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About Charles Ridgely Carnan
Charles Carnan Ridgely (December 6, 1760 – July 17, 1829) was born Charles Ridgely Carnan. He is also known as Charles Ridgely of Hampton. He served as the 15th Governor of the state of Maryland in the United States from 1815 to 1818. He also served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1790 to 1795, and in the Maryland State Senate from 1796 to 1800. Charles was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the son of John Carnan and Achsah Ridgely, sister of Captain Charles Ridgely. The Maryland Gazette described him as an aristocrat.
"As a Senator or Delegate, justly appreciating the merits and demerits of the human character, he always avoided visionary schemes and dangerous experiments." (Maryland Gazette) Ridgely devoted his tenure to internal improvements. He devoted his attention to the state during the unpopular war with Great Britain. It appropriated ground for the erection of a Battle Monument in Baltimore, aided education, and chartered manufacturing and insurance companies, so that 'during his administration, the State enjoyed its greatest period of prosperity.' Ridgely passed an act which provided education for the poor in five separate counties; which was seen as important to the early development of public education in Maryland. A second act created the Commissioners of the School Fund. The act appropriated a fund to establish free schools within the state of Maryland.
Carnan's uncle, Captain Charles Ridgely, willed his estate, Hampton, to him on the condition that he assume the name Charles Ridgely; he did so legally in 1790. When Charles's uncle, Captain Ridgely, died in 1790, Ridgely became the second master of Hampton. The concept of Hampton was inspired by Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, England, owned by relatives of his grandmother. He had 10,590 feet (3,228 m) of irrigation pipes laid in 1799 from a nearby spring to provide water to the Mansion and the surrounding gardens, which he was extensively developing. Prominent artisans of the time were hired to design geometric formal gardens, which were planted on the Mansion's grounds between 1799 and 1801. An avid horseman, Charles Carnan also began raising Thoroughbred horses at Hampton, where he had a racetrack installed. A 1799 advertisement promoted the stud services of his racehorse, Grey Medley. Another of Ridgely's racehorses, Post Boy, won the Washington City Jockey Club cup.
Under Charles Carnan Ridgely, Hampton reached its peak of 25,000 acres (10,117 ha) in the 1820s. The mansion overlooked a grand estate of orchards, ironworks, coal mining, marble quarries, mills, and mercantile interests. The vast farm produced corn, beef cattle, dairy products, hogs, and horses. More than 300 slaves worked the fields and served the household, making Hampton one of Maryland's largest slaveholding estates. Six parterres were designed on three terraced levels facing the mansion, planted with roses, peonies, and seasonal flowers. In 1820, an orangery was built on the grounds.
Charles Carnan Ridgely frequently entertained prominent guests in the Mansion's Great Hall, such as Charles Carroll of Carrollton, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Revolutionary War general, Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette. Charles Carnan served as governor of Maryland between 1816–19. When Governor Ridgely died in 1829, he freed Hampton's slaves in his will.
His ancestral home, Hampton Mansion is now in the care of the National Park Service as Hampton National Historic Site.
As Charles Ridgely Carnan he married Priscilla Dorsey, daughter of Caleb Dorsey, Jr., of 'Belmont' and Priscilla Hill on October 17, 1782, at Old Saint Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Priscilla was the youngest sister of his uncle's wife, Rebecca Dorsey. While her husband attended politics, Priscilla was the sole mistress of 'Hampton' and attended to their thirteen children.
Of the thirteen children, two are separately noticed. John Carnan Ridgely (1790–1867) married Eliza Ridgely (1803–1867); he would inherit the mansion and 4,500 acres (18 km2).
Sadly, just as Ridgely was beginning his tenure as Governor of Maryland, Priscilla died on April 30, 1814. Her body was interned into the family vault at 'Hampton'. Although she did not live to serve as First Lady of Maryland, her daughter, Prudence, would become First Lady to Governor George Howard of Maryland (1789–1846).
