Notes on Hampton Mansion
NPS Logo


The affluence and the social activities of the early proprietors made Hampton a conspicuous place throughout the 19th century. The industrial origins of the estate faded away. About 1850 the Northampton Furnace ceased operation but inherited money and some wealthy brides kept life going on a high plane. But toward the end of the century, the Ridgely fortunes waned until the operation of the property finally became a burden. Opportunity was taken to sell the property to the United States Government and in 1947 title passed into public hands. The National Park Service then assumed the responsibility for upkeep.

Below are offered some notes as to the physical developments under the various Ridgely proprietors through a century and a half. The dates refer to the years when each particular Ridgely was the dominant figure on the estate.

A. Governor Charles Carnan Ridgely (1791-1829)

The builder of Hampton in his will dated April 7, 1786, had provided for his wife as follows:

I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Rebecca Ridgely during her natural life the dwelling house wherein I now reside together with Eight Acres of Land thereto Adjoining for a Garden with as many of the outhouses as she may think necessary for her Convenience or if she should prefer the new house I am now building I leave it at her option to Choose the same and I do also direct that Charles Ridgely Carnan my nephew and his heirs do and shall providefor my said dear wife a stable sufficient to contain Six horses and the same keep in constant Repair, etc. [1]

To his nephew, Charles Ridgely Carnan, he left two-thirds of Northampton Furnace with all the land and stock belonging to it and one-eighth of the furnace and forges formerly belonging to the Nottingham Company and which he had purchased from the State. [2]

About that time bad feelings seem to have developed between the two heirs. Widow Rebecca complained in a letter to "Priscy" who was both her much younger sister and wife of the next owner:

Now to Acquaint you of some of my troubles, for they are many, in the first place I have given up to Charles Carnan, the Greatest part of my Estate and Now he treats me with the Greatest Disrespect and Slights, tho I have not put my self much in his power, wich makes me Glad, tho I have given up all power over him, which make it a great time of trial to me, to be ill used by one I looked on as a Child. . .you Know I believe I have been as a Mother to them. . . . [3]

In any case Rebecca decided not to remain in the Mansion. An agreement was finally reached on January 17, 1791, that Charles Carnan Ridgely would cede to the widow 244-1/4 acres of land called "Dimite's Delight," build thereon a carriage house and stable for six horses and deliver thereto five thousand chestnut Fence rails. In addition, he agreed to provide a house on Howard's Hill plus one ton of hay and a barrel of superfine flour. On her part Rebecca agreed "to give up all her the said Rebecca Ridgely's Right Title Interest and Claim to the house and The Three hundred Acres of land Laid of [f] to her out of the dwelling plantation. . .by George Fitzhugh Aquila Galloway and Moses Dillon." [4]

Early in Governor Ridgely's proprietorship we have a tax list of structures at Hampton. The extent of existing improvements as of October 1, 1798, is detailed in a manuscript volume at the Maryland Historical Society titled Particular List of Houses, Lands & Slaves in Back-River and Middle River Upper Hundreds in the Eighth Assessment District, John Orrick, Asst. Assr.: [5]

1 stone dwelling house, 2 stories, 56 by 80
2 wings to D.o 23 by 2S feet each
1 frame dwelling house 1 story 20 by 30
1 D.o 16...20
1 Frame Kitchen 12 by 16
  Negro house frame 22 by 32
1 D.o log 15 by 23
  Ditto 16 by 16
  Ditto 12 by 12
  Ditto 16...18
  Ditto 16...18
  Ditto frame 16 by 18
  Ditto Logs 10...12
  Ditto 16...18
  stone milk house 16...23
1 Log Hen house 2 frame D.o
  Log wash house 16 by 50
2 meat houses frame

Orrick valued these buildings at $20,000. The principal assessor cut the total down to $12,000. Most of the above were minor structures and have disappeared.

Public life at Annapolis (Ridgely was a representative in the legislature 1790-95, senator 1796-1800, and governor 1816-19) must have kept him away from Hampton much of the time. Finally retired at Hampton, where he "represented the typical aristocrat of the day. He had the fortune that enabled him to live like a prince, and he also had the inclination." [6]

Ridgely's interest in horses and other agricultural pursuits probably kept him at Hampton during the summer season. Perhaps he developed the usual city-county, winter-summer cycle of residence becoming generally fashionable in America among the well-to-do. This gave an opportunity of avoiding the city heat and the various deadly epidemics which often visited our seaports in the early days.

