his family and official connections as well as his unusual ability soon brought a very extensive law practice and a membership in the Governor's Council as well as the position as Secretary of the Province. Though thus closely connected with "Government," he nevertheless made his greatest reputation in 1765 when he published a pamphlet opposing the right of Parliament to impose a stamp act on the colonies. This was his famous "Considerations." It was first printed in Annapolis, but soon issued in London, and was referred to and used by William Pitt in his speeches in Parliament in defense of the American contentions. It has been said of it: "A Maryland lawyer had turned from p99leading the bar of the province to set up a true theory of the constitution of an empire with the dignity, the moderation, the power, the incommunicable grace of a great thinker and genuine man of letters."1

When the actual opposition to British authority was discussed in 1774, Dulany, however, held back, remained loyal to the Crown, and was easily the most distinguished Loyalist in Maryland. As a result he was proclaimed a traitor, his property confiscated, and he forced to spend the rest of his days in obscurity. He died in 1791.

Other members of the Dulany family who held offices in the government were Walter Dulany, who also occupied the lucrative offices of Commissary-General and Secretary. Walter, Jr., loyal in the Revolution, joined a regiment of American supporters of the King, went to England, and did not return till some years after the war closed. Another Dulany, Lloyd, was the owner of the square, lofty town house which is now the Masonic Temple on Conduit Street. Its imposing height, its beautiful cornice, and p100the header bond brickwork make it still an impressive structure. Lloyd Dulany had a tragic history that recalls the careers of many young English aristocrats of the eighteenth century. The youngest son of Daniel Dulany, the Elder, he adhered to the King in the Revolution, was forced to flee to England, and had his house taken away from him for treason. In London he ran across the notorious Rev. Bennett Allen, at one time Rector of St. Anne's in Annapolis, and about the rascalliest parson ever sent to Maryland by the Baltimores. In spite of the fact that Allen's dissoluteness was known, the orders of Lord Baltimore to the Governor had to be carried out, and he was given a parish. In Annapolis he became involved in a dispute with one of the Dulanys, Walter, and was caned by him on the street. When he encountered Lloyd Dulany in London, he provoked a quarrel with him and in the duel that ensued killed him.

It was Walter Dulany who acquired the Dulany home which stood till 1883 within the Naval Academy grounds on what is now the site of Bancroft Hall, the midshipmen's quarters. The house had a charming location on a p101point which separated the Severn from the harbor of Annapolis and gave an unobstructed view of the Chesapeake and Kent Island beyond. The original owner and builder had been Simon Duff, who sold it to Walter Dulany in 1753. Though his property was confiscated in 1781 because of his adherence to the British cause, the family retained the house till 1808. In that year it was acquired with the adjoining property by the Federal Government as a location for Fort Severn and was occupied by the commander of the fort till 1845. When in that year the Naval Academy was given the property it became the residence of the Superintendent, and so remained till 1883, when it was condemned as unsafe and torn down. Few dwellings in the town have thus had more distinguished occupants.

Another member of the official circle was responsible for the pretentious mansion in the residential quarter — between the State House and the Severn — where the Governors lived for nearly a century. This was Edmund Jennings, Secretary of the Province and a member of Lincoln's Inn, who married a Maryland widow and p102finally died in the province. He it was who erected the central portion of the rather imposing house which stood near the Dulany mansion and is usually referred to as the "old Governor's mansion." When a few years after its erection Governor Horatio Sharpe arrived, he rented it and thus began its career as the home of Maryland's chief executives. When Sharpe was succeeded by Governor Eden in 1769 the latter bought the property and added a wing on each side of the main building. In this form, with a spacious salon stretching across the rear of the main house and with a beautiful garden extending down toward the Severn, one can imagine it as Colonel Washington spent the night here with his friend, Governor Eden, or as Winston Churchill fictitiously pictures it, when Richard Carvel arrived with his grandfather in his barge rowed by ten negro boatmen to consult with Eden and the other members of the Council about the disorders over the Stamp Act.

When the Revolution came, the house with the rest of the Governor's property was confiscated. The house was then assigned to the first p103Governor under the new constitution, and occupied in turn by practically all his successors until 1869, when the land about was added to the Naval Academy and the building made the Academy Library. In 1901, just before the extensive rebuilding of the Academy, it was torn down.