After his final term had ended on January 8, 1819, Ridgely retired to his estate at Hampton. There he devoted his attention to his farm and his iron works. In 1824, he suffered a paralytic attack from which he never fully recovered. Two later attacks caused his death on July 17, 1829. "At his death, his holdings amounted to about 10,000 acres of land in Baltimore County. He owned over three hundred slaves together with a library of about one hundred and seventy-five volumes, silverplate valued at over $2,300 and a total estate of nearly $150,000." All slaves that had not reached the age of 45 were freed. It was also commented that 'from an early age, possessed of a princely estate, few individuals, perhaps ever more enjoyed what are called the good things of this life and abused them so little."
He was buried with his wife, Priscilla, in the Ridgely family vault at Hampton.
Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series), Maryland Archives: Charles Ridgely of Hampton (1760-1829) Priscilla Dorsey (1762-1814)
1.^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series): Charles Ridgely of Hampton (1760-1829), 31 Mar 2011. Maryland State Archives
2.^ a b c Gerson G. Eisenberg, Marylanders Who Served the Nation: A Biographical Dictionary of Federal Officials from Maryland (Annapolis: Maryland State Archives, 1992), 181. 3.^ Maryland Gazette Collection MSA SC 3447; January 1, 1829 - December 31, 1835 M 1290. A Publication of the Archives of Maryland Online. Image 129 4.^ a b c d Curtis, William Blair (2004). Hampton History. U.S. National Park Service. 5.^ a b Gardens & Grounds – Hampton National Historic Site, Historic Hampton, 1989. 6.^ McKee, Ann Milkovich (2007). Images of America — Hampton National Historic Site (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing) pg 7–9. ISBN 978-0-7385-4418-2. 7.^ a b A Hampton Chronology, Hampton National Historic Site -- National Park Service. nps.gov 8.^ a b Niles' Register, August 1, 1829.
Charles Ridgely of Hampton (1760-1829) MSA SC 3520-1446
The following biography is taken from Frank F. White, Jr., The Governors of Maryland 1777-1970 (Annapolis: The Hall of Records Commission, 1970), 70-73.
"CHARLES RIDGELY OF HAMPTON, undoubtedly the richest man to be elected Governor of Maryland, and known until 1790 as Charles Ridgely Carnan, was born in Baltimore County on December 6, 1760, the son of John and Achsah (Ridgely) Carnan. Not too much is known of his early life except that his father died in 1762, his uncle, Captain Charles Ridgely, took an interest in Charles and he received his education at home. He did not take an active part in the Revolutionary War, presumably because of his youth.
"As Charles Ridgely Carnan, he had married Priscilla, the daughter of Caleb Dorsey, Jr., of 'Belmont' on October 17, 1782, the youngest sister of his uncle's wife. They had three sons and eight daughters.
"Captain Charles Ridgely, in the meantime, had organized the Northampton Iron Works and had developed a vast estate in Baltimore County. Shortly before his death in 1790, he had completed 'Hampton,' the great post-Revolutionary War mansion whose beautiful formal gardens, grandeur, and social elegance, would later bring it into national prominence. As he had no children, he left his estate and iron works to his nephew with the stipulation that he assume the name of Charles Ridgely and that he apply to the General Assembly 'for a law enabling [him] . . . to bear the name of Ridgely forever here after and if [he] . . should refuse to take . . the name of Ridgely' then he would forfeit the devises and bequests made to him.1 In the same year, the General Assembly enacted the necessary legislation, so that from then on, Charles Ridgely Carnan became known as Charles Ridgely. It was this legacy which enabled him to enter politics, so he began his political career by representing Baltimore County in the House of Delegates, serving in that body between 1790 and 1795. In the following year he was chosen a Senator. 'As a Senator or Delegate, justly appreciating the merits and demerits of the human character, he always avoided visionary schemes and dangerous experiments.'2
[p. 72] "In 1794, Ridgely was commissioned a brigadier general in the militia. He held that position for several years, resigning when the militia was reorganized.
"From 1801 until 1815, Ridgely devoted his attention to the management of his farms and his iron works. In December of that year, he was elected governor succeeding Levin Winder, narrowly defeating former governor Robert Bowie who was attempting a political comeback.