As an interesting note for the industrial history of Hampton it should be remembered that the Englishman Benjamin Henfrey discovered mineral coal on Governor Ridgely's land and made some experiments on its use there which resulted in a United States patent. [7]

On the death of Governor Ridgely in 1829 the liquidation of his estate was a tremendous operation; sales went on for more than a year. The list of sales items at the auction of October 1, 1829, covers many pages. [8] In view of the fact that we now know little or nothing of the use of particular rooms in the Mansion it is interesting to know how the auction clerks designated the various spaces, which were:

    Small Back

Lower Floor:
    Passage (No. 8)
    Front Parlor (No. 9)
    Back Parlor (No. 10)
    Room No. 11
    Nursery (No. 12)
    Room No. l3
    Room No. 14
    Kitchen (No. 15)
    Washing Room (No. 16)

Second Story:
    Passage (No. 6)
    Front Room (No. 7)
    Back Room (No. 17)
    Room No. 18

Third Story:
    Front Garret (No. 1)
    Back Garret (No. 2)
    Back Room (No. 5)

Kitchen Yard

The "Catalogue of all the Stock, Farming Utensils, &c., upon the Hampton Farm, the Property of the late Charles Ridgely of Hampton" printed for the auction sale of October 13, 1829, lists property in the following spaces:

Long House Loft
Quarter Loft
Lower Meat House
Upper Meat House
Shoe-maker's Shop
Overseer's House (Kitchen, Large Room upstairs, Taylor's Shop, Office, Little Room upstairs, overseer's lower room)
Fish House
Cider Cellar
Lower Corn House
Upper Corn House (Chop room)
Cutting Room
South Shop
Race Horse Stable (loft)
Wash House
Hampton Garden
Hampton Cellar
Dwelling House (cellar)
Coal House
Bridge House
Founder's House
New Iron House
Old Iron House
Wheelwright Shop

B. Period of John Ridgely, 1829-1867

As noted above, nearly all of Governor Ridgely's household furnishings left the house after the auctions of 1829. The Memorandum Book of John Ridgely, the new proprietor, for the period 1830-1851 tells us much about the Mansion, as well as the grounds and other matters. Some of the more interesting items are listed here. The classification of some of these items is tentative: in other words, we cannot be perfectly certain at this time that they all pertain to the Mansion.

Expenses at the Mansion

March 4p.d the insurance on Hampton house [$]75.00

P.d D.o on the furniture in D.o18.00
June 9 P.d R. Stansbury for White washing10.00
March 16p.d for anthracite coal7.37-1/2
Apr 9p.d for repairing Steam boiler36.00
May 12p.d Baldwin Gardiner for lamps250.00
June 24p.d Abbett for an oven30.80
July 21p.d J. Hindes for walling in oven6.00
Nov 4p.d Jacob Kerr for sweeping chimneys4.18
March 4To D.o pr Balto Fire Ins.ce Co Prem on Policy for $10,000 renewed for 1 yr fr 4 Mar pre co (?)65.00
June 4Paid note for coal283.00
April 5Paid Symington in full for coal491.75
June 20Paid Barker's bill for grates25.30
Jan 29Paid C. Bryan for stoves40.59
Jan 24Paid Stanley & Co 2 stoves & fireboards39.25

Paid Stanley & Co 1 stove fireboard & pipe20.00
May 2P.d Alex Brown & Brothers for Turkey carpets388.51
June 6Paid C. Bryan for stoves20.75
June 19Paid Abner Williams for stove etc11.81
Feb lPaid ten plate stove W. O. Simmes13.00
June 2Paid J. Thomas & Son for ball of dome---
June 21Paid Wm Gist for 500 lbs white lead @ 10 cts50.00
July 6Paid James Shanessy for Guilding ball5.00
Dec 20Paid J Bancroft repairing grate2.50
Apr 8Paid J.no Boris [?] repairing back spouts1.00
June 28Paid J. H. Hibner hanging bells10.00
Nov 23Paid C. H. Armistead for 2 scrapers2.50
Feb 3Paid Cornelius & C.o. for chandeliers262.50
Jan 5P.d Pasterfield soldering bath tub2.00
Mar 5P.d Bal.re Fire Insurance Com Hampton27.50

P.d Merchant's Free Insunce Com. Hampton55.00
Apr 10P.d Joseph Fall Painting Tin Roof50.00
Feb. 3P.d Jacob M Touse [Zouse?], Tinner12.18
Mar 5P.d Balt Fire Insurance Com27.50

P.d Hartford Insurance Com42.00

P.d Franklin Insurance Com19.00
June 1P.d 5 Boxes Patent Candles 30-1/4 [?] at 40 cents60.04
Sept. 11P.d Alfred Lipton (painter) in full298.66
Nov 16P.d Bill for locks27.75
Nov 20P.d for velvet carpet260.23
Jan 1P.d J. N. Blake for putting down pipes26.30
April 24pd. Johnston for painting Doors75.00

C. The Last Years

Lack of time--both in 1949 and 1970--has prevented the writer from continuing his notes to the end of the Ridgely ownership, though Part V on Grounds and Gardens has some material and so do the notations on the Illustrations in Part VIII.

* * * * * * * * * *

As a final item it might be noted that the Hampton lands became salable for suburban residential use as automobiles and roads developed apace. The residential future of property in the Dulaney Valley seemed promising and it was subdivided. On February 25, 1930, John Ridgely conveyed to the Hampton Company a parcel of land (Deeds Liber L McL M No. 846, Folio 57, etc.) subdivided according to a plot. The seven-page pamphlet issued concurrently stated the restrictions on development and names the sales agent as William H. Gisin, 100 E. Pleasant St., Baltimore.

Some properties were sold and developed but the depression of the 1930's dampened the promotion. After World War II suburban life began to boom again. The visitor today finds that real estate development is continuous from the heart of Baltimore, nine miles away, and has now engulfed all of Captain Ridgely's 18th-century iron plantation.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 07-Jul-2008