Another official of the Proprietary Government was Thomas Jennings, Chief Clerk of the Land Office, always a lucrative position. He was a cousin of the famous Sarah Jennings, the confidant of Queen Anne and the first Duchess of Marlborough. He was only nineteen when he came to Maryland but seems to have returned to England to study law and rose to be Attorney-General of the province. He is responsible for two fine Colonial houses that still stand, the Jennings House on Prince George Street opposite Carvel Hall and the Brice House at the corner of East Street and Prince George Street. When his daughter Julianna married Colonel James Brice in 1745 Jennings had already erected for them as a wedding gift the magnificent Brice House.

The Jennings House is without distinguishing p104traits and has even lost a wing which was included in the original structure, but the Brice House stands out as a monarch among the insignificant structures that now surround it. It faces the harbor and has a beautifully cut cornice along its front facade. Its huge chimneys rise to an impressive height and as one approaches the house through the narrow street which gives access to it from the Naval Academy the chimneys and the gables stand boldly out against the sky.

The interior is rich in carving, and has staircase of San Domingo mahogany. The state drawing room at the rear of the house is a spacious apartment with beautiful cornices of carved woodwork, a fireplace surrounded with delicate carving, and a mantel supporting a plaster panel of impressive size and with a carved frame. Here the entertainments, at some of which Washington is said to have been present, were doubtless in harmony with the sumptuous surroundings. Of its first mistress memory chiefly centers around a sort of cake, called Naples biscuit, which she was famous for dispensing.

The Scott House on Shipwright Street keeps p105alive the name of another associate of the Governors of the pre‑Revolutionary time, Dr. Upton Scott, who seems not to have had any difficulty in adjusting himself to the changed conditions after independence was gained. He built the house which now stands at the top of a slope leading down to the water of Spa Creek and not far from the home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. In fact, both are now the property of the Catholic Church and are used respectively for the priests and for the teaching Sisters of the parish.

[image ALT: zzz.]

From a drawing by Vernon Howe Bailey
By permission of Harpers Magazine

The Carroll House,
now St. Mary's Rectory,
Birthplace of
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Dr. Scott came to Annapolis in 1753 with Governor Sharpe, and about 1760 built this house. In a rear room Governor Eden died in 1784. Its hall is probably the most beautiful in the city. It is sometimes spoken of as the best "local habitation" for the town house of Richard Carvel's grandfather on Marlboro Street, as Churchill calls it. But as any student of the early history of the city will recognize as he reads the story of Richard Carvel, Churchill has done exactly as he maintained after its publication — drawn a composite and entirely fictitious picture of the geography of the town p106used the materials on which any historical story of Colonial Annapolis must rest with an entirely free hand. The atmosphere of the book is accurate and the details mentioned reasonably credible but there is no pretense to anything more.

About equally distant from the homes of Dr. Scott and Charles Carroll of Carrollton stands another house, on Duke of Gloucester Street, which also owes its erection to another of the "Court Party." In 1753 Governor Sharpe brought with him as a secretary John Ridout, whose rapid rise to affluence and office well illustrates the political and social conditions of an almost autocratic provincial government. He came to Maryland at the age of twenty‑one after six years at Oxford, where he had distinguished himself in the classics. Four years later he acquitted himself well in a mission to the Indians and in 1760 had become a member of the Governor's Council.

When in 1765 he had thus made a place for himself in the colony, he married Mary Ogle, daughter of the late Governor, secured a considerable fortune, and united himself with almost p107all of the Court circle. Mary Ogle's harpsichord, a wedding gift, still stands in the house he then built. As planned, the house faces toward the east, its garden in Colonial days extending down to the waters of the harbor and presenting a striking appearance when viewed from that side. To‑day the opposite doorway on Duke of Gloucester Street is more often seen, and in its simplicity has a charm all its own. On the water side a fine portico projects from the main entrance and above are beautiful Palladian windows. Here again Washington frequently dined or stayed over night on his visits to Annapolis before he and his friend had to choose between King and Colony. In the Revolution John Ridout took no part but remained in Maryland in obscurity till hostilities had ceased. The beautiful estate of Whitehall, built by Governor Sharpe eight miles out of town, became his on the death of the Governor, and even in the face of the Confiscation Act John Ridout managed to save both town and country homes by an exchange for some property in Ireland.

But the fate of most of the Maryland Loyalists was not so happy. Their families were scattered, p108they were often unable to communicate with them during the war, their correspondence was opened and read, their property taken away, and the compensation they received from the British authorities meager. Yet most of them either remained in Maryland on obscure estates or returned as soon as peace had been proclaimed, and tried to adapt themselves to the new conditions. And it is creditable to the patriots to notice that the wounds of such a bitter difference of opinion were not long in passing away.


The Author's Note:

1 Woodrow Wilson, "A History of the American People," vol. III, p87.


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