"Ridgely devoted his administration to the development of internal improvements. The unpopular war with Great Britain ended and the treaty of peace signed, so the Legislature devoted its attention to the needs of the State. Accordingly, it chartered bridge and turnpike companies to help meet the need for better communications between all sections. It appropriated ground for the erection of a Battle Monument in Baltimore, aided education, and chartered manufacturing and insurance companies, so that 'during his administration, the State enjoyed its greatest period of prosperity.'3
"In his message of December 4, 1816, the governor announced that he had authorized the State to cede Fort McHenry and Fort Washington, both of which had played a part in the War of 1812, to the national government. In the same message, he asked the Legislature to take steps 'for liquidating, at an early day, the state's claim against the general government for the expenses occurred by the late war.'4 For that purpose, he requested the appointment of an agent, and although the Legislature did grant his request, the State recovered only a portion of what it had expended for its defense during the British invasion.
"In 1816 the Legislature passed an act which provided for the education of 'poor children in Kent, Talbot, Cecil, Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties.' Lamenting that 'the want of an efficient and well digested system of county schools, calculated to diffuse the advantages of education throughout the State, has long been felt and sincerely regretted by every friend to morality and good government,' the act authorized the levy courts to appoint trustees in each election district to carry out the proposal.5 Although sections dealing with Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties were later repealed, the act was an important one in Maryland's educational history.
"A second act of the same year created the Commissioners of the School Fund. The act's preamble recited that 'an act to incorporate a company to make a turnpike road leading to Cumberland, and for the extension of the charters of the several banks in the city of Baltimore,' had established a fund for the establishment of free schools throughout the state. As the act also directed the equal division of the funds among the counties, the legislature felt the money would be 'most likely permanently to secure the means of education.'6
[p. 73] "Agitation to secure the better reapportionment of the General Assembly began during Ridgely's term of office. Although this problem would not be satisfactorily settled for another twenty years, this discontent revealed the growing population changes occurring within the State. It also paved the way for the downfall of the Federalist Party in Maryland.
"Ridgely was re-elected in 1817 and 1818, retiring to Hampton after his final term had ended on January 8, 1819. There he devoted his attention to his farm and his iron works. In 1824, he suffered a paralytic attack from which he never fully recovered. Two later attacks caused his death on July 17, 1829. He was buried in the Ridgely family vault at Hampton. Niles commented that 'from an early age, possessed of a princely estate, few individuals, perhaps ever more enjoyed what are called the good things of this life and abused them so little. He emancipated all his numerous slaves who had not reached the age of 45.'7 The Maryland Gazette described him as an aristocrat. 'The splendors with which he entertained, his plate and his equipage, was adapted to his fortune as well as to his disposition, while they procured him the admiration of all, they were never made use of to wound the feelings of any.'8
"At his death, his holdings amounted to about 10,000 acres of land in Baltimore County. He owned over three hundred slaves together with a library of about one hundred and seventy-five volumes, silverplate valued at over $2,300 and a total estate of nearly $150,000."9
Governor of Maryland In office January 2, 1816 – January 8, 1819 Preceded by Levin Winder Succeeded by Charles Goldsborough Personal details Born December 6, 1760 Baltimore, Maryland Died July 17, 1829 (aged 68) Hampton, Baltimore County, Maryland Resting place Family Vault, Hampton, Baltimore, Maryland Spouse(s) Priscilla Dorsey Children Charles Carnan Ridgely Jr. Rebecca Dorsey Ridgely Priscilla Gough Ridgely John Carnan Ridgely Prudence Ridgely Achsah Ridgely Henry Ridgely Priscilla Hill Ridgely Eliza Ridgely David Latimer Ridgely Sophia Gough Ridgely Mary Ridgely Harriet Ridgely Residence 'Hampton', Baltimore County, Maryland Profession Politician Religion Episcopalian
Gov. Charles Ridgely of Hampton's Timeline
December 6, 1760
July 17, 1829
Maryland, United States