Hampton at Work
Hampton the showplace was very much the domain of the Ridgely family and their peers. But behind the scenes was a large community of people who labored at the ironworks, in the fields, on the docks and ships, in gardens and orchards, and inside the mansion. They lived and worked in obscurity in return for shelter, rations, of corn, pork, herring, flour, clothing, shoes, and perhaps, but not always income.
In colonial days, Hampton labor force included indentured servants, immigrants mainly form the British Isles who labored for a period of years until their passage fee to America was paid back. In addition there were free artisans and tradesmen, convict laborers, and during the Revolution, British prisoners of war. Families, including children, worked together. Most of these people eventually had some degree of social mobility--unlike enslaved people. Charles Ridgely Carnan freed most of his slaves upon his death, but the era of forced servitude at Hampton remained until Maryland state law ended the practice in 1864--in the midst of the Civil War.